Every MLB team must be thinking ahead and considering the immediate and long-term effects of events early in the 2013 season. Trade rumors have already begun to buzz as we learn more about the objectives of each major league franchise.
The most reputable insiders in the baseball business continue to pry information from executives about potential April actions, while making their own educated inferences.
The first few days of the regular season have been intriguing, but the results haven't affected the mindsets of most front offices. They remain committed to the plans they finalized in spring training.
Of course, all of the following information is subject to change, as front offices can spend the next several months tweaking their rosters.
Daniel Hudson on track to provide midseason boost.
Nine months removed from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander has begun throwing off a mound.
His progress will determine whether or not the Arizona Diamondbacks seek veteran pitching at July's non-waiver trade deadline.
According to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic, general manager Kevin Towers expects Hudson back in the majors slightly before then, around the All-Star break.
He dominated during his first two seasons in the desert (44 starts) with a sub-3.00 ERA and average of nearly seven innings per outing. Last summer, however, was more of a struggle (7.35 ERA, 1.63 WHIP) as Hudson left the rotation in late June.
Jonny Venters will miss a few months, possibly the whole season.
Atlanta Braves confident in compromised bullpen.
Dr. James Andrews delivered the not-so-great news that Jonny Venters needs a month to rest his aching elbow (via Mark Bowman, MLB.com). And even after that, injecting the southpaw with platelet-rich plasma won't necessarily spare him from a season-ending procedure.
For now, the Atlanta Braves will stay calm and move Jordan Walden into a setup role. Luis Avilan is going to be matched with left-handed batters in the later innings.
No trades have been considered at this juncture.
Baltimore Orioles will "probably make a trade" using pitching depth.
Fans grew somewhat restless with the O's this past offseason when they opted not to pursue a slugger to bolster the heart of the lineup.
Perhaps they'll acquire one via trade this summer.
Dan Duquette, the organization's executive VP of baseball operations, tells MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli that the mix of veterans and dominant prospects in the minor leagues will allow him to shop other pitchers.
Alfredo Aceves had suitors in spring training
Even after surrendering a couple runs in his 2013 debut, the 30-year-old is expected to fill an important role on the Boston Red Sox pitching staff. Daniel Bard has struggled to command his repertoire and injuries currently affect Craig Breslow and Franklin Morales.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe tweets that those factors made a deal involving Aceves "impossible":
A few teams had interest in Alfredo Aceves but Bard's situation coupled by injuries to Morales and breslow made a deal impossible— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) March 31, 2013
Bleacher Report's own Aashish Sharma, moreover, explains that the Red Sox cannot afford to lose his versatility.
John Lackey isn't trustworthy coming off Tommy John surgery and Aceves "has been such a valuable asset" in previous years as a spot starter.
"All options open" on Alfonso Soriano.
The Chicago Cubs actively peddled the left fielder at the 2012 non-waiver trade deadline. Unfortunately, he vetoed a potential move to the San Francisco Giants.
Team president Theo Epstein assures Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that the Cubs will still listen to proposals and bring the legitimate ones to Soriano's attention.
His contract calls for $18 million in salaries over each of the next two seasons. He'll be a free agent after 2014.
Addison Reed and Tyler Flowers.
Established bullpen won't need midseason tinkering.
The 2012 Chicago White Sox had a shaky relief corps. Manager Robin Ventura needed to trade for graybeard Brett Myers and promote Addison Reed to the closer role en route to a winning season.
This time around, the skipper is more comfortable with his "ideal mix of live young arms and veteran savvy," reports Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com.
He expects to rely on the same personnel come September.
Outfielder Ryan Ludwick dislocated his shoulder on Opening Day.
Ryan Ludwick's replacement comes from within.
Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker estimates that the 34-year-old will be out until the All-Star break ("they're talking 13 to 14 weeks"), according to John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Chris Heisey is tasked with filling in as the new regular left fielder.
After competing in spring training as a non-roster invitee, Derrick Robinson replaces Ludwick on the active roster. Though he doesn't possess comparable power, Baker sounds excited about his baserunning.
The Reds have given Heisey and Robinson a vote of confidence for the time being.
Same story for Cleveland Indians and Scott Kazmir.
Momentarily, the Tribe will announce a new starting pitcher for Saturday's contest against the Tampa Bay Rays. Kazmir has been scratched due to a minor abdominal injury (via Nick Camino, WTAM 1100).
Coming off an active winter, the Indians have an abundance of rotation candidates in the minors, ranging from Daisuke Matsuzaka to Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber.
No trade is expected considering that this is a short-term issue.
Colorado Rockies prefer trading Ramon Hernandez over outright release.
Multiple teams expressed interest in the backstop during spring training.
Now, it's time for a buyer to emerge. The Rockies designated Hernandez for assignment and have only a few days left to complete an exchange before the 10-day window expires.
The New York Yankees should seriously consider him, Doug Rush writes, provided that his former team takes responsibility for most of the veteran's $3.2 million salary.
Phil Coke is part of Detroit's "closing committee."
Jim Leyland wants "pure closer," will wait for Bruce Rondon.
The 22-year-old didn't live up to the hype in spring training.
Even before he stepped on a major league mound, the Detroit Tigers were convinced that Rondon could handle ninth-inning duties. The front office wasn't prepared for this alternate scenario that has the flamethrower fine-tuning his pitching at Triple-A.
According to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, Leyland gave his other relievers a lukewarm endorsement toward the end of spring training.
But Detroit's recent search for quality on the trading block "didn't come up with any palatable options."
Excelling on big stage boosts Bud Norris' trade value.
The entire baseball world was locked into the season opening matchup between the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros last Sunday night.
The atmosphere at Minute Maid Park was unusually intense.
By overcoming the pressure, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports believes Norris proved his legitimacy to prospective trade partners.
We learned during spring training that a handful of teams had varying levels of interest in the right-hander. Because Norris's $3 million salary is the largest expense for the rebuilding Astros, it wouldn't surprise anybody if he were acquired by a contender.
Kansas City Royals receive Desmond Henry to complete trade.
After a four-month wait, the Texas Rangers provided compensation for left-hander Thomas Hottovy.
Henry, 19, joined the Royals organization shortly before Opening Day (via MLB Trade Rumors). He has only 25 games of professional experience but blazing speed.
Los Angeles Angels will tolerate Hank Conger's defense.
That might not be the case if other organizations faced the same dilemma.
A deeper farm system would have given the Angels the option to convert this catcher to another position or sell him to an American League club with a vacant DH spot.
But high-profile, midseason trades and enormous free-agent signings have gradually drained all depth from the minor league affiliates. Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times emphasizes that Conger cracked the Opening Day roster thanks to batting prowess alone.
Keeping pitching surplus "seems unsustainable."
Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com reminds the Los Angeles Dodgers that they need to make decisions concerning the back end of their starting rotation.
Chad Billingsley is nearly ready to rejoin the major league team and Ted Lilly "clearly isn't happy" about being inactive. Though Chris Capuano has grown accustomed to occupying a bullpen role, relief work is foreign to right-hander Aaron Harang.
LA might hold onto the latter two until one restores his trade value with effectiveness in the regular season.
Injured Logan Morrison probably staying put in 2013.
The Miami Marlins aren't rushing Morrison back from knee surgery.
They may be moving him through rehab too deliberately, though, as prior to Opening Day, the outfielder/first baseman was dropped off the 40-man roster.
That means he won't be eligible to return to the majors until the end of May.
After openly shopping Morrison during the winter months, Miami's front office might struggle to complete a trade prior to the deadline. The 25-year-old will need ample plate appearances in June and July to convince potential buyers that he's a middle-of-the-order contributor.
Even after Kyle Lohse signing, pitching prospects being retained.
The Milwaukee Brewers finalized a $33 million pact with the free agent late in spring training that solidified a rotation spot for the next three seasons.
The transaction was a bit surprising, but it doesn't alter the club's future plans, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"Brewers general manager Doug Melvin was sincere over the winter when he announced his commitment to young, inexperienced pitchers from his system."
Justin Morneau "a good candidate to be dealt."
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors believes the first baseman is especially likely to leave town during his contract year. He'll earn a $14 million salary in 2013 before reaching the free-agent market.
The Minnesota Twins discussed him with other teams last summer, but reportedly asked for too much compensation.
Shaun Marcum had a setback in his recovery from a neck injury.
New York Mets will fill rotation voids internally.
Shaun Marcum and Johan Santana, the most experienced starting pitchers in the team's projected rotation, have been dealing with serious health concerns.
The Mets already ruled out Santana for the 2013 season after he re-tore the anterior capsule of his throwing arm.
Now, the right-hander Marcum is going to miss at least his first scheduled appearance with persisting neck pain. Despite these pieces of discouraging news, the front office doesn't have any immediate plans to trade for help.
Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com identifies Aaron Laffey and Collin McHugh as potential replacements.
Curtis Granderson will play out his contract year in the Bronx.
New York Yankees won't sell off key contributors.
Wally Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com acknowledges that the sport's most storied franchise has stumbled out of the gate in his latest fan chat.
Even if the 2013 season plays out miserably for the Yanks, however, they would not seek to dump all their impending free agents. Citing "too many high-priced seats to sell," Matthews doubts Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes or Hiroki Kuroda could be on the move.
Travis Blackley is coming off his best MLB season.
Travis Blackley done with Oakland Athletics.
Only Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, Bartolo Colon and Brandon McCarthy pitched more innings than Blackley for the 2012 A's.
But Blackley's mediocrity in spring training (14.21 ERA, .450 BAA) made it impossible to justify carrying him on the active roster.
He knows his baseball future is elsewhere and tweeted this goodbye letter.
The 30-year-old spent half of last season in the starting rotation. He showed great command (2.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio), so it's difficult to imagine him clearing waivers.
Philadelphia Phillies responsible for "future considerations" in Jonathan Roof trade.
He saw time at six different defensive positions in 2012 and reached Triple-A for the first time as a professional.
However, batting an anemic .250/.348/.267 with 0 HR over 49 games in the high-scoring Pacific Coast League all but assures that Roof will never be an everyday player in the majors.
MLive.com's James Schmehl remains vague about how the Phillies will compensate the Detroit Tigers for the 24-year-old.
Presumably, they'll send either cash or another minor league player at a later date.
Clint Hurdle says Jose Tabata could "run out of chances."
Baseball-Reference.com shows that the Tabata has regressed in terms of Wins Above Replacement ever since his debut in 2010.
He barely latched onto the active roster this spring as a reserve outfielder.
The Pittsburgh Pirates signed him to an ill-advised, eight-figure contract that guarantees money through the 2016 season.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that "now is the time" for Tabata to break out before the front office explores trade options.
Nick Hundley's fate probably sealed as backup or trade bait.
Readers with ESPN Insider subscriptions should scroll through Jim Bowden's list of baseball guys under pressure to produce immediately.
The former general manager insists that Hundley can mash his way to a starting job elsewhere.
Yasmani Grandal—and eventually, Austin Hedges—will serve as the active catchers on the San Diego Padres.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros would be eager to acquire this inexpensive odd man out if he rebounded from a lost campaign (.157/.219/.245 batting line in 2012).
The Giants acquired Marco Scutaro via trade last July.
San Francisco Giants won't break up "special group."
The defending World Series champions arguably overpaid their key free agents to ensure continuity from 2012 into this season.
Assistant GM Bobby Evans explains that the plan is to "keep them together and hope we can improve on what we did last year by being together all year" (via Matt Kawahara, The Sacramento Bee).
Extensions completed with Santiago Casilla and Buster Posey are further evidence of San Francisco's admiration for its current roster.
Casper Wells to be traded.
The Seattle Mariners have been heavily scrutinized for choosing Jason Bay as their 25th active player over Wells.
The latter provides more defensive value at a lesser price, but the M's didn't want to lose Bay's veteran intangibles. So they decided to designate Wells for assignment, thus making him available to the other 29 clubs.
MLB.com's Jason Beck identifies the Detroit Tigers as a possible landing spot. During spring training, the Boston Red Sox were also linked to the outfielder.
St. Louis Cardinals could pursue middle infielders.
Steve Adams published an offseason review for the club on MLB Trade Rumors. He expressed concern about whether Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma could be an adequate double-play combination in 2013.
GM John Mozeliak is just as worried.
In an interview with Jim Bowden on "Inside Pitch," he admits that "we're not that strong up the middle" despite being "set in the outfield for years to come."
Kozma maintained an awesome .333/.383/.569 batting line after his late-season call-up in 2012. He fared just as well in spring training, so Mozeliak promised him more opportunities.
But stay tuned as we approach midsummer. If the homegrown hero regresses, St. Louis may use its surpluses at other positions to secure an upgrade.
Playoff contention will keep Tampa Bay Rays from shopping David Price.
Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News wondered whether the Texas Rangers might be able to put together the right package for Price. Recent contracts signed by comparable pitchers have made it clear that the Rays can't lock up the reigning AL Cy Young winner.
This columnist is of the opinion that with the possibility of winning the wide-open AL East will deter Tampa Bay from moving any veterans during the summer.
Perhaps these teams will strike a deal in the offseason.
Profar is the consensus No. 1 prospect in Major League Baseball.
Jurickson Profar isn't going anywhere.
Even after completing a massive extension with Elvis Andrus, the Texas Rangers have "no intention or need" to trade the 20-year-old Profar (via Jon Heyman). None of the inquiries they've received this month will influence that plan.
The "rolling opt-outs" included in Andrus' nine-figure deal could be exercised after the 2018 or 2019 seasons.
In the meantime, the younger shortstop will presumably shift to second base. All-Star Ian Kinsler could ultimately wind up at first base or in the outfield.
Colby Rasmus "the perfect candidate" to be dealt.
Highly-touted outfield prospect Anthony Gose was forced into action in 2012 as the Toronto Blue Jays were beset by a rash of injuries.
Now, he's a year more mature, but blocked by a handful of established players.
His 2013 debut might not be far off, according to Jordan Cournoyea of Baseball Hot Corner, because Rasmus continues to underachieve.
The 26-year-old is once again starting sluggishly at the plate.
Cournoyea insists that deciding not to negotiate a contract extension with Rasmus showed a "lack of commitment from the Blue Jays."
Triple-A prospects "have a better chance of getting traded than promoted."
In highlighting top performers within the Washington Nationals farm system, Luke Erickson of NationalsProspects.com insists that older players on the Syracuse affiliate are blocked.
He expects high-ceiling guys at Double-A to leapfrog them in case of injury:
"Harrisburg is the team to watch this summer, thanks in no small part to having four of Washington’s Top 10 prospects per Baseball America."
More specifically, Corey Brown, Chris Marrero, Jhonatan Solano and Zach Walters could be dangled at the trade deadline.
Rumor has it that Ely is very fun to follow on Twitter.