20 things we’d like to see when the MLB lockout ends


Assuming you haven’t been trapped under a rock the past few weeks, you surely know by now that Major League Baseball is unfortunately on hold thanks to its first work stoppage since the 1994 strike. While at the moment there does not seem to be much concern the lockout will impact spring training or the start of the season–yet, the sooner it ends the better it will be for everyone involved. Prior to everything being shut down, there was a rapid flurry of free-agent signings, but several big names are still on the open market. Let’s check out some things we’d like to see happen, and some questions we can’t wait to see answered when the lockout finally ends. 


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How on earth did the Braves even let the face of their franchise reach free agency? The superstar first baseman was the MVP of the National League in 2020, and just a few months ago led Atlanta to their first World Series title in 26 years. To me, this negotiation should essentially have Freeman’s camp write down a number and the Braves brass pretend to mull it over before saying “it’s a deal.” It would still be stunning if Freeman were wearing a different uniform in 2022 but the fact that his free agency has even made it to this point makes the possibility at least worth talking about. 


2 of 20

The Mets go full evil empire and sign Kris Bryant

The Mets go full evil empire and sign Kris Bryant

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Mets’ owner Steve Cohen has already been the story of MLB’s off-season, acting every bit like George Steinbrenner in his heyday in the Bronx. New York has already added Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha this winter, but there’s one move the Mets could still make to really draw comparisons to Steinbrenner’s Evil Empire. Go out and sign Kris Bryant. The Amazins were in on Bryant at the trade deadline last July before Chicago sent him to San Francisco, and his right-handed bat would fit nicely in the middle of the Mets lineup. Go get him, Uncle Stevie. 


3 of 20

The Yankees finally land a shortstop

The Yankees finally land a shortstop

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Sticking in New York, let’s check in on the Yankees who have to be frustrated with their crosstown rivals pushing them off of the back pages all winter. The Bombers headed into the offseason in desperate need of an offensive upgrade at position number six on your scorecard, and while their fans are frustrated they didn’t address it already, all hope is not lost. Carlos Correa–although that would be quite the story dating back to their rivalry with Houston–and Trevor Story are both free agents still. The Yankees simply need to get one of them into pinstripes. 


The Phillies trade for Kevin Kiermaier

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Philadelphia has needed to address center field for a while now, and while they would have loved to have signed Starling Marte, watching him spurn them for their division rivals in New York now puts more urgency on their search. There are not any exciting free-agent options available, but the trade market does hold an intriguing name. Thanks to his high salary in 2022, the small market Rays are expected to shop gold glover Kevin Kiermaier. The veteran is not a dynamic offensive player but very few outfielders in the sport can go get it in center field the way he can. Adding him via trade should not cost an exorbitant amount of capital, and it would be a welcome addition for this team’s pitching staff. 


5 of 20

Are the A’s really about to have a fire sale?

Are the A's really about to have a fire sale?

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Oakland has not made their desire to slash payroll this winter a secret, a development that seems to be loosely tied to their standoff with the city over a potential new ballpark. But saying you’re going to listen on players and trading them all away are two very different things. If they really are serious, look for starters Chris Bassitt, Frankie Montas, and Sean Manaea to be on new teams next season, as well as probably first baseman Matt Olson and potentially even third baseman Matt Chapman. 


6 of 20

The Reds trade Luis Castillo

The Reds trade Luis Castillo

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Speaking of selling, let’s pivot to Cincinnati. The Reds seem like this winter’s National League version of where the A’s are at the moment. After really trying to push towards a deep playoff run the last few years, Cincinnati has indicated they’re willing to take a step back and retool. And should they move pieces, their ace right-hander Luis Castillo would assuredly bring back more than any other piece they have on their roster. 


7 of 20

The White Sox sign Nick Castellanos

The White Sox sign Nick Castellanos

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The White Sox ascension towards becoming an American League powerhouse is nearly complete, but if they want to consistently compete for the pennant during this window that’s in front of them, they need to pull out all the stops. So why not go and add potentially the most productive bat remaining on the market? Chicago did not get nearly enough out of right field in 2021, and Castellanos would be a slam dunk upgrade at the position. 


Michael Conforto signs with the Mariners

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Veteran outfielder Michael Conforto grew up outside of Seattle and while it’s still possible he re-ups in New York, both he and the Mets both seemed to be operating under the assumption that he’d be elsewhere in 2022 pre-lockout. And his hometown team sure jumps off the page as a potential fit. Seattle came so close to ending the sport’s longest postseason drought last September, and they’re potentially one big bat away from getting to where they want to be. Conforto is a former all-star with a sweet left-handed swing, and he could be just what the doctor ordered. 


9 of 20

The league leaves the playoff format alone

The league leaves the playoff format alone

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There have been rumblings that MLB and the owners would like to have the expanded playoffs from the 2020 pandemic shortened season become a more permanent thing. I for one, could not hate that anymore. Baseball’s playoffs are more exclusive than any other sport, and allowing more than half the league to get in just enables owners to not spend the kind of money the players and the fans would like to see. What’s the incentive to go ‘all in’ when you could qualify for the postseason with a sub .500 record and try to get hot in October?


10 of 20

Carlos Correa goes back to Houston

Carlos Correa goes back to Houston

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Nearly all of Carlos Correa’s comments on his impending free agency during the last few months have implied heavily that he would be departing Houston. Reuniting with his former manager A.J. Hinch in Detroit seemed like a logical fit. But with the Tigers signing Javier Baez instead, and some players around the league hesitant to welcome guys associated with the Astros’ cheating scandal, Correa may find that the grass is not really greener on the other side. Perhaps some fences could be mended to make sure one of the best players in Houston team history remains in Space City. 


The Braves bring back Jorge Soler

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One of the Braves unsung heroes on the way to their World Series win last October was outfielder Jorge Soler, acquired in a midseason trade with the Royals. At the time of the deal Soler was hitting only .192 for Kansas City but his fortunes changed dramatically in Atlanta. In just over 200 at-bats for his new team, Soler crushed 14 home runs, and he added three more in the playoffs. Atlanta will get Ronald Acuna Jr. back next season and while Marcell Ozuna is eligible to return from his suspension, the Braves would generate some positive PR by walking away from him and instead retaining Soler. 


The Yankees re-sign Anthony Rizzo

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The Bombers deadline trade to acquire first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the Cubs was surprising at the time, but it was a fit that worked well for both sides. His left-handed power played well with the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium, and Rizzo has always been a strong clubhouse influence. New York could certainly use him in 2022 and beyond, and Rizzo himself has made it clear that his preference is to return to the Bronx.


Clayton Kershaw reups with the Dodgers

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Clayton Kershaw is no longer the best pitcher in the sport, but he remains an upper-echelon starter when healthy. Optimum word….when. The veteran lefty missed over two months with forearm/elbow soreness last season and then left his final regular-season start early and had to sit out the entire postseason. Los Angeles did not issue him a qualifying offer but you have to imagine the two sides can come to an agreement for 2022 that works for everyone. 


The Angels sign Carlos Rodon

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The emergence of Carlos Rodon was one of the underrated developments of the 2021 season. The White Sox left-hander went from non tendered following the ’20 campaign to posting a 2.37 ERA in 24 starts, throwing a no-hitter, and making the all-star team. His career year came at a fortuitous time, as he entered free agency as one of the more desirable starters on the market. The Halos have been in desperate need of pitching help forever, and even after signing former Met Noah Syndergaard, they could still use more arms. 


The Marlins should try to sign Zack Greinke

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This might not be all that likely of a suggestion, but it stands out as something that would make a ton of sense for Kim Ng to pursue. Miami has a ton of talented young starters, headlined by Sandy Alcantara and Sixto Sanchez, but this staff lacks a veteran leader. If they could convince Greinke to come in for one year to help mentor some of these young guys and help anchor a staff that will likely have most of the starters on innings limits it would be a no-brainer. 


16 of 20

The ability for teams to trade draft picks

The ability for teams to trade draft picks

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Think about how exciting the NFL draft is when an alert pops up that a team has traded up to try to go get the guy they want? The MLB draft already lacks the juice the NFL’s does because of the fact the prospects won’t debut in the Major Leagues for a few seasons. But if the new CBA included the ability for teams to trade up and down the draft board it would really add some spice to the event. 


The Red Sox retain Kyle Schwarber

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Veteran left-handed slugger Kyle Schwarber split last season between D.C. and Boston and excelled in both places, crushing 32 cumulative homers in under 400 at-bats. His power will be a coveted commodity once the lockout ends, with the Phillies standing out as another interested party. But the way Schwarber swung the bat for the Red Sox down the stretch a year ago has to have them craving more of the same in 2022 and beyond. 


Toronto signs Kenley Jansen

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The Blue Jays were one of the most exciting teams in baseball last season, but they suffered three significant losses prior to the lockout, with all of Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, and Marcus Semien departing in free agency. Toronto did sign Kevin Gausman to help offset some of the rotation losses, but the pitching staff still needs more help. So why not go get a three-time all-star closer? Righty Kenley Jansen is not expected to return to LA, and on paper, he fits nicely north of the border. 


19 of 20

The Mets bring Matt Harvey in on a minor league deal

The Mets bring Matt Harvey in on a minor league deal

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Now, this is not an exceedingly likely possibility, but think how great the story could be. Harvey has never been the same since he left Queens on decidedly bad terms in 2018. He’s bounced between the Reds, Angels, Royals, and Orioles with very little success, but in Baltimore a year ago he did at least demonstrate the ability to eat innings and keep his team in the game. The Mets rotation is going to be anchored by Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, and with Taijuan Walker and Carlos Carrasco, they have some solid depth. But why not bring in Harvey on a no-risk deal and see what he has left in spring training?


Washington brings back Ryan Zimmerman for one last hurrah

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Ryan Zimmerman was the first-ever draft pick in the history of the Washington Nationals franchise, and while he’s no longer an elite player, he remains the undisputed Mr. National. Washington is going to go through some growing pains in 2022 after trading away most of their valuable assets last summer, but bringing back Zimmerman for one final season would appease the fans and help stabilize the clubhouse. 

Justin Mears is a freelance sports writer from Long Beach Island, NJ. Enjoys being frustrated by the Mets and Cowboys, reading Linwood Barclay novels, and being yelled at by his toddler son. Follow him on twitter @justinwmears


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