MLB Trade Rumors: Top Potential Landing Spots for Players on the Block

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

MLB Trade Rumors: Top Potential Landing Spots for Players on the Block

0 of 5

    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    Not even the trade market has been immune to the effects of the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes. The rumor mill has nearly come to a halt as teams around baseball wait to see where the Japanese phenom will land and how things will develop after he finds a home.

    That's not to say that trade talks aren't ongoing, and teams in on Tanaka have put together contingency plans should he sign elsewhereplans that very well could involve a trade, not a free-agent signing.

    With spring training quickly approaching and the Tanaka sweepstakes nearing a conclusion, things could get incredibly busy over the next week as teams scramble to bolster their rosters before camp begins.

    Here's a look at six players who have been on the trade block at one point or another this winter and their top potential destinations should they be moved.

     

    *Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

     

Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo

1 of 5

    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Why They Are Available

    Shortly after acquiring center fielder Adam Eaton from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago general manager Rick Hahn told reporters, including the Chicago Tribune's Colleen Kane, that he needed to decide whether to use Alejandro De Aza or Dayan Viciedo as a trade chip to try to upgrade the team's third base or catching situation.

    With the Addison Reed-Matt Davidson trade filling the team's need at the hot corner, one of the two outfielders could still be moved to bolster the team's options behind the plate.

     

    Top Potential Landing Spots

    New York Yankees

    The New York Yankees may not have an immediate outfield need, but they do have a plethora of young talent behind the plate—all blocked by newly signed free agent Brian McCann.

    Neither De Aza nor Viciedo would be nearly enough to pry top prospect Gary Sanchez away from the Yankees, but J.R. Murphy and Austin Romine are both expendable, as neither has much of a chance to break camp with the club.

    De Aza or Viciedo would give the team a younger alternative as a reserve outfielder than Ichiro Suzuki, who, despite being blessed with a tremendous throwing arm, looks very much like a 40-year-old at the plate.

     

Jeff Samardzija

2 of 5

    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    Why He's Available

    The 28-year-old right-hander hasn't hidden the fact that he's tired of playing on a rebuilding club, something that has certainly factored into his decision to not sign an extension with the Chicago Cubs up to this point.

    If the Cubs were to land Masahiro Tanaka as a free agent, Samardzija would be more inclined to work out a new deal with the club, as he intimated to the Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzales, but the Cubs are considered long shots to land the Japanese phenom.

    With two years of team control left and minimal wear and tear on his arm, Samardzija's value may never be higher than it is now.

     

    Top Potential Landing Spots

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    The D-Backs are in the running to land Tanaka, but if that fails, the team could turn its attention back to Samardzija, for whom they believe the Cubs are asking too much, sources tell CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney.

    Should Arizona fail to reach the playoffs again in 2014, both manager Kirk Gibson and GM Kevin Towers could be looking for new jobs after the season. Adding an established starter to pair with Patrick Corbin atop the rotation is an absolute necessity for the team this winter.

    While including top prospect Archie Bradley in a deal is unlikely, the likes of 25-year-old Trevor Cahill and 23-year-old Randall Delgado, young arms with major league experience, could be used as part of a package to pry Samardzija away from the Cubs.

     

    Atlanta Braves

    Atlanta won't include top pitching prospects Mauricio Cabrera or Lucas Sims in any deal, but the Braves have a number of young pitchers the Cubs could have interest in at both the major league level and throughout the minor leagues.

    Mooney reports that, like the Diamondbacks, the Braves think Chicago's asking price is too high. But after losing Tim Hudson to the San Francisco Giants via free agency, the Braves rotation is high on talent but short on experience—and a surefire innings eater.

    Adding Samardzija to the mix would improve the team's chances of defending its NL East division title against an improved Washington Nationals squad, which, after trading for Doug Fister, boasts one of the best rotations in baseball. 

     

    Seattle Mariners

    Seattle won't include top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker in a deal for Tampa Bay's David Price, so there's no chance Walker would be included in a deal for Samardzija.

    That said, the Mariners could use another established arm to go along with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma at the front of their rotation, which would take pressure off of youngsters such as Walker and Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle has a number of young pitchers the Cubs could target in a deal, from the likes of Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Brandon Maurer—all close to being ready for prime timeto youngsters who are still a few years away from making an impact, such as Victor Sanchez and Edwin Diaz. 

David Price

3 of 5

    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Why He's Available

    Tampa Bay simply can't afford to re-sign David Price once his contract expires after the 2015 season. The team can barely afford his $14.1 million salary in 2014, which accounts for roughly 20 percent of the entire payroll.

    With two years of team control left, Price's value is never going to be higher than it is now, and with a trade an eventuality, now is the time for the Rays to move himdespite Price's hopes that he sticks around for the entire 2014 campaign, as he told the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin

     

    Top Potential Landing Spots

    Los Angeles Dodgers

    Even after signing Dan Haren and extending Clayton Kershaw's deal, the Dodgers are looking to add another starting pitcher to their rotation, sources tell Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

    Not only does Los Angeles have the money it would take to sign Price to a new deal, but it also has the prospects both on the mound (right-handers Zach Lee and Chris Reed) and in the field (outfielder Joc Pederson and shortstop/third baseman Corey Seager) to build an attractive package around.

     

    Seattle Mariners

    Seattle balked at including top prospect Taijuan Walker in a deal for Price earlier this winter, but the Mariners have a plethora of young talent around the diamond that would be of interest to the Rays.

    Aside from the young pitching mentioned as possible trade bait to land Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs (Hultzen, Maurer, Paxton, etc.), infielder Nick Franklin, first baseman Ji-Man Choi and perhaps even catcher Mike Zunino could all be used as part of a package to acquire Price.

    Price, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma would be the best trio of starters in the game—and would thrust the Mariners back into the playoff picture.

     

    Texas Rangers

    After Yu Darvish, the starting rotation in Texas is full of question marks. Adding a pitcher of Price's caliber would not only erase some of those question marks but also put the Rangers in a better position to take on the opposition in an improved AL West.

    It's been widely speculated that any deal involving Price going to Texas would have to include infielder Jurickson Profar, but that may not be the case.

    Texas has a pair of highly touted middle infield prospects in Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas, who, along with catcher/first base prospect Jorge Alfaro, could be the centerpieces of a package headed back to Tampa Bay in exchange for Price.

Justin Smoak

4 of 5

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Why He's Available

    As first reported by USA Today's Bob Nightengale, Seattle officially put first baseman Justin Smoak (and former prospect Jesus Montero) on the trade block last month, both made expendable by the additions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison to the Mariners roster.

    The switch-hitting first baseman is coming off of a career year in 2013, when he hit .238 with 20 home runs, 39 extra-base hits and a .746 OPS. An average defender at best, he isn't going to command much in return for the Mariners.

     

    Top Potential Landing Spots

    Milwaukee Brewers

    The Brewers continue to search for an answer at first base, signing 30-year-old slugger Mark Reynolds to a minor league deal in the hopes that he can supplant Juan Francisco at the position in spring training—and that prospect Hunter Morris can rebound from a horrid 2013 campaign at Triple-A.

    Milwaukee tried to acquire first baseman Ike Davis from the New York Mets earlier this winter to no avail. Seattle certainly wouldn't be asking for as high a return (25-year-old pitcher Tyler Thornburg) as the Mets were, which could facilitate a deal between the two teams.

     

    Pittsburgh Pirates

    Like Milwaukee, Pittsburgh has a gaping hole at first baseone they tried to fill with Ike Davis before finding New York's asking price (pitching prospect Nick Kingham) to be far too high.

    While Smoak may not be a major upgrade over the team's current in-house options—Travis Ishikawa, Andrew Lambo, Chris McGuiness and Gaby Sanchez—he does offer a legitimate source of power, which is a welcome addition to any club.

Ike Davis

5 of 5

    Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

    Why He's Available

    With first basemen Lucas Duda and Josh Satin on the roster, moving Ike Davis this winter was believed to be an inevitability for the New York Mets at one point.

    But as Mets general manager Sandy Alderson recently told MLB.com's Anthony DiComo, that simply isn't the case anymore: 

    We're not going to move Ike just to move Ike -- or any other player, for that matter. This is a trade market, not a yard sale. And right now, we're perfectly happy to go into Spring Training with Davis and Duda both on the team. Frankly, we're not that actively engaged in trade discussions involving Ike at this point. I think that underscores our willingness to go into camp with both.

    That said, if ever there was a player who needed to escape from New York, it's Ike Davis, who has simply worn out his welcome. Between injury and the pressures of playing in the media capital of the world, he has become a shell of his former self.

     

    Top Potential Landing Spots

    Milwaukee Brewers

    Milwaukee wouldn't meet New York's asking price of Tyler Thornburg last month, and it certainly isn't inclined to do so with Mark Reynolds in the mix at first base now, but there's no question that the Brewers would love to get their hands on the 26-year-old.

    Even with his struggles at the plate, Davis would be a major defensive upgrade at the position for the Brewers. With far less pressure to produce in Milwaukee than he faces in New York, Davis would be a major bounce-back candidate if a deal could be worked out.

     

    Pittsburgh Pirates

    All the reasons Davis is a fit in Milwaukee hold true for Pittsburgh, especially when you consider that he could serve as part of a lefty-righty platoon with Gaby Sanchez.

    If he is able to shake off the bad habits he's picked up and return to his 2010 and 2011 formwhen he hit a combined .271 with an .817 OPS before a freak ankle injury derailed his progressDavis could be a long-term answer for the Pirates at the position, and his left-handed bat could balance out what is a very right-hand-heavy Pittsburgh lineup.