In the spring of 2017, when a Dodgers executive happened upon newly signed reliever Sergio Romo throwing a bullpen session, he paused.
“That’s going to take some getting used to,” the executive said.
He meant that after watching Romo pitch for the hated Giants for nine seasons it was going to take some time to wrap his mind around the idea of Romo pitching for his team.
Which got us to thinking about players who simply shouldn’t be traded. They’re in the uniform they belong in, and that’s that. We can call it the Cal Ripken Rule.
Anyway, even if GMs aren’t necessarily listening to these recommendations, here are nine players who simply should not be traded or allowed to leave.
1. Buster Posey, C, Giants
Allow Giants fans this one last reminder of the glorious recent past. Besides that, who better to build these new Giants around? In terms of talent, attitude and love of the Giants, there’s no one more perfect.
2. George Springer, OF, Astros
To lots of Astros fans, Springer is the face of the franchise during its greatest stretch. His joy and energy drive influence every teammate. He’s one year from free agency, but that should just be a formality. He can’t be allowed to wear another uniform.
Sure, A’s fans have become accustomed to players coming and going. How about we draw a line with these two guys? Manager Bob Melvin put both of them in his starting lineup for the first time on Aug. 9, 2017, and thus was born the era of The Two Matts. Over the past two seasons, only the Dodgers, Astros and Yankees have won more games.
5. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves
He debuted in 2010 when Chipper Jones was beginning to put the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career, and in that way, he ties the generations of Braves excellence together. Some guys just look right in the uniform they’re now wearing. He’s also coming off another great season.
6. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Cubs
He’s one of the faces of the franchise’s greatest era in more than a century. We get that trading him would free up some much-needed payroll flexibility. Please don’t. Find another way. Also, he’s an elite player. His power numbers have fallen slightly since he won the National League MVP Award in 2016, but his batting average and OBP have stayed the same. He turns 28 in January, and still squarely in his prime.
7. Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals
He belongs in this uniform and no other. That should be obvious. Problem is, this could get complicated. Molina is 37 and signed for just one more season. He says he would like to play beyond 2020, but the Cardinals haven’t extended him. Here’s hoping the two sides can work something out.
8. Aaron Judge, RF, Yankees
His size, personality and talent made him a Yankees legend before the end of his first full season in 2017. He’s a perfect fit for a franchise accustomed to larger-than-life performers. He also led the Majors with a 95.9-mph average exit velocity in '19.
9. Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, Angels
We’re excited about the Angels overhauling their rotation and giving Trout a better chance to make the playoffs. But we’re also excited about watching Ohtani’s career play out. At a time when almost every team is intrigued by the idea of developing its own true two-way player, this guy may have the skillset to pull it off. That looked like the case in 2018 before Tommy John surgery kept him off the mound in '19. He will once again be a must-watch player in '20.