Two Winners and Two Losers in MLB Free Agency So Far

By Patrick Hayes   December 14, 2021 

Two Winners and Two Losers in MLB Free Agency So Far

Major League Baseball players are currently locked out as ownership and the players union work on a new collective bargaining agreement, but that didn’t stop several star players reaching new agreements with teams before the former CBA expired in December.

At some point, both sides will reach a new agreement and the offseason will continue. But for now, here are four winners and losers from the abridged free agency period.


Detroit Tigers

Sep 28, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets second baseman Javier Baez (23) singles against the Miami Marlins during the third inning of game one of a doubleheader at Citi Field. Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers may have set expectations a little too high by not-so-subtly hinting that they would chase Carlos Correa, arguably the best position player available on the market, when free agency opened.

Correa played for current Tigers manager A.J. Hinch in Houston, and the Tigers had a gaping hole at shortstop in a lineup that, otherwise, seems to have a lot of potential entering the 2022 season. Correa is understandably seeking a contract worth more than $300 million, and the Tigers ultimately decided that was beyond their budget. After a better-than-expected 2021 season, the team is hoping to take another step forward and contend for a playoff spot in 2022. Correa would’ve been a perfect centerpiece for that effort, so the disappointment of not getting him is understandable.

That shouldn’t overshadow what the Tigers did do, though. They signed a very good shortstop in Javy Baez, who should solidify their infield defense and add power to the lineup. They also added a solid left-handed pitcher to the rotation by signing Eduardo Rodgriguez.

Expect the Tigers to be among the most improved teams in MLB next season.

Seattle Mariners

Aug 30, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Robbie Ray (38) pitches to the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Rogers Centre. John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Another team that entered the offseason ready to swing big in free agency after a better-than-expected 2021 season is the Seattle Mariners. Seattle won 90 games last season and finished just two games out of a playoff spot after some preseason predictions had them finishing as low as fourth in the AL West.

The team added reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray to anchor the pitching staff. Ray bolsters a weakness for the Mariners, who gave up the second-most runs of any team in playoff contention in the AL or NL last season. They also bolstered their lineup by trading for All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier. 

With the division-rival Astros potentially losing Correa in free agency, the Mariners could be positioned to overtake them in the AL West standings next season if they continue their strong offseason post-lockout.


Toronto Blue Jays

Aug 21, 2021; Oakland, California, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Kevin Gausman (34) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum. Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays really couldn’t afford a quiet offseason following a 2021 campaign in which their young team just barely missed the playoffs.

The Jays will still be good – their young core of stars led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr will continue improving, and the offense should once again be one of the most potent in baseball. Plus, another second-generation star in Cavan Biggio could be primed for a breakout.

Losing Ray hurts, though. He solidified a pitching staff that entered last season as a question mark and became a strength. They did replace him with Kevin Gausman, but for nearly the same contract Ray got from Seattle. They also lost Marcus Semien.

The continued improvement of the team’s young talent should keep them relevant, but in a division in which four teams contended for playoff spots last season, just holding the line might not be enough.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Oct 17, 2021; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts (30) pulls starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) cycles during the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves in game two of the 2021 NLCS at Truist Park. Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After seemingly dominating offseasons with their aggressiveness for years, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been off to a quiet start so far.

They lost Corey Seager and Max Scherzer in free agency. Neither move was particularly unexpected – Seager in particular became a luxury when the team added another All-Star shortstop in Trea Turner at last season’s trade deadline. But the Dodgers undoubtedly would’ve liked to have had Scherzer back, particularly with pitcher Trevor Bauer’s legal situation unclear after sexual assault allegations and Clayton Kershaw dealing with a variety of injuries last season. Kershaw is also a free agent, and although it is hard to imagine him pitching for any team but the Dodgers, it could happen.

Several other contending teams, including the Yankees, White Sox, Red Sox, and Giants, have had quiet offseasons so far. After the lockout ends, expect increasing competition that includes those teams for the remaining players on the market.

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