Every MLB team is faced with a number of tough decisions each offseason, as whether or not to pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade or big free-agent signing can sometimes influence the entire future outlook of the franchise.
This offseason is no different, and with a relatively weak crop of free agents, there could be more activity on the trade market than usual.
With that in mind, here is a look at five teams who could be on the verge of making a huge mistake this offseason if rumors that have surfaced about them do in fact come true.
For the second straight offseason, the Texas Rangers are rumored to be shopping a middle infielder as they look to free up a logjam that involves the trio of Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and dynamic youngster Jurickson Profar.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the most recent insider to point to the Rangers trading one of their infielders as an inevitability:
A trade of second baseman Ian Kinsler or shortstop Elvis Andrus is starting to look inevitable. Another option is to make infielder Jurickson Profar part of a larger package for, say, David Price or Giancarlo Stanton (whom the Marlins say is unavailable). But don’t count on it.
There is no question that the team needs to find a solution to the problem. But while Andrus is probably the most attractive trade chip, the Rangers should not move the slick-fielding shortstop unless they get the package they're looking for.
Some point to the $126 million he is owed through the 2022 season as a reason he won't be moved, but as a 25-year-old two-time All-Star, that yearly salary is actually a bargain of sorts considering Stephen Drew just turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer.
Moving Andrus makes sense in the right situation, but the Rangers would be squandering a valuable asset if they trade him for anything short of a blockbuster return.
Expected to be posted this winter by the Rakuten Golden Eagles, there now appears to be at least a chance that Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka may be staying in overseas another year.
According to Matt Snyder of CBS Sports, proposed revisions to the posting system have hit a snag. And if things are not resolved, we could see an offseason without any players heading to the States by way of the posting system.
This seemingly hurts the New York Yankees as much as anyone, as signing Tanaka was a big part of their offseason game plan. I took a closer look at the potential impact Tanaka being unavailable could have on the Yankees in an article earlier this week, and it could mean the team spending on different arms.
With only CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova currently slated to return from last year's rotation and the Yankees looking to get back to the playoffs, the team could settle for shelling out upwards of $100 million for someone like Matt Garza, Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez.
Those guys are all solid arms and would help improve the staff, but overpaying for what amounts to be the team's fall-back plan is not the best move for a team already dealing with a bloated payroll.
In the two seasons since Theo Epstein and Co. took over in the Chicago Cubs front office, the team has quickly assembled one of the best farm systems in all of baseball.
The Cubs are still thin on high-end pitching talent, though, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports recently suggested that the team could consider swapping some top prospects with the pitching-rich Miami Marlins:
Officials from the Cubs and Marlins both agree they may have something to talk about.
The Cubs have a stockpile of high-end position prospects and the Marlins have a long list of fine young pitchers. Prospect-for-prospect deals are rare because they require a strong stomach. Needless to say, such trades carry a big risk.
The foursome of Kris Bryant (3B), Javier Baez (SS), Albert Almora (CF) and Jorge Soler (RF) all rank among the top prospects in the game at their respective positions and profile as impact hitters once they arrive in Chicago.
While there is no question the Cubs need to find a way to improve the front end of their rotation, moving one of those guys for anything short of David Price would not be a risk worth taking, as they would be risking the foundation of their return to contention.
Though injuries kept it from being an issue during the 2013 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have four starting-caliber outfielders heading into 2014, with Yasiel Puig joining Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford this past year.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported back in early November that the team is willing to listen to offers for each of the three veterans, with the young and controllable Puig obviously off-limits:
The Dodgers, according to major-league sources, are listening on Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford, telling prospective suitors, “If you’re interested in one of them, make us an offer.”
The most attractive of the three would seem to be Kemp, despite the fact that he is owed $130 million through the 2019 season and is coming off of an injury-plagued 2013.
Kemp managed just 73 games this past year, hitting .270/.328/.395 with six home runs and 33 RBI. However, he's just two seasons removed from a second-place MVP finish in 2011, when he hit .324/.399/.586 and led the NL with 39 home runs and 126 RBI and also swiped 40 bases.
Still just 29, Kemp is in the prime of his career, and if he can stay healthy, he remains one of the most dynamic players in the game. The Dodgers would be crazy to sell low on him at this point, as they could wind up immediately regretting it.
Since being selected in the first round of the 2009 draft, Shelby Miller has been viewed as the future ace of the St. Louis Cardinals staff and one of the most promising young arms in all of baseball.
With Kyle Lohse gone in free agency last offseason, Miller was handed a rotation spot out of spring training, and he did not disappoint. Though the team opted against using him in its postseason rotation, he was 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.206 WHIP in 31 starts.
Looking to upgrade at shortstop, and with Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Miller and a healthy Jaime Garcia all vying for rotation spots, it would come as no surprise if the team moved a starter.
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pointed to Lynn and Miller as the two most likely to be moved back at the beginning of the offseason. And a recent rumor surfaced that a J.J. Hardy-for-Shelby Miller trade was shot down by the Cardinals, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports. At the end of the day the Cardinals would be wise to hold on to the 23-year-old future ace.