MLB Trade Rumors/Speculation: Top Player Still on the Block at Every Position
As spring training enters its second half, the MLB hot stove has done anything but cool down. Position battles are still putting players on the trading block, and when the dust settles, some more deals could be made.
This past week, the Yankees emerged as a team that could soon make a trade when veteran Andy Pettitte chose to come out of retirement, thus making Freddy Garcia and/or Phil Hughes expendable in the near future. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Garcia seems more likely to be dealt due to his salary.
The Atlanta Braves have a similar controversy, as they have two of baseball's top pitching prospects in Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado, but they also have Jair Jurrjens. Given the ceilings of the two younger options, Jurrjens could be expendable, and team management actually explored deals for him during the winter.
That said, let's have a look at each position and the players there who could be on the block.
Catcher: J.P. Arencibia
The Toronto Blue Jays have a fine, power-hitting catcher in J.P. Arencibia, who hit 23 homers with 78 RBI last year. Yet, the soon-to-be second-year player hit just .219 with a .282 OBP.
ESPN's Buster Olney reports that since the Blue Jays catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud could be ready within a year, teams have inquired about Arencibia. The team is likely to keep both catchers, Olney reports.
Still, if Arencibia struggles and d'Arnaud is tearing it up in the minors, don't be surprised if GM Alex Anthopoulos pulls the trigger on a trade involving the former.
First Base: James Loney
James Loney and his lefty bat provide a decent batting average, but his lack of power has Dodgers management frustrated. Since becoming a regular in 2007, he has hit just 63 home runs with 400 RBI.
Compared to the premier first basemen in baseball, those numbers are pretty low.
Loney has had a productive spring thus far, but I'm anticipating that GM Ned Colletti will look to deal him unless some vast improvement is seen. Given how prospect Jerry Sands can also play first base, this is definitely a possibility.
Second Base: Chone Figgins
Chone Figgins is hitting just .222 this spring, and once the season starts, he's going to be on the world's shortest leash in Seattle.
After signing a four-year, $36 million contract after the 2009 season, the Figgins we knew with the Los Angeles Angels has disappeared and has hit just .236 since heading for the Pacific Northwest.
Last year, he lost his starting job.
That said, Figgins has basically become Seattle's version of A.J. Burnett in that he's being paid a lot of money to be ineffective. He's actually been on the trading block for quite a while, and back in November, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reported that the Mariners would be willing to include cash in any deal that rid them of the multitalented (and I use that term loosely) former All-Star.
Given the state of the Mariners and how desperate they are for consistency, team management can ill afford to hang on to any dead weight. With Figgins' ability to play both outfield and most infield positions, there must surely be some team out there who wants him.
Shortstop: Jason Bartlett
The Padres have been desperate to deal Jason Bartlett since the winter, as he is set to earn $5.5 million in 2012. The problem is that most teams are and should be hesitant to take on that much money, particularly since Bartlett is far from worth it.
Last year, he hit just .245 with two homers and 40 RBI, though he did steal 23 bases.
More importantly, Bartlett committed 18 errors at shortstop last year, and that's definitely going to be a red flag for teams in the hunt for help at that position. Thus, all the Padres can really do at this point is dangle Bartlett and hope that someone takes the bait.
Third Base: Brandon Inge
The moment that the Tigers signed Prince Fielder and moved Miguel Cabrera to third base, Brandon Inge became expendable. It's not at all surprising, since he hit just .197 with three home runs and 23 RBI last year.
His only real strength is his defense, and with his salary at $5.5 million, he's just not worth it.
Still, he can play multiple positions, and in the end, the Tigers should find a team to take him as long as they front most of the cash due.
Left Field: Carlos Lee
Trading Lee is easier said than done for new Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, as the man known as "El Caballo" has 10-5 rights and thus has to approve any trade in which he is involved.
He is due $18.5 million this year, and according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, Houston is willing to eat half of that just to make a deal.
Lee showed that he still had some gas left in the tank last year, hitting .275 with 18 home runs and 94 RBI in 155 games for the hapless Astros, who lost 106 games.
With a new owner in town and a move to the AL West happening soon, it's just a matter of Luhnow finding a buyer.
Center Field: Gerardo Parra
Manning left field for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011, Gerardo Parra had a solid season, as he hit .292 with eight homers and 46 RBI. He was even more solid in the field and took home the Gold Glove.
Then, this past winter, Diamondbacks management chose to slap Parra in the face and bring in Jason Kubel to play left field. Bumped to fourth-outfielder status, Parra is now learning how to play center and could very well be on the block.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reported the Nationals being interested in Parra, but that Arizona was asking for "a lot" in return. Still, this is a rumor to watch as the spring winds down.
Right Field: Bobby Abreu
Though Bobby Abreu has primarily been a DH the past couple of years, he is a right fielder by trade and may still be able to help a team out at that position.
The Angels have relegated him to part-time status this year due to a crowded outfield and abundance of bench power, and the 16-year veteran is none too pleased about it.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Angels have been looking to deal Abreu for quite some time now, but to no avail. Still, he is a player to watch as he still has some fine patience at the plate and even some speed, having stolen 21 bases last year.
Starting Pitcher: Jair Jurrjens
As I mentioned earlier, the Braves have two top pitching prospects in Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado. Given the presence of guys like Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson and Brandon Beachy, Jair Jurrjens could be left as the odd man out.
Of those six, he is the only one who has missed significant time due to injury, and he went 13-6 with a 2.96 ERA in just 152 innings last year.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reported some time back that if Jurrjens reported to camp healthy, he could draw some trade interest in the spring. He has struggled thus far and could easily regress come the regular season, but he's still a valuable trade chip worth watching.
Relief Pitcher: Brett Myers
For the first time since 2007, Brett Myers is the closer.
The veteran right-hander is due to make $8 million this season, and given the state of the Houston Astros, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that his move to the bullpen is to up his trade value.
As a starter last year, Myers went 7-14 with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.
Whether or not he'll do well as a closer remains to be seen, but let's put Myers' stats aside for now. Regardless of his numbers, he's still a great locker room presence who lightens the mood up in the blink of an eye.
To a team in need of some veteran leadership, he could easily be just what the doctor ordered.