MLB Trade Rumors: Trade Targets That Can Shift MLB's Balance of Power in 2013

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: Trade Targets That Can Shift MLB's Balance of Power in 2013

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    Thus far this offseason, MLB trade rumors have been aplenty, and many of the reported trade targets have in fact made their way to their new teams.

    The balance of power has certainly shifted in the American League East, with the Toronto Blue Jays acquiring Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio last month.

    The Jays also pulled off a deal that adds even more intrigue to the balance of power in the AL East, finalizing a deal with the New York Mets to acquire reigning Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. The deal is still pending, dependent on a new extension for Dickey.

    Other deals have the potential of having great impact for each team involved as well. With the offseason not quite halfway over, the potential for more impact deals certainly remains high.

    Here are some possible trade target that could have huge impact and that could continue to shift the balance of power across Major League Baseball.

Justin Upton

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks had been talking with several teams about the possibility of dealing star right fielder Justin Upton. But Jon Heyman of said last Tuesday that those talks had stalled and that many in the industry believed that Upton wouldn't be going anywhere.

    The Diamondbacks already traded center fielder Chris Young earlier this offseason to the Oakland Athletics, but they still have Upton, Gerardo Parra, Jason Kubel and Adam Eaton. Prospect A.J. Pollock will likely push for playing time as well.

    With Josh Hamilton going to the Los Angeles Angels, there's always the possibility that Arizona could try to renew trade talks with the Rangers. The two teams talked in November, but Texas was unwilling to part with either of their young shortstops, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar.

    Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said that despite losing Hamilton, he won't overreact and make a deal that doesn't make sense for his team.

    "There's a number of talented players that have been with us the last few years that are big parts of the club and won't be here," Daniels said. "It's going to be a challenge. If there are opportunities to improve, we'll do them. We'll try not to overreact."

    Considering Daniels has lost three key offensive contributors, Upton's name is likely going to come up again.

    In addition, now that the Diamondbacks have acquired Didi Gregorius from the Cincinnati Reds, the return package for Upton would likely involve other players.

    Upton has been mentioned in various trade rumors since general manager Kevin Towers took over in Arizona, so it wouldn't be surprising to see more speculation about Upton for the rest of the offseason.

Joe Mauer

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    Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer grew up in St. Paul, MN, and was drafted by his hometown team in 2001. Throughout his career, he has been a hitting machine, compiling a .323 lifetime average. No catcher in modern history has a higher average than Mauer.

    This offseason, however, has seen Mauer's name mentioned in trade talks. Last month, Peter Gammons of said that the Boston Red Sox contacted the Twins on at least three separate occasions to inquire about Mauer's availability.

    The Twins turned the Red Sox down all three times.

    Mauer still has six years and $138 million remaining on his contract, making him a trade target for very few teams across the league.

    However, with the Twins looking to rebuild and work their way back to respectability, Mauer's name will likely pop up again in various rumors and speculation.

Jacoby Ellsbury

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    After a season in which he nearly captured the AL MVP Award, Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury took a step backwards. He hit just .271 with four home runs and 26 RBI a year after hitting .321 with 32 homers and 105 RBI. Ellsbury also missed three months with a separated shoulder.

    As such, Ellsbury's value as a trade chip took a major hit. But it hasn't stopped the rumor mill from churning.

    Earlier this month, the Red Sox talked to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Red Sox wanted starting pitcher Cliff Lee in return for Ellsbury and were rebuffed. The Phillies ended up trading for Ben Revere.

    There are those in the Boston media who continue calling for an Ellsbury trade, with the thought that Ellsbury'a agent, Scott Boras, will price Ellsbury out of Boston anyway. So why not deal him now and get something of value in return?

    Because of Ellsbury's injury history, the likelihood of landing a front-line pitcher like Felix Hernandez is a pipe dream. However, Ellsbury could bring back depth for the Red Sox in an area that badly needs it.

    For the team acquiring Ellsbury, if he's able to remain healthy, the thought of him putting together a season like his 2011 campaign would certainly be a game-changer.

Giancarlo Stanton

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    Despite the fact that the Miami Marlins have traded virtually everyone of significance, they insist that slugging right fielder Giancarlo Stanton will not be traded.

    That will not stop the rumor mill from churning, however.

    In fact, Joe Frisaro of intimated on Thursday that the Marlins could be enticed to change their stance. Frisaro mentioned the fact that the Texas Rangers might now be very interested, especially after losing Josh Hamilton.

    The Rangers certainly have chips that would be intriguing for the Marlins. No question that Stanton would cost the Rangers dearly, but he would help to not only replace Hamilton's offense, but also to be a force in the Rangers lineup for years to come.

Peter Bourjos

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    With the acquisition of Josh Hamilton, the Los Angeles Angels now feature an outfield with Hamilton, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo.

    That would appear to leave young, speedy center fielder Peter Bourjos out in the cold.

    Bourjos saw his playing time slip away last season with the emergence of Trout and with Trumbo's transition to the outfield. With Vernon Wells still on the roster, something seemingly has to give.

    Danny Knobler of speculated on Saturday that Bourjos could be a fit for the Detroit Tigers.

    Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello would be the player the Angels are after.

    Knobler also mentioned the Atlanta Braves as a possible fit for Bourjos as well.

    Bourjos might not necessarily represent a shift in the balance of power, but his great speed and defense would certainly be of great benefit for many teams.

Rick Porcello

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    Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello may be the odd man out after the signing of Anibal Sanchez to a five-year, $80 million contract.

    Justin Verlander, Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister sit atop the Tigers rotation. Drew Smyly could step in as the fifth starter should the Tigers entertain the possibility of dealing Porcello.

    At least two National League teams are interested in Porcello, and as noted in the previous slide, the Los Angeles Angels could be pursuing Porcello as well.

    Hard to qualify Porcello as a game-changer or as a player who can help shift the balance of power. However, he does add depth and is under team control for three more seasons.

Jon Lester

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    After posting a stratospheric .691 winning percentage in his first six seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Jon Lester suffered through a miserable 2012 campaign.

    Lester posted a 9-14 record and 4.82 ERA in 33 starts—numbers totally out of character considering his career stats.

    Lester has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate. Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted from the MLB winter meetings that the Red Sox were listening to offers, but would have to be completely blown away before dealing Lester.

    The Red Sox also entertained a Lester-for-Wil Myers swap before the Kansas City Royals dealt Myers to the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Lester was certainly considered an elite left-hander before last season, and if the 2012 season was simply a blip on the radar, he would have considerable impact for a number of teams.

Kendrys Morales

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    Los Angeles Angels designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales enjoyed a nice bounce-back season in 2012.

    After being sidelined for a year-and-a-half while recovering from a broken ankle, Morales hit .273 with 22 home runs and 73 RBI last season.

    Now, however, the Angels could dangle Morales in order to acquire starting pitching.

    According to Jim Bowden of ESPN, the Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros could all be landing spots for Morales.

    The Rays would be a great fit, as Morales adds power and on-base capabilities to a team desperate for more offense.

    However, after dealing James Shields and Wade Davis to the Kansas City Royals, the Rays may be loathe to give up the pitching that the Angels seek in return.

    The Angels are said to be more keen on dealing Morales rather than Mark Trumbo or Peter Bourjos.

Joel Hanrahan

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    Pittsburgh Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan has established himself as one of the best at his craft with his performance the last two seasons.

    As such, Hanrahan has drawn considerable interest.

    With a salary possibly approaching $7 million next season through arbitration, Hanrahan may be getting a bit too expensive for the cost-conscious Pirates.

    Last week, Buster Olney of ESPN suggested that the Los Angeles Dodgers could be a fit for Hanrahan. The Dodgers are looking to deal starters Aaron Harang and/or Chris Capuano, who both have reasonable contracts as well.

    Hanrahan on the Dodgers would give them a bullpen that would indeed be formidable. With Brandon League, Kenley Jansen, Javy Guerra, Ronald Belisario and Matt Guerrier already in the fold, adding Hanrahan at the back end would give the Dodgers one of the most dominant bullpens in the majors.

    Hanrahan has been linked to the Detroit Tigers as well, but with the recent signing of Anibal Sanchez, they may not be keen on adding additional payroll at this point.


    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.