Full 2013 MLB Winter Meetings Preview, Predictions

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2013

Full 2013 MLB Winter Meetings Preview, Predictions

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The 2012 winter meetings took place in Nashville, Tenn., from Dec. 3-6, and even in what was a relatively quiet year, there were plenty of notable trades and free-agent signings.

    The San Francisco Giants came to terms with a pair of key pieces from their World Series run, re-signing Marco Scutaro (three years, $20 million) and Angel Pagan (four years, $40 million). The Boston Red Sox added a pair of bats for what would be their own title run by signing Shane Victorino and agreeing to terms with Mike Napoli. 

    The Tampa Bay Rays continued to be savvy bargain hunters, signing James Loney to a one-year, $2 million deal, while the Washington Nationals took a chance on the health of Dan Haren with a one-year, $13 million deal.

    The trade market was relatively quiet, though the groundwork was seemingly laid for the later deals of Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves and R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays. That said, the Rays did acquire Yunel Escobar in a deal with the Marlins, while the Philadelphia Phillies picked up speedy center fielder Ben Revere for pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May.

    This year's meetings promise to be even busier, after what has been a crazy week leading up to them. So here is full overview of both the free-agent and the trade market, as well as a few predictions on what could go down in Orlando, Fla., from Dec. 9-12.

Top Remaining Free-Agent Position Players

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    OF Shin-Soo Choo
    OF Shin-Soo ChooDustin Bradford/Getty Images


    1. John Buck
    2. Kurt Suzuki
    3. Ramon Hernandez

    The big chips have already fallen at the catcher position, with Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, A.J. Pierzynski and Carlos Ruiz, among others, signing on to new deals. Veteran backup candidates John Buck and Kurt Suzuki represent the best available at the position.

    First Base

    1. James Loney
    2. Corey Hart
    3. Kendrys Morales

    According to Gordon Edes of ESPN, Mike Napoli is expected back in Boston in 2014. The Red Sox, Rays, Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates are all clearly in the market to sign someone at the position, and behind Napoli, the free-agent market features James Loney, Corey Hart, Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse and Lyle Overbay. Morales is best suited as a DH for an AL team.

    Second Base

    1. Omar Infante
    2. Mark Ellis
    3. Brian Roberts

    The big chip has fallen at second base, with Robinson Cano signing on with the Mariners, but there are still a pair of starter-caliber options at the position in Omar Infante and Mark Ellis. Oft-injured veteran Brian Roberts and utility men like Jamey Carroll and Elliot Johnson are also options at the position.


    1. Stephen Drew
    2. Clint Barmes
    3. Omar Quintanilla

    Like most years, the shortstop position is incredibly thin. One of two starter-caliber options, Jhonny Peralta, already found a new home in signing with the St. Louis Cardinals. The draft-pick compensation tied to Stephen Drew could keep teams away, but he's by far the best option. The New York Mets have a clear hole at the position and could be a landing spot for Drew.

    Third Base

    1. Juan Uribe
    2. Eric Chavez
    3. Michael Young

    Third base may be the thinnest position of all this offseason, and that could mean a three-year deal for Juan Uribe before all is said and done. Veterans Eric Chavez, Michael Young and Kevin Youkilis are probably better suited as bench bats at this point in their careers, so Uribe looks like the only viable starter. The Los Angeles Dodgers are still in the market for a third baseman and could wind up re-upping with Uribe.


    1. Shin-Soo Choo
    2. Nelson Cruz
    3. Rajai Davis
    4. Michael Morse
    5. Franklin Gutierrez

    With Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Curtis Granderson agreeing to deals with the Yankees and Mets, respectively, three of the top bats on the outfield market have found new homes. That said, Shin-Soo Choo should be able to land a deal north of $100 million in this market, and Nelson Cruz is also in line for a sizable contract.

    Both Franklin Gutierrez and Rajai Davis could be good investments on a one-year deal. Michael Morse could be an option as well as one of the few plus power bats from the right side on the market. Grady Sizemore is the wild card of the group, as he may finally be healthy.

Top Remaining Free-Agent Pitchers

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    SP Ubaldo Jimenez
    SP Ubaldo JimenezDavid Maxwell/Getty Images

    Starting Pitchers

    1. Ubaldo Jimenez
    2. Ervin Santana
    3. Matt Garza
    4. A.J. Burnett
    5. Bartolo Colon
    6. Bronson Arroyo
    7. Mike Pelfrey
    8. Jason Hammel
    9. Paul Maholm
    10. Roy Halladay

    An argument can be made for each of the trio of Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Matt Garza to be the top free-agent pitcher on the market, and all three are in a good position to eclipse the five-year, $80 million deal that Anibal Sanchez received last offseason.

    Veterans A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon and Bronson Arroyo should all be able to make a significant impact for someone, but likely on a one- or two-year deal. After those three, there's a sharp drop-off to No. 5 starter types like Mike Pelfrey, Paul Maholm, Jason Hammel and Joe Saunders, and bounce-back candidates like Roy Halladay, Shaun Marcum and Gavin Floyd.

    Relief Pitchers

    1. Grant Balfour
    2. Joaquin Benoit
    3. Fernando Rodney
    4. Jesse Crain
    5. Francisco Rodriguez
    6. John Axford
    7. Boone Logan
    8. Scott Downs
    9. Chris Perez
    10. Suk-Min Yoon (Korea)

    Top relievers Joe Nathan, Edward Mujica, Brian Wilson, Joe Smith and Javier Lopez have already signed this offseason, but there are still a number of plus arms available. Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit and Fernando Rodney look like the only true closer options, but there are several setup men available.

    Francisco Rodriguez, Jesse Crain, Chris Perez and John Axford are all intriguing right-handed options, while veterans Boone Logan, Scott Downs, Oliver Perez and Eric O'Flaherty are the best of the free-agent southpaws.

Trade Targets (Position Players)

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    CF Matt Kemp
    CF Matt KempStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Matt Kemp

    With the Dodgers shopping all three of their veteran outfielders, Kemp looks like the intriguing trade target of the bunch, even with $130 million owed to him over the next six years. The Seattle Mariners are said to be his most aggressive suitor, per 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.

    Dave Stewart, Kemp's agent, told Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston that his client is well aware of the buzz. "This is the first time we've experienced this," Stewart said. "This is the first time we've heard it this much, and the first time we really believe something could happen."

    Brandon Phillips

    The Yankees were rumored to be interested in Phillips back when it was first known that the Cincinnati Reds were open to moving him, and they could pick those talks back up now that Robinson Cano is officially gone. Even coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career, in which he hit just .261/.310/.396, Phillips remains one of the top offensive second basemen in the game, and he captured his fourth Gold Glove in 2013.

    Chase Headley

    The San Diego Padres seemingly missed their opportunity to trade Chase Headley when his value was highest, as he turned in an MVP-caliber second half in 2012 and was among the most talked-about potential trade chips last offseason. At this point, they appear to be best suited holding onto him until the trade deadline and hoping he boosts his value between then and now, but they would no doubt be open to dealing the free-agent-to-be if the right deal came along this offseason.

    Logan Morrison

    According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Miami Marlins are ready to listen to trade offers for Logan Morrison after their recent signing of Garrett Jones, and could shop him for an upgrade at third base. The 26-year-old has battled injuries the past two years, but he posted a .797 OPS and hit 23 home runs and 72 RBI back in 2011.

    Mark Trumbo/Howie Kendrick

    As the Los Angeles Angels continue to look for ways to upgrade their starting rotation behind Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards, the trade market looks to be their preferred outlet. Slugger Mark Trumbo has received the most interest of any of their potential trade chips, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, the team is not all that interested in moving him, so shipping off second baseman Howie Kendrick could be the more likely move at this point.

Trade Targets (Pitchers)

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    SP Brett Anderson
    SP Brett AndersonThomas B. Shea/Getty Images

    David Price

    It's all but a certainty that David Price will be moved at some point between now and the end of the 2014 season, as he has become too expensive for the small-market Rays, and an extension is essentially impossible. He's the biggest trade chip on the market and should land the team a king's ransom once he's moved. 

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

    Jeff Samardzija

    After looking like a key piece of the Chicago Cubs' core heading into the 2013 season, Samardzija now looks like a sure thing to be dealt this offseason, with one source putting the odds of him being traded at 99 percent, according to David Kaplan of Comcast Chicago. The right-hander has ace-caliber stuff and two years of team control remaining, so he should be able to net the Cubs a sizable return.

    Brett Anderson

    Anderson enjoyed a terrific rookie season as a 21-year-old back in 2009, earning a four-year, $12.5 million extension from the Oakland A's that also included an $8 million option for 2014 and a $12 million option for 2015. He's made just 54 appearances (43 starts) since then, however, and with an abundance of starter options in Oakland, the team is "likely" to deal him, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.

    Jonathan Papelbon

    Who would have guessed that the four-year, $50 million deal the Phillies gave Papelbon prior to the 2012 season wouldn't work out? Granted, he's saved 67 games with a 2.67 ERA in his two years with the team, but that's still an absurd amount of money to give a closer, especially on a team not in playoff contention.

    Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News is skeptical about how realistic a move of the five-time All-Star really is, but he'll be shopped nonetheless at the meetings.

5 Predictions for the Winter Meetings

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    SP Jeff Samardzija
    SP Jeff SamardzijaBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Shin-Soo Choo Signs with Detroit Tigers

    With another big outfield bat now off the market following the Yankees' acquisition of Carlos Beltran, it is looking more and more likely that Choo will come to terms with his new team sooner rather than later. The Detroit Tigers have freed up some money with their trades of Prince Fielder and Doug Fister, and according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, Choo is the team's top target at this point.

    Omar Infante signs with New York Yankees

    With Robinson Cano signed with the Mariners, the Yankees could very well opt to go with Kelly Johnson as their everyday second baseman after signing him to a one-year, $3 million deal earlier this offseason. However, signing Infante would not break the bank; he'll likely wind up with something similar to the three-year, $20 million deal that Marco Scutaro received last offseason, and that would allow the Yankees to use Johnson in the super-utility role he filled in Tampa this past season.

    Boone Logan signs with Washington Nationals

    The Nationals were without a proven left-handed reliever last season, and after trading Fernando Abad and Ian Krol this offseason, they are without one altogether at this point. There are a number of southpaw options currently on the market, but Logan looks like the best of the bunch. The Nationals should look to lock him up sooner rather than later.

    Los Angeles Dodgers trade Matt Kemp to Seattle Mariners

    Even with the Robinson Cano signing, the Mariners may not be done spending this offseason, and they have a clear need in center field that should be addressed. Kemp was linked to the Mariners earlier this offseason by Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, and the team certainly has the pieces to pull off a deal.

    Chicago Cubs trade Jeff Samardzija to Toronto Blue Jays

    The Cubs are expected to aggressively shop Samardzija at the meetings. The fact that he is only projected to earn $4.9 million in arbitration, per Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, makes him that much more appealing of a target. The Blue Jays were reportedly putting together a trade package for the Cubs back in November, according to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago; a package built around Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman may be enough to get a deal done.