The magical time of year where hope and happiness come together in one room is upon us. I am speaking, of course, about the 2013 Major League Baseball winter meetings.
The annual event, where players, agents and MLB executives descend on one location to talk contracts and trades, will run from December 9 through December 12.
Unlike past years, where all the free-agent action happens this week, there has been a dramatic shift in how swift teams act and when players sign. Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Mike Napoli, Curtis Granderson, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Carlos Beltran are among the top names off the board.
Instead, even with top-level players like Shin-Soo Choo, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana still available, this week could be built around trades.
We've already seen one notable deal with Doug Fister going from Detroit to Washington for very little in return, but with all 30 general managers and various agents gathered together, a lot more is going to happen.
In trying to give some semblance to the insanity, here are the latest news, notes and rumors coming from the winter meetings in Orlando.
One big trade domino that seems likely to fall is the crowded New York Yankees outfield. Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki are all battling for three starting spots.
Beltran and Ellsbury are locks. Gardner would seem to be as well, given his .352 career on-base percentage and elite defense, but Ichiro is being paid a lot of money to immediately shift to the bench.
Plus, the Yankees have a multitude of needs, even after their free agent spending spree, to catch Boston in the AL East. As a result, Gardner could fetch a nice return if the Yankees decide to move him.
According to Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com, at least six teams have contacted the Yankees about acquiring Gardner.
Since the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, at least a half-dozen teams—from the Phillies to the Tigers—have taken a run at Brett Gardner, knowing he’s a free agent at the end of next season. But Brian Cashman won’t move him until and unless he has to for starting pitching.
Considering Gardner's impending free agency, it doesn't seem likely the Yankees will get the kind of big return they want. That's just as well, because the 30-year-old can slot in at left field to start the season and shift to center if/when Ellsbury gets hurt or needs a day off.
Gardner and Ellsbury at the top of the lineup make the Yankees a lot more athletic and exciting than they have been for a long time. Why mess with a potentially good thing?
The Boston Red Sox, fresh off that World Series win two months ago, have a surplus of starting pitchers who could fetch an interesting return, if the right deal comes along.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports the Red Sox are making calls around the league to teams in need of another arm in their rotation.
A trade remains possible — the Red Sox are checking in with teams that need starters, sources say. Righties Jake Peavy and Ryan Dempster appear the most expendable, but the Sox could get a bigger return if they moved righty John Lackey or lefty Felix Doubront.
Peavy, Dempster and Lackey will make at least $13 million in 2014, which could make any deal difficult to make. The Red Sox aren't exactly starved for cash, so they could throw in money to make a trade work.
However, if the Red Sox are kicking in money, it will give them some leverage to ask for a better player in return.
There is also the matter of whether the Red Sox can afford to give up a starter. They currently run six deep, with Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz in the first two spots, but Buchholz has never made 30 starts or thrown 200 innings in a season.
Depth is a luxury that teams can't afford to waste. We all said the Dodgers had too much pitching in spring training last year, then Zack Greinke got hurt and Chris Capuano struggled, forcing them to trade for Ricky Nolasco.
Update: Wednesday, December 18 at 3:30 p.m. ET
It turns out the Royals' spending ways have made it less likely the team will trade designated hitter Billy Butler, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
The Royals, after signing free-agent second baseman Omar Infante, seem unlikely to trade designated hitter Billy Butler or any of their relievers.
General manager Dayton Moore isn’t inclined to take a step back after adding Infante, left-hander Jason Vargas and outfielder Norichika Aoki. If anything, the Royals would love a shot at re-signing free agent Ervin Santana should the right-hander’s market somehow collapse.
Trading Butler always seemed like an odd proposition, because the Royals need to be adding offense, not subtracting. He's incredibly limited as a DH-only player, but a hitter with a career .364 on-base percentage is something sorely lacking in Kansas City's lineup.
--End of Update--
The offseason has been predictably puzzling for the Kansas City Royals, and the action doesn't figure to slow down anytime soon.
Jayson Stark of ESPN notes the Royals could entertain offers for first baseman/designated hitter Billy Butler with the idea of going after Nelson Cruz.
Also hearing #Royals haven't completely dismissed idea of dangling Billy Butler. They make sense as a Cruz destination if Butler gets moved— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 10, 2013
This is a rumor that strikes me as odd. Butler doesn't have Cruz's power, but is a better overall hitter and under contract through 2014 with an option for 2015.
Cruz plays right field, but doesn't do it well and would be even worse if asked to man the position at Kaufmann Stadium. He can be beaten with off-speed stuff and has seen his OBP hover around the .315-.330 range over the last three years.
They do need more thump in the order, but I don't see why Stark would assume Cruz would be on their radar given all those factors.
Update: Tuesday, December 17 at 12:50 p.m. ET
Even though I would like to see Dustin Ackley get a change of scenery to try and reinvent his career, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports it probably won't happen in a deal between the Yankees and Mariners.
The Yankees reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with second baseman Brian Roberts, so they probably don't feel compelled to go after another player at the position right now.
--End of Update--
If the Mariners are intent on trading young position players, Dustin Ackley might make the most sense. He doesn't have a position with Robinson Cano joining the team and has never lived up to the hype after being taken second overall in the 2009 draft.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that three teams have made inquiries about Ackley's availability.
The Mets and Padres would be nice fits for Ackley because there isn't a lot of pressure to perform right away. Neither team will compete for a playoff spot in 2014, and the 25-year-old can work on his swing without the constant threat of being demoted.
The Yankees, while they need a second baseman, don't strike me as a great fit. Ackley could make for a nice filler piece in their organization, but they can't afford to go into the season with a second baseman who owns a career .245/.315/.354 slash line.
Ackley likely needs to get out of Seattle. It's not going to work for him there, a new hitting coach might be able to work with his swing so he can get close to the level he was supposed to be, and the Mariners have depth at the position to absorb a trade.
Update: Thursday, December 12 at 2:40 p.m. ET
While nothing is imminent, the Braves are still keeping the door open for a Jeff Samardzija deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
The only way to see the Braves being able to land Samardzija would be to add a third team. Their system is thin with no true star at the top. J.R. Graham and Lucas Sims are their two best pitchers in the minors, but they don't like to trade their young arms unless there are significant questions around them.
--End of Update--
Update: Wednesday, December 11 at 9:30 a.m. ET
One reason the Cubs could be shopping Jeff Samardzija, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports, is his unwillingness to commit long term to a franchise that may not be good in the future.
Samardzija not anxious to commit long-term when not sure when #Cubs will contend, plus Chi execs know can always try to deal again in July— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 11, 2013
I am as big a fan of Chicago's farm system as anyone, but Samardzija certainly has a point. We don't know what Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantara and Albert Almora will be in the big leagues.
Those five players have incredible ceilings, but how many prospects actually reach their full potential?
--End of Update--
At this point, it would seem to be an upset if the Chicago Cubs did not trade Jeff Samardzija. His name has been floated around more than anyone else this offseason, and there are teams that need to upgrade the rotation without spending money on free agents.
Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM in Chicago reports that two new suitors have emerged in the Samardzija sweepstakes.
Atlanta and Yankees join the group of teams interested in Jeff Samardzija.— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 9, 2013
The Braves are in an interesting spot because they need to add another starting pitcher after losing Tim Hudson. They have a strong trio at the top with Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and Kris Medlen, but it's not the kind of group that you think can carry a team to a championship.
The Yankees barely have a playoff-caliber rotation, and that's being generous. CC Sabathia slowed down last year with the worst ERA (4.78), FIP (4.10) and WAR (2.7) of his career. Hiroki Kuroda was a mess at the end of last year and will be 39 in February. Ivan Nova is a solid pitcher but isn't dominant.
Samardzija has his flaws, specifically with control, but he's a true power pitcher with swing-and-miss stuff. He's also under team control through 2015, giving the Cubs more leverage in their negotiations with other clubs.
Update: Wednesday, December 11 at 5:35 p.m. ET
One of those many Homer Bailey inquiries Joel Sherman reported about appears to have come from the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to Phil Rogers of MLB.com.
The Reds' Homer Bailey is among the starters the @Dbacks are pursuing for the front of their rotation. They made major push for Chris Sale.— Phil Rogers (@philgrogers) December 11, 2013
There must be a sense of urgency to win in Arizona, because that's the only explanation I have for all the players the team is rumored to be interested in.
General manager Kevin Towers tried to remake the team last year with middling results, so perhaps this winter is a way to correct some of the mistakes last year. The Reds don't seem to keen on trading Bailey at this point, but maybe the Diamondbacks have an ace up their sleeve.
--End of Update--
Update: Wednesday, December 11 at 3:35 p.m. ET
The Reds may not be keen on trading Homer Bailey right now, but that isn't stopping other teams from inquiring about his availability, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
That last note about the Reds not having interest in Brett Gardner is unusual, but the Reds likely view Bailey as a cornerstone of their rotation and want to enter the season with him.
However, he's going to be a free agent after 2014, which could make it difficult for the Reds to re-sign him.
--End of Update--
Homer Bailey had a breakout season for the Reds in 2013 and has just one more year of arbitration before becoming a free agent, so it makes sense teams would be calling about his availability.
One of those teams, according to Dan Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal, was the New York Yankees. The Pinstripes do need at least one more starting pitcher, so it makes sense.
Person involved says Yankees have asked Reds about Homer Bailey. Dont know if Gardner was the return piece, but sure makes sense.— Daniel Barbarisi (@DanBarbarisi) December 10, 2013
Unfortunately, word comes from Reds general manager Walt Jocketty (via C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer) that Bailey isn't going anywhere.
Walt said #Reds are not trading homer Bailey— ctrent (@ctrent) December 10, 2013
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com also included a quote from Jocketty basically reiterating that sentiment, saying "we're trying to sign him."
Update: Wednesday, December 11 at 1:50 p.m. ET
It turns out that Dave Stewart's comments earlier this week about Kemp being traded were premature, as the agent for LA's center fielder told ESPN's Jayson Stark that no deal is expected to happen.
Even though the Dodgers have a surplus of outfielders, trading Kemp was always going to be difficult. He's a superstar at his peak, but hasn't been able to play at that level since the first half of 2012 due to injuries.
If the Dodgers made a deal now, they would be selling Kemp at a time when they would get 50 cents on the dollar. This assumes there was even a good market for him, since he's owed $107 million through 2018.
--End of Update--
Update: Wednesday, December 11 at 8:30 a.m. ET
If Matt Kemp is going to be traded, don't count on the Boston Red Sox being the team that lands him.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports the Red Sox see "too many complications" to trade for Kemp at this stage.
Too many "complications" to make a Matt Kemp deal work for the Red Sox according to an industry source, most notably recovery of ankle— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) December 11, 2013
The problem is Kemp might not be healthy by the time spring training starts, based on comments made by Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. He told MLB Network Radio (via CBS Sports) Kemp "is still in a walking boot and won't be 100 percent in time for spring training."
Unless the Dodgers want to take pennies on the dollar, trading Kemp now might not be in their best interest.
--End of Update--
Matt Kemp is just two years removed from being the best player in the National League (when he finished second in MVP voting to Ryan Braun) and signing an eight-year, $160 million extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Injuries have hit Kemp hard since that time, limiting him to 179 games since the start of 2012. He's hit just 29 homers in that time, 10 fewer than in 2011.
Stewart doesn't have concrete evidence but notes that "I haven't heard a player's name floated around like that and something not happen."
At 29 years old, Kemp is far from being an elder statesman. He is owed a lot of money through 2019 and hasn't been able to play enough to be worth it, but some teams certainly know the upside is there.
It will be interesting to see what, if any, market develops for Kemp. He could be a change-of-scenery, bounce-back candidate if traded. If not, he could still be a great bounce-back candidate in Los Angeles.
Depending on who you listen to, the Detroit Tigers don't plan on trading 2013 AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer or are still taking offers for him.
ESPN's Jayson Stark noted on Wednesday morning that the Tigers weren't feeling good about getting an extension done with Scherzer but aren't looking to trade him.
#Tigers are telling teams they're not optimistic about getting an extension done with Max Scherzer but have no plans to deal him.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 11, 2013
Later, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports noted that the Tigers have not taken Scherzer off the trade market.
Sources: AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer "definitely in play" in trade talks. Nothing imminent, but teams know he can be had.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 11, 2013
It's this kind of talk that makes you skeptical of believing anything you hear. No one honestly ever thought Scherzer would be traded, so while he may be "in play," the only way something happens is if a package of elite players suddenly comes along.
Even though the Mariners have been aggressive this offseason, David Price may not be keen on the idea of staying in Seattle long term if he got traded there, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Just saw David Price's agent, Bo McKinnis, in lobby. Asked if Price would consider extension with #Mariners. Said no. MORE— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2013
Asked McKinnis if Price would consider extensions with other teams. Said yes. Asked which clubs. He declined to answer.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2013
Price may need to see if the Mariners can build a consistent winner before deciding to commit the bulk of his remaining years to the team, which is why Rosenthal's news makes sense.
Of course, all this depends on the Rays trading Price. There doesn't seem to be any urgency to get a deal done, nor should there be since the lefty is under team control through 2015 and Tampa Bay figures to be in the playoff mix next season.
Update: Wednesday, December 11 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Even though there were no legs to the Masterson-Yankees rumors, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports the Indians' right-hander is "very much available" in a trade.
It was tough to buy at first but two Gms have confirmed that Indians righty Justin Masterson is very much available but at a high cost.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) December 11, 2013
Considering the cost is high, and Masterson only has one year of arbitration left before hitting free agency, it's difficult to envision a scenario where a team matches what the Indians are looking for.
If the Indians struggle in the first half of 2014, don't be surprised if Masterson is dealt because this franchise needs to replenish its stockpile of young arms somehow. But for now, coming off a playoff appearance in 2013, it doesn't make sense to sell their best pitcher.
--End of Update--
Update: Wednesday, December 11 at 10:00 a.m. ET
It turns out the rumors of the Yankees wanting Justin Masterson will not lead to anything, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.
Source: There are no legs to the Yankees-Masterson trade talk.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 11, 2013
You can't blame the Yankees for liking Masterson more than the free-agent starters available. He's going to be cheaper in 2014 than Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana or Matt Garza, but the big right-hander is just one year away from free agency.
The Indians need young, cost-controlled, MLB-ready pitching in return, which is something the Yankees can't offer because they don't have any.
Back to the drawing board for Brian Cashman and company.
--End of Update--
Update: Wednesday, December 11 at 8:30 a.m. ET
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports the Diamondbacks could get in on discussions for Masterson after acquiring Mark Trumbo to bolster their offense on Tuesday.
The Indians would certainly look for controllable, MLB-ready pitching if they were to trade Masterson, which is why this doesn't seem to be a great fit.
Arizona just traded Tyler Skaggs in the Trumbo deal. Archie Bradley isn't going anywhere, nor is 2013 first-round pick Braden Shipley. Unless the Diamondbacks plan on including someone already in their rotation (Wade Miley, Randall Delgado) and throw in other pieces, the two sides don't match.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports Masterson is on the Yankees' radar, but would likely have to include another team because their assets don't match up with Cleveland's needs.
There is level of vagueness in this report. I'm sure the Yankees would like to grab Masterson, but it takes two to tango. The Indians aren't going to hand over their best starting pitcher just because New York wants him.
--End of Update--
With the Cleveland Indians losing Scott Kazmir to the Oakland Athletics, presumably losing Ubaldo Jimenez to free agency and having to fill bullpen spots vacated by the departures of Joe Smith and Chris Perez, trading pitching wouldn't seem to make sense.
Then again, a lot of what you hear at the winter meetings doesn't make sense. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports the Indians are listening for offers on right-handed starter Justin Masterson.
Sources: #Indians listening on Masterson with idea of exploring longer-term options. Masterson entering final season before free agency.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 10, 2013
Masterson has been a source of stability for the Tribe's rotation, having thrown at least 193 innings every season since 2011 and posting a career high 195 strikeouts in 193 innings last year.
Unfortunately, the Indians know Masterson's clock is ticking. He's one year away from free agency, and his value will likely never be higher than it is right now, so it makes sense for the front office to examine all possibilities.
Another move that makes a lot of sense for the Indians is a trade of Asdrubal Cabrera. He's entering the final year of his contract, coming off a bad season in 2013 and making $10 million.
Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports the Indians are "open" to trading Cabrera.
It's no secret star shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor is almost ready for the big leagues. He may be on the road to Cleveland by midseason, but unless the Indians can find a taker for Cabrera, Lindor might have to wait longer.
If there is a market for Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, it is one of the best-kept secrets in Orlando.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports noted the Reds are not likely to trade the All-Star but aren't shutting the door on a potential trade.
Sources: #Reds' Phillips definitely in play. Team will move him if it improves club in '14.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2013
If Phillips wasn't under contract through 2017, or owed $50 million, he would be a viable trade candidate. Given his offensive decline the last two years, culminating in a .307 weighted on-base average in 2013, the 32-year-old doesn't seem that attractive.
Colby Rasmus had his best season, by Fangraphs' Wins Above Replacement, as a Major League Baseball player in 2013. His .276 average tied a career high and .501 slugging percentage was a new personal best.
It's possibly because of that success the Blue Jays have let it be known that Rasmus is available in trades, according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun.
Colby Rasmus is on the market and has been offered to two teams by the Blue Jays for starting pitching.
Given the Blue Jays' already bloated payroll, it makes sense to dangle Rasmus who enters 2014 in his final year of arbitration and will get a big raise from the $4.675 million he made last year.
It also makes sense because a 27-year-old centerfielder who slugs over .500 and strong defensive numbers (11 runs saved, 11.2 ultimate zone rating) is a precious commodity that teams will pay to get.
Of course, Rasmus also set a career high with a 29.5 percent strikeout rate and .356 batting average on balls in play that suggests some regression could be coming.
The Blue Jays need to rebuild the upper levels of their farm system, which have been depleted over the last 12 months thanks to trades from the previous offseason.
After criticizing Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro all offseason, I am going to offer some praise based on a new development from the winter meetings.
According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Phillies are "ready and willing" to take offers for Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
The Phillies have indicated to other teams they are ready and willing to talk about Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in trades.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 10, 2013
However, Amaro refuted that report by telling Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that the rumors of Lee and Hamels on the market were "silly."
Amaro on Lee and Hamels rumors: "I think they're silly, but that's ok." Said they want to add, not subtract.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) December 10, 2013
The Phillies have nothing to lose by trading either Lee or Hamels, or at least exploring the option. They aren't a playoff team with those two, the farm system is good at the lower levels but lacking at the top, and some desperate team could blow them away with an offer.
Lee has two guaranteed years left at $25 million per season with an option for 2016. Hamels is signed through 2018 for $117.5 million with an option for 2019.
Given the volatile nature of starting pitching, even though it will cost more in the short term, Lee is probably the more attractive option because he's only got two years remaining on his contract.
The Phillies can and should ask for the moon in any potential discussions because Lee and Hamels are two of the best pitchers in baseball.
In some not-so-surprising news, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports the Mariners will be happy to talk trades with anyone in their system not named Taijuan Walker.
taijuan walker looks untouchable, but mariners will consider trading top positional prospects for price, maybe even zunino— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 10, 2013
That would seem to limit Seattle's chances of landing David Price, if the Mariners were ever in serious consideration to get him.
Trading young, cost controlled players would seem to be a waste for a team like the Mariners, who need to start developing their own talent so they don't have to spend $240 million on a premium free agent.
Of course, drafting and developing hitters hasn't been a strength for a long time. Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak are just a few of the notable players who were supposed to be stars offensively only to fall on their face in the big leagues.
The New York Yankees have a surplus of outfielders after bringing Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran into the mix. Brett Gardner and Ichiro are the incumbent starters remaining from last year's team, but only one can remain in that role.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that Ichiro is likely the odd-man out because the Yankees are intrigued by the idea of Ellsbury and Gardner in the same outfield.
The immediate speculation following the acquisitions of star outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran was that Gardner could be on the block since he'd have to move off center field, but while the Yankees may be receiving calls on him they like the combination of him and Ellsbury covering the Yankee Stadium outfield. Ichiro is the one they wouldn't mind trading.
It's good to see the Yankees emphasizing their outfield defense for a change. Ellsbury and Gardner are going to catch a ton of balls, though they don't do much to help an infield that still figures to have Derek Jeter at shortstop.
Ichiro, as Heyman notes, isn't likely to have a huge trade market. He's 40 years old and hasn't posted an OPS over .700 since 2010.
Update: Wednesday, December 11 at 12:15 p.m. ET
The Diamondbacks may not be done wheeling and dealing. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports notes the team is still looking for a starting pitcher, with a trade not out of the question.
Sources: #DBacks still could trade for SP. Interest in Gregorius, Owings. Also could include current starter such as Cahill or Delgado.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2013
Among that group, the most attractive player, at least to me, is Chris Owings. He's a strong defensive shortstop with some power, though his lack of approach with the bat does limit his upside.
Given the expensive market for pitching, either through trades or free agency, it will take more than what those players are worth to land an impact arm.
--End of Update--
When the Arizona Diamondbacks traded Justin Upton last year, it was with the idea that the lineup needed to make more contact at the expense of power.
Fast forward to the winter meetings, the Diamondbacks might be changing their tune a little bit after finishing 26th in homers.
Update: Tuesday, December 10 at 3:!5 p.m. ET
Trade reportedly finalized
According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, and confirmed by Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, the trade involving the Diamondbacks, Angels and White Sox is complete.
Source says the three-team deal is done.— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) December 10, 2013
The pieces involved, per Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, are Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago going to L.A., Adam Eaton going to Chicago, Mark Trumbo and two players to be named going to Arizona.
Finding power is something Arizona made a priority at the meetings, so Trumbo certainly fits that bill. He is a limited player with a low-contact rate and on-base percentage, so he has hit to hit a ton of home runs to have substantial value.
--End of Update--
Update: Tuesday, December 10 at 12:05 p.m. ET
Keith Law of ESPN is hearing that the Trumbo-to-Arizona talks may turn into a three-team deal that includes the White Sox.
Hearing Skaggs-Trumbo discussion now includes White Sox possibly getting Adam Eaton, sending Hector Santiago to Angels— keithlaw (@keithlaw) December 10, 2013
Los Angeles and Chicago would come out way ahead in that particular scenario, while Arizona would still be getting the short end of the stick.
--End of Update--
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports Arizona is "determined" to make a splash at the winter meetings via trade or free agency.
Mark Trumbo is a worse version of Justin Upton, so the Diamondbacks' interest in him makes little sense based on their new philosophy.
Shin-Soo Choo is a dynamic talent who gets on base at an insane clip, which would make the Diamondbacks' offense instantly credible. But investing that kind of money and years in a 31-year-old player with huge platoon splits would scare me.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports there is a trade on the table involving the Diamondbacks and Angels involving Trumbo.
1 possible deal on table would send cahill and skaggs to #LAAngels for trumbo— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 10, 2013
I'm not sure what the hold up in the deal would be, at least from the Angels' perspective. They should be dancing at that proposal. It wouldn't make sense for the Diamondbacks, but I'm still trying to figure out what they are doing.
If you are looking for a team just lying in the weeds waiting to make a splash, it could be that little franchise in Los Angeles that is trying to keep up with the rest of the MLB world when it comes to spending money.
The Dodgers made it to the National League Championship Series in 2013 before losing to St. Louis in six games. We know their strength is in the rotation with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but that doesn't mean they want to stop there.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports the "Dodgers have made the Tampa Bay Rays aware of their interest in David Price..."
Whether the Dodgers have enough pieces in their system to land Price is another story. They have talent at the top, with shortstop Corey Seager and outfielder Joc Pederson, but the Rays can and should ask for more than two players.
If you are trading Price, who is still under team control for two years, you want at least two guaranteed stars and another player with impact potential.
Of course, this assumes the Rays are going to trade Price this winter. That may not be the case, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Exec from team expected to be major Price players says #Rays haven't pushed hard yet, thinks even possible TB begins season with him— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 9, 2013
Perhaps the widespread belief that the Rays were going to deal Price has been overstated. I'm sure if the right deal comes along it will happen, but that's not a guarantee by any means.
Plus, we used the James Shields scenario last year as the barometer for everything the Rays are doing with Price. That's a mistake for two reasons.
One, the Rays traded Shields for one of the five best prospects in baseball last year. Shields is a very good pitcher, but everyone agrees the Royals got fleeced in that deal.
Two, Price is still going to be extremely valuable either at the deadline this year or next winter because he's one of the best pitchers in baseball.
The Rays are going to compete for a playoff spot in 2014 with Price. Without him, their October dreams get a little more fuzzy.
Depending on what or whom you believe, the Mets may be exploring trade possibilities for both Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports the Mets really want to find a trade partner for Murphy this week.
Among those, from the no-surprise department: Mets pushing very hard to deal Daniel Murphy. Between him/Uggla, some 2B inventory available.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 10, 2013
However, Marc Carig of New York Newsday reported that even though the Mets are shopping Murphy, there is no urgency to make anything happen.
Told status quo still applies w/ Murphy: Mets listening though they’re not pushing to move him. @Joelsherman1 says O’s have interested.— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) December 10, 2013
Carig also noted that Davis seems like a stronger bet than Murphy to be dealt.
Source says at this point Ike Davis is more likely to be moved than Daniel Murphy.— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) December 10, 2013
Davis bombed in 2013, hitting just .205/.326/.334 with nine home runs in 103 games. The Mets have Josh Satin, who hit a respectable .279/.376/.405 in 75 games, to play first base next year. It's also possible they could make another move if they can deal Davis.
One thing is for certain: Even after signing Curtis Granderson, the Mets don't appear to be sitting these winter meetings out.
The Pittsburgh Pirates lost Marlon Byrd to the Philadelphia Phillies, so they need to find another hitter to plug in the middle of the order to keep up with St. Louis and Cincinnati in the NL Central.
The answer could come in the form of Toronto Blue Jays 1B/DH/OF Adam Lind, according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports.
Pirates discussing multiple trade options for first base vacancy, including Adam Lind and Logan Morrison, sources say. @FOXSports1— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 9, 2013
Lind is coming off a strong 2013 season, hitting .288/.357/.497 in 143 games. He's also under contract through 2014 with team options through 2016. That control would certainly appeal to a team like Pittsburgh.
However, Lind has a heavy platoon split in his career. He's got a .603 career OPS against left-handed pitching compared to .850 against righties.
If the Pirates want Lind to be an everyday player, that would be a mistake. If they can find a platoon partner for him, the reward could be fairly significant if a deal ends up coming together.
The Texas Rangers have a plethora of middle infielders in the big leagues and upper levels of the minors, so it makes sense they would listen on at least one of them if it could upgrade another area.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Rangers are willing to listen for offers on shortstop Elvis Andrus but nothing is expected to come of it.
Sources: #Rangers willing to move Andrus even after trading Kinsler, but only for big return. Would go Profar at SS, Odor at 2B. BUT...— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 9, 2013
Trade of Andrus by #Rangers viewed internally as very much a longshot. Club has not discussed him with other teams since Fielder trade.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 9, 2013
Andrus is one of the best defensive shortstops in the AL, owns a .339 career on-base percentage, had a brilliant second half in 2013 with a .313/.369/.405 line and just turned 25 in August. He's still got room to get better.
The Rangers clearly value him as a core player, which is why they gave him an eight-year contract extension last season.
If Andrus gets traded, I would call it one of the biggest surprises of the MLB season.
Leave it to Ruben Amaro to finally find a young, cost-controlled player and try to trade him years away from free agency.
Update: Tuesday, December 10 at 3:20 p.m. ET
While the Phillies have explored trade options for Domonic Brown, Jayson Stark of ESPN certainly makes it sound like nothing is going to happen at the current price.
A team that asked #Phillies about Domonic Brown reports they "didn't seem enthused" about trading him. Looking for 2 or 3 young players back— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 10, 2013
I think Brown has some upside because he's under team control through 2017 and slugged .494 in 2013. He doesn't have a pretty swing, there are holes that can be exposed against average pitching.
But Brown is a tremendous athlete who has jumped through every hoop the Phillies have put in his way to become an everyday player. I still wouldn't give up two or three players to acquire him.
--End of Update--
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports the Phillies are shopping Domonic Brown to find starting pitching.
Sources: Phillies actively shopping OF Domonic Brown. Looking for controllable starting pitching in return. Idea is to sell high on him.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 9, 2013
Even if the Phillies don't think Brown can duplicate or improve upon his .272/.324/.494 line from 2013, is that really a good enough reason to try trading him?
This is a team that just gave $26 million to Carlos Ruiz and $16 million to Marlon Byrd. That's $42 million the Phillies could have used on pitching instead of investing in an over-the-hill catcher and 36-year-old outfielder who had an outlier season after playing just 166 games in 2011 and 2012.
Can someone please explain to me what the Phillies are doing? I am really fascinated by the way they operate.
The Philadelphia Phillies have had an interesting offseason, to say the least. I wouldn't say it's been particularly good, but general manager Ruben Amaro can't be accused of sitting on his hands.
Amaro is reportedly trying to get out from one his bigger blunders by putting closer Jonathan Papelbon on the trade market, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Sources: #Phillies trying to trade Papelbon.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2013
Trying to deal Papelbon is one thing, but finding a taker is another story. He is owed $26 million through 2015 with a vesting option at $13 million for 2016 that kicks in if he finishes 55 games in 2015 or 100 games total in 2014-15.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports the Phillies would like to use money saved on Papelbon's salary to bolster their rotation.
Phillies indeed interested in trading papelbon, as @Ken_Rosenthal said. Belief is they'd llike to use his $ on a starter.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 9, 2013
Papelbon's contract was bad when it was first signed prior to the 2012 season because you don't pay any reliever that much money for that many years.
When you factor in the other bad contracts the Phillies have—Ryan Howard's, most notably—Papelbon's deal doesn't stick out as much. This is a team that needs to do something different because the MLB team is a mess and the system is too thin at the upper levels to make any notable contribution in 2014.
It wouldn't be a winter meetings without someone talking about San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley.
Dan Hayes of Comcast SportsNet Chicago is reporting the White Sox and Padres had past discussions about Headley and may have even put pieces together that San Diego would have agreed to, which included White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana. It didn't work out because Chicago wasn't willing to pay the price.
Though a Sun-Times report indicated Sunday that Headley likely isn’t available and the Padres probably wouldn’t trade him until July, the two clubs could have already worked out a deal — the White Sox just didn’t want to match the Padres’ price.
That appears to be as deep as the Padres want to go with Headley trade talks, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times wrote the third baseman is expected to remain in San Diego at least until the 2014 season starts.
San Diego's window to get top dollar for Headley has likely passed. He had a surprising power outburst in 2012, hitting 31 homers after totaling 36 from 2008-11, and finished fifth in NL MVP voting.
He wasn't bad in 2013, posting 3.6 Fangraphs' wins above replacement, but the offense regressed (.250/.347/.400) to fit more in line with his career totals.
Headley will be 30 in May and is a free agent after the 2014 season. If the Padres are going to get anything close to what they believe is market value, now would be the time to move him. It just doesn't seem like that's on their agenda right now.
There have been conflicting reports coming out about Mark Trumbo and whether the Los Angeles Angels really are shopping him.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that they aren't anxious to deal Trumbo.
I wouldn't even say we're willing to trade Mark. We haven't been out there shopping Trumbo. At the end of the day, our intention is to keep our team together and solve our starting pitching issues as best we can.
That kind of quieted the trade talks until Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported from the winter meetings that Trumbo is still in play.
Sources: #Angels' Trumbo in play. Club officials view him as difficult to lose, but also as the piece who might bring them most in return.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 9, 2013
The Angels' infatuation with Trumbo is a bit odd. You like the power he possesses, having hit 95 homers since 2011, but a .299 on-base percentage with more than 1,800 plate appearances in the big leagues is problematic.
Perhaps this is just posturing by the Angels, trying to find a team willing to make a sweeter offer for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.
The relief market is always an interesting one to watch this time of year. Trades are often the best way to get value because teams will always spend too much money for closers.
Likely sensing that, as well as needing arms to fill out their roster, the Chicago Cubs are reportedly interested in Washington reliever Drew Storen, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
The Cubs have interest in Drew Storen to fill open closer role, source said. Nats would listen. Schierholtz, Russell are pieces that fit.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) December 9, 2013
Storen's value has dropped in the last 12 months. He lost his job as Washington's closer because the team signed Rafael Soriano and followed that with the worst year of his career in 2013 (4.52 ERA, 65 hits allowed, 58 strikeouts in 61.2 innings).
The Cubs wouldn't be parting with anyone of significance, based on what Kilgore suggests, and Storen is under team control through 2016. It's a completely logical move from their perspective.
If you are the Chicago White Sox, enduring the disaster of 2013 and no immediate hope for the future, exploring any and all options is paramount.
Sometimes that means talking about deals involving the likes of Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago, which could be the case, according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports.
Many teams remain in the market for starting pitching, and White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has three marketable left-handers on his roster: Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago. The White Sox are open to discussing trade proposals for all three, sources told FOX Sports 1, although the team is more willing to trade Santiago than Sale or Quintana.
Of those three pitchers, Santiago would make the most sense to trade. He doesn't have swing-and-miss stuff and lacks consistent control to be more than a back-end starter in a good rotation.
Sale's mechanics have always been a concern, but his arm hasn't fallen off yet and he's signed through 2017 with team options for 2018 and 2019. Jose Quintana flew under the radar last year because the White Sox were so bad, but he posted 3.7 Fangraphs' wins above replacement and threw 200 innings.
Sale or Quintana would net more in a trade, but those are the types of young starters the White Sox should try building around instead of dealing them.
One team in the Sale market is Arizona, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.
Diamondbacks are among the teams with the most serious trade interest in Chris Sale -- IF they would agree to part with him. A big if.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 9, 2013
The Diamondbacks don't seem to be a fit for the White Sox because the strength of their system is pitching. Why would the White Sox trade an established ace under team control for a minor league pitcher, like Archie Bradley, with ace upside and no track record?
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