1 Player Every Team Must Cut Ties With
Select players on every MLB team should be severed from their current franchises. Some hinder progress with bloated contracts, while others block the paths of cheap and capable prospects.
Either way, expect changes across baseball this offseason.
The list focuses exclusively on non-free agents who currently have spots on 40-man rosters.
They all campaigned for retention (election season pun), but don't seem likely to get it.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton
He's going to perform better next season, and everybody knows it. The Arizona Diamondbacks won't have any trouble getting a stellar package in return for the 25-year-old.
Paul Goldschmidt, Aaron Hill, Miguel Montero and others will capably compensate for the loss of Justin Upton's bat. Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall says he has an "abundance of players" in the outfield (courtesy of MLB.com), so surely there's a defensive replacement among them.
Meanwhile, the money that had previously been committed to him can go to a starting pitcher (e.g. Kyle Lohse or Anibal Sanchez).
Atlanta Braves: Jair Jurrjens
Chipper Jones retired, and Michael Bourn will likely leave via free agency. Brian McCann's status for Opening Day 2013 is uncertain following shoulder surgery.
Obviously, the Atlanta Braves need to pool their resources and buff up the offense.
Retaining Jair Jurrjens (3-4, 6.89 ERA, 1.86 WHIP) shouldn't be a priority.
The Braves could easily find a more consistent, less expensive veteran on the free-agent market.
Baltimore Orioles: Robert Andino
Oft-injured second baseman Brian Roberts is under contract for one more season.
Robert Andino saw action as his primary fill-in last season, but the team recently claimed Alexi Casilla off waivers. Both are due to earn near-identical salaries through the arbitration process (via Matt Swartz, MLB Trade Rumors).
Compared to Andino, the latter is a much better contact hitter and base-stealer. Their ages and defensive skills are similar.
The O's should abandon the weaker option.
Boston Red Sox: Alfredo Aceves
Alfredo Aceves has the versatility to pitch in multiple roles, but the Boston Red Sox could do without his "high maintenance," writes Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe.
CBS Boston reminds us that he clashed with manager Bobby Valentine and teammate Dustin Pedroia during 2012.
For the franchise to rise from the AL East cellar, it needs to rebuild the pitching staff. Boston has reportedly made Aceves available with the hope of receiving a younger, high-ceiling arm in exchange.
Chicago Cubs: Alfonso Soriano
The last remnants of the pre-Theo Epstein Chicago Cubs need to go.
Matt Garza is more likely to be dealt this summer after a triceps injury forced him to spend all of August and September on the disabled list. Meanwhile, Alfonso Soriano's trade value will never be higher (32 HR and 108 RBI in 2012).
The veteran outfielder enjoys his current team, but has admitted about a zillion times that he would prefer to play for a contender. Nobody in the organization believes the Cubs will be one next year, so there's little sense in them paying the $36 million remaining on his contract.
Trading him would mean salary relief and much-needed prospects.
Chicago White Sox: Philip Humber
Extracting Philip Humber's perfect game reveals just how poorly he pitched in 2012.
The Chicago White Sox have a surplus of options to comprise their starting rotation. In fact, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports that they may move arms to fill holes elsewhere on the roster.
Humber is expected to earn a not-so-outrageous salary. The White Sox pray that there's a team who sees enough potential in him to discuss a trade.
Cincinnati Reds: Drew Stubbs
Billy Hamilton is among baseball's top prospects. The switch-hitting 22-year-old could make an immediate impact atop the Cincinnati Reds batting order.
His skills are best utilized in center field, according to Bill Bavasi, VP of scouting and player development (h/t MLB.com's Mark Sheldon).
Arbitration-eligible Drew Stubbs mans the position for the major league team, though he has sharply regressed since his stellar 2010 campaign. Non-tendering him or finding a trade partner would open Hamilton's path...and save the Reds a couple million dollars.
Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez
His comments last season offended everybody from fans to ownership.
Closer Chris Perez will earn more than he deserves through arbitration—about $7 million (via Matt Swatrz, MLB Trade Rumors)—because of his saves total. The financially-strapped Cleveland Indians shouldn't let their payroll be dictated by an overrated reliever who doesn't like his situation.
Because he's under team control for 2013 and 2014, the Tribe can get a formidable package of players to accelerate the rebuilding process.
Colorado Rockies: Eric Young Jr.
MLB.com's Thomas Harding suggests that the Colorado Rockies "could use outfielders as trading pieces" as a means of acquiring legitimate pitching (a la the Arizona Diamondbacks).
Eric Young Jr. wouldn't bring back a huge haul, but other teams might have use for his blazing speed and improved defense.
Barring another team-wide injury crisis, he won't get a chance to spread his wings. A move is in Colorado's best interest and his own.
Detroit Tigers: Brennan Boesch
Brennan Boesch isn't doing nearly enough at the plate to compensate for his mediocre defense. And because two other Detroit Tigers outfielders bat left-handed, the 27-year-old is a non-tender candidate.
Boesch set the bar too high for himself prior to the 2010 All-Star break (.342/.397/.593 with 12 HR). His play in the interim has essential been replacement-level.
Houston Astros: Jed Lowrie
The Houston Astros must hit rock bottom before rising to prominence with their young core. After consecutive 100-loss seasons, they still have one valuable veteran to part with.
Considering the scarcity of middle infielders on the free-agent market, shortstop Jed Lowrie should be coveted around baseball. Of course, widespread interest leads the most desperate suitors to offer their finest prospects.
It's an Alfonso Soriano situation, where a non-contender could save cash while laying the foundation for a promising future.
Kansas City Royals: Jeff Francoeur
Power-hitting outfielder Wil Myers is ready for his close-up. He impressed talent evaluators at every minor league level and awaits an MLB opportunity.
Stopgap Jeff Francoeur no longer makes sense for the Kansas City Royals, especially not at a $7.5 million salary. His free-swinging mentality proved to be a detriment in 2012.
Los Angeles Angels: Vernon Wells
The Los Angeles Angels intend to use a starting outfield of Peter Bourjos, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo.
One notable omission? Vernon Wells, the declining veteran with $42 million remaining on his monstrous contract.
His tenure with the Halos has been a total train wreck.
Wells' OPS since 2011 is worse than the league average, and L.A. managed a 29-36 record in games he started last year. To add injury to awfulness, he missed 10 weeks following midseason thumb surgery.
The Angels should leap at the opportunity to shed any of his guaranteed money because he's not even worth one of their 25-man roster spots.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Dee Gordon
Dee Gordon reached the majors with a lot of hype in 2011.
His sophomore season didn't unfold as hoped, but there's still plenty of teams who pine for a speedy, pre-arbitration eligible shortstop with big-league pedigree.
The high-rolling Los Angeles Dodgers spent lavishly to acquire Hanley Ramirez when Gordon landed on the disabled list. They are standing by that decision and would be equally competitive without their former top prospect.
Miami Marlins: Josh Johnson
Aside from James Shields, Josh Johnson is arguably the top pitcher available via trade this winter. He'll be valued like a No. 1 starter even though he didn't quite pitch to that standard in 2012.
J.J. is one year away from free agency and is risky to extend until he returns to pre-injury form.
Let him be another team's concern.
Milwaukee Brewers: Mat Gamel
The Milwaukee Brewers made some interesting discoveries after losing Mat Gamel to a torn ACL.
They learned that Corey Hart could handle first base, and Japanese acquisition Norichika Aoki had plenty of value as an everyday player.
So, where does Gamel fit now? He doesn't.
Rather, Milwaukee should shop him to the Seattle Mariners or Tampa Bay Rays. Both are clubs with offensive needs and pitching to trade.
Minnesota Twins: Nick Blackburn
Wholesale changes ought to be made to the Minnesota Twins pitching staff, beginning with Nick Blackburn. Using him in the rotation is essentially burning money.
The right-hander is extremely hittable. Always has been, always will be.
Owed a ton of money, there's only one sensible course of action: outright release.
Blackburn understands the situation (via John Shipley, TwinCities.com).
New York Mets: Ike Davis
Despite his home runs and flashy defense, Ike Davis weakens the New York Mets by starting at first base. His presence relegates Lucas Duda to the outfield, where his immobility is exposed.
Trading Davis, meanwhile, could get N.Y. back into contention as soon as 2014.
The team can return Duda to his natural position and stop conceding unnecessary runs. Parting with Davis avoids his rising arbitration costs, so payroll can alternately be used to splurge on free-agent outfielders next winter.
New York Yankees: Alex Rodriguez
New York hates Alex Rodriguez.
The former AL MVP chokes in the postseason and hamstrings his franchise with an abominable contract. After an underwhelming performance in the 2012 playoffs, the fans might never cheer for him again.
Whatever it takes, the Yankees must convince him to waive his no-trade clause.
Oakland Athletics: Coco Crisp
The Oakland Athletics always operate on a tight budget.
At $7 million, Coco Crisp will earn too much money for a reserve outfielder.
There's no drop-off in quality from Crisp to the newly-acquired Chris Young. The A's can defy the baseball gods in 2013 despite the loss of their speedy veteran.
Philadelphia Phillies: Domonic Brown
Enough is enough. Domonic Brown is a bust.
Center fielders abound on the free-agent market, and the Philadelphia Phillies must admit that their once-promising outfield prospect is inferior to all of them.
Here's the simplest sequence of moves: sign B.J. Upton, shift John Mayberry over to left and cut ties with the organization's leading underachiever.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Joel Hanrahan
Joel Hanrahan doesn't mesh with the small-market Pittsburgh Pirates anymore.
This concise explanation comes courtesy of Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors: "It doesn’t make sense for the Pirates to allocate 15% of their budget to a reliever who pitches 4% of their innings."
San Diego Padres: Edinson Volquez
The San Diego Padres appreciated Edinson Volquez in 2012 as major injuries tore through the rest of their pitching staff. Just being healthy enough to make starts every fifth day made him valuable.
But new ownership doesn't need to settle for his wildness again.
Volquez's 105 walks led Major League Baseball by a wide margin. Pitcher-friendly conditions were responsible for his solid performances at Petco Park (3 HR allowed in 100.2 IP), though he doesn't have that protection during road games (5.60 ERA, 1.65 WHIP).
San Diego's recovering internal options are much safer bets.
San Francisco Giants: Javier Lopez
The San Francisco Giants have the luxury of two quality LOOGYs: Javier Lopez and Joel Mijares.
They should only keep the cheaper player. The plan to retain Hunter Pence, re-sign Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro and make new additions doesn't work with $4.25 million going into Lopez's pocket.
It's a strong bullpen despite the subtraction.
Seattle Mariners: Chone Figgins
The Seattle Mariners won't gain anything from keeping an overpaid, sub-replacement-level player on the active roster.
They've stood by Chone Figgins for three years, but it's time for the parties to split. It's evident that the front office poorly projected his transition to Safeco Field and general decline.
Release him and eat the contract.
St. Louis Cardinals: Kyle McClellan
There's no incentive for the St. Louis Cardinals to retain Kyle McClellan as he rehabs from major surgery. Arbitration would grant him a raise from the $2.5 million he made in 2012, and the pitching staff already has great depth.
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that McClellan expects to be non-tendered.
Tampa Bay Rays: James Shields
The Tampa Bay Rays have needs to address up and down their lineup (first base, designated hitter, etc.). Making the necessary free-agent signings won't be easy with $9 million set aside for James Shields.
They can endure the departure of their No. 2 starter considering the abundance of other qualified rotation candidates in the organization. Plus, whoever wants him most would provide ample compensation.
Texas Rangers: Elvis Andrus
Shortstop Elvis Andrus will never draw more trade interest than he will this winter.
He achieved new career highs in each of the triple-slash categories. He also stayed healthy and affirmed his defensive prowess.
Meanwhile, Jurickson Profar has been groomed to inherit the starting job. Every extra day he spends in the minor leagues is unwisely allocated.
The Texas Rangers should seize the chance to exchange Andrus for multiple, high-ceiling pitching prospects.
Toronto Blue Jays: Adam Lind
GM Alex Anthopoulos expressed his displeasure with Adam Lind throughout the season. For whatever reason, the 29-year-old isn't motivated to condition himself as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Silver Slugger version of him from 2009 (.305/.370/.562 with 35 HR and 114 RBI) isn't coming back.
Washington Nationals: John Lannan
An Opening Day starter as recently as 2010, John Lannan has fallen out of favor in D.C.
Last season, the Washington Nationals kept him in Triple-A until a vacancy opened up. He won't be used by them in that capacity again now that their young rotation has been stretched out.
It's simply time to split up.