Major League Baseball free agency continues to be in a holding pattern nearly two months after the Los Angeles Dodgers World Series victory. Unlike last year, when the big money deals for Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and Anthony Rendon occurred in early December, the New York Mets signing of catcher James McCann remains the only significant multi-year contract this offseason.
The uncertain financial landscape due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an overriding concern for MLB owners, as it is currently unknown if Spring Training will open in February if there will be a 162-game or shorter schedule, or if/when fans will be able to attend games. Until there is more clarification in those areas, teams may be hesitant to commit to long-term deals unless it is a bargain.
Is Didi a Plan B for DJ??
The New York Yankees’ top priority remains getting AL batting champion D.J. LeMahieu re-signed, but GM Brian Cashman is likely making plans if he can’t get the 32-year-old infielder at the right price and term. Reports indicate that LeMahieu’s representatives are looking for a five-year, $100 million deal, while the Bronx Bombers are offering a four-year deal.
The most likely scenario if LeMahieu opts for greener pastures may be shifting Gleyber Torres back to second base after he struggled at shortstop, and add a more cost-effective defensive infielder like Gold Glover Andrelton Simmons.
Another possible option reported by the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff is the return of Didi Gregorius.
The popular former Yankee spent 2020 with Philadelphia but indicated in a radio interview last week that he enjoyed playing in New York and seemed open to wearing pinstripes again. With New York intent on staying beneath the $210 million limit to avoid the MLB luxury tax, bringing back Gregorius at a lower salary would allow Cashman to re-sign another pitcher like Masahiro Tanaka.
Angels exploring cheaper options, Blue Jays willing to big spenders
The LA Angels have been connected to big-name free agents J.T. Realmuto and Trevor Bauer, but that may only be because they traditionally shop on Rodeo Dr. for the likes of Albert Pujols and Rendon. This year, they lost out to the Mets in the McCann sweepstakes and are kicking tires on Kurt Suzuki instead of Realmuto, and instead of re-signing Simmons after making $6 million last season, they let him walk in free agency and traded with Baltimore for the less expensive Jose Iglesias.
Toronto continues to be connected to high-value targets LeMahieu, George Springer, and Realmuto because they have low-cost youngsters in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio, but it is unknown whether those players are simply using the Blue Jays interest to get more money out of the Yankees and Mets or whether it reflects a genuine interest in signing north of the border.