The holiday season shopping sprees that make this the gift-givingest time of year came with their usual frantic pace these last few weeks. But Major League Baseball’s Hot Stove season has generally proceeded more slowly than usual.
With so many needs still spread across the landscape, let’s push the process a bit with our annual benevolent — and, sadly, non-binding — bestowing of presents to each of the 30 big league clubs.
A’s: How about a combined 75 homers from Khris Davis and Matt Olson, potentially the next wave of Bash Brothers?
Angels: A scrapbook of old, weathered, “The Angels Are Wasting Mike Trout‘s Prime!” thinkpieces. We have to commemorate them because, after the Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart additions, nobody’s writing them anymore.
Astros: How about a Carlos Correa extension? His agent, Greg Genske, said earlier this year that an early (i.e. pre-free agency) extension won’t happen, but this might be a special moment where this stud shortstop is open to long-term proposals.
Blue Jays: Last year we used this space to gift Jay Bruce to the Blue Jays. You see, his name is Jay, and they are the Jays and, well, I don’t think any further explanation is in order. It didn’t happen then, but it can still happen now that Bruce is a free agent and Toronto has a hole to fill in right field.
Braves: We’re going to let the Moose loose down in Georgia, because if general manager Alex Anthopoulos and Mike Moustakas don’t end up together, it’s all Greek to me.
Brewers: Lance Lynn is 10-3 with a 2.20 ERA in his career against Milwaukee — his best numbers against any club he’s faced more than a handful of times. Our gift to you, Brew Crew, is starting him instead of facing him.
Cardinals: It has been far too long since Wade Davis called Missouri home. Let’s correct that.
Cubs: Back in the days when the Cubs were in rebuild mode, Theo Epstein was still willing to splurge on a big-ticket item by the name of Yu Darvish (the Rangers beat the Cubs out by $35 million). So much has changed since then, but the interest is still real, as is the need for another top-flight starter. To Cubs fans singing, “All I Want for Christmas Is Yu,” here ya go.
D-backs: J.D. Martinez sure looked good in that D-backs uniform, didn’t he? (And it’s true that not everybody can pull that particular look off.) We’re making sure he and the D-backs find a way to keep his dingers flying out of Chase Field.
Dodgers: If not for injuries that limited Clayton Kershaw to a total of 48 starts over the last two seasons, Kershaw would likely be going for his third consecutive Cy Young Award and sixth overall. Our gift to the Dodgers is 30-plus starts from the future Hall of Famer. (It doubles as a gift to baseball fans everywhere.)
Giants: If a Tim Lincecum return and resurgence doesn’t happen with the Giants, then, really, what are we living for? We’re sending the not-so-Tiny-and-in-fact-quite-ripped Tim back to San Francisco. God bless us, everyone.
Indians: With a bunch of relief innings to fill after the departures of Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith, we’re sending the Tribe a bullpen bounce-back candidate in Seung Hwan Oh — and don’t think it’s not because we’re itching to use some “Oh-io” puns.
Mariners: Nothing would positively impact this club more than the intended rotation actually staying healthy. Unfortunately, we can’t promise that (even in a phony gifts column), but we’re going to make a charitable donation in the names of James Paxton, Felix Hernandez and Co. to bring them good karma. (Anybody other than George Costanza know the mailing address for The Human Fund?)
Marlins: We’re giving them breakout seasons for all the prospects acquired in the Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna deals, to give the fans some faith in this rebuild.
Mets: New manager Mickey Callaway helped Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer maximize their respective talent, and we’re making sure he does the same with the likes of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler.
Nationals: The Nats don’t have a defined need for a top-end starting pitcher, but there’s a pitcher represented by Scott Boras lingering in the open market and, well, it sure seems like we’ve seen this movie before, doesn’t it? Welcome to the District, Jake Arrieta! So close to your old home in Baltimore, and yet so far away.
Orioles: Jason Vargas seems like such an O’s-type starting-pitching acquisition that it’s kind of hard to believe it hasn’t happened already.
Padres: You already gave us the gift of seven seasons of Dick Enberg. The best way we can return the favor is to salute our favorite moments from his San Diego stint. I’ll start with mine: “The hell with the wave! How ’bout the double play!”
Phillies: Just this once, just today, in the midst of this season of generosity, we’re going to let the Phillies’ new, sculpted manager Gabe Kapler eat a carb.
Pirates: We’re going to send you Ubaldo Jimenez on a one-year deal and watch pitching coach Ray Searage somehow turn him into a Cy Young candidate.
Rangers: We’re granting Adrian Beltre his own, personal on-deck circle to place anywhere he wants so that he doesn’t have to worry about any umpire arguments in 2018.
Rays: Now that Evan Longoria is headed west, we’re going to kick the Rays’ first genuine rebuild into high gear with a knock-your-socks-off offer for Chris Archer. How about the Rays send Archer and closer Alex Colome to the Cardinals and get, like, the majority of the Memphis Redbirds?
Reds: Have another year of Joey Votto being the best both on and off the field.
Red Sox: We’re going to allow the Red Sox to make a new Fenway rule that opposing teams can only field one 6-foot-6-or-taller position player at a time. Hey, anything that slows down the Stanton- and Aaron Judge-led Yankees is good for the Sox.
Rockies: Greg Holland still hasn’t officially returned to the Rockies? Consider it done. Happy Hollandays, Colorado.
Royals: Speaking of home … “Home for the Holidays.” “Please Come Home for Christmas.” “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home).” For you, Kansas City, we are going to play these and other domestic-themed holiday ditties on loop outside Eric Hosmer‘s home until he signs the dotted line just to shut us up.
Tigers: Don’t tell anybody in Cooperstown, Tigers fans, but we’re totally sneaking Lou Whitaker into the Hall of Fame with Jack Morris and Alan Trammell for you.
Twins: It’s not Darvish, but here’s the lower-profile yet still-very-attractive gift of Alex Cobb, who is healthy, closing in on his pre-Tommy John norm and an obvious upgrade to the Minnesota rotation. A guy named David Cobb set the Minnesota Golden Gophers’ single-season rushing record a few years back, so this should work.
White Sox: We’re giving the gift of a calendar … one set another two years out. With the strides we started to see from youngsters Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer and some others down the stretch this year, having 2020 vision is a good thing on the South Side.
Yankees: A surprise phone call from Stanton to Brian Cashman in which the big slugger says, “By the way, not many people know this, but I’m actually an amazing defender at third base!” (Failing that, how about a one-year pact with Todd Frazier that leaves the position open for Manny Machado in 2019?)