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An offseason Christmas wish list

When it comes to big-time free agents, we often hear the same team names. Let’s get creative while we still can.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

This time of year, fan bases across baseball spend their days dreaming up what could be this upcoming season. Even the most hopeful among us can’t quite rectify the idea of some moves - Harper to Cleveland seems crazy, and Machado to Baltimore or Chicago (south side) is absurd, right? It may seem odd, but these ideas are out there, and in some cases, are plausible moves that could be made with the right mix of luck, gumption and of course money.

Big money players usually go to big money teams. But what if some teams made some dreams come true, or at least made the deal that made the most sense? I’ve got some ideas that should get your baseball imagination rearing to go:

Adam Ottavino to the Athletics

I loved what the A’s did in the Wild Card Game this year. Everyone else, it seemed, hated it. Both before and after it. But it’s a great idea. Between that, and the Rays consistent bullpenning and opener-ing and now talk of other teams debuting an opener of their own, it seems time for the always desperate/creative Green and Gold to just go even further.

Usually this time of year you expect a team’s big pitching move to be for a starter. But the A’s have two things - decent enough starters, and not very much money. In getting Ottavino, along with maybe even Zach Britton, they can do what even the Rays aren’t daring enough to do. Eliminate the starter almost completely, or at least in two or three of the five traditional slots. The future of baseball will look something like that anyway, 20 or so truly A+ elite arms and then a bunch of 2-3 inning relief guys. With how hitters are evolving, third and fourth starters are going to be like so much chum sooner rather than later. Someone has to push the needle. Why not the perennial needle-pushers themselves? It’s a perfect match.

Mike Moustakas to the Indians

To be clear, I’m as close to an Indians fan as I am of any team. Since he came up I have not been a huge fan of Mike Moustakas. Not for any real reason - it’s not like he ever killed the Tribe, posting a .719 OPS against them, and his teammates Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain were probably more lethal. He was just so Royals-y though. It’s a hard to quantify - or even qualify, at least in less than 1,000 or so words.

He’s been a big ol’ grinder that ends up hitting bombs at just the wrong time. He also doesn’t walk, ever. But he’s also the perfect Indians signing. Flawed but powerful, probably looking for more money than he can get and so will twist in the wind till mid-February, and he can play like three positions poorly. It’s a match made in heaven.

J.T. Realmuto to the Angels

So this isn’t a free agent signing. But it’s a move that has to happen for one simple reason: the Angels need more talent around Mike Trout. It’s getting a little stupid at this point. They need to be more than just the fringiest of fringe contenders.

Justin Upton is pretty good. Andrelton Simmons is an incredible shortstop, using that glove to amass a good chunk of the 12.2 fWAR he’s earned on the Angels; he shouldn’t however, be your second or third best hitter. Having Shohei Ohtani makes it a bit more palatable, as long as 2018 wasn’t a ruse, though the young slugger/fireballer’s Tommy John surgery makes everything a bit muddled. He’ll still play, but elbow surgery in baseball seems a bit taxing, no?

Suffice to say, the Angels have a limited window with Trout. They should do what they can to pack talent around him now. They don’t need prospects, not right now. They need sluggers, and Realmuto does that with elite defense, and makes them much, much better. I don’t know how the prospect math works out for them specifically, but it’s not like the Marlins have been judicious in trades in the recent past. The Angels need that talent, that bat.

Speaking of which...

Nelson Cruz to the Angels

Okay, now I’m just getting silly, huh. Especially with Ohtani unable to do anything but DH in 2019. It’s just that for all those incredible missiles that Cruz launched in Seattle, I miss seeing him in October. Even if some of that was flubbing balls in the outfield. Maybe he could play a bad first base, or garbage left field. This is less likely than almost anything I’ve written here, but he’s been flouting old age for a couple years, at least at the plate. There’s got to be a way to get his bat in the Angels lineup, where his defensive issues can be compensated for elsewhere by Trout or Simmons or whoever. It’s all just math, right? Let’s get him to lift Trout.

Mark Reynolds to the Rockies

It happened once, and it was, well, pretty good. He posted a 103 wRC+ in 264 games between 2016 and 2017, popping 44 home runs. We know what to expect. But there’s one thing I always want on the Rockies - huge, swing-for-the-fences guys who just live for a deep parabolic arc. Reynolds was a perfect fit for Colorado once, and should be again. Ian Desmond is not getting the job done, especially in the bomb department.

Actually, ignore that paragraph I wrote earlier. Cruz should go here too! He just spent four years in Seattle, a damp and dreary hellscape for home run hitters, and hit 163 of them in that span. Who cares about his defense when he unloads a few times each series? The true dream of all baseball fans died when Giancarlo Stanton ended up in New York instead of Denver. That would have been the perfect matching of player, team, and atmosphere. But it is never to be. So we must do what we can, and find our moon shot men where they’re available. But seriously, Reynolds to Denver is always a move I want. Cruz is fine, too.

There’s other things I dreamed of, hoped for. Matt Harvey to the Astros for instance. A broken former ace going to the most forward-thinking team in baseball, who can find each and every little finger twitch and flinch that makes him terrible, then find ways to fix it? That’s how you get the Dark Knight to return. And of course I want Harper to just go back to Washington. They’re stupid to let their best player ever leave. Not that it hasn’t happened countless times before of course, but that’s a tale for another day.

Or Adeiny Hechavarria and Yangervis Solarte signing with, I don’t know, the Red Sox somehow? They can find space If only to hear radio man Joe Castiglione say their names with that thick Boston accent of his. Likely none of these will happen. But just because they won’t, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.

Merritt Rohlfing talks and writes a lot about baseball, whether at Let’s Go Tribe, Beyond the Box Score, or on podcasts and radio shows across baseballdom. Follow him on Twitter @MerrillLunch. Email him rudely at