MLB Trade Rumors: Most Logical Options for Players on the Block
Trade rumors may have died down and teams are gearing up for the start of spring training, which is approaching quickly. But that doesn't mean that trade talks aren't happening between teams. Things do tend to happen in baseball when you least expect it.
Last offseason's seven-player trade between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves involving Justin Upton, Martin Prado and Chris Johnson didn't take place until January 24.
Jed Lowrie was traded from the Houston Astros to the Oakland A's in a five-player deal on February 4.
John Jaso and Michael Morse were traded in less significant deals on January 16. Mike Carp and Conor Gillaspie were acquired by the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, respectively, during the second half of February.
Here are four players who have reportedly been on the trade block at one time or another this offseason and the logical landing spots for them in a deal.
Ike Davis, New York Mets
New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has indicated that trade talks involving first baseman Ike Davis have died down, telling Anthony DiComo of MLB.com that "we're not going to move Ike just to move Ike" and "you can only ask someone to dance so many times before you get the message."
In other words, teams aren't willing to match Alderson's asking price and he doesn't have to trade the 26-year-old, who is still the leading candidate to win the team's first base job.
The Milwaukee Brewers, who have been the team most often connected to Davis in rumors, added another first-base candidate when they agreed to a minor league deal with veteran Mark Reynolds, who should at least figure into a platoon with left-handed hitting Juan Francisco.
If the two sides were unable to reach a deal because the Brewers were unwilling to give up pitcher Tyler Thornburg—Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reported last month that the Mets had asked for Thornburg—it's probably even less likely that they would now with Reynolds in the mix.
One team that still makes a ton of sense for Davis is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who currently have Gaby Sanchez penciled into the starting role with Andrew Lambo the leading candidate to share time with Sanchez in a righty-lefty platoon.
The 30-year-old Sanchez posted a .619 OPS versus right-handed pitching last year, which is why a left-handed hitter like Lambo has a shot to play often. But the 25-year-old, despite his 32 homers combined between Triple-A and Double-A last season, has limited experience at first base, and breaking into the majors on a team with World Series aspirations might be a bit much to ask.
Davis, on the other hand, had 32 homers in the majors two seasons ago and could be seen as a much safer bet than Lambo to make a strong contribution to the 2014 team.
The Pirates have a much deeper farm system than the Brewers, so while a pitcher of Thornburg's caliber might be too much to ask for any team, it's much more likely that they can come closer to Alderson's asking price without sacrificing one of the their best trade chips.
Mike Carp, Boston Red Sox
Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reported last month that there was a lot of interest on the trade market for Boston Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp, although most teams who needed help at first base or in the designated-hitter spot have since made moves to upgrade the position.
A few remain, however, including the Pittsburgh Pirates, who I've identified as a logical landing spot for New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis. For Carp, remaining in the American League where he could get many of his at-bats at the designated-hitter spot would be ideal.
The Baltimore Orioles seem to be a great fit, although it's difficult to see the Red Sox trading a player like Carp to a division rival.
With three years of club control and coming off of a season in which he had an .885 OPS with nine homers in 86 games, the 27-year-old could be a great fit with an up-and-coming team like the Houston Astros.
While Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reported last month that the two teams had not talked, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Astros could fit Carp into their plans in a role where he'd split his time between first base, left field and the designated-hitter spot.
Carp deserves a shot to get 400 plate appearances in a season—his career high is 313 with the Seattle Mariners in 2011—and the Astros should be able to give it to him without blocking any of their top prospects.
Alejandro De Aza, Chicago White Sox
After acquiring center fielder Adam Eaton last month, the Chicago White Sox were obviously in a position where they'd have to either take away significant playing time from Alejandro De Aza and/or Dayan Viciedo or explore a trade.
At the time, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was still in the "figuring out if De Aza or Viciedo should be traded" phase, according to Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. A month later, both are still on the White Sox, and there haven't been a lot of trade rumors involving either player.
If Hahn hasn't gotten a call from the Cincinnati Reds, though, I'd be very surprised.
While Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has said that rookie Billy Hamilton is "the guy" to start in center field, having a player on his roster like De Aza, who could at least be a backup plan in case Hamilton isn't ready—his .308 on-base percentage in Triple-A last season indicates that this would be likely—and take at-bats from in left field should Ryan Ludwick struggle once again would be ideal.
The 29-year-old De Aza, who is still under club control for two more seasons, has a .743 OPS over the past two seasons with an average of 13 homers and 23 stolen bases for the White Sox.
David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
The market for Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price hasn't materialized, according to a rival executive, who also told Buster Olney of ESPN.com that there is a 90 percent chance that the 28-year-old will stay put.
But once Masahiro Tanaka and top free agent starters Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are off the board in the near future, the Rays will likely have one more chance of having a team match their high asking price.
Teams that are hoping to land a front-line starter and fail to land any of the four aforementioned starters could be more willing to meet Tampa Bay's demands.
It's still too early to determine which teams will be left empty-handed. But if the Seattle Mariners are one of those, expect them to revisit trade talks involving Price.
Back in early December, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reported that the Mariners believed they had the prospects to acquire Price. Their unwillingness to include top prospect Taijuan Walker, who Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times was told by a source had to be part of the package, may have ended talks.
Including catcher Mike Zunino at the time with a very thin group behind him would've also been difficult. But with veteran John Buck in the fold now, they could be willing to part with Zunino, second baseman Nick Franklin and left-hander James Paxton, plus another low-level prospect or two.
It might not meet the Rays' initial demands, but they could also feel that it's as good of a deal as they're ever going to get.
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