At this point of the offseason, you’ve already read just about every “list of possible suitors for Player X” that you could possibly consume: Did you hear that Team X is potentially setting up a Zoom call to discuss their conceivable interest in Player Y? But part of the fun of dreaming up theoretical destinations for players is the nostalgia factor: Who could go back from whence they came?
That’s to say: There are a number of players on the market who left their original teams, peddled their wares elsewhere and now could end up being a fit for the team they once left. They say you can’t go home again. But of course you can. Obviously you can.
Let’s imagine these players and teams being reunited … and it feels so good. (Note: This is not based on any reporting I’ve done, but rather how much fun it would be to see.)
Joey Gallo to the Rangers
Gallo’s career OPS for the Rangers? .833. His career OPS for the Yankees and the Dodgers? .663. Gallo has hit at least 38 homers three times in his career, and while it sure looks like he’s never going to get the strikeouts under control, and that .253 average he posted in 2019 looks like an all-timer of an aberration, the guy can still hit the dickens out of the ball (and can still play a little defense, too). The Rangers need some outfielders. Gallo needs to get back to a place where he’s comfortable. The fit is pretty obvious here.
Evan Longoria to the Rays
All right, this fit isn’t quite as obvious. The Rays don’t really need a third baseman or a designated hitter -- though they could find Longoria some at-bats at DH or even first base -- and Longoria hasn’t played more than 129 games in a season since he left St. Petersburg. But come on: Longoria, by nearly every statistical measure, is by far the best player in Rays history, the guy who represented the turnaround this franchise experienced when they got rid of the “Devil” in their name. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see him in that jersey again?
Wil Myers to the Rays
While we’re at it, let’s get the guy whose divisive trade from Kansas City to the Rays (for Wade Davis and James Shields) was once every stathead’s barroom argument starter. He ended up heading to San Diego from Tampa in a trade that was thought to be "the Wil Myers trade" at the time but now it is known mostly for getting Trea Turner from San Diego to Washington. Myers was once supposed to be the future of the Rays. And hey, he still can be. He’s only 31, after all.
J.D. Martinez to the Tigers
The Tigers were the ones who figured out what the Astros couldn’t: How to turn a middling outfielder into one of the biggest power threats in the game. The Tigers sure could use some power right now -- along with all the other things that they need -- and it’d be downright pleasant to see Martinez batting next to Miguel Cabrera again in Miggy’s final season.
Michael Brantley to Guardians
You may have heard about this, but the Guardians, well, they tend to be a little short on outfielders. It has been like that, essentially, since Brantley, who made three All-Star Games with the team, left to sign with the Astros after the 2018 season. Brantley had finally been healthy for most of his time with Houston until his 2022 breakdown, which could make him a nice calculated risk for Cleveland at a (likely) modest price. This would be incredibly fun, and would have the added bonus of being incredibly helpful for the Guardians, who always seem to be two or three bats short.
Matt Carpenter to the Cardinals
Carpenter was actually a member of the last Cardinals team to win the World Series: He had 19 plate appearances (and one hit) for that 2011 team, which wasn’t much, but hey, he got a ring out of it. He wouldn’t break out until 2012, and his run from 2013-18, when he made three All-Star teams and received MVP votes three times, reaching as high as fourth in 2013, is underappreciated. It fell apart on him at the end in St. Louis, but his comeback as a Yankee in 47 games in 2022 (a 1.138 OPS) was as inspiring as it was thrilling to watch. The right-field porch at Busch Stadium is a lot farther away than it was at Yankee Stadium, but it’ll still look awfully familiar. And the Cardinals' lineup sure does need a left-handed bat.
Justin Turner to the Mets
He put up a .696 OPS with the Mets from 2011-13 before remaking his swing and becoming a star with the Dodgers. He could play some third base and also DH for the Mets and probably be an upgrade there. If so, it might make Mets fans feel a little better about letting him walk almost a decade ago.
Dansby Swanson to the D-backs
OK, OK … so Swanson never actually played for the D-backs. But they did pick him first overall in the 2015 MLB Draft. They didn’t hang onto him long, though: They shipped him to Atlanta a mere six months later, along with Ender Inciarte and Aaron Blair for Shelby Miller (who had a 6.35 ERA in 29 games, including 28 starts, for Arizona). This one is probably the least likely to happen of this list, but it would be nice for Arizona fans to get to see him in a D-backs uniform at least once.