What we've seen this MLB Offseason so far...
Updated: Nov 22, 2021
Written by Bryan Chan
With the MLB offseason in full swing, several teams have made splashes in the free agent market that have made their roster significantly better going into the 2022 season. With pessimism that a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) will be done by April 2022, free agents are looking to sign deals much quicker to guarantee as much money as possible.
In my opinion, the most impactful signing so far has to be starting pitcher Justin Verlander, who re-signed with the Houston Astros on a two-year, $50 million deal, with an opt-out option in 2023. Verlander, who missed all of the 2021 season due to his recovery from Tommy John surgery, rejected the team’s $18.4 million qualifying offer. Even though the New York Yankees and New York Mets were very interested in Verlander’s services, the 38 year-old right hander opted to stay with the team that he won a World Series with in 2017.
Justin Verlander hasn't pitched since 2020, but the future Hall-of-Famer still has some fuel left in the tank. Two week prior, Verlander threw a bullpen for 15-20 teams, where he clocked out at 97mph on his four-seam fastball, showing that he is one hundred percent ready for 2022. Next season, Verlander will be the ace of a strong Astros starting rotation that includes Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, 2021 AL Rookie of the Year Finalist Luis Garcia, and veteran Zack Greinke. The Astros bringing back Verlander is an addition to a rotation that lacked depth and experience in the 2021 postseason. Houston seems to be the favorites to win the AL West division yet again.
With Shohei Ohtani coming off an MVP season and Mike Trout expected to be ready for the 2022 season, one of the biggest holes the Los Angeles Angels need to address is starting pitching. They are off to a great start this offseason with the signing of fireballer Noah Syndergaard to a one-year, $21 million deal. After a five year career with the New York Mets, “Thor” is looking to revamp his career that has been plagued with injuries. Although it was a surprise that the Angels agreed to pay Syndergaard more than $20 million, it is safe to say that all baseball fans are happy to see that the franchise is finally willing to help Mike Trout out with some starting pitching. Even if Syndergaard is a fraction of what he was during his best years on the Mets, a rotation led by Ohtani and Syndergaard will be good enough to compete in the AL West. I look forward to what other moves the Angels will make this winter, so we can hopefully see Mike Trout in the postseason in 2022.
In one of the most underrated free agent signings this offseason, former Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez agreed to a five-year, $77 million deal with the Detroit Tigers. After a long rebuild following the departure of Justin Verlander in 2017, the Tigers are ready to become a force in the AL Central division. The Tigers are getting a crafty left-hander that gets hitters out at a high clip and has had success early in his career. With the accumulation of promising young talent through the draft, Rodriguez will be a force in a rotation that includes Matthew Boyd and top prospects Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning. E-Rod’s veteran presence will help Mize, Skubal, and Manning become successful starting pitchers in the league. Additionally, with early links to free agent shortstop Carlos Correa, the Tigers have a legitimate shot to be the favorites in a very underwhelming AL Central division. Overall, I really like this move by the Tigers and I am interested to see what other tricks the Tigers front office has up their sleeve this offseason.
With the free agent market for starting pitchers set with these three signings, it will be interesting to see where other free agents such as Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, and Marcus Stroman will land. This may be one of the most exciting MLB offseasons in recent history, and baseball fans are looking forward to every second of it.