Based on the overnight Javy Báez news, today could be another busy one on that front, with teams scrambling to get deals finalized before tomorrow night’s lockout (likely) begins. I don’t really see how you could get a physical and medical reviews scheduled and completed, reliably(!), without at least 24 hours to work with. So I’ve gotta believe any signings or trades that aren’t agreed to by tonight will be impossible to pull off if the league shuts things down at midnight on Wednesday.
That said, I also think today/tomorrow might SEEM busy to us outsiders because of the reporting cycle. My gut says there were probably a lot of deals agreed to yesterday/today that simply have yet to be scooped by a reporter, and thus we won’t first hear about them until the teams announce them. For some deals, that might not come until tomorrow. I wouldn’t necessarily expect any HUGE deals to wind up going that way – those tend to involve enough people doing enough legwork that they leak – but lesser deals could easily stay under the radar until they are announced.
Meanwhile, today will also be busy around baseball because of the tender deadline, which is at 7pm CT tonight. It’s the deadline by which teams must offer 2022 contracts to players who are under team control, but not yet under contract (i.e., pre-arbitration and arbitration-level players).
The Cubs’ decisions on the tender front are likely to be pretty rote, with arbitration-level guys like Willson Contreras and Ian Happ obviously being tendered, Harold Ramirez almost certainly being tendered since the Cubs traded for him, and the pre-arbitration guys mostly all being tendered.
I say “mostly” because you do often see fringe pre-arb guys non-tendered on this date if there have been negotiations behind the scenes on an above-market minor league deal. So the player gets non-tendered – removed from the 40-man roster – at the same time he signs a well-paying minor league deal. And sometimes pre-arbitration guys get non-tendered on this date simply because, as the offseason has played out (and any after-season evaluations), a team decides to move on from a fringe guy.
Around the league, it’ll be a much more interesting day on the non-tender front, because you’ll see the possibility of some pre-tender deals (teams signing arbitration players to deals right now to avoid the uncertainty of arbitration down the road), some trades where Team A doesn’t want to tender a guy but Team B wants the guy before he becomes a free agent, and then just some surprising non-tenders that put new free agents on the market.
In a normal offseason, today would be a day that I circle on the calendar and really look forward to, because it always changes the shape of the offseason. It’s a nerdy transaction day, to be sure, but I like it. Yet, in the current offseason, it’s all murky’d up by the expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement, and a lot of those transactions I’m talking about might not be possible because of the logistics of getting in physicals and medical checks by tomorrow at midnight. Moreover, the changes to the free agent pool are gonna be a whole lot less exciting when it’s like, OK, the market is different … let’s shut down for two months!
Speaking of which.
Since we are all already expecting a lockout at this point, all I’m rooting for over the next two days on the CBA front is some progress between the sides. Enough movement that a deal by early to mid-January becomes plausible. I’m just trying to be realistic. So, to that end, I actually barely see the other stuff in this tweet, mostly just seeing the “incremental movement” part, and it sounds good to me:
CBA talks have begun in Dallas but word is the Dec. 2 lockout is a certainty. There is said to be incremental movement but not nearly enough progress; the sides haven’t talked much about core economic issues today. Two days to go but basically no hope to avoid a work stoppage,
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 30, 2021
Give me two more days of incremental movement and I’ll be satisfied. I think a lockout sucks for a lot of reasons that MLB seems not to care about, but I’ve resigned myself to its looming arrival. So if the sides could please at least just start closing the massive gaps on the economic issues – even a little bit – that might help get a deal done sooner rather than later.