MLB Trade Rumors Tracker: All the Latest Suitors, Updates for Top Targets
One of the benefits of Major League Baseball's most recent collective bargaining agreement was moving up the start of free agency and opening the market to trades.
Even though the majority of deals won't get done until the winter meetings take place in early December, players are free to talk with teams and general managers can discuss trades starting on November 4.
With players and teams free to do what they want, that means rumors are going to be flying like crazy. There are 29 teams trying to get where the Boston Red Sox went this year, while the newly crowned champions will make sure they are in the mix for the World Series next season.
The trade season is a beautiful time because it provides that sense of optimism every fan wants heading into a new year. It is also an exhausting time because a lot of the information that comes out is just lip service from teams and/or agents.
In an effort to keep your head from spinning, we are going to line up all of the latest rumors involving trade candidates and discuss what they mean for the player(s) and team(s) involved.
Note: All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.
Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs aren't loaded with pitching, so retaining Jeff Samardzija would appear to be a priority for the team. He turns 29 in January, is under team control for two more years and has 394 strikeouts in 388.1 innings since the start of 2012.
The Toronto Blue Jays tried to make a playoff push last year through trades, but fell short because of injuries and poor performances. That isn't stopping general manager Alex Anthopoulos from examining all possibilities.
According to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago, the Blue Jays are working on putting together a package to offer Chicago for the Shark.
Teams have inquired about StarterJeff Samardzija. Source: Toronto putting together package of young players.— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) November 23, 2013
Levine also reported that the Cubs are talking with Arizona about Samardzija and notes the cost figures to be extremely high.
Cubs have also had talks with Arizona on Samardzija. Cost will be high (3- 4 top youngsters)— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) November 24, 2013
Samardzija is a pitcher whose ERA (4.34 in 2013) isn't going to win him many fans, yet that isn't necessarily reflective of the player he is. There are holes in his game, most notably erratic control, that limit his ceiling.
However, when you can find a true power pitcher who averages one strikeout per inning, you can overlook some flaws.
The Diamondbacks have a lot of young pitching in the big leagues or very close, so it wouldn't seem to be a huge priority for them at that cost.
Toronto needs at least one upgrade in the rotation after losing Josh Johnson and having a lot of guys (R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, J.A. Happ, Brandon Morrow) who fit well in the middle or back of a rotation.
However, considering the wheeling and dealing they did last year, the Blue Jays' system has taken a huge hit that could hinder their ability to make a trade. They still have high-ceiling pieces, notably Aaron Sanchez, but can they afford to deal them?
Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers
The Tigers have already made one big move this offseason, but that might just end up as a precursor to more wheeling and dealing.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Tigers have been listening to offers for leadoff hitter Austin Jackson.
Jackson lost his spot as the Tigers' leadoff hitter in the American League Championship Series against Boston. He's also going into his second year of arbitration after making $3.5 million in 2013.
Moving Jackson would be interesting, if for no other reason than the Tigers have no other center field options currently on the team. Torii Hunter's legs don't allow him to play the position anymore.
The Tigers would have to find a replacement somewhere. Would they have enough money left to go after, say, Jacoby Ellsbury?
Of course, moving Jackson means the Tigers would be selling low. He was a 5.2 fWAR player in 2012 thanks to some mechanical adjustments with his swing. Last year, while not a disastrous season, did see his OPS+ drop 26 points to 103 and fWAR fell by nearly half to 3.1.
Jackson is just 26 years old and under control for two more years, so there would certainly be a nice market for him. But it all depends on how serious the Tigers can play in the free-agent pool if they move their center fielder.
Chase Headley, San Diego Padres
It turns out the San Diego Padres may be softening on their stance to trade third baseman Chase Headley.
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Padres may feel like they can upgrade a few areas by dealing the former All-Star.
There’s growing sentiment that Headley will be traded this offseason. There’s been talk about an extension, but the Padres, who are now willing to increase payroll under CEO Mike Dee’s leadership, are thinking that they can improve a couple of different areas long-term by dealing their third baseman.
San Diego's obsession with Headley over the last 12 months has baffled me. Prior to 2012, he had never hit more than 12 home runs in a season. At the age of 28 last year, the third baseman broke out by hitting 31 home runs (23 in the second half).
Headley's value was never going to be higher than it was last winter, yet the Padres still wanted to hold onto him. He came back down to earth in 2013 with a .250/.347/.400 line in 141 games, roughly on par with his career numbers (.269/.350/.415).
Despite the drop in offensive production, Headley remains valuable because of his defensive prowess. He rated fourth among NL third basemen with an ultimate zone rating of 7.0 and tied for third with five runs saved. (via Fangraphs)
Headley made $8.58 million in 2013 and will get a raise in arbitration next year, despite coming off a down season, because that's how the process works.
David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals
In keeping with their recent philosophy of going after once-good, now-declining players, not to mention the uncertainty surrounding Alex Rodriguez's future, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News is reporting the New York Yankees have talked about St. Louis third baseman David Freese.
Source: Yankees talking about a trade for Cardinals 3B David Freese. Story to follow soon.— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) November 13, 2013
Freese played the hero of the 2011 World Series, hitting a game-tying triple in the bottom of the ninth inning and walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th in Game 6 against Texas en route to being named MVP.
An excellent 2012 season where he hit .293/.372/.467 kept those good feelings going, but the bottom dropped out this year. Freese hit just .262/.340/.381 in 138 games and was barely above replacement level with 0.3 fWAR.
The Yankees do need to find some insurance policy if/when Rodriguez is suspended. They tried this last year with Kevin Youkilis, who broke down before he could make any kind of positive impact.
Freese's 2012 season is the outlier in his career, so for anyone to think he will get back to that level again is going to be sorely disappointed.
I can't say I understand New York's desire to engage in trade discussions with the Cardinals since Freese strikes me as a candidate to be non-tendered. He's entering his second year of arbitration after making over $3 million in 2013.
The Cardinals have plenty of options, including moving Matt Carpenter to third base and letting Kolten Wong handle second base, so they don't have a need for Freese at this point in his career.
Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
When you have a surplus of expensive outfielders, it makes sense to trade one and free up money for other areas of weakness.
The Los Angeles Dodgers own basically every $100-plus million contract in baseball—not really, but it seems like it—and need to do something to reduce the clutter caused by Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reports the Mariners would be willing to help the Dodgers out by going after Kemp.
Sources: Mariners have expressed interest in trading for Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who is available. @FOXSports1— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 13, 2013
Taking Puig out of the equation entirely because the Dodgers aren't/shouldn't trade him, Kemp is the easiest of the remaining L.A. outfielders to move because he's the youngest (29) and has the most upside.
However, the question I keep coming back to is, what can the Dodgers realistically expect to get for Kemp? He hasn't been healthy since May 2012 and is two full years removed from being an MVP candidate.
The Mariners do have a solid farm system with talent to trade, especially if it upgrades what has been a dreadful offense for the last five years, but are they going to mortgage the farm on the hopes Kemp gets back to his 2011 performance?
Unless the Dodgers decide to sell low on Kemp, like asking for one impact prospect, another B-plus player and a third guy, it's hard to envision a scenario where he gets dealt this winter.
Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles
Even though Matt Wieters' career has never taken off like everyone expected it would when he was the fifth pick in the 2007 draft, catchers are always going to be in high demand due to position scarcity.
The Orioles will have some tough decisions to make in the coming years regarding two of their best players, which could lead to Wieters being traded according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Sources: #Orioles willing to trade Wieters. Both Wieters and Chris Davis two years away from free agency and represented by Scott Boras.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 13, 2013
Boras changes the way teams operate. Everyone knows he takes his clients to free agency and will squeeze every last cent out of a signing team, so a team like the Orioles has to find a way to maximize all of its assets.
Wieters, for all his faults as a hitter, remains one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. He ranked fourth in the league in defensive value this season, according to Fangraphs.
At 27 years old, Wieters is still very much in the prime of his career. He hasn't developed any kind of approach at the plate, but the 22 home runs he hit in 2013 led all catchers.
His price is going to spike in arbitration the next two years before free agency, but those two years of control do make him an attractive option for a team with the need and pieces in the farm system to make a trade.
Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
File this one under the "curious" label: According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Toronto Blue Jays have received calls about All-Star outfielder Jose Bautista.
Not a shock: teams are inquiring about Toronto RF Jose Bautista— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) November 12, 2013
Even more interesting, Howard Deskin of CBS Sports Philadelphia reports one of the most aggressive suitors are the Phillies.
Unfortunately Jon Heyman isn't hearing the same thing.
just to clear something up, #blueJays arent trading jose bautista for dom brown. not even close.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 13, 2013
The Blue Jays have more than $105 million in salary commitments next season, which doesn't include arbitration-eligible players. Unless the team expects a healthy, productive year from its top stars, contending in the AL East will be difficult.
Bautista finished second on the team with 4.2 wins above replacement, according to Fangraphs, despite playing in just 118 games.
The Blue Jays would likely ask for the moon if they traded Bautista. He's signed to a very reasonable contract through 2015 with a team option for 2016, has hit at least 27 home runs in each of the last four years and is versatile enough to play right field or third base.
Right-handed power is one of the great luxuries in baseball right now. After Miguel Cabrera, Bautista is probably the best right-handed power hitter in the league. He has had issues staying healthy, also missing 70 games in 2012.
Given Bautista's age (33) and injury history, the Blue Jays would probably be wise to at least explore his market now before his value drops off. This is a franchise that made bold moves last year, only to see them fall flat.
As for the Phillies, this is all about Ruben Amaro fooling himself into thinking the Phillies are just a piece or two away from contending. They're not, though the general manager doesn't realize that.
This franchise is stacked with bad contracts, aging players and no farm system to offer help anytime soon. They need to go through a full-blown rebuild, but that would first require Amaro admitting his plan hasn't worked.
I can't see the Phillies having enough to lure the Blue Jays into a deal for Bautista, so Heyman's report makes a lot more sense than Deskin's.
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
The National League champion St. Louis Cardinals don't have many flaws, but the black hole in their lineup is at shortstop. Troy Tulowitzki, when healthy, is the best all-around shortstop in baseball.
It only makes sense the Cardinals would test the waters on Tulowitzki's availability, at least according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.
Officials from the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies are expected to meet at the GM/owners' meetings in Orlando this week and discuss parameters of a potential trade involving Troy Tulowitzki, which already has been broached in informal talks between the parties, sources with knowledge of the situation told Yahoo Sports.
Before the world explodes with the idea of this actually happening, there are two things that must be noted.
First, that six-year, $134 million contract extension Tulowitzki signed in 2010 doesn't start until next season. He's a significant injury risk, having played in at least 140 games just three times in eight full seasons, and is going to lose a step in his age 29-34 seasons.
Second, it's clear by that extension, which Tulowitzki and the Rockies agreed to when he still had three years left on his original six-year contract, that the team views him as the franchise player. What kind of package are they going to want for him?
Is ownership going to accept what the Cardinals believe to be a fair offer for Tulowitzki?
If there is a team with the pieces to convince Colorado's ownership to move Tulo, it would be St. Louis. But I can't see the Cardinals putting three or four MLB-ready players in a deal, especially if it would mean parting with, say, Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller and one other top-tier player.
Those players are just speculation from me, but it's not so out of the box to think the Rockies will want to start the conversations there.
Denard Span, Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals acquired Denard Span to solidify the top of their lineup in 2013, but now the team could be looking to make an upgrade which will require moving the 29-year-old center fielder.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Nationals are willing to listen for trade offers from other teams inquiring about Span.
Only a year after acquiring him, the Nationals appear willing to listen to trade inquiries on center fielder Denard Span, officials on other teams say.
I've always loved that wording, "willing to listen," because there are very few players in baseball a team won't at least listen to an offer. If they get blown out of the water with a proposal, they might even take it.
This doesn't mean the Nationals will move Span, though as Heyman also notes, they have shown an interest in Jacoby Ellsbury.
While Span didn't have a stellar offensive season in Washington, hitting just .279/.327/.380 as the primary leadoff hitter, he's still an outstanding defender who was worth 3.5 wins above replacement according to Fangraphs.
Even though Span's upside isn't close to Ellsbury's, his floor is higher because injuries haven't been a big problem for him throughout his career.
If the Nationals are serious about moving Span, I wouldn't expect them to get a prospect back nearly as good as Alex Meyer, the big right-hander who Washington sent to Minnesota.
Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
If you want to talk about speculation that is likely to drive you nuts, the idea of the Detroit Tigers discussing trading Max Scherzer is right at the top of the list.
But I was surprised how many outside executives said Scherzer would absolutely be on the block this winter. And then equally surprised by how many echoed what this AL executive said: “It might be posturing to try to influence Scherzer to engage in a long-term contract. Try to scare him that he will get traded so he can pressure [agent] Scott Boras. It won’t work, but I think that’s the tactic.”
Now CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports the Tigers are officially dangling their superstar pitcher:
#tigers have told teams they're open to trading either scherzer or porcello— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 11, 2013
No team puts more stock in winning now than the Tigers. They have spent big money in free agency and traded virtually all of their young assets in recent years with the hopes of winning a championship.
Even though the ultimate goal has eluded them, the Tigers did play in the World Series last year and took Boston to six games in the ALCS. They are going to be the best team in the AL Central next season, and Scherzer was arguably the best pitcher in the AL this year.
Future long-term commitments might prevent the Tigers from signing Scherzer to a long-term deal, but he's still under control for 2014. There's no reason to move him this offseason.
Los Angeles Dodgers Outfield, Except Yasiel Puig
With Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig, the Los Angeles Dodgers have four expensive outfield options for three spots. Puig isn't going anywhere because of his age, stellar debut season and team-friendly contract through 2018.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, speaking to major league sources, reported that Kemp, Ethier and Crawford are available to any team willing to make an offer.
There are two big problems the Dodgers have in trying to move any one of those three players. First, and most obvious, is money. Kemp will make $128 million through 2019; Crawford is owed $86 million through 2017; Ethier is guaranteed $69 million through 2017 with a team option for 2018.
Second, and more important, what kinds of players would teams be getting for that kind of money? Kemp hasn't been healthy since May 2012. Ethier, who the Dodgers grossly overpaid based on RBIs, can't hit lefties (.644 career OPS). Crawford is a speed-first player whose legs have slowed down now that he is over 30, and like Ethier, he doesn't hit lefties (.679 career OPS).
If there are teams out there who want aging platoon players with guaranteed contracts through 2017, the Dodgers are going to get a lot of offers for Ethier and Crawford.
Kemp would be a great buy-low candidate, but considering the money the Dodgers have invested in him, do they want to get rid of him for a return of 60 cents on the dollar?
There is also the question of how much money on any of these contracts L.A. ownership would be willing to absorb, because no team is going to take Kemp, Ethier or Crawford's entire deal and give up prospects.
Eventually that log jam in the Dodgers outfield will find a solution, but it's going to take a lot of compromising on their part to make it happen.
Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
In an effort to protect themselves on the chance that Robinson Cano takes his talents elsewhere, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the New York Yankees inquired about the availability of the Cincinnati second baseman, but didn't get an answer they liked.
Phillips is said to be available in the right trade, but word is, the initial price is way too steep. Of course, that's the way the Yankees look at Cano's $300 million asking price, as well.
Two things immediately jumped out at me when the rumors of Phillips being shopped first started trickling out.
One, the Reds are noticing that they have made a mistake regarding his six-year, $72.5 million contract extension back in April. Phillips is still a productive player, but a contract that will take run through his age-36 season already showing signs of decline is going to look terrible sooner rather than later.
Phillips hit .261/.310/.396 in 2013, his lowest output in all three categories since becoming an everyday player with the Reds in 2006. His RBI total this season was inflated because he often hit fourth in a lineup with Shin-Soo Choo (.423 OBP) and Joey Votto (.435 OBP) ahead of him.
Two, with Phillips having just signed that extension and already on the block, what are other teams going to think? What kind of package would someone offer a player less than 12 months removed from getting a franchise-player type of deal?
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports got information from one executive who definitively said Phillips is "gone." That's a bold statement and takes me by surprise considering how far his performance fell off in 2013, but the allure of a second baseman who can hit 15-20 homers must be too great for someone to pass up.
Ian Kinsler & Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers
When you have a 20-year-old shortstop who is just one year removed from being the No. 1 prospect in baseball and couldn't find consistent playing time in the big leagues because of a middle-infield surplus, it's time to make a decision about the future.
I am speaking, of course, about Jurickson Profar. His debut season never got going, appearing in just 85 games and hitting .234/.308/.336, but his age and upside are still off the charts. The Rangers held onto him last year when they could have tried to flip him for a postseason run in 2013.
That leaves Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler as the next options to be available in trades. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports the Rangers are "pondering" which one to move.
The Rangers again are pondering whether to trade second baseman Ian Kinsler or shortstop Elvis Andrus to clear a middle-infield position for Jurickson Profar, according to major league sources. A move of Kinsler to first base also is possible but probably less appealing.
Andrus just signed an eight-year, $120 million in April, is just 25 years old and one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. He got off to a slow start with the bat in 2013, but finished strong with a .313/.369/.405 line in the second half.
Kinsler is 31, has four years remaining on a five-year, $75 million deal signed in April 2012 and has seen his offensive numbers, notably power, drop the last two years (32 total homers, equal to what he hit in 2011).
Neither player strikes me as likely to be dealt because of the years and money they are owed, though I would imagine Andrus would provide a better return because of his age and defensive ability at a premium position.
The Rangers have to figure out a solution that gets Profar in the lineup every day because he's too good to be playing just half of the time, not to mention what inconsistent playing time does for his development.
David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
Given the way the Tampa Bay Rays operate, everyone on the 25-man roster would seem to be available for the right package.
The biggest name on everyone's radar is 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price.
Price's scenario is eerily similar to what the Rays had last year with James Shields when he was flipped to Kansas City for a package of players that included Wil Myers. Price has two years of arbitration left before hitting free agency; Shields had one guaranteed year left on his contract and an option for 2014 that the Royals recently picked up.
The main difference between the two is Price is one of the five best starters in the AL, while Shields was/is a really good starting pitcher.
While the Rays aren't publicly saying what they will do with Price this offseason, the left-hander told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times in October that history suggests he will be in a different uniform next year.
But which team has enough in its farm system to land Price, and would it be willing to part with that package?
According to Peter Gammons, who spoke with several general managers, it could be a team that has the best pitcher in baseball, via Gammons Daily:
But, suggests several general managers, the Dodgers can avoid the loss of their number one pick and the slot money if they trade for David Price and get Masahiro Tanaka from Japan. “They have the minor league talent to get Price,” says one GM. “If they would trade Corey Seager and Julio Urias (the 17-year old lefthanded pitcher) and a couple out of Zach Lee, Joc Pederson or Chris Withrow, it would get it done.
My first thought upon seeing the Dodgers was "no way," because I didn't think their system was deep enough. Then you see names like Corey Seager, Julio Urias and Joc Pederson, and that's a really strong group.
Seager has All-Star potential as a third baseman. Urias is a 17-year-old left-hander who shocked the world by having tremendous success in the Midwest League, with 67 strikeouts and 16 walks in 54.1 innings. Pederson keeps getting better the higher up the minor-league ladder he moves, hitting 22 home runs with 31 stolen bases and an .878 OPS in Double-A this year.
One issue the Rays could have with that kind of package is that Urias has not played above Low-A and Seager has just 27 games of experience at High-A, so the difference between where they are developmentally and what they could become is the size of an ocean.
Price will be costly the next two years, either through arbitration or a contract extension, no matter where he pitches. The Dodgers have added more than $100 million to their payroll from 2012 to 2013 and still have to re-sign Clayton Kershaw.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports speculates that the St. Louis Cardinals, Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs also have talent in the system to make a deal with the Rays.
Everyone will want a pitcher like Price, but finding a team capable of getting the Rays to listen to a package and that team being able to pull the trigger on a deal is problematic.
Shelby Miller and Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals
To say that the St. Louis Cardinals have an overabundance of starting pitching would be an understatement. They are stacked in the rotation right now, to the point manager Mike Matheny forgot Shelby Miller existed and was still on the team's playoff roster.
When you are a team loaded with young, cost-controlled starting pitching, not to mention two relievers with the stuff and potential to be starters in Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal, it makes sense to shop some of it to fill a need elsewhere.
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the Cardinals are "increasingly likely" to shop either Shelby Miller or Lance Lynn to address the team's black hole at shortstop:
With Carlos Martinez meriting a look-see as a starter — and Rosenthal wanting the same — it’s increasingly likely that general manager John Mozeliak shops Lance Lynn or Shelby Miller to simultaneously create an opening while addressing a core need at shortstop.
Of those two pitchers, Lynn would be the one I would shop. Miller's ceiling is higher than Lynn's, and he is coming off a fantastic rookie season, with a 3.06 ERA and 169-57 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 173.1 innings.
Lynn (26) is three years older than Miller (23) and has carved out a solid niche for himself as a No. 3-4 starter. But he also had a below-average ERA+ of 91 in 2013. He won't hit free agency until 2018, so the Cardinals could get a solid return for him.
Miller would fetch a better player for the Cardinals because of his age and ceiling, but given his performance this season and room to grow in the future, he's a player I would build a rotation around.
Imagine what the Cardinals can do with a starting five of Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Miller, Martinez and Rosenthal.
Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels
In a league where power, especially from the right side, is in high demand, Mark Trumbo could be one of the most cost-effective bats available on the market.
Buster Olney of ESPN reported the Los Angeles Angels have "indicated a willingness" to trade Trumbo or Peter Bourjos in exchange for pitching help.
The Angels' Achilles' heel the last two years has been pitching. They finished 22nd with a 4.30 starters' ERA in 2013.
Combining the pitching woes with the collapse of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, the Angels don't appear to have much flexibility to add payroll. My guess would be that if Trumbo gets dealt, it's for a young, cost-controlled starting pitcher.
However, a problem the Angels will have trying to flip Trumbo is his one-dimensional skill set. He has hit 95 home runs the last three years, but he owns a career .299 on-base percentage with 465 strikeouts in 1,718 at-bats.
What kind of pitcher would a team give up to acquire that kind of player?
I'm sure teams will come calling about Trumbo because there is a dearth of right-handed power in the league right now. Having a chance to land a player who can hit 30 home runs with three years of control before free agency is enticing.
There is a limit to how high any team trying to acquire Trumbo will go. Maybe the Angels can find a decent back-of-the-rotation starter who can step in right away, but that doesn't begin to solve their problems.
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