MLB Free Agency, Trades 2013: All 30 Teams' Most Bizarre Winter Rumor
Well, so much for a quiet, normal winter.
It's fair to call Tuesday night's blockbuster deal between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays, well, kind of bizarre.
But they aren't the only two teams making waves.
We've had rumors of mega-stars signing with small-market clubs, and we've have big-market clubs simply say nothing. We aren't quite to the point where cats and dogs are living together in harmony, but there's plenty of bizarre rumblings and grumblings coming out of the Hot Stove League.
Let's take a look at some of them.
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This one courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien:
Am hearing Towers would take starting pitcher as centerpiece in deal for J.Upton, but would have to be good young starter. And others.— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) November 8, 2012
I understand that you can never have enough quality young pitching, and I fully expect at least one young arm to head to the Diamondbacks in any deal involving Justin Upton, but it's not as if the Diamondbacks starting rotation is full of aging, decrepit veterans:
- Ian Kennedy, 27 years old
- Wade Miley, 26 years old
- Trevor Cahill, 25 years old
- Trevor Bauer, 21 years old
- Tyler Skaggs, 21 years old
With Arizona having plenty of pressing needs to address—namely long-term answers at shortstop and third base—it makes little sense that they'd move their most valuable trade chip for a package that wasn't built around a solution to one of those two problems.
Earlier this month, CBS Sports' Danny Knobler reported that the Atlanta Braves were "intrigued" by free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton.
The mere assertion that Atlanta would give serious consideration to, much less be players for Hamilton makes little sense, given that they aren't expected to be able to afford to retain their own center fielder, Michael Bourn, much less someone who is going to command in excess of $20 million per season.
According to Paul Hagen from MLB.com, the Baltimore Orioles checked in with the Minnesota Twins on outfielder Josh Willingham and the Kansas City Royals on first baseman/designated hitter Billy Butler.
The fact that the Orioles are interested in both players isn't odd, but considering that both Kansas City and Minnesota are in the market for quality starting pitching—something Baltimore cannot afford to give up in any deal—makes you scratch your head on this one.
Boston Red Sox
We know that the Boston Red Sox are looking to shake things up after a dismal 2012 season, but if there's any truth to this one from ESPN's Buster Olney, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
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
Since leaving Boston after the 2009 season, Jason Bay has hit .234 with 26 home runs and 124 RBI over the past three years with the New York Mets.
Considering the glut of outfielders already on Boston's roster, coupled with the fact that David Ortiz is their full-time DH, even considering a reunion with Jason Bay, who is clearly not the same player he used to be, is bizarre.
There hasn't been a rumor out there that doesn't make sense for the Cubs. including that they are interested in free agent starting pitchers Shaun Marcum and Brandon McCarthy, per Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Chicago White Sox
According to Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com, the Chicago White Sox are going to part ways with longtime catcher A.J. Pierzynski this winter.
Hayes notes that the White Sox have limited payroll room and that 27-year-old Tyler Flowers is capable of taking over as Chicago's primary backstop.
Flowers, with a total of 108 games under his belt, is an unproven commodity who has yet to prove that he can hit major league pitching, with a career batting line of .205/.307/.388.
This one comes to us courtesy of the Cincinatti Enquirer's John Fay:
Jocketty says club is interested in free agents Madson, Broxton, Navarro as well. "I don't that we'll sign them all." #reds— John Fay (@johnfayman) October 31, 2012
Bringing back Jonathan Broxton makes a lot of sense, and a case could be made for Dioner Navarro as well, but Ryan Madson?
After undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing all of the 2012 season, there's no telling what kind of shape Madson will be in, or how effective he'll be throwing the ball in 2013. (h/t CBS Sports)
I suppose if it's an incentive-laden one-year deal it could make sense, but bringing Madson back into the fold just seems like an odd idea.
Indians' GM Chris Antonetti told MLB.com's Jordan Bastian that the Tribe remains open to bringing 35-year-old designated hitter Travis Hafner back into the fold:
"We remain open to it. We'll have to see how our roster takes shape this winter, and he'll obviously have to evaluate his alternatives."
Having spent the past decade in Cleveland, Hafner is a fan-favorite and rightfully so.
But his best days are behind him, and with the Indians in desperate need of adding at least one, if not more, right-handed bats with power to the mix, bringing back the lefty who is a shell of the player he once was doesn't make much sense.
There has literally been no rumblings, grumblings or assertions made about the Rockies 25-man roster this winter, with all of the focus being on their recently ended managerial search.
With that out of the way, we should start to see the rumor mill begin to churn out some Rockies news sooner rather than later.
With a gaping hole in the ninth inning, you'd think that the Detroit Tigers would be looking to bring in an experienced closer to assume the role rather than leave things to chance.
Not so fast, says CBS Sports' Danny Knobler:
Tigers are not interested in Soriano. Plan to stay in-house for closer, with hard-throwing 21-year-old Bruce Rondon getting chance at job.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) November 9, 2012
Rondon very well might be capable of handling the job, but the fact that the Tigers have no interest Soriano is surprising.
NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman comes in with this tidbit of info on the newest member of the American League:
Jeff Luhnow told Daily Sports that the Astros have had internal discussions about Hideki Matsui daily.co.jp/mlb/2012/11/10…— Patrick Newman (@npbtracker) November 10, 2012
While the Astros need to add a designated hitter to the mix, Matsui's not the answer.
He proved last season that he's got nothing left to offer, posting a .147/.214/.221 batting line with two home runs and seven RBI in 103 plate appearances for Tampa Bay before getting released.
Kansas City Royals
Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic calls the Royals a "darkhorse candidate" to land right fielder Justin Upton in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but it makes no sense for the Royals to go down this path.
Trading for Upton would require that Kansas City part with either third baseman Mike Moustakas or minor league outfield prospects Wil Myers or Bubba Starling to even start a conversation with the Diamondbacks about Upton.
Myers is unproven, but he's got an incredibly high ceiling and very well could be a better player than Justin Upton.
Moustakas is a fixture at third base for the Royals, who don't have another viable option for the position.
Starling, who is still years away from making an impact, has tremendous value around the league, but the Royals would be far better off using him to acquire the starting pitching that they desperately need, were they inclined to move him at all.
Los Angeles Angels
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that the Los Angeles Angels have kicked the tires on a deal built around Angels' outfielder Vernon Wells and Boston Red Sox pitcher John Lackey. While I suppose moving Wells for anyone—and anything—is favorable to keeping him around, is John Lackey really the guy you want?
Sure, he had his greatest success with the Angels, but Lackey is 34-years-old and missed the entire 2012 season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery (h/t ESPN). He's not the same pitcher he was when he left the Angels, and while they need pitching, there are far better options available than John Lackey.
Los Angeles Dodgers
This one made absolutely no sense from the second ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted it:
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
Just over a week later, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted the news that no, Andre Ethier would not be leaving Los Angeles, regardless of whether the Dodgers signed Torii Hunter, who has since signed with the Detroit Tigers (h/t ESPN):
#Dodgers not trading Ethier. Hunter would need to accept lesser role if he signed with team. He’s close with both Kemp and Crawford.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 10, 2012
Nothing the Marlins do from this point forward will be as bizarre as the blockbuster deal they made with the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
To put the trade into perspective, Jeffrey Loria, owner of the Marlins, cut his payroll from almost $100 million in 2012 to approximately $25 million in 2013 in one move.
That's what it was all about—Loria saving money.
After saying that, maybe that wasn't as strange a deal as I thought it was...
While some, like Newsday's David Lennon have pontificated that Josh Hamilton would land in Milwaukee this winter, there's one major roadblock that they can't get past: money.
First, there's what Sports Illustrated reports that Hamilton wants:
Report: Josh Hamilton wants 7 years, $175 million on.si.com/YElLDV— SI MLB (@si_mlb) November 4, 2012
Then, there's the reality of the Brewers financial situation, per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman:
no surprise, $ an issue for milw. asked if they're a long shot for hamilton, melvin said "very." hope may be market, narron— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 6, 2012
It's just not going to happen.
Darren Wolfson of ESPN1500 AM says that the Minnesota Twins have interest in a number of free agent pitchers, which makes sense considering that strengthening the rotation is the team's biggest priority.
But the Twins aren't in a position to spend big money on a free agent, much less two of them, so it makes it a bit puzzling that they'd be linked to Anibal Sanchez after CBS Sports' Jon Heyman bought us this update on the free agent hurler:
anibal sanchez's price going up? he asked 1 team for $90M, 6 yrs, and another about $100M, 7 yrs.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 9, 2012
There's just no way that the Twins—like most teams in the league—could or would play ball with Sanchez at those prices.
New York Mets
There's no question that the Mets need an everyday catcher, but they shouldn't be looking to add one at the prices that the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber suggests:
As #RedSox sign Ross, worth noting several teams seeking catchers, including Mets, White Sox. Both could deal pitching (Niese, Floyd, etc.)— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) November 10, 2012
Saltalamacchia would be a major upgrade over incumbent Josh Thole, but Jon Niese is a 26-year-old lefty coming off of his best season as a pro.
It's far easier to find a catcher than a quality southpaw under team control through 2018 for $43 million, which is exactly where the team sits with Niese.
New York Yankees
It doesn't seem like the Hot Stove League until the New York Yankees are involved in multiple rumors, but that's simply not the case this winter.
With the team focused on getting under the $189 luxury tax threshold in 2014, they've not been linked to the high-priced, big-ticket items available.
Kind of boring if you ask me—though it does make good business sense for the Bombers to stick to their guns.
Oakland A's GM Billy Beane hasn't found success by tipping his hand, so I suppose that we shouldn't be surprised at how he answered MLB.com's Lyle Spencer earlier this month.
Spencer asked Beane if the 2012 AL West champions would consider dealing one of their young pitchers to obtain the shortstop that they need.
"We're not going to do that. In years we've been successful, it's because we've had good young pitchers. Small markets that have had success -- Tampa, Minnesota -- developed their own pitching."
It makes sense for Beane to hold onto his young arms, but he certainly has a track record of unloading them before they get to be too expensive to hang onto. Just ask Dan Haren, Mark Mulder, Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez.
This one's simply a case of a GM saying all the right things but, when you put the statements side-by-side, they don't really make a whole lot of sense.
First, we have Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro Jr. talking to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Gelb about how he prefers to build the team for 2013:
I'd rather spend money. But it's not an unlimited pool to work with. We have some flexibility. I guess I would anticipate our payroll being similar to last year. I'd rather pay for the player than trade for the player. The tricky part about that is you better pay for the right guy. When you pay for those guys, you just don't know how they'll play in Philadelphia.
That's a well thought-out statement to make, one that makes a lot of sense. Philly is much like Boston or New York, a major market with a bright spotlight, knowledgeable and passionate fans and multiple media outlets covering one team.
It takes a special kind of ballplayer to succeed in these spots, especially high-profile ones.
Which makes this tweet from ESPN's Buster Olney a bit puzzling:
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
Philadelphia has 10 players currently under contract for 2013 and their payroll sits at approximately $136 million for 2013 with those 10 players alone, per baseball-reference.com. Their 2012 payroll was approximately $173 million.
Amaro has concerns over whether some players can handle Philly, doesn't have unlimited financial resources and Josh Hamilton, with multiple questions and looking for $20-to-$25 million a season, is the guy he's OK with?
It's not strange that the Pittsburgh Pirates would have interest in trading for Arizona's Justin Upton, but it's odd that Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic would name them as a candidate to work out a deal for him.
Pittsburgh simply will not trade their two top pitching prospects, Gerrit Cole or Jameson Taillon, and they don't have the third baseman or shortstop that would really get Arizona excited enough to pull the trigger on a deal.
The Pirates could build a package around prospect Starling Marte, but without Cole or Taillon being included, it's difficult to see how the two teams would be a match to make a deal happen.
San Diego Padres
Corey Brock of MLB.com says that the Padres have not had any discussions with third baseman Chase Headley or his representatives about a contract extension.
One of the biggest targets at this year's non-waiver trade deadline, the 28-year-old is only going to become more expensive to sign if he has another season as he did in 2012, when he won his first Gold Glove, slugged 31 home runs and led the National League with 115 RBI.
It makes little sense that the Padres haven't tried to lock him up long-term, unless of course they are looking at trading him. But we've seen no rumors suggesting that's the case, so this one's a bit bewildering.
San Francisco Giants
His power numbers were far less than expected, but 24-year-old Brandon Belt put together a solid 2012 campaign for the World Champion San Francisco Giants, hitting .275 with seven home runs and 56 RBI.
So it's no surprise that the team has gotten multiple calls from teams looking to acquire him, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman:
#SFGiants have been getting lots of calls on brandon belt. good defender, potential, low salary— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 9, 2012
San Francisco has remained relatively silent on the topic, which makes you wonder if they would seriously consider moving him.
And that begs the question—why?
Belt still has plenty of time to reach his full potential, and seeing that he's under team control through the 2018 season, it makes little sense to unload him now.
While the Seattle Mariners have needed an offensive boost for years, are they really going to be players for Josh Hamilton?
Team president Chuck Armstrong told CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that it's a possibility: "[GM Jack Zduriencik] is looking at it. We are going to have more money to spend. And we do need offense."
"More money to spend" is one thing, but Hamilton money to spend?
Seattle's never been known to dole out multi-year deals that wind up costing more than $150 million, and that's certainly what Hamilton is looking for, as we've seen on previous slides.
It's nice to say that they'll look into it, but it's hard to see this one coming to fruition.
St. Louis Cardinals
Things have been relatively calm around the St. Louis Cardinals this winter, to the point where any rumors that they've been involved with make perfect sense with nothing bizarre about them at all.
Kind of boring, I know.
For the latest on the Cardinals, keep checking in with B/R's Cardinals' Offseason Tracker.
Tampa Bay Rays
It's no secret that the Rays are willing to unload pitching for offense.
James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson and Jeff Niemann have all be bandied about for months, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post added another name to the mix, one that nobody really saw coming—left-hander Matt Moore.
Moore, 23, has been one of the most highly touted pitching prospects in all of baseball over the past few seasons and he had a strong 2012 for the Rays, going 11-11 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.
He's got plenty of things to work on, but there's no reason to assume that he won't improve drastically and become the front-of-the-rotation arm that many predicted he would eventually be.
If he's truly available, teams will be falling over each other trying to get him from Tampa Bay.
According to CBS Sports' Danny Knobler, the Texas Rangers are enamored with Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but they won't trade one of their shortstops, either Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus, to acquire him.
But that hasn't stopped the Rangers from trying to add pieces to entice Arizona into a deal:
Rangers wanted Upton enough that they tried to trade Olt for ATL's Simmons (who AZ wants). Braves wouldn't do it, tho.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) November 12, 2012
Olt, the Rangers' 24-year-old third base prospect, was the target of multiple teams at this year's trade deadline but Texas resisted all efforts to acquire him.
Now all of a sudden he's available, but only to acquire a piece that the team would turn around a flip to Arizona?
Toronto Blue Jays
So did you hear the one where the Blue Jays trade a bunch of prospects and middling major leaguers to the Miami Marlins for Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck?
Oh wait, that happened, didn't it?
To quote the late, great, Lieutenant Frank Drebin of Police Squad:
There's literally nothing bizarre going on in the nation's capital.
Actually, let me clarify.
There are plenty of bizarre things going on in the nation's capital, but none of them involve the Washington Nationals at this point.