MLB Rumors: 10 Veterans Who Could Be on the Chopping Block
As we enter the season's final week, the front offices of both playoff and non-playoff teams are surely starting to think about their upcoming offseason moves.
Veterans have to be ready for their roles to change. If they haven't performed but are still under contract, they may lose their starting roles. If they're free agents, they may choose to play elsewhere or have their old teams not try to re-sign them.
Here are 10 veterans whose jobs will change this offseason, whether by role on their team, or being let go in free agency or by trade.
Bay has already seen his playing time decrease with the Mets due to injuries and poor play. He's basically been reduced to a platoon player in the second half, and it's hard to see him returning to a full-time role with his performance over the last three seasons in Flushing.
What will be different next year is that Bay will be in the final year of his contract, so the Mets will be even less likely to put him out in the field hoping to get a return on the four-year investment they made in him before the 2010 season. He'll likely be gone after 2013 regardless of his performance, so why waste at-bats on him?
This is particularly true given that he has an option that will vest for $17 million in 2014 if he reaches 600 plate appearances next year, a number that the Mets will make sure he does not reach.
It's possible Lance Berkman could return this season for the Cardinals, but it's unlikely he'll be back with them next year.
After a surprising 2011 campaign, Berkman has missed most of 2012 with two knee surgeries and his hitting just .263 with two home runs in 31 games.
Berkman may opt to retire based on the two surgeries he had at age 36, but even if he does attempt a comeback, one would imagine the Cardinals would choose to move on.
Melky Cabrera is probably going to lead the NL in batting average, but it's hard to imagine the Giants bringing him back next year after testing positive for testosterone.
The Melk Man brought shame to a franchise that has its own history of PED use (see: Barry Bonds), and they've shown almost no willingness to bring an outfielder hitting .346 back for the playoffs after he is eligible to return from suspension.
It will be interesting who takes a chance on a PED-less Melky Cabrera this winter, and for how much.
The Royals love Jeff Francoeur, but no amount of love for him will convince the team to bring him back as their starting right fielder in 2013.
For one, he's hitting .237 with an abysmal .290 on-base percentage this year with 13 home runs. His .657 OPS kills a lineup.
He's also got the team's top prospect, Wil Myers, waiting in the wings ready to assume the role of starting right fielder in Kansas City. After hitting .314 with 37 home runs this year in Double- and Triple-A, Myers has nothing left to prove in the minors and has to progress to the big club next year.
Francoeur is still under contract for $7.5 million in 2013. It would make sense for Dayton Moore to try to deal him, but even if he is unable to, Wil Myers will be manning right field in KC next year.
After 10 years in Cleveland, Travis Hafner's injury-riddled tenure with the Tribe is likely over.
He's only played in 62 games in 2012 and has not been effective when on the field (he's hitting .232 with 11 home runs in a DH role), and has only played more than 100 games once since 2008.
This is the last season of a six-year deal for Hafner, and for a rebuilding team, Hafner will be looking for a new place of employment this winter.
The Rays' offense has been anemic this year, and Carlos Pena hasn't helped.
Pena is at the Mendoza line with a .200 batting average, in addition to 18 home runs and a .691 OPS.
The Rays have always loved Pena's defense and power, but the downfall of the team this year was its poor offense, and you can expect Andrew Friedman to find a more creative solution at first base for 2013.
Unlike Pena, B.J. Upton is a player the Rays would certainly love to bring back for 2013. The problem is, he'll be a highly sought after free agent who will likely command more money than the Rays have to give.
Despite never really living up to expectations, Upton will be one of the best free agent outfielders available this winter.
While he doesn't hit for average (.250 in 2012 and .256 for his career), he hits for power (he's hit 26 home runs this season), steals bases (he already has 30 this year) and plays excellent defense.
In a free agent class without much outfield depth, expect Upton to leave the Trop for a big-market team in need of offense, such as Philadelphia or San Francisco.
Like his brother, Justin Upton will likely be playing in a new city in 2013.
Upton is under contract through 2015, but he's had a rough 2012 that included the team trying to trade him in July. After hitting 31 homers in 2011, he has just 15 this year and his OPS has slipped over 100 points from .898 to .781.
Justin will not be able to choose his place of employ, but it seems like he'll be playing elsewhere on Opening Day.
There are two simple reasons that Shane Victorino will not be back with the Dodgers next year after hitting free agency this offseason:
First, he's been terrible since arriving in a trade from Philadelphia. In 45 games in LA, he's hitting just .227 with a .606 OPS.
Second, there's no room for him. Carl Crawford will complete the Dodgers' outfield with Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier when he comes back from Tommy John surgery.
It would be shocking to see the Flyin' Hawaiian back in Dodger blue in 2013.
Young will be back with the Rangers next year, but Jon Daniels would be a fool to give him the same role he's filled this year.
At age 35, Young has been a starting utility player around the Rangers' infield, having started more than 10 games at first, second and third base, as well as DH, but he hasn't hit.
With a .275 average, .310 on-base percentage and a .675 OPS with over 600 plate appearances, Young just isn't good enough to start in a lineup as good as the Rangers'.
Young is still owed $16 million in 2013, but he should certainly see his playing time diminished to something more akin to a part-time player.
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