The freeze in baseball spending has seen teams across the continent purge as many big-dollar, small-dollar, and any-dollar-feasible commitments as they can in the last two months. As the rules for the 2021 MLB season remain nebulous and the question of ‘will paying fans be allowed to attend [X] number of games’ remains unanswered, it seems owners across the game are doing everything they can to kick every would-be financial liability down the road.
There’s certainly the chance that, with more clarity on how the season will look, teams will revisit spending in another two months. As the COVID vaccines slowly implement themselves into our society, we’ll have a better grasp on how society itself will operate in February and March than we do right now, to be sure, and maybe we’ll see at that juncture more willingness from baseball teams to pay baseball players to win baseball games.
As we stand here today, though, clubs have collectively shed talent in a fashion not seen by these eyes before, and an alarmingly large portion of the teams doing so reside in the National League Central division. There are a handful of teams capitalizing early with aggressive moves - the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox, and New York Mets so far - but the entirety of the NL Central has been locked firmly in ‘jettison and wait’ mode since the end of the World Series.
With that in mind, I thought I’d cobble together a roster exclusively from players who have walked from, been traded from, or non-tendered by NL Central clubs since the end of the 2020 season. It’s potent, too, one that at this point would probably be a contender in that very division.
C - Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals; 1B - Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates; 2B - Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals; SS - Freddy Galvis, Cincinnati Reds; 3B - Jedd Gyorko, Milwaukee Brewers
LF - Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs; CF - Brian Goodwin, Cincinnati Reds; RF - Ben Gamel, Milwaukee Brewers
OF - Albert Almora, Chicago Cubs; IF/OF - Jason Kipnis, Chicago Cubs; C/IF - Victor Caratini, Chicago Cubs; C - Curt Casali, Cincinnati Reds; IF - Eric Sogard, Milwaukee Brewers
RHP - Trevor Bauer, Cincinnati Reds; RHP - Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs; LHP - Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs; RHP - Anthony DeSclafani, Cincinnati Reds; RHP - Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
RHP - Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds; RHP - Jeremy Jeffress, Chicago Cubs; RHP - Archie Bradley, Cincinnati Reds; LHP - Jose Quintana, Chicago Cubs; RHP - Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers; RHP - Tyler Chatwood, Chicago Cubs; RHP - John Brebbia, St. Louis Cardinals; LHP - Alex Claudio, Milwaukee Brewers
I think what’s almost as startling as seeing that spelled out in 26-man roster form is that it doesn’t even included the players who have also been rumored to be on the chopping block from the division, too.
We know the Cubs have been shopping Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras, and simply haven’t said yes to a deal just yet. Whispers have surrounded the likes of Sonny Gray and Eugenio Suarez of the Reds as potential cost-cutting moves, too, which would suck something awful on countless levels.
Anyway, it’s pitching-heavy, to be sure, but that’s a damn formidable staff. They’d beat the pants off the Pirates, that’s for sure.