In MLB’s hot market, patience trumps action

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

But probably not this one.

As expected, free agents are surging off the market and trading is happening at a blistering pace after MLB’s 99-day lockdown that froze league trading for more than three months.

With less than four weeks to go, the action has been intense.

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

Many other teams have swung into action over the past few days, preparing for opening day on April 7.

“It’s like drinking from a fire hose,” said Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

The Nationals, rebuilt after the last two straight spots and a massive sell-off at last season’s trade deadline, came out of the gate post-lockdown with a flurry of moves, adding DH Nelson Cruz, reliever Steve Cishek and others.

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

These are just the highlights.

In a typical offseason, the free agency and commercial market is often slow to develop. Sometimes there are unfounded rumors and lengthy negotiations as teams and players adopt different strategies and test the market.

This is not the case nowadays. Don’t expect the action to subside for a week or two.

“With all the agents and the other teams, I think it’s a lot more direct to try to get a deal done as soon as possible,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. “There aren’t a lot of people playing in the market. We exchange ideas and offers much earlier than a regular off-season.

TATIS OUT UP TO 3 MONTHS

The San Diego Padres could be without star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for a long time.

The 23-year-old will need surgery for a broken left wrist and could miss up to three months, chief executive AJ Preller has said. The shortstop apparently picked up the injury early in the offseason and felt it when he began preparing for spring training.

Reports surfaced in December that Tatis suffered scratches to his hand and knee in a motorcycle accident in his native Dominican Republic. He said he had felt pain in his wrist soon after, but thought it was due to bruising.

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

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

Tatis suffered a series of left shoulder injuries last year but still led the NL with 42 homers in 130 games.

ALONSO’S CLOSE CALL

Mets slugger Pete Alonso said he was uninjured after his car rolled over in Tampa, Fla. over the weekend.

“My car flipped over about three times and a guy ran a red light, hit me, and I’m really grateful to be alive,” the 27-year-old said. “I’m really grateful to be healthy. I am very grateful to be here.

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

DEGROM WILL RETIRE

In an effort to defuse any drama to come, 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.

Two-time NL winner Cy Young is reportedly giving up a $33.5m salary for 2023, in a deal that includes a $32.5m club option for 2024. The 33-year-old right-hander wants to stay with the Mets.

“I’m excited about this team, and I’ve said it before, I love being a Met, I 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 during the offseason with the Mets and Steve Cohen and the front office.”

DeGrom’s 2021 was one of 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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