Some free-agent signings seem inevitable. These are the ones in which everyone wins. That's especially true now with the start of Spring Training a mere month away.Sure, the devil is in the details. Free agency is an imperfect science. Rare is it that both sides get exactly what they want.
Some free-agent signings seem inevitable. These are the ones in which everyone wins. That's especially true now with the start of Spring Training a mere month away.
Sure, the devil is in the details. Free agency is an imperfect science. Rare is it that both sides get exactly what they want. In some of these pairings, logic should prevail.
These last few weeks of the offseason likely will have a surprise or two. Will the Red Sox surprise us and make a big play for a bat? Will the Dodgers finally pull off a deal for a second baseman? How about the Braves finally offering the Rays a package for Chris Archer that's too good to refuse?
For now, let's focus on deals so sensible that they would surprise no one:
2B Chase Utley and Dodgers
Can't you kids realize how perfect you are for one another? The Dodgers shopped around this offseason, checking on trades for James Dozier, Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips and John Forsythe. That's what smart teams do. On the other hand, Los Angeles is already a 95-win team with or without an upgrade at second base. Re-signing Utley, 38, makes the most sense. The Dodgers get a productive player and don't give up any of their pitching depth.
1B/DH Mike Napoli and Rangers
Are we really going to quibble on whether this deal is for two or three years? How about two years and a vesting option? Or two years and a mutual option? However it gets done, get it done. The Rangers need Napoli's bat and leadership. Could there be a better tutor for top prospect Joey Gallo? Napoli, 35, has already had two other tours of duty with Texas. He loves it there. He's loved there. Win, win.
C Matt Wieters and Angels
It's something of a surprise that Wieters is still on the market. So this is an opportunity for the Angels, who would like to upgrade their catching. Wieters did not have his best season in 2016 (.711 OPS), but that was still 63 points higher than the Halos got from their catchers. Wieters is only 30. He's healthy again. He'll almost certainly take a one- or two-year deal at this point. The Angels are good enough to get back to the postseason in 2017, and Wieters would increase their chances.
DH/1B/OF Mark Trumbo and Orioles
Everyone's options are diminishing. While the Rangers have checked in on Trumbo, and while the Blue Jays and Cardinals would also make sense for him, it's Baltimore that seems inevitable. Trumbo is better in a first base or DH role, but the Orioles won 89 games last season with him starting 95 times in right field.
RF Jose Bautista and Blue Jays
There may not be a single marriage that makes more sense than this one. Bautista is the face of the franchise and has been at the center of its renaissance. The Blue Jays need his offense. At 36, Bautista can still be penciled in for 35 home runs. Besides, this is where he belongs.
CF Michael Bourn and Tigers
The Tigers don't want to make a long-term commitment in free agency. That's perfect because Bourn is 34 and realistic about the marketplace after playing for four teams the past two seasons. He's probably still capable of his .266 career batting average, and he can provide above-average play in center field.
Reliever Greg Holland and the Nationals
Perfect fit. The Nationals have enough quality arms to close out games. But they don't have that proven guy, and for a team trying to get over the hump in October, that's important. Holland was once one of the best -- 125 saves in 2013-15. Now on the road back from Tommy John surgery, he needs a chance to prove himself again. The Nats can allow Holland to begin in a seventh- or eighth-inning role and work his way back. If things work out, he could be back to his 46-save self by October.
Reliever Joe Blanton and every team
This one makes no sense. Isn't every team trying to build a deep bullpen? Blanton would make all of them better. Since the Pirates acquired him July 31, 2015, and made him exclusively a reliever, Blanton has been one of baseball's best: 96 games (25th), 2.20 ERA (fourth), .198 batting average (third) and 114 1/3 innings (fifth).
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice.