Tired of the lockout? Join the club.
For a month, Major League Baseball has been in a deep, labor battle-induced slumber. No transactions involving players on 40-man rosters have been allowed. Until a new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated, fidgety general managers and free agents must rest in this cryogenic state until life roars back into baseball.
And though the league and the Players Association don’t seem particularly close to striking a deal, life will come back. Many teams got business done before the lockout — see the feeding frenzy of free-agent spending in November — but a burst of action surely awaits the sport whenever a new CBA is reached. Players will be on the move and the stove again will be hot.
With that in mind, we’ve asked The Athletic’s baseball writers to predict one player from each team who will begin the 2022 season — now just a few months away! — wearing a different uniform.
Arizona Diamondbacks: David Peralta
No current player has been with the Diamondbacks longer than David Peralta, but that union might be nearing an end. Arizona is in rebuild mode and Peralta is 34. They have other outfield mouths to feed, many of whom bat left-handed like Peralta does. The veteran’s output at the plate has suffered in recent seasons, but he still hits the ball hard (if too often on the ground) and plays good defense in left, and with only one year and $7 million left on his deal, it shouldn’t be impossible to move him to a team with whom he could be of more use. — Zach Buchanan
Atlanta Braves: William Contreras
William Contreras could be traded to a team looking for a young catcher with significant MLB experience and six more seasons before free agency (he won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2025, barring a change in rules). Contreras, 24, the brother of Cubs All-Star catcher Willson Contreras, has a .225 average with eight homers and a .712 OPS in 195 plate appearances in parts of two seasons with Atlanta. He hit .255 with four homers and a .938 OPS in his first 15 games last season after being thrust into starting duties in May due to injuries to both Braves catchers. Contreras slumped after that and was optioned to Triple A in late July, where he hit .290 with nine homers and an .873 OPS in 44 games in his first minor-league experience above Double A. — David O’Brien
Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini
This, understandably, is not a popular thought in Baltimore. Since the Orioles officially stripped everything down in 2018, there’s been one player who has continually made Orioles fans proud: Trey Mancini, the 2019 Most Valuable Oriole who missed all of 2020 while recovering from Stage 3 colon cancer surgery and who won the 2021 American League Comeback Player of the Year Award by hitting 21 homers and playing in 147 games. But Mancini is a free agent at the end of the 2022 season, and the Orioles’ rebuilding effort is continuing. He’d love to sign a long-term deal, but he’ll be 30 in March and, if the Orioles can find a team willing to give up a prospect or two for a first baseman/DH type, they’ll have to seriously consider it. — Dan Connolly