MLB Free Agency and the 2016 Election: What They Have in Common

It’s been a few weeks since the World Series ended, which means one thing for 365-day baseball fanatics like myself: Free agency. With the offseason officially in motion, it’s that hectic time of year where, like a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos, Major League Baseball franchises scramble to gobble up the best talent available. For the life of me, I can’t remember a free agent class as bountiful as this year’s group. Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Alex Gordon, David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Denard Span, Ian Desmond, Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Mike Leake, Daniel Murphy…the list is seemingly endless.

While all 30 MLB teams busy themselves with signing the right free agents, all 300 million Americans continue to busy themselves with deciding who’s the right choice to elect President in 2016. Both the Republican and Democratic parties are well into their debate cycles, and while the list of contenders will thin out in the next few months, there are likewise quite a few big names in the running: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, and Ben Carson, for starters. And that’s not counting the third party candidates who many feel are shut out of the election coverage almost entirely!

Now the fate of free agents in Major League Baseball and electing the next President of the United States may seem like completely different and disparate subjects, especially in importance. Granted, that’s all a matter of perspective; I’d imagine there are quite a few Dodgers fans who’d rather lock up Zack Greinke than see a certain candidate be elected, and plenty of Mets fans would gladly see their most hated politician move into the White House rather than watch their team’s offense without Yoenis Cespedes.

However, in the world of Presidents Baseball, these crucial facets of baseball and politics are one and the same. Given that presidential elections come only once every four years, as it’s been since our country’s inception, new Presidents don’t come around often. Likewise, the front office of the Presidents Baseball Club tends to be pretty frugal with spending, rarely adding players and preferring to win with tried and true veteran stars. All the same, when a new President is elected, it’s often symbolized in the Presidents Baseball Club’s story as them signing a new free agent from another team to address an urgent need. And at this juncture of history, just as many Americans are looking for new leadership in times of political dysfunction and uncertainty, the team likewise could benefit from a new member. After all, it takes many to make a baseball organization succeed, from the roster to the coaching staff to the front office. (Indeed, when I created the Presidents Baseball cards back in 2010, I found it surprising that 221 years of the American presidency produced just enough individuals to fill out all the necessary roles of a baseball organization.)

But what role will the 45th President fill on the team? What do the Presidents Baseball Club need most? Another starting pitcher, an extra bat off the bench, another backup outfielder, some new blood in the front office? Most importantly: Who will that person be? Trump? Sanders? Clinton? Carson? Rubio? How would each one’s individual personality and political accomplishments translate into a specific baseball role, like I was able to determine relatively easily for the first 44 Presidents? Rest assured, whoever takes the oath of office on January 20, 2017, I will give a well thought-out characterization in their new Presidents Baseball card that year. The time until then will be a more than sufficient tryout to see just who is the best free agent available.