While the MLB winter meetings led to many completed transactions, it also laid the groundwork for other significant trades. More movement is inevitable as the offseason progresses.
Not surprisingly, rebuilding franchises will dump expiring contacts for prospect packages. Also expect potential contenders to collaborate with one another to address weaknesses.
Former AL MVP Alex Rodriguez won't be shopped and reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey is inching toward an extension with the New York Mets.
But rest assured, we'll see big-name players dealt this holiday season.
The Miami Marlins have traded nearly a dozen MLB players since July.
The Miami Marlins opened the 2012 season with a formidable starting rotation. Eight months later, Ricky Nolasco is the only remaining member of it.
The soon-to-be 30-year-old is a dinosaur on a roster that has recently been gutted of reputable individuals. He doesn't fit into Miami's future plans and understandably wants to pitch for "somebody other than the Marlins in 2013," according to agent Matt Sosnick (via ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick).
Nolasco's $11.5 million salary doesn't seem so ridiculous when you see Joe Blanton and Jeremy Guthrie signing for $15 million and $25 million, respectively. The right-hander provides innings—averaging more than 190 per season since 2008—and a strike-throwing mentality.
On the down side, his strikeout rate has plummeted the last couple summers. Moreover, he lacks postseason and American League experience.
The Marlins would be on the hook for most of his guaranteed money if they went after a high-ceiling hitting prospect. Some playoff hopeful looking to add rotation depth will show interest.
Choo would infuse more power and speed into the Braves lineup.
Scott Boras' clients seldom sign contract extensions before reaching free agency.
Shin-Soo Choo, for example, has reportedly rejected several multi-year offers from the Cleveland Indians. Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors projects that he'll earn $7.9 million in arbitration during his final year under team control.
The Tribe lacks the major league personnel and spending money to compete next season. Trading Choo this winter is the team's wisest course of action.
Conveniently, the Atlanta Braves seek an outfielder. They could give Cleveland a choice between right-handed pitchers J.R. Graham and Zeke Spruill, both of whom finished 2012 at Double-A.
The Detroit Tigers would rather have Stephen Drew than Peralta.
Jhonny Peralta is a good defensive shortstop by the numbers, but a terrible fit for the Detroit Tigers.
He lacks range and first-step quickness, just like third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Right-handed batters will continue to poke holes between those guys unless one gets replaced by a better athlete.
The AL MVP obviously won't be changing clubs or positions, so Peralta has landed on the trading block by default. All indications are that the Tigers will out-bid other fervent suitors for free agent Stephen Drew.
Detroit eliminated the Oakland Athletics from the 2012 postseason, but A's GM Billy Beane would make an excellent trade partner (if he can put the bitterness behind him). An affordable shortstop ranks atop his wish list and Peralta certainly qualifies ($6 million for 2013).
What's in it for the Tigers?
Detroit has been targeting relievers capable of closing in trade talks.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 7, 2012
How about Grant Balfour? His expiring contract calls for just $4.5 million next year. With Bruce Rondon coming through the minor league system, Detroit only needs a stopgap, anyway.
Oakland will miss Balfour's veteran presence and late-season excellence, but the bullpen has a surplus of capable replacements.
Shields is getting too pricey for the small-market Tampa Bay Rays.
Speaking of surplus, the Tampa Bay Rays could nearly fill out two MLB starting rotations with their superb pitchers.
The names Jeremy Hellickson and James Shields keep surfacing in trade rumors. A major league source tells CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that the chances of one being included in a deal have increased.
The latter is more likely to head west. He'll get $9 million next season with a $12 million team option for 2014. Those are prices that Tampa Bay has historically avoided paying any non-position player.
In the market for a staff leader, the Kansas City Royals wouldn't mind taking on Shields' contract. Free-agent alternatives like Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse and Anibal Sanchez demand more years at a higher annual value.
Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star believes power-hitting prospect Wil Myers is available, but he adds that the Rays want even more in return. Right-hander Brooks Pounders could seal this deal.
The Arizona Diamondbacks will trade Upton to meet other needs.
With cooperation from the Texas Rangers and—at least—one other team, über-talented outfielder Justin Upton will find a new home.
Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has been very clear about his demands: a controllable shortstop and competent starting pitcher.
Texas is reluctant to part with either Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, but expect that mindset to change.
The dominoes will start to fall when the Rangers officially sign Zack Greinke. Pitching acquisitions by the Los Angeles Angels and Washington Nationals during the winter meetings indicate that they've grown impatient. Also, Ned Colletti of the Los Angeles Dodgers spoke pessimistically about his club's chances in the Greinke sweepstakes (via Mark Saxon, ESPNLosAngeles.com).
Committing $100-plus million to the right-hander will restrict the Rangers from adding Josh Hamilton. Instead, they will offer Andrus, involve another club who can provide pitching, and fill out their outfield with Upton.