Teams spend $1 billion a day before likely Major League Baseball lockout
NEW YORK — Before getting locked out, players loaded up Wednesday as big league teams unlocked their coffers for an unprecedented spending spree.
Major league teams committed to over $1 billion in salaries in one day for the first time Wednesday, hours before the league was expected to lock out the players following the 11:59 p.m. expiration of the collective bargaining agreement.
Six nine-figure contracts were handed out, including two by the Texas Rangers — shortstop Corey Seager got $325 million over 10 years and infielder Marcus Semien will make $175 million over seven years.
The Detroit Tigers got infielder Javier Baez for a $140 million, six-year deal, ace Max Scherzer was assured $130 million over three years from the New York Mets, and right-hander Kevin Gausman landed with the Toronto Blue Jays for $110 million over five years. Twins center fielder Byron Buxton also finalized a $100 million, seven-year contract to remain with Minnesota.
“This is actually kind of fun,” Scherzer said. “I’m a fan of the game, and to watch everybody sign right now, to actually see teams competing in this kind of timely fashion, it’s been refreshing because we’ve seen freezes for the past several offseasons.”
The 18 deals and counting announced Wednesday totaled $1,158,250,000, part of roughly $2 billion in new contracts handed out since the end of the World Series ahead of the CBA expiration.
The union and league are likely headed for a protracted labor dispute after the average major league salary fell on opening day in 2021 for the fourth consecutive season.
Players and teams alike may have feared the chaos of a limited free-agency window in the spring if the lockout goes that long. That spurred agents, general managers and owners to act before rosters froze.
“It was 50-50,” Baez said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen when the deadline comes. I was just making sure I wanted to be with one of the best teams.”
Teams likely won’t be able to communicate with their players during the shutdown.