Woohoo! This is the news us baseball fans have been waiting a LONG time for. Baseball. Is. Back. It still seems unreal. Just a couple days ago, they were talking about the season being delayed until June and that they were quite far from a CBA deal. And now, all of our fears of no baseball are out the window. Opening Day 2022 is Thursday, April 7th, AND there is going to be a full 162 game season!!!
This new, five-year CBA was ratified with a 30-0 vote on Thursday, March 10th. With that vote, the 99 day lockout was officially brought to a close. Spring Training will begin Sunday, March 13, and exhibition games will start sometime around March 18th.
The new CBA includes quite a few changes. For starters, it includes a new pre-arbitration bonus pool. This will “reward” the younger players in the sport with a higher paycheck. It also includes increased minimum salaries, the largest draft lottery in all of professional sports history, and a raise in the competitive tax balance. These decisions contribute to more money for players and more young players being drafted into the sport. Among these things, they also introduced the universal DH and a 12 team postseason, which is two more teams than the 2021 postseason.
With all this being introduced, it might seem like the game is going to be different. But in fact, the only things that are going to be noticeably different are: a designated hitter in the National League and two more teams in the postseason race. Everything else they have added simply means more money for the players, and more money for the owners.
Now that the lockout is over, you could say it’s crunch time! Opening day is in twenty-seven days, and there are a lot of high-quality players still in the free agent market. One of the biggest names on that list, especially for the Atlanta Braves, is first baseman, Fredde Freeman. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — I cannot imagine a Braves team without Freddie. He has been with the club since he made his Major League debut and has become the face of the franchise. It would truly be sad to see Freddie Freeman in another uniform, on another team, having to play against the Atlanta Braves. I would say that signing Freddie Freeman should be the Atlanta Braves’ top priority now that the lockout is over.
Along with Freddie Freeman, two other players who made a significant impression with the club and the fanbase are Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler. Since there is going to be a DH in the National League for this season, it makes total sense to me for the Braves to use Soler for this role. When he was with the Kansas City Royals, he was their DH, and while he was with the Braves, his biggest strength was his bat. He came through time and time again with his major power from the plate. While he did a decent job in right field for the Braves, you could tell he was a little uncomfortable. It just makes sense for the Braves to pursue him to be their Designated Hitter, and he would add that depth back to their everyday lineup.
Eddie Rosario – NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario. This is a guy who the Atlanta Braves’ front office signed while he was injured… injured!!! It definitely was an interesting move, but boy did it pay off. He came into the season at the perfect time in mid August, and he was on fire from his first game with the Braves. From his enthusiasm in the dugout and running the bases, to his huge hits and insane catches in left field, Rosario definitely played a significant role in the Braves 2021 World Series win. Now, I know, it seems as though most of those spectacular catches he made during the postseason were total luck, but I could potentially see the Braves using him as their every day left fielder. Luck only gets a player so far, and he proved that he has more than luck on his side! The Braves could potentially swap him out with Adam Duvall or Guillermo Heredia so he doesn’t play every single day, but I could easily see Eddie filling the role of left fielder and becoming better in that position.
That would allow the Braves outfield to line up like this:
Eddie Rosario in left field, Adam Duvall in center field, and Ronald Acuña Jr. in right field.
There are still a lot of questions to be answered and roles to be filled before Opening Day, but in the end, it is nice to have baseball back.