To be quite clear, we haven’t hit the hottest part of the offseason by any stretch, but as we sit here today on November 25, the most notable move of the offseason has been … the Ryon Healy trade? The Brewers re-signing Eric Sogard? The Cubs landing Jim Benedict?
If the MLB offseason were a YA novel, we would have just made it through a post-apocalyptical hellscape of nothingness only to find ourselves at the edge of a cliff overlooking more nothingness. (Eat at Arby’s.)
I can’t remember the last time Thanksgiving weekend came and went without SOME kind of semi-notable move in the baseball transaction world.
Given that the market at large seems to be held up primarily by the specter of a Giancarlo Stanton trade and the will-they-won’t-they posting of Shohei Ohtani (only in the last week did it become certain that it would happen), I tried to think back to the last offseason where we had this kind of major, over-arching, expected maneuvering that could have held up the market. Were there no moves then?
The first that comes to mind is actually not that long ago – it’s last offseason, when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was being finalized. It doesn’t get much bigger or more this-should-hold-up-the-market than that, given that offseason transactions were potentially going to be governed by that very document. And yet, despite not coming to an agreement on a deal until the very end of November, you had that big Diamondbacks-Mariners trade just before Thanksgiving, the Twins signed Jason Castro to a three-year deal, and the Cardinals had already signed Brett Cecil to a four-year deal a week earlier. The Astros had already signed Josh Reddick and traded for Brian McCann. And then you had Yoenis Cespedes signing a new deal with the Mets, and the Cubs signing Jon Jay to a one-year deal shortly after Thanksgiving weekend, but before the CBA was done.
That is to say, even when things REALLY should have been held up last year, they weren’t all that much – certainly not compared to this year. (And we were thinking last year that it was slow!)
So last year is not comparable. Then I think back to the offseason of 2013-14, when we had a pretty similar will-they-won’t-they situation with Masahiro Tanaka. Like Ohtani, he was so very big-time that his availability might dictate the entire offseason for some teams, and thus, the trickle down effect on other teams and other free agents and other trades was significant. The Cubs, for example, were mostly holding out in an attempt to get Tanaka.
Like this year, it was unclear if Tanaka would even be posted, and it was an ongoing saga for much of November and December. And yet, around Thanksgiving, we had the Cardinals signing Jhonny Peralta to a big deal, the Yankees signing Brian McCann to a huge deal, and the Tigers and Rangers had swapped Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler.
That’s some really significant stuff happening by now, even as the market was “held up.”
So why is this year so different than those two years? I’m not sure. Maybe the *combined* effect of Stanton-Ohtani is more impactful than just Tanaka or just the CBA. Maybe it’s actually just a coincidence. Maybe it’s the new CBA rules kicking in for this offseason, maybe teams and qualified free agents a little gunshy about being the first to pull the trigger.
Maybe – probably, even – it’s a combination of a lot of things, ranging from random chance up to very specific dominoes that cannot fall until others are tipped.
Whatever the case, man, it’s cold. It’s really cold. Unusually, unseasonably, unshakably cold. And I’m quite ready, like I’m sure you are, for something to kick this baby off.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) November 24, 2017