Nov 29, 2021 - Sports

The MLB hot stove

Illustration of a giant baseball surrounded by a pile of money

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

MLB's hot stove went from warm to scalding on a Sunday that saw five teams dish out $558 million worth of contracts to seven players.

The big picture: With the CBA expiring Wednesday at midnight and a lockout expected, there's reason to believe this is just the beginning of a league-wide spending sprint.

The contracts include:

  • Rangers ($231M): 2B/SS Marcus Semien (seven years, $175M) and RHP Jon Gray (four years, $56M) — Texas, which hasn't made the playoffs since 2016, is trying to buy its way out of the doldrums.
  • Blue Jays ($110M): RHP Kevin Gausman (five years, $110M) — The Jays won 91 games last season but missed the playoffs. Between this and the huge extension with RHP José Berríos earlier this month, it appears they're going all in.
  • Marlins ($109M): RF Avisail García (four years, $53M) and RHP Sandy Alcántara (five years, $56M) — García's a decent free agent pickup, but extending Alcántara, their budding ace, could pay huge dividends.
  • Twins ($100M): CF Byron Buxton (seven years, $100M) — This extension would have been far higher with a better health track record, but he's exceeded 100 games just once in seven seasons. Hence, the unprecedented incentives.
  • Rays ($8M): RHP Corey Kluber (one year, $8M) — The 35-year-old, two-time Cy Young winner got hurt last year, but was effective when healthy (3.83 ERA in 80 IP).

What to watch: The next domino to fall could be Max Scherzer, who's reportedly close to finalizing a multiyear deal with the Mets.

Go deeper: Free-agency tracker (ESPN)

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