As the negotiations between the owners and the players turn from civil to mud fight, let’s stop for a moment and imagine a world without baseball.
I know. It sucks. It sucks so much. But as talks begin to breakdown and billionaire owners offer up more salary cuts to millionaires and forget the little people who have the most to lose in all of this, like the stadium workers and minor leaguers and their communities… as those talks breakdown, we need to shift our focus from “when the season restarts” to “if the season restarts”.
And if it doesn’t, it’s going to have some major effects on certain teams next season. Here are five of those such teams.
Okay, so let’s start off on a positive note. The Mets aren’t negatively impacted here. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. With Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie becoming free agents, the Mets are finally free from the tough contracts they gave to the former Athletics. Cespedes was a solid pickup in 2015, but fan perception soured after injuries kept him out for the last two seasons. Equally as nonexistent, Lowrie was barely a functioning member of the Mets organization. If Lowrie never plays for the Mets again, he’ll have been paid $10 million to get zero hits. With both players gone, the Mets can turn towards the future in a major way.
With Cespedes gone from left field, the Mets can now roll with an outfield comprised of J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto. There’s no more hemming and hawing, this is the perfect outfield for this young Mets team. Jed Lowrie‘s removal opens up the utility spot for younger guys like Andres Gimenez to try his luck in the majors and firmly gives Jeff McNeil the starting spot at third base. Removing Lowrie and Cespedes from the equation gives rookie manager Luis Rojas flexibility across the diamond.
With that in mind, this also frees up just shy of $40 million for the Mets to play with (my god these were bad deals), and they can use that money on someone like Syndergaard, McNeil, Pete Alonso, or even Marcus Stroman, who’ll be on the market in 2021. Usable money is always a nice thing to have, especially in Queens.
Want even more good news? Noah Syndergaard can recover from Tommy John surgery and not miss any action. Even better? Mets fans have been spared from watching another season of Robinson Cano slowly slipping into retirement! It’s a win-win!
This one is less about their on-field future and more about their front office issues. It is no secret the Oakland A’s have been cash-strapped forever, but the Covid-19 pandemic has brought that to new heights.
The Oakland Athletics will effectively be cutting off payment to their minor league players, essentially setting them adrift into a sea of uncertainty. A’s GM David Frost, in an e-mail to minor leaguers, states, “This was a difficult decision and it’s one that comes at a time when a number of full-time employees are also finding themselves either furloughed or facing a reduction in salary for the remainder of the season. For all of this, I am sorry.”
You simply have to do better than that, Oakland. That’s just bad form.
They’re also slated to lose Marcus Semien, which is a tough.
The Houston Astros
With the departure of Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick and George Springer to free agency, the Astros have a tough question to ask themselves. How much more tainted are we, and how do we navigate that? What kind of player would make the choice to go play for Houston and face backlash and malice that they themselves didn’t create? Why would you take on that kind of hate, when you could easily join 29 other teams and spare yourself?
And if you’re one of the Astros’ free agents, would you come back? Or would you take your opportunity to leave town and start fresh? It’s a complicated situation.
Making it worse is the fact that your outfield is up in the air. Josh Reddick can walk and it wouldn’t make that big of a difference in Houston. The 33-year-old right fielder has been trending downward in his last two seasons, and really serves only one purpose, he’s consistently not injured. Michael Brantley made Cleveland look silly for not bringing him back in 2019, putting up even better numbers for Houston. If you’re going to take a chance on either Reddick or Brantley for 2020, the choice is clear. But can they afford it?
George Springer makes things complicated. Is he too toxic for other teams? Is now the time for him to start over somewhere else? If he stays is he cementing his legacy? And if you do offer him a contract, can you spend a safe amount of money that ensures you can keep Carlos Correa, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker down the line?
Lots of questions for Houston moving forward.
Much like the Astros, the Phillies have some questions to answer moving forward into 2021. The first one begins with re-signing J.T. Realmuto. After dealing top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez to Miami for Realmuto, the Phillies might only get one year of action from their top backstop. Realmuto is the REAL deal, and he’s worth more than the $10 million he was going to get in 2020. But can the Phillies spend the cash? They can – with one move.
The Phillies have a club option for $20 million on Jake Arrieta‘s contract. It’s safe to say that the former Cy Young winner has underperformed in Philly, and as he heads past the age of 35, the worries over his skill set grow. However, if they decline that option, it does open up capital to re-sign Realmuto. And if the rumors surrounding a division rival are true, that might be the best idea for everyone in Philly.
What a tough break for the Dodgers. After making the biggest trade of the offseason, creating one of the most exciting outfields in the game, it’s quite possible we never see that outfield play together.
With Mookie Betts and Joc Pederson both free agents in 2021, the Dodgers might have sent Alex Verdugo and Jeter Downs to the Sox for David Price. Think about that for a second. That’s the reality of the Dodger’s future.
On top of that, the Dodgers will more than likely have to shift Max Muncy to third base, filling the hole left by outgoing free agent Justin Turner. While it’s completely possible the Dodgers could sign Turner to a short-term team-friendly deal, it’s a gamble. Can Turner, who’ll be 36 on Opening Day in 2021, continue to contribute in the twilight of his career?
The Dodgers answered a lot of questions this past offseason, and now the future holds more questions, with more difficult solutions.
Think your team should be listed? Think I missed one? Want to yell about the Astros? Sound off in the comments!
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