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MLB free agency: Which players signed before the lockout, who are the best still available

We discuss who inked deals before the MLB Lockout and who remains a free agent.

Max Scherzer #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning of Game Two of the National League Championship Series at Truist Park on October 17, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The MLB Lockout lasted 99 grueling days resulting in grey faces on MLB rosters, new rule changes and a growing disconnect between the owners and the players. That finally came to an end on Wednesday as the two sides were able to agree to a new CBA and we finally have an Opening Day of April 7th to look forward to. Free agency was closed for the entirety of the lockout, and in the over three-month span, you may have forgotten that some players were able to ink new contracts before the lockout began.

Max Scherzer, New York Mets, 3 years, $130 million

Scherzer finds himself back in the NL East and the Mets are going all-in on competing this year. With the divisional rival Atlanta Braves winning the 2021 World Series, the Mets were buyers at the start of free agency at the end of 2021. They signed Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha and Starling Marte to big deals, but none is bigger than bringing in Scherzer.

The Mets lost Noah Syndergaard to the Los Angeles Angels, but now Scherzer will help give the Mets the best top-end starting rotation in the league pairing him with Jacob DeGrom. Scherzer was a finalist for the NL Cy Young award in 2021 and he and DeGrom will likely be battling it out this season.

Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers, 7 years, $175 million

The biggest signing of the early part of free agency as shortstop Marcus Semien put pen to paper on a seven-year deal with the Texas Rangers. Semien was regarded as one of the best shortstops in the MLB and played last season with the Toronto Blue Jays on a one-year ‘prove it’ deal and prove it he did. He came away with an All-Star selection, a Gold Glove Award, a Silver Slugger award and he finished third in the AL MVP voting. He will turn 32 this year so this could very well be the last deal of his career as he rides his prime as long as he can. Plus, it isn’t like this deal would get overshadowed by any others on his team right? Right?

Corey Seager, Texas Rangers, 10 years, $325 million

Wrong! Corey Seager has entered the chat and the Texas Rangers have officially spent half a billion dollars on their middle infield for the next seven seasons. Seager won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2016 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went to the 2020 World Series with the Dodgers and was named the MVP of the series that they won. He is a career .297 hitter and will likely take over shortstop for the Rangers pushing Semien over to second base.

Robbie Ray, Seattle Mariners, 5 years, $115 million

Speaking of prove it deals like Semien had with the Blue Jays, Ray was his teammate in 2021 also on a one-year deal. Ray struggled during his tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks and he was traded to the Jays in 2020. Ray signed a one-year deal likely to be a depth starter to eat up innings. And eat he did. He led the American League in starts, innings, E.R.A and strikeouts on the way to winning the AL Cy Young award. This rapid improvement was enough for the Mariners to gift him a shiny new contract where he is expected to be their Ace.

Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays, 5 years, $110 million

The Jays were unable to extend Ray to a long-term deal so they are attempting to recreate his performance with Gausman. He spent last season with the San Francisco Giants and to his credit, did have a breakout season that saw him earn an All-Star nod. Gausman had a career-high 227 strikeouts to go along with the 2.81 E.R.A over 192 innings pitched. He is obviously a downgrade from Ray, but the Jays are hoping that he can help anchor the rotation and work alongside Jose Berrios, who they extended, to make up for the loss of Ray’s production.

Other notable signings

Using the team pages found at CBSSports and Spotrac, here are the notable free agency deals from before the lockout:

Arizona Diamondbacks

Mark Melancon: 2 years, $14 million

Atlanta Braves

Orlando Arcia: 2 years, $3 million
Kirby Yates: 2 years, $8.25 million
Manny Pina: 2 years, $8 million

Boston Red Sox

Michael Wacha: 1 year, $7 million
James Paxton: 1 year, $10 million
Rich Hill: 1 year, $5 million

Chicago Cubs

Marcus Stroman: 3 years, $71 million
Yan Gomes: 2 years, $13 million
Clint Frazier: 1 year, $1.5 million

Chicago White Sox

Kendall Graveman: 3 years, $24 million

Detroit Tigers

Javier Baez: 6 years, $140 million
Eduardo Rodriguez: 5 years, $77 million

Houston Astros

Justin Verlander: 2 years, $50 million
Hector Neris: 2 years, $17 million

Los Angeles Angels

Noah Syndergaard: 1 year, $21 million
Raisel Iglesias: 4 years, $58 million
Aaron Loup: 2 years, $17 million

Los Angeles Dodgers

Chris Taylor: 4 years, $60 million
Andrew Heaney: $8.5 million
Daniel Hudson: 1 year, $7 million

Miami Marlins

Avisail Garcia: 4 years, $53 million
Sandy Alcantara: 5 years, $56 million

Minnesota Twins

Dylan Bundy: 1 year, $5 million
Byron Buxton: 7 years, $100 million

New York Mets

Starling Marte: 4 years, $78 million
Mark Canha: 2 years, $26.5 million
Eduardo Escobar: 2 years, $20 million

Philadelphia Phillies

Corey Knebel: 1 year, $10 million

Pittsburgh Pirates

Roberto Perez: 1 year, $5 million
Jose Quintana: 1 year, $2 million

San Francisco Giants

Alex Wood: 2 years, $25 million
Alex Cobb: 2 years, $20 million
Anthony DeSclafani: 3 years, $36 million

St. Louis Cardinals

Steven Matz: 4 years, $44 million

Tampa Bay Rays

Corey Kluber: 1 year, $8 million

Texas Rangers

Jon Gray: 4 years, $56 million
Kole Calhoun: 1 year, $5.2 million

Who remains unsigned?

There was a flutter of activity on social media when the CBA was agreed upon that declared that free agency would open back up on Wednesday, March 10th at 6:00 p.m. ET. To the dismay of fans, at the time of this writing, no other free agents have put pen to paper. The biggest remaining free agents are:

Freddie Freeman
Carlos Correa
Trevor Story
Kris Bryant
Nick Castellanos
Carlos Rodon
Clayton Kershaw
Michael Conforto
Kyle Schwarber
Kenley Jansen