The MLB's 2020 season has been marred by the coronavirus pandemic, but labor uncertainty could put the 2021 season in danger as well. With upcoming free agents given just 60 games to showcase their talents to interested teams, free agent negotiations in 2020 were already likely to be complicated.
However, the added pressure of CBA negotiations could scare front offices, driving down the price tags of these stars in contract years.
5. J.T. Realmuto
Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto was likely in line for a payday similar to Yasmani Grandal's before the coronavirus pandemic and MLB labor strife cast a cloud over 2020. A strong season could still attract plenty of suitors, but his impending free agency couldn't have come at a worse time.
4. Marcus Stroman
The New York Mets traded for Stroman in 2019, and while the right-hander certainly has talent, he has yet to prove that he can reach his potential. With a career ERA of 3.76, 2020 was supposed to be an opportunity for Stroman to prove that he deserves high-end money. Now, with limited starting opportunities in a 60-game season, he will face more pressure than ever.
3. Trevor Bauer
Cincinnati Reds righty Trevor Bauer is likely to be the top pitcher on the market in 2020, but his erratic career to this point was already likely to give teams pause. Bauer's best season came with the Cleveland Indians in 2018, when he recorded a 2.21 ERA and 221 strikeouts. However, his 4.04 career ERA and rocky 2019 season leave plenty of questions, and he may not be able to quell such concerns in such a short regular season.
2. George Springer
While Astros outfielder George Springer has been embroiled in the team's sign-stealing scandal, the slugger appeared likely to land a big contract in 2020. He hit 39 homers and tallied 96 RBI in 2019, but now has limited opportunities to answer questions about just how much sign-stealing helped his game. If Springer struggles even a little bit in the shortened 2020 season, his asking price could crater.
1. Mookie Betts
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts is the player most affected by the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season, and could be forced to sign for a figure lower than his true market value. Betts was magnificent throughout his career with the Red Sox, winning AL MVP in 2018, and now joins a stacked Los Angeles lineup in 2020. However, after Boston chose to trade him instead of extending him, the star outfielder finds himself with just 60 games to prove his worth to the Dodgers or risk testing a hazardous free agent market.