Jeff Passan says it’s ‘increasingly likely’ these top free agents will sign before December 1


The threat of an MLB work stoppage isn’t a matter of if, or even when—it’s a matter of how long the standoff will last. When baseball’s inevitable lockout begins at 11:59 PM ET on December 1st, the transaction wire will stop with it, leaving coveted free agents like Max Scherzer and Freddie Freeman with a major decision to make—sign now or risk whatever uncertainty awaits on the other side of what figures to be an unusually contentious labor negotiation (the owners, in their latest attempt to move the goal posts, recently proposed scrapping arbitration in favor of having player salaries determined by FanGraphs’ WAR algorithm). Agents conveyed a sense of urgency at the Winter Meetings in Carlsbad earlier this week, advising front offices to spend now while they still can. Those same agents also warned of a looming “February stampede” that could leave teams high and dry.

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“Teams essentially suggested players have a choice: Sign before the lockout or wait until February, when most everyone expects the labor discord to end, and have fun navigating the frenzy of signings and trades that will ensue,” wrote Jeff Passan of ESPN, sharing his observations from the Winter Meetings. “Agents for some of the highest-profile free agents this winter, in the meantime, inverted the posture: If you want a player, step up financially, because the February stampede is going to be so different, so unfamiliar, that it’s worth paying more for certainty now than having to overpay or be left empty-handed on the eve of the season.”

Both sides present valid arguments but with so much posturing going on between the owners and players right now, it’s hard to know where the truth lies. However, Passan—who is as plugged in as any reporter in the business—has noticed a tide change that could result in two of the biggest names in this year’s free-agent crop signing before December 1st. Intel from Passan suggests Dodgers All-Star Corey Seager and Toronto slugger Marcus Semien are “increasingly likely” to do their bidding in the coming weeks, avoiding the chaos of a post-lockout feeding frenzy. As noted by Passan, both players are represented by Scott Boras, considered by many to be the most powerful—and, consequently, most ruthless—agent in baseball, if not all of professional sports.

A lifetime .297 hitter and one of the premier shortstops in MLB, it wouldn’t be a shock if Seager eclipsed $300 million on his next deal, while Semien, an MVP finalist for the second time in three seasons, could be in line for a similarly life-changing sum paying well into nine figures.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez, Getty Images