Now that we’ve closed the thick book that was the 2023 MLB season by crowing the Texas Rangers as World Series champions, we have officially reached MLB Hot Stove season- fired or retired front office positions will need to be filled, options will or will not be picked up by organizations, and the rumor mill swirling around free agents will begin before we hibernate until the day pitchers and catchers report. This class will almost entirely revolve around wherever Shohei Ohtani will land aside from a plethora of veteran pitchers like Blake Snell, Sonny Gray, and Aaron Nola paired with Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman.
NBA Free Agency is almost an entirely different sport with how much social media theatrics, diva player requests, and the amount of moveable contracts. When you’re as valuable of a commodity as a superstar in a sport where there’s only 5 players on the court at once, the empowerment of being able to say, “I’m not playing” or “I would rather play insert name of big city, contender, or place where a friend is playing” even if you’re not a free agent, but rather disgruntled with a contract, the movement is much more feasible as the organizations have historically bowed down!
James Harden recently went on a parade telling children at a camp and holding signs in a club that “his owner is a liar” in order to leave his team for the third time, and sure enough, they gave him what he wanted again. The relevance of the movement and acceptance of the antics for the reality show-level drama is now a large part of the NBA entertainment pie chart.
It’s almost an extreme circumstance for there to be an NBA theatrics moment in baseball to the point where the “hot stove” sometimes feels lukewarm with a single superstar not being the end all be all to team success; it’s as if the owners are capable of saying “you have no power here!” in the voice of Gandalf. However, what if they DID? These are some hypothetical MLB Free Agency storylines in the fashion of the NBA “This League!” culture that we may or may not wish could happen.
Mike Trout makes a Damian Lillard-esque request to be sent to one place: Philadelphia
Mike Trout is on the opposite end of the spectrum of the NBA disgruntled star that gets criticized in that we WISH he would be selfish for once and request a trade to a winning environment with how often the Angels have failed one of the greatest hitters of our generation. We don’t want Trout to end with one title postseason RBI and rotting in the parking lot of an incompetent franchise next to Disneyland in the Angels.
Now that they’ve failed him once again, and he just got a sweet delectable taste of playing on a winning team in the World Baseball Classic last year, he finally lets out a press release saying that he will not suit up until he is traded to his hometown Philadelphia Phillies to try and raise a pennant with Bryce and the boys as they go to Eagles games together every Sunday. Just as Lillard said he only wanted to go to Miami after coming up short year after year in Portland, the Mickey Mantle of this generation is selfish for once. Dame didn’t get his way and ended up in Milwaukee, but we at least want to see Trout ask to go somewhere to win.
Randy Arozarena Makes Cryptic Social Media Posts about wanting to play with his best friend, Adolis Garcia in Texas
Adolis Garcia essentially had a postseason run in which he replicated Arozarena’s electricity in Tampa’s 2020 year except he went out with a ring. They’re both bombastic superstars that were best friends playing in Cuba, roommates in the Cardinals minor league system that faced off and were adorable in the Home Run Derby, and Adolis is even the Godfather of Randy’s daughter.
NBA players ultimately just want to hoop with their friends. In this case, after playing for an analytics-based small market team that plays in a tin can that’s been eliminated year after year, Randy, essentially the opposite of Tampa when it comes to the energy brought to games, finally starts putting it out in the ether after watching his BFF hoist a trophy on a winning team. He reposts a photoshop of himself into a red, white, and blue Rangers’ uni on X with the caption, “WHO IS STOPPING THIS DUO?” with an eyeball emoji. He then likes a plethora of posts imploring for Randy to come to Texas.
They’re simply meant to be together.
Juan Soto “ghosts” the San Diego Padres
We’ve seen it all too often before: the year after a disappointing season where an apathetic superstar wants out, the player scrubs the social medias of all things having to do with the team; every photo with the team apparel is deleted, they remove the team from their bio and just leave something as bland as “faith and family” or “athlete,”, they unfollow them on platforms, and they start following other teams and players on other organizations.
The Padres made the big splash going all-in on trading for Juan Soto and subsequently signing the rest of the big names around him before he likely will break the bank becoming a free agent in his age 26 season in 2025. However, SAN DIEGO was the one that picked Soto, not Soto picking San Diego, and thus far, the Padres have only underperformed with the unluckiest results in regular season history, fired a manager, and reportedly have a toxic workplace environment where they don’t even have enough cash on hand to pay all of these players they’re extending and trading for in immediacy.
You know who wasn’t underperforming amidst the turmoil? Juan Soto. Just last week Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Braves was Tweeting about how he’s the #1 player that he’d like to play with eventually. If the Padres don’t have the cash to pay Soto, in this scenario he ghosts the organization in order to force his way out and the underperforming and broke-boy Padres capitalize on the asset of a generational talent, trading him to a contender per his request before he reaches a pay day.
Pete Alonso becomes the player GM of the Mets by passive-aggressively hinting that Steve Cohen needs to spend now
“LeGM” became an online schtick when every free agency LeBron James, the most valuable commodity to the Cavaliers, Heat, and now the Lakers, would be the man actually pulling the strings, doing everything from making sure that a laissez-faire coach was brought in to let him run the show, to making sure his friends like James Jones and Dwyane Wade are brought in even if they’re well-past their prime, to sending out every single long-term and future asset to win now so that he can capitalize on the LeBron James window of opportunity and accumulate rings in his prime.
After a disastrous 2023 where the Mets had the highest payroll in history only to crumble, miss the postseason and go 75-87 after winning 101 games in 2022, send off players like Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, and fire a manager, the Mets and the ungodly wallet of Steve Cohen have decided to change the direction of the team entirely; Max Scherzer revealed in an interview that Billy Epler told him that the new revised window was for “2025 at the earliest, possibly even 2026.”
Polar Bear Pete, the two-time home run derby champ, the heart and soul of the Mets clubhouse, and an impending free agent in 2025 that will inevitably get a massive payday being a Scott Boras client, does not have that same window. There were reports that he was unhappy with the Buck Showalter firing, and while he was the subject of trade rumors as a superstar first baseman in his prime, it’s also rumored that the players were pounding their fists on the table for him to remain with the team.
IF Pete Alonso remains the first baseman and the face of the Mets for the remainder of his career, do you know what he in all likelihood is going to notice? That he plays in a salary cap-less sport with an owner worth $19.8 billion. The Texas Rangers quite literally just hoisted the World Series trophy because they were willing to spend. Pete is a charming personality, and in an NBA diva world, he tugs at the suit jacket of Uncle Stevie to open his pocket books to pursue free agents and run it back despite a year where the spending went nowhere.
Aaron Judge pulls a superstar-level power move to big time the front office in New York
The “FIRE CASHMAN!” chants were siren songs last year at Yankee Stadium after one of the most lifeless years in recent Yankee history, just merely avoiding going under .500 for the first time since 1992. Judge missed significant time with injury, Aaron Boone has had no personality when fielding the team and making decisions, and the roster that’s invested in players like broken giant Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Rodon, and DJ LeMahieu came due to their obsession with avoiding the luxury tax despite being THE marquee franchise in American sports. The criticism has been that they’ve operated like a small market organization in the largest market possible, living in the Steinbrenner shadow where the players are still forced to keep a clean-shaven beard and operate in “the Yankee way!”
Just as the entire contingency of the baseball realm of the internet thought that some sort of obvious
change would be made, a Boone or a Cashman firing, they come out with a statement saying that they’re running it back with the same manager and front office; it’s the embodiment of the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again.
Aaron Judge, while he may have the “aw shucks” way about all of his movements as a good ol’ boy that does and says the right things historically, may be the larger-than-life lightning rod that could be worth rebranding the Yankee way. Another disappointment in the midst of his massive contract that he committed to could have him asking himself, “Did I just pull a Mike Trout? Did I just sell my soul to a team too stuck in their own ways as I board the Titanic for the remainder of my career? No, there needs to be some sort of change.” as he would have the Magic Johnson-level pull of a loveable superstar in their prime that would inevitably have the pull to be able to get some changes going from the top-down.
We see your charming smile in those Subway ads, Judge, like you couldn’t hurt a fly! Play the angsty power-hungry teen for once!