The longer Major League Baseball’s lockout drags on, the quicker teams will have to be about completing their free-agent shopping when it’s over and the market reopens.
How each team is going to proceed is a gateway to many questions, so we settled for asking the biggest ones that we have for all 30 of them.
These mostly consist of questions relating to how clubs are going to fill specific needs. Others are more general, essentially asking which direction teams on the fence between contending and rebuilding will choose.
We’ll go division by division, starting in the American League East and ending in the National League West.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles: Who’s Going to Be Adley Rutschman’s Veteran Mentor?
According to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports, one of Baltimore’s post-lockout priorities will be adding a veteran catcher. Rightfully so, given that backstops Jacob Nottingham and Anthony Bemboom are only signed to minor league deals. There isn’t much left on the open market, but a Stephen Vogt or a Kurt Suzuki would be nice to have both before and after top prospect Adley Rutschman gets the call.
Boston Red Sox: On Which Right-Handed Bat Will They Splurge?
Way back on Dec. 1, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom highlighted a right-handed hitter as one of Boston’s top needs. Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Kris Bryant and Nick Castellanos are hypothetical fits, but there’s also a report out from Yahoo Japan that the Red Sox are the most likely landing spot for Japanese star Seiya Suzuki. In any case, the Red Sox have too many options to come away with nothing.
New York Yankees: Are They Really Sitting Out the Shortstop Market?
In spite of their obvious need at short, the Yankees didn’t budge on Corey Seager, Javier Baez or Marcus Semien before the lockout. The good news is that Correa and Story will still be there for them on the other side of the lockout, but the Yankees’ interest in them might hinge on where the next luxury-tax threshold is set. As it is, their 2022 projections already put them well over last year’s threshold.
Tampa Bay Rays: Can They Afford the Offensive Upgrade They Seek?
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays will be seeking a “right-handed hitter who can play first base.” There are slim pickings on the open market, particularly given that guys like Bryant and Castellanos (who might be a first baseman someday) are presumably beyond the Rays’ price range. Albert Pujols might be a fit, but the Rays might just as soon pass on him in favor of a trade target.
Toronto Blue Jays: Which Outstanding Need Takes Precedence?
The Blue Jays filled the shoes of reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray by signing Kevin Gausman, yet they still have big boxes to check. As for which is the most pressing, there are good arguments for a proven closer or someone who can play second and/or third base. If the Jays choose to go for broke to fill one of these needs, a deal with Kenley Jansen or even Story could be doable.