MLB Stars Most Likely to Be Traded in 2013
From MVP candidates (Justin Upton) to Cy Young Award winners (R.A. Dickey) and perennial All-Stars (Jose Reyes), the last six months have seen big names—and big salaries—change hands throughout MLB.
That's not going to change between now and the non-waiver trade deadline at the end of July. Some teams will be looking to fill holes, upgrade rosters and get ready for the stretch run, while others will be eager to shed salary and add pieces that can help them in the future.
Who are the biggest names that are more likely than others to be on the move in 2013?
Let's take a look.
*Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
*Salary information courtesy of Cot's Contracts.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, Boston Red Sox
While Boston is off to a terrific start in 2013 and looks like a team that could contend for a playoff spot, sooner or later, the team must make a decision on Jacoby Ellsbury's future with the club.
A free agent after the season, the runner-up in the 2011 AL MVP voting celebrates his 30th birthday in September and has missed significant time with injuries—albeit freak in nature—in both 2010 and 2012, appearing in a total of 92 games.
While it's become clear that Jackie Bradley Jr. isn't quite ready for the big show, there's little doubt that the 23-year-old represents the future in center field for the Red Sox.
And at a fraction of the price it will cost to keep Ellsbury in Boston.
His agent, Scott Boras, made it clear last year in a conversation with ESPN's Gordon Edes that he expects Ellsbury to be paid like one of the premier players in the game:
He has shown he can hit .300 in the big leagues, not once but twice. He's at a point in his career he's proven he can be a No. 3-hitter type of guy, with power. He's a premium center fielder. Everywhere I go, they all ask. That's all I can say. You're talking about teams really covet this player.
We view him as a franchise player.
To get an idea of what the going rate for a franchise center fielder is, let's take a look at what some of the best in MLB are earning, both in 2013 and 2014:
|2013 Salary||2014 Salary|
You can bet that Matt Kemp will be the player Boras uses as a comparison for his client, and it's debatable whether the Red Sox would be interested in dishing out another multi-year deal for more than $100 million to a speedy outfielder in his 30s.
While Ellsbury would serve as nothing more than a short-term rental, the package that Boston could receive in exchange for him would be substantial.
Matt Garza, RHP, Chicago Cubs
If it feels like we've been down this road before with Matt Garza, it's because we have. The subject of trade rumors for the past two years, the 29-year-old right-hander has yet to throw a pitch this season, on the disabled list with a strained left lat.
Garza's 2012 season was cut short due to an elbow injury, so any potentially interested teams are going to want to see him make multiple starts for the Cubs before they'd even consider making a run at the soon-to-be free agent.
With Jeff Samardzija's emergence as an ace, and steady veteran Edwin Jackson, moving Garza wouldn't leave the team's rotation without talent or experience.
While the team remains open to working out an extension with Garza, GM Jed Hoyer told Jim Bowden on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio back in January that moving Garza could help to progress the team's rebuilding process:
Focus on Garza is get him healthy and in our rotation.that could change because not signed past this year and we need to collect talent #SXM— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) January 27, 2013
A healthy Garza, who has had success pitching in both leagues and has postseason experience, is the kind of pitcher that could change a pennant race. The bidding will be fast and furious for his services, and a GM that believes his team is a pitcher away from making a run very well may overpay to land him.
With the team not among the contenders for a playoff spot in the National League, moving Garza is the best thing for the team's long-term future.
If Hoyer and Co. decide that they want Garza to be a part of that future, they can always re-sign him as a free agent after the season.
Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres
Coming off a breakout season that saw him garner significant MVP support and lead the National League in RBI, the rumor mill is sure to be spinning fast and furious this summer as it relates to 28-year-old Padres third baseman Chase Headley.
One of the hottest names in baseball as the 2012 non-waiver trade deadline approached, Headley is under team control through the 2014 season and is as valuable a trade chip as any general manager has at his disposal.
It's rare when a big-time third baseman—especially one under 30—becomes available.
Recently activated from the disabled list after missing the first few weeks of the season with a fractured thumb, Headley has wasted little time in picking up where he left off in 2012:
It would take a significant package of major league-ready players and prospects to pry the All-Star from San Diego. But with the Padres still needing to fill some holes—especially in the starting rotation—the long-term success of the team may be best served by moving its best player, who will have no shortage of suitors should he become available.
Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins
A free agent after the season, Justin Morneau's penchant for getting on base and his power from the left side make him an intriguing addition for contenders at the trade deadline.
Despite boasting a slash line of .254/.323/.373 to start the 2013 season—well below his career averages of .279/.350/.490—Morneau remains a formidable presence in the middle of Minnesota's lineup
Just ask New York Mets phenom Matt Harvey, who saw Morneau end his no-hit bid earlier this month with one swing:
While the Twins are off to a solid start to the season, the team simply doesn't have the starting pitching that it needs to contend in the American League.
As long as he's healthy, moving Morneau could bring back some of the young pitching that the team desperately needs.
Ricky Nolasco, RHP, Miami Marlins
Shortly after Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria conducted his latest fire sale, Ricky Nolasco's agent, Matt Sosnick told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that his client had no interest in hanging around for a rebuilding process:
Ricky and I have spoken a lot since the end of the season. Just watching the way the offseason has transpired for the Marlins and the moves they've made, he and I agree that he would probably be better served playing somewhere else. If he had his druthers, he would pitch for somebody other than the Marlins in 2013 and beyond.
A free agent after the season, Nolasco has been solid for the Marlins, pitching to a 3.86 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 23.1 innings of work. With an $11.25 million salary in 2013, he's also the highest-paid player on the club by a wide margin.
Next on the list? Adeiny Hechavarria and Placido Polanco, each making $2.75 million this year.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman believes that Nolasco will be moved, though he wonders just how substantial of a return the Marlins could get for him.
That said, it's clear that Nolasco's future lies somewhere other than South Florida. With the Marlins in rebuilding mode, getting one or two pieces in exchange for him is a far better option than letting him walk for nothing as a free agent at the end of the season.