We'll see that again this offseason, certainly. But sometimes you get the exact opposite; sometimes the fit is just so clearly, painfully obvious that it's almost frustrating that it hasn't happened yet. You look at the two sides, and you just wonder what in the world the holdup is. Let's help push them together, with five extremely obvious free-agent moves that should happen immediately, if not sooner.
Every time we run down a list of landing spots for first basemen, the Astros pop up, and it's not hard to see why. They've been extremely aggressive already this offseason, they were reportedly in on Yoenis Cespedes and they're still being connected to Encarnacion, Mike Napoli and Carlos Beltran. Not only that, their 2016 first-base hitting performance, from A.J. Reed, Tyler White and Marwin Gonzalez, was the third-worst in baseball. Adding Encarnacion, projected to hit .256/.351/.494 with 34 homers in a neutral park, to Houston's lineup would make the Astros among the best-hitting teams in the game.
"But it's too soon to give up on the highly touted 23-year-old Reed," you might say. It is! That's what makes this so devious, for Houston. If you sign Encarnacion, your roster is set. You don't need Reed ... and then you can turn around and use him (with others) to trade for a top starter like Chris Archer. The Astros were criticized for not being aggressive enough last year. That's not happening this year.
If we know anything at all about this offseason, it's that the Giants are going to get a reliever or three. Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez are all free agents, and even if they weren't, the well-publicized collapse of San Francisco's bullpen in September made such a move nearly inevitable. Patching with a Daniel Hudson or Koji Uehara, useful as they may be, isn't going to cut it.
That said, the Giants never seemed likely to outbid the Yankees, Cubs and Dodgers to get into the $90 million range for Jansen or Aroldis Chapman, and Melancon seems to fit their mold perfectly. He'll get his $60 million or so, and compared to what the other two get, it'll almost seem reasonable. Almost.
Like the Astros, first base is a big hole for a Colorado team that's closer to contention than you think, because its first-base collection also had bottom-five hitting production and the club doesn't really have a first baseman headed into 2017. Big-ticket items like Encarnacion and Mark Trumbo would fit, but the Rockies also have the highest unprotected Draft pick in the game, so signing a qualifying offer type would hurt them more than anyone.
Enter Carter, who's an extremely similar player to Trumbo, yet will cost a fraction of the contract and won't require giving up a Draft pick. Like Trumbo, he's a defensively-limited player with a ton of power who strikes a lot. And yet unlike Trumbo, Rockies fans seem extremely interested in adding him to their team:
We'll admit that there's been nothing connecting these two, but there should be, for a few reasons. Let's start with the fact that the Orioles just had the fewest stolen bases in four decades, and Davis led the American League by stealing more than twice as many bags (43) as Baltimore's entire team (19) did. Let's continue by pointing out that the O's outfielders finished last in baseball in both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating, meaning that someone who can at least be competent at all three spots like Davis would be an improvement.
And let's also point out that Davis has long shown an ability to hit left-handed pitching (career .288/.343/.437, 112 wRC+) which is hugely important because: A. no AL team was weaker against lefties than Baltimore; and B. regular left fielder Hyun Soo Kim had zero -- zero! -- hits against lefties last year. (In only 22 plate appearances. But still.) It's a good, solid low-cost fit that works for both sides.
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016 Winter Meetings from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8 at 9 a.m. ET.
Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.