MLB Trade Rumors: Ranking Every Team's Odds of Making a Blockbuster Deal
With just about two weeks to go before pitchers and catchers start reporting to MLB training camps in Florida and Arizona, teams are still in the process of tweaking their 25-man rosters.
In some cases, teams are looking for that one final piece to the puzzle that can set them up for success this season and in the years ahead.
With most of the free agents now under-contract, a number of teams will be discussing possible deals in order to find that last missing piece. Some may be looking to add bench depth, some for veteran help in the bullpen and some for help in reinforcing their starting rotation.
While there are a number of rumors associated with certain players (Matt Garza, Wandy Rodriguez), inevitably there are surprise players out there who are dealt that catches everyone off guard (Steve Carlton to Philly, Roger Clemens to Yankees, Manny Trillo to Phillies to name a few).
So, which teams are in the hunt for that rare February blockbuster deal that can change their overall outlook and catch fans by surprise? We’ll take a look at the odds of that happening for each MLB team.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Zero Percent
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Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers has done an outstanding job making tweaks to an already promising roster that surprised everyone by capturing the NL West Division title last season.
Towers traded for starting pitcher Trevor Cahill to bolster an already solid starting rotation. While he gave up highly-rated prospect Jarrod Parker to get the deal done, the D-Backs still have one of the most promising list of pitching prospects in all of baseball. The additions of Craig Breslow and Takashi Saito to the bullpen are huge acquisitions in support of closer J.J. Putz. Signing Jason Kubel bolsters their offensive attack as well.
Count ESPN analyst and former GM Jim Bowden among the many who have been duly impressed by Towers’ efforts this offseason.
“Very quietly, Towers has had one of the best offseasons of any GM in baseball. The acquisition of former 18-game winner Trevor Cahill solidified a young rotation that already included Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Josh Collmenter. Towers also added solid relievers in Craig Breslow and Takashi Saito. In fact, Towers so coveted Breslow, he refused to pull the trigger on the Cahill deal until Breslow was included. Arizona added left-handed power by signing former Twins outfielder Jason Kubel. Towers put the Diamondbacks in the driver’s seat to at least repeat as NL West champions and push further in the postseason.”
It would appear at this point that Towers is done, especially after resigning Joe Saunders last week to round out his rotation.
Atlanta Braves: Five Percent
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The Atlanta Braves have easily been one of the quietest MLB teams this offseason. And to be honest, maybe a little too quiet.
Braves GM Frank Wren made a splash early, trading starter Derek Lowe along with cash to the Cleveland Indians for minor league pitcher Chris Jones. The only other deal of consequence was resigning SS Jack Wilson, primarily as backup and mentor to prospect Tyler Pastornicky.
“I think we’ll have more answers at the end of spring training. If everyone bounces back, then we’ve got a good ballclub that doesn’t have a major need,” Wren told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’d rather be in that position [than having to fill a specific void] because when the season starts another need can come up.”
Even with those comments, it just doesn’t feel like a complete package yet for the Braves. While Wren appears intent on waiting to see how things shake out in spring training, he’ll no doubt entertain deals between now and then that can serve to help, especially with outfield depth.
Baltimore Orioles: One Percent
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Under new vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, the Baltimore Orioles have made several smaller transactions, most notable the signings of infielder Wilson Betemit and Taiwanese pitcher Wei-Yin Chen.
Duquette seems intent on a slow rebuild, preferring instead to bulk up a lackluster farm system and use his vast knowledge of international scouting to scan the globe for potential players.
Of course, if a team came calling for center fielder Adam Jones with a tempting package, it would be difficult for Duquette to look the other way.
Boston Red Sox: Two Percent
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With an offseason that was focused more on fixing things behind the scenes early, the Boston Red Sox got off to a late start in terms of evaluations and transactions.
The trades that brought bullpen help in the form of Mark Melancon and Andrew Bailey answered some needs, as well as the signing of Cody Ross, shoring up the situation in right field.
It would appear that GM Ben Cherington will be more interested in answering the need for a veteran starter by way of free agency rather than a trade at this point. However, while some \ media outlets have surmised that the trade of SS Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies was a way of freeing up money to go after a starter, the Sox don’t seem to be keen on the options out there, particularly Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson.
While the possibility of a blockbuster deal is out there, it’s a very small likelihood.
Chicago Cubs: Five Percent
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The Chicago Cubs have actually been quite active this offseason. While none of the deals made thus far have made quite the same splash as the deals made by the Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels or Detroit Tigers, there will be quite a few new faces seen at Wrigley Field this coming season.
While David DeJesus, Anthony Rizzo, Travis Wood, Ian Stewart, Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm will all be regulars on the roster for the Cubs, soundbites given by new president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer, the Cubs will not be making deals just for the sake of winning now.
While they would no doubt love to deal left fielder Alfonso Soriano and the $54 million remaining on his seven-year contract, Theo and company will deal patiently. They will be rid of the contracts of Ryan Demptser and the departed Carlos Zambrano at the end of the season, freeing up close to $30 million as well.
At the same token, Epstein has been nothing but candid in his assessment of his new team and the job that lies ahead.
''We'll be scratching and clawing, trying to acquire as many assets as we can,'' Epstein said. ''Very bluntly, we don't have enough of them. We don't have enough good players. We don't have enough young players. We don't have enough players whose contributions on the field exceed or match their salary, so we're going to be scrapping and clawing to acquire those guys as we feel that they can maximize our competitiveness now and create that foundation for long-term success.''
Talks concerning the possible trade of Matt Garza have cooled significantly in recent days, so while there’s a window of opportunity for a mega-deal, it’s a very small window.
Chicago White Sox: One Percent
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Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams has already been quite active this offseason, and while many still question some of the moves made, and whether or not the White Sox are rebuilding, retooling or whatever else it happens to be called, it doesn’t appear that they will be up for more at this point.
First, Williams said the team was in rebuild mode, yet he signed John Danks to a five-year, $65 million contract, adding to the already bloated contracts of Alex Rios, Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy.
Next, he counteracts with the trades of both Carlos Quentin and Jason Frasor, netting four minor league prospects in the process, which does in fact indicate rebuilding.
It’s no wonder White Sox fans are confused. While it’s highly doubtful Williams will pull off a major move, rumors concerning Gavin Floyd’s departure are still out there. Meanwhile, fans will continue to wrack their brains wondering about the identity of the team from the South Side.
Cincinnati Reds: Zero Percent
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Cincinnati Reds GM Walt Jocketty has already made what could be considered a blockbuster trade, shipping off RHP Brad Boxberger, RHP Edinson Volquez, C Yasmani Grandal and 1B Yonder Alonso to the San Diego Padres for RHP Mat Latos.
Latos will help shore up a starting rotation that, aside from Mike Leake and Johnny Cueto, gave up runs in bunches last season.
Picking up lefty Sean Marshall added starting and bullpen depth as well. While losing Alonso hurts, he likely would have been stuck behind Joey Votto at first and Chris Heisey in left.
The only other real blockbuster move would have to involve Joey Votto, and despite rumors to the contrary earlier this offseason, that’s not happening.
Cleveland Indians: Zero Percent
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The Cleveland Indians made a splash earlier in the offseason, acquiring starting pitcher Derek Lowe and cash from the Atlanta Braves for minor league pitcher Chris Jones. Resigning center fielder Grady Sizemore was the next big transaction, and GM Chris Antonetti shored up the bullpen with the signings of Dan Wheeler, Jeremy Accardo and Chris Ray.
The Indians were in the mix for first baseman Carlos Pena, and are still considering Casey Kotchman; however it’s doubtful at this point that Antonetti would entertain a deal of the blockbuster variety.
Colorado Rockies: Two Percent
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In mid-September, Colorado Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd went on record as saying the Rockies stunk in 2011.
Well, it wasn’t quite that harsh, but O’Dowd did call the play of his Rockies “an embarrassment.” As soon as the offseason ended, O’Dowd got busy, first by dealing underperforming infielder Ty Wigginton to the Philadelphia, acquiring starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood from the Los Angeles Angels for catcher Chris Iannetta, signing free agent catcher Ramon Hernandez, trading closer Huston Street to the San Diego Padres for minor leaguer Chris Schmidt and signing free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer.
O’Dowd is counting on Rafael Betancourt, recently signed to an extension, to skillfully take over closing duties full-time next season, and the infield will certainly look different with the acquisitions of Marco Scutaro and Casey Blake. O’Dowd also dealt for Oakland A’s starters Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman for outfielder Seth Smith.
O’Dowd was definitely embarrassed, considering all the moves made thus far, including other minor transactions. Is he done being embarrassed? I suppose we’ll find out within the next few weeks.
Detroit Tigers: Five Percent
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Up until last week, the Detroit Tigers had been fairly inactive, save for resigning Ramon Santiago and Gerald Laird, acquiring Octavio Dotel and swapping relievers with the Washington Nationals (Collin Balester for Ryan Perry).
The Prince Fielder deal obviously changed the face of the Tigers in a major way. With an outstanding starting rotation and deep bullpen, the Tigers certainly look to be well-positioned for a run at the World Series in 2012.
However, are owner Mike Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski done yet? It’s clear that Ilitch wants to win now, and while rumors of the acquisition of starting pitcher Matt Garza have cooled, the Tigers could still be in buying mode. At 82 years of age, Ilitch is desperate to bring a World Series championship to Motown and, as he proved with his Detroit Red Wings of the NHL, he won’t let money stop his quest.
Houston Astros: Five Percent
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The Houston Astros are clearly a team in flux, and not just because of new ownership and a new league in another year.
After losing a franchise-record 106 games, new GM Jeff Luhnow has a monumental task ahead of him—rebuilding a woeful farm system, acquiring new talent that makes fiscal sense and trying to recapture the interest of fans.
The contracts of first baseman Carlos Lee and pitcher Brett Myers come of the books next season, giving the Astros an additional $32.5 million to work with for the 2013. In the interim, Luhnow will continue to consider offers for Wandy Rodriguez provided that the prospect package in return is attractive enough. Lee remains a trade option as well, although teams will clearly will continue to be scared off by the $18.5 million contract.
Kansas City Royals: One Percent
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Last year, the Kansas City Royals pulled off one of the bigger trades of the offseason in dealing ace pitcher and former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt to the Milwaukee Brewers for minor league pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, center field prospect Lorenzo Cain, SS and relief pitcher Alcides Escobar and Jeremy Jeffress.
Escobar has become a solid defensive shortstop and Cain will get his shot at stardom after the trade this offseason of center fielder Melky Cabrera to the San Francisco Giants for starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez. Odorizzi is likely another year away from the majors.
This year, aside from the Cabrera trade, the Royals have been fairly quiet as they resigned pitcher Bruce Chen; bringing Betancourt back to back up both Escoabar and Mike Moustaksas; third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton.
It’s likely that what the fans see on the roster now is what they’ll see for the start of the season as well.
Los Angeles Angels: Two Percent
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The Los Angeles Angels sported the best ERA in the American League last season and they fortified their already solid starting rotation with the acquisition of C.J. Wilson.
Oh yeah, they also signed Albert Pujols as well.
So, some $331.5 million later, the Angels completely changed the landscape in the American League. New GM Jerry DiPoto also traded for catcher Chris Iannetta to bolster a woefully-hitting catcher corps and signed LaTroy Hawkins for the bullpen.
There is still a slight possibility that DiPoto isn’t quite done yet in reformulating the Angels’ roster, as he would love to find a willing taker for the services of $9 million man Bobby Abreu. But unless Arte Moreno ponies up a significant amount of Abreu’s salary along with him, it’s unlikely.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Zero Percent
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The biggest news for the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason is the fact that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban won’t be their new owner.
Other than that, the Dodgers wrapped up their rock in center field, Matt Kemp, to an eight-year, $160 million contract and signed a gaggle of mediocre middle infielders.
Until the Dodgers are officially sold, you’re just not going to see anything major with this team. While the product on the field might not be pretty to watch in early 2012, that will likely change significantly sometime after April 30.
Miami Marlins: Ten Percent
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If you’ve ever gone deep-sea fishing, you know that marlins are typically one of the toughest catches in open water due to their incredibly fast swimming ability (up to 65 MPH) and the ferocious fight they put up when snagged.
The Miami Marlins caught themselves a few fine catches this offseason, snagging closer Heath Bell, shortstop Jose Reyes and starting pitcher Mark Buehrle. And none of them put up a fight.
The Marlins went after a few others along the way as well, dangling bait out there for Albert Pujols and others, but were only successful in trading for mercurial pitcher Carlos Zambrano from the Chicago Cubs along with about 83 percent of his 2012 salary.
So, the Marlins went fishing this offseason and came up with some fine catches. But is fishing season over yet? It may not be, especially if star pitcher Josh Johnson, who will throw off a mound this week for the first time since last year, continues experiencing shoulder issues.
Milwaukee Brewers: One Percent
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When the offseason started, many fans of the Milwaukee Brewers were hopeful that star first baseman Prince Fielder would forsake all other deals and resign with the home club. However, in truth, the Brewers were never really in the mix.
Brewers GM Doug Melvin confirmed with Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that the Brewers hadn’t had any talks of an extension with Fielder since spring of 2010.
“In some sense, I’m glad he got a good contract that he’s satisfied with,” Melvin said. “We knew early on that we probably weren’t going to be in it. I think Prince probably knew that, too.”
So, the Brewers went to work replacing Fielder’s offense, signing third baseman Aramis Ramirez to a three-year deal and shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a one-year contract. The hope is that 26-year-old Mat Gamel can blossom as a major-leaguer and make up part of the difference as well.
Melvin has also said that the Brewers have gone way over what they expected in terms of payroll for the 2012 season as well. So unless they find a deal to their liking that doesn’t add to a payroll that’s already over $100 million, the rest of the offseason will be quiet.
Minnesota Twins: Five Percent
Is Francisco Liriano the biggest chip for Twins GM Terry Ryan?
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Last week, we learned that Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau is progressing nicely from the spate of injuries that limited him to just 69 games last season. Four surgeries and ongoing concussion symptoms kept Morneau on the shelf, and he is hoping for a return to full form.
"It's impossible to know what the future's going to hold, but I've just got to listen to what my body's telling me that day," Morneau said at the team's annual fan festival. "So far everything's gone good."
The Twins are also hoping for healthy comebacks for star catcher Joe Mauer and center fielder Denard Span as well. Injuries and horrible pitching led the Twins to their worst regular season record since 1995. Returning GM Terry Ryan signed free agent outfielder Josh Willingham to help replace the offense of the departed Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer, and signed catcher Ryan Doumit and shortstop Jamey Carroll to supplement the offense as well.
However, pitching is the big concern at this point. The Twins had the second-worst ERA in the American League last year and were at or near the bottom in many other pitching categories as well. Ryan has stated that he’s still on the prowl for quality arms. So if the right opportunity presents itself, Ryan will certainly listen.
New York Mets: Five Percent
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With the troubles currently being faced by New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz due to their pending lawsuit in the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme scandal, combined with the fact that the Mets lost close to $70 million last season, the Mets have slashed payroll and are on track to register the biggest one-year payroll drop in MLB history.
The Mets’ payroll last year was $143 million, and barring any other changes, 2012 payroll is expected to be around $91 million. That represents a $52 million drop from last year, beating the former record held by the Texas Rangers who dropped the salary $48.4 million from 2003 to 2004.
Given the financial troubles that still plague the Mets, it’s certainly not inconceivable that further slashing could come, be it entertaining offers for David Wright or other possibilities.
New York Yankees: Five Percent
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In one fell swoop, New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman addressed the needs of his starting rotation, acquiring Michael Pineda from the Seattle Mariners and signing free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.
CC Sabathia, Pineda, Kuroda and Ivan Nova now comprise a pretty decent core at the top, with Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes likely to battle for the fifth spot. Last week, Cashman indicated in a conference call with reporters that he will likely explore adding a designated hitter via the trade market, possibly using his now-overloaded staff as bait.
“Maybe I use our excess pitching to find a bat,” Cashman said. “That’s a possibility.”
Oakland Athletics: Ten Percent
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Let’s see, the Oakland Athletics have already dealt sixty percent of their starting rotation (Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, Guillermo Moscoso), two quality bullpen arms (Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow) and never bothered offering a decent deal to their best hitter (Josh Willingham).
What will GM Billy Beane do for an encore?
At this point, anything is a possibility for the A’s, who continue to languish in an abyss known as Oakland-Alameda County Stadium while waiting for MLB commissioner Bud Selig to decide their future fate. While it would seem unlikely that any further deals would happen, at this point I’m just not willing to admit that, given what we’ve seen thus far.
Philadelphia Phillies: Zero Percent
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro may tweak, but won't add additional payroll
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For a team that was the laughingstock of the National League for the better part of the 20th century and didn’t win their first World Series championship until 1980, the Philadelphia Phillies are now legitimate contenders for the World Series trophy every year and show no signs of changing that anytime soon.
With five straight division titles, two NL pennants and a World Series title in the past five years, the Phillies are indeed one of the elite teams in the majors. As one of the top-market teams, they are also free spenders who are dangerously close to cracking the luxury tax threshold.
As such, don’t look for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro to make any deal that puts them over that threshold. With a new deal in place for returning shortstop Jimmy Rollins, the $50 million deal signed by closer Jonathan Papelbon and $15 million for another year of Cole Hamels, Amaro has been prudent with other transactions (Jim Thome, Scott Posednik, Dontrelle Willis, etc.).
The Phillies are well-positioned to defend their division title in 2012 at this point, so it’s highly unlikely any significant deal will be made between now and Opening Day.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Percent
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The Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to put an end to their record 19-year run of winless seasons, the longest in professional sports history. GM Neal Huntington has added some pieces, acquiring shortstop Clint Barmes, catcher Rod Barajas, pitcher Erik Bedard and center fielder Nate McLouth, and trading for Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee.
The Pirates are still in need of a first baseman, so Huntington still has some work left, and last week in an interview with Jeff Nelson and Jim Memolo of MLB Network Radio, Huntington did leave open the possibility of dealing outfielder Andrew McCutchen if the right package of players/prospects was attractive enough.
"If someone wants to back up the truck and give us one of those organization-altering deals, it's something that we'd have to listen to,” Huntington said. “It would have to be a dramatic overpay on the part of the other club."
San Diego Padres: Two Percent
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During his weekly chat with fans, San Diego Union-Times reporter Bill Centers stated this about the team he covers, the San Diego Padres:
“I don't see any major trades or signings before the start of spring training. The Padres are already past what (Jeff) Moorad expected the payroll budget to be.”
That is of course assuming that MLB will approve the sale of the Padres to Moorad. But I am in agreement with Centers.
New GM Josh Byrnes has already made some intriguing transactions, dealing ace Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds for young first baseman Yonder Alonso, pitcher Edinson Volquez and minor leaguers Brad Boxberger and Yasmani Gronal. Byrnes also acquired outfielder Carlos Quentin from the Chicago White Sox for Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez, and dealt young first baseman Anthony Rizzo to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Andrew Cashner, and closer Huston Street from the Colorado Rockies.
It’s safe to assume that the Padres are doing what they can to acquire talent that fits their spacious home stadium, Petco Park. Alonso has the ability to spray the ball all over the field, Quentin has power to all fields as well and Cashner’s repertoire plays much better in San Diego then at hitter-friendly Wrigley Field.
It’s likely that Byrnes is done for now, especially with the ownership approval still in flux.
San Francisco Giants: Two Percent
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The San Francisco Giants have appeared to be more intent on locking up their top pitchers rather than spending big dollars to upgrade their anemic offense.
Part of that mission was fulfilled last week with the signing of two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum to a two-year, $40.5 million contract.
Matt Cain is next and he could very easily command a $100 million contract next offseason when he is eligible for free agency the first time. However, CBS’s Jon Heyman states that Cain “badly” wants to stay in San Francisco, so the advantage is with the Giants.
GM Brian Sabean has made deals to address lineup needs, adding center fielder Melky Cabrera and outfielder Angel Pagan. While it’s possible Sabean could be talked into a deal to further upgrade his offense, he will be loathe to deal any top-tier prospects.
Seattle Mariners: Zero Percent
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In terms of blockbuster trades, the Seattle Mariners certainly surprised this offseason with the deal that sent pitcher Michael Pineda to the New York Yankees for prospect catcher/designated hitter Jesus Montero.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the M’s made the deal because they didn’t have the money available to aggressively go after free agent first baseman Prince Fielder. So, the Mariners will count on big offense from the defensively-challenged Montero and from first baseman Justin Smoak, whose 2011 season was marred by the death of his father and several nagging injuries.
The M’s may be content to wait until their highly-ranked prospects are ready to contribute, including pitchers Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton and shortstop Nick Franklin.
St. Louis Cardinals: Two Percent
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The St. Louis Cardinals are still in somewhat of a fog some 50 days or so after the loss of Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels.
Sure, they signed right fielder Carlos Beltran to help pick up some of the load and ace Adam Wainwright will be back following Tommy John surgery. But everything about this team feels different.
The loss of Tony LaRussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan will be felt as well and while the Cards will be hoping for the trio of Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and Beltran to make up for the production left behind by Pujols, it’s still going to feel like a vastly different team in 2012.
GM John Mozeliak and owner Bill DeWitt are saying all the right things, believing that their team will be competitive in 2012.
“I think we came out of it great,” DeWitt said. “I feel great going into the season.”
I’m not so sure, but somehow, that just feels empty.
Tampa Bay Rays: Seven Percent
Could starter Jeff Niemann be dealt to make room for Matt Moore?
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The Tampa Bay Rays addressed two major needs this offseason, bringing first baseman Carlos Pena back on a one-year deal and locking up designated hitter Luke Scott with a one-year, $6 million deal plus an option for 2013.
However, the Rays need to make room in their starting rotation for Matt Moore, and according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays will continue to shop for a deal that includes dumping one of their current starters (James Shields, David Price, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis or Jeremy Hellickson) in order to make that happen.
Texas Rangers: Seven Percent
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The Texas Rangers certainly haven’t been content to stay the course, even after winning back-to-back American League pennants.
While ace C.J. Wilson was lost to free agency, the Rangers paid a princely eight-figure sum to successfully sign Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish. The Rangers were also actively engaged in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes, and would still like to make an upgrade at first base.
The Rangers are still in play for free agent starter Roy Oswalt, and according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, there is a “pretty good chance” that the Rangers will deal reliever Koji Uehara as well.
Toronto Blue Jays: Five Percent
After dealing Vernon Wells last offseason, can GM Alex Anthopoulos surprise everyone again this year?
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Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos put the baseball world in shock just over a year ago, trading outfielder Vernon Wells and the $86 million remaining on his contract to the Los Angeles Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera.
While neither Napoli nor Rivera worked out for the Jays, it freed up a considerable chunk of the Jays’ payroll. The deal proved that AA knows how to deal.
While Anthopoulos has proven he’s capable of putting on a great poker face, he is still nonetheless saddled with an owner who is risk-averse. The Jays always appear to be on the cusp of signing a free agent, but never quite close the deal. So, AA continues to shop via the trade market.
Never count on AA when it comes to the surprise deal.
Washington Nationals: Five Percent
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The Washington Nationals have clearly served notice that they not only intend to compete for the playoffs in 2012, but that they intend to build a solid foundation for the future as well.
With the trade that brought Gio Gonzalez over from the Oakland Athletics, the Nats’ top three of Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann rivals the top three of the vast majority of teams in baseball. Combined with a solid bullpen that includes Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, reinforced by the signing of Brad Lidge, the Nats will absolutely be set up to prevent runs.
Offensively, the Nats will be counting on a bounceback year from Jayson Werth, who laid an egg in the first season of his seven-year, $126 million deal. Failing in their attempts to land free agent first baseman Prince Fielder, Adam LaRoche appears to be the starting first baseman…for now.
In a recent conversation with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo indicated that he’s still tweaking.
“We’re not done with our bullpen,” Rizzo said. “We’re trying to improve ourselves in the rotation and in the bullpen and any other way we can, and we’re certainly open-minded and we’ll not stop working. We’re still trying to turn over every rock to get things done.”
Rizzo will keep searching through rockpiles to continue advancing the cause of the Nats.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.