It’s been a week since MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced the cancellation of regular season games, so I suppose more games will be cancelled in short order. My guess would be two more series wiped off the calendar, which would mean an April 15th opening day in Baltimore for the Yankees. That is, of course, as long as a deal comes to fruition quickly. Don’t get your hopes up.
As the lockout nears 100 days in length, let’s consider some of the repercussions of a lockout that lasts well into the regular season, or perhaps a totally lost 2022. Specifically, let’s focus on the fallout for players on the 40-man roster, because the minor league season is business as usual (sans prospects on 40-man rosters, of course).
Baseball Prospectus’s Jarrett Seidler wrote about the lockout’s impact on certain prospects:
In theory, MLB’s ongoing lockout should have minimal impact on the minor leagues. All levels will continue to operate as normal. Opening Day will be April 5th for Triple-A and April 8th for the three other full season levels.
In practice, this is a calamity for the developmental path of locked-out prospects. There’s a whole lot of prospects on 40-man rosters.
For the second season in three years, a large chunk of baseball’s best young players will not play anything close to a normal season.
Oswald Peraza, who was 61st on BP’s top prospect list, got a shoutout in Seidler’s piece. While he’s the lone 40-man roster Yankee on the publication’s top prospect list, there are plenty of other noteworthy 40-man prospects in the organization who are out of luck:
- Deivi García
- Luis Gil
- Yoendrys Gómez
- Ron Marinaccio
- Luis Medina
- Stephen Ridings
- JP Sears
- Oswaldo Cabrera
- Estevan Florial
- Everson Pereira
That’s not to mention players who are no longer definitionally prospects but still have minor league options, such as Michael King, Clarke Schmidt, and Miguel Andújar. That’s 13 players on the 40-man roster who won’t be able to join minor league rosters come the start of the regular season.
This really is a nightmare from a player development perspective. How bad does Deivi García need a rebound campaign? What about a healthy year for Clarke Schmidt? Hell, a strong early season from Peraza could have pushed him to the brink of the major league shortstop role. The concerns go on.
Sure, it’ll be nice to track Anthony Volpe and others come April, but this baker’s dozen of players who won’t be eligible to play will make things bittersweet.
So long, Aaron Judge (and others)?
Forgive me for the fear mongering heading, but there is a nonzero chance that Aaron Judge has already played his final game in pinstripes. If there’s no season, Judge could become a free agent. So would Joey Gallo, Gary Sánchez, Aroldis Chapman, Jameson Taillon, and Chad Green, but Judge would be the big ticket. Nonetheless, it all depends on how service time would be counted in a lost season. Here’s one opinion:
from the man who literally wrote the book on the 1981 players’ strike 👇 https://t.co/ZtIwgU3hU0— Jay Jaffe (@jay_jaffe) March 2, 2022
There was always a chance that 2022 would be Judge’s last year with the Yankees regardless of the lockout, but hey, now you can thank the owners for potentially never seeing Judge trot out to right field at Yankee Stadium ever again!
Rehab and unknown offseason injuries
Organizations and 40-man players haven’t been allowed to stay in touch during the lockout, and as such, any players rehabbing injuries are effectively on their own. Think Jameson Taillon, for example. He’s working to return from ankle surgery. Granted, I’m sure he was provided with a detailed plan from the team before the lockout was in effect, but even so, I’m sure he’d like to be in direct contact with the team (and vice versa).
There’s also a chance that some 40-man players have gotten hurt over the winter that we have no idea about yet. Nor do the teams, in theory. Look, there’s probably some backchanneling going on, but technically it’s not supposed to be happening. Even if a new labor agreement is struck and we get some semblance of a regular season, we could be in for a few injury surprises. The Yankees’ front office might have to scramble to fill those holes should they arise.
Prime years wasted
Judge, along with the likes of Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton, are among the core of this team that are in the midst of their prime seasons. It’s hard enough to make the World Series (especially if they increase the field to 12 of 14 teams!), but it’s even more difficult when key cogs are locked out of what potentially would be their best seasons.
There’s not really much more to add other than: this sucks as a fan. I want to watch Judge and Stanton smack a bunch of dingers and I want to watch Cole push for a Cy Young award. I want to see them, and the supporting cast, have a ticker tape parade in October. Alas, it’s only going to get harder for that to happen as these players get older (or potentially depart, in Judge’s case).
Nothing like adding some more doom and gloom to your Monday, huh? Sorry about that. It’s a nice warm day here in New York, reminiscent of early April weather when ballgames should be played, so forgive me for being grumpy about the lockout. Sadly, there’s no end in sight as the billionaire owners continue to throw a tantrum while not caring one bit about the rest of us. Maybe we’ll see the Yankees take the field at some point in the next few months, but for now, we can only wait.