Winter has come, but the MLB hot stove (and climate change) has provided plenty of heat during the final days of 2013.
Most of the premier free agents have paired up with new dancing partners already, giving general managers less options to secure on the open market. As the field continues to condense, expect more trade discussion to sizzle before Opening Day.
The trade front has calmed down since November's blockbuster swapping of Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler, but that doesn't mean teams have stopped trying. Although speculation has waned among many players commonly cited as trade targets, the rumor mill is not dead.
This may just be the calm before the storm; so let's take a look at the latest rumblings around baseball.
David Price Still on Market
Whispers of the Tampa Bay Rays trading David Price have flooded the offseason. Many onlookers anticipate a deal before his price tag skyrockets outside of the frugal organization's spending range. Don't let the recent quietness fool you into thinking any potential deal is dead.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, Price remained a focal point of trade talks during the winter meetings.
Despite the silence, sources said the trade market remains active, with a number of teams having approached Tampa Bay with pitches for Price at the winter meetings but none having found the proper assortment of talent to pry away the former Cy Young winner.
The left-handed ace is the type of game changer that any club with the necessary financial resources will pursue. A three-time All-Star at age 28, Price won the American League Cy Young Award in 2012 on the strength of a 2.56 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.
While his ERA ballooned to 3.33 in 2013, while his K/9 ratio dropped to 7.3, Price also displayed exceptional control, allowing just 27 walks during as many starts.
Passan also noted that a certain team is in place to make another major splash if it's willing to part with a star pitching prospect.
"The Seattle Mariners can very easily get this done if they include starter Taijuan Walker, a maneuver sources said they've begun considering internally within the past week."
Rated baseball's best pitching prospect by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, Taijuan Walker, 21, posted a 2.93 ERA and 160 strikeouts through 141.1 minor league innings in 2013. The Mariners could make a major, immediate statement by adding Price alongside Felix Hernandez and recently signed Robinson Cano, but it'd cost them a potential future front-line starter.
Phillies Ready to Part Ways with Jimmy Rollins?
The Philadelphia Phillies are apparently not interested in paying $11 million, via Cot's Baseball Contracts, to a 35-year-old shortstop who hit six home runs last season.
Once an offensive and defensive catalyst, whose power and speed earned him National League MVP honors in 2007, Jimmy Rollins is now a declining player whom the Phillies hope will merit value on name recognition.
ESPN's Buster Olney reported the team's desire to trade the badly aging shortstop, but a no-trade clause could hamper its plans.
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
Rollins' bat dwindled drastically last season, as he batted .252/.318/.348. Despite his horrid offensive offerings, Rollins still wields a sharp glove at a scarce position. Per MLB Play Index, Rollins has fielded shortstop phenomenally over his career.
Since 2000, SS dWAR leaders: Jack Wilson 20.7 Adam Everett 15.7 Brendan Ryan 14.4 Rafael Furcal 14.3 Jimmy Rollins 12.9 César Izturis 12.9— MLB Play Index (@BRefPlayIndex) December 16, 2013
While a competing team could still do a lot worse than Rollins at short, MLB Trade Rumors' Steve Adams broke down a vesting option for 2015 that could scare some suitors away.
Rollins is owed $11MM in 2014—the final guaranteed season of a three-year, $33MM contract. That deal contains an easily attainable vesting option for a fourth year at $11MM, however, which will trigger if Rollins reaches 1100 plate appearances between 2013-14 and is not on the disabled list to close the 2014 season. Rollins tallied 666 PAs in 2013, meaning he will only need 434 trips to the plate in 2014 to secure an $11MM salary in 2015.
Due to his declining production and bloated salary, the Phillies could not expect anything more than a middling prospect in return.
Pirates Like Ike Davis
Despite their log-jam at first base, the New York Mets have taken their sweet time identifying a package for Ike Davis or Lucas Duda.
The popular notion now is that Davis will go while Duda mans first, perhaps in a platoon with righty Josh Satin. But they've yet to locate a deal for Davis, who hit a microscopic .205/.326/.334 last season—a year after belting 32 homers.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Travis Sawchik, the Pittsburgh Pirates are interested in the 26-year-old lefty's services.
The Pirates spoke to the Mets about trading for first baseman Ike Davis, a source told the Tribune-Review on Tuesday
Davis is a left-handed hitter who has shown a blend of power and on-base skills throughout his career. If acquired, he would presumably platoon with Gaby Sanchez at first base.
Davis has now started the season atrociously before finding new life in each of the past two campaigns. In 2013, he registered a .661 OPS with the help of a 15.1 percent walk rate, as per Fangraphs.
After breaking a 21-year playoff drought last season, the Pirates can use some pop at first to supplement Starling Marte, Pedro Alvarez and NL MVP Andrew McCutchen. Davis remains a risky option who must significantly slash his strikeouts, but his high upside makes him an intriguing buy-low target.