MLB Trade/Free Agent Rumors: All the New Chatter from Around the League
The MLB offseason brings a lot of excitement to fanbases in the name of free agency and trades.
It's a time when fans get excited about the new toys on their roster, only months before the reality of April sets in.
Despite the World Series not being over, there are a lot of rumblings concerning players all over the league. From players like Jacoby Ellsbury, who is still playing, to trade speculation involving Dan Uggla and Brandon Phillips, there's a lot to get excited about.
Here's a look at all of the latest chatter from around baseball.
Note: All stats obtained from Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
Brandon Phillips-Dan Uggla Trade Rumblings
There has been a lot of reports concerning a potential deal between the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves involving Brandon Phillips and Dan Uggla.
Bob Nightengale of the USA Today tweeted the Reds had decided in September to shop Phillips in the offseason with the intent to trade him. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted the Braves would be interested in taking on Phillips if they took back Uggla in the deal, along with the Braves having to likely give up a top prospect.
MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reported Phillips texted Reds' general manager Walt Jocketty and asked if the Reds were going to trade him:
[Phillips] texted wanting to know if we were trading him. I told him that I have not spoken to anybody about that, Jocketty said on Tuesday. I'm not talking to any clubs about him.
However, Jocketty would not go so far as to guarantee that Phillips would be with the Reds at the start of Spring Training.
I'm not saying that, Jocketty said. We've got some things we've got to look at on how we're going to improve our club. I'm not going to say nobody is untouchable. Obviously, we want to keep as much of this club intact as we can.
Phillips still has four years and $50 million left on his contract, while Uggla has two years and $26 million left on his contract.
Here's how the pair compare over the last three years:
What Uggla's average doesn't show is the fact that he takes a lot of walks (233 in three years).
One thing to keep in mind as well is that Phillips graduated from Redan High School just outside of Atlanta. Bringing him home to play could be advantageous for the Braves, especially if another hometown player (Brian McCann) leaves via free agency.
Grant Balfour Moving on
Grant Balfour was one of the better closers in baseball this year with 38 saves and a 2.59 ERA.
But he is a free agent and might be out of the budget for the Oakland Athletics and their low payroll.
Steve Adams of MLBTradeRumors.com believes Balfour will get a two-year, $18 million deal:
Relievers rarely get three guaranteed years at this stage of their careers. Heath Bell managed three years and $27MM, but he did so as he was entering his age-35 season. Balfour will begin next season as a 36-year-old, but should be able to match Bell in terms of average annual value.
MLB.com's Jane Lee said it will be difficult for the A's to let Balfour walk, but that it will almost certainly happen:
As difficult as it would be for the A's to let Balfour walk, it seems almost certain that will happen. This is an organization that has generally been reluctant to spend big money on relievers, who often prove to be volatile. Oakland also has never bought into the idea of employing a proven closer. Rather, the A's create their own, as they did with Balfour last year, Andrew Bailey before that and several others, including Huston Street, in previous seasons.
While suitors have yet to emerge, it's almost certain that teams like the Yankees, Rangers and Tigers will be in the mix for a closer.
Yankees Have a Huge Wishlist
The New York Yankees are going to be in the hunt for a lot of big-name free agents this offseason, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
Among the players on the Yankees' radar are Brian McCann, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, in addition to Robinson Cano:
The Yankees will need to consider third base, shortstop, catcher and starting pitcher, with outfield a bit lower on their priority list. Though, the interest in Beltran—who they passed up years ago when he offered to come for about $98 million before he signed with the Mets for $119 million—and Choo suggests they are indeed at least considering it.
While the Yankees already have a full outfield, McCann is a real possibility considering their lack of depth at catcher.
Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reported the Yankees were planning on going on a $300 million spending spree this offseason:
The possible outlay of $300 million or more in total salary is similar to the number commonly associated with the winter of 2008-09, when the Yankees spent $423 million on CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett over the lives of their multiyear contracts.
The Yankees think they can add at least two top free agents this winter and remain under team owner Hal Steinbrenner's goal of reducing total salaries to less than $189 million. Steinbrenner has said he would like to reduce the team's luxury tax and revenue sharing numbers so that he can reinvest the money instead of paying out to smaller markets.
If this is what the Yankees do, it's safe to say the Evil Empire has returned.
Shin-Soo Choo Has Many Suitors
Shin-Soo Choo was great in 2013, batting .285/.423/.462 with 21 home runs, 54 RBI, 112 walks and 107 runs scored.
Choo will have no shortage of suitors, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
Heyman sees the Rangers, Cubs, Astros, Mariners, Phillies, Astros and Reds as teams that would make sense for Choo.
It was also reported that Choo's agent, Scott Boras, would be seeking something around $100 million, although Boras said that is still too low:
Boras was asked recently about the $100 million estimate (the high end of our GM's guess), and he suggested it is low, way low.
As a custom of the industry, prognostications by executives this time of year are dramatically divergent from the real market, Boras said in a phone interview. I don't think anyone correctly predicted what Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford got.
One thing to keep in mind is that Choo has never made an all-star team. "If the Reds' leadoff man does get $100 million, or more, it is believed he'd become the first nine-figure player who never has made an All-Star team."
Billy Butler on the Block?
Billy Butler has been one of the most consistent hitters for the Kansas City Royals for the last five years. He's batted .302/.372/.469 with 99 home runs and 455 RBI.
However, it seems the Royals may be ready to part with Butler, according to a tweet by Buster Olney.
Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star added a little bit more to it:
Royals general manager Dayton Moore previously made it clear that he’s willing to trade anyone for the right price.
'You’ve got to look at all of your options,' he said. 'We’ve got to be open-minded to everything.'
If the Royals are to get rid of Butler, Dutton added they'll be looking for a piece in return who is like Buter.
"Or to paraphrase something Moore said repeatedly in the past: If the Royals trade Billy Butler, they’ll be looking to acquire someone like Billy Butler to replace his production." Dutton said.
Odrisamer Despaigne Ready for Big Leagues
Cuba has another defector who is expected to make good money. This time, it's Odrisamer Despaigne, who has worked out for MLB teams in Spain, but plans to do so again in Mexico.
According to Jorge Ebro of the El Nuevo Herald (Spanish language), Ebro has multiple teams interested in him, although the showcase in Mexico will give his agents a better idea at who is interested in signing the right hander:
Everything's ready and the paperwork arrived quickly for Odrisamer. Since word got out about his escape, teams from the Majors began to get interested in the young man, and this interest has continued growing. In Mexico he'll try out in front of the scouts, and we'll negotiate the contract there.
While Despaigne isn't as big of a name internationally as Masahiro Tanaka or fellow Cuban Jose Dariel Abreu, he is someone scouts are interested in.
Note: Google's Spanish to English translation was used to obtain the quote from the El Nuevo Herald article.
Brian McCann Drawing Major Interest
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman believes no other player will hit a bigger home run in free agency than Brian McCann.
The soon to be 30-year old catcher has hit at least 20 home runs in seven of the last eight seasons, has been named to seven All-Star teams and won five Silver Sluggers.
McCann's consistent offensive numbers, his relative youth and even his serious attitude should aid him as he approaches the free-agent market. But another big plus is the large number of big-market teams that'll be seeking a catcher.
Early predictions that he could reach $100 million may be a bit ambitious, but it has to help that the Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, Cubs and Angels all are candidates to sign a catcher and could be major McCann players. The Blue Jays and White Sox are among the teams that could have an interest, as well.
With all that interest from big-market clubs, it seems McCann's days in Atlanta are numbered. Regardless, he's likely to receive a higher contract than if a number of those big-market clubs weren't needing a catcher. Because of that, teams will get in a bidding war over him.
What Will Tigers Do with Max Scherzer
the Detroit Tigers have some major decisions to make concerning Max Scherzer, opines Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Scherzer went 21-3 this year with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts. It's safe to say he is the favorite to win the AL Cy Young Award.
With Scherzer eligible for free agency after the 2014 season, the Tigers have to decide if they want to capitalize on his value by trading him, or if they want to re-sign him to a long-term deal.
...the starting pitching free agent market is weak and so this could be the best time to net a big return for an ace, which is why names such as Scherzer, the Rays’ David Price and the White Sox’s Chris Sale will surface. Remember, when Dombrowski thought he needed financial relief and multiple parts he was unafraid to trade Curtis Granderson in his prime, which is how he got Scherzer in the first place.
Of course, re-signing Scherzer is another option, but at what cost? Scherzer's agent is Scott Boras, and we all know how much Boras values his clients.
More will be known about the market for Scherzer once guys like Matt Garza and Ervin Santana sign their free-agent deals. A team that misses out on one of them could be willing to part with a few good prospects to get Scherzer and possibly re-sign him.