MLB Trade/Free Agent Scenarios: 1 Move Each Team Will Make before Spring
New year, same goals.
As 2012 begins, the 30 teams of Major League Baseball will begin making the final transactions to shape their rosters. The hot stove is still burning, with plenty of big names still on the market. Whether by trade or free agency, every team still can address their biggest needs before the season starts.
I'm no Nostradamus, but this will be my best shot at predicting one move that each franchise will make before pitchers and catchers report.
Find your favorite team, see what move I have in store for them and tell me your thoughts.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Stand Pat
The Diamondbacks have been among the most active teams this offseason, adding some big names such as outfielder Jason Kubel, starter Trevor Cahill and reliever Takashi Saito. When glancing at their roster, it appears that Arizona is all set.
In my opinion, their best move would be to resign Joe Saunders, a deal that is very likely to happen. There have been reports of the Diamondbacks pursuing Hiroki Kuroda, but they would be better served keeping Saunders.
Atlanta Braves: Sign Ryan Theriot
Though Ryan Theriot never seems to put up flashy numbers or win any accolades, he is nevertheless a valuable player. He's adept at getting on base and is a generally good fielder, but what really makes him valuable is his ability to play multiple positions.
The Braves have a thin infield, and Theriot would give depth that could be used at second, third or shortstop. This would be a wise, relatively cheap signing for the Braves.
Baltimore Orioles: Sign Hisashi Iwakuma
There are reports that the Orioles are in on Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma. One wouldn't expect a non-contender like the Orioles to be in on a big-time pitcher, but it seems as if the public opinion of Iwakuma is not what it once was. He battled shoulder problems throughout 2011, so his health is in question. He did, however, post great numbers.
If the Orioles are willing to dish out the money, they will have a potentially terrific starting pitcher to help out Jeremy Guthrie and the rest of Baltimore's young pitching staff.
Boston Red Sox: Trade for Marlon Byrd
Though the sexy rumor right now involving the Red Sox and Cubs may be surrounding Matt Garza, a more realistic and better move for the Sox would be trading for veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd. With Josh Reddick now gone, the Red Sox have a variety of in-house options to play right field. But bringing in Byrd, a proven commodity who would come cheap, might provide half of Boston's right field at-bats.
Like I said, the price would be very cheap (perhaps a mid-level prospect or two), and though he may not be the ideal option, he'll be a good fit for the Red Sox.
Chicago Cubs: Trade Matt Garza for Prospects
When Cincinnati landed Mat Latos for a huge prospect package, it sent a huge ripple effect through baseball. The impact was twofold—for one, it made the price for a pitcher like Matt Garza much higher. Second, it made the Cubs much more likely to trade him.
Knowing they could get the type of high-level prospects the Padres got for Latos, the Cubs might be wise to deal the right-hander Garza for some prospects who are close to being MLB ready.
Right now, the Yankees, Red Sox, Marlins and Tigers seem to be the most likely teams to acquire Garza from the Cubs. Of those, the Yankees probably have the best prospects. If the two sides can come to a deal, the Cubs will be setting themselves up for future success.
Chicago White Sox: Lock Up Dayan Viciedo Past 2012
I'll admit—I have a man crush on Dayan Viciedo. He is going to be an absolute beast, and the fact that the White Sox pulled the trigger on a Carlos Quentin trade says a lot about the faith they have in Viciedo.
He signed a four-year, $10 million contract in 2008, meaning that 2012 will be his final year. If the White Sox wanted, they could give him another few years at a reasonable price.
This would be a good move because if Viciedo blows up this year and is not yet extended, he could get more expensive than Kenny Williams and company would like. The smart move would be to lock him up now, at least for two or three more years.
Cincinnati Reds: Sign Francisco Cordero
Maybe it's just me, but I feel like Francisco Cordero has to be the most underappreciated closer in baseball. In seven of the last eight seasons, the righty has saved at least 30 games. He's been almost as solid as they come over that stretch, and it is only fitting that the Reds want to bring him back.
MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that there is an offer on the table for Cordero, who simply has to decide. Getting him back would give the Reds an excellent back end of the bullpen along with the newly-acquired Sean Marshall.
Cleveland Indians: Sign Carlos Peña
The Indians could be late movers on Peña, who is unlikely to sign anywhere until Prince Fielder is off the market. The Tribe have committed to somewhat of a win-now mantra, so signing a fairly expensive first baseman like Peña is in line with the organizational goals. He's a big bat and a great defender.
Other options could be Casey Kotchman or Derrek Lee, but it seems as if Peña would be the best first baseman on the market not named Prince.
Colorado Rockies: Trade for Martin Prado
The engagement between the Rockies and the Braves surrounding Martin Prado has been known for months now, but there hasn't been a lot of progress in trade talks. On Twitter, Denver Post writer Troy Renck said that the talks are not dead despite the lack of movement. The Braves do love current Rockies' outfielder Seth Smith, but it would likely require more than that one-for-one swap.
Regardless, acquiring Prado would be a great move for the Rockies, who are clearly serious about getting back into the thick of the ever-intensifying NL West race. Could this be the sleeper for baseball's most competitive division this year?
Detroit Tigers: Trade for Matt Garza
Speaking of teams that are serious about contention, the Detroit Tigers are trying very hard to get out of the ALCS and into the World Series. The Tigers have been mentioned as potential landing spots for Gio Gonzalez (since traded), Matt Garza or Jair Jurrjens. It's well-known that the Tigers have the prospects to get a front-line starter.
Garza seems to be the most likely, though, and the rebuilding-minded Cubs would take Jacob Turner (pictured), the Tigers' top prospect, along with a few others. If the puzzle pieces fit and the Tigers acquire Garza, they may have a top-three rotation.
Houston Astros: Sign Jeff Bagwell
Hey, I'm allowed to make a joke or two, right?
Kansas City Royals: Don't Part with Prospects
At this point, the Royals are getting to the point where contention might be a calendar year away. Their prospects are maturing, they're adding some pieces and everything seems to be coming together. However, Kansas City must not confuse itself for a contender. That would involve sending prospects away for MLB-ready talent, a practice that cannot be tolerated for the Royals.
They'll have to settle for third or fourth place this year, but if they hold on to Wil Myers (pictured), Mike Montgomery and their stockpile of fantastic prospects, they will reap the benefits soon.
Los Angeles Angels: Trade Kendrys Morales
The Angels currently have three very good first basemen on the roster. The first is this bum named Pujols. The second is Mark Trumbo, whose future is incredibly bright. The third is Kendrys Morales, who has showed plenty of ability but is a total wild card in terms of health. The return would be higher on Trumbo, but the Angels would be wise to send Morales packing.
They could get a team like the Rays, for instance, to bite on Morales, accepting a back-of-the-rotation starter as compensation.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Sign Mike MacDougal
If you're a Dodgers fan, you'll know just how valuable MacDougal was to the bullpen in 2011. He's a free agent, but all signs point to the Dodgers bringing him back for a similar role this season. The bullpen will be getting stronger with the return of Ronald Belisario, but retaining MacDougal would be even better.
There's no telling how their season will go, but bringing back this righty will ensure that the bullpen is in great shape.
Miami Marlins: Sign Greg Dobbs
The Marlins have obviously made a lot of noise this offseason, but I don't forsee them making any more splashes. Instead, they should focus on bringing back the depth pieces that are so vital to making a deep run in October. The first priority should be signing utility man Greg Dobbs, who has been very good for Florida.
He can play multiple positions and swings a decent bat against righties, so Dobbs should be a no-brainer to bring back for the Marlins.
Milwaukee Brewers: Sign Norichika Aoki
Though many people may be inclined to think a guaranteed move is bringing in a first baseman, the Brewers are much more likely to sign Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki. The Brew Crew already won negotiating rights to him, so now the only obstacle is signing an actual contract. He is a very talented and speedy outfielder who will fit well in Milwaukee.
Minnesota Twins: Sign a Reliever
As Phil Mackey of ESPN Radio tweeted, the Twins have about one or two million dollars left to spend this offseason, likely on a reliever. They recently signed veteran righty Jason Marquis, but they still need to shore up their bullpen. There are countless options in the free-agent market, including Chad Qualls (pictured) and Dan Wheeler.
New York Mets: Stand Pat
I see the Mets not making any more moves, so this leaves me room to discuss R.A. Dickey.
1) His agent was recently sent a letter saying that Dickey's contract could be voided if he is hurt climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Cool story.
2) Has anyone noticed Dickey's autograph in Skymall while flying? It's $39.99 and is advertised with the caption "Beware of Knuckleball."
New York Yankees: Sign Hiroyuki Nakajima
A seven-time Japanese All Star, Nakajima is a very talented infielder whose signing with the Yankees is imminent. The Yankees won the rights to sign him, so now it all comes down to the details of the deal. He obviously won't be a starter, but he's going to be a very interesting player to watch for the Yankees this year and could make some noise.
Oakland Athletics: Trade Grant Balfour
Rumor also has it that the Athletics are interested in trading Billy Beane, thus promoting Jonah Hill to the position of general manager.
Philadelphia Phillies: Sign Jonny Gomes
The Phillies are, and should be, in the market for a fifth outfielder. The question is who it will be and how much they're willing to spend. After signing Jimmy Rollins, one can assume that the Phillies are not looking to spend much money on this outfielder, so it would have to be someone cheap.
My best guess would be Jonny Gomes, a powerful hitter who would be a good pinch-hitter and spot starter for the Phillies.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Sign a Starting Pitcher
Doesn't Kevin Millwood look like Will Ferrell in that picture? Anyways, back on task. The Pirates still have money to spend, and we can go ahead and assume they will use it to sign a starting pitcher. They've already brought in Erik Bedard, but they'd be wise to bring in another, more reliable option. That could be Kevin Millwood, Joel Pineiro, Javier Vazquez or any of the other free-agent starters.
The Pirates are still not contenders, but they can bolster their rotation to remain competitive.
San Diego Padres: Trade Anthony Rizzo
With the acquisition of Yonder Alonso, Anthony Rizzo's days in San Diego became numbered. He is still a very exciting prospect despite his 2011 struggles, and his services would be welcomed in places like Tampa Bay or for the Cubs. The Padres have really made a push towards building a winning team, so acquiring some pitching to replace the void left by Mat Latos is a good place to start.
San Francisco Giants: Stand Pat
The Giants were early movers this offseason, and have acquired players such as Melky Cabrera (pictured) and Angel Pagan. Add that to the return of Buster Posey and a full year of Brandon Belt, and the part of the team that needed the most improvement, the offense, should be fine.
Now, the priority turns to extending Tim Lincecum. The Giants would love to get that out of the way before the season starts, but all signs point to both sides still being very far apart.
Seattle Mariners: Sign Kevin Millwood
I know I just suggested Millwood for the Pirates, but he'd honestly be a better fit for the Mariners, who are in the market for a veteran pitcher to complement the trio of Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda and Jason Vargas. Millwood is very old, but definitely not senile. He can still pitch, and he's a workhorse who could give the Mariners some good innings in 2012.
St. Louis Cardinals: Stand Pat
Say what you want about the Cardinals' acquisition of Carlos Beltran, but there is no doubt that the biggest offseason addition for St. Louis will be the return of their kind-of ace Adam Wainwright. A healthy Wainwright likely means the Cardinals will be heading back to the playoffs, which is a place where Beltran excels.
The point is that the Cards are in great shape, and they really don't have much of a need to make moves. There have been rumbles about trading Kyle Lohse or Jake Westbrook, but I think it'd be beneficial to just stay put.
Tampa Bay Rays: Trade for a First Baseman
The Rays are in an interesting situation. They need a first baseman and designated hitter, and they have plenty of pitching to be dealt. The question is who will be dealt, and for whom. Or better yet, will the Rays go into the free-agent market to fill those holes?
In my opinion, the best move is to acquire Kendrys Morales (pictured) from the Angels, along with Anthony Rizzo from the Padres. Those two moves might not even cost the Rays two starters, and would fill at least one of the two holes in Tampa Bay's lineup.
Texas Rangers: Sign Yu Darvish
Source of mass confusion: Boston plays Texas with Darvish on the mound. Kevin Youkilis comes up to bat. The crowd yells "Youuuuuuk."
This signing should be done relatively soon. Darvish has very little leverage, especially given the relative failure of Daisuke Matsuzaka, so he'll probably cave to the Rangers' demands.
Toronto Blue Jays: Stand Pat
The Blue Jays actually have a full roster, which doesn't mean they aren't allowed to make any more moves, but it does indicate that the roster is at a place where GM Alex Anthopoulos is fairly comfortable. They have improved their bullpen drastically with the acquisitions of Sergio Santos (pictured), Jason Frasor and Darren Oliver.
They won't get Prince Fielder and lost out on Yu Darvish, so I'm thinking the Jays will head into 2012 with their current squad.
Washington Nationals: Sign Prince Fielder
To quote Jay-Z, "What's 50 grand to a big balla" like Ted Lerner?
Okay, maybe that wasn't the best quote. Prince Fielder probably costs more than $50,000. But all indicators are pointing to the Nationals as the favorites to sign the first baseman. For one, owner Ted Lerner is baseball's richest. Secondly, the team's TV revenue is about to go through the roof, according to Ken Rosenthal.
For lack of a better landing spot, especially considering that the Cubs are apparently in total rebuild mode, I'm in firm belief that the Nationals will sign Prince Fielder.