It's not easy to shock the baseball community these days.
The steroid era and continued positive tests for performance enhancing drugs have left many of us cynics, shocked only when phenomenal production is not the result of a synthetic substance, but instead the result of hard work and raw talent.
Ridiculous contracts have become the norm, and teams giving up big-time prospects to acquire stars who are past their prime—moves that never actually work out as intended—is something that has gone on for decades.
But there are still occasions when we sit down and say, "Whoa, I can't believe that just happened."
We need only look back to the trade between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers for the latest example, a move that saw more than a quarter-of-a-billion dollars in salary change hands in the blink of an eye.
In no way am I suggesting that the transactions on the pages that follow will happen, nor am I saying that they should happen—though in at least one case, I believe the move makes sense for all parties involved.
So with that in mind, I invite you to take a look at five moves that would send shockwaves through America's pastime.
Perhaps the most reviled man in the game right now, Melky Cabrera is a man without a team.
He is unlikely to return to the club that he left high-and-dry this season, the San Francisco Giants, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
A quick look at Cabrera's career gives us a pretty good idea of when he likely started using PEDs:
From 2005 through 2010, Cabrera was a .267 hitter who, over the course of a 162-game season, averaged 10 home runs and 62 RBI. Over the last two seasons, however, Cabrera was a .322 hitter who averaged 18 home runs and 89 RBI per 162 games.
While it's possible that he started to figure it all out last year, his suspension for PEDs certainly gives us more than reasonable doubt to figure out what was really behind the increase in production.
But maybe there is a general manager out there who truly believes that Cabrera is a perennial .300 hitter and that the PEDs had less of an impact on his performance than most of us think. Bad decisions aside, someone is going to take a chance on the 28-year-old.
Anything more than a one-year deal would be shocking and, in my opinion, incredibly foolish.
We looked at this scenario earlier this week, and while it's pure speculation, it makes sense for all parties involved.
While things didn't start out well for him in his return to the American League: a 6.19 ERA and 1.59 WHIP over his first five starts, he turned it on at the end of the season, going 5-0 with a 2.04 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over his last eight starts.
The Baltimore Orioles, regardless of how their playoff run ends up, are going to be looking to add a front-of-the-rotation starting pitcher to their staff this winter.
There won't be a better pitcher on the market than Zack Greinke.
Orioles owner Peter Angelos has the money to sign him, and Baltimore is a medium-sized market that could be attractive to someone like Greinke, a player who has previously struggled with social anxiety disorder.
Adding Greinke to the mix in Baltimore would not only bolster the team, but send a strong message to the rest of the league—the Orioles are back and we aren't going anywhere.
Six years, $130 million probably gets the job done.
In what will come as no surprise to anyone, Seattle Mariners' GM Jack Zduriencik was asked the same question he's been asked constantly since he was hired in October of 2008, and he gave the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo the same answer that he's given everyone:
Had to ask Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik would you trade King Felix: "No."— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) September 3, 2012
It's understandable why Zduriencik is adamant about not moving Hernandez.
Aside from being one of the five best starting pitchers in baseball, he's under contract through 2014 and moving him would rob a fan base that hasn't seen their team make the playoffs since 2001 of the biggest attraction in town.
Oh—and Felix doesn't want to leave Seattle:
King felix on seattle: "I have 2 more years on my contract. Its not my decision. But I would love to stay. I love seattle."— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 9, 2012
But what if it's the best thing for the team's long-term prospects?
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal suggested back in June that the Mariners should trade King Felix, and he took it a step further, speculating that the Kansas City Royals would be an excellent trade partner for them.
He notes that the Mariners did in fact ask the Royals about designated hitter/first baseman Billy Butler, and, while the 26-year-old All-Star wouldn't be enough on his own to get a deal done, the Royals do have plenty to offer.
Notoriously frugal Royals' owner David Glass told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that he is prepared to "do what he needs to do" to improve the club and that the team is "committed to improving our starting pitching,"
Royals' GM Dayton Moore tells Dutton that he expects the payroll to increase in 2013:
I feel like it will (be significantly higher than this year)…I''ve felt all along that we’ll always have the necessary resources to move forward and do what we need to do to improve our team.
So, here's the deal.
The Mariners send King Felix to the Royals.
The Royals send 1B/DH Billy Butler, OF Wil Myers and RHP Jake Odorizzi to the Mariners.
For the Mariners, they get two legitimate middle-of-the-order bats who immediately upgrade their lineup.
For the Royals, they get the front-line starter that they desperately need without moving Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas or catcher Salvador Perez, three players who they can continue to build a lineup around.
He's the face of the Minnesota Twins, a hometown hero, a fan-favorite and one of the most prolific hitting catchers that the game has ever seen.
But Joe Mauer will celebrate his 30th birthday in April and makes $23 million a season through 2018, a deal that comes with a full no-trade clause.
Add the fact that he's battled injuries over the past few seasons, and moving him would be nearly impossible, especially when you consider that the Twins aren't just going to give him away.
But that didn't stop anyone from speculating when the Twins placed the three-time American League batting champion on revocable waivers this past August (h/t Fox Sports).
The Boston Red Sox were widely rumored to be a potential landing spot, though they passed on submitting a claim, per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
While Mauer can play first base, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire did mention to the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Joe Christensen that he has thought about trying Mauer at third base,
Mauer told Christensen that he wasn't a fan of the idea:
Third base -- that's the first I've heard of it. haven't even wrapped my head around it, so if that is the case, hopefully I have some time to prepare for it. But I think I've said this all along: I think we're a better team when I'm behind the plate.
Rosenthal notes that before signing his contract extension with the Twins, Mauer was pushing for an opt-out to be included, just in case the Twins fell into, well, where the team finds itself now—without the pieces needed to contend.
This begs the question: could Mauer waive his no-trade clause and demand a trade?
It's unlikely, but perhaps the idea of playing a new position, coupled with the current state of the club simply becomes too much for Mauer to handle.
As first reported by CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Mets are ready to offer third baseman David Wright a multi-year extension in the neighborhood of $100 million in an attempt to keep their franchise player in Flushing for the rest of his career.
Wright, 30, has often been compared to Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, 28, who signed a six-year, $100 million extension before the 2012 season (h/t Washington Post).
But is that enough to keep the face of the franchise around?
Back in June, when Wright was putting forth a MVP-caliber season, among the league leaders in batting average and RBI, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal opined that Wright would be looking for something closer to the extensions that were given to the Colorado Rockies' Troy Tulowitizki, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp and the Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto—a deal in the neighborhood of eight-years and $150 million.
While Wright has consistently said that he is optimistic about working out a long-term deal with the Mets, what if the two sides can't agree on a deal (h/t CBS Sports)?
The Mets would certainly exercise the $16 million team option that they have on his contract for the 2013 season, but they would have to explore trade possibilities, a fact that general manager Sandy Alderson reluctantly admitted to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin:
There's a preferred time frame from a baseball standpoint. As you get further into the off-season with the uncertainty of the contract situation, then you do have to start thinking about other possibilities (trades). That's not something we're contemplating right now, but there's that inevitability.
Alderson doesn't believe that the team needs a major overhaul, telling Rubin: I'm not prepared to blow up the team and start over again. I don't think we need to do that."
But should an extension not happen, there's a deal to be made, as Wright will not lack for suitors.
Here's the deal:
The Mets trade 3B David Wright to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks trade RF Justin Upton and RHP Trevor Bauer to the Mets.
Wright gives the Diamondbacks get the third baseman they've been searching for since the days of Matt Williams and a middle-of-the-order bat to replace Upton.
In Upton, the Mets get the power-hitting outfielder they desperately need, someone who is still young (25), has limitless potential and is under contract through the 2015 season.
Bauer, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, seems to be on the wrong side of Diamondbacks' managing partner Ken Kendrick, as the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro reports:
Kendrick on Bauer: "In an employer/employee situation it’s incumbent on employee to make adjustments to satisfy the needs of the employer."— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) October 3, 2012
Bauer gives the Mets another young pitcher who is under team control for the foreseeable future and has front-of-the-rotation stuff to join Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler in what could be one of the most impressive young rotations in baseball.
Of course, there is one question left to be answered—who plays third base for the Mets in 2013?
The Mets could look to shift second baseman Daniel Muphy over to the hot corner, bringing in an inexpensive veteran to man second base on a one-year deal, such as Jeff Keppinger, Ryan Theriot, or Adam Kennedy.