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MLB hot stove: How baseballs impending lockout affects free agencies
MLB hot stove: How baseballs impending lockout affects free agencies

MLB hot stove: How baseballs impending lockout affects free agencies

Major League Baseball’s owners are expected to shut down players this week, after the current collective agreement expires at 23:59 ET on December 1. The lockout, which will be MLB’s first work stoppage since 1994-95, will remain in place until a new CBA can be agreed and then ratified by the owners and the players’ association.

Given that it’s been almost three decades since the last time the league went down, you might be wondering what that means for the hot oven. Below we have tried our best to answer five questions about the looming lockout and how it will affect transactions.

Can free agents sign during the lockout?

No. You will not see Carlos Correa, Corey Seager or any other remarkable free agent put pen to paper during the lockout. If they are a member of MLB The players’ association then they are not qualified to change teams during the work stoppage. These players will have to wait until after the new CBA is ratified by signing; Depending on when the CBA is agreed, it may force them to make quick decisions.

2. What about Seiya Suzuki?

Suzuki is an outdoor player with Nippon Professional Baseballs Hiroshima Toyo Carp. In addition to being the best international free agent available this winter, he is one of the best free agents available overall, 15th place on our top 50 list. In a normal low season, MLB team wanted only 30 days after Suzuki was “posted” to reach an agreement with him; otherwise he would remain in Japan. However, this offseason is expected to see Suzuki’s 30-day window temporarily stopped for as long as the work stoppage lasts, which will probably lead to the process being stretched beyond normal tidiness.

3. How has free agency been affected so far?

It’s hard to say how much of the pre-Thanksgiving activity was caused by the impending lockout, but there was an upswing over the weekend that appears to be driven by the CBA outage. As of Sunday, 13 of CBS Sports’ top 50 free agents had signed, including Marcus Semien and Starling Marte – two players ranked among the top 10.

League sources told CBS Sports on Saturday that Kevin Gausman seemed to be approaching a decision, while Max Scherzer also appears to be interested in finding a home before the lockout. As a minimum, the looming work stoppage ensures that the offseason will have two parts: this “pre” period, and then a more meaty “post” part when a new CBA has been agreed.

4. Can teams make trades?

Yes and no. You will not see deals involving players who are on the list of 40 players, or who are otherwise part of the union, but you can still see team swap prospects. For the most part, the minor leagues will be unaffected by the lockout because they are not members of (nor represented by) the MLB Players Association.

5. How long will the lockout last?

This is the big, unanswered question, but insiders who have spoken to CBS Sports have indicated that it will be timed in months, not days or weeks. This does not necessarily mean that spring training or the regular season will be compromised; this means that most free agencies and trades can be brought into a small, hectic window. Be aware that the offseason could have gone as normal without a CBA; it is the owners’ decision to shut out the players who want to stop everything.

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