For the first time in six weeks, we have some news regarding the lockout. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the owners and MLBPA will get together tomorrow for a bargaining session in an attempt to get closer to an agreement on the new CBA.
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association plan to hold a bargaining session Thursday, sources tell ESPN. MLB is expected to make a core-economics proposal at the session, which would be the first between the sides since the league locked out the players on Dec. 2.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 11, 2022
As Passan notes, this will be the first time the sides have met since December 2nd — pretty ridiculous if you ask me, but it’s overwhelmingly apparent neither side has one iota of sympathy for the common fan. Like is usually the case, this is all about money; there’s nothing quite like millionaires and billionaires arguing with each other about fairness. Hopefully, this will be resolved sooner rather than later, but I’m not holding my breath.
Despite my pessimistic view on the situation because of the two parties involved, I’m very confident that baseball will be played this year, even if it means delaying the season a bit. Nobody gets anything out of a missed season. Eventually, the rest of free agency will take place, pitchers and catchers will report to spring training, and regular season games will take place before a champion is crowned. So here are three predictions I have for the Braves once the lockout comes to an end.
Freddie Freeman signs a six-year deal with the Braves
Since it’s what everybody is still thinking about, I’ll begin with it. Freddie Freeman will re-sign with the Braves. Alex Anthopoulos has proven to be a wizard in negotiations, always looking to find the best deal for the team. Do I think he probably ruffled some feathers with Freeman throughout this process? Yes, but that is the nature of the business. I truly believe Freeman wants to remain in Atlanta, and while I don’t think that means he will give the Braves a substantial hometown discount, I do think it will play a factor in him returning. Both sides still want to get a deal done, and eventually, it should happen, even if it probably should have never gotten to this point.
The Braves will make at least one significant trade
Since becoming GM of the Braves, Alex Anthopoulos has not made a splash in the trade market during the offseason. I think that changes once the lockout comes to an end. Whether it is for another starting pitcher, an outfielder, or even a first baseman if Freeman doesn’t re-sign — the Braves will make a game-changing trade before the start of the season.
The Braves extend Dansby Swanson or Max Fried
Sure, Alex Anthopoulos’ primary focus should be on the 2022 roster, but these guys get paid the big bucks so they can juggle multiple balls at the same time, and there are other orders of business that must be taken care of. We recently saw the Marlins lock up the ace of their staff, Sandy Alcantara, to a five-year contract extension. It was a fantastic deal for Miami, and the Braves should be looking to do the same thing with Fried. Will he cost a little more than Alcantara? Absolutely, but locking him up now for the foreseeable is in the best interest of the organization.
The situation with Swanson is much different. It comes with more risk, given his track record isn’t as spotless as Fried’s, but it’s also much more urgent. Swanson is set to become a free agent next offseason, so the Braves must decide soon whether they believe he is the shortstop of the future. I recently went over the entire situation, including potential replacements for Swanson, and found the other options were either not inspiring or going to be way too expensive for the Braves’ taste. In my opinion, re-signing Swanson makes the most sense, and if Alex Anthopoulos agrees with me, he would be wise to lock Swanson up before he hits the open market.