The MLB rumor mill is still kicking as we head toward 2014.
Both the free-agent and trade markets still figure to be busy until the holidays and will pick back up again in January as teams try to round out their rosters for spring training.
Recently, names like shortstop Jimmy Rollins have popped up on the trading block, while there have been new rumblings regarding free agents like reliever Jesse Crain and infielder Mark Reynolds. Let's take a look at the latest rumors regarding these three players.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
It sounds like Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is trying hard to shed some salary this offseason.
Last week, closer Jonathan Papelbon surfaced in trade rumors, while this week it's Rollins. On Monday, Buster Olney of ESPN reported that the Phillies are actively shopping the 35-year-old former MVP:
PHI has made clear to other teams, as it did during the summer, that it is very willing to move Jimmy Rollins. Has a no-trade clause, tho.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 16, 2013
According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, Rollins is due $11 million this season and has a vesting option for 2015. Olney shared the benchmark Rollins needs to meet in order to guarantee his option:
About Jimmy Rollins's contract: He needs 434 plate appearances in 2014 to have his contract vest at $11m for 2015. http://t.co/U94BKkvLED— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 16, 2013
While Papelbon is owed up to $39 million over the next three years, a maximum of $22 million for two years of Rollins makes him more affordable. But after his major drop in power in 2013, Rollins might be a hard chip to trade at this point.
In 160 games this past season, Rollins batted .252/.318/.348 with six homers, 39 RBIs and 22 stolen bases, the .348 slugging percentage representing the lowest mark of his career.
Stephen Drew is still a free agent, and the market drops off sharply after him, but there are very few teams that need shortstops at this point in the offseason. Rollins bounced back from a similar dip in production in 2003 (.263/.320/.387, eight HRs, 62 RBIs, 20 stolen bases), but he's 10 years older now and teams might be scared off by his big salary.
Amaro might be eager to trade away one of the many high-priced veterans on his roster, but it looks like it's going to be tough to unload one of those big contracts.
Jesse Crain, RHP
Jesse Crain was one of baseball's best relievers when he went down with a right-shoulder injury in June. Even though he was on the disabled list, that didn't stop the Tampa Bay Rays from acquiring him from the Chicago White Sox near the trading deadline.
Crain never pitched for the Rays, but now he's on the open market. According to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, the interest for Crain has picked up lately.
Jesse Crain, who did not pitch after June 29 due to injury, is still garnering interest on free agent market. Has received multiple offers.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 16, 2013
Relief pitching is one area of the free-agent market where there are still plenty of quality options available, and Crain is one of them. He made 38 appearances in 2013, posting a 0.74 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 11.3 K/9 ratio. In the previous two seasons with the White Sox, he had a combined 2.54 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 10.3 K/9 in 118 outings.
While his season-ending injury is concerning, Crain showed he can be an elite setup man in the first half of last year, a valuable part of any bullpen. Given his recent injury, the 32-year-old Crain is likely in line for a short-term deal, per Morosi:
Crain is trying to figure out whether he wants to go for a 1- or 2-year deal. He had a 0.74 ERA in the first half of 2013.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 16, 2013
At this point, there are dozens of teams who want to bolster their bullpen so Crain should have plenty of offers to choose from this winter.
Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B
The slugging corner infielder still possesses some power, but it comes at the price of strikeouts. The pros and cons of Mark Reynolds' game are well known at this point, and the 30-year-old is arguably the top third baseman on the market now with Juan Uribe's two-year deal to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Over the past three seasons, Reynolds has also played a lot at first base, a logical move at this point of his career. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the New York Yankees have expressed interest in bringing Reynolds back in 2014:
The Yankees signed Reynolds in August after he was designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians a week earlier. In 135 games this past season, he batted .220/.306./.393 with 21 HRs, 67 RBIs and 154 strikeouts.
New York could use a right-handed power bat and someone to spell Mark Teixeira at first base, so a move to bring Reynolds back makes sense for both sides. With Alex Rodriguez's status up in the air for 2014, Reynolds could also provide some third-base insurance.