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With the minutes counting down until the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires at midnight on Wednesday, December 1 -- bringing about a likely lockout -- it seems many players are in a rush to get deals finalized before the incoming freeze on transactions.
The first of the historic free agent crop of shortstops chose his destination on Sunday, with Marcus Semien agreeing to a seven-year, $175 million contract with the Rangers. He had been projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to land a six-year, $138 million contract, so he came in significantly above that mark which should bode very well for Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Javier Baez and the rest of the remaining options on the market.
Semien is coming off of a monster season -- after he gambled on himself by taking a one-year deal with the Blue Jays -- slashing .265/.334/.538 with a career high 45 home runs, 102 RBI and 15 stolen bases as part of a loaded Jays lineup. The surrounding cast in Texas won’t be nearly as strong, which is likely to cut into his counting stats in 2022. Additionally, the move away from the Rogers Centre -- which is a boon for right-handed power -- and into Globe Life Field in Arlington should cut into Semien’s lofty home run tally.
In terms of overall landing spots, from a fantasy perspective, unfortunately this is about as bad as it gets for Semien. Prior to this news, he was being selected on average as the 28th player off the board in early NFBC Draft Champions drafts. I’d suspect that his draft cost slides a bit based on this news, with Semien ultimately landing in the middle or back-half of the third round in 15-team formats, in the 37-45 range overall.
Speaking of Trevor Story though, Jeff Passan of ESPN reported shortly after the Semien signing that the Rangers were still squarely in the mix for Story as well. The Rangers entered this off-season with plenty of money to spend and seem poised to do just that. Passan also notes that they’re in the market for starting pitching help. If the Rangers were to land Story as well -- and by all accounts they could be the leaders in that chase -- it would shift Semien back over to second base where he did a tremendous job for the Jays in 2021.
In addition, the Rangers have been in discussions with Corey Seager as well and could have a deal wrapped up on Monday. They have shown interest in Carlos Correa and Javier Baez as well, but at this point it seems much more likely that they’ll wind up signing either Story or Seager.
If that were to come to fruition though, what it would really do is put an immense amount of pressure on the other clubs who are in the shortstop market. There already weren’t enough marquee options for every interested club to land one, but if two of the elite options were to go to the same team, it could create a bidding frenzy for the remaining options.
Mets Finalizing Deal with Scherzer
Where there’s this much smoke, there’s usually fire, and that was the case with Max Scherzer and the Mets on Sunday night. Andy Martino of SNY reported early in the evening that the Mets had offered more than $40 million per season in their offer to the three-time Cy Young Award winner. Joel Sherman of the New York Post followed that up by reporting that Scherzer plans to make his decision no later than Monday.
Less than two hours later, Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times reported that while the Dodgers were still in the mix for the 37-year-old hurler, they were no longer considered the favorites. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic followed that up by saying that there were growing indications that Scherzer will wind up signing with the Mets.
Finally, just before 11 PM Eastern, Jon Morosi of MLB Network chimed in, reporting that the Mets and Scherzer were close to finalizing a multi-year contract. Not long before midnight, Andy Martino of SNY reported that the Mets offer is for $42 million per season either over three or four years. Either way, it will be the largest AAV in Major League Baseball history.
As of 1:00 AM on Monday morning, it doesn’t sound like an official agreement has been reached. This one just needs to get pushed over the finish line. Generally, when things are this close, they eventually get done, but just ask the Padres how trying to acquire Scherzer before last season’s trade deadline turned out -- there are always exceptions.
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Blue Jays Win Kevin Gausman Sweepstakes
There had been rumblings throughout the day from Jon Morosi of MLB Network that Kevin Gausman was nearing a decision and was likely to land a five-year contract in excess of $100 million. That’s exactly what wound up happening, but it wasn’t the Giants -- who appeared to be the favorites to retain the 30-year-old right-hander -- who ultimately won out. It was the Blue Jays who swooped in and agreed to a five-year, $110 million pact with Gausman.
It's a huge addition to the Blue Jays rotation, as the right-hander will join Jose Berrios, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alex Manoah atop what now looks to be one of the strongest rotations in the American League.
It's not terrific news for his fantasy value however, as the move to the Rogers Centre from Oracle Park is a major downgrade, as is the shift from the National League West to the American League East. Prior to this announcement, Gausman sported an average draft position of 50 in early NFBC Draft Champions drafts -- making him the 16th starting pitcher off the board on average (including Shohei Ohtani). I’d suspect that with this news, he falls at least a few spots down those rankings and probably down a round to the fifth in 15-team formats.
Twins sign Byron Buxton to $100M Extension
The Rangers and Blue Jays weren’t the only team making noise on Sunday, but for the Twins it was locking up one of their own rather than bringing in a new superstar.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Twins had reached an agreement on a seven-year, $100 million contract extension with outfielder Byron Buxton. This is obviously a huge win for the Twins, being able to keep their budding superstar in town.
The deal includes a $1M signing bonus and will pay Buxton $9M in 2022 and $15M per season through 2028. The deal also includes unprecedented MVP bonuses for every year of the deal, which will give him an additional $3M if he finishes in the top-10 of the voting and increases all the way up to $8M if he wins the award. It also includes $500,000 incentives in every season for plate appearances of 502, 533, 567, 600 and 625.
It's a nice way to incentivize the dynamic outfielder for staying on the field and avoiding the injured list. He's coming off an impressive season in which he slashed a robust .306/.358/.647 with 19 homers, 32 RBI and nine stolen bases in only 61 games.
The deal also includes a no-trade clause, which is said to have been a key in the negotiations. When discussing a possible extension with Buxton in July, the Twins were not willing to include that as part of the package.
In early NFBC Draft Champions drafts, Buxton has gone on average at pick 62, putting him in the early fifth round of 15-team formats. There’s no reason to expect that his draft cost will change based on this extension, though it’s possible that some were betting on the narrative that Buxton was going to stay healthy and have a career year with the added motivation of playing for a new contract.
Marlins add Avisail Garcia
The Marlins weren’t sitting on the sidelines on Sunday either, making a big move to bolster their outfield heading into the 2022 season. Craig Mish of FanSided reported that the team had agreed to a four-year, $53 million contract with free agent outfielder Avisail Garcia.
Long lauded for his dazzling blend of power and speed, the 30-year-old outfielder posted career highs with 29 homers and 86 RBI while slashing .262/.330/.490 while swiping eight bases in 135 games for the Brewers in 2021.
His overall playing time took a hit over the last few seasons with the plethora of outfield options that the Brewers had employed. That will not be the case with the Marlins, as Garcia should settle in as the everyday right fielder and should bat right in the middle of the lineup. While the move away from American Family Field in Milwaukee could ding his home run output, he should see ample RBI opportunities with his new club.
As far as average draft position goes, Garcia has been selected at pick 189 on average in early NFBC Draft Champions drafts, putting him in the 13th round of 15-team formats. I’d expect that his draft stock will rise -- perhaps by as much as two or three rounds -- now that there’s certainty that he’s locked into a full-time gig and should hit in a premium lineup spot.
MLB Quick Hits: According to The Athletic, MLB and MLBPA officials will meet in Dallas, Texas this week to make final attempts to avert baseball's first work stoppage in 26 years when the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement expires at midnight on December 1. … Craig Mish of SportsGrid reports that the Marlins and Sandy Alcantara have agreed on their five-year, $56 million contract extension. … The Rangers signed right-hander Jon Gray to a four-year, $54 million contract. … The Rays signed 35-year-old right-hander Corey Kluber to a one-year, $8 million contract. The deal includes incentives that could push that as high as $13 million. … The Rangers signed Kole Calhoun to a one-year $5.2 million deal that includes an option for the 2023 season. … Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Angels have had preliminary discussions with the Reds about acquiring Luis Castillo, though the Reds asking price remains extremely high and the two sides are far apart at the moment. … Robert Murray of Fansided reports that the Mariners are among the teams that have expressed interest in Kris Bryant. … Sixto Sanchez (shoulder) told Marlins broadcasting manager Kyle Sielaff in a recent interview that he feels “100 percent” and expects to be ready for spring training. … The White Sox re-signed right-hander Luke Shilling to a minor league contract. … Joe Doyle of Prospects Live reports that Michael Lorenzen wants to be utilized in a two-way role as a starting pitcher and an outfielder next season. The Rangers, Pirates, Cubs and Giants are among the teams that have checked in on him already. … Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes the Tigers, Twins, Giants, Angels and Rangers are among the teams pursuing American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray.