5 Bold Predictions for MLB Teams, Players in the Month of February
MLB player movement might seem overwhelming now, but just wait until we get through February. These bold predictions forecast transactions that could be completed before or during spring training.
Prominent free agents must either lower their demands or accept unemployment. Most teams feel anxiety, too, as they compare internal candidates to available veterans and determine what would be in their best interests.
Prepare for events that appeared to be impossible just a few months ago.
Brian Wilson Settles for Minor League Deal
Joakim Soria and Brian Wilson were outstanding closers before suffering elbow injuries early last season. Both opted to undergo Tommy John surgery for the second time, making them questionable for Opening Day 2013.
That's where the similarities end.
Soria inked a two-year, $8 million contract at December's winter meetings, while the bearded right-hander remains unsigned.
Contenders like the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants have already announced that they won't pursue Wilson. The New York Mets attended a private bullpen session, but reportedly left unimpressed.
The three-time All-Star needs to swallow his pride and accept a non-guaranteed deal.
Joe Saunders Signs for More Money Than Kyle Lohse
Top Scott Boras clients historically sign late in the offseason, but to be unemployed in February is atypical.
Kyle Lohse has been a victim of his own success. Despite stellar qualifications, teams seem reluctant to surrender their first-round draft picks (a requirement since he declined a $13.3 million qualifying offer).
A veteran right-hander unfazed by lefty batters or road environments will get paid eventually. A "pillow contract" in the $11-14 million range would allow Lohse to get back on the market next winter.
There's much more competition for Joe Saunders, however. The Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners all have interest, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
An eight-figure salary would be unreasonable, but his durability deserves to be rewarded with a multi-year guarantee.
Chicago Cubs Agree to Trade Alfonso Soriano, but He Vetos
The 37-year-old will never have more trade value than he does right now. Coming off an 108-RBI summer with a contract that runs through 2014, Alfonso Soriano ought to entice somebody to offer a capable prospect in exchange.
Unfortunately, moving this veteran slugger isn't so simple.
Soriano has full no-trade rights that allow him to stop any transaction from being completed. He wielded his veto power in 2012 to stay away from the San Francisco Giants.
Expect the Chicago Cubs to work tirelessly in February to move the former 40-40 outfielder, though their efforts will be in vain.
Colorado Rockies Trade Dexter Fowler
Dexter Fowler is almost certain to regress after batting .300/.389/.474 for the Colorado Rockies. He relied on a .390 BABIP—outrageous even by Coors Field standards.
The team must complete a trade while reality is still distorted.
Colorado has only made subtle additions to its league-worst pitching staff. Re-signing Jeff Francis and inviting Miguel Batista and Chris Volstad to major league camp doesn't equip the Rockies to escape the NL West cellar.
Exchanging the center fielder for a talented and controllable starting pitcher would get the franchise back on track.
Johnny Damon Retires
In December, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reported that Johnny Damon would be content hanging up his cleats if he didn't have a contract in place by spring training.
That deadline seals his fate. Older designated hitter types always find work in March when the injury bug strikes, but Damon won't get a major league deal in the coming days.
Retiring now would hurt his Hall of Fame candidacy. He's 231 hits short of the magical 3,000 and unremarkable in most other statistical categories.
What an abrupt end for someone who was a productive everyday player as recently as 2011.