By: Chris Larson
Christmas is upon us and that mean's that it's time to identify presents that just make too much sense for certain teams. While you get ready to unwrap gifts under your Christmas tree, certain General Managers around the game are ready to go shopping and bring home some much needed gifts to the fans of their respective teams.
Even if you're team isn't necessarily going to be a contender this next season, you can still receive a spectacular gift under the tree in the form of a top prospect or two. Remember, it's the quality that counts when it comes to gift giving, not necessarily just the thought of it!
Here are five hot stove Christmas gifts that just seem to make so much sense and need to happen sooner than later.
1. Chicago Cubs Ink Bryce Harper - All offseason long, the Chicago Cubs have seemed like a sleeping giant just waiting to pounce on an opportunity to sign free agent outfielder, Bryce Harper. Even though Jason Heyward is currently slated to handle right field for the Cubs, Harper is a much more significant upgrade and Theo Epstein & Company can find a way to make it work. After all, this is the Chicago Cubs we're talking about - a large market team willing to spend money with a wealthy ownership group and a constant revenue stream coming from Wrigley Field and it's surroundings. Although the Cubs have played coy all winter long and said that they have zero money to spend, it's all a coverup and posturing to get the rest of the industry to believe that the team will do little to upgrade it's 25-man roster this winter. Of course, the Cubs won't be alone in their pursuit of Harper in the NL Central, as the St. Louis Cardinals have also been connected all offseason long, but at the end of the day the Cubs could end up winning the bid. Therefore, the perfect gift this Christmas season for Cubs fans would be seeing Bryce Harper in Cubbie blue next season.
2. J.T. Realmuto Gets Traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers - Following last week's payroll clearing trade with the Cincinnati Reds, involving Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Homer Bailey, and several other pieces, many expect the Dodgers to enter the Bryce Harper derby. Well, they can still enter that derby, but while they're waiting for a decision on where Harper wants to sign, the Dodgers can put their attention towards trying to put together an intriguing trade package that meets the Marlins steep asking price for catcher, J.T. Realmuto. All winter long the Dodgers have been connected to Realmuto and it makes complete sense given that right now, Austin Barnes, would be their Opening Day catcher with Rocky Gale serving as the backup. Add to the fact that the Dodgers have a very deep farm system (still) and it makes even more sense because the Dodgers would be able to meet the Marlins steep asking price and still have plenty of prospects to use in the future as trade chips. The Dodgers are focused on trying to get over the hump so the perfect gift would be J.T. Realmuto under a Dodger blue Christmas tree.
3. Milwaukee Brewers Sign Dallas Keuchel - The Brewers really need to capitalize off this offseason and realize that they have a legitimate chance to bolster their team enough to make it back to the postseason and better yet, the World Series, next year. The formula that Milwaukee relied on during the 2018 season might not necessarily work again and given that the team lacks in the starting rotation, Dallas Keuchel, just makes too much sense. In addition, while some might argue that the Brewers will get Jimmy Nelson back (most likely) prior to Opening Day, you don't necessarily know what you're going to get from him. If Jimmy Nelson comes back and dominates like the ace that he once was, then perfect because he can bolster the starting rotation even more. However, if he struggles and has a hard time finding his old self, then that could spell trouble if Milwaukee doesn't look outside of the organization for starting pitching help. So if there's something fitting underneath a Bernie Brewer Christmas tree for Brewers fans right now, it would be Dallas Keuchel, in the form of a signed, sealed, and delivered contract.
4. Los Angeles Angels Sign Mike Moustakas - In the past, the Angels have not had a successful history of trying to get Scott Boras clients to sign on the dotted line, but the Angels and Scott Boras need to come together this Christmas and convince each other that the fit is just right. The Angels have two more seasons left of Mike Trout, unless an extension is reached sometime before this offseason concludes, and that's if Trout even wants to sign an extension with the team. That's why it is so critical that the Angels do everything they can to win now and show Trout that they are trying to put a winning team around him. As it stands right now, the Angels have Zack Cozart on their roster, who can play second or third base, but signing Moustakas would allow the Angels to slide Cozart over to second and have a really good infield defense. Defense has been a sticking point for the Angels during Billy Eppler's tenure thus far and should continue to be a focal point moving forward. Underneath any Halo Angel Christmas tree is a perfect gift and in this case for Angels fans, that would be in the form of Mike Moustakas along with a MMMOOOSSSEEE speaker.
5. Houston Astros Trade for Marcus Stroman - Since Dallas Keuchel has already been signed with the Brewers (for the sake of this article), the Houston Astros grow frustrated because they lost out on another potential free agent starting pitcher and turn their sights towards trying to acquire, Marcus Stroman, of the Toronto Blue Jays. After losing Lance McCullers Jr. to Tommy John surgery for the entire season and learning that Charlie Morton signed a two-year deal earlier this offseason with the Tampa Bay Rays, Jeff Luhnow & Company realize that their window of contention is still open and want to do everything they can to bolster their starting rotation. While Houston's top prospects, such as RHP Forrest Whitley and OF Kyle Tucker are likely off limits, that doesn't mean that Toronto wouldn't be interested in acquiring the Astros number three best prospect in RHP J.B. Bukauskas, plus an additional piece or two. Furthermore, the acquisition would only make the Astros better, as Marcus Stroman has the highest groundball percentage of any qualified starting pitcher, over the last three seasons. So while the Cincinnati Reds have been hot on the heels of Marcus Stroman, the perfect gift for any Astros fan this Christmas would be a jersey with Marcus Stroman's name on the back.