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Ask the Magic Baseball: Week of Feb 28, 2022

Major league predictions from the mystical magic baseball!

Gather ’round the amazing mystical magic baseball, an all-knowing oracle providing answers to the most burning questing facing Major League Baseball today. The process is simple, ask a yes or no question, consult the magic baseball, and await answers from the baseball gods. Some have called it clairvoyance, others would rather consult their ouija board, but the magic baseball is an otherworldly and powerful force not to be ignored.

 

Will Freddie Freeman Re-Sign With Atlanta?

 

For many Atlanta fans re-signing Freddie Freeman was a foregone conclusion and the idea of him playing elsewhere was unfathomable. Freeman has consistently been a force in the middle of the Atlanta lineup and has always been a fan favorite for Atlanta since his rookie year. Even before his 2020 NL MVP season or 2021 World Series, he had cemented himself as a top-tier first baseman, and after reaching free agency this offseason a number of potential suitors have emerged.

MLB trade rumors project Freeman will sign a six-year $180 million contract with his eventual team this offseason. The best offer to have come from the Atlanta front office was a five-year $135 million deal. The sixth-year Freeman is seeking has been the biggest obstacle to his return to Atlanta. With the DH officially coming to the National League this season, a sixth-year may be more palatable for the Atlanta front office.

While covering the winter meetings before the lockout, Bob Nightengale of the USA Today reported, “…you couldn’t find a soul who believes Freeman won’t be returning to Atlanta”. Throughout the lockout, that perspective has shifted and Buster Olney recently reported a “…growing belief that Freeman will land somewhere outside of Atlanta…”. The Dodgers and Yankees are rumored top landing spots for the star first baseman.

The Magic Baseball Says: Outlook Not So Good

 

Will the 2022 Playoffs be Expanded?

 

Expanded playoffs are a polarizing issue for Major League Baseball. The league benefits from expanded playoffs via massive TV contracts, as well as giving more teams and players have a chance to hoist the World Series trophy at the end of the season. Critics of the expanded playoff format say a larger postseason field devalues the 162-game regular season and rewards mediocrity.

Going into the 0ffseason the biggest question facing expanded playoffs was the magnitude of the expansion. The league is pushing for a 14-team playoff field while the players association has suggested a more conservative 12-team format.  Either would yield a smaller playoff field than the playoffs from the covid-shortened 2020 season (16-teams).

The MLBPA made a bold move during the negotiations telling MLB not to expect expanded playoffs if a full 162-game season isn’t played and players aren’t fully compensated. February 28th marks the last day a deal could be reached without canceling regular-season games, and with no deal in place, it remains to be seen if the Player’s Association will follow through. Expanded playoffs represent a huge income stream for the League and provide the players with a tremendous amount of leverage throughout these negotiations.

The Magic Baseball Says: My Reply is No

 

Will the Mariners Make the Playoffs in 2022?

 

The 2021 Mariners outperformed their Pythagorean Winning Percentage by 14 games and despite a -51 run differential only missed out on a wildcard berth into the playoffs by two games. This Seattle squad was often accused of toeing the line between lucky and good, resulting in some wild games and a +90 fun differential. Their 90-72 season was the best season for the Mariners since 2003 when a Bob Melvin-managed team went 93-69, though they failed to make a playoff appearance since 2001.

Before the lockout, Seattle added reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and on-base machine Adam Frazier to their line-up. Seattle’s farm system is full of talent and the Mariners slugging top prospect, Julio Rodriguez, is expected to join another young superstar in the making, Jarred Kelenic in the outfield this season. One of the biggest issues facing the Mariners this offseason is filling the Kyle Seager-shaped hole on the left side of the infield. The versatile and enigmatic Abraham Toro is the most obvious in-house choice to man the vacancy at third. On the free-agent market, Kris Bryant would fit in nicely with the pieces Seattle already has in place. The Mariner’s front office reportedly tried and failed to acquire Bryant from the Cubs at the trade deadline, and they’ll have another shot to sign the star third-baseman once the lockout mercifully comes to an end.

The Mariners’ 20-year postseason drought is the longest of its kind in North American Professional Sports. The last time the Seattle Mariners made the postseason was in the 2001 season, the same season Ichiro Suzuki was named AL Rookie of the Year. If the playoffs are expanded to a 12 or 14 team format, Seattle’s path to ending their 20-year playoff drought becomes a smidge easier, but either way, they are primed to make a run at the AL wild card for the 2022 season.

The Magic Baseball Says: Signs Point to Yes

 

If you have questions you’d like answered by the magic baseball, leave them in the comment section below and you could see them answered by the oracle in next week’s edition of Ask the Magic Baseball.

Featured image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)

Alex Lester

Alex is a baseball fan since birth, even using baseball cards to learn to read as a youngster (how about those Sea-tittle Marine-ers). When not writing about baseball Alex can be found in the kitchen, on the ski-slopes, or cozied up in a coffee shop listening to jazz.

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