As the emptiest MLB off-season of all time continues, let’s allow our fevered minds to drift into the fantasy of a winter in which not only anything is possible, but something occasionally happens:
October 10: A single light turns on at Citizens Bank Park. Matt Klentak returns to his office, ready to get to work. He has two voicemails. One is from John Middleton, subtlety suggesting that the rebuild reach a new phase this winter through some dramatic signings. The other is Peter Gammons, who can be heard ordering a sandwich through the fabric of his pants pocket. Klentak’s only new email informs him his recent message to the Marlins’ front office has bounced back.
He gets to work.
October 30: Gabe Kapler is named the Phillies next manager after defeating the other candidates in unarmed combat in Roosevelt Park. Larry Bowa, unaware the tournament has concluded, remains hidden in a log with a handmade knife for several nights.
November 14: After shoring up the bullpen at the MLB GM Meetings by acquiring Pat Neshek and Addison Reed, Matt Klentak signed Tommy Hunter because Sandy Alderson mentioned his name and then finds Dan Duquette and works out a Zach Britton-for-Franklyn Kilome trade because he’s bored. Part of the deal includes Duquette immediately calling Manny Machado so that Klentak can mutter “I’ll be back for you later” and hang up.
November 15: Throughout the remainder of the GM Meetings, Klentak sows seeds of chaos between the other front offices rumored to be interested in trading for Machado before he hits the open market. He makes sure to book a room that shares a wall with Brian Cashman and watches loud action movies late into the night. The next morning, a sleep-deprived Cashman accidentally tweets his social security number.
December 6: Two years of intel gathered by shadow agents installed in Japan provide Matt Klentak with the background on Shohei Ohtani he needs to comprise a perfect pitch to the star. Ohtani is brought to tears by the in depth knowledge the Phillies seem to have on his priorities and desires. Larry Bowa only jumps on the table once. After leaving the room to collect himself, Ohtani signs a team-friendly six-year deal. He is stunned to learn that his mother and two of his cousins were actually Phillies representatives.
December 9: Brian Cashman slams the phone down in his office after half an hour of listening to Derek Jeter noisily eat an apple. Giancarlo Stanton accepts a trade to the Phillies for Jonathan Guzman and Jesmuel Valentin.
December 10: Gabe Kapler is spotted by tourists doing burpees on an ice float as it drifts down the Delaware River past Penn’s Landing.
December 13: The MLB Winter Meetings come alive with talk that the Phillies’ rebuild has been kicked into high gear. Matt Klentak furthers intrigue by scheduling a full day of meetings and not showing up for any of them. Andy MacPhail whispers Jake Arrieta’s name into an air vent at the Dolphin Resort and panicking GMs work to counter the move, which never comes to fruition.
December 15: Matt Klentak packages both Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis in a trade to the Padres for the Double A San Antonio Missions.
December 18: In Miami, a town hall hosted by Derek Jeter spins almost immediately out of control as Marlins Man continues to get back in line to insult Jeter while wearing different disguises and speaking with various accents.
December 24: On Christmas Eve, Klentak finalizes a three-year deal with Carlos Santana, creating a domino effect as speculation begins over Rhys Hoskins’ role in the already crowded outfield. Having predicted this, Klentak releases a subsequent statement saying that all four outfielders have been traded. An hour later, he releases a statement saying none of them have. Then he turns off his phone for the holidays.
January 1: Gabe Kapler is identified on the local news while pulling a Mummer float down Broad Street with his teeth.
January 5: In a show of force, Matt Klentak has Carlos Santana push Brian Cashman’s car up hill as part of his training and into the Schuylkill River.
January 7: Despite being suspended by the furious dean, Maikel Franco throws the biggest party his Winter Baseball Academy has ever seen, raising money in the process to save it from being bought by Rob Manfred and converted into an MLB baseball juicery.
January 10: Cameron Rupp announces his retirement and signs a lucrative eight-year deal with the Philadelphia SPCA. Fans are encouraged to pluck any of the puppies or kittens off of him if they pass him on the street.
January 12: Baseball announces that it will save time in 2018 by allowing Odubel Herrera to formally calls the balls and strikes of his own at-bats.
January 17: Mike Trout signs a deal to join the Eagles practice squad. The Sixers voice concerns that the role will impinge on his ability to travel to road games. The Angels type out several long, inquisitive texts to their centerfielder, but don’t send them.
January 20: Klentak trades Nick Williams and a prospect package to the Rays for Chris Archer. A GoFundMe appears to raise money for a holographic 3D replay commemorating Williams’ inside-the-park home run on the final day of the 2017 season to play on a continuous loop in Ashburn Alley. It is fully funded within an hour. A confused Phillies staffer tells the media the team does not have access to that sort of technology. Matt Klentak mutters a sinister“...or do we” and flickers ominously.
January 30: Gabe Kapler startles Rhys Hoskins at a local chain restaurant by stepping out from behind a potted plant to give him the full nutrition facts of the onion rings platter he’s just ordered and produces a helping of asparagus he’s harvested in his coat closet.
February 1: Matt Klentak announces that Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout have accepted roles on the Phillies’ coaching staff. While deleting another text, the Angels accidentally send one to Trout that just contains the letter “v” and send three subsequent texts apologizing.
February 3: Gabe Kapler causes a series of traffic accidents in Old City by going for a shirtless jog.
February 9: Despite the pre-season still being weeks away, John Middleton muscles past Andy MacPhail at a press conference and announces Sixto Sanchez as the Phillies’ opening day starter.
February 11: During a routine physical, doctors discover a cure for diabetes in one of Gabe Kapler’s arm hairs.
February 14: After crunching the numbers, Matt Klentak somehow talks Giancarlo Stanton into learning to pitch and Chris Archer into learning to hit. “The Ohtani Model” spreads through the league and quickly becomes the standard procedure for all players. Theo Epstein calls Klentak to congratulate him and it goes straight to voicemail.
April 4: Sixto Sanchez goes seven shut-out innings and gets run support from a three-run Rhys Hoskins bomb, two Shohei Ohtani triples, and an Odubel Herrera inside-the-park home run during which Herrera ends up briefly in the stands somehow. Giancarlo Stanton gets the save.