With the Winter Meetings about to get underway, we are about to get very familiar with the everyone’s favorite team in the offseason: The Mystery Team!
In fact, we already got re-introduced to them in the recent round of Jon Lester rumors. It was the Dodgers… or the Angels. It was definitely a team with Los Angeles in its name. That much we can be sure of, sort of.
Therein lies the rub with the Mystery Team, they can be so hard to unmask. This isn’t like unmasking the mystery monster in Scooby-Doo. Sometimes it takes just an hour or two to find out. Sometimes it takes days. Sometimes we never find out at all. The only consistent feature of the Mystery Team is that every fan always takes a beat to wonder, “is it my team?”
That kind of thought can drive a fan crazy, keep them up at night and tear families apart. This we cannot abide. As such, we are here to provide you with this handy FAQ to help you quickly suss out whether or not your favorite ballclub is, in fact, the Mystery Team.
Q: Is your team the Dodgers?
A: If yes, then they are probably the Mystery Team. They have all the money. Even if they aren’t actually involved, an agent worth his salt will say they are in order to drive up the price of the player.
Q: Is the player’s agent Scott Boras?
A: If yes, and your team is the Tigers, Nationals, or Yankees, then your team is probably the Mystery Team. Certain GMs do Lord Boras’ bidding, these are those teams.
Q: Is your team the Marlins?
A: If yes, then they are NOT the Mystery Team. If the Marlins are interested in a player, they make sure EVERYBODY knows about it. It is almost like they are trying to dispel a public perception that they are unwilling to spend money or something.
Q: Is the free agent over the age of 35?
A: If yes, the Mystery Team is probably the Phillies and the free agent is about to get a horrible contract.
Q: Is your team the Rockies?
A: Seriously? C’mon, stop kidding yourself. Unless we’re talking about a mediocre reliever, in which case, multiple years will be thrown around.
Q: Is the free agent often described as “gritty?”
A: If yes, and the player doesn’t hit very well, then the Mystery Team is the Royals. If yes and the player doesn’t field well, then the Mystery Team is the Diamondbacks, though we’re not sure if Dave Stewart will have the same fetishes as Kevin Towers.
Q: Is your team the Athletics or Blue Jays?
A: If yes, then they are NOT the Mystery Team. Beane and AA are too slick to get caught as a Mystery Team. If they want to keep their interest covert, nobody is going to find out until a deal is already done.
Q: Is the free agent a pitcher with an 87 MPH fastball?
A: If yes, then buy him a winter coat and convince him that the winters in Minnesota aren’t all that bad.
Q: Is the free agent going to earn less than $10 million per year?
A: If yes, then this is kind of a boring mystery. Also, it rules out the Rays, Pirates, and Astros.
Q: Is the free agent going to earn more than $20 million per year even they though probably shouldn’t?
A: If yes, then the Mystery Team is the Angels and you better hope they remember that they promised not to pay the luxury tax.
Q: Is your team the Cubs?
A: If yes, then you must be confused because the Cubs are probably already overtly bidding on the free agent anyway.
Q: Is the free agent a slugger who has no business playing the field but is probably going to anyway?
A: If yes, then the Mystery Team is the Mariners, because who cares how big Safeco is, right?
Q: Is it late in the offseason and the free agent has been tagged with a qualifying offer?
A: If yes, then the Mystery Team could be a team that has already forfeited their first round pick or has it protected like the Mets, Red Sox, White Sox, Padres, Reds, and Rangers. Or it could be the Orioles, Brewers and Braves, because that is just what they do.
Q: Is your team the Giants?
A: If yes, then stop being so darn greedy. Your team won three of the last five World Series. What else do you want?
Q: Is the free agent someone who could have breakout/rebound season if he lands with the right team?
A: If yes, then the Mystery Team is the Cardinals and the player is going to be an MVP/Cy Young candidate next year. Dammit.
Q: Is the free agent a “bro?”
A: If yes, then he better start thinking of a campaign slogan for when he arrives in Cleveland and battles Nick Swisher for the title of Governor of Brohio.
Q: What if my team doesn’t meet any of the criteria but I still really want them to get the player in question?
A: Then just go ahead and assume your team is the Mystery Team. Clearly nothing is going to dissuade you, so you might as well embrace your lack of rationale.