Usually at this point in the calendar, The MLB stove already cooking with at least some major free-agent signings and offseason trades. But this year? Not so much.
While we wait for the movement to pick up speed, we asked an expert panel for their opinion on what should happen. Who will be the busiest teams when things finally get hot? Which players are set to make money? And what will the 2021 season look like as MLB tries to return to normalcy after the shortened 2020 campaign?
Here’s how 20 MLB team leaders and baseball insiders answered these questions and more.
Which team will end up making the biggest splash in the offseason?
The study says: Mets 12, Angels 4, Giants 2, White Sox 2
Normally, Christmas would be late to ask this question, but this year the timing is appropriate. It is obvious that the heart of the hot oven season extends into the new year.
A few teams, such as the White Sox and Braves, got a head start in their offseason shopping, but most still have a lot of work to do, including the team often mentioned by our experts. Catcher James McCann could be just the start of a winter consumption for the Mets under new owner Steve Cohen.
What about the teams selected beyond the meters?
“The angels know their mission,” said a rare non-New York voter. “I think [new GM] Perry Minasian has heard all the talk about Mike Trout not playoffs. Let’s put it this way, we know they are not going to stand still. “
Will Trevor Bauer sign for a year or take a multi-year agreement?
The study says: Multi-year agreement 14, one-year agreement 6
The NL Cy Young winner has submitted some mixed signals on this topic, but most respondents still think he will end up with a team for a long time. One thing that Bauer has been emphasizing is wanting to play for a challenger every season, but does that make it more or less likely that he will take a deal that keeps him in one place for half a decade or more?
“He’s a clumsy guy,” said a voter who thought Bauer would sign for just one year. “And next year could see the purse strings open, so I think he’s betting on himself to get a better overall deal next offseason.”
Many in the game say DJ LeMahieu returns to the Yankees and there is at least one chance JT Realmuto ends up with Phillies, so where will the second best hitter on the market – George Springer – Do you end up?
The study says: Mets 13, Blue Jays 5, Giants 2
It is no surprise that the Mets would show up in a big way here. They have been linked with Springer since the day Cohen bought the team. The Blue Jays are also coming up in talks with executives, as Toronto has admittedly been on the phone to convince big name players to cross the border.
The Giants, meanwhile, are sleeping teams. They laid a good foundation in 2020, but have work to do to compete with the Padres and Dodgers in a top-heavy NL West.
“It comes down to this, if the meters want him, they will get him,” said one voter. “When have we ever said that about them before?”
Who will be traded this off season: Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant, both or neither?
The study says: Lindor 11, both 9
Leaders often say how difficult it is to get a trade considered, how many never get to the finish line, so it’s interesting that no one took the easy way out with this issue. Every single voter believes that at least Lindor will be relocated. Both Lindor and Bryant have only one season left before free agency, so it is likely that they will both have new addresses by 2022.
“I think it’s pretty obvious – the way it turned out Mike Clevinger – The Indians want to move Lindor. Of course, it was partly for what happened off the field. It’s just a matter of where and when for Lindor. “
Who is the player most likely to get overpaid this winter?
Some may find it interesting that two shutters led, but knowing the volatility of relievers – even those with a proven track record – it can be difficult to argue with the results.
Only two hitters even showed up in response, and it was a little surprising to see Bauer get a vote. But Cy Young winners can be overpaid just like everyone else. Time will tell the story in this category.
Two-part question: Do you think spring training starts on time and will baseball play 162 regular season games?
The survey says: Start on time – Yes 8, No 12. Play 162 – Yes 10, No 10.
If you were wondering what the 2021 season will look like, you are not alone. Even those in the game are insecure. With the NHL and NBA playing shortened seasons, it may not be out of the question for MLB to follow. However, these leagues are still recovering from changes in their 2020 calendars, while baseball did not have that problem when the World Series ended in October as usual last season.
Still, spring training is currently scheduled to begin in February, long before vaccinations are widely available – hence the uncertainty among executives.
“It controls both boxes,” said one voter, explaining his answer to no to spring and yes to 162. “The pandemic will be a little calmer as we enter spring and more vaccinations are complete, but there will still be enough time to enter 162. “
“There will be plenty of seven inning doubles to get 162 games in,” said another voter.
Is the universal DH here for good?
The survey says: Yes 18, No 2
Apparently, not many MLBs follow the advice that teams should prepare for 2021 as if there would be no DH in the National League. This decision may come as part of a larger negotiation that includes everything from expanded playoffs, roster sizes and other rule changes to next year’s CBA. While most believe DH may be back for good, teams are moving slowly – much to the displeasure of some agents – until they get the last word in 2021.
“Probably good for consistency in this difficult and uncertain time,” said an AL voter. “I’ve always been a fan of the National League game [though]. “