MLB

In hot MLB market, patience takes a backseat to action

Following the 99-day lockout, trading has been moving quickly.

The Oakland Athletics' Matt Olson, right, hits a solo home run in front of Seattle Mariners catcher Tom Murphy, left, during the first inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. (/Jed Jacobsohn/AP Photo) The Associated Press


PHOENIX (AP) — Patience is often rewarded for both free agents and general managers during most Major League Baseball offseasons.

But probably not this one.

As expected, free agents are flying off the market and trades are getting done at a breakneck pace following MLB’s 99-day lockout that froze the league’s transactions for more than three months.

With less than four weeks to go before an April 7 opening day, the action has been intense.

“It’s like drinking out of a firehose,” said Andrew Friedman, the president of baseball operations for the Dodgers.

The biggest news Monday was Oakland trading All-Star first baseman Matt Olson to Atlanta in exchange for four players, including promising young outfielder Cristian Pache. The deal means longtime Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is likely headed elsewhere in free agency.

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Seattle also made a splash, adding All-Star outfielder Jesse Winker and third baseman Eugenio Suarez in a trade with Cincinnati that sent a package of young players back to the Reds.

The Nationals, rebuilding after two last-place finishes in a row and a massive sell-off at last season’s trade deadline, came out of the gate post-lockout with a flurry of moves, adding DH Nelson Cruz, reliever Steve Cishek and others.

The Twins traded for pitcher Sonny Gray, the Mets dealt for All-Star right-hander Chris Bassitt, the Yankees traded for third baseman Josh Donaldson, the Giants signed starting pitchers Carlos Rodón and Jakob Junis and the White Sox helped their bullpen by adding Joe Kelly.

Those are just the highlights.

During a typical offseason, free agency and the trade market are often slow to develop. Sometimes there are unfounded rumors and long negotiations as teams and players adopt different strategies and test the market.

That’s not the case these days. Don’t expect the action to calm down for a week or two.

“With all the agents and other teams, I think there’s a lot more directness in trying to get a deal done sooner rather than later,” Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said. “There’s not a lot of people playing out the market. We’re kind of exchanging ideas and offers a lot sooner than an ordinary offseason.”

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Tatis out up to three months

The San Diego Padres could be without star slugger Fernando Tatis Jr. for a substantial amount of time.

The 23-year-old shortstop will need surgery for a broken left wrist and could miss up to three months, general manager A.J. Preller said. He apparently suffered the injury early in the offseason and felt it when he began preparing for spring training.

Reports surfaced in December that Tatis suffered scrapes on his hand and knee in a motorcycle accident in his native Dominican Republic. He said he felt pain in the wrist shortly afterward, but thought it was from bruises.

“It’s bad. It’s terrible. I feel like everybody is disappointed, especially me,” Tatis said. “We have a pretty good chance this year as a team. I just want to be out there for my teammates and for the fans.”

It’s a tough development for a team that was arguably the most disappointing in baseball last season. They started the year with legit World Series aspirations but faded in the final few months to finish 79-83.

Tatis had a series of injuries to his left shoulder last year, but still led the NL with 42 home runs in 130 games.

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Alonso’s close call

Mets slugger Pete Alonso said he wasn’t injured after his car flipped over in Tampa, Florida, over the weekend.

“My car flipped over probably about three times and a guy ran a red light, T-boned me, and to me I’m just really thankful to be alive,” the 27-year-old said. “I’m really thankful that I’m healthy. I’m very thankful to be here.”

Alonso was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2019 after smashing 53 homers. He hit 16 homers in the shortened 2020 season and had 37 longballs last year.

Degrom will opt out

In an effort to defuse any upcoming drama, Mets ace Jacob deGrom said he intends to exercise his right to opt out of his contract to become a free agent after the season.

The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner would give up a $33.5 million salary for 2023, part of a deal that carries a $32.5 million club option for 2024. The 33-year-old right-hander wants to remain with the Mets.

“I’m excited about this team, and I’ve said it before, I love being a Met, think it would be really cool to be one for my entire career,” deGrom said. “But the plan is to exercise that option and be in constant contact in the offseason with the Mets and Steve Cohen and the front office.”

DeGrom’s 2021 was among the most dominant seasons in baseball when he was able to stay healthy. He was 7-2 with a 1.08 ERA over 15 starts, striking out 146 over 92 innings.

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