With Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke off the big board of MLB free agents, many teams have decided to move off the free-agent market and explore possible trade options. Of course, trading involves sacrifice of resources, but it is a great way to fill in those gaps.
Naturally, the rumors are swirling just like every other year, but there are actually several high-quality options out there right now.
Let's take a look at the top nine options right now. This will be a combination of pitchers and hitters, so while it is a little bit hard to compare these players with entirely different skill sets, I am going to try.
Justin Smoak will not have much of a position with the Seattle Mariners this season given their acquisition of Kendrys Morales. For this reason, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe mentioned the possibility of a trade.
Last season, Smoak hit a season-high 19 home runs but saw his average drop to .219.
Safeco Field is not necessarily a hitter-friendly park, even with the fences being brought in for 2013, so perhaps a relocation would help him find a little bit more success. However, that low average will still lessen his effectiveness.
Once again, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have an overcrowded outfield. That means that Vernon Wells will not have a spot from which he can play a meaningful role this season.
He has been rumored to be on the radar of Philadelphia Phillies by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, but there could easily be other interested teams.
Last season, he only appeared in 77 games and hit .230 with 11 home runs and 29 RBI. With more playing time, those numbers would naturally rise, and even though he is not a top-of-the-line option, 20 home runs would be nothing to complain about.
Alexei Ramirez hit under 10 home runs for the first time in his professional career last year, but according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, he has been talked about this winter.
Last year, even though he only hit .265 with nine home runs, he drove in 73 runs and stole 20 bases. That is pretty solid run production from not only a shortstop, but a shortstop with a lower average and less power than he ever displayed before.
Any type of trade involving Ramirez would be a pretty big deal for the Chicago White Sox, but stranger things have definitely happened.
Rick Porcello has never failed to produce double-digit wins for the Detroit Tigers, but since they re-signed Anibal Sanchez, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Tigers might be willing to move the right-hander.
Porcello is a solid pitcher most of the time, but he does have a propensity to give up basehits. Last year, his WHIP ballooned to 1.531, which was a career high. Also, he led the American League in hits allowed.
With a career ERA of 4.55, he is capable of pitching a decent game, but he needs to step it up if he wants to become a legitimate middle-of-the-rotation option.
The Florida Marlins told teams that right-handed starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco would not be available this winter, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN, but given the tendencies of their upper management, I don't really believe that.
Last season, Nolasco went 12-13 with a 4.48 ERA. Those numbers are not that bad, but he does tend to surrender far too many hits. In 2012, he gave up 214 in 194 innings.
Obviously, that number needs improving, but he will still be a decent option if he truly does become available.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have been busy this year, and according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, Jason Kubel was brought up in a trade discussion.
Of course, there are many reasons to be interested in the outfielder.
Last season, he hit .253 with 30 home runs and 90 RBI. While this was a drop in average from his career norms, that run production will carry him along the way.
While it is highly improbable that he Arizona Diamondbacks would consider trading Kubel, at least he has been on the table and been part of at least one discussion.
With the acquisition of Denard Span, the Washington Nationals will have a full outfield. If Adam LaRoche is brought back, Michael Morse doesn't really have a position. Other teams know this as well and have made phone calls, according to James Wagner of the Washington Post.
Morse quietly put together a strong 2012 where he hit .291 with 18 home runs and 62 RBI. This was a little bit of a step down from 2011, but he appeared in 44 fewer games as well.
While the Nationals do have better options at each of his positions, Morse could easily hit .300 with 25 home runs. His versatility will also add to his value.
I am a huge Justin Upton fan, but his inconsistency left him a little bit off of the top spot on my list.
Jim Bowden of ESPN wrote an article proposing a trade featuring Upton to the Boston Red Sox, but that is only the latest development on a rumor that has been going on all winter with various suitors.
Upton is only 25 years old, and it seems as if he has the potential to hit .300 with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases.
However, last season saw his numbers drop off a little bit, and his value dropped with it. He still has tremendous upside, and I believe he will rebound with a monster 2013—but for now, he is not on the top of this list.
Well, we have been talking about him all winter, and according to Jim Bowden of ESPN, the Miami Marlins are saying that they will listen to offers on right fielder Giancarlo Stanton.
While they said in the past that they had no interest in moving him, at least they are listening now.
I am sure that will be plenty of conversation. At 23 years old, Stanton is already one of the best power hitters in all of baseball. He has played in 373 professional games and crushed 93 home runs. That comes out to almost a home run every four games, which would come to about 40 in a full season.
If he truly is available, there is no doubt plenty of teams will make offers. The Marlins don't mind selling star players, so I guess you never know with this scenario.
Whether you think I know everything or nothing about Major League Baseball, you should follow me on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook and keep in touch. I love hearing what you all have to say!