The switch between the World Series and the hot stove league flips instantaneously. The champagne has barely dried and the victory parade has barely subsided before we start trying to figure out how the next season is going to look.
We usually can stave off our curiosity until the World Series actually ends because, after all, it's the premier event in sports. (I will have words with anyone who argues otherwise.) However, this year's Fall Classic serves as a perfect segue into the offseason because it will be a perfect showcase for the two most highly coveted players in the free-agent class to come: Astros ace Gerrit Cole (who struggled some in Game 1) and Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon.
If you are a fan of the Astros or Nationals, your focus is on the next three to six games. A championship is on the line. Houston has just one of those in its trophy case. Washington has only the title won by the Senators back in 1924. You can understand why these fan bases don't exactly want to think about the free-agent season.
For the fans of the other 28 teams, though, it's a mixed experience. Sure, it's the World Series, and that's great stuff on the face of it. But every time Cole mows down a hitter with a high four-seamer or Tony Two Bags drives in a run with a gapper, you can't help but think ... yeah, it would be pretty nice to get that guy.
Doing so will be expensive. Both players could command deals in the range of seven years and exceed $30 million per. Both are 29 years old (Rendon is three months older than Cole). Current trends seem to be that ace starters over 30 are becoming more precious, while 30-something position players are losing their allure. Both of these players are so good that it's hard to say whether those trends will impact them all that much. Either way, they are about to get very, very wealthy.
How realistic are your fleeting fantasies of landing one of these studs? Let's run through these in terms of fit. For both players, we've rated the "fit" for each team from one to five stars. The star rating is based on a few factors: anticipated spending room, the team's place on the contention cycle and whether a positional need exists.
But on the latter point, let's be clear: Cole and Rendon fit on every team. They are so good that if they want to play for your team and you can afford to pay them, you figure out a way to make it work. Some fits, though, are better than others. Let's take a look.