In an ideal world, teams do not trade players who have diminished value. But in many cases, it becomes obvious that a player could use a change of scenery for one reason or another and the team is left with no choice but to find the best deal available.
Whether a young player blocked at their position by a veteran, a disgruntled veteran who isn’t playing as much as they think they should, or an nonproductive player who just needs a fresh start, teams could look to unload them before the start of the season to a team that might value them more.
Here are some players who might benefit from a change of scenery.
Alfredo Aceves, RP, Boston Red Sox
2012 Stats: 5.36 ERA, 84 IP, 80 H, 31 BB, 75 K, 25 Sv
Not only do the Red Sox have bullpen depth after the offseason acquisitions of Joel Hanrahan and Koji Uehara, Aceves’ string of bizarre incidents likely has the Red Sox hoping they can ship him out of town to avoid any further distractions.
The 30-year-old is due to make $2.65 million, most of which the Sox might have to eat if another team gives them anything in return. He was also a pretty good pitcher, posting a 3.57 ERA with 19 walks and 47 strikeouts in 53 innings, before falling apart over the last two months of 2012.
Jake Arrieta, SP, Baltimore Orioles
2012 Stats: 6.20 ERA, 114.2 IP, 122 H, 35 BB, 109 K
While he is putting himself in position to win a rotation spot with 14.2 scoreless innings over his last three spring appearances, Arrieta has struggled in his three big-league seasons.
The Os, who expect to be in the mix for a second consecutive playoff berth, have a ton of rotation depth and can’t afford any more inconsistency from the 27-year-old Arrieta. He could find it easier to break into the majors on a less competitive team, where he’d have less pressure to figure things out right away.
Johnny Giavotella, 2B, Kansas City Royals
2012 Stats: .238 BA, HR, 15 RBI, 7 2B, 3B, 8 BB, 35 K, 3 SB
Disclaimer: Giavotella is competing for the starting second-base job. If he wins out over Chris Getz, you can exclude him from this list. He’s hitting .273 with one homer, one walk and eight strikeouts, while Getz is hitting .359 with one homer, three doubles, four walks, five strikeouts and three stolen bases.
Obviously the 25-year-old Giavotella is losing the position battle. The question then becomes: Will the Royals will keep him on the 25-man roster and let him platoon with Getz?
They didn’t in 2012. That job belonged to Yuniesky Betancourt; it could belong to Miguel Tejada in 2013. Giavotella would go back to Triple-A, where he’s posted an OPS of .871 and .877 over the past two seasons.
If a few teams value his offensive potential over his defense, which has never gotten rave reviews, the Royals should have themselves some suitors.
Dee Gordon, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
2012 Stats: .228 BA, HR, 17 RBI, 9 2B, 2 3B, 20 BB, 62 K, 32 SB
Losing Hanley Ramirez for two months with a thumb injury would have certainly solidified a major-league job for Gordon to start the season, right? Wrong. The Dodgers plan on moving Luis Cruz to shortstop and going with a combination of role players at third base.
The saying, “you can’t steal first base,” applies to the 24-year-old Gordon, who has elite speed but only a .299 on-base percentage in 143 career big-league games and no power to speak of. The combination of those two weaknesses makes Gordon not very valuable to the Dodgers no matter how many bases he’s capable of stealing.
He does have upside, however, and a career minor-league on-base percentage of .354. Plenty of teams would love to add a young shortstop to their organization.
Luke Hochevar, SP/RP, Kansas City Royals
2012 Stats: 5.73 ERA, 185.1 IP, 202 H, 61 BB, 144 K
The former No. 1-overall pick in the 2006 draft has never lived up to expectations in five big-league seasons. A move to the bullpen is in store for Hochevar in 2013 after the acquisitions of James Shields, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis this offseason.
If a team wants Hochevar in its rotation, however, I’m sure the Royals would be all ears. He’s due $4.56 million in 2013 and will be eligible for arbitration again next offseason. The 29-year-old also has pretty good stuff and could benefit from a fresh start with an organization without the hype that has surrounded him with the Royals.
Mark Rogers, SP/RP, Milwaukee Brewers
2012 Stats: 3.92 ERA, 39 IP, 36 H, 14 BB, 41 K
The former first-round draft pick with the mid-90s fastball gave the Brewers some signs of hope with an impressive late-season stint in 2012. But the inconsistency and command issues that have plagued him throughout his career have returned this spring as he’s walked 10 and struck out just one hitter in six innings.
Out of options, Rogers could stick around in a long-relief role, but there could be a handful of teams that aren’t expected to compete and could be more patient with Rogers in a starting role.
Jose Tabata, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
2012 Stats: .243 BA, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 20 2B, 3 3B, 29 BB, 58 K, 8 SB
The Bucs were expecting big things from Tabata after he hit .299 with 19 stolen bases in 101 games as a 21-year-old rookie in 2010. His 2011 numbers were very similar when he inked a six-year contract extension in August of that year.
But things went south in 2012, when he played so poorly that he ended back up in Triple-A. He could now be the odd man out with Starling Marte having arrived and Travis Snider expected to get the bulk of playing time at the other corner outfield spot.
Tabata’s rising salary over the next several seasons will be of no interest to teams that would want to take a chance on acquiring him, though. If the Bucs eat some future salary, they could possibly trade him to a team who still believes he can get close to the potential he once flashed as a big-time prospect for the Yankees so long ago.