What's the latest on Andre Ethier?
Now that the World Series is over, baseball fans will have to be content to obsess over free-agency rumors for the next couple of months.
Don't forget all the trade rumors, though. They won't be as plentiful as free-agency rumors throughout the winter, but they'll definitely be out there. Some of them could end up bearing some rather interesting fruit.
The trade-rumor mill is already starting to spin. There are rumors out there that the Los Angeles Dodgers may trade All-Star right fielder Andre Ethier and that the Los Angeles Angeles may trade Dan Haren or Ervin Santana, or maybe even Haren and Santana.
And of course, there's the Alex Rodriguez situation. After the postseason he just had, there's a slight possibility that he will be moved this winter.
Here's a look at the latest chatter from around the internets.
When the New York Yankees are in the playoffs, it often feels like the only thing in the world that really matters is the fact that the Yankees are in the playoffs.
...At least until a rumor that Alex Rodriguez may be on the trading block comes out of left field.
Such was the case during the American League Championship Series when Keith Olbermann reported via his MLB blog that the Yankees and the Miami Marlins had discussed an A-Rod trade. In response, the baseball world pretty much freaked out.
Things have calmed down since then. Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com has reported that A-Rod and Joe Girardi are on speaking terms again, and the most recent word from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is that interest in A-Rod around the league has yet to pick up:
No teams have called yet to ask about a trade for Alex Rodriguez.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) October 26, 2012
Makes sense. Who would want a washed-up third baseman with $114 million remaining on his contract, not to mention one who collected only three hits in the postseason?
Before you ask, it's debatable whether A-Rod is even worth taking on for free at this point. Free players are only awesome when they're producing.
The A-Rod rumors probably won't go away entirely this winter, but all signs point towards him staying in New York for the 2013 season. He has no trade value and no suitors, so the odds of a trade happening are somewhere between slim and none.
After all the calling around they did in July and August, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Dodgers would be surfacing in trade rumors this winter.
One just figured that the rumors to come would have them bringing star plays in, not sending them out.
But that could indeed be the case. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, star right fielder Andre Ethier is a candidate to be traded:
Sources: Dodgers are open to the idea of dealing Andre Ethier. He signed a five-year, $85 million contract during the season.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 30, 2012
Ethier hit a solid .284/.351/.460 with 20 homers and 89 RBI in 2012. His contract isn't cheap, but it's by no means immovable either. As far as trade chips go, he's a pretty good one.
But will he be traded?
It doesn't sound like it. Jon Heyman got on the horn with his Dodgers sources after Olney's report came out, and one of them said that an Ethier deal is "not happening."
Color me not surprised. I can see the Dodgers possibly trading Ethier for a quality starting pitcher, but they'd have to eat some of his contract in order to do business with small-market teams. If they'd rather not do that, then they'd be limited to discussing Ethier trades with teams that have money to spare, and not all of those teams have pitching that they can spare.
Besides, the Dodgers can just go out and buy players to fill the needs that they have. They don't need to trade off any of their star players.
The Angels have some tough decisions to make this winter in regards to their starting rotation. Prized trade-deadline acquisition Zack Greinke is a free agent, and the Angels also have expensive options to consider for Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.
Before the Angels decide to just decline each pitcher's option, they're doing the smart thing by seeing what they might be able to get for them.
According to Jon Heyman (yeah, you'll be hearing a lot from him this winter), Angels GM Jerry DiPoto is busy discussing possible trades for Haren and Santana. It's going to be tough for DiPoto to get anything significant for either one of them, but one rival executive said that the trade talks are "very real.''
The Angels need to find takers for Haren and Santana by Wednesday, as MLB's rules state that decisions on options are due three days after the end of the World Series.
If the Angels can't find takers for either one of them, they can either pay Haren $15.5 million and Santana $13 million, or they can pay a total of $4.5 million to buy them out.
Between the two of them, my guess is that the Angels will have an easier time finding a taker for Haren due to his strong track record. Though he was plagued by back problems throughout the 2012 season, he did show flashes of his old self here and there.
Of course, any team that actually wants Haren and/or Santana could just wait for the Angels to decline their options and then sign them as free agents. There's surely a few clubs out there who have exactly that in mind.
Either way, the situation will be resolved soon enough.
Who's the best shortstop in baseball these days?
Troy Tulowitzki gets my vote...When he's healthy.
The trouble with Tulo is that staying healthy has been a struggle over the last couple years. This is a distressing reality for a Rockies team that has Tulo signed to a lucrative long-term contract. Might they try and get rid of his contract this winter and move forward with a full rebuild?
Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post recently noted that it could happen. While he's been assured by Rockies officials that the club is not actively trying to trade Tulo, Renck says that clubs are sure to come calling about him anyway and that nothing should be considered an impossibility.
For what it's worth, Renck says that the Red Sox, Angels and Cardinals are possible suitors.
Admittedly, this is not so much a rumor as it is Renck speculating, but his thoughts add up. Because of his injury problems and both the length and the weight of his contract, the Rockies would be foolish to turn away teams interested in dealing for Tulo. The three clubs Renck mentions as good fits for Tulo strike me as good fits as well.
Particularly the Red Sox. I'm skeptical as to whether they'd be willing to take on a high-priced player after ditching a handful of high-priced players back in August, especially one who would come with durability concerns. However, they have more than enough room on their payroll for Tulo, and they definitely need a shortstop.
There's nothing concrete going on here at the moment, but the situation could develop sometime in the next couple months. Stay tuned.
The Mariners pulled off one of the biggest shockers of last year's offseason when they dealt Michael Pineda to the Yankees for Jesus Montero.
The Mariners ended up getting the better end of that deal. Pineda was lost for the year before the season even started with a shoulder injury. Though Montero's overall numbers were lacking, he did post a solid .768 OPS away from Safeco Field. With Safeco's fences coming in next season, Montero is one of many Mariners breakout candidates.
But the Mariners need more offense if they want to compete in 2013 and beyond, and they might just trade another young pitcher away to get some.
Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times took in a recent AFL start by Mariners youngster James Paxton, and he noted that Mariners personnel had plenty of company in the stands:
But sprinkled in the seats around them, unremarkable to all but the most-seasoned baseball-watchers, was a plethora of scouts from the Kansas City Royals. They nodded their heads as Paxton struck out the side in the first inning, then fanned two more batters in a three-frame debut that saw him allow just a walk and a bloop single.
The Royals are in need of pitching, while the Mariners could use one of the bats—Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, to name two—that Kansas City seems to have a surplus of. And so, as the pitcher who is perhaps the most big league ready of any of Seattle's so-called 'Big Three' minor leaguers goes about blowing away all comers, it isn't just the Mariners taking notes.
Trading young pitchers is something clubs are hesitant to do, but the Mariners are in a better position than most to trade a young hurler. Even if they deal Paxton, they'll still have Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker, both of whom are very highly regarded.
It comes as no surprise that the Royals are interested in Paxton. They have some good young hitters and a highly underrated bullpen, but they desperately need starting pitchers. They and the Mariners seem to be natural trade partners.
Regardless of where he ends up, it's a good bet that Paxton will start the 2013 season in the majors.
Fair warning: This is a trade-rumors piece, but this next tidbit is entirely speculation.
I'm including it because it's very good speculation that could actually lead to something.
As reported by David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Braves decided to pick up three options on Tuesday. Brian McCann, Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm will all be in Atlanta in 2013.
With Hudson and Maholm back in the fold for 2013, the Braves have more starting pitchers than they know what to do with. In addition to the two of them, they have Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Tommy Hanson, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran to work with. Brandon Beachy will be ready to come back from Tommy John surgery sometime in the middle of the season.
In a post on ESPN's Insider rumor mill, Jason A. Churchill wondered aloud if the Braves might use some of their pitching depth to fill their needs elsewhere via a trade or two. Depending on what happens with the club's free agents, Frank Wren could need to find a new left fielder, center fielder and/or a new third baseman this winter.
The Braves aren't the type to go out and spend exorbitant amounts of money on free agents. It's more like them to find the best value for their money, and it's oftentimes easier to do that with trades than with free-agent signings.
If the Braves do trade one of their pitchers, Mike Minor (pictured) is the best candidate. He has some solid trade value after posting a 2.16 ERA in the second half of the 2012 season. He's also only 24 years old and is not due to hit free agency until 2018.
If somebody goes, it will probably be him.
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