Major League Baseball’s owners and players might not agree to a new collective bargaining agreement before the Dec. 1 expiration of the current CBA, but a lockout isn’t guaranteed if they don’t, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Instead, business could continue under the soon-to-be old CBA as the two sides keep negotiating toward a new deal, even if doing so takes them through spring training.
Here’s more from Cafardo:
- Although there are some appealing designated hitter types on the free agent market, teams are showing interest in Tigers DH Victor Martinez, according to Cafardo. Given that the Tigers are aiming to get younger and cut payroll, trading Martinez would seem to make sense, as he’ll turn 38 in December and is owed $36MM over the next two years. However, in addition to his lofty salary, Martinez’s 10-and-5 rights could put the kibosh on a potential deal. The switch-hitter recovered from a miserable 2015 to slash .289/.351/.476 with 27 home runs in 610 plate appearances this past season.
- There’s a “healthy amount” of interest in free agent first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, a general manager told Cafardo, who notes that a signing is unlikely until there’s clarification on the 2017 luxury-tax threshold. “Normally, teams would be very aggressive in getting both of these hitters signed, but right now you have to stay back a little,” an AL GM said in regards to Encarnacion and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday that the league has agreed to increase the figure from $189MM to $200MM in CBA negotiations. That could make big spenders like the Yankees and Red Sox more inclined to chase Encarnacion (and maybe Cespedes in New York’s case).
- The Yankees, Dodgers and Giants are known to be eyeing free agent closer Aroldis Chapman, and the Nationals have also emerged as a possible destination, per Cafardo. Executives around the majors expect aggressiveness from the Nats this winter, and signing Chapman to what should be a record deal for a reliever would certainly qualify as a bold move. Notably, Washington attempted to acquire Chapman from the Yankees over the summer, but he ended up with the Cubs. The Nationals then picked up Mark Melancon from the Pirates. He’s also a free agent now, leaving the Nats in need of late-game help.
- Along with the previously reported Twins, the Marlins are among the teams with interest in free agent right-hander Justin Masterson. The low-payroll, starter-needy Fish “are looking to hit the jackpot with a surprise pitcher,” writes Cafardo. The 31-year-old Masterson hasn’t pitched in the majors since an unsuccessful 59 1/3-inning run with Boston in 2015. He threw 54 1/3 frames with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate last season and recorded a 4.97 ERA, 5.3 K/9 and 4.31 BB/9. Shoulder and knee injuries have beset Masterson in the past, but he indicated earlier this week that he’s now healthy.