The collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball's owners and the players is set to expire on Wednesday night. It is assumed an agreement won't be reached in the coming days, meaning free agency and trade talk will be completely shut down and a lockout will be put in place later this week. In the meantime, it appears we're set for a flurry of moves, as there might be some players who don't want to go several weeks (months?) without knowing where they'll play in 2022.
One signing came Sunday morning, as the Rays have scooped up Corey Kluber (full story here). Then there was a flurry in the late afternoon. To recap:Byron Buxton agreed to a seven-year, $100 million extension with the Twins that includes lots of incentives (full story here). Marcus Semien agreed to a seven-year, $175 million deal with the Rangers (full story here; more coming below). The Marlins and Avisaíl García agreed to a four-year, $53 million deal (full story here). Kevin Gausman and the Blue Jays agreed to a five-year, $110 million deal (full story here).
As for the rest, let's dive into the rumors of the day.
Scherzer decision coming soon?
Max Scherzer is heading to his age-37 season, but he's also coming off a season in which he finished third in Cy Young voting. The three-time Cy Young winner and future Hall of Famer is still an ace. As such, there are no shortage of suitors despite what is likely to be a multi-year deal with a really high average annual value.
He is expected to decide on a new home before the expected lockout, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network, with the Mets, Dodgers, Giants and Angels being mentioned as top suitors.
Rangers not done with big moves and add OF
Seven years and $175 million for Semien can't possibly mean anything other than a big offseason for the Rangers. They lost 102 games last year, didn't have much hope for internal improvement and the payroll is incredibly low for a team in a large market with the ability to spend as much as almost any team. Semien is 31, too, so surely the Rangers plan is to spend a ton this offseason.
Right on cue, Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that not only are the Rangers still in on free agent All-Star shortstop Trevor Story, but they are also after starting pitching. If they land Story, the Rangers would have the option to leave Semien at second base, where he played last year in Toronto, or move him to short and ask Story to play second (his arm has shown signs of weakening in recent years).
Also, they made what qualifies as a minor move after the Semien signing broke. The Rangers agreed to sign free agent right fielder Kole Calhoun, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Calhoun, 34, is a lefty who hit 33 homers in 2019. Last season in Arizona, he hit .235/.297/.373 (81 OPS+) with eight doubles and five homers in 182 plate appearances. He dealt with knee and hamstring injuries that both required surgery. In 2020, Calhoun had a 130 OPS+ and 16 homers in 54 games.
Mariners showing interest in Bryant
The Mariners are among the teams showing interest in signing free agent third baseman/utility man Kris Bryant, reports Robert Murray of Fansided. As opposed to Scherzer and Gausman above, however, Bryant is not expected to sign before the expiration of the CBA, Murray reports. Given that Bryant's agent is Scott Boras, who loves to draw free agency out in order to find the best possible offer, this isn't all too surprising.
The Mariners and Bryant are a good fit. He could handle third base on an everyday basis, but he could also play any of the three outfield spots, if need be. They've already added Adam Frazier, likely to take over second base and we've previously pointed out they needed at least one infielder plus another big bat.
Reds, Angels talk Castillo
The Reds and Angels have discussed a possible trade with Luis Castillo going to the L.A. side, reports Morosi, though he also notes the sides are "far apart." This lines up with the messaging from Cincy this offseason in that it would take a gigantic package to pry the right-handed Castillo away.
This bigger takeaway here is that the Angels have already signed Noah Syndergaard and are actively pushing hard for a frontline starter whether through trade or their involvement in Scherzer rumors above.
Blue Jays add reliever
The Blue Jays have agreed to sign free agent reliever Yimi García to a two-year, $11 million deal that also includes a club option for a third year, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.
García, 31, made 39 appearances with the Marlins last season before being traded to the Astros and making 23 appearances for them. In his 57 2/3 innings, he pitched to a 4.21 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 60 strikeouts against 13 unintentional walks. He's middle relief depth for the Jays.
Altherr looking to come back to MLB
Outfielder Aaron Altherr is a free agent after two years in Korea Baseball Organization and would like to come back to Major League Baseball -- and a jump to Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball is also possible -- reports MLB Trade Rumors.
Altherr, 30, spent parts of six seasons with the Phillies before playing a single game with the Giants and 26 with the Mets in 2019. In his 1,156 MLB plate appearances, he hit .219/.307/.401 (88 OPS+). He did show flashes of good upside, most notably in 2015 and 2017 -- in the latter, he hit .272/.340/.516 with 19 homers in 372 at-bats.
In Altherr's two years in South Korea, he hit .276/.354/.529. He had 30-plus homers and 20-plus steals in each season. We've seen MLB players go to KBO and come back improved before, with Eric Thames' Brewers stint being the most prominent recent example.