“Yu Darvish has been traded to the Dodgers.” It’s a statement that rang throughout baseball at about 1:15PM PST on July 31st, 2017. As fans waited anxiously by their TVs and laptops, phones in hand refreshing Twitter and watching MLB Network, news arrived like a gentle snow in the middle of January.
Then the snow began to fall faster, and faster. Trades were announced and teams became contenders. The Dodgers, who were leading the NL West at the time, provided the excitement in the final minutes before the deadline.
All with one simple statement, the Dodgers became World Series favorites.
But the offseason tends to be a different story.
Baseball’s winter meetings start on Sunday. In those meetings, trades and signings will be discussed. Giancarlo Stanton could already be on the roster of a team not named the Miami Marlins. Shohei Otani could be putting on the cap of an MLB team by weeks end.
This is baseball, and it never stops.
I have this little whiteboard on my door. During the season, I use it to keep track of the standings, the Dodgers record, and upcoming games. During the offseason, I use it to keep track of free agent signings. On November 2nd, I wrote about fifteen names up there—the top free agents of 2017—with their old team, as well as space for their new team and the deal in which they agree upon.
Not one of those spaces has been filled in yet.
Free-agent signings take time, and trades are complex. Those complexities are what make baseball beautiful, and riveting. Those same complexities, though, affect teams in ways we can’t predict. Sometimes, trades go relatively unnoticed, and teams continue on the path they’ve been on all season. But, other times, trades and signing are all we think about. They change the course of the season and they make things that once seemed impossible, possible.
Spring training begins in two and a half months. In the grand scheme of things, two and a half months is nothing. But in baseball, two and a half months is everything. In two and a half months, the echoes of October will quiet, and the hopeful cheers of spring will begin. There’s plenty to accomplish before then, nonetheless.
Trades and signings require a game plan. They require goals and the realization of an apparent problem, or the absence of something that could positively impact the team.
The Dodgers traded for Darvish because they needed an extra starter in the rotation.
The D-Backs traded for J.D Martinez because they needed a slugger in the lineup.
At the end of the day, trades are meant to bring about a change—change and hope.
The Dodgers have needs this offseason, but then again, so do just about every other team in baseball. We can’t dwell on those needs because we still have two and a half months until spring training.
Two and a half months. That’s nothing.
Two and a half months. That’s everything.
Things are fairly quiet now, but who knows, by January we could all be looking back, marveling at the difference a month makes. Or, maybe we won’t be, not quite yet. Maybe we’ll be waiting for news, and waiting for that feeling of exhilaration that accompanies even the smallest of moments that this game provides.
Trades and signings are exciting, not because they merely happen and are newsworthy, but because they change teams. They alter the dynamic and they add something that may not have been there before, and it isn’t until well past Opening Day when we can fully see the result of those changes.
There are two and a half months until Spring, and yet we feel like there should be more happening. We feel remnants of the rush of October, and we wish it was still here.
But maybe we should let the snow fall, quietly and simply, until it is once again time to play baseball.
(FOLLOW SARAH ON TWITTER: @SARAHMANINGER)