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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where the free agent frenzy continues

As the clock ticks down to an MLB lockout, the hot stove action has been absolutely bananas.

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves
Max Scherzer is about to make $43 million a year. Nice work if you can get it!
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Let me preface by saying that an MLB lockout, which is expected to happen Thursday, isn’t anything to be excited about. A work stoppage risks alienating baseball fans and inflaming tensions between players and owners, and even in the offseason, there’s a risk that this thing could drag out long enough to force the delay or cancellation of on-field action in the upcoming 2022 season.

Having said that...the impending lockout has made MLB’s hot stove action go absolutely bonkers, and I kind of love it.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a whirlwind of offseason activity as we’ve witnessed in the last three days, as free agents rush to get the ink dry on new contracts before the work stoppage shuts everything down.

Among yesterday’s many moves, two superstar free agents found new homes, led by future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer. The 37-year-old right-hander agreed on an eye-popping three-year, $130 million deal with the New York Mets. Scherzer not only became the oldest player ever to sign a nine-figure contract, he also set a new MLB record for highest average annual salary at $43.3 million a year. As ESPN’s Jeff Passan pointed out, Scherzer will make more money than the entire current roster of the Orioles.

Scherzer joins Jacob deGrom for a 1-2 punch that, if the duo can stay healthy, could be the best in baseball. He’s just the latest signing by a Mets team that has been on a spending spree in the last few days, also adding outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha and infielder Eduardo Escobar.

It’s not totally surprising to see the Mets spend big, but...the Texas Rangers? A club that lost 102 games last year, second-worst in the AL only to the Orioles? Yeah, looks like they’re not doing the long, slow rebuilding thing. Last night they inked All-Star shortstop Corey Seager to a whopping 10-year, $325 million contract, just a day after landing fellow middle infielder Marcus Semien on a seven-year, $175 million pact. They’ve also picked up veteran right-hander Jon Gray and outfielder Kole Calhoun, among others. The Rangers are not playing around, y’all.

Oh, and the reigning AL Cy Young winner, Robbie Ray, wound up with Seattle on a five-year deal, which at least gets the ex-Blue Jay away from an Orioles team he thought was stealing his signs. C’mon, Robbie, just admit that the O’s were so intimidating for you that you had to leave the division. We get it.

The Blue Jays lost Ray and Semien but added former Oriole Kevin Gausman, formerly of the Giants, who promptly replaced him by signing a fellow ex-Oriole, Alex Cobb. The Marlins traded for Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings after signing outfielder Avisail Garcia and giving ace Sandy Alcantara an extension. Relievers like Kendall Graveman (White Sox), Hector Neris (Astros), Yimi Garcia (Blue Jays), and Daniel Hudson (Dodgers) have found new homes.

Oh, and at about 2 in the morning came word that Javier Baez is close to a six-year deal with the Tigers, per MLB Network's Jon Morosi on Twitter. So yeah, it’s been an absolute frenzy of activity...unless you’re the Orioles.

The hot stove chaos figures to continue right up until 11:59 on Wednesday night. And then...boom. The curtain will fall. We can only hope the hiatus won’t be a long one.

Links

Almost time for Orioles to tender contracts - School of Roch
At least the Orioles will make some news today, as it’s the deadline to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players. Soon we’ll see what the O’s elect to do with non-tender candidates like Paul Fry and Jorge Lopez, or if they’ve got a surprise trade of Trey Mancini in store.

Can pitchers improve velocity and do O’s support such efforts? - Steve Melewski
Short answer: yes and yes. But pitching coach Chris Holt has much more in-depth responses to those questions.

Rapid Questions With Cole Sulser | Baltimore Orioles
I now know a few things about Cole Sulser as a person, which is better than the absolutely nothing I knew about him before. It’s worth a read.

Connolly’s Tap Room: Which Oriole, past or present, has frustrated you the most? – The Athletic
Ugh, how much time you got?

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And happy 28th birthday to current Orioles outfielder DJ Stewart, who’s coming off a season in which he played a career-high 100 games. The Birds’ 2015 first-round pick is starting to get squeezed out of the outfield picture but could get one more chance in 2022 to show his stuff. Also celebrating a birthday today is 2000 O’s infielder Mark Lewis (52).

Nov. 30 has historically been a bit of a rough day for the Orioles. On this day in 1972, the O’s traded four players, including All-Stars Davey Johnson and Pat Dobson, to the Braves for slugging catcher Earl Williams. Williams’ tumultuous two-year tenure in Baltimore included mediocre performance on the field and clashes with fans, coaches, and teammates, while Johnson set a new MLB record for home runs by a second baseman (43) in his first year with Atlanta.

And on this day in 2000, homegrown Orioles ace Mike Mussina stuck a dagger in Birdland’s heart by leaving the team for the hated Yankees in free agency, agreeing to a six-year, $88.5 million deal. Not gonna lie — 21 years later, that one still hurts. Mussina pitched eight superb seasons in New York to eventually vault himself into the Hall of Fame, while the O’s haven’t found a pitcher of his caliber in the two decades since.