MLB Trade/Free Agency: One Upgrade to Boost Each Team's Fanbase
With the start of MLB's regular season just a couple of weeks away, teams are working through their final drills, preparations and spring games before heading back to their home stadiums.
As the spring moves on, some teams will no doubt look to fill holes to contend as others will look to unload payroll and plan for the future.
Every team inevitably finds itself in this situation, as a number of players are poised to head into different markets during the dog days of summer.
Whether or not any of these moves happen remains to be seen, but here are some possible options that may not be popular choices from the onset yet could jolt the roster in the long run.
It seems as though you can never have enough arms at your disposal, and as the Arizona Diamondbacks look to make another postseason appearance in 2012, they'll want to add to their solid front-end starters.
They have a pitching prospect getting lots of attention around the baseball world in Trevor Bauer, but with a number of top-level starters set to enter free agency prior to 2013, the Diamondbacks could still opt to look externally for help.
With prospect Tyler Pastornicky looking like the Atlanta Braves' Opening Day starter at shortstop, the team is taking a gamble on the left side of the infield.
Dan Uggla is set at second base, and the team doesn't have a lot of options around the league to add depth at Pastornicky's position, but it'll likely be on the lookout for insurance as the deadline approaches.
With a couple of new pitchers in their organization and Jeremy Guthrie now out of Baltimore, you can't blame the Orioles for considering additional insurance as we head into the season.
It now appears that the O's are considering acquiring Kyle McClellan from the St. Louis Cardinals. He was reportedly made available earlier in the winter, although the Cardinals may wait until Chris Carpenter returns to unload.
Boston Red Sox
With somewhat of a void still remaining in the Boston Red Sox infield, the team may end up looking outside the organization to complete its puzzle.
One direction the Red Sox could look is toward Tyler Greene in St. Louis, speculates Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
It's seemingly unclear as to whether or not he's a long-term option in a Cardinals uniform, so the Red Sox may be able to find a way to lure Greene, who is out of options in St. Louis.
It's like beating a dead horse by this point, but until Matt Garza is either traded or given a long-term extension, talks of his departure from Chicago will continue.
Throughout much of the winter, it seemed like there were relatively constant murmurs about Garza being shipped out of Chicago prior to the start of the 2012 season.
Rumors surrounding Garza may have been quelled a bit, as he signed a one-year deal to remain with the Cubs, but as Jon Morosi of Fox Sports has pointed out, the team is still aiming to have a trade in place by the deadline, a move that could free up payroll and finally close the door on the chapter that won't seem to end.
Chicago White Sox
Jake Peavy's tenure in Chicago certainly hasn't gone as planned, as injury issues have kept him from putting up the numbers we all know he's capable of and certainly disappointed White Sox fans.
With a $22 million option for 2013, it's hard to believe Peavy will stick around beyond this season, meaning the White Sox should start shopping him around in an effort to find a front-of-the-rotation starter to complement John Danks.
Playing in only 65 games this past season, Scott Rolen struggled offensively, batting his lowest average since 2005 and seeing his power numbers drop along with it.
With the possibility of the Cincinnati Reds going in a different direction at third base, the soon-to-be 37-year-old Rolen could be looking for a new home next offseason, as the Reds will need to focus their funding on keeping Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto in Cincinnati.
Grady Sizemore stands to be the Cleveland Indians' starter in center field in 2012 after playing in barely 100 games over the past two seasons combined.
He'll have plenty of incentive to produce in 2012, but he still may not represent the Indians' long-term solution in the outfield. There are enough options out there in the potential trade market to give Sizemore plenty of cause for concern regarding job security.
The Colorado Rockies shipped out a pitcher with a high upside in trading Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for some high-value prospects.
They now have a number of talented young pitchers who can certainly perform, but they may still want to add a pitcher who can eat up innings while dominating batters.
Jeremy Guthrie presents a veteran arm for the Rockies, but Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano has a high upside that could pay off, and he's shown a lot of promise throughout spring training this year.
With one of the best in the game heading up the rotation in Justin Verlander, the Detroit Tigers added one of the second-half surprises of the season in 2011, bringing Doug Fister over for their October run.
They'll head up the top of the rotation in 2012, but with less consistency expected from Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello, the team could complement its offensive abilities nicely with the addition of another well-established arm.
As the Houston Astros dig themselves into an all-out rebuilding mode, we may be seeing veterans like Carlos Lee and Wandy Rodriguez shipped out of the Lone Star State in favor of prospects.
One player that the team is reportedly considering trading for is John Lannan of the Washington Nationals. His presence would give the team a formidable arm in the rotation that would need the help if Rodriguez leaves.
Kansas City Royals
In acquiring Jonathan Sanchez from the Giants to take a place in their rotation, the Kansas City Royals gave up Melky Cabrera, who represented one of their more consistent offensive pieces in 2011.
They'll have a number of young and budding stars in the lineup in 2012, and adding a veteran presence would only help their development.
Los Angeles Angels
As an aging Torii Hunter enters the final season of his contract with the Los Angeles Angels, you have to wonder if he'll stick with the team through all of 2012 or if the Angels could cut ties.
He'll be making $18 million this year, and with the salary that the team took on this offseason, his move could provide some breathing room as it adds depth in other areas.
In the final year of a three-year, $27 million deal, Bobby Abreu wants to play an important part in 2012, even taking his case so far as to tell ESPN Deportes he wants to be traded if he's not given an everyday role.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers, at least temporarily, dodged a bullet in signing Andre Ethier to a one-year deal worth more than $10 million, avoiding arbitration.
You'd have to think the Dodgers would want to explore an extension for Ethier, but it appears the two sides have yet to get together for discussions.
Trading a player of his caliber could bring in players that can still make an impact on the lineup and will be around for years to come, as opposed to Ethier, who may be in his final season in L.A.
With continued health uncertainty surrounding Josh Johnson, the Miami Marlins would benefit from making a midseason acquisition for another starting pitcher as they look to overtake the Phillies and the rest of the division.
Fausto Carmona, who appeared to be headed in the direction of some of the best young pitchers in the league, as he won 13 games and posted an ERA of 3.77 in 2010 with the Cleveland Indians, could be an option.
With Wade LeBlanc in the picture, they may be set at the back end, but Carmona may provide a more formidable arm for the Fins.
Shaun Marcum has one of the game's best changeups and can be an effective option on the mound for the Milwaukee Brewers, but concerns over the health of his shoulder could potentially lead the team to make a move for another starter if the need arises.
Someone like John Lannan, who is starter material but may be on the outside of the rotation at the end of spring training, could be an option.
Francisco Liriano's slider can be among the best in baseball, but the space between his ears gets in the way too often, as he struggles with control in tight situations.
The Twins have shown patience with him over the years, but with free agency looming, they may look to cut ties and get a package of prospects in return.
As mentioned earlier, the Colorado Rockies could be a good fit for Liriano, who has immense talent and still probably has a great future ahead of him.
New York Mets
The New York Mets fanbase is already unhappy with the team's unwillingness to work seriously on making a contract extension for Jose Reyes a reality, so it could come as somewhat of a surprise to see David Wright shipped out of town.
Given the possibility the team may not want to spend the $16 million to extend him into 2013, the Mets may be able to get a great deal in return for the star infielder, much like the return they got in exchange for Carlos Beltran.
Shipping Wright out of town certainly wouldn't be well received at the start, but a team that needs to rebuild would be better suited to take on talent rather than hold on to one star.
New York Yankees
With the formerly retired Andy Pettitte back in pinstripes, Yankees fans hope they get a blast from the past and see great things from him.
As Pettitte comes in, you'd have to think there could be a possibility that Freddy Garcia could become expendable.
Using Garcia as the main piece in a trade could give the team additional depth at other positions while clearing up the logjam in the rotation.
With Scott Sizemore out as the Oakland Athletics third baseman for the 2012 season, the team will certainly be spending much of spring training weighing its options.
If the A's are unable to find an internal replacement that's fit to take Sizemore's place for the duration of the season, they may look at a player like Brandon Inge, who may be attainable given his displeasure with the infield situation for the Tigers.
The Phillies have a number of payroll commitments in other areas, and as they look to consider locking in Cole Hamels and possibly Hunter Pence long-term, they'll need to make some tough decisions, not the least of which would be moving Shane Victorino.
Another stumbling point in the Victorino situation worth noting is his desire for a five-year contract, something the Phillies may not be willing to offer.
In the short term, the team would be losing a Philadelphia staple, but the long-term returns could outweigh any negative if the right deal was made.
It doesn't appear that any trade talks for Atlanta's Mike Minor have taken place yet, but he has been vocal about his status with the team, stating that he'd like to be traded if he isn't put in the rotation, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
The Pittsburgh Pirates did just make a move to acquire A.J. Burnett, but with him being sidelined for the next few months, Minor could fill a role in the middle of the Bucs rotation if they could put the right package together to obtain him.
San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres will certainly take on a different look in 2012 with a number of their best players leaving town via free agency or trade.
There is, however, the possibility of Carlos Quentin being a one-and-done in San Diego, but if he performs to the level he's capable of, the Padres could benefit from keeping him in-house for years to come.
With the fans seeing a number of stars bolt, it could give them a big jolt to see one sign on for the long term.
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants will clearly do everything within their power to keep Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain together for the long run as they work towards returning to postseason play.
They'll need to play their chips right, however, as Lincecum will eventually want a gigantic deal. If it's looking like a Cain deal may not be workable as the season moves on, they'd be best suited to get something in return rather than see him walk in free agency.
With the distance between Cain and the Giants in terms of a contract, it may seem like a lost cause to keep him around, but extending him and Lincecum long-term would mean great things for the Giants rotation for the foreseeable future.
The Seattle Mariners offense got a much-needed jolt with the addition of Jesus Montero, but that will only partially make up for the Mariners' offensive deficiencies.
After missing out on the Prince Fielder sweepstakes, the team may wait until next offseason to pursue another bat, but as the deadline approaches and new names enter the mix, that could all change.
St. Louis Cardinals
With a no-trade clause in tow, it wouldn't be entirely surprising to see Kyle Lohse stay in St. Louis throughout 2012.
The team did, however, make it known this winter that it would like to move either him or Jake Westbrook, and if Lohse could warm up to the idea of some new scenery, there would likely be some takers for his services. Adding some more useful offense would also surely help the fans cope with the offensive loss seen with Albert Pujols' departure.
Tampa Bay Rays
A number of great starting pitchers should be available next offseason, and strong consideration should be given to James Shields, who led the league with 11 complete games in 2011 en route to a 16-win season and a sub-3.00 ERA.
With that said, it's players like this that the team needs to focus on keeping around long-term. It may seem unfeasible to keep both Shields and B.J. Upton around long-term, but if the Rays were able to make a deal happen, they could shore up the health of the organization for years to come.
Averaging 36 saves per season the last four years as the Kansas City Royals closer, Joakim Soria will likely continue to shut the door on AL Central opponents in 2012.
Newly signed closer Joe Nathan isn't what he once was as a closer, and if he doesn't return to his pre-Tommy John surgery form, the Rangers may need to consider adding an arm like Soria in the bullpen to hold leads in the late innings.
Toronto Blue Jays
In somewhat of a surprising move this winter, the Chicago White Sox signed pitcher John Danks to an extension, ensuring his place in the rotation for years to come.
With that move, Gavin Floyd becomes expendable for Chicago, as he'll enter free agency next offseason and likely won't sign for a number the White Sox will agree to.
Given the Toronto Blue Jays' pursuit of Yu Darvish this offseason, it's clear they're looking to add help in the rotation, and while Floyd certainly doesn't have the same impact, he could still help the rotation.
As the 2012 season progresses, Marlon Byrd could be a formidable option for the Washington Nationals, a team that would be a logical fit given its past inquiry on Byrd.
With the contract extensions and acquisitions the Nationals are making leading up to this season, there's no reason to think they won't strike again this summer.