2014 MLB Free Agency: 10 Superstars Who Could Be Shopped in 2013
Over the weekend, the Nationals and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman agreed on a six-year, $100 million extension that will keep him in Washington through 2020, as the team locked up their young star long before he could hit the open market.
The 2014 offseason is still a long ways off, and a number of the top names that are currently slated to be available that winter will sign extensions long before they ever reach the open market.
However, it is never too soon to start speculating, so here is a look at the top 15 players of the 2014 free-agent class, players who could be among the most sought after trade targets starting next offseason.
1B/LF Michael Morse, Washington Nationals
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A full-time player for the first time last season after first baseman Adam LaRoche went down with an injury, Morse broke out in a big way, hitting .303 BA, 31 HR, 95 RBI.
The 30-year-old will move to left field this season to keep his bat in the lineup, and while there is reason for skepticism when a player has a breakout season so late in his career, he has the tools to once again put up dominant numbers in 2012.
He signed a two-year, $10.5 million contract this offseason, and while the Nationals hope he will repeat those numbers, the team could opt to deal him next season while his value is highest if he does in fact post big numbers again.
RP Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants
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The 2012 season will be a big one for the Giants, as it could decide the direction the franchise goes in for the next several seasons.
On paper, the Diamondbacks have taken the spot of the best team in the division, and the Padres look to be heading in the right direction towards contention after some big offseason trades.
Meanwhile, the Giants still have a sub-par offense, and if they fail to improve on last season, they could look to deal some of their veterans and attempt to restock what is a thin farm system. Among them could be Wilson, who has saved 163 games in the past four seasons.
CF Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
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Acquired from the Mariners prior to the 2008 season, Jones has been a regular in center field for the Orioles for four seasons now, and he put up the best numbers of his career last year with a .280 BA, 25 HR, 83 RBI, 68 R season.
He is still just 26 years old and will be arbitration eligible for the final time next season before hitting the open market.
The two sides have talked about an extension, and the team would have to be blown away to deal the young outfielder after the team asked for Jair Jurrjens, Martin Prado and two of the Braves' young pitching prospects for Jones in trade talks this offseason.
SP Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta Braves
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Acquired from Detroit for Edgar Renteria back in 2008, Jurrjens made his first All-Star team last season on his way to posting a 13-6, 2.96 ERA, 90 Ks line.
There was a good deal of trade talk surrounding Jurrjens this offseason, although nothing solid ever came of it, but those talks could be revisited this spring.
With Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy and Randall Delgado all competing for two rotation spots behind Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson once he is healthy, the Braves have an abundance of pitching, and with Jurrjens heading for his third year of arbitration and a big raise next season, he makes the most sense to be traded.
2B Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
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A 30-30 player for the second time in three years last season, Kinsler is among the most complete offensive players in baseball and is a catalyst atop the Rangers' potent lineup.
There have been talks of an extension this offseason, and they could be revisited this spring, and Kinsler has indicated that he may be open to a position change.
There is no doubt the Rangers would like to retain the 30-year-old, but with Elvis Andrus likely to move over to second base once top prospect Jurickson Profar is big-league ready, there could some logic in trading Kinsler.
SP Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs
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The Cubs dealt four of their top prospects to the Rays to acquire Garza last offseason, but with a new regime in place, the team will be looking to acquire prospects in the coming seasons rather than to move them.
With that in mind, there may be no player on the roster with more value on the trade market than Garza, who is coming off the best season of his career with a 10-10, 3.32 ERA, 197 Ks line.
Chances are fairly high that he is moved at the deadline this coming season, but if the team does not get the loaded prospect package they are looking for, they could hold onto him until 2013 and look to move him then.
3B David Wright, New York Mets
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The Mets hold a $16 million team option on Wright for 2013 with a $1 million buyout, so putting him on this list is assuming the team will pick that up.
The future of Wright will be an interesting decision for the rebuilding Mets, as he is the face of the franchise right now with Jose Reyes gone, but could fetch a big prospect package with a shortage of good third basemen out there.
He is coming off of a down year, hitting just .254 BA, 14 HR, 61 RBI last season, but if he can prove to be back to his old self, the team could look to move the 29-year-old as early as the deadline this coming season.
SP Dan Haren, Los Angeles Angels
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The Angels shipped four players to the Diamondbacks to acquire Haren at the deadline in 2010, including Joe Saunders and top prospect Tyler Skaggs.
He paired with Jered Weaver last season to form one of the best one-two punches in all of baseball, as he went 16-10, 3.17 ERA, 192 Ks as the No. 2 pitcher in the rotation.
While the Angels will be among the AL favorites this coming season and next, the team may not be able to afford to keep Haren once his contract is up, as they will already be on the hook for a combined $79.6 million for Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, Vernon Wells and Weaver alone.
1B Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
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Currently in the second year of a three-year, $38 million deal, the next time Votto signs a contract, it will undoubtedly be for six to seven years and over $100 million.
In four years as an everyday player, the 27-year-old first baseman has posted an average line of .312 BA, 29 HR, 96 RBI, 90 R as he has emerged as one of the top offensive threats in the National League.
With Yonder Alonso now out of the picture, the progression of prospect Neftali Soto (.278 BA, 31 HR, 80 RBI in 396 at-bats in 2011) will play a role in whether or not the Reds would consider moving Votto rather than locking him up, but chances are, he stays in Cincinnati.
SP Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
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Undoubtedly one of the top pitchers in the game today, Lincecum has gone 62-36, 2.81 ERA, 977 Ks, 881.2 IP over the past four seasons, winning two NL Cy Young awards in the process.
As mentioned in the Brian Wilson slide, the Giants could return to contention in the next couple seasons or head towards a rebuild, as their farm system is very thin and they will need to do something to restock it.
Lincecum could be the game's first $200 million pitcher when he hits the market in 2014, and with Matt Cain and eventually Buster Posey also set for big paydays, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Giants would trade Lincecum for a massive package of young talent.