Is Jacoby Ellsbury on the move?
R.A. Dickey is the latest big name to find a new home this winter, having been reportedly traded from the New York Mets to the Toronto Blue Jays provided he agrees to a contract extension (according to Fox Sports).
It begs the question, what other names might be on the move before the start of the 2013 season?
As always, rumors have run rampant. The Internet is always buzzing with some type of theoretical trade that makes one team loaded with All-Stars, leaving the other a scrap heap of talent.
It's amusing, nonetheless.
With that being said, here is a look at four players who you've undoubtedly read about previously in some type of trade talks or rumors.
What are the odds that any of these players are on the move?
We already know that the Boston Red Sox contacted the Philadelphia Phillies regarding a trade of Jacoby Ellsbury for Cliff Lee.
At least, that is according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
The Red Sox have since been quiet on the Ellsbury trade front.
As Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports, trading Ellsbury is not part of the Boston's plans this winter. At least that is what general manager Ben Cherington is saying at this point:
That’s not our intent. We’re expecting Jacoby to have a really good year in 2013 and be a huge part of what we’re doing. You answer the phone and take the calls and listen to ideas. But our expectation is Jacoby will be here and be our center fielder.
With that in mind, there are other factors that weigh into a trade of Jacoby Ellsbury.
First, he is a client of mega-agent Scott Boras. In case you missed it, I previously wrote a piece detailing why Scott Boras is such a tremendous factor in these type of situations. Feel free to check it out.
Almost all of his clients go to free agency and ultimately take the highest contract offered. In only a small handful of cases will you see a player take less to stay with his current team.
By all indications, a player of Ellsbury's caliber will hit free agency instead of signing an extension with the Red Sox.
Believe it or not, the team can survive without him.
Waiting in the wings is the center fielder of the future; Jackie Bradley Jr.
As Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston reports, he is the next Ellsbury-type player in the organization. He should be ready to take over in center by 2014 with some action likely coming at the end of 2013.
Even before that takes place, the Red Sox just signed Shane Victorino to play right field, a position he's only played 139 times out of his 1,076 career games.
751 appearances have come in center field.
Victorino is an insurance policy for the team should Ellsbury walk and Bradley not be quite ready to take the reins in 2014.
There is more incentive to trade Ellsbury now as well.
If the Red Sox trade Ellsbury before the start of the regular season, whomever he is traded to would be afforded a draft pick if Ellsbury should sign elsewhere as a free agent after the 2013 season.
Once the season begins, that bargaining chip goes away and the only guaranteed value Ellsbury offers is a rental for the remainder of the season.
With that in mind, unless a deal could be worked out for a Cliff Lee-caliber pitcher, a deal for Ellsbury will likely not take place.
This Red Sox regime has shown restraint, and I don't think that would waiver for a poor trade of one of their biggest stars.
On Opening Day of the 2012 regular season, the Miami Marlins had a payroll of over $118 million, the seventh highest in Major League Baseball.
Their team was stacked with names like Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Lee, Josh Johnson, Heath Bell and Carlos Zambrano, to name a few.
Fast forward to the end of the season and the disappointing Marlins finished last in the NL East with a 69-93 record; not exactly the way the franchise wanted to roll out the new stadium, new name, new uniforms, etc.
So, they went back to an old, familiar equation: trade away everybody.
The Marlins seemingly dismantled their team, leaving Stanton the only all-star caliber player on the team.
As Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today reports that Stanton was extremely angry with the dismantling of his team, but has not publicly requested a trade.
At just 23 years old, Stanton is already projected to have sustained success at the major league level.
In 2012 he batted .290 while leading the National League with a .608 slugging percentage. He had 37 home runs and 30 doubles adding 86 RBI.
Betting on what the Marlins are going to do is almost pointless, however, since they did not move Stanton at the winter meetings it appears less likely that he'll be moved now.
Despite the recent cleansing of the roster, the team needs at least one attraction. That attraction will be Stanton.
Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo
In case you were living in a cave somewhere off the coast of Guam over the past several days, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed Josh Hamilton to a five-year $125 million contract.
That gives the Halos one of the greatest 3-4-5 hitting combinations ever in Hamilton, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
It also gives them a logjam in the outfield.
The team's official website lists Hamilton, Trout and Mark Trumbo as their starting outfielders with an excess of Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells and even Kendrys Morales.
As Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports, the signing of Hamilton should be the first step in trading away one of their outfielders.
Being realistic, nobody is going to touch Vernon Wells and his two years and $42 million remaining on his contract.
That leaves Bourjos, Morales or a longshot of Trumbo.
Morales is listed as the team's DH heading into the season, leaving Bourjos the odd man out.
Comparitively, Bourjos is the least attractive name on that list. His career .247 batting average and .703 OPS will not likely yield a significant return.
However, the Angels have few needs, if any, at this point.
Looking ahead, Morales is entering the final year of his contract with the Angels, while Bourjos is under team control through 2017.
Morales offers much more offensive upside to any interested teams, as he owns a lifetime .281 batting average with a .823 OPS.
In many respects, he would be the silver medal of the potential available Angels.
Undoubtedly, Mark Trumbo is the chip that many teams would want the most. However, according to a tweet by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Trumbo is not available:
Angels are telling people they're not trading Mark Trumbo. Obviously, that changes with right offer but more inclined to deal Peter Bourjos.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 15, 2012
With that in mind, Trumbo will likely be staying put, but there is a 100 percent chance that Bourjos or Morales will be playing elsewhere in 2013.
With the Detroit Tigers having just re-signed Anibal Sanchez to a five-year, $80 million contract as reported by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, it appears that 23-year-old righty Rick Porcello could be the odd man out in Detroit.
Porcello owned a 10-12 record for the Tigers in 2012, with a 4.59 ERA and a 1.531 WHIP in 31 games.
While his 2012 season was by far the worst of his major league career, The Sporting News points out that Porcello is "just 23 and was a first-round pick (27th overall) in 2007, so he has plenty of value."
Michigan Live's James Schmehl reported a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden (since removed) that claims Porcello is already drawing interest from the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates.
According to CBS Sports' Danny Knobler, it shouldn't be too difficult for the Tigers to find a trade partner, as several teams were already inquiring at the winter meetings as to his availability.
Porcello provides an affordable option who will remain under team control through 2016, which leads me to believe that he will absolutely be traded before the start of the season.