1 Player Guaranteed to Be Gone from Each MLB Team in 2015
With the July 31 MLB non-waiver trade deadline in the rear-view mirror, most teams have begun the preparations for next season.
For some clubs, that means placing the bulk of the roster on waivers to gauge what type of interest there is in their players in advance of the winter meetings.
For others, it means scouring that same waiver wire in an effort to prepare for a playoff run.
One thing is certain: No team is going to start next season with exactly the same roster. So let’s identify one player from each MLB team who is guaranteed to not be there when the 2015 campaign begins.
Yes, "guaranteed" is a strong word and anything can happen. For example, the Houston Astros could pick up Jose Veras’ $5.5 million club option and bring him back for one more year. It is unlikely, though.
What we have done here is looked at production, contract status and overall fit for each player, isolating one from each team who won't be around next year.
To be sure, some squads have more than one ballplayer. In that case, we chose the one who is less obvious.
Here is one player from each MLB franchise who will be donning a different uniform next year.
In a lost season, the Arizona Diamondbacks haven’t had many things go right. 2014 has been a flat-out disaster.
As a result, the front office began a massive roster overhaul in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Among others, they dealt Brandon McCarthy, Martin Prado, Gerardo Parra and Joe Thatcher.
And by the time next season gets started, Aaron Hill will be added to the list.
There really isn’t anyone else who is overpaid and underperforming on the roster other than Bronson Arroyo, and he just had Tommy John surgery, bottoming out his value.
Even Mark Trumbo, who has battled injury and poor performance all season, is only earning $4.8 million. And he is under team control for two more seasons, making the plus power he brings to the table all the more valuable.
True, the Diamondbacks are going to have to assume responsibility for a large portion of the remaining dollars on his deal, but Hill has value on other rosters, and the Diamondbacks need to finish what they started.
To replace Hill, the club could turn to Didi Gregorius or Cliff Pennington.
Either way, shedding at least part of Hill’s salary will help as general manager Kevin Towers tries to fill the many holes on his roster.
Coming off a season in which he went 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 211.0 innings pitched for the Kansas City Royals, Santana elected to sign a one-year, $14.1 million deal with the Braves.
Most certainly, the hope was that he would excel and it would lead to a multiyear contract of significant value beginning in 2015.
Well, in 21 starts so far this season, he is 10-6 with a 3.59 ERA and has 124 strikeouts in 138.0 innings pitched.
More impressively, he’s lowered his FIP (fielding independent pitching) from 3.93 in 2013 to 3.12 this season.
True, the Braves could be the team that gives him the big contract, but seeing as how they “went over budget to sign” him to his current deal, according to MLB.com’s Joe Morgan, the chances of that happening are slim.
True, his slash line has fallen off considerably since reaching a high-water mark of .319/.388/.676 on June 4, but he is still playing his way into a nice payday after the season.
How big his contract will be hinges upon how well he finishes the season. After all, the Orioles lead the AL East, and if Cruz can find another hot streak, he will have successfully played his way into at least a two-year deal.
It won’t be with the Orioles, though.
Don’t forget that they were burned when they gave an aging, sure-to-regress player by the name of Brian Roberts a four-year extension. Roberts never again played to the same level he had prior to signing the contract.
A qualifying offer may be in Cruz’s future, but he would likely not sign it, opting for the stability of a long-term deal. After all, he's proved worthy of the draft pick it will cost to sign him if he does turn it down.
Boston Red Sox
Prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, Jon Lester didn’t rule out a return to the Boston Red Sox if he was moved, saying that there would be “no hard feelings,” via Sean McAdam from CSNNE.com.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal added that someone affiliated with the Red Sox is quite certain that “Lester will return.”
Of course there was a counter to those claims, courtesy of ESPN’s Buster Olney. He wrote (subscription required) that “a close friend of Lester’s believes there is no chance” he is back next season.
Given the dysfunction of the relationship, Olney’s unnamed source seems to be on the right track.
The situation was an absolute mess, and while Lester remained professional, there will be other teams that can (and will) offer him enough money to play for their club.
Lester is going to command Cole Hamels-like money. Heck, he may even command Clayton Kershaw-like money. And he’s going to get it.
He is a left-handed ace in his prime. Those don't come around very often, and given the discord he dealt with in Boston, he won’t be going back to the Red Sox.
While the Chicago Cubs wouldn’t mind getting Edwin Jackson’s salary off the books, moving him is going to be a hard sell, making his return likely. Instead, the club will part ways with right-hander Carlos Villanueva.
The reason, of course, has nothing to do with his ability as a reliever. In 26 appearances, he has a 2.70 ERA, 1.200 WHIP and a .230 batting average against. He has, in fact, been one of the best relievers on the roster.
The problem is that he struggles to the tune of a 10.53 ERA and a 2.186 WHIP as a starter, according to splits over at Baseball-Reference.com.
The bottom line is that Villanueva’s value to the Cubs is based on his ability to be a spot starter and serve as a primary arm in the bullpen.
And since he isn’t effective in half of his role, GM Jed Hoyer will surely find a cheaper alternative.
Villanueva will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Chicago White Sox
While it would be easy to point to any number of players, including designated hitter Adam Dunn, we are going to go with second baseman Gordon Beckham as the player who is guaranteed to not be on the Chicago White Sox roster next season.
See, Beckham is bad. Not like a muted version of plaid, but so bad that modest success serves as a reason for celebration. After a miserable July, Jim Margalus over at South Side Sox wrote:
He struggled so much that his final game of July represented a relative upswing (1-for-5 with a double and no strikeouts). That's about as good as it gets for Beckham these days. His last multi-hit game came on July 2, but maybe the 1-for-32 slump that followed scared him away from getting greedy.
There are options in the minor leagues to replace him, too. Micah Johnson, for example, should be ready next season. There are also Carlos Sanchez and Marcus Semien to consider.
Either way, the patience the front office demonstrated failed to pay off. Beckham is done on the South Side.
Ludwick simply isn’t a $9 million outfielder, which is the value of his 2015 mutual option.
Now that doesn’t mean he isn’t valuable. To the contrary, there is legitimate worth in what he brings to an organization.
But there is no way the Reds pick up an option for that much money on a player who is producing a .718 OPS.
He will likely sign elsewhere for two or three years.
It’s not that Aviles can’t still play the game, of course. He is fantastically valuable, playing at least nine games at four different positions.
Rather, it is about the $3.5 million he would make next year if GM Chris Antonetti picked up his option.
Another thing to consider is that with the expected ascension of Francisco Lindor to the big leagues at some point this season, Aviles doesn’t really have a spot on the roster in 2015 for two reasons.
First off, Jose Ramirez is going to serve as the reserve on the infield at a much lower cost. The other thing to keep in mind is that Antonetti acquired Zach Walters in the deal that sent Asdrubal Cabrera to the Washington Nationals.
It must be noted that shortstop is his primary position, but Walters played 40 games at second base in the minors and had a 5.03 range factor, according to splits over at Baseball-Reference. In other words, he makes plays at the keystone position.
There are too many things going against his return, not the least of which is the demand across the league for established mid-rotation starters.
In essence, the mere fact that he is a middling pitcher who has found modest success will make him sought after this offseason. Too sought after, it will turn out, for the Rockies to make a serious play at bringing him back.
Now there could be significant turnover this winter on the 25-man roster. There are rumors, for example, that the New York Mets were interested in acquiring Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
While nothing materialized, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman noted that talks—for at least one of them—are likely to resume this winter.
Be sure to keep an eye on the situation as the offseason progresses.
Out of the four, however, Scherzer is the one whose departure is guaranteed, and it goes back to before the season started.
Late in spring training, conflicting reports emerged from Scherzer’s agent Scott Boras and the Tigers.
In its simplest form, Boras claimed the Tigers rejected an offer from the player, while the Tigers claimed it was the other way around, via ESPN’s news services.
There were, of course, a series of follow-up interviews, tweets and announcements that Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells brought together, but the damage was done. There is no way around it.
Worse yet, Scherzer is the type of pitcher the Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are going to throw money at.
He just turned 30 and is striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings. There also doesn’t appear to be any issues with his velocity, according to BrooksBaseball.net.
With so many free agents and David Price’s pending arbitration, the chances that the Tigers can scrape together enough capital are slim. Scherzer signs elsewhere.
The Houston Astros have a lot of holes on the roster.
Sure, Jose Altuve is a legit second baseman and George Springer is the real deal in right field. Starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel and relievers Chad Qualls and Tony Sipp also have value, but they are exceptions to the rule.
The problem is that for all the bad, they are cheap. And when a club is going through a full-on rebuild, cheap is good, especially if they can hit for power the way Jon Singleton, Chris Carter and Matt Dominquez can.
Not to dismiss what Carter and Co. bring to the table, of course.
Singleton (.195/.284/.400) and Dominguez (.229/.273/.359) are young corner infielders with a ton of upside, and Carter has a respectable 112 wRC+, per FanGraphs.
With that said, who on the 25-man roster won’t be back next season?
We’ll go with relief pitcher Jose Veras because of the $5.5 million club option ($150,000 buyout) he has for the 2015 season. That is way too much money for the Astros to pay a middling reliever.
Kansas City Royals
First, his production has never been lower. After topping out with 29 home runs and an .882 OPS in 2012, Butler’s production has plummeted.
As of game time on Wednesday, he had an uninspiring .276/.325/.376 slash line with only six home runs.
For as poorly as he’s performed this season, though, his contract seals his fate. If the Royals picked up his team option next season, they would be on the hook for $12.5 million.
Expect for GM Dayton Moore to exercise the $1 million buyout and wish Butler the best of luck.
Los Angeles Angels
After signing a two-year, $8 million contract with the club prior to the 2013 campaign, elbow problems limited him to just 16 games before undergoing Tommy John surgery this season.
Even when he was healthy, though, he wasn’t all that effective. Sure, he only gave up one earned run in 13 outings in 2013, but some of his peripherals (1.345 WHIP, 4.19 FIP, 1.75 strikeout-to-walk ratio) were a little sketchy.
Small sample size aside, there were warning signs that something may not be right.
Either way, his $4.5 million team option will not be picked up, and he will try to latch on somewhere else.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Conventional wisdom dictates that we identify someone like Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier when talking about the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After all, they are the primary guys standing in the way of Joc Pederson’s ascension to the major leagues. And while one of them may be dealt this offseason, we’ll go with shortstop Hanley Ramirez instead.
Ramirez, who is in the last year of a six-year, $70 million contract, will assuredly draw enough interest from another team the Dodgers would have to overpay to keep him around.
Even for a cash-laden franchise, that would not be the best course of business.
There are options in the minor leagues to replace him, too. Most notably, the organization’s No. 1 prospect, Corey Seager, stands at the ready.
He can thank a salary that is sure to skyrocket in arbitration. Peter Gammons wrote in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline that Cishek is "the Marlins third highest-paid player at $3.8M, and arbitration is going to drive that way up."
Gammons also opined that moving the right-hander "could get some young infield offensive help in return."
It would serve GM Dan Jennings well to explore trade opportunities this offseason akin to what Chicago White Sox GM Rick Hahn did with Addison Reed last season.
On the season, Cishek is 4-5 with a 3.21 ERA and has converted on 27 of 30 save opportunities.
The most important one is the emergence of Scooter Gennett. In 305 at-bats this season, Gennett is slashing out at .305/.340/.479 with eight home runs, 37 RBI and 23 doubles.
Frankly, Gennett is one of the best second basemen in the National League. And with him on the roster, Weeks' future would be in question, regardless.
The second reason goes past production.
Weeks has an $11.5 million team option that is going to be voided because he will not meet the requisite number of plate appearances.
Once that happens, the Brewers would have to commit new money to bring him back, and that simply isn’t going to happen.
Heck, Weeks may not make it to the end of this season if he is placed on waivers.
Josh Willingham survived the cut at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. That doesn’t mean he will last until the end of this season, though. And he certainly won’t be back with the Minnesota Twins next year.
Even with limited mobility and a precipitous drop in his batting average, he will still demand a high enough salary on the free-agent market to prohibit the cost-conscious Twins from re-signing him.
This season, Willingham has a .214/.354/.405 slash line with 11 home runs and 32 RBI. It was a nice run with the Twins, but this year will be his last one at Target Field.
New York Mets
There are so many options to choose from when thinking about which member of the New York Mets won’t be back in 2015.
After all, there are holes in the batting order and too many starting pitchers on the 40-man roster.
Something has to give. GM Sandy Alderson is on record saying he is willing to part with any number of prospects as he leans “more towards putting together a package for a blockbuster deal rather than a bunch of minor deals,” via Dave Hutchinson of The New Jersey Star-Ledger.
And while a prospect like Noah Syndergaard could be a part of a megadeal, there is going to have to be at least one current major leaguer involved.
We’ll go with Zack Wheeler for two reasons.
First, he has proven ability, which is very valuable to MLB GMs. In 40 career starts, he is 14-13 with a 3.46 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 1.353 WHIP and averages 8.2 strikeouts every nine innings. Solid numbers, indeed.
Second, he is under team control until 2020, making him very attractive. Unlike a guy like Bartolo Colon, Wheeler can anchor a rotation for some time.
Of course, Wheeler only moves if the deal is right.
New York Yankees
Acquired at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline from the Boston Red Sox for Kelly Johnson, Drew is merely a stopgap at second base until the Yankees find a suitable replacement via trade or in free agency.
Honestly, it’s a matter of production.
If his numbers are dissected, Drew has only had one moderately successful season since 2010. In fact, he has only appeared in more than 86 games one time in his last four years.
The Yankees have enough players with injury concerns; bringing Drew back is not part of the plan.
Another thing that will assure his departure is that the Yankees cannot make a qualifying offer to him since he was acquired at the deadline.
Out of all the players who may not be on the Oakland A’s next season, only Jason Hammel stands out as a guaranteed departure. Even Jonny Gomes could be back depending on how much of a salary cut he is willing to take.
Hammel, on the other hand, has rapidly gone from a key piece of the trade that brought Jeff Samardzija to a hindrance.
Not that he is going to be released, of course, but he is pitching to a tune of a 7.15 ERA, 6.62 FIP and has an unacceptable 2.074 WHIP in the American League.
Any way it’s sliced, Hammel is doing more harm than good right now and won’t be back in 2015.
Currently on a one-year, $7.675 million contract, Kendrick will hit free agency for the first time this offseason and will no doubt seek the security of a long-term contract. It is a need the Phillies will not satisfy.
Who can blame them?
Over the past two seasons, Kendrick has a 15-24 record with a 4.72 ERA and a 2.31 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Not one of those numbers is anywhere close to good enough. Bringing him back is not in the cards.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a couple of tough decisions facing them this coming offseason.
First, GM Neal Huntington will have to decide whether or not he wants to put together a contract offer that satisfies catcher Russell Martin. Whatever his choice, it will impact the future of the franchise for years to come.
Huntington is also going to need to find an ace to anchor his rotation. That could be done via a trade or free agency. It is going to take a serious commitment in either dollars or prospects to make it happen, though.
No matter what he does, bringing Edinson Volquez back isn’t an option. Sure, he has a 3.91 ERA and a fair 1.342 WHIP, but his elevated FIP (4.52) and miniscule strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.80) are causes for concern.
No offense to Volquez, but it is in Huntington’s best interest to find another option in the rotation.
San Diego Padres
From a production standpoint, Stults isn’t getting the job done. In 22 starts, the left-hander is 4-13 with a 4.94 ERA and a 1.423 WHIP. There really isn’t a measurable that compares favorably.
Fiscally, Stults is earning $2.75 million this season and still has two more years of arbitration remaining.
In other words, his salary is quickly going to reach a level that is not in line with what the Padres are trying to accomplish.
As it stands, the Padres will likely be able to get the same level of production from a player who will earn considerably less.
San Francisco Giants
That is to say, he may end up signing a one-year deal next season in an effort to reestablish his value in front of one more long-term contract before he calls it a career.
It won’t be with the Giants, though.
They have several pitchers in the minor leagues who will be able to make the leap to the 25-man roster next season and will likely be in pursuit of a big-name starter via free agency this offseason.
In two starts for the Giants, Peavy is 0-2 with a 4.85 ERA, but he has a very nice 2.67 FIP and a sparkling 0.923 WHIP.
He is no doubt going to be an X-factor in the NL West division race this year, but he won't return for another campaign.
It’s not like anyone thought Corey Hart was going to save the Seattle Mariners, but he was certainly expected to be better than this.
In 207 at-bats, Hart is hitting .203 with an unacceptable .592 OPS. It has been a miserable experience.
It must be noted that Hart has battled lingering leg problems all season. Currently on the disabled list, Hart missed 42 games earlier in the year with a strained left hamstring.
So even though there may be a reason for the poor showing, the Mariners will step away from any further commitment to Hart next season.
St. Louis Cardinals
As it stands, the Cardinals have Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Jaime Garcia and John Lackey already on the 40-man roster, meaning Masterson will have to find himself a new uniform to wear next season.
The best case for Masterson is he pitches over his head while with the Cardinals. It will help mitigate the 1.653 WHIP he compiled over 19 starts while still with the Cleveland Indians.
If he can do that, he may still get a nice payday. If he doesn’t, he will end up pitching on a one-year contract next season, hoping to regain some value.
Tampa Bay Rays
With the emergence of Kevin Kiermaier this season and the return of Wil Myers next, the Tampa Bay Rays are in a position to trade from an area of strength.
That means Matt Joyce will find himself on another team next year.
To be sure, the situation isn’t ideal. Joyce is one heck of a ballplayer, but the Rays have holes on the roster, specifically in the bullpen.
Sure, Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger are having fine seasons, but Cesar Ramos (3.88 ERA), Grant Balfour (4.93) and Joel Peralta (3.77) have all struggled.
Another thing to consider is that Joyce only has one more season of arbitration eligibility remaining. That means he is going to get more expensive, and the Rays would be wise to maximize their return.
They also have a fourth outfielder stashed away at Triple-A in the form of Mikie Mahtook.
First, he injured his knee in spring training and opened the year on the disabled list following surgery.
He was subsequently arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession while rehabbing from that injury and then lasted all of three games before hurting his groin against the New York Yankees.
Any way it’s sliced, he isn’t worth the $3.05 million the Rangers are paying him. In parts of three seasons with the club, he has compiled a .227/.295/.407 slash line with 48 RBI.
Soto is set to begin a rehab assignment at Round Rock starting on Friday, according to ESPNDallas.com’s Calvin Watkins. Soto became eligible to come off the disabled list on August 6.
Toronto Blue Jays
He simply isn’t productive enough to bring back. On the season, he is slashing out at a woeful .219/.280/.450 with 92 strikeouts. Sure, he has 15 home runs, but that hardly justifies his current $7 million contract.
The fanbase may have to live with Anthony Gose as the primary center fielder for a short while until Dalton Pompey is ready to make the transition into the big leagues.
That is a small price to pay, though. Rasmus has been brutal.
Picking one player off the Washington Nationals isn’t an easy decision. There are several players who could end up moving this upcoming offseason, including Adam LaRoche, Rafael Soriano and Jordan Zimmermann.
We’ll go with Zimmermann here for two reasons.
First, he can expect to get paid handsomely for the next several seasons. He is, after all, one of the best pitchers in the National League, ranking third with a 2.73 FIP as of game time on Wednesday, per FanGraphs.
Zimmermann has also turned into one of the most dependable starters in the game, averaging 30 starts per year from 2011-13, and he is on his way to that same number this season.
The second reason the Nationals will find him a new home via trade is that they have A.J. Cole waiting for his turn. Across two levels this season, the right-hander is 9-3 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.324 WHIP and should be ready to go by next season.
To be sure, Zimmermann will be missed, but given the circumstances, his future is elsewhere.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are accurate as of game time on Wednesday, August 6. Transaction, game and injury information are courtesy of MLB.com. Contract information pulled from Cot's Contracts.