The Sunday Read: When MLB lockout ends, spring madness will begin for Rangers
(The Associated Press/Charlie Riedel)
The bargaining that has taken place in past week between MLB owners and players can be taken two ways.
1. It’s encouraging that the sides have met six consecutive days, with each side giving in a little bit.
2. They’re meeting, but appear to be wasting everyone’s time.
The deadline to reach a new deal without losing any regular-season games is Monday, though maybe all it will take is enough positive momentum or a framework for a deal for MLB to end the lockout and get baseball rolling again.
Texas Rangers owner Ray Davis is on the scene in Florida as part of the Labor Policy Committee. More and more owners, MLB officials and players have joined the negotiations on-site.
Urgency? Momentum? Posturing? Call it what you want, and hope that something shakes loose in the next 48 hours.
Teams could mobilize within a matter of hours after receiving the go-ahead.
And that might be the least choatic part of the ensuing two weeks.
”A shit show,” one baseball official called it.
Why a “shit show?” Well …
Teams will be trying to cram 42 days of spring training into 28 or fewer.
No team completed its roster before the lockout started, not even the Rangers with their four new players.
More than 150 free agents are looking for employment. A few teams are hoping to shed payroll via trades.
The Rule 5 draft is still expected to be held.
There will be much less continuity in camps than usual. A player could come to camp as a starter and lose the job a week later after a free-agent signing.
That’s just player acquisition.
What about new rules and new COVID safety protocols? They will have to be learned on the fly.
What about travel delays and visa issues? The show will still go on.
“Shit show,” the official reiterated.
Rangers’ to-do list
The assumption since the lockout began is that the Rangers will continue to pursue help from outside the organization, namely left-hander Clayton Kershaw and Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki.
The Rangers have had 2 1/2 months to change their minds or fall further in love with the duo. Officials are permitted to discuss the players amongst themselves, but can’t speak to the players or their agents or discuss the players publicly.
If Kershaw signs elsewhere, the Rangers still want to sign a veteran starting pitcher. Adding an outfielder who isn’t Suzuki isn’t as big of a priority as finding rotation help.
To that end, new hitting coach Tim Hyers and offensive coordinator/bench coach Donnie Ecker haven’t worked with Leody Taveras, who had a nice winter in the Dominican Republic and could be the Opening Day center fielder.
Officials haven’t had as much time to discuss if they will pursue outside help at third base with Josh Jung out at least six months following surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder. It’s certainly possible, and could span anywhere from free agent Kris Bryant to re-signing infielder Charlie Culberson.
The Rule 5 draft could also shakeup Rangers camp. They have several players who might be attractive to teams, including outfielder Bubba Thompson, reliever Scott Engler and left-handers Cole Ragans and Jake Latz.
The Rangers have also never been shy about selecting players in the Rule 5, but could be deterred this year with the potential need for 40-man roster spots.
All that’s needed now is …
A miracle? That’s how one national reporter described the dire state of events Saturday after owners uniformly rejected a comprehensive offer by the players that didn’t move the needle all that much.
For a side that has been complaining that the owners have yet to make a good-faith offer, the players haven’t exactly been negotiating in good faith either.
But, as is the case with everything in baseball, things always come down to the 11th hour before a deadline.
Clearly, though, progress needs to be made.
Once it is, the chaos/madness/”shit show” will begin.
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org