MLB free-agent frenzy: Catch up on flurry of moves as Javier Báez, Marcus Stroman, more find new homes

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The Major League Baseball hot stove heated up this week ahead of a lockout. MLB's current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expired on Wednesday night at 11:59 p.m. ET, and  the owners announced a lockout a few minutes later. The work stoppage means all free-agent activity will be halted until the players' union and the league can come to a new agreement -- a process that could take months. 

But many players and teams rushed to get deals in place after Thanksgiving and before the lockout, leading to a hectic free-agent frenzy. As of Wednesday, seven of the top 10 free agents have signed:

  1. SS Carlos Correa: Unsigned
  2. SS Corey Seager: 10 years, $325 million with Rangers
  3. 3B/OF Kris Bryant: Unsigned
  4. IF Marcus Semien: 7 years, $175 million with Rangers
  5. 1B Freddie Freeman: Unsigned
  6. LHP Robbie Ray: 5 years, $115 million with Mariners
  7. RHP Max Scherzer: 3 years, $130 million with Mets
  8. RHP Kevin Gausman: 5 years, $110 million with Blue Jays
  9. RHP Marcus Stroman: 3 years, $71 million with Cubs
  10. OF Starling Marte: 4 years, $78 million with Mets

The Rangers and Mets have been the most active teams in free agency and it's not particularly close either. In addition to Seager and Semien, Texas also signed righty Jon Gray and outfielder Kole Calhoun. The Mets signed infielder Eduardo Escobar and outfield Mark Canha in addition to Scherzer and Marte. The two clubs have committed over $800 million to free agents. 

Although free agency has been very active the last few days, the Marlins have been one of the few active teams on the trade market. The Marlins acquired catcher Jacob Stallings from the Pirates and infielder Joey Wendle from the Rays this week and sent catcher Jorge Alfaro to the Padres.

Miss any of the action? Here's a look at the notable deals that were signed ahead of MLB's lockout:

Notable hot stove deals

  • Corey Seager and the Rangers have agreed to a 10-year, $325 million pact (full story here). 
  • Max Scherzer and the Mets have finalized a three-year, $130 million deal (full story here).
  • Robbie Ray agreed to a five-year, $115 million deal with the Mariners (full story here).
  • Marcus Stroman reached a deal with the Chicago Cubs, he announced on Twitter (full story here).
  • James Paxton and the Red Sox agreed to a unique one-year deal for the left-hander (full story here).
  • Marcus Semien agreed to a seven-year, $175 million deal with the Rangers (full story here). 
  • Javier Báez agreed to a six-year, $140 million contract with the Tigers (full story here).
  • Chris Taylor reached an agreement to return to the Dodgers (full story here).
  • Corey Knebel signed a one-year deal with the Phillies (full story here).
  • 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). 
  • Jon Gray and the Rangers agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal (full story here).
  • Rich Hill signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Red Sox.
  • Leury Garcia signed a three-year deal with the White Sox, per MLB Network's Jon Heyman.
  • Corey Kluber signed a one-year deal with the Rays after spending 2021 with the Yankees (full story here).
  • Reliever Kirby Yates signed a two-year, $8.25 million deal with the Braves, the team announced.
  • Reliever Daniel Hudson is nearing a one-year, $7 million deal with the Dodgers, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.
  • Catcher Yan Gomes agreed to a two-year, $13 million deal, reports Craig Mish.
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Diamondbacks sign Melancon

The Diamondbacks have signed veteran reliever Mark Melancon to a two-year contract, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal

Melancon, who will celebrate his 37th birthday in March, spent last season with the San Diego Padres. He amassed a 2.23 ERA (175 ERA+) and a 2.36 strikeout-to-walk ratio to go with his 39 saves. He even made his fourth career All-Star Game.

Last season, Arizona had eight pitchers record a save, including two (Joakim Soria and Tyler Clippard) who tied for the staff lead with six apiece. Melancon should give the Diamondbacks a more steady presence in the ninth inning. 

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Phillies sign Knebel

The Phillies have agreed to a deal with righty reliever Corey Knebel, reports ESPN's Jeff Passan. Contract terms are unknown but I would bet on a multi-year contract. Our R.J. Anderson ranked Knebel the No. 34 free agent this offseason. Here's his write-up:

Knebel's sales pitch is so obvious that it's deliverable in a tweet-sized message: He has big stuff, a mid-to-upper 90s carrying fastball and a wicked curve, as well as ample experience in every role that can be assigned to a modern reliever: closer, setup man, and even opener.

Knebel, 30, had a 2.45 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings around a lat injury this past season. Philadelphia has had bullpen problems for several years and Knebel is likely to step in as the team's closer. He's good enough to be the No. 1 guy in a contender's bullpen, though the Phillies would be wise to continue adding bullpen help.

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Rangers still looking for SP

MLB.com's Jon Morosi reports the Rangers are still looking to upgrade their rotation, even after signing Jon Gray. The Athletics (Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas) and Reds (Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle) are obvious potential trade partners, though some of those players will be easier to acquire than others. Bassitt and Manaea will be free agents next offseason, it should be noted. Montas as another two years of control.

The top of the free agent pitching market has been mostly picked clean. There's the reliable Marcus Stroman, then pitchers with big upside but also big injury risk like Carlos Rodón and Clayton Kershaw. The Rangers currently have Gray and Dane Dunning penciled into their 2022 rotation. The three spots after that remain up for grabs.

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Cubs sign Gomes

The Cubs have agreed to a two-year, $13 million contract with catcher Yan Gomes, reports Craig Mish. Gomes was the best available catcher in a very thin free agent market, and the signing will certainly lead to speculation that Willson Contreras could be traded this offseason. Contreras is one year away from free agency and the front office has indicated he would be moved if the two sides are unable to work out a contract extension.

Gomes, 34, hit .252/.301/.421 with 14 homers between the Nationals and Athletics this past season.

November 30, 2021, 4:03 PM
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Mariners extend Muñoz

The Mariners made an under-the-radar signing overnight. Seattle signed reliever Andrés Muñoz to a four-year, $7.5 million extension with three club options, the team announced. The deal covers his remaining four years of team control with club options for three free agent years. He gets a nice guaranteed payday and the Mariners get cost certainty.

Muñoz, 22, joined the Mariners in the Austin Nola trade with the Padres. He was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery at the time and returned to face two batters in the season finale this year. Muñoz throws exceptionally hard -- his average fastball was 100.1 mph in 2019, during his MLB debut and prior to Tommy John surgery -- and profiles as a high-strikeout late-inning reliever. Seattle can now use him in the closer's role without worrying about saves leading to sky high arbitration salaries.

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