The blockbuster trade between the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins may still be pending, but it may set the tone for other trades that could go down this winter. Many MLB teams are looking to make a big-time acquisition, be it through trade or free agency, and this controversial deal could easily be the spark that starts everything.
Naturally, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton is still on the block. After an off 2012, his name has popped up in various rumors. However, despite the fact that he is a five-tool player, Arizona's asking price may prove to be too high.
Thus, the question presents itself: Just how true are the rumors surrounding Upton?
Of course, the talented outfielder isn't the only name being thrown around. Separating rumors from fact is important as the hot stove starts to reach its boiling point.
David Price may have just won the AL Cy Young Award, but since then the most talked-about pitcher in Tampa is his teammate, James Shields. According to Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald, the Rays are listening to offers on the right-hander.
While the Rays' pitching staff is very talented and full of young arms, the team's offense is very hit or miss. This offseason, they're about to lose a key power bat in outfielder B.J. Upton. Long story short, the team needs offense.
Shields has done some fine work over the past two seasons, going 31-22 with a 3.17 ERA and 448 strikeouts while proving to be a valuable innings eater, but he turns 31 in December and isn't getting any younger. He still has plenty of gas left in the tank, but he makes $9 million next year and has a $12 million option for 2014.
He surely is enough to bring in a top bat, so there's no reason to believe that the Rays wouldn't move him if the right offer was made.
Cleveland has been an interesting team each of the past two seasons. The Indians look like a strong, young squad in the first half, only to completely fall apart after the All-Star break.
That said, a report by Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe is a bit puzzling. According to Cafardo, the Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks have both reached out to the Indians about shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, easily the team's best hitter and most consistent player.
Over the past two seasons, Cabrera has hit .271 and been named to two All-Star teams.
That said, unless either Boston or Arizona were to absolutely overwhelm GM Chris Antonetti with an offer, there's no reason to believe that the Indians would deal their best player. They just hired Terry Francona as their new manager, and we all saw what he did with the Boston Red Sox.
He's about to get that same chance in Cleveland, and Cabrera is going to be his catalyst in the lineup.
In the same report, Cafardo also mentioned the possibility of the Red Sox dealing catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The switch-hitter hit a career-high 25 home runs last year, but he batted just .222. On top of that, he has never been a strong defensive catcher.
Moreover, Boston just signed career backup David Ross to a two-year deal and has a fine young backstop in 25-year-old Ryan Lavarnway. Given how Ross hit .256 with nine homers and 23 RBI in just 62 games for the Atlanta Braves last year and Lavarnway hit 32 long balls in the minors in 2011, it's looking more and more likely that Saltalamacchia will be playing elsewhere in 2013.
Aside from the Miami residents who paid for the team's stadium, nobody seems to be more upset about the Marlins-Blue Jays blockbuster trade than Marlins star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Speaking with Peter Gammons of MLB.com, Stanton ripped into the reasoning behind the trade and flat-out said, "I do not like this at all."
Granted, Stanton is due to earn the league minimum in 2013 and won't be arbitration eligible until next winter at the absolute earliest, but consider his words. Knowing how egotistical and manipulative team owner Jeffrey Loria can be, perhaps he'll view Stanton's words as insubordination?
Either way, the fact remains that Stanton is one of the game's most dangerous power hitters, and teams would empty their farm systems at the prospect of acquiring him. He's only 23 years old, isn't at all expensive and has simply ridiculous numbers. He hit .290 with 37 home runs and 86 RBI in 2012, and he also led the majors in slugging percentage.
Ready for the crazy part? He only appeared in 123 games.
Still, assuming the trade goes through, Stanton is the Marlins' best player and the team isn't going to move him until they have absolutely no choice. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, he'll be playing in Miami next season.
Verdict: Fiction...for now
The Arizona Diamondbacks are a smaller-market team, and that would explain why Upton's name seems to continually pop up in trade rumors. He had a phenomenal 2011, hitting .289 with 31 homers and 88 RBI to go with 21 steals, but he regressed in 2012.
Upton got off to a slow start and never fully recovered. He ended up hitting .280, but he only had 17 home runs and 67 RBI.
However, though teams like the Texas Rangers have shown interest (via Danny Knobler cbssports) in his services, it's looking right now that Upton won't be moved. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, team owner Ken Kendrick has said there is a "90 percent chance" that the talented outfielder will start the season with Arizona. Though he's a great trade chip, I need to agree with Kendrick.
Much like Giancarlo Stanton for the Marlins, Upton is the Diamondbacks' best player. If GM Kevin Towers is going to trade him, the offer needs to be substantial, as in containing both MLB players and MLB-ready prospects.
Given Upton's decline in 2012, teams may be hesitant to unload their rosters and farm systems just to acquire one player.