At long last, the owner-imposed lockout is over and Major League Baseball is back. Spring training is underway and there has been a flurry of hot stove moves the last three weeks. The regular season will begin Thursday, April 7. Exactly one week away.
Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we debated the most surprising offseason move. This week we’re going to discuss reunions want to see a la Zack Greinke and Albert Pujols.
Which veteran would you like to see return to his original team for a farewell season?
R.J. Anderson: Evan Longoria, Rays. Did you know that Longoria ranks sixth among active position players in Wins Above Replacement? What about that he’ll turn 37 shortly after this season? He’s had a fantastic career, but it’s probably coming to an end sooner than later. The Rays fan base seldom gets to enjoy the twilight of their best players’ careers; Longoria coming back and retiring after one more ride in St. Petersburg would be a fun change of pace.
Matt Snyder: Justin Verlander, Tigers. The Tigers took Verlander second overall in 2004 and he was winning the Rookie of the Year as part of the AL champs in 2006. He also won a Cy Young and MVP in his 13 years in Detroit. From 2011-14, the Tigers won four straight AL Central titles and took the 2012 pennant, but they never won the World Series. From a certain point of view, it felt wrong seeing Verlander win the 2017 World Series with the Astros after he’d only been there a few months. He’s currently on a one-year deal with a player option for 2023 while the Tigers are looking to emerge as contenders from a rebuild. He’s 39 and this will be his first year back from Tommy John surgery. It’s possible either 2023 or 2024 line up for Verlander to get one last run with a contending Tigers team, should he want that chance. That would be fun.
Dayn Perry: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates. While I hesitate to send McCutchen back to perhaps the worst team owner in sports, it would be a thrill for Pirates fans, who could use a thrill these days. Cutch was a Pirates lifer from the time they drafted him with the No. 11 overall pick in 2005 until they traded him away in January of 2018. Along the way, he put together one of the great peaks in franchise history. Across a five-year span from 2011-15, McCutchen won an MVP, finished in the top of five of the balloting on three other occasions, made the All-Star team every year, and tallied a WAR of 31.5. At the time, he appeared to be on a Hall of Fame track. The Pirates probably won’t contend any time soon, but it would be cool to see the immensely popular McCutchen back in Pittsburgh for a farewell tour.
Mike Axisa: McCutchen was going to be my pick before Dayn beat me to him. That’s what I get for being last to reply to the email. Anyway, there are some great “some men just want to watch the world burn” options here (Bryce Harper and the Nationals, Robinson Canó and the Yankees), but I’ll go with Madison Bumgarner and the Giants. He’s a postseason legend and fans always welcome those guys back with open arms. Plus with the way things go for San Francisco this days, Bumgarner would probably return to the Giants and throw 195 innings with a 3.10 ERA. He’s my pick.