One Move All 30 MLB Teams Should Try to Pull off Before Christmas
With the winter meetings come and gone and Christmas fast approaching, key players are finding new homes on a daily basis as more and more teams fill their major offseason needs and position themselves for the 2013 season.
However, there are still a number of impact players available and most teams still have at least one major need to address between now and Opening Day.
So here is a look at one move each MLB team should try to pull off before Christmas, as they look to put the finishing touches on their 2013 roster.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Trade Jason Kubel
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While it's been Justin Upton at the center of trade talks all offseason, it could wind up being another Diamondbacks outfielder that's moved in Jason Kubel.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com tweeted that it would appear Kubel is the more likely of the two to be moved at this point. The Diamondbacks have a capable replacement in Gerardo Parra and a solid prospect in A.J. Pollock who's also ready to contribute at the big league level.
Atlanta Braves: Acquire Mark Trumbo
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The Braves already made a splash this offseason in signing B.J. Upton, but the need remains for another outfielder, as the team looks to slide Martin Prado from left field to third base to replace the retired Chipper Jones.
According to a tweet from David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo is "on the Braves radar" as the Angels have an abundance of outfielders following the signing of Josh Hamilton.
He'd be the perfect fit as a right-handed slugger to slot between lefties Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman in the middle of the team's lineup.
Baltimore Orioles: Sign Adam LaRoche
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The Orioles have stood pat so far this offseason, with the re-signing of Nate McLouth ranking as their only significant move.
However, with everyone around them in the AL East making moves to better their chances at a division title, they could be pressured to make a signing of some sort.
LaRoche would be a welcome addition to the middle of the order, and there is an opening at first base following the non-tender of Mark Reynolds.
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the team has shown interest in LaRoche, and if he does not return to the Nationals, the Orioles could be a potential landing spot.
Boston Red Sox: Dump John Lackey
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The Red Sox managed to dump the salaries of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford on the Dodgers last August, but they still have at least one contract they'd like to be rid of in right-hander John Lackey.
He has two years and $30.5 million remaining on his contract, which has an interesting option for 2015 that will allow the team to retain him for the league minimum since he missed significant time with an elbow injury during his contract.
It would take eating a good portion of the remaining money he is due, but after watching him struggle to a 6.41 ERA over 28 starts in 2011 the Red Sox would be wise to do what the Yankees did with A.J. Burnett last offseason and hope Lackey doesn't bounce back with the same success Burnett did.
Chicago Cubs: Trade Alfonso Soriano
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The Cubs have already added a handful of stop-gap veterans to fill out their rotation and lineup, as they continue to rebuild from the ground up and try to avoid being locked into any long term, big money deals.
On the subject of big money deals, the team is looking to move Alfonso Soriano. According to a tweet from Jon Heyman, they are willing to take on $26 million of the $36 million he's still owed over the next two years.
That is provided they get a good prospect in return, and coming off of a .262 BA, 32 HR, 108 RBI season that could be a solid value for a team looking to add an impact power bat.
Chicago White Sox: Re-Sign A.J. Pierzynski
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The White Sox appear content handing the catching job over to Tyler Flowers if they aren't able to get A.J. Pierzynski to agree to their terms, according to Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago.
However, Flowers has hit just .205/.307/.388 over 273 at-bats spanning the past four seasons. Seeing as he'll be 27 next season, it doesn't appear that there's much room for improvement.
Pierzynski is looking for decent money coming off of a career year in which he hit .278 BA, 27 HR, 77 RBI, and at 35 he's likely signing his last big contract so that's understandable.
He's been a key leader on the team for the past eight seasons, and the White Sox should reward his impressive season by bringing him back and upgrading over Flowers.
Cincinnati Reds: Nothing
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The Reds' roster appears to be set, as they've added Shin-Soo Choo in a trade, signed Jack Hannahan as a free agent and re-signed Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Ludwick.
Aroldis Chapman's move to the rotation may be the biggest question mark remaining, but the team has Mike Leake around for depth if it doesn't go well and he's forced to return to the bullpen.
All in all, the Reds appear to be in a great position to defend their NL Central title and make a solid postseason run.
Cleveland Indians: Sign Nick Swisher
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The Indians finally pulled the trigger on trading free agent to be Shin-Soo Choo, but they don't appear to be ready for the full-blown fire sale that some expected.
Mark Reynolds was signed to add some punch to the lineup, but the team would benefit from adding another impact bat, especially in the outfield where Ezequiel Carrera is slated to start, but with a .653 OPS over two big league seasons he's better suited as a fourth outfielder.
According to a tweet from Buster Olney of ESPN, the team is stepping up its pursuit of free agent Nick Swisher, and he would be a welcome addition to the middle of its lineup and a terrific presence in its young clubhouse.
Colorado Rockies: Sign Chien Ming-Wang
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The Rockies starting rotation was the worst in baseball last season, and while full, healthy seasons from Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio will no doubt benefit the team, the should look to add a veteran arm or two as well.
Sinkerballer Chien-Ming Wang should come relatively cheap after what was essentially a lost season last year. He made just 10 appearances (five starts) and posted a 6.68 ERA over 32.1 innings of work.
Those numbers don't exactly scream out impact signing, but his stuff would play well at Coors Field if he's healthy.
According to a tweet from Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Wang may wait until midseason to sign with someone, but for the right offer one would imagine he'd be willing to sign now.
Detroit Tigers: Trade Rick Porcello
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After the re-signing of Anibal Sanchez, the Tigers now have a surplus of starting pitching, and it appears that Rick Porcello may be on the trade block as a result.
According to a tweet from Danny Knobler of CBSSports, nearly a dozen teams called the Tigers in the hours following the Sanchez signing. As the starting pitching crop continues to dwindle, those calls could turn into something more concrete.
Still only 23, Porcello already has 48 career wins under his belt, and while he posted an unimpressive 4.59 ERA last year it was at least partially a result of a .347 opponent average on balls in play.
Considering the upside he still has at this point in his career, the Tigers asking price will likely be high, but for a team looking to add a young, controllable pitcher it may be worth the price.
Houston Astros: Sign Lance Berkman
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The Astros have addressed their need for a veteran bat at DH by signing Carlos Pena, but according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports the team is still open to the idea of bringing back Lance Berkman.
At the right price, Berkman would be a solid offensive addition and a great veteran leader on an incredibly young team.
Kansas City Royals: Trade Bruce Chen or Luke Hochevar
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The Royals have completely revamped their rotation this offseason, re-signing Jeremy Guthrie and trading for James Shields, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana.
That leaves veterans Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen vying for the fifth spot in the rotation. With both players set to earn decent money (Hochevar $4.4 million, Chen $4.5 million), the team could look to move the odd man out.
According to a tweet from Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, the team is in no rush to trade either guy, but they are open to the idea.
Los Angeles Angels: Trade Peter Bourjos
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With the signing of Josh Hamilton, the Angels now have five viable starting outfielders with Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and Hamilton expected to start and Peter Bourjos and Vernon Wells projected for the bench.
While Wells' contract is immovable, Bourjos has plenty of trade value as a Gold Glover-caliber defender with stole base skills and upside at the age of 25.
According to a tweet from Jon Heyman of CBSSports, the team is seeking pitching depth in any move for an outfielder, and Bourjos is more likely to be dealt than Trumbo at this point.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Trade Aaron Harang
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The Dodgers have added both Zack Greinke and Korean import Hyun-Jin Ryu to their starting rotation, and as a result Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano, Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley are all vying for one rotation spot.
Harang and Capuano are the most likely to be dealt, and according to Ken Rosenthal the team has been shopping those two guys since the winter meetings in anticipation of signing a pair of starters.
This is purely speculation on my part, but perhaps the Padres could be a fit for Harang, as he pitched for them in 2011 and went 14-7 with a 3.64 ERA in what was a bounce back season.
Miami Marlins: Trade Giancarlo Stanton to Rangers
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To this point, the Marlins have resisted trading slugger Giancarlo Stanton, but according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com that could change now that the Rangers have missed out on Josh Hamilton.
If the Rangers were to change their tune on including Jurickson Profar and/or Mike Olt in a deal, could that be enough to sway the Marlins decision?
My guess is it would take Profar being included in any deal, and if he is the Marlins may be best suited pulling the trigger, as they would continue to get younger and cheaper while adding one of the top prospects in all of baseball.
Milwaukee Brewers: Sign Rafael Soriano
With each passing day, it looks more and more like Rafael Soriano made a mistake when he turned down the Yankees $13.3 million qualifying offer at the beginning of the offseason.
As Tom Verducci wrote, the market for closers has been slow this season, and it is looking like Soriano is unlikely to get the monster deal he was hoping for.
Brewers closer John Axford took a big step backwards after ranking as one of the best in baseball last season, as he blew nine saves with a 4.67 ERA and eventually lost his job.
To this point, the Brewers and Soriano have not been linked, but he would appear to be a good allotment of their money given how bad their bullpen was last season.
Minnesota Twins: Acquire Rick Porcello
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The Twins entered the offseason with only one legitimately reliable starter in 2012 breakout star Scott Diamond, and while they've signed Kevin Correia and traded for Vance Worley, their rotation is still far from solid.
Porcello is the kind of pitcher who could help the team in the season ahead and in the long-term, as he's still just 23 years old and has plenty of upside.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports named the Twins as one of a handful of teams with interest in Porcello, and adding him would be a solid move for the Twins rotation.
New York Mets: Sign Cody Ross
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The Mets entered the offseason with next to nothing to spend, and while they've freed up some money with the R.A. Dickey trade, they will still likely have to look at low-cost options to bolster their outfield.
After signing a one-year, $3 million deal with the Red Sox last offseason, Cody Ross proved to be a terrific value in hitting .267 BA, 22 HR, 81 RBI.
He's no doubt set himself up for a raise, but he may still be in the Mets price range, and they were linked to him earlier this offseason (h/t Mike Puma of the New York Post).
New York Yankees: Sign A.J. Pierzynski
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Coming off of a career year at the age of 35, Pierzynski is the top and really only remaining starting catching option on the free-agent market.
After Russell Martin was signed away from them by the Pirates, the Yankees could potentially open the season with the duo of Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli manning the position.
According to a tweet from Jon Heyman of CBSSports, the Yankees have hesitated to make a run at Pierzynski to this point due to his average defense, but they'd be wise to change their tune for the sake of offensive production.
Oakland Athletics: Trade Coco Crisp
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Brought back on a two-year, $14 million contract, Crisp hit .259 BA, 11 HR, 46 RBI, 39 SB last season for the A's out of the leadoff role.
While there may not be a huge market for him at this point, the A's have a replacement for him in Chris Young who was acquired from the Diamondbacks in a three-team trade early this offseason.
With Crisp likely to lose some at-bats to Young anyway, the team would likely jump at the chance to unload him for some salary relief.
Philadelphia Phillies: Sign Cody Ross
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After trading away Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence last season, the Phillies are now looking to piece their outfield back together and it's started with the acquisition of Ben Revere in a trade with the Twins.
According to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, the Phillies are stepping up their pursuit of Cody Ross, as he would be thrown into the mix with John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown for the remaining two starting outfield spots alongside Revere.
Ross made just $3 million last season on a one-year deal with the Red Sox, and while he's likely to get a raise, he should still be a solid value.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Trade Joel Hanrahan
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An All-Star each of the past two seasons who tallied 76 saves over that span, Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan could be on the move this offseason. He enters his final year of arbitration before hitting free agency next winter.
He's projected to make $6.3 million in his final year of arbitration, and seeing as they aren't likely to bring him back they could look to move him now.
According to a tweet from Danny Knobler, the team is making a serious push to move him. While the closer market has been slow this offseason (see Soriano, Rafael), there would likely be at least a few teams interested if the asking price is low.
San Diego Padres: Sign Edwin Jackson
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The Padres have a pair of solid starters in Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard, but beyond those two the rotation is a major question mark.
According to a tweet from Scott Miller of CBSSports, the team is making a run at signing Edwin Jackson to a multi-year deal.
He's not an ace, but he's the type of consistent, proven commodity a young team like the Padres would benefit greatly from adding. You know what you're getting from him. and it's a solid innings-eater in the middle of the rotation.
San Francisco Giants: Sign Michael Bourn
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This is a move that ranks as one I think the Giants should make, not one they are expected to make, as they aren't likely to make a splash signing.
After bringing back Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan and Jeremy Affeldt this offseason, the Giants signed Andres Torres to be the right-handed side of a left field platoon with incumbent Gregor Blanco.
While the one-year, $2 million contract they signed Torres to was certainly cost-effective, it's far from the impact move many expected the team to make at the beginning of the offseason. As the Dodgers continue to spend, the Giants grip on the NL West becomes more and more threatened.
Bourn would give them a dynamic table-setter and an insurance option given the shaky track record Angel Pagan has. Pagan could slide out of the leadoff spot into a lower-pressure role, and Michael Bourn could give Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence plenty of RBI opportunities.
Seattle Mariners: Acquire Michael Morse
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This move would hinge on the Nationals re-signing Adam LaRoche, but if they did Morse would presumably become available via trade as the odd man out in Washington.
The Mariners have done next to nothing to improve their league-worst offense this offseason, with the signing of Jason Bay marking the only significant addition. Morse's powerful bat would be a welcome addition to the middle of their lineup.
Considering he's a free agent at the end of the season, the Mariners won't want to give up a ton to get him. But if they can land him without giving up any of their big three pitching prospects or Nick Franklin, they'd likely jump at the chance.
St. Louis Cardinals: Nothing
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The Cardinals lone offseason need was adding a second left-handed reliever to join Marc Rzepczynski in the bullpen, and they did that in signing Randy Choate to a three-year deal.
The health of Rafael Furcal remains a question, but with little in the way of options at shortstop on the market they're likely to hope for the best with him and rely on Pete Kozma as the fallback plan.
Tampa Bay Rays: Acquire Alfonso Soriano
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The Rays have taken solid steps already to bolster their offense, signing James Loney and trading for Wil Myers and Yunel Escobar.
However, they could still stand to upgrade at DH, where Ryan Roberts (.214 BA in 60 G with Rays) figures to get the bulk of the at-bats at this point.
According to a tweet from Jon Heyman, the Cubs are shopping Alfonso Soriano and willing to eat $26 million of the $36 million he's due over the next two years, provided they get a solid prospect in return.
He hit .262 BA, 32 HR, 108 RBI last season, so that's a relative bargain for a Rays team that has a deep-enough farm system that they'd be willing to part with a decent prospect in the deal.
Texas Rangers: Acquire Giancarlo Stanton
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As I mentioned in the Marlins slide, Miami has resisted trading slugger Giancarlo Stanton to this point, but according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com that could change now that the Rangers have missed out on Josh Hamilton.
The Rangers are no doubt desperate to add an impact player after missing out on Zack Greinke, James Shields and Hamilton.
They've been unwilling to part with Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar to this point, but they should be willing to trade whoever it takes to land the 23-year-old Stanton.
With perhaps the best pure power in the game and an improving overall offensive game, Stanton could help ease the loss of Hamilton but could also be a cornerstone of the team moving forward as its core of stars is getting up there in age.
Toronto Blue Jays: Nothing
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Following their acquisition of R.A. Dickey from the Mets, the Blue Jays are as sound top to bottom as any roster in baseball.
Their rotation is now among the best in baseball and still has depth with J.A. Happ sliding into the long-relief role but more than capable of starting.
Their lineup has solid players in all nine spots and solid depth on the bench. At the end of the day, they have to be viewed as legitimate contenders for not only the AL East title but the AL pennant.
Washington Nationals: Re-Sign Adam LaRoche, Trade Michael Morse
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Having added Denard Span and Dan Haren, the Nationals only remaining offseason need is to decide whether or not to bring back Adam LaRoche at first base.
According to a tweet from Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, the Nationals have received "positive signs" that he'll sign by Christmas.
Bringing him back would likely mean trading Michael Morse, and while his value isn't as high as some may think given the fact that he's a free agent at season's end, he should still net a solid prospect return for the Nationals while freeing up some payroll.