It had been 26 and a half years of peace (mostly) since the last strike in Major League Baseball (MLB). It was part way through the 1994 season when the eight ever stoppage occurred as franchises looked to split TV revenue more evenly and proposed a salary cap on players in order to protect small-market teams from collapsing during a period of financial uncertainty. Players weren’t happy with the proposals, and so ended up going on strike.
As such, the remainder of the 1994 season was cancelled, including the postseason fixtures too, meaning no World Series for the first time since 1904. And the strike would continue well into the next season as well, lasting a total of 232 days without a single ball being pitched or hit, becoming the longest strike ever in MLB history.
History repeating itself?
But as often happens, history could be repeating itself once more. We’re not quite at the stage of having another strike, but the MLB is currently in another lockout, due to the existing collective bargaining agreement expiring on the 24th November. It has been coming for some time though so won’t be a complete surprise, with negotiations in the last few years having been agreed but under some duress from all sides.
It appeared though that now was the time that all parties wanted to call this lockout, as stated by Rob Manfred, the baseball commissioner, in an open letter to fans: “We believe that an offseason lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season. We hope the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time. This defensive lockout was necessary because the players’ association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive.”
As such, and with knowledge the lockout was coming, teams around MLB began a free-agent frenzy, with franchises rumoured to be signing up anyone they could before they were prevented from getting anyone at all. The LA Dodgers were no exception to many other teams as they too strengthened their side before the lockout was activated. But who did they sign and why?
Dodgers re-sign Daniel Hudson
The one key player that was signed by the Dodgers, or should we say re-signed as it would be his second stint in Los Angeles, reliever Danieal Hudson. He has been tied to a one-year deal worth around $7 million, which isn’t that big for some players when you consider Los Angeles Angels’ center fielder Mike Trout is on $37.1 million per year. But he is also much younger, and wasn’t a free agent when he signed.
Daniel Hudson’s return will be a welcome one for the Dodgers, especially given how they lost shortstop Corey Seager and also Max Scherzer to the Texas Rangers and New York Mets respectively. He had a great relationship with Dodgers fans, having managed a 4.11 Earned Run Average (ERA) in 40 games for the Dodgers when he was a starter for them back in 2018, before he then left in 2019 to become a reliever with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Washington Nationals.
Since then his stats have been a little over the place, with declining stats expected as a player ages in their career. The now 34 year old managed a 3.31 ERA and struck out 13.1 batters per nine innings in 54 appearances for the Nationals. Then was traded to the San Diego Padres, where he managed a 5.21 ERA in 19 innings over 23 games. So he’s not done terribly badly in his time since he left the Dodgers.
But the question is can he have an impact when he returns? Well, according to certain betting strategies, many fans tend to stick to favorites or back whoever the majority of bettors back, even if they’re an outside chance. But the Dodgers happen to be both, as +500 favourites to win the 2022 World Series, but also having seen an upturn in bets backing them since the announcement of Daniel Hudson’s return.
No one player, especially one brought in for cover will be responsible for that though. Baseball is a team game, and whilst it is possible Daniel Hudson could help out in some way, it will take all players collectively to make sure they are lifting silverware at the end of the postseason. But only time will tell if that actually happens, and if the season even ends up starting on time.
The Dodgers have signed a quality player for cover in Daniel Hudson, someone who knows how the team operates already. But whether the new season will even start so he can get a game or two is unknown. If they do get a new collective bargaining agreement in place, he may well then get some game time in his second stint with the Dodgers. However, another free-agent frenzy could well happen again once this lockout is over, with plenty of free agents still available, and players able to transfer between teams again. Which could also delay any return to the field for Hudson.