2014 MLB Trade Rumors: The 5 Most Likely Deals to Go Through This Offseason
Now that the actual MLB games are finished, it's time for the offseason rumor mill to strike with full force.
All 30 teams can now devote their full attention to the 2014 season, where the slate refreshes and even the Houston Astros currently hold a share of first place. Those general managers will spend the next few months getting closely acquainted in trade talks.
The stressful art of roster assembling allows us to play the guessing game with the hot stove's greatest gossip. Sure, it's fun to picture Max Scherzer getting shopped shortly after a breakout campaign, but it's also highly unlikely.
It'd also be awesome if Andy Dwyer controlled a club and bartered his star assets for lions, but sadly the universe is still not an episode of Parks and Recreation. Bummer.
But now every possible trade scenario will drown in the abyss of blogs, tweets and our vivid imaginations. Some deals would unravel before Opening Day. We may not always see them coming (ex: Wil Myers), but that's not going to prevent us from demanding answers from our crystal ball.
Due to poor performance, financial limitations or a franchise boasting depth at the player's craft of choice, the following players are all strong candidates to play for a new team next season. Here's an educated hypothesis on where each of them will land.
Ike Davis or Lucas Duda to Tampa Bay Rays
Buying low on Ike Davis or Lucas Duda just seems like the Tampa Bay thing to do, and giving up one of them fits the New York Mets' mold.
Davis finished a catastrophically disappointing season with a .205/.326/.334, and that's after channeling his inner Joey Votto with a 22.4 percent walk rate after returning from his minor league promotion. Despite his progress at the plate, can the Mets constantly overlook his dreadful cold spells to start the season?
Duda fits the Moneyball archetype to a tee, which is not fully a complement. While his .352 on-base percentage is overlooked because of his .223 average, Duda also offset his sneaky offensive value with abysmal play in left field.
At first base, however, Duda held his own with a 0.6 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). The 255-pound slugger has no business patrolling the outfield, which is why the Mets have a problem with Duda and Davis (who are both lefties, eliminating a potential platoon scenario) clamoring for playing time at the same position.
The New York Daily News' Andy Martino confirmed that owner Jeff Wilpon is looking to move one of them.
The Mets are looking to trade either Ike Davis or Lucas Duda this winter and have had preliminary chats with other teams, as Jeff Wilpon indicated on Wednesday—but according to another team source, it is too soon to know which player is more appealing to clubs, and which will ultimately be moved.
Tampa Bay scooped James Loney from the bargain bin last year, and he came through with a career-high 2.7 WAR, according to FanGraphs. That will cause the first baseman to now seek a raise in free agency, which is Tampa Bay's cue to look elsewhere.
Davis or Duda (more so Davis in terms of upside) each represent an intriguing reclamation project, and the log jam at first base could allow the Mets to shop one for a mid-level prospect.
Dan Uggla to Miami Marlins
Every once in a while, a trade idea comes along that makes so much sense that you wonder how nobody else thought of it sooner.
Dan Uggla returning home to the Marlins makes a lot of sense.
In a mailbag column, MLB.com's Joel Frisaro addressed a question about the disgraced second baseman's return to Miami, and he laid out the framework for a possible arrangement.
From what I'm hearing, the Braves certainly will entertain shopping Uggla, who turns 34 in March.
If Atlanta can get another team to pick up $6 million of the $26 million Uggla is owed the next two seasons, they'd probably make a deal.
Perhaps to get another club to pick up more of the contract, Atlanta would throw in a prospect. So if the Marlins wanted to do some sort of package, they might be able to get Uggla and another player.
Uggla, who hit 154 home runs during five seasons with the Marlins, hit an unseemly .179 last season with the Atlanta Braves. He fell so much out of favor that the team left him off the postseason roster, instead starting light-hitting Elliot Johnson during the NLDS.
Acquiring an old hometown favorite will win some brownie points for a tail-spinning organization that lost 100 games last year. The Marlins will also take any power they can find after finishing last with 95 homers and a .335 team slugging percentage.
He won't cost a prospect worth high hopes, and Atlanta, who is ready to start fresh at second base, will pay a large chunk of Uggla's remaining bloated contract.
David Price to Texas Rangers
David Price thinks his days with the Tampa Bay Rays are numbered. He's a smart man, as that's what the team's past suggests.
According to The Tampa Tribune's Roger Mooney, the 2012 AL Cy Young winner admitted that his team is unlikely to commit to him long term.
As was the case with every highly paid player in team history, Price thinks he has priced himself off the Rays' payroll.
“If you go with what's been done in the past, I guess you're going to have to think you're going to get traded,” Price said Wednesday night on a conference call.
If you can really call it an off year, Price posted just a 3.33 ERA alongside a career-low 7.28 K/9 ratio. He also, however, posted a 3.03 FIP, lower than his 3.05 mark from his award-winning campaign. Although the dip in strikeouts in hardly ideal, he also cut his walk rate to a microscopic 1.30 BB/9.
This is Price's last arbitration season before he can test free agency in 2015. After watching teammates Matt Garza and James Shields dealt rather than get paid, he's optimistic about getting the money he deserves to stay with the Rays.
Plenty of suitors will line up to take a shot at Price. The Los Angeles Dodgers are the scariest threat, but they must first worry about locking down Clayton Kershaw to a long-term extension, and their farm system is not littered with talent.
The Texas Rangers have payroll flexibility and plenty of young talent to offer. The cards are stacked perfectly for them to make a push for Price.
While luring Jurickson Profar away from Texas will be tough, it's also not completely necessary to reach an agreement with other prospects such as Cody Buckel, Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor and Wilmer Font down in the farm.
Howie Kendrick to Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals spent all of last season, without success, searching for a second baseman. Howie Kendrick presents a solution for a team that made its plan to contend known by trading Myers last offseason.
Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella weren't cutting it, and Ned Yost was not helping matters by sticking them high in the batting order. Emilio Bonifacio provided a spark plug on the base paths, but he's a notoriously streaky hitter with a career .320 on-base percentage.
So with the Los Angeles Angels dangling Howie Kendrick on the trading block, the Royals are a natural fit to take the bait. Per The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo:
It looks more and more like Kendrick will be involved in a deal that would land the Angels some pitching or prospects. The Royals seem like a good fit as they attempt to solve their second base issue, and Kendrick would be a nice bat in that lineup.
While Kendrick lacks patience at the plate, he is a career .292 hitter with decent power and a sturdy glove. The 30-year-old is no superstar, but he's much better than what the Royals currently have.
This is James Shields' last year under contract before entering free agency, and the Royals can't afford the embarrassment of trading a young, affordable big bat like Myers without a playoff bid to show for it.
As for the Angels, they are ready to give Grant Green a starting gig, making Kendrick expendable. If the Royals want to avoid another good-but-not-good-enough season, they might have to go all in on their Shields gambit and play for 2014.
David Freese to Cleveland Indians
David Freese is a postseason icon who will forever be entrenched in St. Louis' folklore. He's also a spare part that the Cardinals are likely to deal this offseason.
According to FOX Sports Ken Rosenthal, the Cardinals are looking to trade Freese in order to make room for prospect Kolten Wong. Second baseman Matt Carpenter would shift back to his natural position of third base to make room for Wong at second.
That leaves Freese out in the cold. While he's still fondly regarded for saving Game 6 of the 2010 World Series with a game-tying triple and walk-off homer, Freese hit just .262/.340/.381 last season with a 0.3 WAR (per FanGraphs).
The Cardinals are also not ones to let the past cloud their judgment and make poor business decisions out of loyalty. After all, they let Albert Pujols walk when he was the best player in baseball.
With all that said, the 30-year-old still represents an upgrade over what many squads have at the hot corner. The Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins and Philadelphia Phillies jump out as teams that can use an improvement at third. If Alex Rodriguez loses his suspension appeal, the New York Yankees also belong in the discussion.
For now, the Indians represent the most logical choice out of that bunch as the list's only immediate contender. They also have a glaring hole at third base after Lonnie Chisenhall recorded a .270 on-base percentage.
In desperate need of a shortstop, St. Louis would gladly buy low on Asdrubal Cabrera, who hit .242 for Cleveland last season.