LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — No matter how much their fans imagined Giancarlo Stanton bashing balls over the Green Monster, the Boston Red Sox never came close to getting the NL MVP.
But does anyone really expect the Red Sox or the Cubs and other top contenders to stand still after seeing the slugger join the dreaded New York Yankees?
"We're looking for a middle of the order bat," Dave Dombrowski, Boston's president of baseball operations, said Monday at the winter meetings. "That hasn't changed. First base or DH."
A couple of big hitters just happen to be available, too.
J.D. Martinez, who launched four home runs in a game for Arizona last season, is a free agent. So is Eric Hosmer, coming off a career year in Kansas City.
Who knows, maybe the Cubs think bopper Kyle Schwarber might fit better somewhere else. Chicago already seems to have a target at this swap-and-sign gathering: pitcher Alex Cobb, who could possibly take Jake Arrieta's spot in the rotation for the NL Central champs.
Remember, Dombrowski pulled off a lightning strike at these meetings last year, getting ace Chris Sale from the White Sox. And certainly the Red Sox could use power — they won the AL East despite hitting a major league-low 168 homers.
Stanton thumped 59 homers for Miami. With a no-trade clause in his contract, he gave the Marlins a list of teams where he'd be willing to go — Yankees, Astros, Dodgers and Cubs, the clubs that reached the AL and NL Championship Series.
"They're winners. They're young and they're in a good position to win for a long time, and I lost for a long time," the 28-year-old outfielder said. "So I want to change that dynamic and be a winner."
Dombrowski said the Red Sox weren't in the Marlins mix, with Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi in the lineup.
"I think their basic conversations with us, they looked at our outfield and thought they really probably weren't a fit for our ballclub," Dombrowski said.
The last-place Phillies got busy, reacquiring reliever Pat Neshek.
A person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press that Neshek will get a $16.5 million, two-year contact pending a successful physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement on the agreement.
The 37-year-old Neshek was an All-Star last year in his first season in Philadelphia. The Phillies traded the side-slinging righty to playoff-contending Colorado in late July for three prospects.
Texas reached a $4 million, two-year deal with right-handed reliever Chris Martin, a person with knowledge of the contract told the AP. Martin spent the last two seasons in Japan after stints with the Yankees and Colorado.
Also, the Oakland Athletics traded infielder Joey Wendle to Tampa Bay for a player to be named or cash.