The term “hot stove,” referring to an eventful, frenzied baseball offseason, has been in use since the late 19th century. We see and hear it tossed around in typical winter off months for Major League Baseball, but we haven’t had much of an opportunity this go-around.
The 2017-18 offseason in baseball is, instead of a hot stove, much more of an “ice maker.” Cold, boring, insignificant, and everything in between. The sluggish nature of free-agency and trade talks was summed up almost too well on Wednesday morning, in the most subtle and beautiful way.
Esteemed baseball reporters Jon Heyman and Jon Morosi broke perhaps the biggest story since the Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani transactions went into motion: The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Houston Astros had a deal in place that would send Gerrit Cole, once the fourth-place finisher in the National League Cy Young Award voting, to the defending World Series champions.
Twitter erupted with potential returns, instant analysis, even Astros players like Josh Reddick and Lance McCullers Jr. chiming in with GIFs and emojis. It was a perfect storm of excitement in player movement, something of which we have seen very little this offseason.
McCullers’ GIF of choice was a Vince Carter celebration after the NBA’s slam dunk competition, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports was the one who dunked the hardest. Passan emphatically shut down the trade speculation, describing the move as a “false rumor,” a quote he received from an inside source.
Few things are more anticlimactic than a seismic trade — even reported on by some of MLB journalism’s brightest minds — falling through all of a sudden. It might be worse for me, an Astros fan, but I digress. It was a shot to the gut.
Sadly, that’s the offseason we’re looking at. Baseball diehards are so starved for any kind of player activity, be it a trade involving All-Stars like Cole, or a big free agent signing, that we took this and ran like Billy Hamilton around the bases.
Not only was it disheartening to see from a baseball fan’s standpoint, it was maddening. We have seen so little action — after one of the best postseasons in recent memory, no less — that having the chair pulled out from under us this way was unbelievably harsh.
It’s not for no reason that we called it an “ice maker.” This offseason is a bitter cold that has chilled the very collective soul of us up. We know that J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, and Eric Hosmer will eventually be signed, and we know that sooner or later, trades at the MLB level are inevitable.
But for now, we feel fear for our offseason sanity. The Cole trade, or lack thereof, shined a light on how emotionally starved we are for winter baseball moves. It’s not a good place to be; it’s cold and gruesome … like an “ice maker.”