MLB Trade Rumors: Re-Ranking Top 10 Impact Bats on the Market

John AltamuraContributor IINovember 7, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: Re-Ranking Top 10 Impact Bats on the Market

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    If you were a major league GM this offseason looking for an impact bat via trade who would you prefer—Allen Craig or Andre Ethier?

    How about taking a huge financial risk and trading for the much-maligned but sure-fire Hall of Famer Alex Rodriguez?

    Justin Upton, anyone?

    These names have been rumored at some time during the past couple of months as being available via trade. 

    Which one of these four names would you trade for if given the opportunity? What if your name is not on the list? Who would you like your favorite team to trade for the 2013 season?

    Let's take a look at the top 10 impact bats available this offseason via the trade market.

10. Vernon Wells, OF, Los Angeles Angels

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    The L.A. Angels are trying to move outfielder Vernon Wells, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com. 

    A possible trade of Wells would be difficult as he is still owed $42 million over the next two seasons and has a full no-trade clause. 

    Wells is an intriguing possibility as he is two years removed from an All-Star campaign where he batted .273 with 31 home runs and 88 RBI in 646 at-bats with the Toronto Blue Jays. This could be a classic example of a situation where a player just never became accustomed to their new address.

    Rosenthal also said Angels GM Jerry Dipoto would have to eat much if not all of the $42 million still owed to Wells. This element could also make the Wells reclamation project an interesting possibility for many teams.

    One team rumored, the Boston Red Sox, could become a player for Wells. Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times presented a trade idea involving a swap of Wells for the oft-injured for Angel John Lackey. 

    Wells has the potential to become a impact player again. He did hit 11 home runs in 262 at-bats in 2012. A full season coupled with a change of scenery could be just what Wells needs to become a force in the major leagues again.

9. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, Boston Red Sox

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    Could Jacoby Ellsbury be the next big name granted an one-way ticket out of Beantown?

    He could be if the Red Sox decide to trade him before he becomes a free agent at the end of the 2013 season.

    The 29-year-old center fielder spent most of the 2012 season on the disabled list with a separated shoulder. This was the second major stint on the shelf for Ellsbury in the past three seasons as he missed most of 2010 with broken ribs.

    Sean McAdam of Comcast Sportsnet New England said Ellsbury could be dealt to a team such as the Texas Rangers—who are expected to lose Josh Hamilton to free agency.

    It is hard to argue against the fact that Ellsbury is not one of the most impactful bats in MLB when healthy.  He put up solid numbers during his last full injury-free season in 2011 (.321 BA, 32 HR, 105 RBI in 158 games). 

    The real determining question will be whether or not Boston GM Ben Cherington is willing to work on a contract extension with the Scott Boras client. McAdam expects an extension would cost Boston somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million per for seven to eight years.

8. Mike Morse, OF, Washington Nationals

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    One player who could find himself in a new zip code before the start of the 2013 season is Mike Morse.

    The 30-year-old outfielder/first baseman was one of the main contributors who helped the Washington Nationals capture their first-ever NL East title and subsequent playoff berth.

    There are some people, however, who believe Morse could be traded if Nats GM Mike Rizzo re-signs first baseman Adam LaRoche.

    Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal believes that Morse would be an attractive option for teams because of his power ability (18 home runs in 2012) and his modest salary ($6.75 million) in 2013.

    There are plenty of teams who could use Morse.

    Larry Stone of the Seattle Times thinks the Mariners could be interested in bringing back Morse if Rizzo indeed makes him available for trade.

    A move for either Morse would make a lot of sense as the Mariners have been lacking for a few years in the power department. Seattle hit 149 home runs as a team in 2012—which tied them for 19th in the majors. The re-acquisition of Morse would undoubtedly improve those numbers and provide a tangible impact bat to go along with Kyle Seager, Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero.   

7. Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers

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    Will Elvis be leaving the big baseball building in Arlington sometime soon?

    There is a good chance incumbent Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus could be leaving the Metroplex area this offseason to make room for wunderkind prospect Jurickson Profar.

    Stan McNeal of SportingNews.com believes the Rangers may be willing to listen to offers for Andrus. He could be an attractive trade possibility for many teams as there is not a large free-agent market this offseason at the shortstop position. The $11.3 million left on his contract could also prove attractive to potential suitors.  

    Andrus, 24, had a good season in 2012 for the Rangers, posting a .286 BA with 63 RBI and 21 steals. He also had 180 hits in 711 at-bats—a career high.

    In the case of Andrus, his impact is felt inside and outside the batter's box. A trade of Andrus would not be a surprise and could benefit a team looking for steady play up the middle. 

6. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Cleveland Indians

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    One surprising name that could be available this offseason is Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

    The two-time defending AL All-Star has had two strong seasons in a row for the Indians. He finished 2012 with a .270 BA with 16 home runs and 68 RBI. His efforts, however, were not enough to keep the Indians from having another poor season as they finished fourth in the AL Central with a 68-94 record.

    Wholesale changes are already afoot on the shores of Lake Erie as they recently hired Terry Francona and made their first significant roster move by adding former Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Mike Aviles.

    The Aviles acquisition could open the door ever so slightly for a potential Cabrera trade. Trading the 26-year-old rising star may not be a very popular move with the Tribe faithful, but his value could bring back several building blocks in return.

    Mike Brandyberry of the Cleveland Plain Dealer believes Indians GM Chris Antonetti could consider trading Cabrera if the right deal presented itself.

    "We have to open-minded and listen to how teams value our guys," Antonetti said in the end-of-the-season press conference via Cleveland.com. "We're not necessarily looking to move anyone, but we have to be open-minded, not just with our Major League roster, but our entire organization. If there is a deal that makes sense for us, we'll move."

    There are a couple of teams who could be interested and have the prospects readily available to trade for Cabrera. Brandyberry believes the New York Mets, Arizona Diamondbacks and the Boston Red Sox could all be in play for Cabrera’s services.

    Any team who is able to pry Cabrera away from the Indians would be receiving a capable bat that has a .279 career batting average.  

5. Josh Willingham, LF, Minnesota Twins

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    One impact bat who could be available via trade could be Minnesota Twins left fielder Josh Willingham.

    The 33-year-old Alabama native was one of the bright spots in what was a mostly dismal season for the Twins, who finished dead last in the AL Central with a 66-96 record.

    Who could be interested in Willingham?

    According to Alex Speier of WEEI.com, there could be some interest from the Boston Red Sox. One determining factor here could be whether or not the Red Sox decide to retain Cody Ross, who is a free agent. Ross and Willingham are known to be friends and spent time playing together with the Miami Marlins. 

    Willingham would provide the Red Sox some pop and outfield versatility. His numbers from 2012 were pretty good as he hit .260, with 35 home runs and 100 RBI. From an impact standpoint, his right-handed power would bode well with the short Fenway left-field wall.

    His $7 million-per-year price tag could also be real attractive to Boston as the Sox continue to stay away from high-priced stars.

4. Justin Upton, RF, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Justin Upton is one impact bat who would undoubtedly bring home a king's ransom in talent if he was ever offered up in trade.

    Upton—who is just 25—has shown the ability to hit both home runs and to collect extra-base hits. His outfield versatility and speed would also be attractive to potential suitors willing to offer up a trade for the star.

    Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers is "intrigued by the thought" of moving Upton, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Upton has $38.5 million left on his contract that is set to expire at the end of the 2015 season.

    A team who could be interested in trading for Upton is the Boston Red Sox. According to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, Upton is one of the players Boston GM Ben Cherington should be targeting.

    And why not, as Upton is young and could provide an impact both offensively (24 home runs-per-year average) and defensively—especially if they decide to trade the oft-injured Jacoby Ellsbury.

3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees

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    Alex Rodriguez?

    There are plenty of baseball fans and executives who would not be interested in trading for the aging New York Yankees third baseman. His 2012 postseason performance was abysmal as he batted .120 with a .305 OPS in 25 at-bats. His regular-season numbers were ordinary as he hit .272 with 18 home runs and 57 RBI.

    Still, there are also some people who believe that Rodriguez could have a career renaissance if he was traded to a new club.

    Mike Berardino of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel thinks Rodriguez could draw more interest from potential trade suitors, including the Marlins if the Yankees eat some of the approximately $115 million left on his contract.

    Rodriguez still has the potential to be one of the most impactful bats in the league. His last 30-home run, 100-RBI season came in 2010 when he played in 137 games.

    Rodriguez is a high-risk, high-reward player. It will be interesting to see whether or not any teams are willing to roll the dice.

2. Andre Ethier, RF, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Could Andre Ethier be available for trade?

    This is one of the crazy notions that has been batted around for Ethier—who signed a five-year, $85 million contract extension earlier this year.

    Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com believes the new Dodgers ownership group may be open to trading Ethier—especially if they are interested in making a run at free agent Josh Hamilton.

    If Ethier does indeed become available he would be one of premier impactful bats on the trade market. One stat Rosenthal highlighted that would make Ethier very attractive to potential suitors is his .945 OPS against righties—which led the NL.

1. Allen Craig, 1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals

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    The best impact bat that could be available on the trade market this offseason is St. Louis Cardinals
    first baseman Allen Craig.

    The 27-year-old emerging star batted .307 with 22 home runs and 92 RBI in 2012. He is also shown the
    ability to play a variety of defensive roles, including second base and outfield.

    Bob Lutz of Kansas.com believes that there is a good chance that Craig could be traded. He said the Cardinals could find a spot in the lineup for "plus-hitter" Matt Carpenter. He also believes Matt Adams could emerge and become a future star at first base. These two factors would contribute to the possibility of the Cardinals trading Craig in efforts to rebuild the team.

    Craig would be an intriguing move for a team looking for both power and defensive versatility. He also won't be eligible for free agency until 2017.