The MLB Hot Stove is nearing its boiling point, and the offseason is really only just beginning. The tone has been set with ace pitcher Zack Greinke signing a long-term deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and more will follow. Multiple teams are looking to make deals, and free-agency grand prize Josh Hamilton has yet to sign a new contract.
One key rumor involves New York Mets right-hander and reigning NL Cy Young Award winning R.A. Dickey (pictured). The team picked up his option for next season, but could look to deal him if he won't sign an extension soon.
Needless to say, rumors are a-swirling and not going away anytime soon. Over the past couple of weeks, some have seemed like they have been around for a while.
As fans, we will all be happy once they are no longer the talk of the town and we can look forward to the new season.
Ellsbury hits free agency next winter, and the Red Sox recent signing of Shane Victorino suggests that he could be on the move soon, particularly since Boston played so terribly last season. Ellsbury was no exception, batting just .271 with four homers and 26 RBI and 14 steals in 74 games, especially following an MVP-like 2011.
Boston GM Ben Cherington has said he has no plans to trade his talented center fielder, but Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports otherwise. According to him, Cherington reached out to the Philadelphia Phillies and offered Ellsbury for pitcher Cliff Lee.
Regardless of which rumor is true, the Red Sox aren't doing themselves any favors by keeping Ellsbury around. The team already slashed payroll last season in sending their more expensive players to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they would be better off trying to get something in return for Ellsbury.
By letting him play out his contract, they just risk losing him for nothing.
Thus, Cherington had better make a decision soon, and stop giving Sawx fans any further anxiety.
Kevin Youkilis' free agency may be headed in an odd direction. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the three-time All-Star has two options: take a two-year, $18 million deal to play for the Cleveland Indians, or a one-year, $12 million to play for the Yankees, while Alex Rodriguez recovers from hip surgery.
Seeing as how Cleveland has just signed Mark Reynolds, it's safe to say that Lonnie Chisenhall will be playing third base for the Indians and that Youkilis is no longer in their plans. This leaves the Yankees, a strange choice since Youkilis spent eight-plus seasons with the Boston Red Sox.
The fact is that Youkilis has to make a decision. Never before has the free agency of someone who hit .235 in a season gotten so much attention. It doesn't have to be the Yankees, but the man simply must find a new team just so Boston fans know whether to boo him, if anything.
Hamilton is the best hitter available this winter, but there's no telling where he will play if he doesn't re-sign with the Texas Rangers. In fact, no team has emerged as a favorite for his services.
Despite this, one unlikely team may be in the fold. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Seattle Mariners have exchanged figures with the 2010 AL MVP, despite a contrasting report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
It sounds strange, but Seattle would actually be a good fit for Hamilton. It is a smaller market without much pressure, and the team is still a few years away from contending.
Granted, Hamilton would not be in the same winning environment in which he has grown accustomed to in Texas. Still, he would inject a great deal of life into an otherwise anemic Mariners lineup, which could be enough to convince future free agents to head to the Pacific Northwest.
Ken Rosenthal also reports that the Texas Rangers, having lost out on Zack Greinke and potentially losing Josh Hamilton, are interested in Upton.
The young outfielder is just 25 years old and is coming off an off-year with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Upton hit .280 in 2012, but hit just 17 homers with 67 RBI following a 31 home run, 88 RBI campaign in 2011.
Texas has apparently been exploring multi-team trades according to Rosenthal, but nothing has materialized yet.
Simply put, Arizona needs to make a decision here. Do they write off last season as a fluke and give Upton another shot, or do they include him in a deal that is sure to include a great deal of talent headed their way?
This rumor needs to go away fast, be it with a trade happening or a formal announcement that Upton will not be traded.
Following the signing of All-Star third baseman and fan favorite David Wright to a lucrative extension, New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson has switched his focus to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
The 38-year-old went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and NL-leading 230 strikeouts en route to winning the NL Cy Young Award, and the team picked up his option for next season.
However, the two parties have yet to agree to a contract extension, and it seems that the Mets are starting to get restless. According to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, the team has been in touch with the Texas Rangers about a potential trade for Dickey. In return, the Mets would like prospect Mike Olt and then some.
Mets fans would surely cry foul if Dickey were traded this winter, so Alderson needs to make a decision. Does he roll the dice on his star pitcher and try and negotiate a deal during the season, or does he throw last season away and make a trade for prospects?