Thanksgiving weekend was a time for reuniting, whether you were one of the millions enduring crowded airports to visit loved ones, getting together with some old pals or merely finding yourself reacquainted with a few (dozen?) of your favorite seasonal ale.
In the baseball world this weekend, one story that rose to the surface was of the Giants' reported interest in reuniting with Pablo Sandoval. It wasn't exactly a long-lived story -- the Giants basically shot it down on sight and, in Eduardo Nunez, they have a guy substantially less likely to eat himself off the team -- but it was a reminder that potential reunions add a little familiar/familial flavor to the ever-churning Hot Stove rumor mill.
With that in mind, here are five submissions for reunions we'd like to see this winter.
1. Carlos Beltran to the Royals
The Royals suffered one of the first and most glancing defections of the offseason when Kendrys Morales quickly signed his three-year, $33 million deal with the Blue Jays. Morales was a reliable run-producer on the 2015 World Series title team, and his 30-homer, 24-double, 93-RBI output was one of the few bright spots of an otherwise frustrating '16 follow-up.
So now the Royals' de facto DH is… Cheslor Cuthbert? We'll see.
The Royals say they simply don't have much (any?) money to spend after extending themselves for '16 in the hope of postseason revenues that never arrived. But the market is loaded with DH slugger types, and Beltran will turn 40 next year, which could potentially limit him to a one-year deal. The Royals' window to win might narrow considerably after '17, when Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Wade Davis, Lorenzo Cain and Danny Duffy are all eligible for free agency, so a one-year splurge on Beltran, who could make the occasional starts spelling Paulo Orlando or Jarrod Dyson in right field, makes sense.
The Rangers could re-sign Beltran, and a reunion with either the Yankees or Astros is also possible, but it's hard not to love the idea of Beltran going back to where his potentially Hall-worthy career began.
2. J.D. Martinez to the Astros
The Astros have been baseball's most aggressive team in the early Hot Stove season, already signing Josh Reddick and Charlie Morton and trading for Brian McCann. They've already given themselves rotation depth and lineup balance, and they're not done yet. They could still pursue a front-end rotation arm, first-base help and left-handed relief, but their outfield still isn't necessarily set after the Reddick acquisition.
Reddick's arrival likely shifts George Springer to center, but left field remains a question mark, with internal candidates Tony Kemp, Teoscar Hernandez and Preston Tucker all in the mix. The Astros are linked to Beltran in the rumor mill, but, as we already alluded to earlier, he's best-suited to DH duties these days, and the Astros have a DH in Evan Gattis.
But Martinez is out there on the trade market, dangled by a Tigers team that is trying to shave some salary and shore up its long term prospects. The Astros still have a system replete with solid pieces, even after their splurges for McCann, Ken Giles and Carlos Gomez in the last year and a half. And re-acquiring Martinez would offer them a cosmic correction after prematurely punting Martinez in 2014, when he revamped his swing and began a three-year stretch in which he hit 83 homers in 401 games.
For the Astros, Martinez is the one who got away. So bring him back!
3. Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees
All right, sure, it's not the most heartwarming of homecomings. Chapman only took up residence in the Bronx for four months, and he's only been gone for four months.
But it makes too much sense not to be included here. As evidenced in his post-trade Instagram post in which he told the Yankees "bye for now," Chapman is totally open to a return, and the Yankees have both the need and finances to make it happen. So what do you say we just fast-forward to the part where Chapman puts the pinstripes back on and be done with it?
4. Ian Desmond to the Nationals
Bryce Harper is the face of the Nationals, but Desmond was as representative of their heart and soul as anybody in his tenure with the organization. He loved it there.
Alas, that tenure ended last winter when he rejected their one-year qualifying offer and wound up withering in the free-agent field before landing a new home -- and a new position -- with the Rangers. Desmond famously also turned down an even larger offer a couple years earlier, when he didn't bite at the Nats' seven-year, $107 million extension offer, so his bet on himself was an unsuccessful one. But his bid for redemption in 2016 was quite the opposite, as Desmond made a successful shift to center field and put together a big enough bounceback at the plate (his OPS rose more than 100 points, to .782) to presumably prevent him from withering again this winter.
Just so happens the Nats could stand to add a center fielder, as that would allow Trea Turner to make his move back to his original shortstop slot.
Granted, stealing Yoenis Cespedes from the Mets would have the dual effect of lengthening the lineup and weakening a division foe, and that's probably a better solution than any romantic subplot associated with a Desmond return. But that's also a significantly more expensive solution, so this one's not bad.
5. Chris Archer to the Cubs
Some people actually thought shortstop Hak-Ju Lee was the headliner of the prospect haul the Rays received when they shipped Matt Garza to the Cubs in the winter before the 2011 season, but Lee's knee bent in about 15 different directions in an awful injury suffered at the second-base bag in Triple-A Durham in 2013, and that was pretty much that. Archer, though, has been awesome, posting a 110 ERA+ in four-plus seasons and emerging as one of the game's more charismatic figures. The Cubs were eventually able to flip Garza to the Rangers and received two arms who would be members of their World Series 'pen -- Carl Edwards Jr. and Justin Grimm -- but, yeah, they would have been better off keeping Archer.
I don't really expect the Rays to move Archer, nor do I really expect the Cubs, on the heels of a title, to go the uber-aggressive route it would take to land a young stud starter in the trade market. But look, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey are both free agents a year from now, and Jon Lester will be a high-mileage 34-year-old a year from now.
So, you know, looking into the market for a 28-year-old attached to five more years of extremely reasonable contractual control wouldn't be the worst idea in the world for the Cubbies. They could use Jorge Soler as the starting point in a package and go from there.
BONUS! Chris Sale to the Rockies
You're right. Chris Sale never pitched for the Rockies. I could hear you from here. But the Rox did draft him out of high school in the 21st round of the 2007 MLB Draft (he opted instead to go to Florida Gulf Coast), so this kinda/sorta/maybe counts!
The Rox, like any other team inquiring, would have to empty the farm for Sale. The package would likely have to begin with middle infielder Brendan Rodgers (the No. 6 prospect on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 list) and right-hander Jeff Hoffman (No. 34) and go from there. It would be a substantial risk to take, especially given Coors Field's adverse effects on pitchers.
Quite likely, it's a terrible idea.
But here's my devil's advocate argument: Sale succeeds in large part because of his nasty slider and his four-seamer, two pitches less affected than others by the Mile High environs. Furthermore, he comes with three years of cost control, and that's huge for a Rockies team that is not a desirable location for free-agent arms. You know the Nolan Arenado-led lineup is going to score runs (mostly at home, but whatever), so it's all about putting together a workable pitching staff. For the first time in a long time, the Rockies, with new, pitching-minded manager Bud Black in tow, have some momentum here, thanks to Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson and Tyler Chatwood.
Sale would give the Rockies the legit No. 1 they've long lacked, and they could brag to casual fans that they got him with the 642nd pick of the '07 Draft… while just ignoring all those minor details in the middle years.