2020-21 MLB Early Offseason Report: Early Chalk, Free Agency, and Normality

2020-21 MLB Early Offseason Report: Early Chalk, Free Agency, and Normality
Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with the Commissioners Trophy after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in Game Six to win the 2020 MLB World Series. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP

Explaining anything about 2020 is going to be difficult, at best, and that includes the Major League Baseball season. While it may seem as if it started a long, long time ago, it was actually the shortest regular-season schedule as teams played shortened 60-game slates…and longest of postseasons with 53 contests needed to crown a champion.

Game No. 53 ended in favor of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and thus ended nearly a decade of frustration for the storied franchise. The Dodgers knocked off Tampa Bay in Game 6 of the World Series on the final Tuesday of October, making good on the tag most top-rated sportsbooks gave them way back in February as the favorite to win the Fall Classic.

The only question now is will California Governor Gavin Newsome relax his strict guidelines for gatherings and allow the City of Los Angeles to hold a parade in their honor?

Dodgers fans celebrate after the Los Angeles Dodgers World Series Win. Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images/AFP

Dodgers Once Again Early Chalk For 2021

Unless it’s just with their cardboard cutout fans of this season in attendance, a parade would seem unlikely. Then again, this is 2020, when crazy things happen daily. The good news for Dodger fans is if it doesn’t happen this time, they may not have to wait long to try it again with their team atop the early baseball futures to win the 2021 title.

Los Angeles opened +375 to successfully defend the championship, with the New York Yankees next in line at +700. No surprise seeing those two leading the way, but it is something of a shock from previous offseasons to see the San Diego Padres and Minnesota Twins trailing the two big boys and bunched with the Rays, Chicago White Sox, and Atlanta Braves as teams to consider.

Condolences to fans of the Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates who are picked as the doormats of their respective leagues.

Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds. Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images/AFP

Hot Stove League On Deck In Offseason Lineup

Once some of the 2020 season’s hardware is handed out in the next week or so, one of the first orders of business will be the next class of free agents. We’ve seen record-breaking contracts handed out the past few winters, and there’s some amazing talent about to hit the market once again.

However, will owners tighten the purse strings after a season in which they lost so much money at the gate with the absence of fans at games? Two players who will help better the MLB odds for the teams that sign them are Trevor Bauer and George Springer.

Each is carrying some controversy into the negotiations, however, Bauer known for being a loose cannon and a very outspoken critic of Commissioner Rob Manfred. Meanwhile, Springer has the cloud of the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal hanging over his head.

JT Realmuto might wind up being the only player to ink a record-breaking deal, at least in terms of being the top-paid catcher in the history of the game. Reports are the Philadelphia Phillies will go strong in an attempt to re-sign him. The Yankees will also likely be frontrunners to re-sign one of their free agents, DJ LeMahieu.

A couple of top closers are among the 2020-21 free-agent class, Liam Hendriks and Alex Colomé. It’s doubtful the Oakland Athletics will have the money needed to keep Hendriks in uniform. And then there’s the ageless slugger, Nelson Cruz. Could the Twins talk the 40-year-old into staying in Minnesota?

A view of the cardboard cutout fans prior to Game One of the American League Division Series between the Houston Astros and the Oakland Athletics at Dodger Stadium. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

How ‘Normal’ Will The 2021 MLB Season Be?

Baseball adopted a lot of new rules in order to make the 2020 season work and happen. If Manfred had his way, most – if not all – of them would carry over into 2021 so he can leave his little stamp on the game.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires at the end of the ’21 season. Based on the ugliness we saw between the players and owners in the negotiations this past spring, it’s going to be ugly. There are many who feel the designated hitter will come to the National League permanently as part of the next CBA, but that it will be business as usual with pitchers in lineups in the Senior Circuit for 2021.

And of course, there’s the lingering question of just how long the pandemic will linger. Whatever ‘business as usual’ turns out to be in Major League Baseball next season, you can keep up with it all following SBR’s MLB picks page for in-depth analysis and predictions.