Ricky Nolasco requested a change of scenery in the offseason.
Despite there being significantly more turnover on MLB rosters today compared to previous generations, it's impossible to please everybody. Each team has a disgruntled player who passionately seeks a trade.
Veterans, of course, make winning a high priority after cashing in on a sizable guaranteed contract. Guys like Ricky Nolasco (Miami Marlins) and Alfonso Soriano (Chicago Cubs) have vocally expressed their desires to move from doormats to contenders.
However, in most cases, frustrated individuals have not accomplished enough at the major league level to announce their intentions publicly. They would be widely criticized for doing so. Instead, we are left to make assumptions based on their on-field conduct and seemingly unfair share of playing time.
All of the following players have reason to believe that the grass is greener for them elsewhere.
While Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson favors players with grit, Ian Kennedy has crossed a line. His pitches that struck Yasiel Puig and Zack Greinke were blatantly intentional, and they ignited a fight that neither team supported.
This isn't anything new for the right-hander, who despite great strike-throwing ability, leads the National League in hit batsmen for a second straight season. That's more than coincidence.
Kennedy has taken dramatic steps back in 2012 and 2013 in all the important statistical categories, while Arizona continues to churn out effective, homegrown starting pitchers. He's suddenly looking very expendable.
Despite an impressive .316/.361/.420 batting line this season at Triple-A, Tyler Pastornicky knows all too well that the Atlanta Braves haven't changed their thinking about him.
In 2012, he lasted above half the summer as a stopgap while Andrelton Simmons developed. With Dan Uggla under contract through 2015 and Simmons' flashy defense on display, neither middle-infield spot is available.
Even with a limited skill set, he would be valued by other organizations.
Zach Britton has outpitched Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz whenever they've been given starting opportunities by the Baltimore Orioles in recent years.
Unfortunately, his lesser pure stuff doesn't cut him much slack with the organization. Matusz has settled into a relief role with the O's, while Arrieta gets called up more frequently following injuries.
Britton's 3.28 ERA at Triple-A this season isn't being rewarded. Nobody can blame him for wanting a legitimate shot to break into an MLB rotation elsewhere.
Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell and his notorious predecessor couldn't be more different, yet Alfredo Aceves hasn't made nice with either.
When the club initially demoted him to the minors in April, Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe reported there were "indications" that he might be on the trading block. Nothing materialized, largely because Aceves had pitched so poorly dating back to the previous summer.
A change of scenery now seems more realistic following a few respectable performances. Aceves has lowered his earned run average from 8.66 to 5.58 since May 24.
Franchises that would keep him on the active roster have to be atop his wish list.
Rumors swirled around Alfonso Soriano last summer, but when a trade proposal to the San Francisco Giants materialized, he vetoed it. Remember those bizarre weather comments?
According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Soriano's priorities are much clearer this time around:
"Yeah," Soriano said when asked if he's more likely to consider waiving his no-trade rights than he thought he might be a few months ago. "But it depends on them. It depends what the team wants. A chance to win, that's the most important thing."
Relative to the last-place Chicago Cubs, every potential trade suitor would stand a better chance at contending in 2013.
The outfielder doesn't fit Jed Hoyer's vision for an ideal hitter, anyway. Chicago's general manager told ESPN's Buster Olney that he wants the organization to emphasize selectivity at the plate. "If guys we inherited aren't going to do that, we have to find other people."
By the way, Soriano has drawn nine walks in 239 plate appearances.
With numerous position players underachieving and injuries to the pitching staff piling up, the Chicago White Sox have understandably sunk into last place. When even manager Robin Ventura is taking time off from the team, it makes you wonder how long it will be before the focus turns to contention in 2014.
In his 10th major league season, Alex Rios still hasn't tasted October baseball. Initially, it looked as if the White Sox would never be able to unload his long-term contract, but amid a second consecutive excellent campaign, the outfielder would certainly attract suitors on the trade market.
Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors addresses that scenario in greater detail.
Manny Parra told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he has "a lot of fun" in high-leverage situations after getting the rare opportunity to pitch in one on May 28.
Coming from the Milwaukee Brewers organization, the left-hander had more of an influence on his team's fate. The Cincinnati Reds, meanwhile, have a much stronger pitching staff, and Parra is pretty far down the depth chart.
He might be happier someplace else where the manager has more faith in him.
The Cleveland Indians are well put together at the first base, designated hitter and corner outfield positions.
While the Tribe must be glad to hear that Matt LaPorta has recovered from hip surgery, according to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer, they have little desire to promote him.
With a .788 OPS in the International League and even stronger offensive numbers in previous seasons at the Triple-A level, LaPorta would be better utilized by other teams. If the former first-round draft pick still cares about carving out a decent career in the majors, he would endorse a trade.
Tyler Colvin has the misfortune of being stuck behind Michael Cuddyer, Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez on the Colorado Rockies depth chart. All three outfielders are thriving and under contract through at least the end of 2014.
The team's surplus forced Colvin to spend the first two months of this season in the minors despite an .858 OPS the previous year (albeit with half his plate appearances at spacious Coors Field). That lost service time could cost Colvin hundreds of thousands of dollars as an arbitration-eligible player.
The brighter he shines in limited playing time, the more the Rockies would have to gain from peddling him.
In making 23 appearances (18 starts) with the 2012 Detroit Tigers, Drew Smyly had the world convinced that he could be a stellar starting pitcher.
So in spring training, rumor had it that the team would trim either Rick Porcello or Drew Smyly to address other needs. No trade ever materialized.
Instead, Porcello's spring performance earned him the No. 5 spot in the rotation, while Smyly has been busy relieving.
The southpaw is continuing to improve in terms of strikeout-to-walk ratio, fly ball rate, etc. He clearly yearns for a greater challenge.
Rick Ankiel and Carlos Pena had plenty in common as strikeout-prone left-handed hitters with many years in the pros and serious clout in the Houston Astros clubhouse. That's why it stung Pena in May to learn that his veteran buddy was being dismissed from the team, writes Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle.
As much as the first baseman/designated hitter embraces leadership roles, he obviously would prefer to occupy one for someone with a realistic chance of contending this summer. A World Series championship has always eluded Pena, who's running out of time at age 35.
Johnny Giavotella is repeating the Triple-A level for a third summer in a row. At the same time, the underwhelming duo of Chris Getz (.555 OPS) and Elliot Johnson (.524 OPS) hold down second-base duties for the Kansas City Royals.
Yeah, it's humiliating, not to mention perplexing considering his sustained dominance of the Pacific Coast League.
The 23-year-old first baseman has slugged .514 in three professional seasons. On most other teams, he would be in line for promotion to the big leagues this September.
Even if the Los Angeles Angels give C.J. Cron a taste of being in their dugout, there's little hope of him receiving significant playing time for them this decade. Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo are iron men who, even during periods of struggle, seldom get removed from the lineup.
Cron is hoping the Angels haven't learned their lesson about surrendering cheap, controllable talent for over-the-hill veterans. That's his escape route.
As of Memorial Day, Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig were practically on equal footing. Both had been enjoying excellent seasons for the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts, and at the first sign of a significant outfield injury, both would be seriously considered for a promotion.
However, Puig had age and a guaranteed contract on his side. When Matt Kemp landed on the disabled list, the Los Angeles Dodgers gave him the nod, and the rest is history.
Though Pederson will get at-bats in the big leagues eventually, regardless of which team he's on, L.A. isn't an ideal situation. The other outfield options would always overshadow him.
Nolasco is the highest-paid Marlins player by a wide margin.
Through his agent, Ricky Nolasco made it known that he preferred not to pitch for the Miami Marlins, reports ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
The right-hander has spent the entirety of his major league career in South Florida. Now more than ever, the Miami Marlins are helplessly out of the playoff picture.
Nolasco's 3.80 ERA and 72/22 K/BB in 87.2 IP have evidently restored his trade value. ESPN's Jayson Stark believes a "parade of teams" already have interest, while Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com hears that the San Francisco Giants checked in about his availability.
A thumb injury and the Biogenesis scandal have been hanging over Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun. Consequently, Aramis Ramirez won't be reaping the immense benefits of batting behind him like he did in 2012.
In speaking to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the third baseman didn't indicate a strong attachment to the Brewers franchise. Actually, he communicated a desire to play "on the East Coast" to be within a reasonable distance of his native Dominican Republic.
Morosi mentioned the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds as teams that could be in the market for a veteran slugger like Ramirez.
Josh Willingham is very much in Alex Rios' position, only with a friendlier contract that reflects his lesser overall talent.
Willingham also entered the big leagues in 2004 and still hasn't experienced a heated pennant race. The Minnesota Twins certainly don't seem to be built for one in the near future.
Also, a home venue with consistently nice weather is a high priority for any power hitter. Target Field has noticeably tempered his production in 2013 (.688 OPS at home, .849 OPS away).
Travis d'Arnaud's foot injury put the young New York Mets pitching staff—and to a certain extent, their slim playoffs hopes—in the hands of John Buck. The exhaustion of catching nearly every day eventually took its toll on him, and his offensive numbers have plummeted since early May.
In rhythm with his slump, the Mets lost ground in the NL East standings. As of June 13, they're a dozen games out of first place.
Buck isn't a cornerstone like Jon Niese or David Wright, nor an inexpensive player who might be part of the team's future.
Already sensing he doesn't belong in this situation, another three-and-a-half months without change would be torturous.
During spring training, Joba Chamberlain boasted about having the potential to excel in the starting rotation, according to the New York Post.
It’s one of those things. Do I have four pitches I can throw for strikes? Yes. Do I have two pitches I can throw at any time? Yes. I guess I am trying to have my cake and eat it, too. I feel I am in a position to do both and I have proven I can [start or relieve].
New York Yankees management dismissed that possibility later on in the same report. His mediocrity out of the bullpen in 2013—5.52 ERA, 1.70 WHIP—has done nothing to suggest he deserves an expanded role.
The once-dominant setup man will reach free agency this coming winter. ESPN's Buster Olney suspects that the Yankees will flip him for a prospect before then.
Not so long ago, Jemile Weeks was about as "untouchable" as any Billy Beane player could be. He electrified an otherwise mediocre Oakland Athletics team in 2011, which all but guaranteed him a starting job the following summer.
Some combination of offensive approach and nagging injuries contributed to his regression. Oakland second basemen have only batted .272/.347/.336 with 0 HR and 6 SB in 2013, yet Weeks hasn't played an inning above Triple-A.
At 26 years old, his impatience is understandable.
Darin Ruf turns 27 on July 28 and the chances of him being with the Philadelphia Phillies by then seem pretty bleak.
Though the Phillies are wary about the quality of his outfield defense, they regularly put Delmon Young in right field. Ryan Howard has proven year after year that he cannot produce against left-handed pitching, yet Ruf isn't being considered a potential platoon partner for him.
Perhaps Ruf lacks the athleticism to excel in the big leagues, but there's only one way to find out. He must be frustrated with this prolonged wait.
Jose Tabata has a knack for disappointing the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 2012, the second year of his $15 million contract, he was wholly expected to claim an every-day job. Manager Clint Hurdle gave him ample chances to flaunt his immense potential. When the mediocrity persisted through the first half of the season, the Bucs reluctantly sent him down.
With expectations extremely low during the opening weeks of 2013, Tabata suddenly found his groove. He elevated his OPS to .744, rivaling the mark from his promising rookie campaign...before landing on the disabled list with a strained oblique.
While Tabata isn't actually advocating for a new home, his perpetual inconsistency is forcing Pittsburgh to consider alternatives.
Just like any competitor, Nick Hundley isn't pleased to have a younger player threaten his job security.
Said challenger, 24-year-old Yasmani Grandal, served a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. In the middle of it, Hundley called Grandal "unproven" and dismissed the results from his "good couple months on steroids," according to Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego.
That made things awkward when the Cuban catcher was activated on May 28. Since then, the slumping Hundley has been relegated to the bench more often than not.
If the San Diego Padres are truly committed to Grandal, their veteran backstop would probably prefer to be dealt.
Hector Sanchez has a moderately-high ceiling, which is atypical of MLB backup catchers. He wasn't able to show it in irregular playing time during the first month of the season. A brutal slump at the plate culminated in his demotion.
The media have speculated that 2012 NL MVP Buster Posey will inevitably switch positions to ensure long-term health. However, no such message has come directly from the San Francisco Giants.
Sanchez is itching to establish himself at the highest level.
More so than any other impending free agent, Kendrys Morales is likely to be screwed by the collective bargaining agreement. Unless he gets traded.
He's the Adam LaRoche of the 2013 class, a very-good-but-not-great player. The Seattle Mariners will be allowed to extend a one-year qualifying offer to Morales this coming offseason if they don't move him first. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors estimates the amount at approximately $14 million ($13.3 million in 2012).
Though the slugger deserves a multi-year contract at an eight-figure annual salary, other franchises will hesitate to make such a commitment. Signing him would mean forfeiting a first-round pick in the 2014 amateur draft.
Morales is hoping to make out as well as Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez did. Neither of them was tied to draft-pick compensation.
Of course, that hinges on whether or not Seattle shops him this summer.
The St. Louis Cardinals blog Viva El Birdos pointed out that while playing sparingly behind Matt Carpenter, Daniel Descalso has boosted his power numbers compared to previous seasons.
Because the well-run organization is perennially in playoff contention, it's hard to imagine Descalso kicking and screaming for a way out. Regardless of their roles on the team, no Cardinals players would.
That said, with such an offensive surplus and still some questions about the bullpen, St. Louis could conceivably sell high on Descalso to better prepare for the postseason.
Again, let's preface this by pointing out the obvious. Joe Maddon runs a terrific clubhouse, which makes it nearly impossible to not have fun during the season. Even man-child Yunel Escobar has largely avoided controversy and called Tampa Bay a place where he'd like to be "for many years," writes MLB.com's Richard Justice.
The Rays, however, haven't shied away from trading veterans when they accumulate depth in certain areas. As of June 13, they're averaging the second-most runs per game in the American League, and designated hitter Luke Scott is stalling rallies with a 3-for-30 slump. This marks the second consecutive summer where he's been streaky.
Leury Garcia was talented enough to make the leap from Double-A to the majors shortly after his 22nd birthday. He's not exactly chopped liver, as they say.
He's not consensus top prospect Jurickson Profar either, and therein lies the problem. The Texas Rangers already have Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler under control through the 2018 season, and Profar will take over if/when either changes positions or organizations.
Sporadic playing time is contributing to Garcia's offensive struggles this season. He would benefit from regular usage on a team with less depth up the middle.
Mark Buehrle felt both betrayed and relieved when the Miami Marlins traded him north of the border. Sure, the southpaw was "lied to on multiple occasions," according to a statement seen by Mike Berardino of the Sun Sentinel, but at least it meant moving to a more competitive environment.
As spring training approached, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reported about an unexpected hiccup. Because the province of Ontario outlaws ownership of pit bulls, Buehrle has been living on his own during the season, away from his wife, children and three dogs.
And as it turns out, the Toronto Blue Jays are nearly as helpless as the Fish, already double-digit games out of the AL East lead. Rogers Centre also happens to be one of the toughest places for a pitch-to-contact guy like Buehrle to succeed (hence his career-worst 5.06 ERA).
Tyler Moore gave some interesting quotes to Tom Schad of MLB.com a couple weeks before being demoted to the minors:
That's awesome to get some at-bats. You come in the clubhouse and it's a different mentality when you know you're going to play. It kind of gets you settled in a little bit more and kind of takes the pressure off.
The 26-year-old is a lousy pinch-hitter in two seasons with the Washington Nationals (.171/.209/.366 with 20 K in 43 PA). At least through 2014, unfortunately, there won't be any openings for him to start in the outfield or at first base.
So long as Moore remains in D.C., he'll always be called upon in late-game situations and expected to produce over a tiny sample of plate appearances. It's clear that he prefers to not be a part of that.