We're looking for perfect fits -- something like the Red Sox got by signing J.D. Martinez last winter. Big-ticket free-agent signings seldom work out so perfectly: A team that was already very good got a guy who made them even better, on the field and in the clubhouse.
And they jumped on duck boats and rode off into the sunset with a World Series trophy. Yeah, those kinds of fits. We're working up our list and checking it two and three times more. Here are some potential fits that seem to make sense:
1. Nathan Eovaldi and the Red Sox
As much as the Astros would like to convince the free-agent right-hander to play for his hometown team, Eovaldi should stay put. If nothing else, he wouldn't want to miss being in a Red Sox uniform when he's introduced as a World Series hero at Fenway Park for the first time next season. Those roars will live in his head forever. After seven seasons and five organizations, Eovaldi finally found the thing every Major Leaguer is seeking. Why leave?
2. Patrick Corbin and the Yankees
Go ahead and listen to what the Nationals and Phillies have to say, Patrick. It's good to keep an open mind about these things. After all, this is a business. On the other hand, we all know how this thing is going to play out. You will not pass up an opportunity to sign with the team you grew up rooting for. Timing is important in these things. In this case, it's perfect.
3. Paul Goldschmidt and the Astros
While the D-backs first baseman did grow up in the Houston suburbs, this trade wouldn't be about that. The Astros have a very real need for more offense after a season in which their first basemen ranked 23rd in home runs and 13th in OPS. Their designated-hitter production wasn't much better. To add one of the best hitters in baseball -- and a three-time Gold Glove winner at first -- to a team that won 103 games would position the Astros for a fourth playoff appearance in five seasons.
4. Manny Machado and the Phillies
Let's face it, there aren't any bad fits for a player who leads the Majors in games played the last four seasons and is among the MLB leaders in homers (seventh), total bases (second), OPS (29th) and fWAR (ninth). Coincidentally, the Phillies have money to spend and need offense. They dream of signing both Machado and Bryce Harper. First, though, they have to get one of them done. This is where they should start.
5. Bryce Harper and the Nationals
Harper should consider all his options. In the end, though, he's unlikely to find a situation more perfect than the one he already knows. Here's another reason the Nationals make sense: While he may not sign until January, the Nationals will not be held hostage. GM Mike Rizzo has already upgraded his bullpen and catching and intends to do the same with his rotation, thus making the Nationals favorites to win the NL East -- with or without Harper.
6. Zach Britton and the Braves
GM Alex Anthopoulos is looking to add a starting pitcher, an outfielder and a closer after last week's signing of Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann. In Britton, he can add one of the best closers of this generation. Last season was about Britton proving his left arm and shoulder were sound, and he did that by regularly touching 95 mph while pitching in 32 games over the final three months for the Orioles and Yankees.
7. Michael Brantley and the Giants
First, there are the 143 games he played last season. In the end, that may be the only number that matters. After playing 101 games in 2016-17, Brantley proved he could stay on the field in '18, while also proving that he remains one of the most reliable offensive outfielders in the game. His .364 OBP is 57 points higher than the Giants got from their outfielders in 2018. Brantley's 3.5 fWAR was 16th among all Major League outfielders in '18. While the Giants may kick the tires on Harper and A.J. Pollock, Brantley is the prototype high-OBP hitter they need.