One of the great joys about the start of spring training is the talk that goes on around the game about how teams and players are looking. Rumors run rampant this time of year, with so many questions that won't get answered until the season starts.
Position battles are the name of the game in spring training, with a few showdowns for the 25th spot on a roster or the final starting rotation job, but for the most part teams have a strong idea what to expect from their team in 2013.
As we make our way towards the start of spring training games this weekend, here is the biggest buzz coming out of Florida and Arizona.
Shin-Soo Choo a center-field mess?
The Cincinnati Reds' acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo, which included them trading Drew Stubbs to Cleveland, left a huge hole in center field that the team plans on using Choo to fill at the start of the season.
However, speaking to people within the Indians' organization, Jim Bowden of ESPN notes that this plan has the potential to explode in glorious fashion for the Reds.
Indeed, most of the 15 evaluators said they didn’t think he could play center field, while others called it a “stretch.”
Which team has the most question marks as spring training starts?
Choo has been a good defensive player in the past, but those days appear to be behind him. Not only that, but the Reds are asking him to shift to a more difficult position that he has limited experience with in his career.
On the plus side, the Reds do have someone else who can slide over to center field and be adequate in Jay Bruce. If he can translate his skills to the position, his value will increase exponentially because of his ability to hit home runs.
Mets shopping Justin Turner
Even though all the questions surrounding the Mets involve their outfield, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports that the team could be looking to deal second baseman Justin Turner before the start of the season.
A source acquainted with the Mets’ plans told ESPNNewYork.com that Turner might be dealt late in spring training, although forecasting that is premature given a Grapefruit League pitch has not been thrown.
Rubin also cites the source in the piece as saying that Turner could start the season in Triple-A, but that would cost the Mets a lot because "a player has to make 60 percent of his previous year’s salary, even if he’s not on the major league club."
After that story was released, Rubin tried to calm things down by adding this statement via Twitter:
I toned down Justin Turner story a little. It's more: #Mets may end up listening late in camp, especially if there's a 40-man roster crunch.— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) February 19, 2013
The Mets don't exactly boast a deep roster where they can afford to deal a potential starter late in camp, though Turner is hardly someone the team can't replace if he is traded. He hit .269 with a .319 on-base percentage and .392 slugging in 94 games last year.
It also helps that the Mets do have choices at second base with Omar Quintanilla and Reese Havens.
Mike Carp drawing interest around the league
Mike Carp may have been designated for assignment by the Seattle Mariners but it doesn't appear that he will have a problem finding a home somewhere soon.
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, there are at least three teams that have shown interest in acquiring Carp.
The Mariners have until Thurs to deal 1b/of mike carp designatedfor assignment last week. Twins, Astros and Red Sox have some interest— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) February 18, 2013
Carp does have some versatility, as he has played first base and outfield in his career. He has yet to do much with his talent so far, though he did hit .276 with a .466 slugging percentage in 79 games played two years ago.
An inexpensive 26-year-old with the ability to handle multiple positions should attract some attention, especially for teams that need depth. That's why it makes perfect sense the Twins, Astros and Red Sox would have an interest.