Predicting the 8 Biggest Surprises of the MLB Offseason
There are a handful of questions and rumors floating around during this MLB offseason. Where will Josh Hamilton sign? Will the Mets wrap up David Wright and R.A. Dickey to long-term deals? And are the Rays going to trade a pitcher for a bat?
With many of these questions unanswered, I've decided to make eight surprising predictions. While most of these statements won't come true, I'll try to provide evidence showing that they can in fact happen.
Wil Myers Will Be Traded
Wil Myers is the Kansas City Royals' coveted prospect. At the moment, MLB.com lists Myers as the third-best prospect in baseball, behind Jurickson Profar and Dylan Bundy.
As a 21-year-old, Myers raked in the minors last season. He hit a combined .316 with 37 HR, 79 RBI and 13 SB across Double-A and Triple-A.
Jeff Francouer is coming off a terrible season, where he hit .235 with a .287 OBP and .378 SLG. This opens the door for Myers to make the squad out of spring training—if he's still with the team.
The Royals' biggest problems lie with their pitching. They have a young, talented lineup, but they don't have an ace in the rotation (is anybody sold on Jeremy Guthrie as a No. 1?).
I can see GM Dayton Moore moving Myers for a pitcher like Jon Lester or James Shields to bolster the staff.
Phil Hughes Will Not Be a Yankee
According to Mark Feinsand of The Daily News, the New York Yankees plan to reduce their payroll under the $189 million luxury-tax threshold for the 2014 season.
The Yankees just recently signed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year contract for $15 million and they are close to signing Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera to one-year deals as well, according to Fox Sports.
All of this doesn't bode well for Phil Hughes.
Hughes will be a free agent in 2014 and if the Yankees plan on getting under that luxury tax, they most likely will not be able to afford Hughes. Keep in mind, the Yankees' payroll was over $197 million in 2012.
Instead of letting Hughes walk, GM Brian Cashman should try to get something for him. While Hughes has been inconsistent, he's only 26 years old and has plenty of potential.
Edwin Jackson Will Sign with the Padres
Look up the word "journeyman," and you'll see a picture of Edwin Jackson. The 29-year-old has played for eight teams in 10 years.
That might increase to nine teams in 11 years once he signs a contract for the 2013 season.
I think the San Diego Padres are a perfect fit for E-Jax. The Padres are in need of starting pitching and Corey Brock of MLB.com supports this thought. Jackson is a quality pitcher who will certainly benefit from playing at a spacious field.
Another thing to point out is Jackson's relationship with Padres GM Josh Byrnes. Byrnes was the general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks when Jackson threw his no-hitter there.
A move back out west would be a good thing for both Jackson and the Padres. If Jackson can fit into the Padres' budget, he'll put up strong numbers in that division.
Brett Myers Will Return to Philly
Brett Myers said that he wants to be a starter again and that he's focusing on signing with a team that has similar interest. According to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, the Minnesota Twins are the front-runners.
Myers certainly has enough left in the tank to return to the rotation. He started 66 games for the Astros from 2010-11 and went a combined 21-22 with a 3.71 ERA in those two seasons. And while he's been in the league since 2002, he's still just 32 years old.
I know Myers said he wants to return to the rotation and Ken Rosenthal reported that setting up is Myers' last preferred option, but I have a feeling he'll end up in Philadelphia.
The Phillies don't need another starter, but they need help bridging the gap to Jonathan Papelbon. The Phils ranked 21st in bullpen ERA last season and could use Myers' help.
Ultimately I believe Myers returns to the team that drafted him 12th overall in 1999.
Joe Mauer Will Be Traded
As Alex Speier of WEEI reports, Mike Napoli is Boston's top target this offseason. The Red Sox aren't the only team interested, as Napoli is one of the most sought-after free agents this year.
For whatever reason, I don't think the Sox land Napoli. Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe points out that the Seattle Mariners are interested in the slugger as well. After all of this, though, I think Napoli stays put in Texas—leaving Boston unsatisfied with their catching situation.
Enter Joe Mauer.
Peter Gammons of MLB.com tweeted that the Red Sox continue to ask about Mauer. While the Twins have repeatedly said no, I believe they will have a change of heart.
The Red Sox will miss out on Napoli, and will be desperate enough to give the Twins a big package for Mauer.
The Detroit Tigers Will Have a New Shortstop
For the last two-and-a-half seasons, the Detroit Tigers have had Jhonny Peralta as their shortstop. It could be just a few more weeks until that era is over.
Shortstop is a relatively weak position this free agency, but Stephen Drew is at top of the class. Drew has been plagued by injuries the last two seasons, but he hit .278 with 15 HR when he was healthy in 2010.
I can see Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski signing Drew and using Peralta as trade bait. There are plenty of teams—the Diamondbacks, Rays and Red Sox most notably—in need of a shortstop.
And while Peralta isn't a top-notch player, he could still merit a nice return, given how weak the shortstop market is.
I think we'll see a shortstop swap. The Tigers will sign Drew and then trade Peralta to the D-backs.
Shin-Soo Choo Will Find a New Home
Shin-Soo Choo will become a free agent after this upcoming season. This almost ensures that Choo will be traded. The only question is when he'll be traded. Will it be during the winter meetings or at the deadline in the summer?
Choo has been a fine player for the Cleveland Indians over the last five seasons. From 2008 through 2012, Choo has hit .291 while averaging 16 HR, 69 RBI and 16 SB per season.
Choo is only 31 years old, but Indians GM Chris Antonetti should be wise enough to trade the outfielder for a younger and more controllable player.
The Indians are coming off a season in which they lost 94 games and it's time to rebuild under new manager Terry Francona.
Choo is a valuable piece and could offer a nice return for the Indians.
Nick Swisher Will Sign with the Rangers
I don't think the Texas Rangers will bring back Josh Hamilton. The hole that he leaves will allow the Rangers to get a solid player for less money.
That's where Nick Swisher comes into play.
After four seasons and a World Series ring, Swisher will definitely leave the Bronx. He's a consistently good offensive player. He is only a career .256 hitter, but he has averaged about 23 HR, 76 R and 74 RBI per season and owns a career .361 OBP and .828 OPS.
Swisher should also appeal to the Rangers because of his versatility. Not only can Swisher man a corner outfield position, but he can play first base as well—a position where the Rangers could use an upgrade.
Swisher proved what he could do on a potent offense in a hitter's stadium. The Rangers are identical in both regards. With a move to Texas, Swisher wouldn't miss a beat.