The Boston Red Sox host the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the 2013 World Series on Wednesday evening. For every other MLB organization, though, baseball season is over.
Trade rumors are already circulating as a result. Barring an unforeseen development, the Fall Classic will overshadow any of the current buzz. However, it is still worth getting a gauge on what to expect before this year's ultimate champion is crowned.
Before tonight's showdown at Fenway Park, read on for some analysis of the latest speculation and reports surrounding several players who may be playing for a different club next season.
Royals Listening to Offers for Billy Butler
Despite leading the Kansas City in RBI during a respectable 2013 campaign in which the team notched its first winning season (86-76) since 2003, Butler's days with the franchise may be numbered.
The 27-year-old designated hitter is reportedly being shopped, according to ESPN's Buster Olney:
Butler batted .313 with 192 hits, 29 home runs and 107 RBI a season ago, but saw those numbers dip across the board this past year, with statistics of .289, 168, 15 and 82 in those respective categories.
That gives decent justification to ship him to a different club, considering the exorbitant salary he commands.
As the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton points out, though, general manager Dayton Moore has hinted in the past that he would consider an offer for anyone at the right price.
But there is upside for Butler if he's dealt, as he could be a steal for a new prospective suitor if he returns to his 2012 form.
The fact that he's been loyal to a tumultuous team and has thrived in a losing environment should entice clubs more prominently in contention to give Butler a shot and take on the sizable contract.
Blue Jays Seeking Catcher Upgrade from Angels
Former first-round pick J.P. Arencibia has not lived up to his billing as Toronto's franchise catcher. After a disappointing season, rumor has it that the Blue Jays are seeking a better long-term option.
Arencibia was woeful in the batter's box, hitting just .194 with 21 home runs and 55 RBI. There is unique power there for his position, but his inability to make consistent contact is a huge red flag.
Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports that Toronto is in the market for Los Angeles Angels catchers Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger, but notes that "either" of them are being targeted.
That hints at a lack of faith in Arencibia, but also at a mild desperation in attempting to bring competition to the position.
It is true that Arencibia threw out 25 percent of base runners to the 19 percent Iannetta managed, but Arencibia also had 11 errors and 13 passed balls. The sheer volume of those miscues is not enough to redeem what he did at the dish.
Conger might make more sense since he's 25 and is a better hitter than his 30-year-old teammate, and looks to have more of a ceiling than Iannetta, who batted just .225 himself this past year.
What makes this rumor complicated is that Conger's contract is expired, necessitating perhaps even more of an investment in a less proven commodity. Absorbing the last two years of Iannetta's three-year, $15.55 million deal might be the safer option that wouldn't hurt the team as much long-term.
At least Iannetta knows how to get on base far better than Arencibia, as TheScore.com's Navin Vaswani points out:
Either would seem to be an upgrade over Arencibia, who must prove that he can capitalize on his immense potential if he wants to keep his job.
This rumor could go out the window if
Lineup Shuffle May Have Dexter Fowler Out in Colorado
Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies are keen on adding a marquee slugger to their lineup, particularly after missing out on a bid to land incoming Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu.
Also included in Renck's report is that manager Walt Weiss has discussed a position change with star Carlos Gonzalez, which would move him to center field.
That could spell the end for Fowler, who has talent and excellent range in the outfield with his exceptional speed, but saw his batting average drop from .300 in 2012 to .263 this season.
After hitting double-digit triples in his previous four full-time campaigns, Fowler managed just three in 2013. He's also reached triple digits in strikeouts in each season during his time as an everyday starter.
Fowler hit just .211 from June 14 on, per his ESPN.com profile, and had to deal with wrist and knee injuries that limited him and put him out for 43 total games after an All-Star caliber start to the year.
Trading him would seem a bit rash, but Fowler is due $7.35 million in base salary in 2014, per Spotrac.com. The team might be wise to get as much out of him as possible in a trade, because his value will diminish further if he gets off to a rocky start when next season gets underway.