Juiciest Storyline for All 30 MLB Teams, Post-Winter Meetings Edition
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With the MLB winter meetings in the rearview mirror and big moves already made in Zack Greinke signing with the Dodgers and James Shields being dealt to the Royals, the offseason is in full swing.
There are still plenty of impact players available via free agency and trades, and as a result there are no shortage of rumors swirling on decisions to be made for each team's roster between now and Opening Day 2013.
Here is a look at the juiciest storyline for all 30 teams, post-winter meetings, as the offseason continues chugging along into the new year.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Is Asdrubal Cabrera the Answer at Shortstop?
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As the Diamondbacks continue their pursuit of an upgrade at shortstop over current projected starter Cliff Pennington, one particularly intriguing name is that of Indians veteran Asdrubal Cabrera.
According to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Indians are working on a multi-team trade that would send Cabrera to Arizona as the team looks to move veteran pieces in an effort to rebuild.
Atlanta Braves: Who Plays Left Field?
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The Braves already made one big signing this offseason, as they inked B.J. Upton to a five-year deal to replace Michael Bourn in center field.
However, the team still needs to sign someone to play left field, assuming the team shifts Martin Prado over to third base as expected.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweeted that the team is looking at players that could be a one-year stopgap, according to GM Frank Wren.
Free-agent Scott Hairston could be an option, provided he can be had on a one-year deal.
On the trade market, Shin-Soo Choo and Corey Hart are interesting candidates the team could consider.
Baltimore Orioles: Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse on Team's Radar
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The Orioles re-signed Nate McLouth to play left field this coming season, so their biggest remaining need appears to be a power bat in the middle of their lineup.
According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the team continues to show interest in free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche.
If the slugging first baseman is re-signed by the Nationals, they could look to move Michael Morse, who could also be of interest to Baltimore.
Boston Red Sox: How Will the Team Address the Pitching Staff?
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The Red Sox spent big at the winter meetings to bolster their lineup, adding Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli. However, the pitching staff remains an area that needs to be addressed.
As of now, the team's staff projects to be Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, John Lackey and Franklin Morales.
Kyle Lohse could be an option if he lowers his demands to a three-year deal (h/t ESPN).
Chicago Cubs: Will the Team Find a Way to Upgrade at Third Base?
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The Cubs are set to open the season with Ian Stewart (.201 BA, 5 HR, 17 RBI in 179 AB in 2012), Luis Valbuena (.219 BA, 4 HR, 28 RBI in 265 AB in 2012) and Josh Vitters (.121 BA, 2 HR, 5 RBI in 99 AB in 2012) vying for starting third base duties.
According to a tweet from Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago, the team was interested in both Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez and will likely continue to look for potential options at the hot corner.
Chicago White Sox: Will They Trade an Outfielder?
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The White Sox have been actively shopping a pair of outfielders according to Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune, as Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza could both be on the move.
The Mariners have shown interest in Viciedo, though the signing of Jason Bay could put a stop to those talks, while De Aza interests a Reds team in need of a leadoff hitter.
The White Sox have as thin a farm system as any in baseball, and could certainly bolster it in moving one or both of those players.
Cincinnati Reds: Who Leads Off?
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The Reds brought back Ryan Ludwick on a two-year deal to once again serve as the starting left fielder, but they are still in need of a true leadoff hitter after getting a .208 average and .581 OPS out of the spot last season (h/t Jerry Crasnick).
Dexter Fowler, Alejandro De Aza and Coco Crisp are all options the team could explore on the trade market as potential replacements for Drew Stubbs and their other leadoff options.
Cleveland Indians: When Will the Trading Begin?
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The Indians were expected to be busy on the trade market this offseason, as they are headed for a full-scale rebuild but have as thin a farm system as anyone.
Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Chris Perez could all net a solid return on the trade market, with Cabrera in particular serving as a valuable trade chip.
They've been quiet thus far, but expect things to pick up before the offseason comes to a close.
Colorado Rockies: Will the Team Trade Dexter Fowler to Improve Rotation?
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After showing flashes of potential for the past several seasons, Fowler finally put it all together this past season with a .300 BA, 13 HR, 53 RBI season.
The Reds have been brought up as one potential landing spot, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, with Homer Bailey as one name that interests the Rockies.
Whether the two sides will come to terms or someone else will make a play for Fowler remains to be seen, but he's certainly a valuable trade chip.
Detroit Tigers: Does Anibal Sanchez Rejoin the Team?
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Now that Zack Greinke has found a new home, the chips should begin to fall on the rest of the pitching market this offseason.
And perhaps the next best arm on the market is Anibal Sanchez.
For the time being, the team is seeing if his asking price of six years and $90 million drops down to what they're willing to pay, according to a tweet from Danny Knobler.
If he lands elsewhere, the team will likely push to add a different veteran starter.
Houston Astros: Which Veteran Slugger Fills the DH Role?
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With their move to the American League, the Astros are in search of a low-cost veteran bat to serve as their DH this coming season.
According to a tweet from Jon Heyman, the team could bring back Lance Berkman to fill that role, but if his asking price is too high they might turn their attention to Carlos Pena or Travis Hafner.
Kansas City Royals: Is the Rotation Set Following the Blockbuster?
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With the Royals' acquisition of James Shields and Wade Davis (h/t CBS Sports), the team's starting rotation, which was a pain point last season, now appears to be a strength.
Those two join Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana and presumably someone from the group of Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar, Felipe Paulino and Luis Mendoza.
The team was interested in a group of lower-level starters that included Brett Myers, Kevin Correia and Jair Jurrjens prior to the trade, according to a tweet from Jerry Crasnick, and they could still look to add another arm to fill out the staff.
Los Angeles Angels: Are the Offseason Moves Over?
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The Angels started the offseason by parting ways with starters Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, and when it became clear that they weren't going to be able to bring Zack Greinke back, they acted quickly and acquired Tommy Hanson from the Braves and signed Joe Blanton.
Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett were also signed to bolster the bullpen, and the team now looks to have all the pieces in place for their 2013 roster.
After spending big last offseason, they appear ready to make a run with the roster they have in place.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Will the Team Add Another High-Priced Pitcher?
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Even with the recent signings of Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers could still make a play for free-agent pitchers Kyle Lohse and Anibal Sanchez, according to a tweet from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
The current rotation shapes up to be Clayton Kershaw, Greinke, Josh Beckett, Ryu and either Aaron Harang or Chris Capuano—both of whom are possible trade candidates (h/t Danny Knobler).
Adding one of those guys to the fold would give a dangerous Dodgers team perhaps the best rotation in all of baseball.
Miami Marlins: Will Trio of Potential Trade Chips Make It to Opening Day?
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The Marlins traded away five of their key veterans in a blockbuster deal with the Blue Jays earlier this offseason, and with the team seemingly in full rebuilding mode, one has to wonder if they're done.
The trio of Ricky Nolasco, Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton all have significant trade value that the Marlins could look to sell this offseason.
Nolasco appears to be the most likely to be dealt, as he's a free agent at season's end.
Milwaukee Brewers: Could Corey Hart Be Moved to Free Up Payroll Space?
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Entering the final year of his contract, the Brewers could look to move Corey Hart and his $10 million contract as they look for some payroll flexibility to sign a veteran starter to slot behind Yovani Gallardo.
According to a tweet from Danny Knobler, the team has considered moving Hart. Without doing so, they won't be able to make a run at the bigger pitchers on the market.
The 30-year-old has averaged a .279 BA, 29 HR, 83 RBI, 19 SB line over the past three seasons.
Minnesota Twins: More Starting Pitching on the Way?
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The Twins had one of the worst starting rotations in baseball last season. And aside from Scott Diamond, they don't have much in the way of arms worth keeping moving forward.
Vance Worley was acquired from the Phillies for Ben Revere, along with top pitching prospect Trevor May, though he's still a ways off from making he majors. The team could still look to add another starter or two, though.
Earlier in the offseason, Darren Wolfson of ESPN reported that the Twins had touched base with roughly 20 pitchers. As the chips begin to fall, expect at least one veteran arm to sign with the Twins.
New York Mets: How Does the R.A. Dickey Situation Play Out?
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With David Wright re-signed, the Mets now turn their attention to R.A. Dickey, who is set to hit free agency at the end of the season and is reportedly seeking a two-year, $25 million contract (h/t Newsday).
After missing out on Zack Greinke, the Rangers are showing interest in the right-hander and have offered a package centered around top prospect Mike Olt, according to a tweet from Kevin Davidoff of the New York Post.
If Dickey is officially made available, there would no doubt be more than a few teams who make a push for the reigning Cy Young winner's services.
New York Yankees: How Will Catcher, Third Base Be Handled?
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With Russell Martin signing with the Pirates and Alex Rodriguez expected to be out for the first half of the season with hip surgery, the Yankees will need to look for solutions at catcher and third base before the season starts.
A.J. Pierzynski is the biggest name at catcher on the free-agent market, but according to a tweet from Jon Heyman, his average defense is giving the Yankees reason for pause.
At third base, there is one less option after Mark Reynolds signed with the Indians.
Seeing as they were the other team strongly pursuing Kevin Youkilis (h/t Buster Olney), it now seems more likely than not the former Red Sox star will be suiting up in pinstripes this coming season.
Oakland Athletics: Who Plays Shortstop?
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The A's return essentially the same lineup as they had to end last season, with the notable exception being shortstop, where Stephen Drew is a free agent and Adam Rosales currently tops the team's depth chart.
Bringing back Drew remains an option, even though the team declined its $10 million option on him when the offseason began.
However, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the team could also consider Jhonny Peralta if Drew winds up signing with Detroit.
Japan's Hiroyuki Nakajima is an option as well, but he's seeking a three-year, $15 million deal that is likely out of the team's price range.
Philadelphia Phillies: Addition of Michael Young Just the Beginning?
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The Phillies solved one problem this past weekend when they acquired Michael Young from the Rangers to play third base, but they still need help in the outfield and in the bullpen (h/t Ken Rosenthal).
The odds that Josh Hamilton returns to Texas seem much higher now that the team lost out on Zack Greinke, but the Phillies remain in on Hamilton.
As for other free-agent options, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Cody Ross and Delmon Young represent the best outfield options out there, while there are still a ton of viable setup men on the market, headlined by Mike Adams.
Pittsburgh Pirates: How Does Back End of Rotation Shape Up?
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The Pirates will benefit from a full season of Wandy Rodriguez in their rotation alongside A.J. Burnett and James McDonald. However, the other two rotation spots are up in the air as of now.
Jeff Karstens was non-tendered and Kevin Correia has departed via free agency, leaving a trio of prospects in Jeff Locke, Gerrit Cole and Kyle McPherson to compete for the final two spots as of now.
The team could certainly look to add a veteran or two to that mix.
San Diego Padres: How Does the Back End of the Rotation Shape Up?
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The Padres appear to be more-or-less set heading into spring training, as they will likely just look to add one more starting pitcher, according to a tweet from Corey Brock of MLB.com.
The team has already added Tyson Ross and re-signed Jason Marquis this offseason. They will help fill out a rotation that starts with Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard, with the fifth spot currently up in the air.
The pitching market is likely to take off now that Zack Greinke has signed, but there are still plenty of options.
San Francisco Giants: Who Plays Left Field?
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The Giants have already taken care of two areas of need this offseason, re-signing Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan after the duo played an integral role in the team's championship run.
With that, left field remains the biggest area of need.
Gregor Blanco filled in admirably after Melky Cabrera was suspended but is best suited as a backup. The team is not in on Nick Swisher, according to a tweet from Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area and likely won't be in on Michael Bourn, either.
The offense could certainly use another impact bat, and it will be interesting to see what they do to address this need moving forward.
Seattle Mariners: How Will the Offense Be Upgraded?
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After finishing dead last in the AL in batting average and runs scored in each of the past three seasons, the Mariners have seemingly been rumored to be in on every free-agent bat so far this offseason.
Thus far, all they've managed to accomplish is adding Jason Bay on a one-year deal.
According to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, the team has offered Josh Hamilton a three-year, $75 million deal.
While it seems unlikely that they'll go the entire offseason without adding a top bat to their offense, who that someone could be remains unclear at the moment.
St. Louis Cardinals: Could Utility Infielder Be Final Piece of the Puzzle?
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The Cardinals filled their one glaring offseason need when they signed reliever Randy Choate to a three-year contract, giving them a much-needed second lefty in the bullpen.
Now, according to a tweet from Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the team is looking to add a utility infielder. Alex Gonzalez, Chris Getz and Steve Lombardozzi have all been discussed.
Tampa Bay Rays: Who Fills James Shields' Rotation Spot?
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The Rays finally pulled the trigger on a deal to improve their offense, as they shipped James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals for a package built around top prospect Wil Myers that also included a pair of high-upside arms in Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery.
Having already added James Loney and Yunel Escobar to the lineup, the team's offense appears to be sufficiently improved. Now, the biggest decision remaining is who takes Shields' spot in the rotation.
Chris Archer and Alex Cobb appear to be the clear favorites to step in, while Alexander Colome, Alex Torres and Odorizzi all have a chance as well.
Texas Rangers: Who Becomes New Starting Pitching Target?
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With Zack Greinke signing with the Dodgers and James Shields getting dealt to the Royals, the Rangers will need to decide on a new starting pitching target as they look to add an impact arm to their rotation.
Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas pointed to Shields, R.A. Dickey and Anibal Sanchez as the likely targets after Greinke signed, and Kevin Davidoff of the New York Post tweeted that the team is willing to include Mike Olt in a deal for Dickey.
Only time will tell, but one way or another the Rangers seem set on adding a top-tier starter this winter.
Toronto Blue Jays: How Will Position Battle at Catcher Play Out?
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Following their blockbuster trade with the Marlins, the Blue Jays find themselves in a great position to contend in 2013, but they could still benefit from adding another frontline starter to a rotation that is fronted by a pair of injury risks in Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow.
J.P. Arencibia has terrific power, but Travis d'Arnaud projects to be a far better all-around catcher, and the job will be his in Toronto once he proves ready.
The question is, will d'Arnaud be ready to assume the everyday role this season or will he need one more year in the minors following knee surgery?
With the team looking to contend, they won't want to make a move until they know for sure that they will be set at catcher for the coming year.
Washington Nationals: Will the Nats Keep Michael Morse or Adam LaRoche?
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With their acquisition of Denard Span, the Nationals now project to shift Michael Morse from left field to first base. However, the team also has a decision to make regarding Adam LaRoche, as bringing him back would likely mean putting Morse on the trade block.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post tweeted that the Nationals have set an informal Christmas deadline for LaRoche to make a decision.
Right now, the team's unwillingness to go beyond two years is the sticking point, according to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.