Good news if you’re really jonesing for baseball to come back as quickly as possible — the MLB Players’ Association has rejected the league’s offer to push the start of the season back by a few weeks. Though we don’t know everything MLB included in this offer, we know that it featured a 154-game season with full salaries and it very likely also featured an expanded post-season and a universal designated hitter.
Why would the players be against this? They’re hanging onto their bargaining chips for later on because there’s one hell of a storm brewing.
As we know, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire on Dec. 1, 2021 and there’s going to be a long, tough battle between the players and the owners over a wealth of hot-button issues, such as service time manipulation, free agency, collusion in free agency, and so on.
The players are cognizant of the fact an expanded post-season is going to make the owners a fuck-load of cash, so that’s one thing they aren’t going to fork over unless they’re getting something worthwhile back in return. And no, the universal DH, which advantageous to the players, is not a worthy return for adding another round of post-season games.
It’s difficult to get good info about this situation because many of the national-level reporters carry water for the league, but here’s a great thread from a Union Lawyer about what the PA is doing, what they’re not doing, and why…
I can't retweet Jon Heyman's tweets related to his incredulity that the MLBPA did not make a counter offer, but I can explain why, under labor law, they didn't. (He blocked me) That said, a lack of education on a subject should never preclude taking a position.
The parties 1/
— (((EugeneFreedman))) (@EugeneFreedman) February 2, 2021
Elsewhere, the Nolan Arenado trade got approved on Monday. The Rockies and Cardinals agreed to a deal on Friday that would send the seven-time Gold Glove winner to St. Louis but they had to spend all weekend working over a handful of details because of Arenado’s complicated contract.
The Rockies are paying all of Arenado’s $31 million salary in 2021 and $51 million in total through deferrals, St. Louis is tacking on an addition $15 million to his contract, and he’s now signed through 2027 at $214 million. Arenado still maintains an opt-out after the 2021 season, so this is kind of a one-year free trial for the Cardinals.
Anyways, none of this matters much for the Blue Jays because it involves two National League teams, but focus now shifts to the Rockies and what other quality players they could give away for very little in order to cut costs.
Cardinals-Rockies deal is official: Nolan Arenado and cash considerations in exchange for LHP Austin Gomber, INF Elehuris Montero, RHP Tony Locey, INF Mateo Gil and RHP Jake Sommers.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) February 2, 2021
St. Louis is sending a whole lot of nothing to Colorado in order to get this deal done (Baseball America ranked Elehuris Montero 14th, Tony Locey 26th, and Mateo Gil 28th in the Cardinals’ system prior to the trade). Austin Gomber, who produced a 1.86 ERA for the Cards in 2020, is the best player going back to Colorado, but he was never ranked a Top-100 prospect.
If the Rockies do continue to clean house, there are a handful of names who could interest the Blue Jays…
- Trevor Story is set to become one of the very good shortstops on the free agent market next off-season, along with Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager. He’s getting paid $18,500,000 in 2021 and I imagine the Rockies will hang on and try to deal him at the trade deadline or qualify him in order to get a draft pick.
- Charlie Blackmon is getting paid $21,500,000 in 2021 and he has a player option in 2022 for $21,000,000 and another player option in 2023 worth a base of $10,000,000 with $8,000,000 more that could be earned based on performance. With the signing of George Springer, I can’t imagine the Blue Jays would be in the mix for an expensive outfielder, but maybe a swap involving Randal Grichuk could work here.
- And then there’s German Marquez, Colorado’s ace, who would solve the Blue Jays’ glaring need of a top-end arm for the starting rotation. Marquez had a 3.75 ERA in 2020, impressive for any pitcher playing half of his games at Coors Field. He’s got about $43,000,000 owed over the next three years and has a team option for a fourth year.
Are the Rockies going to go all-in on a blow-up? Or are they going to be pretend-competitive even after selling off Arenado for nothing? If it’s the former, you’d hope the Blue Jays are in the mix to execute something “creative” to acquire Marquez.
Mark Shapiro mentioned last week that the team is very conservative about trading top-level prospects to improve their big-league roster but taking on a big contract like Blackmon’s could help drive the asking price down on Marquez.
The last big trade the Blue Jays made with the Rockies worked out sorta kinda well, right?
- The Blue Jays are among the handful of teams who are interested in Jake Odorizzi and the speculation is that he’ll sign a deal after Trevor Bauer has decided what he’s doing. As I’ve mentioned before, the Jays were interested in Odorizzi last season before he ended up taking the qualifying offer from the Twins. It’s no surprise that they’re still in the mix.
- Toronto is also in on reliever Trevor Rosenthal, who enjoyed a great bounce-back season in 2020. After struggling with injuries in 2018 and 2019, Rosenthal put together a 1.90 ERA over 23 2/3 innings with Kansas City and San Diego in 2020 with a sparkling 14.5 strikeouts-per-nine. It’s a microscopic sample size but would give the Blue Jays another bullet to try in their bullpen.
- Circling back to outfielders, other teams have reportedly shown interest in Randal Grichuk and Lourdes Gurriel. Based on Shapiro’s comments after the Springer announcement, if the team is going to spend to add another arm, they’re going to have to save money elsewhere. Grichuk would be the obvious candidate to go given the fact he isn’t that good and he’s somewhat expensive (he’s owed $29 million over three years).
Jeff Blair mentioned on Monday that there are “suggestions another significant add could materialize this week” for the Blue Jays, which seems to contradict what Shapiro said about the bulk of the team’s “heavy lifting” being done for the off-season. Either Blair is reading the room wrong or Shapiro’s comments are functioning as a play in negotiations for the remaining free agents that the Blue Jays aren’t free spending. Who knows.
Finally, we have this note about a dear old friend…
Free agent Edwin Encarnación, 38, is training for the season and intends to play two more years with the goal of reaching 500 career HR, his agent, Paul Kinzer, told me tonight. Encarnación is 3rd on the active list with 424 HR, trailing Pujols and Cabrera. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 2, 2021
Edwin had a rough time in Chicago last season, slashing a .157/.250/.377 line over 181 plate appearances, so it’s difficult to say if he’ll find another gig. I love the idea of seeing Edwin reach 500 homers as a Blue Jay, but given the team’s roster composition and glut of guys who need to spend time at DH, it’s hard to see a fit here.