Baseball teams spend $1 billion in one day, appear headed for lockout

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Will the Braves re-sign Freddie Freeman?.The clock is ticking on Freddie Freeman.Freeman is among the free agents that remain unsigned by the Braves as an MLB lockout looms before a late Wednesday deadline.If Freeman and the Braves don’t reach an agreement before the lockout, they won’t be able to reopen negotiations until there’s a new labor deal.The Braves have roughly $120 million committed to their 2022 payroll. .It’s hard to imagine Freeman playing elsewhere.And Braves fans are clamoring for Freeman to be back on the roster.The Braves would have a pretty good team without Freeman because of their core of young players. .But the bigger impact of Freeman's potential departure would be that the Braves aren’t World Series contenders without him. .The Braves likely wouldn’t find a comparable player to replace him unless they spent about what it costs to keep him, which wouldn’t make sense.This makes Freeman a priority free agent for the Braves.If he’s traded, the Braves would need to acquire at least two starting-quality outfielders to have a group as good as the end of 2021. Doing that while re-signing Freeman will mean significantly increasing the payroll.The Braves have roughly $120 million committed to their 2022 payroll. Re-signing Freeman would add about $30 million to the tally.

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, just hours before the league was expected to lock out the players following the 11:59 p.m. expiration of the collective bargaining agreement.

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Discussions between the league and union ended after just seven minutes in Irving, Texas. Officials from the league left the hotel and players were told talks were done for the day, ESPN reported.

Before that, 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 Báez 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 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.

Plenty of big names remain on the board, though. Shortstop Carlos Correa, first baseman Freddie Freeman, third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Trevor Story and outfielder Nick Castellanos remain free agents and might have to wait until spring or later to find a home.

Among the other deals completed Wednesday:

— OF Avisail Garcia to Miami, $53 million over four years

— LHP Alex Wood to San Francisco, $25 million over two years

— INF Eduardo Escobar to New York Mets, $20 million over two years

— INF/OF Leury Garcia to the Chicago White Sox, $16.5 million over three years

— C Yan Gomes to the Chicago Cubs, $13 million over two years

— RHP Yimi Garcia to Toronto, $11 million over two years

— RHP Corey Knebel to Philadelphia, $10 million over one year

— RHP Corey Kluber to Tampa Bay, $8 million over one year

— RHP Andres Munoz with Seattle, $7.5 million over four years

— RHP Luis Garcia with San Diego, $7 million over two years

— C Roberto Perez to Pittsburgh, $5 million over one year

— C Kevin Plawecki with Boston, $2.25 million over one year