10 MLB Teams That Will Blow Up Their Rosters This Offseason
To varying degrees, all MLB teams will make personnel changes this offseason.
So let's narrow the focus.
These 10 clubs are intent on "blowing up" their 2012 rosters by acquiring new faces to fill prominent roles and promoting top prospects.
No two organizational shifts are alike. Though financial limitations can be a driving force, so can the desire to expand payroll with free-agent additions. And sometimes, particular players are expunged because of off-the-field infractions.
Here's a slideshow preview of potentially active franchises.
Kansas City Royals (72-90)
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The Kansas City Royals will need to make space in their outfield for top prospect Wil Myers, whose power should qualify him for a starting job immediately out of spring training.
Alex Gordon is locked into a long-term contract and Lorenzo Cain is two years away from beginning arbitration. By default, veteran Jeff Francoeur—who is owed a $7.5 million salary—won't be returning.
The composition of the five-man rotation will change, beginning with the dismissal of right-hander Luke Hochevar. He led Major League Baseball in earned runs allowed and obviously isn't deserving of a raise. Hochevar is definitely a non-tender candidate, explains Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors.
Trading Jonathan Broxton and Jose Mijares at midseason compromised the Royals bullpen. Though a deal is in the works to bring back former closer Joakim Soria (via Bob Dutton, The Kansas City Star), expect the front office to also consider other experienced, free-agent relievers.
Baltimore Orioles (93-69)
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Joe Saunders' stock is on the rise considering his September/October performance.
Though the Baltimore Orioles might add starting pitching, they'll likely explore alternatives who aren't quite so reliant on inducing contact. Hitter-friendly Camden Yards tends to punish those individuals over the course of a season.
Rob Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports that rookie Manny Machado has impressed GM Dan Duquette at third base. That sentiment leaves Wilson Betemit susceptible to being traded.
Southpaw Randy Wolf is obviously gone after tearing an elbow ligament.
Jim Thome is a fit with just about any franchise as a DH or pinch-hitter. He may stay in baseball for another year, but there's no guarantee that he'll re-sign with the O's.
Detroit Tigers (88-74)
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Probable free-agent departures include Jose Valverde (a Scott Boras client) and Delmon Young. The Detroit Tigers have excellent internal replacements for both (Al Alburquerque and Victor Martinez, respectively).
It's tougher to make a call on Anibal Sanchez, who the team values as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. Ultimately, I expect one of the non-contenders in desperate need of a makeover to overpay for him.
Brennan Boesch (.240/.286/.372 in 503 PA) is not assured a new contract. Even Rick Porcello's future in Motown is in doubt (226 H in 176.1 IP).
Chicago White Sox (85-77)
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Infielder Orlando Hudson and pitchers Philip Humber and Francisco Liriano ought to be thrown to the curb for other teams to gamble with.
The Chicago White Sox, meanwhile, are focused on retaining free agents Jake Peavy, A.J. Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis. It's hard to imagine team president Kenny Williams going three-for-three as the organization juggles several preexisting long-term commitments.
Williams told Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com that Brett Myers could be used as a starter if the team exercised its $10 million option.
Of course, that would create a glaring vacancy in the White Sox bullpen and necessitate another roster move.
Miami Marlins (69-93)
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The Miami Marlins began blowing up their underachieving team at the non-waiver trade deadline, most notably by moving Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez.
But they aren't done yet.
Carlos Zambrano has an expiring contract and no place in Miami's future plans. He wants to work as a starter, Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel reports, but the Fish have plenty of younger rotation candidates.
Likewise, Carlos Lee is a poor fit. His .410 slugging percentage since 2010 suggests that he's no longer a power bat.
Heath Bell and John Buck are sell-low possibilities.
Chicago Cubs (61-101)
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Alfonso Soriano and the Chicago Cubs are mutually interested in breaking up, Doug Padilla writes on ESPNChicago.com. The only potential roadblock is the cooperation of another MLB club.
But coming off a campaign where he played 151 games and drove in a career-high 108 runs, something can surely be arranged.
First baseman/outfielder Bryan LaHair is another trade candidate. He tells Padilla that there's "a 50-50 chance" of him getting dealt.
MLB.com's Carrie Muskrat reports that the rebuilding Cubs will also be active in free agency. They could conceivably sign available veterans and flip them for prospects at midseason.
Cleveland Indians (68-94)
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It's time for the Tribe to cut ties with a trio of 2007 heroes—Travis Hafner, Roberto Hernandez and Grady Sizemore. Each of them battled injuries this year.
First baseman Casey Kotchman admitted that the Cleveland Indians are unlikely to re-sign him (Paul Hoynes, The Plain Dealer). This was the second time in three seasons that he finished with a mediocre 73 OPS+ (adjusted to the player's ballpark).
Beyond that, there's plenty of incentive to trade closer Chris Perez. He lashed out at Indians fans for their fair-weather support and ownership for its frugality. His 2013 salary could rise above $6 million after he went 39-for-43 in save opportunities this season.
With outfielder Shin-Soo Choo one year away from free agency, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes that general manager Chris Antonetti will listen to trade offers.
Los Angeles Angels (89-73)
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Finishing third in a four-team division was an unacceptable result for the heavily hyped Los Angeles Angels.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that "there will be significant changes this winter." He identifies five major league players—led by starting pitchers Dan Haren and Ervin Santana—who are likely to be let go.
Peter Bourjos and Kendrys Morales are trade bait, with the latter doubling as a non-tender candidate considering his lack of plate discipline. Vernon Wells should be shopped more aggressively than either of them, though his pitiful statistics and enormous salary make him practically immovable.
New York Mets (74-88)
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Team sources tell Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that "no one on the roster is safe" from being included in a trade.
The Ike Davis-to-Boston rumors persist, though the New York Mets plan to request a huge package. It isn't a forgone conclusion, but count on Lucas Duda taking over at first base if and when Davis is dealt.
New York's free-agent class includes relievers Ramon Ramirez and Jon Rauch, both of whom are "expected to depart." Right-handed power bat Scott Hairston may be out of their price range after posting a career-best .803 OPS.
Plus, Rubin's source says that Mike Pelfrey and Andres Torres will inevitably be non-tendered.
Boston Red Sox (69-93)
Mere hours into the offseason, the Boston Red Sox severed their relationship with manager Bobby Valentine.
Numerous players are poised to follow him out the door.
Obviously, James Loney (.230/.364/.310 in 106 PA) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-7, 8.28 ERA) shall seek major league contracts elsewhere.
Outfielder Cody Ross could move on, too. "I'm at the point where I want to win," he said to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, but GM Ben Cherington admitted that he isn't sure if the Red Sox will contend in 2013 (via MLB Trade Rumors).
Alfredo Aceves had an awful campaign and won't necessarily return. At one point, he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, and in September, he reportedly got into a shouting match with franchise cornerstone Dustin Pedroia.
The Red Sox should be pursuing significant free agents with their available payroll, especially starting pitchers to replace Aaron Cook and Matsuzaka in the rotation.