It’s the holiday season, which means people have put together their wish lists for gifts. And many of us are rushing to malls (or Amazon) to try and find those gifts. With that in mind, we’re looking back on the year that was for Major League Baseball in 2017 and trying to figure out what item might be at the top of the wish lists for some of the sports teams, fans, and biggest personalities. Note: these items can be realistic or completely sarcastic and wishful thinking. That’s kind of the point of a wish list, no? You probably weren’t getting that race car you asked for when you were a kid, but you still put it on your list, didn’t you?
St. Louis Cardinals – A viable closer
President of baseball operations John Mozeliak brought gifts for bullpen, outfield, top of the lineup and prospects back with him from Orlando. But the Cardinals are likely still one arm or one big bat away from being a championship caliber team. Mozeliak admitted that his team needed to get better in one-run games and a reliable closer is best tool for the job. The in-house candidate is Alex Reyes, who’s coming off Tommy John Surgery and could also be thrown into the starting rotation. But there’s still the trade rumors afloat that St. Louis could be looking at a deal to bring last year’s AL saves leader, Alex Colome to St. Louis, from Tampa Bay.
Marlins Fans- A time machine to go back before Jeter bought the team
Things are bad for fans of the Miami Marlins. They thought that they had gotten rid of the owner who was constantly having fire sales of the team’s talent and bilking tax payers out of money for a stadium they didn’t want. While Jeffrey Loria is now gone, the new ownership group, and its most famous face, Derek Jeter, has come in and immediately traded Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, three of the organization’s best players in exchange for, well, not having to pay their contracts and a couple of prospects who may work out in five years. The Marlins weren’t a bad team by any stretch last year, finishing 77-85, but Jeter and company decided to reboot the team.
Baltimore Orioles- Ace Starting Pitcher
The Orioles have struggled for awhile now to either develop or sign a true number one pitcher. Kevin Gausman showed flashes of that potential this year, but he still finished the season with a 4.68 ERA (4.48 FIP) in 186.2 innings. Who was the last guy you looked at on the Orioles staff and went “yep, don’t want to face that guy three times in a playoff series”. Jeremy Guthrie? Erik Bedard? Mike Mussina? Point is, it’s been awhile for this franchise. Right now, they appear to be in sell mode, so signing a big-time starting pitcher is unlikely. But, maybe Santa will bring them a prospect?
Yu Darvish- Another Shot At World Series Starts
Darvish’s first appearance in the Fall Classic was……not ideal. In a pair of starts, he lasted just 3.1 innings, giving up nine hits and nine runs, eight of those earned. For a pitcher of Darvish’s caliber, that is disastrous, particularly with the whole nation watching in the biggest games of the year. The good news for Darvish, at least, is that it appears the Dodgers are at least still talking to him and could bring him back. The Dodgers are one of the favorites to make the World Series next season, so if Darvish were to return, he could get another crack at the big games.
Cleveland Indians- An End To Their World Series Drought
The Indians were so close, so agonizingly close in 2016 when they held a 3-1 lead in the World Series against the Cubs. But, we all know what happened. The Cubs came back and ended their drought. Fine. Chicago had been waiting longer than Cleveland for a title anyway. 2017 was going to be their year. The Indians ripped off a 22-game winning streak, finished 102-60, the best record in the league and looked set for another shot at the title. Then, they proceeded to go up 2-0 on the Yankees in the division series before losing three straight elimination games to get knocked out of the playoffs. Yikes. Maybe 2018 will be the year?
Washington Nationals Fans- A New Contract For Bryce Harper
Nationals fans’ biggest fear at the moment is that their young star outfielder is going to leave for greener pastures after next season when he becomes a free agent. Harper is a perennial MVP candidate who bounced back from a disappointing 2016 with a .319/.413/.595 slash line, 29 homers and 87 RBI. He’s only 25 years old and will be 26 by the time he’s free agent next year. Granted, his agent is Scott Boras, a man known for getting the absolute most he can for his clients, so the team is likely going to swallow hard at the number Boras slides across the table. But, losing Harper to say, the Yankees, or worse, the division rival Phillies would be way worse. So, fans ears likely perked up recently when word came through that Boras and the Nationals had talked about a contract. Now the hope for Nats fans is that it actually comes to fruition.
Sam Masterson contributed to this report