Major League Baseball Free Agency Recap

Eitan Greenberg, Copy Editor

The 2021-2022 Major League Baseball offseason was unlike any the league has ever seen. Starting at midnight on Dec. 1, when the Players Association and Team Owners could not agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, a lockout began, halting all MLB operations and freezing the offseason. After several tedious months of negotiations, a new deal was struck between the two sides on Mar. 10. After that point, free agency resumed. This piece reviews notable free agent signings of the offseason.

Going in alphabetic order by surname:

Javier Baez 2B/SS – Detroit Tigers

“El Mago,” one of several big infield names of this free agent class, received the pay he deserves in a six-year, $140 million deal with the Detroit Tigers, who may be sleeper contenders for the playoffs this year after making other additions, including trading for OF Austin Meadows.

Kris Bryant 3B/OF – Colorado Rockies

There is no doubt that Kris Bryant is one of the best players in the sport. However, the seven-year, $182 million deal he received from the Colorado Rockies — a team that looks to be rebuilding, surprised most MLB fans, who are unsure of what the Rockies are doing.

Mark Canha OF – New York Mets

Canha is one of several additions that Steve Cohen’s Mets made this offseason. The former Oakland Athletics slugger received a $26.5 million contract, keeping him in Queens for the next two years.

Nick Castellanos OF – Philadelphia Phillies

The slugger decided to opt out of his deal with the failing Cincinnati Reds, demonstrating that he and his agent Scott Boras are choosing to test the market. He ended up signing a five-year, $100 million deal with the Phillies, who made several offensive-based additions over the offseason.

Carlos Correa SS – Minnesota Twins

Often regarded as the best shortstop in the sport of baseball, the Astros legend left Houston and signed a three-year $105.3 million deal with the Minnesota Twins. He got a high Average Annual Value, but many expected him to sign a long-term deal. 

Anthony DeSclafani SP – San Francisco Giants

The mid-rotation right hander, who had a great year in 2021, agreed to re-sign with the NL-West winning Giants on a three-year, $36 million deal. He brings back rotation help for a team that was often injured in that position.

Eduardo Escobar 1B/2B/3B – New York Mets

One of the best utilitymen in all of the sport, the former Milwaukee Brewer agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with the New York Mets. He will likely be a big piece, especially offensively, an aspect of the team that struggled in 2021.

Freddie Freeman 1B – Los Angeles Dodgers

The 2021 World Series champion who had been with the Atlanta Braves for over a decade, decided to pack his bags and head to Southern California on a six-year, $162 million deal. He brings an offensive and defensive mix that could boost the team to another national title.

Avisail Garcia OF – Miami Marlins

Another former Brewer decided to move on from Milwaukee. The highly underrated outfielder signed a four-year, $53 million deal with the Miami Marlins, a team desperately in need of outfield help.

Kevin Gausman SP – Toronto Blue Jays

The stud, former Giants place and right hander who was in contention for the NL Cy Young award in 2021 decided to leave the West and head east to Toronto, a team with the potential to go deep into the playoffs. He agreed to a large five-year, $110 million deal with the club.

Kendall Graveman RP – Chicago White Sox

Last year, the Mariner was traded within the division mid-year to the Houston Astros, who ended up making it to the World Series. The highly experienced reliever agreed to sign a three year, $24 million deal with another American League powerhouse.

Jon Gray SP – Texas Rangers

Many say this was the worst signing of the offseason by a team, however, the criticism is directed at the Rangers, not the former Rockie. Gray agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal with a team desperate for pitching help.

Raisel Iglesias RP – Los Angeles Angels

The free-agent closer, regarded as one of the best in the game, was offered a Qualifying Offer by the Angels. He not only re-signed with them but successfully negotiated a four-year, $58 million deal with the team.

Kenley Jansen RP – Atlanta Braves

Jansen had been the Dodgers’ closer for years, and many expected him to remain in Los Angeles. However, a late-night signing with the World Series champions landed him a one-year, $16 million deal.

Joe Kelly RP – Chicago White Sox

The former Dodgers reliever, infamously known for mocking Carlos Correa and chirping at the Astros dugout in 2020, decided to leave L.A. and signed a two-year, $17 million deal with the Chicago White Sox, who also signed Kendall Graveman.

Clayton Kershaw SP – Los Angeles Dodgers

The best pitcher of this century and beyond, who is in the latter end of his career, decided that leaving his Dodgers would be a heartbreaker. The southpaw starter agreed to sign a one-year, $17 million deal, extending his time with the team.

Yusei Kikuchi SP – Toronto Blue Jays

Another example of a West Coast starter heading to Toronto, the former Mariner, often overlooked as a top-tier starter, agreed to a three-year, $36 million deal with the Jays.

Corey Knebel RP – Philadelphia Phillies

Simply put, the Phillies bullpen was terrible last year and was the main reason they were kept out of the playoffs. The one-year, $10 million addition of Knebel gives them a reliable closer and gives Knebel the opportunity to truly establish himself as one of the games’ best players.

Aaron Loup RP – Los Angeles Angels

The former Mets star reliever, who had a sub 1.00 ERA in 2021, agreed to move West to Los Angeles. He signed a one-year, $17 million deal with another team that is truly desperate for pitching.

Starling Marte OF – New York Mets

The 33-year-old, traded from the Marlins to the Athletics at the 2021 trade deadline, realized the situation in Oakland was not one he wanted to be a part of and signed a large four-year, $78 million deal with the Mets.

Steven Matz SP – Saint Louis Cardinals

The former Blue Jay and Met decided to test the free agent market, and it proved successful for him. While it did anger Mets owner Steve Cohen, it did give him a four-year, $44 million deal with the Red Birds.

Brooks Raley RP – Tampa Bay Rays

The former Astros reliever who was a crucial part of their playoff push decided to call it a day in Houston when he signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the 2021 American League one seed Rays.

Robbie Ray SP – Seattle Mariners

The southpaw from the Blue Jays gave the Mariners their SP1 for five years, and at a cost of $115 million. Ray, the reigning American League Cy Young award winner, was expected to leave Toronto and could send the Mariners to the playoffs.

Anthony Rizzo 1B – New York Yankees

The Yankees were widely expected to pursue Shortstops Carlos Correa or Trevor Story. They did acquire a shortstop (via trade), and also re-signed the former Cub to a two-year, $32 million deal.

Carlos Rodon SP – San Francisco Giants

Rodon threw a no-hitter that was nearly a perfect game last year and helped the Chicago White Sox reach a division win. He hopes to do the same this year and next, but with the Giants, after signing a two-year, $44 million deal with them.

Eduardo Rodriguez SP – Detroit Tigers

The Red Sox offered him a Qualifying Offer and he declined, essentially guaranteeing an end to his time in Boston. He found a new home in Detroit for half a decade, signing a five-year, $77 million deal with the Tigers.

Max Scherzer SP- New York Mets

One of the best starters of the past 30 years, the former National who was traded to the Dodgers in the middle of 2021 agreed to a huge deal with a team he had previously criticized. Every baseball fan, except for Mets fans, was livid at his decision to sign a three-year, $130 million deal.

Kyle Schwarber OF – Philadelphia Phillies

This signing helps counter the previous one, the Phillies, who had one rostered outfielder at the beginning of the offseason, and added Schwarber to a Bryce Harper-led outfield. He signed for four years and $79 million.

Corey Seager SS – Texas Rangers

There is an argument that Seager is better than Carlos Correa, and the Rangers saw tons of upside in the former Dodgers shortstop. They gave him a massive, decade-long $325 million deal that, with an addition mentioned next, will likely give the team a big boost.

Marcus Semien 2B/SS – Texas Rangers

There is little doubt that with this signing, the Rangers have a top-five infield in baseball. Semien, the former Toronto Blue Jay stud, agreed to a seven-year, $175 million deal to pair up with Corey Seager.

Jorge Soler OF – Miami Marlins

The 2021 World Series MVP took his power-hitting talents to Miami, a team that, as previously stated, was in dire need of an outfield. Soler and the Fish agreed on a three-year, $36 million deal.

Trevor Story SS – Boston Red Sox

He will likely play multiple infield positions with his new team, and it became clear that he would not return to Colorado after rejecting a Qualifying Offer. The slugger agreed on a six-year, $140 million deal with Boston.

Marcus Stroman SP – Chicago Cubs

After a saga on social media and accusations of racism, it was a given that the former Met would not be returning to Queens. He found a new home in Chicago, where the Cubs gave him a three-year, $71 million deal.

Seiya Suzuki OF – Chicago Cubs

Suzuki was the best international free agent of this class and by far the best player in the Nippon Professional Baseball League for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Large speculation surrounded him, and he ended up signing a five-year, $85 million deal.

Noah Syndergaard SP – Los Angeles Angels

Thor himself has returned from the injury! Syndergaard has been hurt for the majority of the past few seasons for the Mets, but when healthy, he has proven himself as one of the nation’s best. The Angels gave him a one-year, $21 million deal.

Chris Taylor OF/2B/SS – Los Angeles Dodgers

The best utility player in baseball and NL Wild Card game hero is back with the Dodgers. The batting average and defensive star secured a four year, $60 million deal with his club after declining a previous Qualifying Offer.

Justin Verlander SP – Houston Astros

Verlander was injured and received Tommy John surgery this past season, missing all of it. However, the veteran, likely Hall of Fame starter, was able to secure a one-year, $25 million deal with the Astros.

Alex Wood SP – San Francisco Giants

Like DeSclafani, Wood provides a much needed mid-late rotation man that the Giants heavily relied on last year. He and the team announced that he is returning on a two-year, $25 million deal.

Extra note: former New York Mets OF Michael Conforto, a highly regarded free agent, has not yet signed with a team at the time of this story’s publication.

All signings and contract details were found on the official MLB Trade Rumors site