MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Most Tantalizing Rumors Coming out of Spring Training

Eli Marger@Eli_MargerCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Most Tantalizing Rumors Coming out of Spring Training

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    Spring training is in full bloom, and with exhibitions set to start this weekend, baseball season is upon us. Though the offseason is over for the most part, there is still time before the regular season starts. Teams evaluating personnel can still move players around, sign them to extensions and figure out what pieces they need to contend.

    Though the trade market is pretty quiet, here are 10 rumors about some trades, extension talks and other news that make for some interesting storylines.

Miguel Tejada Wants to Return to the A's

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    By signing the high-risk, low-cost Manny Ramirez last month, the Athletics showed that they are willing to take gambles on older players. Earlier this week, Tejada told Susan Slusser that he wanted to return to Oakland.

    The 37-year-old Tejada struggled this winter in the Dominican Republic, and the likelihood of his return to Oakland is slim to none.

Asdrubal Cabrera Extension

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    With Asdrubal Cabrera set to become a free agent after the 2013 season, the Indians shortstop said that he would like to finish his career with Cleveland. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Cabrera has expressed interest in signing an extension, which has been met favorably by GM Chris Antonetti.

    Cabrera is due to earn $4.55 million this year, but given his production last year, an extension would probably at least double his yearly salary.

Prince Fielder in Dodger Blue?

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    How scary would the Los Angeles Dodgers' middle of the order be with Prince Fielder? It almost became a reality this winter, according to Jon Heyman. The Dodgers were said to have offered Fielder a seven-year, $160 million contract, as opposed to the nine-year, $214 million offer he accepted in Detroit.

    It would have been fewer years and a lower yearly salary, so it's obvious why Fielder went to Detroit. But the thought of Fielder, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier together was very tantalizing.

Mike Napoli to Become a Free Agent

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    Hoping to reach a long-term deal with the Rangers this offseason, catcher Mike Napoli instead reached a one-year, $9.4 million commitment with Texas to avoid arbitration. After seeing the Cardinals give Yadier Molina a five-year extension worth up to $75 million, Napoli said he did not know what his value would be. He did, however, say that he expects to be a free agent after the 2012 season, according to Jeff Wilson.

John Axford Extension Coming?

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    Milwaukee freed up a lot of cash by letting Prince Fielder test free agency. Part of that saved money, it seems, will be spent on an extension for closer John Axford. Tom Haudricort of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Brewers are talking to Axford about a long-term deal.

    This is Axford's final season before he is eligible for arbitration, so the Brewers want to get a deal done soon. The NL saves leader (46) will likely become one of the top-paid closers in the game with this extension.

Will the Braves Trade Mike Minor?

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    In an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, Braves' lefty Mike Minor was quoted as saying that he would be very open to a trade if he does not become the team's fifths starter. Minor, who was told by GM Frank Wren that he would be the favorite coming into spring training, is in competition with prospects Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran.

    If he were to lose that competition, Minor said he would prefer to be traded than go back to the minor leagues.

Mets Will Not Sign Pudge Rodriguez

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    Despite rumors earlier this year about Ivan Rodriguez signing with the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPN tweeted that it is very unlikely to happen. The Mets are comfortable with their backups for starting catcher Josh Thole, basically meaning that there would be no place for Pudge to play.

    With that, the future Hall of Famer moves one step closer to retirement, provided another team doesn't give him a chance in 2012.

Who's Going to Buy the Dodgers?

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    According to ESPN, the list of potential buyers for the Los Angeles Dodgers is down to seven, and it most certainly does not include the guy pictured (Frank McCourt, for those who aren't sure). Among the potential buyers are St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and real-estate developer Alan Casden.

    The deal to buy the Dodgers must be completed by April 30th, and a buyer must be identified by April 1st, so be sure to follow this story as it develops.

Which Rays Starter Will Be Traded?

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    The Tampa Bay Rays have the happy problem of having too many viable starting pitchers. James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis and Alex Cobb are seven guys who could easily start on most other MLB teams. However, this surplus means that someone may end up in the bullpen. According to the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin, if that guy is Wade Davis, he will ask to be traded.

When Will the Playoff Deal Be Finalized?

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    You undoubtedly already knew this, but MLB is on the verge of expanding the playoffs to a 10-team format. The deal will happen, but the question is when. Be sure to keep an eye out for an official announcement.

    USA Today's Bob Nightengale was told by an MLB official that the deal will be finalized "within the next couple of days," which could mean as early as today.