MLB Trade Rumors: Analyzing All the Latest Whispers, News and Speculation
The 2014-15 Major League Baseball season is nearly a full month old. Over the last four weeks, narratives have emerged, spanning from overachievers to disappointments to an injury epidemic among young arms.
As teams begin to separate the signal from the noise, evaluate roster depth and plan for the next five months of baseball, rumors will begin to circulate among media members. In a league of parity, every single move could be the difference between a singular win or loss. When September rolls around, those wins or losses will be the difference between contention or an early offseason.
Navigating the rough waters of baseball rumors isn't for the faint of heart, but the Bleacher Report MLB team is going to attempt to wade through a sea of information to break down the latest and greatest from the rumor mill.
Here's what's being talked about in baseball circles.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. All contract figures courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts. Roster projections via MLB Depth Charts. Stats valid entering play on April 23, 2014.
Yankees Could Look to Add Starting Pitching
When Ivan Nova exited Saturday night's game in Tampa Bay with an elbow injury, general managers around baseball likely began to peruse the depth of the New York Yankees farm system. Although the Yankees will fill Nova's rotation spot internally for the present time, it could just be a matter of months until a major upgrade is needed.
New York Post columnist Ken Davidoff believes a combination of age (Hiroki Kuroda), decline (CC Sabathia), injury concern (Michael Pineda) and unknown (Masahiro Tanaka) could send Yankees general manager Brian Cashman to the trading block for a durable, impact starting pitcher.
Among the names mentioned by Davidoff: Philadelphia's Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett, Cleveland's Justin Masterson, the Cubs' righty Jeff Samardzija, and Arizona's Bronson Arroyo.
Classify this rumor as a "wait and see" from the Yankees' perspective. If Tanaka (2.15 ERA, 2.61 FIP, 35-2 SO-BB) continues to pitch like a No. 1 starter, the team could survive. However, if another injury or ineffectiveness overwhelms the group, a move could commence. In that event, Philadelphia's contender status will tell a tale.
If the Phillies are out of it, the Yankees should do anything possible to land Lee, but Masterson and Samardzija are more than capable of out-producing what a healthy Nova would have provided to New York's 2014 rotation.
Padres Shopping Nick Hundley
In San Diego, the Padres have three catchers for two big league roster spots. According to Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego, the team is discussing trades for Nick Hundley, the odd man out of the catching carousel with Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera.
After starting 114 games last season, Hundley has become a part-time contributor carrying a price tag of $4 million, with a $5 million team option for 2015. Based on performance (93 OPS+ across 1,600-plus big league at-bats), Hundley is a quality backup catcher.
Over a seven-year career, the 30-year-old has hit 47 home runs in mostly part-time duty. Removing him from Petco Park could lead to a decent power surge for any team interested in his price tag. Of course, finding a suitor won't be easy. Barring an injury, teams aren't actively looking to change backup catchers in late April.
If San Diego is willing to take on a low-level prospect, a deal could be worthwhile very soon. If they wait out an inevitable catching injury around baseball, a better deal could arrive before summer hits.
Joel Hanrahan Fielding Offers
One year ago, Joel Hanrahan was ahead of Koji Uehara in the Boston Red Sox bullpen. Considering what Uehara became for the eventual World Series champions, legitimate talent was present in Hanrahan's right arm.
After an injury and surgery wiped out Hanrahan's role in Boston, he's close to ready to return to the big leagues. According to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, Hanrahan has received "a few" offers from interested teams. Although no decision has been made yet, the former Pirates closer could be back in a major league bullpen soon.
If he's close to the same pitcher who posted a 2.59 ERA across 238 appearances in Pittsburgh from 2009-2012, an impact reliever could tilt the balance of power in one of baseball's six division races this summer.
Marlins Could Discuss Innings Limit for Jose Fernandez
Miami Marlins 21-year-old starter Jose Fernandez isn't just one of baseball's best young pitchers; he's also a dominant force in the National League Cy Young race this season. After a 14-strikeout performance against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year owns a 1.99 ERA through 31.2 innings this month.
Fernandez tossed 172.2 innings as a rookie last season, so it's easy to assume he is strong enough to pitch 200 frames in his sophomore campaign. Barring injury, that's likely the case. But according to Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald, the Marlins will monitor Fernandez's workload over the course of the season, potentially skipping him for a start or two.
Although an innings limit hasn't been discussed yet, don't be surprised if Fernandez is shut down a week or two before the season ends. If the Marlins aren't in contention for an NL postseason berth, the idea of pushing one of their franchise pillars is foolish. That will remain true even if a Cy Young is on the line for the dominant hurler.
"At the end of day, at the end of this year, all these guys are going to be in unchartered territory with all of their innings," Redmond said, per Navarro. "It all sounds good at the beginning of the season, but you know how it is at the end of the season. These guys are in unchartered territory. It just made sense to push them back, give them an extra day."
Twins Looking for Bench Help
Despite a better-than-expected 9-10 start through 19 games, the Minnesota Twins have been active in reshaping their in-season roster, especially as it pertains to the bench. After acquiring infielder Eduardo Nunez and outfielder Sam Fuld, more moves could be coming, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Ron Gardenhire doesn't sound like a manager planning to be patient with his bench. If Nunez and Fuld don't perform, the team will look to upgrade again in an attempt to reverse a three-year trend of losing baseball.
"We're not finished," Gardenhire said, per Berardino. "We're going to continue to get better. We're going to keep changing it around until we get what we want. People are falling through the cracks, and we're taking the guys we want and letting the others go. It's about getting better and winning games."
It's early, but the Twins could remain a very active team if they stay in the AL Central race. Outside of marquee star Joe Mauer, the Twins are littered with interchangeable parts. With that type of roster, constant shuffling and tinkering is almost always the best way to extract above-average performance for an entire season.
Trevor Bauer Could Rejoin Indians Rotation Soon
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer has posted outrageous numbers through four starts this season. Across 24.2 innings, the former third overall pick has allowed just 17 hits and three earned runs. Along the way, he's struck out 29 batters and walked only eight.
Of course, only one of those starts came at the big league level. Bauer was recalled during a doubleheader on April 9. Although he didn't disappoint (6 IP, 1 ER, 8 SO, 2 BB), the 23-year-old was sent back down to Triple-A Columbus due to a crowded big league rotation.
According to Marty Gitlin of CBSSports.com, Bauer could be back soon. Based on performances and struggles from young Indians starters Carlos Carrasco (7.31 ERA) and Danny Salazar (7.85 ERA), there's a case to be made that Bauer is one of Cleveland's five best starters right now.
If Bauer continues to dominate minor league batters, a move could come soon. Expect the Indians to give Salazar more of a leash than Carrasco, leaving the door open for Bauer to grab a spot in Cleveland's rotation from the latter.