The World Series is all over except for the Astros’ victory parade today. The hot stove is at 375 degrees and climbing, little by little. And anyone who isn’t thinking about what’s going to go into the oven either a) wants to be surprised come spring training (which is a mere 102 days away, thank God); or, b) is a baseball fan for the postseason alone.
For real baseball fans, however, be not surprised . . .
* If the (doesn’t it sound sweet to say, Astroworld?) world champion Astros are sour enough on the hapless Ken Giles that they make a run at Wade Davis, assuming the Cubs elect not to try to bring him back. Cubs manager Joe Maddon sent him out for multiple-inning assignments more than a couple of times this postseason, and Astros manager A.J. Hinch isn’t liable to make the same mistake if and when his team returns to next year’s postseason.
(And don’t bet against the Astros making a run for a second straight World Series title with most of the team they now have.) MLB Trade Rumours sees the Astros offering Davis $60 million for four years. It’s not unreasonable for a guy who’s still one of the best closers in the business.
* If the Cubs decide their ways to tighten up for another run toward the Promised Land include reeling in pitching by way of trading Kyle Schwarber and even Addison Russell, since Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis are likely to hit the free agency market, and since a) the Schwarbinator can hit a ton when he’s right but plays defense like a cement truck; and, b) Javier Baez can be moved to shortstop no muss, no fuss.
* If Gold Glove critics don’t get more fodder by way of Ben Zobrist and not Baez becoming a finalist at second base. As the Chicago Tribune‘s Steve Rosenbloom cracks, “They should find Gold Glove voters who watch baseball.”
* If five players turn out to have gotten first place votes in the National League’s Most Valuable Player award voting: Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt, Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, and Joey Votto, even if Stanton has the best shot of the five at winning it.
* If the Royals elect not to make Eric Hosmer the face of their franchise by re-signing him and the Red Sox make a big play for him should Mitch Moreland opt for free agency. Hosmer would fit the Red Sox both because he’s an above-average defensive first baseman and, more important, because he has something the Red Sox really didn’t have in 2017—home run heft.
* If the National League champion Dodgers find a way to move Adrian Gonzalez, who has one year left on his contract but no place on the Dodgers with Cody Bellinger’s emergence at first base. Since Gonzalez only played 73 games with a mere three bombs, thirty steaks, and 56 hits most of which were singles, and the Dodgers want to cut payroll, it won’t be easy to find that way.
* If the Mets make a run at another Royals free agent, Mike Moustakas, who had a terrific bounceback 2017 after missing most of 2016, and who’s improving defensively at third base. It would mean finding a way to ease captain David Wright into a backup role, to which he’s suited best if he comes back at all, considering the injury toll taken on him the past few years. But the Mets could make a sensible four- or five-year deal with Moustakas that would take him through his age 33 year . . . which just so happens to be Wright’s age now.
* If the Giants pass on a run at Moustakas because they think their top third base prospect Christian Arroyo is ready to play for the job in spring training.
* If Lorenzo Cain not only rejects a qualifying offer from the Royals but finds himself being romanced heavily by the Giants. Cain won’t hurt for suitors because he’d be the best center fielder on the market, being a plus defender and the only such one among center fielders who has above average skills at the plate and on the bases. But the Giants would be foolish not to make a run at Cain while entertaining offers for weaker incumbent Denard Span.
* If the Indians say farewell to Michael Brantley and the Blue Jays make a run at him, considering the Cleveland ties of Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins.
* If the Angels—having extended Justin Upton for five years and secured much-needed lineup protection for Mike Trout at last—don’t get to work on a pitching overhaul. Their rotation and their bullpen need bigtime help. Since Upton gladly took a little pay cut and agreed to backload his contract, the Angels have some payroll flexibility. With their farm system not quite back on the good foot, the Angels have to play the free agency and trade markets.
They could make a run at Davis or at Davis’s former pen mate Greg Holland. They could even make a run at Jake Arrieta for rotation help, though it’s also possible Arrieta might end up returning to the Cubs on a new deal if, as several analysts say, his market doesn’t prove as encouraging as he hopes.
They’d have competition for Arrieta, though—the Cardinals, Nationals, Astros, Rangers, Phillies, Yankees, Mariners, Braves, Twins, and Dodgers may have eyes for him, too. If it proves too much, the Angels could play for Lance Lynn or Masahiro Tanaka, for openers.
* If Japanese two-way prospect Shoshei Otani plays one more year in Japan, the better to maximise the money he could get from a major league team in America, rather than sign now for far less money because, since he isn’t quite 25, he’d be affected by the pool cap MLB imposes on players below that age. But when he does finish that year, there’ll be a lot of American League teams itching to sign the pitcher who can also DH for Aaron Judge-like power on the days he isn’t pitching.
* If Yu Darvish is allowed to walk into free agency, and he signs a lucrative new deal somewhere on condition he lets his new coaches work with him to correct the flaw that ruined him in the World Series—pitch tipping, which was apparently an issue the Rangers had with him in the past but the Dodgers didn’t quite catch in time. When the Astros caught on to him keeping his glove still while preparing his fastball grip but letting it wiggle just enough of a hair while preparing his slider grip, they battered him.
Darvish still has enough upside that correcting that problem would make him big enough for whomever signs him; his performance in Game Three of the National League Championship Series proved it. Contenders won’t and shouldn’t be afraid to look his way, fix that flaw, and make a run to the postseason with him.