Baseball's rumor mill may slow down, but it never grinds to a screeching halt.
A month into the regular season, the mill is beginning to churn faster than it has lately, though we still sit months away from the fast and furious spinning that comes with the non-waiver trade deadline at the end of July.
Injuries and ineffectiveness have some teams already on the hunt for reinforcements, while other teams find themselves the subject of more speculation than rumor as they try and figure out if they are contenders or pretenders.
Yet it's never too early to start looking at what's out there, reading between the lines and trying to make sense of it all.
Let's take a look at what the rumor mill has begun to put out there and see where it leads.
Things have been relatively quiet for Kevin Towers in Arizona.
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As Fox Sports Arizona's Jack Magruder reports, the Diamondbacks continue to make the kind of small, rather inconsequential moves that go largely unnoticed:
#Dbacks also sent veteran IF/OF Mark Teahen to Cincinnati for cash or PTBN, according to team— Jack Magruder (@JackMagruder) May 1, 2013
With no glaring holes and no major pieces of the team set to become free agents at the end of the season, there hasn't been a whole lot of trade chatter coming out of Arizona.
Should a need arise, Arizona has a plethora of starting pitching, both at the major league and minor league level, that could be used to make a move. That said, it would likely have to be a significant trade for general manager Kevin Towers to even consider moving one of his arms in a deal.
Evan Gattis could force the Braves to make a move.
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Evan Gattis is one of the great feel-good stories in baseball, and his outstanding play for Atlanta is eventually going to cause a logjam at catcher for the most successful team in the National League after the first month of the season.
Brian McCann is going to return from the disabled list to make his 2013 debut for the Braves (perhaps as early as next week), who also have veteran Gerald Laird on the roster in the first year of a two-year deal the team signed him to this past winter to replace David Ross, who left for Boston.
While Gattis can play a corner outfield spot, as manager Fredi Gonzalez told MLB.com's Mark Bowman, when Jason Heyward returns to action, that option disappears. Yet Gattis won't be facing a demotion to Triple-A, according to the Braves skipper:
"Gattis hasn't given us any reason for him not to [stay]. He's hit at the Major League level. He's got six home runs. There's no reason for him to go to Triple-A. We'll see how that dynamic works."
So that begs the question: What will the Braves do with three catchers?
McCann, a free agent after the season, is a valuable trade chip if he's healthy—but trading him could be a risky proposition, as Laird is best suited in a backup role at this point in his career while Gattis has a total of 25 major league games under his belt.
It's going to be an interesting situation to keep an eye on over the next few months, but with multiple teams around the league (including the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees) hurting for a reliable backup catcher, Laird could be a sought-after commodity long before the trade deadline approaches.
Could Freddy Garcia be on the move again?
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While Baltimore's starting rotation has been solid, it hasn't been spectacular, sitting with a 4.55 ERA on the season, 22nd in all of baseball.
Yet 36-year-old veteran Freddy Garcia remains in the minors, unable to get a shot with the club on the big league level. As the Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina reports, Garcia decided to remain with the club rather than opt out of his contract when the chance to do so arose:
Freddy Garcia, who could have opted out after 5th start Sunday @ Norfolk, has told the #Orioles he'll stay with organization thru May 14.— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) April 30, 2013
That gives Baltimore two weeks to figure out what to do with Garcia, who would certainly draw interest from other teams were he back on the open market as a free agent.
Should the Orioles decide that Garcia doesn't figure into their rotation plans, it's conceivable that they could ask him for a list of teams he'd like to play for and try to work out a deal with one of them before his next opt-out date arrives.
The return would be negligible, but in a theme that will be repeated a few times throughout this article, getting something for Garcia is better than letting him walk away for nothing.
Boston Red Sox
Alfredo Aceves' experience makes him a desirable commodity.
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While most of the Red Sox have left the nightmare that was 2012 in the past, Alfredo Aceves' struggles continue into the new season.
In 33 games (five starts) since the 2012 All-Star break, the 30-year-old right-hander has gone 3-5 with a 7.13 ERA and 1.66 WHIP while converting six-of-10 save opportunities.
His ineffectiveness on the mound led to his recent demotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, which, as manager John Farrell told the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham, Aceves took "like a pro."
Yet with things going well with Boston's pitching staff and a number of younger options alongside him in Triple-A, whether Aceves has a future with the Red Sox remains to be seen—and that's led to trade speculation.
Abraham's colleague Nick Cafardo opines that both the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers could have interest in making a move for the veteran hurler. As one top-level adviser to a GM told Cafardo, there is sure to be interest from multiple teams should Boston make him available:
You’d be crazy not to take that chance with an arm like that. Change of environment can do wonders for a player who might have had a troubled past. I think you always take that risk if the player has skills, and Aceves has skills.
While Aceves isn't going to command anything substantial in return, adding a younger piece with an eye towards the future is never a bad thing.
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After two years of trade winds swirling around Matt Garza, the time draws near where the Cubs will have to make a decision on their 29-year-old ace.
He's yet to throw a regular season pitch in 2013 as he recovers from a strained left lat, but if healthy, there will be no shortage of contenders that are interested in adding him for the stretch run and into the playoffs.
Garza certainly isn't the only veteran in Chicago who could be on the move this summer. Carlos Marmol, who the team nearly traded to the Los Angeles Angels for Dan Haren this past offseason, Kevin Gregg, Alfonso Soriano and even Carlos Villanueva are all viable trade candidates.
With the Cubs at their payroll limits, something team president Theo Epstein confirmed on Chicago's McNeil and Speigel Show, moving salary with an eye towards 2014 and beyond seems inevitable.
Chicago White Sox
Gavin Floyd isn't the only member of the White Sox that could be dealt.
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Trade rumors have floated around Gavin Floyd since last season, when his name was bandied about at the trade deadline.
Obviously, nothing happened as Floyd remains a part of Chicago's starting rotation, but that doesn't mean the 30-year-old right-hander will finish the season with the White Sox.
In his latest video report, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal says that if the White Sox fall out of contention, a number of players currently on the team will be the subject of trade speculation as the trade deadline draws near.
Aside from Floyd, Rosenthal names Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Paul Konerko, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton as members of the club who very well could be moved for pieces as the team regroups, not rebuilds, with an eye towards returning to the land of contenders in 2014 and beyond.
Don't look for the Reds to add pieces much more significant than Mark Teahen.
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It's been four years since Mark Teahen was relevant in a major league discussion, and it's been more than a year since the 31-year-old corner infielder/outfielder has played in a major league game.
But that didn't stop Cincinnati from trading for him on Monday, as reported by Fox Sports Arizona's Jack Magruder—and those are the types of trades that Reds fans can look forward to throughout the season.
Cincinnati is a team with few holes—or needs—and that puts the team in a unique situation of not needing to do anything, really.
Think the Indians would trade for Ubaldo Jimenez again?
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Despite strong starts to the season from Justin Masterson and Zach McAllister, Cleveland's starting rotation, with a 5.09 ERA and 1.38 WHIP, remains among the most ineffective in baseball—yet there's been no chatter about the Indians making a move to bolster the group.
Cleveland doesn't have a shortage of prospects that it could move to obtain more pitching, but the last time the Indians did that, they wound up with Ubaldo Jimenez, who remains a major part of the problem.
Should the Indians, who added significant pieces this winter in Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and pitching prospect Trevor Bauer, find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture as the trade deadline approaches, it wouldn't be surprising to see them make a move to try and jump back into it.
At the same time, it wouldn't be surprising to see the team move some veteran pieces, either.
Finding a home for Chris Nelson will be Colorado's focus for the next week.
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Late last week, Colorado designated third baseman Chris Nelson for assignment, all but ending his career with the Rockies and giving the club 10 days to find a new home for the 27-year-old.
The New York Yankees are believed to have some interest, and according to MLB.com's Thomas Harding, the Rockies are focused on trying to work out a deal with teams who are thought could potentially claim Nelson on waivers.
Skipper Walt Weiss made it sound as if the team would do its best to put Nelson in a favorable situation:
"It's important to honor Nellie and what he's meant to this organization. "He's been here since he was a kid."
Colorado won't get much of a return for Nelson, but something is better than losing him for nothing through waivers.
Jose Valverde has filled the Tigers' biggest hole.
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Re-signing Jose Valverde to a minor-league contract looks like it was just what the Tigers needed in its search for a reliable closer to replace...Jose Valverde.
Detroit's former and current closer has been terrific since rejoining the team, converting both of his save opportunities while not allowing any of the nine batters he's faced to reach base, retiring two on strikes.
Should a need arise for the team, GM Dave Dombrowski has no shortage of assets at his disposal to fill it, from starter Rick Porcello to reliever Drew Smyly to prospects Avisail Garcia, Nick Castellanos and Casey Crosby.
But until that need rears its ugly head, expect things to remain relatively quiet on the trade front for the reigning American League champions.
Will Bud Norris finish the season in Houston?
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Since taking the reins as GM of the Astros in December of 2011, Jeff Luhnow has traded away his fair share of notable major league talent. Players like Wandy Rodriguez, Carlos Lee, Jed Lowrie, Chris Johnson and J.A. Happ have been moved to stockpile talent and help facilitate the team's rebuilding effort.
Those moves have also left Houston's major league roster pretty thin when it comes to valuable trade chips that the team can move at the trade deadline this season. Bud Norris (3-3, 4.20 ERA), the team's 28-year-old ace and most desirable trade chip, has been the subject of trade speculation for months.
Back in January, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal of reported that Norris was available for the right package, naming the Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals as teams that had expressed interest during the winter meetings.
Apparently, things have changed, as Luhnow recently told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart:
Bud’s a critical part of our team. He’s always going to be rumored to be moved, and that’s unfortunate for him and unfortunate for us, but here’s nothing active happening right now. There hasn’t been in a long time and we’re not planning on moving Bud. He’s an important part of our team right now.
Chances are that the truth lies somewhere in between Rosenthal's report and Luhnow's statement. The team likely isn't actively shopping Norris around baseball, but Luhnow would certainly listen to offers and make a move if he thought it benefited the team's chance of long-term success.
Kansas City Royals
Dayton Moore made his big moves before the season started.
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GM Dayton Moore played his most valuable trade chip, outfielder Wil Myers, this offseason to bolster the team's starting rotation, acquiring both James Shields and Wade Davis, so depleting the farm system any further to make another big move seems highly unlikely.
With the way the team has been playing, making such a move seems highly unnecessary as well—which explains why you hear nothing but crickets when checking in with the rumor mill when it comes to the Royals.
Los Angeles Angels
Jerry Dipoto's hands are tied.
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With the 2013 season looking an awful lot like 2012 all over again—the Angels sign the highest-profile free agent bat to a mega-deal in the offseason, struggle during the regular season and miss the playoffs—the easiest and seemingly obvious solution would be to spend more money to fix what ails the club.
Except that's not an option, according to MLB.com's Aiden Gonzalez.
With the Angels sitting precariously close to the $178 million Competitive Balance Tax (luxury tax) threshold, GM Jerry Dipoto is not in a position where he's able to take on significant salary in a trade without unloading some of his own high-priced talent.
Bad news for Angels fans: that's not going to happen, something that Dipoto all but confirmed to Gonzalez: "We put ourselves in this situation, and we have to figure out a way to get ourselves out."
Unless a sweetheart of a deal comes across Dipoto's desk, don't expect the Angels to do much of anything when it comes to shaking up the roster.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Will trade winds swirl around Andre Ethier again?
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Despite a rash of injuries, the Dodgers haven't been linked to some of the bigger names expected to become available as the season wears on.
At least, not yet.
Team president Stan Kasten recently told CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that the ultimate goal is to reduce payroll from its current levels, focusing more on player development and retaining their own rather than going out and acquiring fresh faces from other teams.
But can we really count the Dodgers out of making a major deal that adds significant salary after watching the moves that GM Ned Colletti and company have made over the past 12 months?
With 22-year-old spring training sensation Yasiel Puig raking in Double-A (.333/.379/.648 slash line with eight extra-base hits (four home runs) and 11 RBI in 14 games), it's possible that the trade rumors that stuck with right fielder Andre Ethier for much of this past offseason could pop up once again.
The Dodgers also sit with three catchers, and veteran Ramon Henandez, acquired from Colorado in exchange for Aaron Harang last month, could be a sought-after commodity by teams who lack significant depth behind the plate.
Ricky Nolasco won't be wearing a Marlins jersey in August.
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Ricky Nolasco's desire to get out of Miami has been well documented, and according to Yahoo! Sports Jeff Passan, owner Jeffrey Loria's continued meddling has done nothing to make Nolasco change his mind.
Loria has since refuted Passan's report, which detailed Loria's mandate that prospect Jose Fernandez, not Nolasco, start the first game of a day-night doubleheader because he thought the weather would be warmer in the early session, a move that enraged every player on the team.
Nolasco, set to become a free agent after the season, is going to be pitching for another team in 2014. Miami likely won't get much of a package in return, something that an anonymous major league scout confirmed to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman last month:
"He's decent for a club that needs a starter. There are worse No. 5 starters in the big leagues right now, but he's not the pitcher he used to be."
Still, acquiring another piece or two for the team's rebuilding process makes far more sense than allowing Nolasco to walk as a free agent after the season, something he is guaranteed to do if he's not dealt away.
As for Giancarlo Stanton, who is sure to be the subject of trade speculation throughout the season, I have serious doubts as to whether Loria would sign off on a deal that removed his only marketable asset from the equation. There hasn't been so much as a peep from the rumor mill about Stanton in recent weeks.
Apparently, players like Mark Kotsay don't grow on trees.
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While Milwaukee's depth has been tested this season with injuries to a number of players, including Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez, it's the lack of options on the bench that seems to have GM Doug Melvin most concerned—and it explains this report from Fox Sports' Jon Morosi:
Brewers would love to add a veteran hitter who can play the corner infield and outfield spots -- similar to what they had in Mark Kotsay.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) April 29, 2013
Kotsay spent the 2011 season with the Brew Crew, posting a .270/.329/.373 slash line with three home runs and 31 RBI over 233 at-bats, spending time at all three outfield positions and first base. Kotsay would follow his heart back to his hometown San Diego Padres as a free agent following the season.
It's all speculation at this point, but versatile veterans who could fit the bill include Pittsburgh's Brandon Inge and Cleveland's Ryan Raburn, who could become available if their teams drop out of contention as the season wears on.
Trade winds will continue to swirl around Justin Morneau.
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Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500 AM in Minneapolis believes that the return that Minnesota would receive by trading Justin Morneau wouldn't be anything "significant" unless the former AL MVP improves his numbers.
He's got a point, as Morneau sits with a rather pedestrian .253/.309/.379 slash line, two home runs and 11 RBI through the first 22 games of the season.
Yet Morneau remains one of, if not, Minnesota's most valuable trade chip.
A free agent after the season, Morneau is sure to draw interest from teams who are looking for either an upgrade at first base (Texas, perhaps), an upgrade at designated hitter or a veteran bat to bring off of the bench.
While the rumor mill has been relatively silent on the Twins and Morneau, expect things to heat up as the trade deadline nears.
New York Mets
Collin Cowgill has been a disappointment in Flushing.
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While the Mets will have significant payroll flexibility following the 2013 season, that does nothing to help this year's club try and get back into the playoff discussion in the National League.
Outside of Matt Harvey and Jon Niese, the starting rotation has been mediocre. The team's bullpen remains a mess, despite the additions of veterans like Scott Atchison and Brandon Lyon, and the team's outfield is just as questionable as it was a year ago.
There's no way that the Mets would consider moving their top prospects, namely catcher Travis d'Arnaud (currently injured with a fractured foot) or starter Zack Wheeler, so there's a legitimate question of what the team could offer as it tries to plug the many cracks that are becoming evident in their armor.
GM Sandy Alderson has been non-committal on promoting Wheeler to bolster the rotation, and he's been essentially silent when it comes to bringing in help from outside the organization. To say that things have been quiet when it comes to the Mets and the rumor mill would be an understatement.
New York Yankees
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The Yankees continue to look into adding inexpensive pieces as they try and hold things together until their injured stars return, according to Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger:
The Yankees have talked with the Rockies about DFA'd 3B Chris Nelson, but do not appear to have much interest in making a deal for him.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) April 30, 2013
Nelson, who posted a .301/352/.458 slash line with nine home runs and 53 RBI over 111 games for Colorado in 2012, managed only a .242/.282/.318 line with four RBI in 21 games this season before being designated for assignment.
It's not surprising that the Yankees would be interested in a player like Nelson, 27, who has played both second base and third base during his four-year major league career, nor is it surprising that they don't have much interest in making a deal for him.
Why give up something of value when you can just wait things out and sign the player as a free agent?
These are the kinds of moves that Yankees fans can look forward to this season—those that often go unnoticed until the player arrives and you ask "They got (insert name here)? When?"
Billy Beane has mastered this whole GM thing.
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Apologies A's fans, but aside from the news that the A's traded for—and then traded away Casper Wells in the span of a week, there is nothing of note going on with Oakland.
There really doesn't need to be anything going on, as the defending AL West champions are off to a terrific start, sitting four games over .500 and well within striking distance of both the division lead and a playoff berth for the second consecutive season.
Moving Cliff Lee may be an unavoidable eventuality for the Phillies.
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Heading into the season, we knew that Philadelphia's outfield was going to be a work in progress.
While there's been a lot of work, little progress has been made. Through the first month of the season, Phillies outfielders are hitting a combined .208 with six home runs and 24 RBI. Obviously, it's an area of weakness that, sooner or later, the team will need to address.
Yet with the bulk of the payroll invested in aging stars like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and the three-headed monster of Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay atop the rotation, the team has little in the way of payroll flexibility to go out and acquire a difference maker for the group.
As Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci recently wrote, the team has little choice but to run with what they have and hope to make one more run at a World Series title.
But if things continue to go as they have over the first month of the season, with the team playing sub-.500 baseball and not factoring into the playoff race, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may have to investigate moving his most valuable trade chip, left-hander Cliff Lee.
Lee, who has been the subject of trade speculation for some time, would bring the Phillies a package of young talent that the team will need, sooner rather than later, to remain competitive in the National League.
Pittsburgh is looking for a young shortstop, like Boston's Jose Iglesias.
According to an unnamed executive who spoke with the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, acquiring Boston's Jose Iglesias was the Pirates' ultimate goal in the deal that sent Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox this past winter:
“The Pirates really wanted a young shortstop they could build around and Iglesias was the guy they earmarked.”
That makes sense, as Pittsburgh knows that Clint Barmes isn't a long-term answer, and they lack anyone in the minor leagues that can step in and serve as an upgrade at the position anytime soon.
Whether Pittsburgh falls out of contention or not as the season progresses, expect the team to be proactive in trying to acquire their shortstop of the future—preferably, a shortstop of the future who's future is now.
San Diego Padres
Chase Headley isn't the only Padre who could be on the move.
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While third baseman Chase Headley is all but assured of being the most talked about member of the Padres as the trade deadline nears—just as he was last season—he's far from the only member of the struggling club that could be on the move.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal says that starting pitchers Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard could both wind up elsewhere, while Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that outfielder Carlos Quentin may be willing to waive his no-trade clause if it lands him with a contender in the AL where he can serve as a designated hitter.
Along those lines, it's fair to speculate that setup man Luke Gregerson and closer Huston Street should be included in this group of potentially available Padres as well as GM Josh Byrnes continues to try and rebuild a club that hasn't reached the postseason since 2006.
San Francisco Giants
What will the Giants do with Lincecum?
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Sooner or later, the San Francisco Giants will have to make a decision on what to do with two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, set to become a free agent after the season.
It's no secret that Lincecum has been a shell of his former self, though he has shown signs of life in each of his last two starts:
|Previous 36 Games||5.27||1.49||199.2||196||102||205|
|Last Two Games||1.32||1.14||13.2||10||5||17|
That said, two starts don't atone for, nor do they erase, the significant concerns caused by his previous 200 innings of work, and significant questions remain about future—including whether it will be with the Giants.
There hasn't been much in the way of trade rumors swirling about Lincecum or around the Giants in general, but it's fair to speculate that should his success continue, GM Brian Sabean could look to strike while the iron is hot, moving Lincecum to a team that believes his issues are a thing of the past.
Michael Morse hasn't made much of a difference in Seattle.
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Seattle spent its offseason adding bats like Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales to bolster what has been, for years, an anemic offense.
While that duo has combined to hit 11 home runs and drive in 22 runs, the Mariners offense remains one of the least productive in baseball. The team's 95 runs scored on the season ranks 13th in the American League, 25th in all of MLB.
As Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes, it is too early for the Mariners to panic. Yet if the team's offensive woes continue and they slip further and further out of contention, not only could there be changes in the front office, but in the clubhouse as well.
With both Morse and Morales set to hit free agency at the end of the season, the pair could be moved for additional pieces with an eye towards 2014, when prospects Nick Franklin and Mike Zunino should be ready to contribute.
St. Louis Cardinals
Randy Choate has been one of the few reliable options in the bullpen.
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It turns out that the preseason concern over the Cardinals pitching staff was warranted, but misplaced, as it's the bullpen, not the starting rotation, that has been problematic in 2013.
As MLB.com's Jennifer Langosch points out, the Cardinals don't have much in the way of internal options to solve their bullpen woes—which means that the team will need to look outside the organization for answers.
While there hasn't been much in the way of rumors involving relievers around the league, as teams begin to assess their situations and look to build towards the future, expect the Cardinals to be in the thick of the trade chatter as relievers become available.
Miami's Steve Cishek and San Diego's duo of Luke Gregerson and Huston Street come to mind as potential options for the team down the road.
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay can keep David Price, but at what cost?
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While Tampa Bay's David Price has been in the news for what's transpiring on the field, it's a comment made by Rays owner Stuart Steinberg off of the field that should be the focus of Tampa Bay fans.
The story goes, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, that Steinberg was a guest on New York's WFAN radio last week and asked whether the team could realistically afford to keep David Price, who is under team control through the 2015 season. His response?
"We can; I don't know if we'll have any team around him other than him and (Evan) Longoria."
While that may sound tongue-in-cheek, it's likely not far from the truth—and that's why for the better part of the next three years, Price's name will be bandied about in trade rumors and speculation until a move is made, one way or the other.
Tampa Bay's offense remains anemic, Wil Myers, who the team traded James Shields and Wade Davis to acquire this past winter, remains in the minor leagues, and that lack of offense continues to find the Rays teetering on the fence between being a contender and being a pretender.
Moving Price would bring back as lucrative a package of players as we've seen a team receive in some time—including the blockbuster deal between Toronto and Miami this past winter—and it could finally get the Rays over the fence and into the land of a team with both a potent offense and shutdown pitching staff.
Jurickson Profar's name will be bandied about in rumors throughout the season.
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Until the day comes when Jurickson Profar is a permanent member of the starting lineup in Texas, the Rangers top prospect will be the subject of trade rumors and speculation.
It was only last month that a rumor of Profar being sent to St. Louis for Cardinals outfield prospect Oscar Taveras made the rounds, only to be confirmed as bogus by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Texas refused to include Profar (or Elvis Andrus) in a deal for Justin Upton this past winter, which only reaffirms how valuable an asset the team believes Profar to be.
As the season progresses, we are sure to hear the Rangers linked to a pair of names in Florida: Miami's Giancarlo Stanton and Tampa Bay's David Price. While Profar alone wouldn't bring back either of the two All-Stars, Texas would at least have to investigate exactly what else it would take to land one of them.
Toronto Blue Jays
Is Josh Johnson long for Toronto?
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Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has been focused on bolstering the team's Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo of late (something that the GM confirmed to the New York Times' Tyler Kepner), but with things not going according to plan in Toronto this season, it's fair to speculate about the future of the team's impending free agents.
Specifically, what will the team do with Josh Johnson, acquired as part of the multi-player trade Toronto made with Miami during the offseason?
Johnson has been less than impressive in three of his four starts. Johnson has been dealing with a sore triceps muscle on his throwing arm and sits with a 6.86 ERA and 1.88 WHIP after the first month of the season.
Yet there's no denying his natural ability, and Johnson, who was one of the most sought-after pitchers at last year's trade deadline, could be moved if the Blue Jays find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture as the end of July draws near.
Where does Anthony Rendon fit in Washington long-term?
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Yes, the Nationals could use another left-handed reliever to complement (or replace) Zach Duke, but aside from that, the defending NL East champions have no glaring holes or weaknesses that need to be addressed.
That's largely why there has been no chatter whatsoever regarding the Nationals on the rumor mill.
If you read between the lines in a recent article by ESPN's Keith Law (insider subscription required), the Nationals could make a significant move after the season. Law looks at prospects who may need to switch positions, and Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon was one of those mentioned.
Rendon is blocked at third base by Ryan Zimmerman. GM Mike Rizzo told Amanda Comak of the Washington Times, he considers Zimmerman to be the best third baseman in baseball, and Rendon is blocked at first base by Adam LaRoche.
Rendon doesn't have the quickness or lateral agility needed to play the middle infield, so that leaves the Nationals with nowhere to play the team's top prospect, one who looks like he's ready for a starting role in the major leagues right now.
Should the Nationals make Rendon available, there will be no shortage of teams clamoring to get a hold of him—and the package that Washington would receive could be significant.