MLB Rumors: Identifying the Buyers and Sellers at the Winter Meetings
In just three days' time, many MLB rumors could become reality as the winter meetings get underway in Nashville.
Teams will be gathering at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, the host of the winter meetings for the sixth time.
Owners, general managers, managers, player agents and some players themselves will be on hand for the fun-filled and active four-day event.
And so too will the media—in droves.
Buyers and sellers will be out in force—the former looking for whatever they can find to fill their grocery list, and the latter hoping to unload pricey veterans or other under-performing stars.
Bleacher Report will use the rumor mill as the criteria for both the buyers and sellers, based on the chatter seen on the Web in recent weeks.
Kansas City Royals: Sellers
The Kansas City Royals have made strides in achieving their goals for the 2013 season and beyond.
The acquisition of Ervin Santana and the signing of Jeremy Guthrie to a three-year contract is the start of what the Royals intend to do—bolster their starting rotation.
To that end, there are definitely indications that the Royals will be selling off parts in order to free up money to acquire more depth for their rotation.
This from Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports:
Sources: Royals "calling everyone" to trade Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen. KC accelerating timetable to acquire starter, wants to free up $.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 29, 2012
According to The Kansas City Star, there's talk that the Royals could take a major dip into their prospect pool to acquire a front-line starter as well, possibly using Wil Myers as a chip.
All of this certainly sets the Royals up to be sellers this coming week. However, unlike in years past, they're selling to get better, not to rebuild.
Miami Marlins: Sellers
The Miami Marlins have already been selling for months now, but they could be doing more of it next week in Nashville.
There is every indication that the Marlins will be looking for a buyer for starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, rival executives have told him that Nolasco is without question on the selling block. Nolasco is owed $11.5 million in 2013 and is the last big-money player on the Marlins' roster.
Nolasco could net the Marlins some prospects. However, with a 12-13 record and 4.48 ERA in 2012 and in the final year of his contract, it's hard to think the Marlins can get anything considered top-line prospects in return.
Toronto Blue Jays: Sellers
The Toronto Blue Jays are likely on the hunt for one more starting pitcher, but as the winter meetings begin on Monday, they also could be selling.
Catchers, that is.
The Blue Jays have J.P. Arencibia, John Buck, Bobby Wilson and Travis D'Arnaud. Quite a few teams aren't even lucky enough to have two capable catchers, let alone four.
The Blue Jays have shopped them already, according to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.
But starting Monday, they'll be in the catbird's seat as at least 10 MLB teams seek to find help behind the plate.
Boston Red Sox: Sellers
Much like the Toronto Blue Jays, the Boston Red Sox have an abundance of catchers.
With the signing of David Ross to a two-year contract, the Red Sox have at their disposal Ross, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway.
Ross isn't going anywhere, but teams will likely be sitting down with Red Sox officials starting on Monday to discuss Salty and Lavarnway.
“All three could contribute to our team; I expect that to be the case,” Cherington said. “We have to see what happens.”
Yes, as in see what kind of offers he gets next week in Nashville.
San Diego Padres: Buyers
For the past several years, the San Diego Padres have been identified as sellers. However, with new ownership in place and looking to contend in the NL West, their mindset has certainly changed.
The Padres have already shown their willingness to compete, with extensions given to both closer Huston Street and outfielder Carlos Quentin. According to U-T San Diego, they could be looking to extend third baseman Chase Headley as well, after his breakout season.
Brock listed Joe Blanton and Shaun Marcum as possible fits, but with some extra money now in their pockets with new owners, they could well set their sights higher come Monday.
Philadelphia Phillies: Buyers
The Philadelphia Phillies were sellers during the 2012 season, jettisoning Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Chad Qualls and Jim Thome at various times.
However, they now clearly appear to be in buying mode.
The Phillies are on the hunt for outfielders and bullpen help. According to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, they attempted to acquire reliever Wilton Lopez from the Houston Astros on Thursday, but the deal was never consummated.
GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he is indeed looking for outfielders and has several candidates on his radar.
They could use a third baseman as well.
The grocery list is large, and Amaro will hope to whittle down that list starting Monday.
Cleveland Indians: Sellers
The Cleveland Indians are fresh off a 94-loss season. They're also fresh off a year in which they only drew 1.6 million fans to Progressive Field.
Their payroll for the 2013 season has been described as "fluid." That likely means that fans shouldn't expect much in terms of purchasing high-ticket players.
However, the Indians know that the only way they'll have any hope of competing in the AL Central is to bolster their starting pitching. To that end, they could very well be sellers starting on Monday.
Two weeks ago, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reported that the Indians would be willing to listen to offers for shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, but only if they received front-line pitching in return.
Last week, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports cited an executive as telling him the Indians were indeed shopping Cabrera.
With limited funds, the Indians don't figure to make a huge splash next week, but they could make some little ripples.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Buyers
Adding Russell Martin takes a major item off the to-do list for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pittsburgh Pirates again are looking to break a long-standing record, and after 20 years they just may have their best chance.
Not since 1992 has Pittsburgh recorded a winning record. The pieces are there to continue on an upward path, but general manager Neal Huntington as more work to do.
Huntington has already started the process, agreeing to terms with free-agent catcher Russell Martin on a two-year, $17 million deal on Thursday.
Martin adds a much-needed bat to the Pirates lineup, in a position that was sorely lacking. Now, Huntington can go into Nashville on Monday in search of some pitching help.
However, Huntington's resume suggests that he won't use the winter meetings to finalize deals—rather, he'll set them up for the near future.
Still, just the fact that the Pirates aren't in subtraction mode in any way is a welcome change.
Texas Rangers: Sellers
No, you didn't read the headline wrong. The Texas Rangers could be in selling mode sometime next week.
The Rangers are looking at the possibility of losing two key offensive contributors, Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli. Both are highly sought-after free agents who figure to get paid.
There's no question the Rangers are still in a win-now mode, especially given recent comments by general manager Jon Daniels:
We've looked at a variety of things to improve the club. Some are relatively minor, some of them involve giving our young players a chance and some are bigger moves. Some are a combination of them all.
We're not going to turn over the club. We're in a situation where we have a good club, a good core. We like our team. We've got some opportunities to upgrade and we're looking into them.
Some of those opportunities could come via the trade market, and the Rangers certainly have chips to use.
Prospect third baseman Mike Olt was already dangled by the Rangers in an attempt to acquire Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton.
According to MLB.com, the Rangers reportedly balked about including shortstop Elvis Andrus or prospect Jurickson Profar in a proposed deal with the Diamondbacks as well.
However, this winter features a market essentially devoid of quality shortstops and third basemen. One would have to be naive to think the Rangers wouldn't consider dealing Andrus and/or Olt if the return netted say, a David Price or a Felix Hernandez.
The Rangers certainly have a lot on their plate to think about in terms of the status of both Hamilton and Napoli.
But selling in order to get that top-shelf pitcher can't be ignored.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Buyers
The Los Angeles Dodgers apparently don't care about payroll.
Well, that's not quite what Dodgers president Stan Kasten said, but it certainly could have been taken that way.
"I am focusing on building the best team we can be,'' Kasten said, "and where exactly the payroll will be, we'll worry about that later. This particular phase we're in is building and returning the Dodgers to greatness."
In other words, watch out, Nashville.
The Dodgers are on the hunt for a starter to complement ace Clayton Kershaw, and their clear goal is free-agent hurler Zack Greinke.
The Dodgers appear committed to match any team's best offer made to Greinke, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden.
In fact, Buster Olney of ESPN.com was told it could be the biggest deal made for any pitcher.
One person involved in the Greinke talks believes there is a good chance he beats CC Sabathia's record of 7/$161m.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 27, 2012
Whatever happens, the Dodgers are buying, and payroll concerns aren't actually concerns at all.
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.