As we near November end, Toronto Blue Jays fans have seen Christmas come early with the signing of starter Kevin Gausman to a 5 year, $110 million deal, an extension for starter Jose Berríos, and the pick up of steady reliever Yimi Garcia.
It’s been a very active month for the front office, players and their agents.
In fact, there has been a frenzy of activity across the industry as players, front offices and owners grapple with the chance of an impending work stoppage, which would freeze the offseason and free agency. Major League Baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the contract between team owners and players, is set to expire at 11:59PM ET this Wednesday, December 1st.
Is CBA Expiry Accelerating the Blue Jays Offseason Plans?
According to sources quoted in The Athletic article here, if the current CBA, which was ratified in 2016, expires without a new deal in place, MLB is expected to implement a lockout and transaction freeze, to be maintained until a new deal is reached.
As noted in the MLBTR summary here, Bruce Meyer, who is the MLBPA’s senior director of collective bargaining and legal, says,
"We want to find ways to get players compensated at an earlier stage of their careers when the teams are valuing them the most. And we want to preserve the fundamental principles of a market system."
Or in the words of star free agent pitcher Max Scherzer, who is also a Players Association executive subcommittee member,
"Unless this CBA completely addresses the competition [issues] and younger players getting paid, that’s the only way I’m going to put my name on it."
Judging by the fact that Scherzer himself appears to have signed the largest AAV contract in MLB history with the New York Mets before the existing CBA expires, it doesn’t sound like his name is going to be put on a new CBA anytime soon?
And as evidenced by the number of top free agents who’ve already signed contracts, and the number of large, multi-year extensions for younger players with less service time like Berríos, Sandy Alcantara and Wander Franco, all signs point to an impending work stoppage and transaction freeze.
The Jays have so far shown interest in free agent starters Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Noah Syndergaard, Justin Verlander and Jon Gray, to go along with the Gausman signing.
While former Jays Robbie Ray (5 years, $115 million with Seattle), Steven Matz (4 years, $44 million with St. Louis) and Marcus Semien (7 years, $175 million with Texas) have already signed multi-year contracts with other clubs, the Jays starting rotation is now anchored by Kevin Gausman through his age 36 seasons in 2026, Jose Berríos (who can opt out after year five of his seven year deal) through his age 34 season in 2027, Alek Manoah (under team control through 2027), and hopefully also Nate Pearson (team control through 2026) for years to come.
The Gausman and Garcia signings bump the projected 2022 Blue Jays payroll up to $141 million, so there is certainly room to do more free agent business before the CBA expiry this Wednesday evening given talk of up to $180 million on payroll for the “right situation”.
What do you think Blue Jays fans, who should the front office pursue next?
What would the right situation be? Lefty slugging 3B Kyle Seager? Closer Raisel Iglesias? Or maybe another starter like Alex Wood?