Biggest Storylines Heading into the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2013

Biggest Storylines Heading into the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings

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    Baseball's annual Winter Meetings kick off on Monday, Dec. 9 in Orlando, as all 30 teams will come together for four days of wheeling and dealing.

    Even if huge moves are not always officially made during the meetings, the groundwork is often laid for a deal to get done later on in the offseason, whether it is via a free-agent signing or a blockbuster trade.

    So here is a look at the biggest storylines heading into the 2013 Winter Meetings, from a handful of top names that could be on the move via trade to what some key teams will be looking to do before their time in Orlando is up.

Will Brett Anderson Be Traded?

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    Brett Anderson burst onto the scene as a 21-year-old in 2009, going 11-11 with a 4.06 ERA in 30 starts. As a result, he earned a four-year, $12.5 million extension that also included an $8 million option for 2014 and a $12 million option for 2015.

    Since that season, however, he has made a grand total of 54 appearances (43 starts) in four years, and his days in Oakland now appear to be numbered.

    With free-agent signing Scott Kazmir joining incumbent rotation options like Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin, the A's would certainly be trading from an area of strength if they moved Anderson.

    Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweeted that the A's are "likely" to deal the 25-year-old left-hander at the Winter Meetings, and the Yankees, Indians, Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners have all reportedly shown interest (h/t Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors).

Will Mark Trumbo Be Traded?

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    The Los Angeles Angels have upgraded at third base (David Freese) and in the bullpen (Joe Smith) already this offseason, but the starting rotation has yet to be addressed, and it is undoubtedly their biggest area of need.

    Perhaps their best way to add a quality arm behind the trio of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards without tacking a ton of money onto their already bloated payroll would be to trade slugger Mark Trumbo.

    The 27-year-old has hit 95 home runs over the past three years, and despite a less-than-impressive .251/.300/.473 line during that span, it comes as no surprise that he has drawn a huge amount of interest this offseason, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

    The team would prefer to hold onto him and does not seem optimistic that they'll find the right deal, according to Jeff Fletcher of The Orange County RegisterHowever, if the right offer comes along, they may very well pull the trigger.

Will Jeff Samardzija Be Traded?

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    Jeff Samardzija looked as though he'd be a key piece of the Cubs' future following a breakout season in 2012, and an extension seemed all but certain at some point. 

    Instead, he took a step back in 2013, and the two sides have yet to agree to terms, as he's looking more and more like a prime candidate to be moved. In fact, David Kaplan of Comcast Chicago quoted a source as saying there was a "99 percent chance" Samardzija is moved this offseason.

    While he did not put a number on the odds of it happening, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN also seemed fairly confident the Cubs would move the right-hander, saying they "plan to do some serious listening" on him.

    With two years of team control left and ace-caliber stuff, it's no surprise that teams are interested in him, especially given how weak the starting pitching market is along with the fact Samardzija is projected to make just $4.9 million in arbitration, per Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors.

Will Matt Kemp Be Traded?

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    With four viable starting outfieldersYasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawfordin the mix for three spots, the Dodgers have been shopping the three veterans (not Puig) this offseason in an effort to clear things up.

    Injuries kept it from being an issue last season, as all four players were healthy at the same time for a grand total of one game. However, the logjam could cause some controversy heading into 2014 if the Dodgers do not move one of those guys this offseason.

    Crawford is essentially untradeable at this point, and Ethier doesn't have much upside. But Kemp is an intriguing option, even with $130 million owed to him over the next six years.

    Not too long ago, Kemp was arguably the best all-around player in the game, hitting .324/.399/.586 with 39 home runs and 40 steals back in 2011.

    The Mariners are said to be his most aggressive suitor, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports. The Red Sox have also been linked to Kemp as a possible replacement for Jacoby Ellsbury, according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe.

Will David Price Be Traded?

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    The Tampa Bay Rays will head into the Winter Meetings with the top trade chip in all of baseball in their possession, as ace David Price figures to be moved at some point this season, a point that could come next week.

    Price is a free agent at the end of the 2015 season and is projected to make $13.1 million, per Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, in his second year of arbitration eligibility this winter, quickly pricing him out of small market Tampa Bay.

    An extension with the Rays seems all but impossible, and his value will never be higher than it is right now with two years of team control left.

    The Winter Meetings may simply serve as a time to lay the groundwork for a deal later this offseason, but Price will certainly be a name that is watched closely throughout the four days teams are in Orlando.

    According to a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Mariners, Dodgers, Angles, Pirates, Rangers, Diamondbacks and Blue Jays have all shown some level interest in the left-hander to this point.

Can Giants Make a Splash in Left Field?

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    The Giants focus this offseasonand the last two offseasons for that matterhas been re-signing their own free-agent talent. After extending Hunter Pence in-season, they have also come to terms with Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez and Ryan Vogelsong, while also adding veteran Tim Hudson on a two-year deal.

    With their rotation seemingly set, their biggest area of need heading into the meetings is clearly left field, where they employed a platoon of Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres for the bulk of the at-bats last season.

    All told, Giants left fielders tallied a .257/.314/.337 line and a position-low five home runs from left field last year, making it the clear area to upgrade in what has been a lackluster offensive attack.

    Their options are limited, especially considering the team has indicated that they won't sign anyone who has received a qualifying offer, according to Henry Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle (h/t SFGate.com). That removes guys like Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran and Curtis Granderson from the mix.

    That leaves bargain options like Rajai Davis and Michael Morse as potential platoon options with Blanco, or the team could go after a first baseman like Mitch Moreland and move Brandon Belt to left field.

    All in all, the team's options are slim unless they change their tune regarding players who have received a qualifying offer, and at this point, a bat with some power potential like Morse may be their best option.

Will the Red Sox Re-Sign Mike Napoli?

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    At the beginning of the offseason, the Red Sox identified re-signing Mike Napoli as their No. 1 priority, according to Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe.

    With the catcher position figured out following the signing of A.J. Pierzynski, filling the void at first base ranks as the team's top need. But to this point, they have yet to come to terms with the 32-year-old Napoli.

    After originally agreeing to a three-year, $39 million deal last offseason, Napoli wound up settling for a one-year, $5 million deal with $8 million in incentives after failing a physical for a degenerative hip condition.

    He will likely recoup that money he lost this offseason, and he could receive even more, as MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes has him projected to earn a three-year, $42 million deal.

    At this point, the Red Sox remain the favorites to sign him, but they are not the only team in the market for a first baseman. Boston will likely look to sign him as soon as they can, as they need his right-handed power bat to slot behind David Ortiz in the team's lineup.

Who Plays First Base for the Brewers and Pirates?

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    Heading into the meetings, two NL Central teams have glaring needs a first base that will need to be addressed in what is a relatively weak market at the position.

    Mike Napoli remains available, but it's unlikely that the Pirates or Brewers are willing to shell out the kind of money necessary to sign him. Instead, they'll be looking to a handful of second-tier options.

    James Loney is he best of the remaining free-agent bunch and is reportedly looking for a three-year deal in the $27-30 million range, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. He has emerged as the Pirates top choice, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.

    On the Brewers side, a reunion with Corey Hart, who missed all of last season with a pair of knee surgeries, looks like the most likely scenario. He is expected to have an offer in hand from the Brewers heading into the meetings, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.

    Other options on the free-agent market include Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, Kevin Youkilis and Lyle Overbay. The trade market is also an option, where Ike Davis, Mitch Moreland and Adam Lind could all be available and within both teams' price range. Don't expect either to go after Mark Trumbo.

What Is the Rockies Next Move?

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    Prior to the team's signing of Justin Morneau to a two-year, $13 million deal, Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort provided Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post with a complete breakdown of the team's current financial situation.

    According to Renck, the team began the offseason with roughly $11 million to spend in free agency, and following the signing of Morneau ($6 million in 2014) and trade of Dexter Fowler ($7.25 million in 2014), the team should have about $12 million left to spend.

    The team fully intends to make use of that money by adding to their current offseason haul of Morneau and closer LaTroy Hawkins, and there are a number of areas they could look to address, according to GM Bill Geivett, via Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post:

    I think we are still in the marker for a starting pitcher, another bat, and as I’ve said before, our bullpen is not closed. As we head to Orlando, we are still looking at some things and we’ll be talking to some teams.

    Geivett didn’t go into specifics, but he once again reiterated that when all is said and done, the Fowler trade will not go down as a “salary dump.”

    At this point, everyone is chasing the Dodgers in the NL West, but the Rockies showed some flashes of being a legitimate contender last season and could look to make some noise in 2014 with a few more additions.

How Do the Orioles Spend Their Freed Up Payroll?

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    On the eve of the non-tender deadline, the Orioles shipped All-Star closer Jim Johnson and what is projected to be a $10.8 million, per Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, salary this coming season to the A's for second baseman Jemile Weeks.

    Johnson led all of baseball with nine blown saves last season, but he also tied for the MLB lead by nailing down 50 saves, and he's recorded 101 in total over the past two seasons. The question now is: what will the Orioles do with the money they've freed up?

    Left field is a clear hole, and re-signing Nate McLouth remains perhaps the most likely option for the team to pursue. They are also in the market for a veteran innings-eater to join their rotation, with second-tier arms such as Bronson Arroyo, A.J. Burnett and Scott Feldman on their radar, according to Eduardo Encina of The Baltimore Sun.

    However, Jon Morosi of Fox Sports also recently tweeted of the team's interest in some of the bigger names on the market, listing Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez as three names the team is targeting.

    The Orioles are generally not major players on the free-agent market, but as they look to keep pace with the rest of the AL East, it will be interesting to see just how aggressive they are this offseason.

Will the Diamondbacks Pull off a Blockbuster Deal?

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    There may be no team in baseball with more talented young players that profile as movable parts than the Diamondbacks, as they seem poised to pull off a blockbuster deal at some point.

    On the position player side of things, someone from the shortstop duo of Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings is expendable. Third baseman Matt Davidson could also be shopped with Martin Prado blocking him, and outfielders A.J. Pollock and Adam Eaton are both in the hunt for the center field job.

    As for pitchers, top prospect Archie Bradley is likely untouchable, but Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado could both be moved in the right deal.

    Jerry Crasnick of ESPN took an in-depth look at how the Diamondbacks profile as a trade partner, and he certainly lays out a compelling argument for why and how the team will make a big move.

    Whether it's going after David Price, settling for Jeff Samardzija or shifting gears and going after a big bat like Mark Trumbo, the pieces are there for Arizona to make a splash.

Could Signing Curtis Granderson Get the Mets Offseason Rolling?

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    Having already lowered their payroll from $142 million in 2011 to $93 million this past season, and with a good amount more money coming off the books this offseason, the Mets were expected to be as busy as anyone this winter.

    Heading into Friday, their only significant offseason addition had been the signing of bounce-back candidate Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25 million deal.

    However, they came to terms with their top target in Curtis Granderson on a four-year, $60 million deal Friday afternoon, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

    With Granderson in tow, perhaps the Mets will finally get their offseason rolling, as they also have clear needs at shortstop, the back end of the rotation and in the bullpen that will need to be addressed.

What's Next for the New York Yankees?

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    The Yankees have already added two of the market's top bats in catcher Brian McCann and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, shelling out a combined $238 million on those to contacts, and they are likely not done.

    With Robinson Cano agreeing to a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Mariners on Friday night, the team has an abundance of money to spend as they look to shore up a lineup that could still use at least a couple big bats and an improvement over their current options at second and third base.

    According to a tweet from Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the team is essentially in on everyone still available on the free agent market, and have to be considered major players for all of the top names out there.

    They will also likely look to add at least one top starter and possibly two, even after re-signing Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $16 million deal to join CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova as locks for next year's rotation.

    The bullpen will also need to be addressed, whether it is signing someone like Grant Balfour to step into the closer's role or moving David Robertson to closer and looking for a setup man to step into his eighth-inning role.

    So while it's unclear at this point what comes next for the Yankees, it's a safe bet they're not done spending this offseason, and they could certainly make another big signing at the meetings.

Tigers Busy Offseason Still Not Over?

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    The Tigers have shipped out two key pieces to their recent run of success, trading Prince Fielder to the Rangers and Doug Fister to the Nationals, but it has been far from a salary dump for Detroit.

    The team landed Ian Kinsler in return for Fielder, giving them an upgrade at second base and a better leadoff option than Austin Jackson. They picked up a trio of players for Fister, including left-handed reliever Ian Krol, who will likely take Drew Smyly's spot in the bullpen as the latter returns to the rotation in Fister's spot.

    The move should allow the team to extend guys like Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera moving forward, but that does not mean they are done spending this offseason.

    Having already inked closer Joe Nathan to a two-year deal to shore up the bullpen, signing a big bat to take over in left field seems like the most likely big move the Tigers would make, if they were to make one more splash.

    With Miguel Cabrera moving back to first base and top prospect Nick Castellanos taking over at third, left field is wide open, and according to Mark Feinsand of The New York Daily News, the team's top target is Shin-Soo Choo.

    Adding Shin-Soo Choo and Kinsler would arguably make the Tigers lineup just as good, if not better than, it was with Fielder, as Detroit looks to make another run at the World Series.

Mariners Set to Spend More?

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    The Mariners made the splash of the offseason so far, agreeing to terms on a 10-year, $240 million deal with the top player on the market in Robinson Cano, and they may not be done spending.

    According to a tweet from Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, one MLB executive is convinced the team's next play will be making a serious run at trading for David Price, who would join a rotation that already features a dynamic one-two punch in Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma as well as two impressive rookie arms in James Paxton and Taijuan Walker.

    A deal for Price would almost certainly need to include Walker though, and the team may be hesitant to part with one of the top young arms in the game.

    Jon Morosi of Fox Sports also tweeted that the team is still interested in free agents Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz among others, so they may not be done pursuing free agent bats either.