MLB Trade Speculation: 15 Players Who Would Benefit from a Change of Scenery
There are a myriad of reasons why a player could benefit from a change of scenery.
A player could simply age ungracefully and no longer be able to play the position that they once did.
Expectations could be so high that they are simply unattainable and a player finds himself pressing in a feeble attempt to reach them.
The team could have multiple players on the roster who play a given position and simply do not have playing time available for all of them.
That's just scraping the surface as to why, sometimes, it's in everybody's best interest for a player and team to part ways, and only some of the players on the pages that follow fall under one of the above categories.
Others are still wildly successful in their current roles, but yearn for a different role—a role that may or may not eventually become available to them with their current organization.
For their own purposes, a change of scenery would benefit them greatly.
Who am I talking about?
Let's take a look.
Bobby Abreu, RF, Los Angeles Angels
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Bobby Abreu knows that the end of his career is closing in, and he'd prefer to go out swinging rather than take it sitting down.
As a member of the Los Angeles Angels in 2012, sitting is primarily what he'll be doing.
Try as they might, the Angels have twice attempted to move Abreu to another team this year—first to the New York Yankees, then to the Cleveland Indians. Both times, talks broke off when the teams couldn't agree on who would pick up the bulk of Abreu's $9 million salary in 2012, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.
With another wild-card spot up for grabs this season, Abreu could eventually wind up with a team that believes they're a bat away from making a run. By then, his $9 million salary will be lower, and thus, less of an issue for the acquiring team.
For Abreu's sake, he likely hopes that move comes sooner rather than later.
Jason Bay, LF, New York Mets
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Jason Bay is the poster boy for players who desperately need a change of scenery.
From 2004 through 2009, an average season for Bay was a batting line of .280/.375/.519 with 30 home runs and 99 RBI.
Since joining the New York Mets in 2010, an average season for Bay has been .250/.336/.383 with six home runs and 32 RBI.
The Mets investigated moving Bay back in December but were unable to find anyone who was interested, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
While his on-field performance is certainly a factor, the biggest hurdle to moving Bay is the $32 million that he's owed between now and 2013, coupled with a $17 million vesting option for 2014.
At this point it doesn't matter what Bay does on the field—he simply needs to get out of New York and start over somewhere else.
Gordon Beckham, 2B, Chicago White Sox
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After a breakout rookie season in 2009 that saw him hit .270/.347/.460 with 14 home runs and 63 RBI, flashing the ability that the Chicago White Sox saw in him when they made him a first-round pick in 2008, Gordon Beckham's career has been on a downward spiral.
The past two seasons have seen Beckham hit .240/.306/.355 with 19 home runs and 93 RBI, a major drop in production.
Going back to December, the White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays had trade discussions involving Beckham, among others, according to Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported in January that teams who were interested in acquiring Beckham viewed him as a shortstop and not a second baseman, the position he's played in Chicago since 2010.
Whether Beckham is stuck in a rut due to bad habits, poor mechanics or just bad luck, a change in scenery could jump start what was once a promising career.
Domonic Brown, LF, Philadelphia Phillies
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If it seems as if we've been hearing about Domonic Brown for years, it's because we have.
Drafted in the 20th round of the 2006 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, Brown has consistently risen up Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list each of the past three seasons: from No. 48 entering 2009 to No.15 entering 2010 to fourth overall heading into 2011.
The problem for Brown is that while he produces on the minor league level—a batting line of .294/.374/.458 with 53 home runs, 254 RBI and 101 stolen bases over parts of seven seasons—he has struggled in his limited time spent with the big club, hitting .236/.314/.382 with seven home runs and 32 RBI in 91 games over parts of two seasons.
Brown suffered through an injury-riddled spring training last month, only appearing in seven games and while he produced with the bat, his defense in left field has room for improvement, and thus Brown was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the 24-year-old still has work to do:
"We're not in the mode right now to develop guys at the major league level. He's a guy that needs to get to the point where we are comfortable with him in all phases of the game, and then he'll make the impact at the major league level when he is ready to do that."
Brown is not happy about being demoted, as one would expect, but he's got the right attitude according to Gelb: "I'm going to go down there, play hard, and that's it. I really don't have anything else to say. I was not expecting it, but keeping it in the back of my mind."
Brown doesn't have anything to prove with the bat in the minors at this point, and with no clear path to playing time in Philadelphia, both the Phillies and Brown could benefit from dealing him to another team where he would get a chance to play everyday.
Francisco Cervelli, C, New York Yankees
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Back in October, Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote that the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates had discussed a trade involving Yankees backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, though a deal never materialized.
Last week, the 26-year-old fell victim to a numbers game and was optioned to Triple-A, a move that stunned the affable backstop, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News:
“What can I say, bro? It’s not my decision. That’s it. I’m disappointed with this, but that’s never going to change anything. If they want me to prove that I can catch in the big leagues, I’ll go and prove it, that I have to be here.”
With catching prospect Austin Romine expected to miss significant time at Triple-A as he recovers from a back injury, the Yankees needed a starter for their highest minor league affiliate. After acquiring Chris Stewart from the San Francisco Giants, Cervelli, the only catcher on the roster who still had minor league options remaining, was sent down.
Cervelli has been productive with the bat when given a chance to play, posting a batting line of .272/.338/.354 in parts of four seasons in the Bronx.
With Romine and Gary Sanchez the catchers of the future in the minors and Russell Martin the incumbent in the Bronx, Cervelli is unlikely to ever have a chance to become a full-time starting catcher with the Yankees.
For him to fully exploit his talents, Cervelli would need a fresh start with a new team that would allow him to start behind the plate on a regular basis.
Aroldis Chapman, RP, Cincinnati Reds
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The argument can be made that Aroldis Chapman has been the best starting pitcher on the Cincinnati Reds since he joined the team in 2009. If not the past three years, certainly since 2010.
Yet Chapman, the 24-year-old lefty who throws heat, has yet to start a regular season game for the Reds, making 71 relief appearances since making his debut.
The talented lefty told Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer last month what role he prefers: “I’ve always been a starter and I always like to be a starter. I’m looking to be a starter, and that’s what I’d like to do.”
With Bronson Arroyo's unmovable contract (owed $23.5 million through the end of the 2013 season) and Homer Bailey being out of minor league options, Chapman's path to the Reds starting rotation is seemingly blocked.
Chapman is signed to a very team friendly contract, owed $7 million in total from 2012 through 2014. He holds a player option for $5 million in 2015.
It's conceivable that he could become disenfranchised with the team should he be forced to continue in a relief role, making the chances that he'd opt out of his contract after 2014 all but a foregone conclusion.
Wade Davis, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
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Entering spring training, Wade Davis had no interest in pitching out of the bullpen, as he told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:
"I'm a starter. I don't see any reason for me to be in the bullpen. I understand they've got to do certain things, but we'll see. … I definitely want to be a starter and stay a starter forever. And that'll be my mentality...Right now everything I'm doing is to get ready to throw all year long and into the postseason—I want to throw 230 innings. I'm going to go out this spring and have a great spring. I have a whole different mentality and I'm physically better and stronger."
Shortly thereafter, chatter began that Davis was looking to be traded out of Tampa if he was not guaranteed a spot in the rotation—something that he clarified to Bill Chastain of MLB.com:
"I'm like look, this is all completely untrue, the trade talk. I don't know who would say it or why, but it represents me in a horrible way, because that has nothing to do with my approach to this year or the team. I want to be a part of this team regardless."
Davis, a 26-year-old righty, has made 64 starts for the Rays since 2009, posting a 25-22 record with a 4.22 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 254 strikeouts over 388.1 innings pitched.
He could certainly help a number of teams at the back of their rotations while still having some upside into becoming a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm. All he needs is another chance to start.
Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres
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Petco Park is a tough place to hit—a fact that Chase Headley can attest to.
In 1,015 plate appearances at Petco Park, Headley's batting line reads like this: .227/.319/.335 with 16 home runs and 93 RBI.
In 1,117 plate appearances on the road, Headley's batting line reads like this: .303/.364/.441 with 21 home runs and 116 RBI.
What have we learned?
Chase Headley is certainly not a power hitting third baseman—but he is a substantially better offensive player than his .267/.343/.391 line would lead you to believe.
If anyone has ever needed to get out of San Diego, Chase Headley is that person.
Jason Heyward, RF, Atlanta Braves
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Jason Heyward suffers from what I like to call the "Jeff Francoeur Syndrome."
Jeff Francoeur grew up in Georgia and was a big-time athlete coming out of high school. When the Atlanta Braves made him their first-round draft pick in 2002, big things were expected out of the man they called "Frenchy."
His first three seasons in Atlanta went well, with Frenchy hitting .280 with some power, driving in more than 100 runs twice.
Then the pressure began to mount as people clamored for bigger numbers, and Francoeur began to press. It wouldn't be until he left Atlanta that he got his career back on track.
Jason Heyward was a big-time athlete coming out of high school in Georgia, was the Braves first-round draft pick in 2007, and had an excellent rookie season for the Braves in 2009, hitting .277 while flashing power and speed—and heightening expectations of what was to come.
But Heyward has struggled mightily since then, battling injury and hitting .226, finding himself sliding further and further down in the Braves lineup.
Heyward is pressing, of that there is no question. Getting away from the microscope that is on him in his home state may be the best thing that could happen for the talented 22 year old.
John Lannan, SP, Washington Nationals
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Generally speaking, 27-year-old left-handed starting pitchers are a hot commodity in baseball, especially those who have proven that they can win at the highest level.
John Lannan, while he's not a top flight starter, is a serviceable back-of-the-rotation arm who can eat up innings and keep a team in a ballgame night in and night out.
Yet Lannan finds himself stuck in Triple-A Syracuse for the Washington Nationals due to a glut of starting pitchers in Washington, and Lannan is not pleased.
Shortly after learning of his demotion, Lannan emailed a number of reporters, including Amanda Comak of the Washington Times, stating "I believe that I belong in a big league rotation," that he was "disappointed" in the Nationals decision and that he had requested a trade.
Last Thursday, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Nationals and Cubs had discussed a deal involving Lannan, but nothing has come of those talks to date. Washington manager Davey Johnson said in the same piece that "We're not trading him," though that seems to be inaccurate.
Lannan could help any number of teams and it's only a matter of time before someone makes Nationals GM Mike Rizzo an offer that is to his liking.
Alexi Ogando, RP, Texas Rangers
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According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Alexi Ogando would prefer to be a starter.
That being said, Ogando isn't about to put his desires above the team: "I wasn't anticipating it (going to the bullpen) [during the off-season], but now that I've come to camp, I know what they want me to do. Whatever they want me to do, I'm a team player."
Ogando made 29 starts for the Rangers in 2011, going 13-8 with a 3.56 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 124 strikeouts over 167 innings pitched.
He's been even better as a reliever, posting a 4-1 record with a 1.15 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 45 strikeouts over 47 innings pitched.
But Ogando wants to be a starter, and whether or not that's in the cards for him in Texas remains to be seen. He may ultimately have to head elsewhere to get another chance to pitch every fifth day.
Gerardo Parra, LF, Arizona Diamondbacks
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A Gold Glove winner in 2010, Gerardo Parra was banished to fourth outfielder duty in Arizona once the Diamondbacks signed Jason Kubel as a free agent this winter.
Parra, 24, had an excellent 2011 campaign in Arizona, posting a hitting line of .292/.357/.427 with eight home runs, 46 RBI, 15 stolen bases and outstanding defense in left field.
While Parra was linked to a number of teams prior to spring training as a trade candidate, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers remained true to his word that he would not trade the talented outfielder, as reported by MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
With Kubel under contract through 2014, Parra needs a change of scenery to get back to becoming an everyday player again.
Travis Snider, LF, Toronto Blue Jays
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It was only three years ago that Travis Snider, then 21 years old, was considered one of the best prospects in all of baseball.
In parts of four seasons with the Blue Jays, Snider had a hitting line of .248/.307/.423—not even close to the .307/.379/.524 career line that he's posted in the minor leagues.
Snider, a fan favorite, lost the competition for the spot in left field to another highly touted prospect, Eric Thames, and was sent to Triple-A.
To his credit, the 24-year old took the news like a pro, remarking on his twitter account: "I tip my cap n hold my head high. Left it all out there n will continue that same focus in Vegas. Thank u all for your overwhelming support."
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has become adept at buying low on players who have considerable upside—see Colby Rasmus—but now finds himself with a valuable asset in Snider that is not going to become more valuable playing in the minor leagues.
That being the case, Anthopoulos is wary of trading away Snider when he won't get fair market value in return for him—leaving Snider stuck in the middle.
If Thames and Rasmus both produce in 2012, coupled with Anthony Gose seemingly ready to play in the majors, Snider could once again find himself on the outside looking in come 2013.
A move to another team—Cleveland makes a ton of sense—would be the best thing for Snider's career.
Alfonso Soriano, LF, Chicago Cubs
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Remember when Alfonso Soriano was the most exciting player in baseball?
If it seems like it was a long time ago, you're right.
After posting a 40/40 season for the Washington Nationals in 2006, Soriano signed a lucrative contract with the Chicago Cubs, a relationship that got off to a great start—Soriano averaged a .291/.340/.547 hitting line with 31 home runs, 72 RBI and 19 stolen bases over his first two seasons in Chicago.
Then the wheels fell off.
Since 2009, Soriano has maintained his power stroke, but not much else, with an average season being .249/.306/.462 with 18 home runs, 56 RBI, four stolen bases and some of the most atrocious outfield defense you've ever seen.
Simply put, Alfonso Soriano is a designated hitter stuck playing everyday in the National League. The fact that he is owed $56 million through the end of the 2014 season makes him a virtual immovable object.
A move to an American League team where all he has to do is hit would be the absolute best thing for all parties involved, but it is highly unlikely that sort of move is going to occur anytime soon.
Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Angels
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The runner-up for the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2011, Mark Trumbo finds himself stuck in the crowded clubhouse that belongs to the Los Angeles Angels.
Originally pegged as the Angels first baseman of the future, that went out the window when the team signed Albert Pujols. With an already crowded outfield that blocks über-prospect Mike Trout from playing everyday, the corner outfield spots were not an option.
So Trumbo went back to the drawing board this spring and is working on playing third base, a spot currently occupied by Alberto Callaspo.
Could Trumbo ultimately supplant Callaspo as the everyday starter? It's possible, but chances are that the duo will continue to split time there throughout the 2012 season.
We can't forget that the Angels spent a ton of money this winter, and players like Ervin Santana, who the team holds a $13 million option on for 2013, could become free agents following this season for financial reasons.
Moving Trumbo, a slugger under team control for the foreseeable future for some live arms to fill the back of their rotation might make sense for all parties involved.