The Rays are taking offers on ace David Price.
Trade rumors were running rampant all week long at the winter meetings in Orlando, Florida. Several trades were consummated, including a three-team deal that sent Mark Trumbo from the Angels to the Diamondbacks.
Aside from Trumbo, though, there weren't too many recognizable names switching teams. Amongst the other big names being thrown around on the hot stove, those are still just rumors.
But where there is smoke, there is usually some fire. The names you are reading about so often are very likely being discussed in trades, at least to some degree. It doesn't mean they'll be traded, though.
Here's a look at 10 of the top trade targets still currently being discussed on the rumor mill and the odds that they'll actually be dealt.
Domonic Brown, an All-Star in 2013, was one of a handful of new names to pop up in trade rumors this week. But as opposed to many of the other rumors that begin with "willing to listen to offers on"—a team should be willing to at least listen to an offer on any player—Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweeted that the Phillies were "actively shopping," which is a lot different and should be taken more seriously.
In the case of Brown, Passan says the Phillies are pursuing controllable starting pitching, which is at a premium and tough to pry away from an organization. If not for the 26-year-old Brown's significant decline in the second half of last season (.856 OPS, 23 HR in 1st half; .723 OPS, 4 HR in 2nd half), the Phillies might just be able to do it.
Ike Davis may have worn out his welcome in New York with the Mets after terrible starts to the 2012 and 2013 seasons—Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweeted recently that the team prefers to trade Davis and have Lucas Duda play first base—but there shouldn't be a shortage of teams willing to take a chance on him.
With three years of club control remaining and entering his age-27 season, Davis still has value and the Mets aren't going to just give him away for nothing. If that was the case, they would've just non-tendered him prior to the December 2 deadline to do so.
They'll use his .888 OPS, 23-home run performance of the 2012 second half and his .954 OPS, four-HR performance over an injury-shortened second half of 2013 to try and convince teams to give them back something of value. With the number of teams looking for first base help—Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wrote early in the offseason that the Orioles, Rockies, Astros, Brewers and Rays all had interest—it shouldn't be that difficult to make a trade that benefits each side.
The odds of the Dodgers trading one of Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp are extremely high. Which one they trade is more difficult to gauge, although I've wrote about Ethier being the most logical choice to go elsewhere.
Ethier's fate isn't likely to be decided until Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti decides whether any offers for Kemp are worth trading away a guy who was one of the top players in the game before a string of injuries that derailed his last season-and-a-half.
Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted that there are currently four teams in talks with the Dodgers involving Kemp and Ethier possibilities, while Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette confirmed to SiriusXM radio host Jim Bowden that he was interested in Ethier.
What is likely a very high asking price for Kemp will make that deal much tougher to pull off, while a trade involving Ethier still seems much more likely once they balance out how much of Ethier's remaining salary the Dodgers will take on with the caliber of the other player or players that will be involved.
Bill Shaikin of the LA Times wrote over the weekend that the Padres were expected to hold on to Chase Headley for the 2014 season. So no need to discuss this anymore, right? Wrong.
The more the Padres give off the impression that they don't have to trade the 29-year-old third baseman and are perfectly content entering the season with him on their roster, the more leverage they're likely to have in trade talks.
This doesn't mean that they aren't content with keeping, arguably, their best player for a season in which they hope to compete for a playoff spot. But with the strong possibility that he'll sign elsewhere as a free agent next offseason, they are not going to give up this early in the offseason just because they may not be getting a team's best offer yet.
The Padres have interest in White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana, according to Dan Hayes of the CSN Chicago, who also wrote that the Sox have inquired on Headley. It doesn't mean that the White Sox want to trade Quintana or that he'd be enough to acquire Headley. This could be a stare down that lasts much later into the offseason.
The Red Sox inquired on Matt Kemp last month, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, but it doesn't appear those talks went anywhere as multiple Boston scribes, including Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston, confirmed there wasn't much to the talks.
Kemp to the Mariners seems like a much more realistic possibility, as they've been among the most aggressive suitors, according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports. Even after agreeing to a $240 million deal with Robinson Cano, the M's still don't appear to be finished upgrading their lineup.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports received a 50/50 answer from a "Mariners person" when asked if the team had a better shot at acquiring Kemp or free agent Nelson Cruz. While this suggests Kemp is certainly in play on the trade market, the asking price isn't going to be easy for teams to match.
Due to make $128 million over his ages 29-34 seasons, the thought was that the Dodgers might have to take on some of Kemp's remaining salary in order to make a deal happen. But a return to his pre-injury form would make him a bargain at that rate.
A team would have to be willing to pick up the entire salary and send back a premium package of talent to acquire Kemp. There's no reason for the Dodgers to trade him otherwise. And that's why yesterday's report by ESPN's Jayson Stark that they have no plans to move him shouldn't come as a surprise.
The free-agent market for closers was amongst the deepest it's ever been, which is why it's probably a bad season to try and trade a closer like Jonathan Papelbon that is still due $26 million over the next two seasons.
Still, the Phillies are aggressively shopping the 33-year-old Papelbon and are even willing to take on some of his remaining salary, according to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that the belief is that they would like to reallocate the savings towards a starting pitcher.
But after agreeing to terms with veteran starter Roberto Hernandez on a one-year deal, there doesn't appear to be much room in the Phillies rotation. And there aren't any obvious in-house options to replace Papelbon.
So at least part of the money they'd save in trading him would likely have to be used to find a new closer. Corey Seidmann of CSNPhilly.com agrees, arguing that even if the Phillies ate $6 million of Papelbon's remaining salary, the two years and $20 million they'd save is close to the going rate for the top free-agent closers still remaining on the market.
It's worth a shot for general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to find out if he can get a solid return for Papelbon. It just doesn't seem very likely at this point.
With word that free-agent second baseman Omar Infante could sign soon with multiple teams in the mix—Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that the Yankees are one of those teams; Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports tweeted that the Royals are one of three teams talking with Infante's camp—the focus could turn to Brandon Phillips as a trade target very soon.
Along with the Royals and Yankees, the Orioles and Blue Jays are teams that could use help at the second base position. Only one of these four teams can sign Infante. The other three could look to the trade market, which most likely lost one potential candidate when the Angels traded their second big league position player of the offseason, making it highly unlikely that they'd trade a third in Howie Kendrick.
Phillips is "definitely in play" on the trade market, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, but the Reds will only move him if it improves their club for 2014. That could mean acquiring a major leaguer in exchange for the four-time Gold Glove winner or just freeing up salary so they could sign an impact player in free agency—Heyman tweeted that they were hopeful of re-signing Shin-Soo Choo but need to trade Phillips first—or possibly both.
There haven't really been many surprises in the David Price trade talks as of yet. The asking price is high, as it should be. Interested teams aren't willing to part with their best prospects, as they shouldn't be.
The Mariners, for example, aren't willing to give up top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, while the Blue Jays aren't keen on giving up either of their top two pitching prospects, Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
It's nothing but a good ol' fashioned stare down right now.
But something has to give eventually.
The Rays have absolutely no chance of signing Price long term, which is why they're willing to trade him at all. His trade value is likely at its peak now with two years left of club control, which is why they're at least exploring the market. But because they can wait until next season's trade deadline or next offseason and still net a strong return, they're going to hold their ground on the asking price.
On the other hand, a team could change its mind a few weeks down the road after the other front-line starter options have dwindled and dealing an elite prospect for Price appears to be the last chance to turn the ballclub into legitimate World Series contenders.
In an effort to acquire some more starting pitching, the Toronto Blue Jays are willing to trade center fielder Colby Rasmus and have already offered him to two different teams, according to Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos has also explored a potential three-team trade that he believes can get done, according to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com, although it's not known if Rasmus would be included in that deal. If he is, teams in need of a center fielder might not necessarily have the starting pitching that Anthopoulos desires, which is why a third team would have to be involved.
Considering that the Rockies were only able to net a modest return for two years of center fielder Dexter Fowler—he was traded to the Astros last week, along with a player to be named later, for outfielder Brandon Barnes, starting pitcher Jordan Lyles—the Jays might have a hard time finding a great deal for Rasmus in his final season before he can become a free agent.
Presumably, the Jays would replace Rasmus in center field with Anthony Gose, a talented 23-year-old who hasn't shown that he's ready for the majors. For them to potentially downgrade their lineup, it's unlikely Anthopoulos will give away Rasmus unless he gets the starting pitcher he's looking for.
Two years of Jeff Samardzija will be much easier to acquire than two years of David Price. That much is certain. But he won't come cheap. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times is hearing from sources that the Cubs's high asking price has prevented a deal from happening thus far and it's likely that they'll just revisit trade talks next summer.
The Diamondbacks, who have been connected with the Cubs regarding Samardzija for months, could be out of the picture now that prospect Tyler Skaggs was traded to the Angels in the Mark Trumbo deal, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
But the chances of a Samardzija trade happening this offseason aren't dead yet. Teams missing out on Price and/or one of the top remaining free-agent starters and/or Masahiro Tanaka, if he's posted, could find that the price for the 28-year-old Samardzija isn't so high after all.
At least that's what the Cubs are hoping.