The MLB offseason can be a long, dark period filled with rumours, speculation, and anticipation for baseball fans. The last few winters, a majority of baseball’s best toiled around for months on unemployment before signing to their new clubs, making for a slow slew of cold months of hope and, for the most part, inevitable disappointment.
That hasn’t been the case this offseason as the MLB hot stove has nearly reached a melting point, with more high-profile players agreeing to deals in the span of a single 24-hour stretch than I can ever remember. My Twitter notifications from Sunday around 4pm until the same time the next day were RELENTLESS as has been this rollercoaster of emotions I’ve shared with the rest of the Blue Jays fanbase.
Within the span of less than a day, three of my top six best free agents had signed with a new team, earning $630 million for themselves in the process. The future success or failure of your ballclub has been impacted by this 24-hour stretch no matter who you root for, as nearly every division has been flipped on its head due to the proactiveness of some and the idleness of others.
In case you don’t live on social media like I do (in which case I strongly envy you) and missed out on all of the action I’m here to recap what’s hit the fan since you sat down for Sunday brunch. We’ll look at how the Blue Jays were impacted, both in terms of departures and arrivals, and what we might see in the aftermath of this unprecedented window of signings. This has truly been the wildest stretch of free agent signings in the history of the sport.
Welcome to Toronto, Kevin Gausman
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) November 29, 2021
We all wanted the Jays to go after one of the top starting pitchers on the market, and while they might not have gotten the guy we were expecting there’s no doubt that the signing of Kevin Gausman is a HUGE deal. The righthander is the newest Blue Jay after getting inked to a five-year deal worth $110 million, and I’ve gotta say I’m excited that he’s coming to Toronto. I had seen some rumours linking Kevin Gausman to the Blue Jays for a couple days, including by our friend Mike Boboa who everyone and their mother thought was a complete fraud, but lo and behold we got our guy. Kudos to you, Mike Boboa.
We’re at a B Dubs in Louisiana but I had to do an INSTANT REACTION TO THE BLUE JAYS SIGNING KEVIN GAUSMAN. LFG!!!
— Nick Reid (@Nick1ausReid) November 29, 2021
I nearly flipped my pound of lemon pepper when the Gausman to the Jays news broke Sunday evening. He’s not the familiar pair of pants everyone wanted to bring back but Kevin Gausman is a great signing for this ballclub. The righty has been one of the best pitchers in the National League the past two seasons with the San Francisco Giants, reviving himself after too many years with the Baltimore Orioles took away the shine he had as a former first-round pick.
Gaus found himself during his time in the bay area, posting a 2.81 ERA and 1.04 WHIP which were both the best marks of his career. He made hitters swing and miss like a madman with 227 strikeouts across 192 innings, earning workhorse status tying the league lead with 33 starts. The former LSU Tiger (Geaux Tigers) has developed a lethal arsenal, including a splitter that is one of the best pitches in baseball, and has great command to go along with it.
— Mitch Bannon (@MitchBannon) November 29, 2021
Gausman will be a great #2 behind José Berrios rounding out what’s one of the best rotations in the American League. The guy already loves Toronto and I think fans will reciprocate that feeling when we see him light it up in a Jays uniform. He’s gonna be a key arm for this ballclub for years to come.
Blue Jays that flocked the coop…
Just about everyone who had an opinion on the Jays’ offseason goals would tell you that re-signing at least one of Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray was a must. I thought that we’d get at least one of them; after seeing the immense fan support after our ballclub came home after over 700 days and everything that Toronto has to offer, why wouldn’t these guys want to run it back with one of the best young cores in the game? But as it turns out, none of that usually matters as much as what’s on that cheque. Both Semien and Ray got PAID, but not by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Marcus Semien’s signing was the one that surprised me the most. After hitting 45 bombs for the Jays on a one-year deal this past season, the second baseman who finished third in AL MVP voting was a player many fans wanted to be brought back. That’s why it was a shock when it was announced he inked a seven-year deal worth $175 million… with the Texas Rangers of all teams.
Thoughts on the contract? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/vIFUuYdzMX
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 28, 2021
Semien deserved to get breaded up after his incredible season. And given the terms of his new deal I’m not shocked the Jays didn’t match that. Seven years is a lot for a 31 year old, let alone at $25 mil a year. But did you really have to leave us for the Texas Rangers, Marcus? Losing him is one thing, but seeing him go to the Rangers is putting salt in the wound. These guys probably signed Semien out of spite to try to get back at us for the bat flip.
Reigning Cy Young Robbie Ray is joining the Mariners on a 5-year, $115M deal, per @JeffPassan
There is an opt-out after the third season. pic.twitter.com/henWxIuueL
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) November 29, 2021
And less than 24 hours later, Robbie Ray was gone as well. After the Gausman signing was announced, I figured the chances of bringing back the tight-pantsed assassin were slim to none. Ray’s deal with the Seattle Mariners was nearly identical to Gausman’s, which will inevitably lead us to meticulously compare the two for years to come. But I’m happy Robbie cashed out. I doubt he’ll replicate his Cy Young season again but he’ll do a fine job pitching in an easier division. It’s gonna be a trip when Ray and Semien square off for the first time as AL West foes. These guys gave us a great year, and as a fan it would’ve been awesome to see the Jays run it back with them, but they balled out and their maket value skyrocketed. That’s the business of the game.
The Blue Jays paid Marcus Semien ($18m), Robbie Ray ($8m) and Steven Matz ($5.2m) a total of $31.2m last season. As FAs, they signed contracts worth a combined $334m.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) November 29, 2021
News around the league
It’s truly mind-boggling to see all the deals that were struck during this stretch. After signing Semien, the Rangers went out and got 2020 World Series MVP Corey Seager on a monster 10-year deal worth $325 million. The Rangers weren’t playing, spending more on these two free agents than they have on their payroll the last four years combined. They immediately have the best middle infield in baseball, but is that enough to make them a contender? I doubt it.
“Hey Max? Good news and bad news. Got you the largest AAV contract EVAH!!”
“ That’s amazing, Scott! What’s the bad news?” pic.twitter.com/Ev8HsblI1l
— 6 And The City (@TrawnaTheGreat) November 29, 2021
No deal surprised me the most during this 24-hour stretch than Max Scherzer’s signing with the New York Mets. Even though Mad Max was the oldest free agent pitcher available at 37, there was definitely a market for a guy who still figures to be an ace in the short-term. That’s why the Mets locked him down, giving him over $43 million a season in a deal that set the record for the highest average salary for a ballplayer ever. The Mets and their moneybags owner Steve Cohen are going all in like we predicted, also landing the best centerfielder on the market in Starling Marte, but does it really matter? At the end of the day the Mets are the Mets.
With MLB’s collective bargaining agreement expiring on December 1st, there was a sense that there’d be a flurry of free agent deals getting done before the predicted work stoppage that who knows how long will last. But I don’t think anyone could have predicted the onslaught of signings that commenced Sunday night. Over a billion dollars were doled out to MLB free agents in the last several days, and as a fan it’s been great to follow along all of the moves. Now for the Jays’ sake let’s hope they aren’t done after landing Gausman and reliever Yimi Garcia.