With the 2012 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings set to take place next week in Nashville, we should see some pretty good movement by teams interested in signing coveted free agents or from teams looking to trade their way into contention.
While most of the buzz this week has centered on where Josh Hamilton and Zach Greinke are going to land, there could be some fairly big names that do indeed get traded in Nashville as well.
Of course by the end of these meetings, there will be a number of deals made that we did not see coming, but there are a few players being shopped around or asked about before the main event that are worth a look.
Whether they are realistic targets or not is another story, but if there is enough interest or cash in the offer, no player is untouchable.
Here are some of the bigger names being discussed as well as a look at whether they are realistic trade fodder or just big wishes from talk radio’s legion of fans.
(H/T to MLB Trade Rumors)
The Wall Street Journal’s Brian Costa tweeted last Monday that The New York Mets really have yet to decide whether they would trade their star third baseman David Wright if he decides not to take the seven-year, $140 million contract extension that he has been offered. (h/t ESPN New York)
If Wright says no, then the Mets will really have no choice but to try and get the best deal they can for him as he goes into the last year of his current deal.
Whether the Mets would decide to trade him now or wait until next summer’s trade deadline is another story.
Chances are he takes the deal and remains in Queens, but if he says no then all bets are off.
Fact or Fiction: FICTION
The Kansas City Royals are reportedly shopping uber-prospect Wil Myers around for an ace pitcher.
WEEI’s Rob Bradford tells us that Kansas City has talked to the Boston Red Sox about left-handed ace Jon Lester.
The Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton not only floats Lester’s name as a potential target, but Tampa’s James Shields has also been reported as another potential grab for the hot slugging right field All-Star-in-waiting.
Judging from the fact that this coming from both Boston and Kansas City sources, this rumor probably has some serious merit to it.
From the Red Sox point of view, they could trade a pitcher on a downswing for an actual phenom under their control for the next six years.
This really depends on a couple things in order to happen. Do the Royals seriously think they can contend for the playoffs in 2013 and are the Red Sox ready to write off next season and actually admit to a rebuilding year?
Also, would the Red Sox make this deal to thwart Tampa Bay’s ambition?
Fact or Fiction: FACT (Myers likely gets traded)
After being held out of the starting rotation for the playoffs, ESPN’s Buster Olney (subscription required to view link) confirms the conventional wisdom that Rick Porcello will draw some interest next week in Nashville.
The Detroit Tigers have quietly told other teams that Rick Porcello is available if the right package can be found.
After four years of getting hit hard while pitching at Comerica Park—not an easy task to get lit up there consistently—Detroit will need to decide soon if the 24-year-old fits into their plans for the long-term or if a change of scenery would do him good.
He has made 31 starts a year over the last two seasons and can be a great mid-level starter for someone, if not the Tigers.
Fact or Fiction: MOSTLY FACT
Take one very unhappy hitter and a team that has trashed their latest attempt to take payroll and you find where the young Stanton and the Miami Marlins are right now.
Desperately telling anyone who will listen that Stanton is not going anywhere this off season, Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest categorically denies to CBS Sports.com’s Jon Heyman that the unhappy slugger is going anywhere.
After dumping their payroll on the Toronto Blue Jays seemingly out of the blue, why should anyone take anything the Marlins say at face value?
With no public shopping of Stanton to go on, the Marlins will be listening to any credible offer made.
Fact or Fiction: FICTION (In the sense he's not available. But the right offer moves him lickety-split.)
According to MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, the Red Sox have been engaging in continued efforts to get their new man crush, Joe Mauer.
In a phrase, the Minnesota Twins are not publicly interested.
Considering that Mauer is the face of the franchise, the Red Sox would have to really wow the Twins to even get them to consider it.
With Mauer having six years left on his eight-year, $184 million extension that he signed with Minnesota before the 2011 season, the Red Sox can afford it and do have a need at catcher, but this seems like a pretty one-sided interest here.
It would be very surprising to see Mauer moved, but Justin Morneau is another story.
Fact or Fiction: FICTION
While not as sexy as some of the other names mentioned here, the Royals are actively shopping both Bruce Chen and Luke Hochaver to anyone that might be interested, according to Yahoo's Jeff Passan.
MLB Trade Rumors tells us that the pair of pitchers are due a total of $9 million in 2013 and the ever-prudent Royals want that dead weight off their payroll.
Or it could be a move to clear payroll to take on either Jon Lester’s or James Shields’ salary in a trade for Wil Myers.
In any event, expect someone to take the flier and grab these pitchers before the season starts.
Fact or Fiction: FACT
While this name may surprise you as being available, the Pittsburgh Pirates may try and cash-in their closer for a starting catcher if they end up losing out to signing free agent Russell Martin.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Pirates beat writer Rob Biertempfel floats this trial balloon as an update to a blog item about the Pirates pursuit of Martin.
A two-time All-Star, Hanrahan has had two very good years as the closer in Pittsburgh, but with closers being a relatively easy position to experiment with, they certainly could land a good player for him if they choose too.
Like the Royals, the Pirates brain trust must decide if they can really make a push this year or to simply wait.
Hanrahan has one more season before hitting free agency. The question for Pittsburgh is: Is now the right time?
Fact or Fiction: POTENTIALLY FACT