I would like to point out an incredibly uncomfortable and hilarious truth about this offseason, and it’s a two-parter.
There’s a small chance the Giants can get either Shohei Ohtani or Giancarlo Stanton this offseason. There’s a chance — a small, teensy chance — that they get both. Heck, maybe Ohtani gets so impressed when the Giants trade for Stanton, or ... look, I don’t know. There’s enough of a chance that they get both that I can dream about it, at least. Just like my dreams that Pedro Alvarez would fall to them in the 2008 Draft.
There’s a larger chance the Dodgers can get either Shohei Ohtani or Giancarlo Stanton this offseason. There’s a chance — a reasonable, significant chance — that they get both. If you want logic as to why they’ll trade for Stanton, that’s here. If you want logic as to why they’ll sign Ohtani, it’s because they’re a wildly successful big-market team with a history of seamlessly folding international stars into their organizational blueprint.
In other words, this has the chance to be a dream offseason for the Giants, the best possible outcome for a franchise in sudden danger of becoming irrelevant.
This has a better chance of being the worst offseason in years for the Giants, something that could lead to something like the nuclear winter of the ‘70s, where they were so far behind the Dodgers that they made us feel better by not even pretending to try.
It’s abhorrent and mesmerizing. I’ve never had an offseason where my daydreams are interrupted by apocalyptic visions of the future. Usually it’s one or the other, and quite frankly, I prefer the offseasons with daydreams. Both of them at the same time is disorienting, and I’m not sure how to feel about this offseason. But I think I’ve come to a conclusion.
I fully expect the Dodgers to trade for Stanton and sign Ohtani. Not just one or the other, but both. They have everything in place to make both of these moves happen — the money, resources, and history — and I’m trying to figure reasons why the Dodgers wouldn’t want to pursue Stanton and why Ohtani would choose another team. Neither decision makes sense to me.
If that happens, there’s nothing the Giants can do to make the offseason exciting. Not even a combination of J.D. Martinez and Jackie Bradley would warm my heart. Stanton is the most compelling trade possibility since Alex Rodriguez. Ohtani is the most compelling free agent since ... Alex Rodriguez. Because of a few quirks and lucky coincidences, the Giants have a slight chance to get one of them. Because of Ohtani’s decision to give up a $200 million contract, they have a slight chance to get both of them. Here’s someone with connections saying they’re the favorites to get Stanton. Here’s someone with connections mentioning them as one of the eight possibilities to get Ohtani. If there’s a 25-percent chance of them getting Stanton, and there’s a five-percent chance of them convincing Ohtani, that means there’s a one-percent chance of them getting them both.
Do you know what else had a one-percent chance of happening? The Giants winning three straight games against the Reds in Cincinnati, then turning around and beating the Cardinals and Tigers. You had to connect some unlikely moments together ...
BUT IT WAS POSSIBLE. And I still rooted for it. I still peeked between my fingers to make sure it was possible, even while expecting it not to happen. And it was one of the greatest postseasons we’ll ever watch. That would seem to be the template, then. Hold out hope, and enjoy it when it happens.
Except, no, I’m going the other direction. This is going to be the offseason the Dodgers make the Giants wear their underwear on their head as they leave gym class, and it’s going to be in front of the whole student body. We’re all going to feel dumb when it happens, because we knew better than to have hope.
If it happens, I’ll be distraught, but not as much as I could have been. This is because I’m already gone through the seven stages of hot stove grief, and I’ve landed on acceptance.
If just one of these players chooses the Dodgers, I’ll be annoyed, but considering that it could have been both of them, I’ll be secretly relieved at the same time.
If both of them spurn the Dodgers and Giants, I’ll do a little celebration shimmy. Because, yes, I wanted them on the Giants, but I stared into the dark abyss long enough to know what could have happened, too.
If one of them is on the Giants for 2018, the upcoming season will seem like a blissful dreamscape with cotton candy trees. Baseball will be fun once more. Even if the Giants don’t do much as far as contending, they’ll suddenly have one of the most watchable players alive.
And if I spend the next few weeks assuming both of them will be on the Dodgers, I still get the cotton candy trees if I’m horribly wrong.
So that’s my advice to you: Start assuming the Dodgers will get both, and the Giants will trade Brandon Belt to make financial room for Jay Bruce or some crap. Assume this will be the offseason where everyone following the hot stove looks down like Wile E. Coyote and realizes there’s nothing but hundreds of feet of air between you and the ground. Prepare for it. Roll around in it and get used to the scent.
Expect pain and be happy with indifference, then. That’s my motto for the 2017-2018 MLB offseason. There’s a chance that the Giants can do things beyond our wildest expectations. There’s a better chance that the Dodgers could make us wear those stained expectations on our head in front of the whole student body. Come, wallow with me for a few weeks.
I’m not going to pretend like it’s going to be fun, but I am going to pretend that it’s going to prepare you for whatever’s about to happen*.
* something bad