MLB Trade, Free-Agent Rumors: Ranking Top 50 Rumors from Least to Most Probable
"Rumors aren't interested in the unsensational story; rumors don't care what's true.”
That was a quote utilized by famed author John Irving in his 13th novel, In One Person. And the phrase certainly fits when it comes to rumors heard in Major League Baseball.
Most rumors that are generated in MLB are centered around some type of movement, whether it be through free agency or via the trade market. It doesn't necessarily matter how the rumors get started, but once they do, they spread like wildfire through the blogosphere and social media networks.
Irving is absolutely correct in saying that rumors don't care about the truth; however, they do serve to generate tremendous interest among fans who are pining through the winter months waiting for baseball to begin anew.
Less than three weeks have passed since the end of the 2012 season, and rumors have already run rampant regarding the possible destinations of free agents and trade candidates.
I will attempt to weave my way through 50 of the hottest rumors that have been circulating through the World Wide Web. The rumors will be ranked according to plausibility—is it complete bunk, or is there a ring of truth surrounding the rumor?
Let's take a look.
50. Arizona Diamondbacks Will Trade Prospect Pitcher Trevor Bauer
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The Arizona Diamondbacks have already started the process of reworking their roster for the 2013 season. Center fielder Chris Young was dealt to the Oakland Athletics as part of a three-team trade that netted reliever Heath Bell and infielder Cliff Pennington for the D-Backs.
General manager Kevin Towers likely isn't anywhere close to done in his quest to bolster his roster. But one report that recently popped up just wreaked of an unsubstantiated rumor.
Last week, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweeted this little ditty:
While Justin Upton's name makes the rounds as trade candidate, sources say #dbacks will also listen on pitcher Trevor Bauer— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 7, 2012
Seriously? Trevor Bauer did raise some eyebrows with his debut this summer. He had communication issues with catcher Miguel Montero and was resistant to changing his style to adapt to big league hitters.
Diamondbacks team president Derrick Hall was quick to point out that despite Bauer's rocky start, the Diamondbacks will not part with their prized prospect.
"Teams are assuming after the bumpy start that Trevor had that we may be looking to move him, and we are not. We are not shopping him," Hall said. "Again, if they ask, (GM Kevin Towers') response is 'Hey, we are willing to listen,' and that's what's happened here. Trevor has a bright future."
This has absolutely zero shot at happening.
Possible or Laughable? Completely laughable.
49. Josh Hamilton Signs with Seattle Mariners
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There are going to be a lot of crazy rumors surrounding possible landing spots for free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton.
This is one of them.
Last week, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Seattle Mariners are one of the teams said to have interest in Hamilton.
According to Heyman:
Meanwhile, the Mariners are a new and sensical entry. "If the right bat's available, we're going to have to talk about it," Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said. "We're going to have several discussions with agents."
The Mariners played better than .500 ball over the last 2½ months of the season. But they need offensive help, especially at the corners.
"We have to be flexible," Zduriencik said.
Zduriencik is right—the Mariners do need to be flexible. They have registered the fewest runs scored in the American League for the past four seasons.
But they need a lot more than just Hamilton to dramatically increase production. Tying up Hamilton with a sizable contract severely limits their ability to find other bats beyond him.
Possible or Laughable? Laughable, in my humble opinion. I see the Mariners signing bats, but more along the lines of several bats at a much more affordable cost.
48. Los Angeles Dodgers Will Trade Andre Ethier
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During the 2012 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers inked right fielder Andre Ethier to a five-year, $85 million contract extension. Presumably, they liked the idea of Ethier and Matt Kemp representing two-thirds of their outfield for the foreseeable future.
Rumors, however, suggest otherwise.
Late last month, ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that the Dodgers would be open to discussing a deal involving Ethier:
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
Ah, yes—those inside "sources."
Last Saturday, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times was told by his sources that trading Ethier is not part of the Dodgers' plans this offseason:
Andre Ethier is not on the trading block, I'm told.— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) November 10, 2012
I guess it all depends on how reliable the "sources" are.
Possible or Laughable? Have to call this laughable. Very few teams would be willing to take on a freshly-inked $85 million contract and give up a sizable package in return.
47. Torii Hunter Signs with New York Yankees
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Speculation concerning outfielder Torii Hunter has gained steam in recent weeks.
According to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com, as many as 13-14 teams have interest in the 37-year-old right fielder.
One of those teams is apparently the New York Yankees.
The Yankees will be looking to replace Nick Swisher in right field. However, they also need to get younger.
With Hunter apparently looking for a two-year deal, I definitely don't see the Yankees in play for Hunter's services.
Possible or Laughable? Have to call this laughable. With the Yankees, anything is possible, but Hunter on a two-year deal to New York isn't happening.
Update: Hunter agreed to a two-year, $26 million contract with the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday.
46. Shortstop Jed Lowrie Will Be Traded by the Houston Astros
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The shortstop position is not well-represented in the free-agent market this offseason. With few options available, teams are more likely to fill needs via the trade route.
One name who continues popping up in rumors is Houston Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie.
Lowrie put forth a slash line of .244/.331/.438 last season for Houston, clubbing 16 homers in 387 plate appearances. However, Lowrie was once again bit by the injury bug—ankle and thumb injuries limited him to just 97 games.
Lowrie has made six trips to the disabled list since 2009 and has yet to play in more than 100 games in any one season.
However, with the Astros' move to the AL West next season, they aren't looking to unload productive bats.
ESPN's Buster Olney agrees:
Other teams have expressed interest in Jed Lowrie, but Astros intent on keeping him unless they are completely overwhelmed.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 13, 2012
Possible or Laughable? I won't call this laughable, but it's definitely highly unlikely.
45. Kevin Youkilis Signs with Philadelphia Phillies
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Third baseman Kevin Youkilis is drawing a lot of interest already this offseason, especially in a market largely devoid of productive corner infielders.
According to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, at least six teams have interest in Youkilis, including the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies certainly have a need now that they've declined the option on 37-year-old Placido Polanco's contract for the 2013 season.
However, the Phillies have seen more than their share of downtime from a 30-something player at the hot corner. Are they really going to take a chance with another?
Youkilis will be 34 years old by the time Opening Day arrives, and he has certainly seen his share of down time in recent seasons as well. In addition, Youkilis' .745 OPS in 2012 was the lowest of his career.
Possible or Laughable? Definitely calling this one laughable. The Phillies are another team looking to get younger and more athletic.
44. Mike Napoli Signs with New York Yankees
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Free-agent catcher Mike Napoli is drawing considerable interest this offseason as well and is considered valuable because of his versatility.
On Monday, Bob Nightengale of USAToday.com tweeted that the New York Yankees were one of the teams that expressed interest:
Shockingly enough, the Boston Red Sox are interested in Napoli as well.
Can anyone else sniff this one out?
The Yankees and Red Sox certainly have a storied history in terms of one or the other expressing interest in a player just for the sole purpose of driving up their price. I can see the Red Sox having a legitimate interest, but not the Yankees.
Possible or Laughable? This is laughable. The Yankees could keep Russell Martin at a much cheaper rate at this point. With the stable of young catchers in their farm system, I don't see the Yankees making a long-term offer for any catcher.
43. Josh Hamilton Signs with Philadelphia Phillies
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The Philadelphia Phillies currently carry three players with salaries of $20 million or more (Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard) for the 2013 season.
In addition, Cole Hamels and Chase Utley are owed a combined $34.5 million.
Are they really ready to add another to that list? According to Buster Olney of ESPN, they apparently are:
The Phillies are OK with the high annual salary that Josh Hamilton might command, but they have concerns about the length of the deal.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 12, 2012
If I'm a Phillies fan, I'd have concerns with both the money and length of the deal.
The Phillies already have $123.5 million committed to just seven players in 2013. Add in another potential $20 million contract with Hamilton, and you have a team that clearly will be over the luxury-tax threshold.
In addition, they'll still have holes to fill at third base, the bullpen and additional help for the outfield.
Possible or Laughable? Laughable. The length of the deal I can certainly see the Phillies having concerns with. But the annual average value absolutely has to be an issue as well, can't see how it isn't.
42. Zack Greinke Signs with Texas Rangers
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The Texas Rangers are a team with needs this offseason. Aside from whether or not Josh Hamilton returns to Texas, the Rangers have holes to fill at catcher and in their bullpen.
However, they're also taking a hard look at free-agent starting pitcher Zack Greinke.
In fact, Rangers owner Nolan Ryan—who knows a thing or two about pitching—believes that Greinke is the prototypical durable pitcher.
"When I look at him, I don’t get concerns about breaking down because he has a good delivery and it’s effortless and he has a feel for pitching," Ryan said. "You’d probably feel stronger about him as far as a longevity candidate than maybe some of the power guys. That’s my initial thoughts when I watch him."
Pretty heady thoughts coming from a guy who lasted for 26 seasons in the majors.
Possible or Laughable? Well, it is possible, but I don't see any way that Angels GM Jerry Dipoto allows himself to get outbid by the rival Rangers.
41. Jason Bay Signs with Boston Red Sox
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With left fielder Jason Bay and the New York Mets agreeing to end their relationship, Bay will now look to resurrect his career.
Despite his three years of misery and disappointment in New York, Bay will draw interest in a free-agent market not particularly strong in corner outfielders.
One of the teams interested, according to Buster Olney of ESPN, is one of Bay's former teams, the Boston Red Sox:
The Red Sox are among the teams in contact with Jason Bay, as he considers his options for 2013. Looking for opportunity, familiarity.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 13, 2012
Bay did enjoy the best offensive year of his career in his lone full season with the Sox in 2009.
Possible or Laughable? I'm calling this one laughable. Bay is now three years removed from that terrific year in Boston. Now 34 years old and with a spate of injuries that has been added to his resume over the past three years, I don't see Boston taking a chance.
40. Giancarlo Stanton Is Traded by Miami Marlins
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Following the blockbuster trade on Tuesday between the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins, it's safe to say that Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton was a bit unhappy by what transpired:
Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain & Simple— Giancarlo Stanton (@Giancarlo818) November 13, 2012
There's no question that teams will pounce on this, figuring the Marlins might be so inclined to deal their young slugger and franchise star as well.
In fact, Chad Finn of the The Boston Globe implored the Boston Red Sox to immediately ask about Stanton's availability:
If the Red Sox, who begin what they hope will be an accelerated rebuilding with deep pockets and a deep farm system, want to see what else the Marlins might sell, here's an easy hypothetical that is probably pure fantasy, but one Cherington is required to look into nonetheless. He needs to call the Marlins and find out if Giancarlo Stanton can be had.
No doubt other writers for teams across baseball are thinking the same thing.
Possible or Laughable? Laughable. Teams can ask, but the Marlins will say no, at least when it concerns Stanton. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com wrote on Wednesday that the Marlins indeed will not be dealing Stanton this winter.
39. R.A. Dickey Gets Traded by New York Mets
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New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey is the National League Cy Young Award winner, but he's waiting on news of whether or not he'll be a Met next spring.
At the GM meetings last week in Indian Wells, Calif., Mets general manager Sandy Alderson didn't exactly dispel the apparent Dickey trade rumors.
"It would be a little unusual to trade a Cy Young winner," Alderson said. "But I can remember a time (with the A's) when we traded for the leading hitter in the National League. So it happens."
Alderson was referring to outfielder Willie McGee, dealt at the non-waiver trade deadline by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Oakland A's.
Possible or Laughable? I won't go so far as to call it laughable, but I would call it highly improbable.
Owner Jeff Wilpon said on Tuesday that the Mets remain intent on signing Dickey long term, but options could be explored:
Jeff Wilpon says the Mets remain focused on signing Wright and RA, but adds they'd be remiss to not explore the trade market in the process.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) November 13, 2012
I see the Mets hanging on to Dickey at this point, but I could see him being dealt before the trade deadline next season if the Mets become sellers at that point.
38. Anibal Sanchez Is Signed by Toronto Blue Jays
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With the blockbuster deal that transpired on Tuesday between the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos clearly met his goal of adding impact starting pitchers to his rotation.
So what of the rumors regarding the Blue Jays' interest in signing free-agent pitcher Anibal Sanchez?
Possible or Laughable? More laughable than possible at this point.
Sanchez is apparently seeking a six-year, $90 million contract based in part on his performance during the postseason for the Detroit Tigers. Considering the fact that the Blue Jays took on $167.75 million in additional payroll with their blockbuster trade, that could very well take them out of the Sanchez bidding.
37. Asdrubal Cabrera Gets Traded by Cleveland Indians
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Any time a team loses 94 games, it's going to be taking a hard look at its roster and evaluate needs for the following season in order to avoid a repeat.
The Cleveland Indians are certainly undergoing a complete assessment of their roster this offseason.
Last week, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com revealed that the Indians have already started receiving calls on several of their players, including shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
According to general manager Chris Antonetti, he's not actively pursuing a deal.
"I'm not looking to move those guys,'' Antonetti said. "But we have to be open-minded.''
In addition, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch revealed during a chat with fans that the Cardinals would have interest in acquiring Cabrera.
Possible or Laughable? I suppose it's possible, but it's likely improbable. Antonetti would likely have to be blown away by a deal involving Cabrera, who is still under team control for two more seasons.
36. Joakim Soria Is Signed by New York Yankees
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Former Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria is rehabbing from his second Tommy John surgery. The Royals declined the 2013 option on Soria's contract for $8 million, instead paying him a buyout of $750,000.
It's presumed that Soria will be ready by Opening Day, and teams have shown interest, including the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees.
In fact, according to Soria's agent, he would be willing to work as a setup man for Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.
Possible or Laughable? I have to call this one laughable. The Yankees already have a pretty decent setup guy in David Robertson, and for a fraction of the cost that Soria would likely fetch.
With a market weak on closers, Soria's 133 saves in his last four active seasons will be a draw for teams seeking a strong finisher in the bullpen.
35. Michael Bourn Signs with Atlanta Braves
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As each day passes during this offseason, the probability of outfielder Michael Bourn re-signing with the Atlanta Braves appears to be dimming.
Possible or Laughable? At this point, the possibility of Bourn returning to Atlanta appears laughable.
David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said the Braves just can't envision paying an average of $15 million per season to a player whose major asset is his legs.
With Bourn already 29 years of age (30 in December), the Braves might feel that Bourn's biggest asset won't be so much of an asset in just a few years' time.
34. Jacoby Ellsbury Gets Traded by Boston Red Sox
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Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury had an MVP-like season in 2011.
The problem is, it was sandwiched between two injury-marred seasons.
There have been discussions about the possibility of using Ellsbury as a trade chip. With the blockbuster trade that occurred last August, general manager Ben Cherington has certainly shown he's not averse to making deals involving impact players.
Possible or Laughable? Have to call this one laughable at this point. It's clear that Ellsbury's current value is considerably lower because of his injury concerns.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports tweeted last week that the Red Sox don't figure to deal Ellsbury until at least the trade deadline next season:
Things change, but #RedSox currently disinclined to trade Ellsbury with value down. Club figures he will be highly motivated in FA year.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 7, 2012
Considering the trades that have transpired in recent months, anything is possible. But Rosenthal is right; Ellsbury would have much more value to the Red Sox next July than he does right now.
33. Nick Swisher Signs with Texas Rangers
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Right fielder Nick Swisher will definitely draw a lot of interest this offseason in a free-agent market not particularly loaded with power-hitting corner outfielders.
In fact, New York Daily News writer Mark Feinsand tweeted last week that at least five teams were already interested:
Source: 5 teams have serious interest in Nick Swisher, including Rangers & Mariners. Swisher plans to reject the Yankees' qualifying offer.— Mark Feinsand (@BloggingBombers) November 9, 2012
The Rangers could certainly have a need if Josh Hamilton signs elsewhere.
Possible or Laughable? I just don't see this one. Swisher will looking for big money and years. While he may not get what he was reportedly seeking three months ago, he will be paid.
I just don't see it coming from the Rangers.
32. Jason Kubel Gets Traded by Arizona Diamondbacks
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Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Jason Kubel has only been in Phoenix for one season, and he already finds himself the subject of trade rumors.
Last month, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported that the Diamondbacks are weighing their options in left field and deciding whether or not it's more prudent to use Kubel or defensive specialist Gerardo Parra.
Kubel hit .253 with 30 home runs and 90 RBI in 2012.
Possible or Laughable? It's possible, but it's not probable. The Diamondbacks already sent Chris Young to the Oakland A's, so they're down to four outfielders now (Kubel, Parra, Adam Eaton, Justin Upton).
They seem to be more inclined to find another home for Upton at this point, and Upton would likely garner a greater return.
31. Kevin Youkilis Signs with Cleveland Indians
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The market for third basemen this winter is very thin, so it's likely that Kevin Youkilis will get a look from several teams despite a less-than-stellar 2012 season.
Youkilis hit just .235 with 19 home runs and 60 RBI for the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox. His .745 OPS was also the lowest of his career.
The Cleveland Indians are among the teams who have shown interest in Youkilis. He would give the Tribe insurance at third base and a potential option at first as well.
Possible or Laughable? It is possible, but I'd be surprised if the cost-conscious Indians committed upward of $10 million annually at this point.
30. B.J. Upton Signs with Texas Rangers
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The Texas Rangers have been bracing for the possibility that star outfielder Josh Hamilton won't be returning next season.
To that end, they've been linked with several players, including Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton.
Possible or Laughable? It's certainly possible, but with Upton turning down a qualifying offer from the Rays, it's likely he's looking for a payday that the Rangers may not find so palatable.
29. David Price Gets Traded by Tampa Bay Rays
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Immediately after Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price narrowly beat out Justin Verlander for the American League Cy Young Award, Price's value shot through the roof.
That value could bring a healthy package of players back to the Rays, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
Knobler points out the fact that Price is under team control for three more seasons and that his trade could help the Rays fill obvious holes (catcher, shortstop, first base).
Possible or Laughable? Definitely laughable. The Rays know that the only way they win is with big pitching. They might listen to offers on other young pitchers, but Price won't be one of them.
28. Shane Victorino Signs with Cincinnati Reds
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Outfielder Shane Victorino is likely looking at playing for his third team in the past two seasons.
After starring for eight-plus seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, Victorino finished up last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, with Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp blocking his way in L.A., Victorino likely won't be back there either.
Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweeted on Wednesday that multiple teams are interested:
Shane Victorino drawing "realistic" interest from 8 teams, 11 overall including Detroit pre-Hunter. At 32 on 11/30, he seeks more than 2 yrs— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) November 14, 2012
ESPN.com scribe Jerry Crasnick listed the Cincinnati Reds as potential suitors:
Possible or Laughable? Certainly possible. The Reds are looking for an upgrade in center field, and Ryan Ludwick isn't a certainty to return in left field either. I just don't like the fit there with the Reds at all.
27. Shane Victorino Signs with Los Angeles Dodgers
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Shortly after Shane Victorino was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers in late July, he indicated he would be open to staying in Los Angeles.
However, that was before the huge deal with the Boston Red Sox that sent left fielder Carl Crawford to L.A.
Possible or Laughable? Laughable at this point. Unless Crawford somehow suffers a setback in his rehab from Tommy John surgery sometime in the very near future, Victorino's days as a Dodger are over.
26. Josh Hamilton Signs with Milwaukee Brewers
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The Milwaukee Brewers have some holes to fill, but arguably, the outfield isn't necessarily one of them.
However, it hasn't stopped the rumor mill from buzzing about the possibility of free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton signing with the Brewers.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported a few weeks ago that the Brewers were definitely considering the possibility of bringing Hamilton to Milwaukee.
Possible or Laughable? This is laughable to me. The Brewers have several other needs to fill, including the bullpen, shortstop and the rotation. Signing Hamilton severely limits the Brewers from capably filling their other needs.
25. Josh Hamilton Signs with Texas Rangers
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On Tuesday, ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required) speculated on which teams would be the best fits for each of the top free agents in the market.
He speculated that the Texas Rangers are still the best fit for outfielder Josh Hamilton.
I won’t be surprised if Hamilton’s best offer comes from a surprise team like the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles or Milwaukee Brewers. But I think the best fit for Hamilton remains the Rangers. They are the most familiar with Hamilton and all the issues that come with him. They have a strong support team in place for him and are willing to give him a competitive average annual value. I don’t think three years will get it done, and I’ll be shocked if the Rangers don’t go to a fourth or even a fifth year for him. Simply, the Rangers have been a much better team over the past three years with Hamilton in the lineup and he won’t be easily replaced if he leaves.
Possible or Laughable? It's definitely still possible, but based on what we've heard out of Texas, the Rangers aren't prepared to offer more than three years to Hamilton. That simply won't get it done.
Rangers owner Nolan Ryan said last week that the team wasn't willing to wait very long for Hamilton to make his decision:
"What you're going to have to do is I don't think you can sit around and say, 'We have to wait and see what happens with Josh,' " Ryan said. "We'll get a feel here shortly where we think that might be going, but also we have to be out there seeing what opportunities are out there, whether there's opportunities to improve the club.
"If you sit back and wait, you might miss an opportunity you might regret or feel like you could have done something and didn't get it done."
I'm with Bowden in the fact that a surprise team will rise out of the ashes and swoop in with a deal that Hamilton can't refuse.
24. Michael Bourn Signs with Washington Nationals
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Center fielder Michael Bourn is clearly one of the top free agents in the market. His skill as a leadoff batter with great speed and defense would look good at the top of any lineup.
One of the teams who reportedly have great interest in signing Bourn are the Washington Nationals.
Possible or Laughable? Certainly possible. However, given general manager Mike Rizzo's recent comments about how his top priority is signing first baseman Adam LaRoche, there would be no room in the outfield for Bourn.
Presumably, Michael Morse would remain in left field with Rookie of the Year Award winner Bryce Harper continuing to patrol center field.
23. Adam LaRoche Signs with Boston Red Sox
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Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has said that he's intent on re-signing free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche.
"I think bringing Adam back, makes the winter easier for everybody, because he's a known commodity, he's a terrific player and except for 2011, when he was hurt for the first time in his career, he's been an ultra-consistent player," Rizzo said. "He really stabilizes our defensive effort in the infield and balances our lineup with his left-handed bat. We'd like to get him done, if the numbers work for both of us."
However, with few good options available at first base on the free-agent market, other teams will likely be bidding for LaRoche's services as well. One of them could be the Boston Red Sox.
Possible or Laughable? Possible, but LaRoche's age (33) may give the Red Sox pause in terms of a long-term deal.
22. Ryan Dempster Signs with Milwaukee Brewers
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While the GM meetings were in session last week, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports revealed that the Milwaukee Brewers might be players in bidding for the services of free-agent starting pitcher Ryan Dempster.
Possible or Laughable? Certainly possible. Dempster has pitched well throughout his career at Miller Park, posting a 2.66 ERA in 101.1 innings.
However, I see the Brewers relying more on a good young corps of starters who showed their mettle in the second half of 2012. They may be more intent on signing a complementary No. 4 or 5 starter rather than a top-shelf rotation guy.
21. Hiroki Kuroda Signs with Los Angeles Dodgers
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Pitching on a one-year contract last season, Hiroki Kuroda shined for the New York Yankees, posting a 16-11 record and 3.32 ERA in 33 starts.
Kuroda is reportedly being targeted by the Los Angeles Dodgers for their rotation. There's certainly familiarity there; Kuroda spent the first four years of his MLB career in L.A.
Possible or Laughable? Certainly possible, especially given the vast resources of cash the Dodgers are in possession of. But I don't see the Yankees losing out on the bidding for Kuroda's services.
20. James Shields Gets Traded by Tampa Bay Rays
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It seems that starting pitcher James Shields may never feel entirely comfortable in Tampa.
Considering the amount of trade speculation that has dogged him for over a year, it's certainly no surprise to think he feels a little uncomfortable.
Speculation continues to swirl about whether or not the Rays will use their deep pitching core to make upgrades at several key positions (catcher, shortstop, first base, outfield).
Possible or Laughable? It's possible, but according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Rays are actually fielding more calls about Jeremy Hellickson than they are for Shields.
19. B.J. Upton Signs with Washington Nationals
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The Washington Nationals at one time engaged in trade talks with the Tampa Bay Rays for the services of center fielder B.J. Upton, especially shortly after the end of the 2011 season.
Now, Upton is free to sign with any team as a free agent, and the Nationals are reportedly still interested.
Possible or Laughable? Possible, but not probable. If the Nats are successful in re-signing first baseman Adam LaRoche, they'll likely switch gears and pursue players to fill other needs.
18. Adam LaRoche Signs with Baltimore Orioles
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Adam LaRoche has become a topic of conversation among teams looking for a first baseman. Among those teams who might have interest are the Baltimore Orioles.
CBSSports.com blogger Jack Moore wrote last week that the O's could be thinking about LaRoche as a replacement for current first baseman Mark Reynolds.
Possible or Laughable? Not laughable, but highly improbable. I don't see Orioles GM Dan Duquette offering anywhere near a three-year, $45 million contract—or something in that range—for LaRoche.
17. Justin Upton Gets Traded by Arizona Diamondbacks
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I liked this idea before the Arizona Diamondbacks dealt away center fielder Chris Young.
Now, not so much.
Possible or Laughable? It's certainly possible the Diamondbacks could deal Justin Upton this winter. But with Young now in Oakland, I'm more of the belief that Arizona GM Kevin Towers will play hardball in terms of a return package for Upton. That hardball stance will likely turn teams away.
With Young now gone, the D-Backs have four outfielders in Upton, Gerardo Parra, Adam Eaton and Jason Kubel. Prospect A.J. Pollock is also waiting in the wings. Unless the D-Backs are completely convinced that Pollock is major league ready, Upton stays.
16. Mike Napoli Signs with Texas Rangers
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Free-agent catcher Mike Napoli will be weighing his options in the coming days and weeks as teams jockey for position in vying for his services.
The Texas Rangers are one of the those teams, and Napoli has not ruled out a return to Arlington.
Possible or Laughable? Entirely possible, especially if Josh Hamilton makes his decision regarding his whereabouts sooner rather than later.
15. Jason Bay Signs with Cleveland Indians
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As discussed in an earlier slide, left fielder Jason Bay is looking forward to resurrecting his career with a new team in the 2013 season.
According to some reports, that team could be the Cleveland Indians.
Possible or Laughable? It is possible, but if I'm Indians GM Chris Antonetti, I stay away from this signing.
Didn't he have enough headaches with bad-hitting left fielders last season?
14. Zack Greinke Signs with Los Angeles Dodgers
Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
Welcome to the new-look Los Angeles Dodgers, where virtually every free agent is in play for them this winter.
Well, maybe not all free agents, but certainly a decent share of them have already been linked to the Dodgers so far this offseason—including starting pitcher Zack Greinke.
Possible or Laughable? With the now-rich Dodgers, anything is possible. Taking on over $300 million in contracts last season certainly proves that.
However, I already said earlier that I don't see Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto being outbid by the rival Texas Rangers for the services of Greinke.
The same holds true with the Dodgers as well.
13. Michael Bourn Signs with Philadelphia Phillies
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Center fielder Michael Bourn is clearly going to earn a nice paycheck for himself this offseason.
Will it be with the Philadelphia Phillies?
Possible or Laughable? It's certainly possible. The Phillies are intent on acquiring a long-term solution for center field. But I honestly see them more interested in acquiring B.J. Upton over Bourn at this point.
12. Stephen Drew Signs with Oakland Athletics
Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
Count Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin—named American League Manager of the Year on Tuesday—as one who hopes the A's can re-sign shortstop Stephen Drew.
"I talked to Stephen the other day a little bit," Melvin said on Wednesday. "It's going to come down to what he wants to do -- whether it's a long-term deal and somewhere in closer proximity to where he lives (in Georgia), or whether this ends up being the right spot. We certainly hope that."
Possible or Laughable? It's entirely possible. However, with the free-agent market weak in the position, Drew will draw interest from other teams. If the price is driven up as a result, he just may be too expensive for Oakland to retain.
11. B.J. Upton Signs with Atlanta Braves
Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
The Atlanta Braves may not be in the running for the services of their own free agent—center fielder Michael Bourn. But they may now have fellow free agent B.J. Upton in their sights.
Possible or Laughable? I suppose it's possible, but I would pose this question: If Bourn is deemed too expensive to sign, then wouldn't Upton be as well?
10. Jarrod Saltalamacchia Gets Traded by Boston Red Sox
Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
When the Boston Red Sox signed backup catcher David Ross to a two-year contract last week, speculation heightened about the possible availability of current starting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Possible or Laughable? Absolutely possible. The Red Sox are very high on prospect Ryan Lavarnway despite the fact he hit just .157 in 46 games last season.
I can envision the Sox including Saltalamacchia in a package deal to acquire a starting pitcher or outfielder, both deemed areas of need.
9. A.J. Pierzynski Signs with Chicago White Sox
Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski has played the last eight seasons for the Chicago White Sox, and if he had his way, he'd like to extend that relationship.
Recent reports suggest that could be problematic.
Possible or Laughable? Absolutely possible. General manager Rick Hahn has indicated a strong desire to re-sign Pierzynski. While the raise for Pierzynski would be significant and take away cash that could be used in other areas, I believe this is a deal that gets done.
8. B.J. Upton Signs with Philadelphia Phillies
Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE
Center fielder B.J. Upton is only 28 years of age and is in high demand this offseason.
Among the teams interested are the Philadelphia Phillies.
Possible or Laughable? Absolutely possible. In fact, Upton would be a great fit in Philly. The team is looking to get younger and more athletic—Upton certainly provides both.
7. Adam LaRoche Signs with Washington Nationals
Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE
The Washington Nationals are looking to build on their success in the 2012 season, finishing just one game shy of the National League Championship Series.
To that end, general manager Mike Rizzo is intent on keeping his offense stable and productive.
That just may include bringing back first baseman Adam LaRoche.
Possible or Laughable? Absolutely possible. LaRoche was a key component of the offense last season for the Nationals, arguably one of their most consistent performers.
6. Anibal Sanchez Signs with Detroit Tigers
Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
The Detroit Tigers took care of one huge need earlier this week with the signing of right fielder Torii Hunter to a two-year, $26 million contract.
Now, they'll look to fill another need—a starting pitcher.
Possible or Laughable? The Tigers certainly know what they have in Anibal Sanchez. He posted a 2.43 ERA in his final six regular-season starts and followed up with a sterling 1.77 ERA in three postseason appearances.
The Tigers' goal of winning a World Series for owner Mike Ilitch is the priority. Sanchez certainly showed he has the ability to come up big at the right time. I see this as almost a done deal.
5. Mike Napoli Signs with Boston Red Sox
Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE
The Boston Red Sox may not have a need behind the plate, but they do have a need at first base.
One particular player can give the Red Sox help at both—Mike Napoli.
The Sox are doing their due diligence in researching Napoli to see if he's a fit.
Possible or Laughable? Entirely possible. Napoli's swing is perfect for Fenway, and his versatility gives GM Ben Cherington options as well.
4. Hiroki Kuroda Signs with New York Yankees
Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE
Right-handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda gave the New York Yankees everything they wanted and more with his one-year, $10 million contract in 2012.
They would very much like him to do the same in 2013 as well.
The Yankees are clearly interested in bringing Kuroda back next season, but they'll face some competition as well.
Possible or Laughable? I believe Kuroda is back at Yankee Stadium, possibly a one-year, $14 million deal with an option for 2014.
3. Michael Bourn Signs with Cincinnati Reds
Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Free-agent center fielder Michael Bourn is a prototypical leadoff hitter—good on-base percentage, excellent bunter and tremendous speed.
Sounds like exactly what the Cincinnati Reds need.
Possible or Laughable? I love the idea of Bourn signing with the Reds. They are clearly in need of help at the top of their batting order, and they are in need of an upgrade in center field.
2. Melky Cabrera Signs with Cleveland Indians
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
If there is one thing the Cleveland Indians are in need of, it's a productive left fielder.
If there is one thing Melky Cabrera is in need of, it's a fresh start.
Sounds like a marriage made in heaven to me.
Possible or Laughable? Absolutely possible. Indians left fielders provided a sub-.600 OPS in the 2012 season, and that has a been a position of need for two years running.
Cabrera could be given the chance to show that his PED use was not the cause of his surging offense of the past two seasons and give the Tribe a huge lift at the same time.
1. Zack Greinke Signs with Los Angeles Angels
Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
The Los Angeles Angels have rid themselves of over $40 million in contracts in the past few weeks.
The trade of Ervin Santana to the Kansas City Royals took care of $13 million. The decision to decline the option on Dan Haren's contract for $15.5 million for next season was the next step. Now, Torii Hunter's $18 million is off the books as well.
Sounds like the perfect setup to sign pitcher Zack Greinke to me.
Possible or Laughable? I really don't think Greinke signs anywhere else. General manager Jerry Dipoto sent off three organizational top-25 prospects to acquire Greinke in July and then passed on three former key contributors in Santana, Haren and Hunter just to make sure he had the funds available.
He doesn't make these moves if he thought for one second he didn't have a good chance of signing Greinke.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.