The 2010 MLB season is drawing to a close, and while many teams and their fans are looking to the postseason, others are already looking to next year. In the case of some players, next year could bring major changes.
Recently, there have been reports of players being unhappy with their situations and requesting trades, most notably Colby Rasmus of the Cardinals and Prince Fielder of the Brewers. Other players look like they have been wanting out for a while, and as a result they may do just that.
The following is a list of 10 players who could be in a different uniform next season. Some, like those listed above, are almost guaranteed to be gone, while others on this list are long shots and likely will remain with their current team, at least in my opinion.
Cust's name has not been mentioned often, mainly due to starting off the season slow due to injury, and only having 42 RBI on the year. In previous seasons though, he has shown he can be a 30 home run/80 RBI type of player. He only has one arbitration-eligible year left on his contract, and he would likely be easy to shop and a good value.
Why would he garner a good deal of interest, you may ask? Two words: Adam Dunn.
Dunn will be the big name power hitter on the market, and many teams will be clamoring for him, including the A's if they feel they can grab the AL West this season. Cust could be someone that a team may want to pick up who was unable to get Dunn, and the A's could use the trade to acquire a more powerful bat in the DH position.
It's a stretch, but don't be surprised if his name is bounced around even in spite of a pretty decent crop of power hitters in the free agency market.
The 2010 White Sox have a very thick pitching rotation. None of them are necessarily Cy Young caliber, but all are very good pitchers. There's Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Edwin Jackson, Jake Peavy, and Freddy Garcia. Garcia has stated interest in signing a one-year deal to return, and the rest are under contract.
As you can see, this leaves six starters. Buehrle and Peavy's contracts are too large to ship, and even if they thought of moving him, I can't see any teams taking Edwin Jackson's $8 million deal for 2011. That leaves Danks and Floyd as trade bait. Both are pitching rather similar stat-wise these past two seasons, but since Danks could be going through arbitration, he will likely be getting a very nice deal this offseason.
This leaves Floyd as the odd man out, but in a good position, as consistently solid pitchers are always a hot commodity. $5M and 7M for 2011 and 2012 isn't the worst contract in the world to shop to different teams who are looking for pitching.
If the White Sox can't sign Konerko to a new deal, then a trade looks more likely, as the White Sox could fill the void that way. If Floyd is traded in the offseason, it will likely fall under the radar, though it shouldn't, as that team will have a much sturdier rotation.
This one is a loaded situation, for obvious reasons. Namely, there are three questions a team has to ask if they want to make this deal:
1. Will his character issues be detrimental to the team?
2. Could I get him for a bargain given his issues?
3. Are his talents actually worth acquiring?
As he's pre-arbitration, he would be easy to acquire, though at 30 his speed's going to start dropping off. His reckless style of play (as evident not just by what we've seen but by his high caught stealing totals) could push possible teams away. One thing I'm quite sure of though is he won't be a National next season.
When scouts put the chance of you staying on your team as "nonexistent," then you're gone. There are several teams who could use a speedy center fielder though; he could be a replacement for a certain player that appears later on in this list.
We're now moving from role players who could be traded and make an impact elsewhere to stars of the league that could be traded. On the surface, a Carlos Lee trade seems ridiculous, and you may be right. He is in the twilight of his career, showing obvious signs of slowing down, and his contract is the largest in Astros history.
Paying a man $37M over the next two seasons is difficult, no question. However, the Astros were able to shop Oswalt's contract, and they may very well try to find a team that will take Lee at a discount, if only to help their bottom line and to try and inject some youth into the team; of the eight players who have played 80+ game this year, five are 34 or older.
The likelihood is very low for a deal to happen, and I would personally want to see him finish out his career in Houston, but if a team could get Carlos Lee at half that above salary and he returns to his 2007 form, then he would be a tremendous benefit to any team trying to make the playoffs in 2011.
On the surface, the thought of trading Choo seems ridiculous. Looking deeper, it still does not make sense. He's the star of the Indians right now, no question, and is what keeps them from being dead last in baseball. Knowing the Indians, I would not put it past them, for two major reasons.
First off, it is likely Choo will be going through arbitration. Since he's a Boras client, the Indians are really going to have to pay a lot for either him or Asdrubal Cabrera, and may have to choose between the two. As such, they may continue their constant rebuilding and grab more prospects for him.
Second, the Indians may want to pull the trigger because of Choo's military service. If Choo ends up being required to serve in the South Korean military, then he'll be 32 by the time he returns; he'd still be effective, but the Indians have never been big on grabbing expensive veterans. They may try to pull the plug now and get what they can, since they may end up with nothing if Choo has to serve.
Do I think a trade will happen? No. Do I want a trade to happen? Absolutely not. Would I put it past the Indians though? Not necessarily. After all, any team would love to have Choo.
The top five are players who are not only big names, but who I think are a lot more likely to be in a new uniform next season, unlike Choo and Lee.
After all the turmoil that has happened this season with the Cubs and Carlos Zambrano, I'd be very surprised to see him in blue next year, unless there was the off chance that the Mets or Dodgers wanted him. Big Z can still pitch, but a change of scenery would likely do him good.
That being said, in the past month an offseason trade has looked a lot less likely. Zambrano says he wants to finish his contract, and recently has returned to greatness, going 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA since he became a starter again. It brings up one major question though: will his performance of late cause the Cubs to commit to him, or will they see it and feel like they can get a good deal trade wise?
I say it's the latter, though he's owed nearly $36M over the next two seasons; the cubs would have to eat up some of them if they were going to trade him. He's as close to a 50/50 situation as you can get for an offseason trade.
It seems like only yesterday Jonathan Papelbon was not only the toast of the Red Sox, but of baseball. He's struggled this year, however. Granted, a 3.30 ERA and 36 saves in 42 opportunities sounds just fine to a club that's struggling, but for the Red Sox, the blown saves and losses were ones they could not afford.
The fact that the Red Sox already have their closer of the future in Daniel Bard makes it a lot easier to consider trading Papelbon. He still has better stuff than many relievers out there, even if he is sometimes slow in pitching. His contract was over $9M this year and it could easily be eight figures next year in spite of this year not being among his best.
The question of whether anyone would take an eight-figure closer isn't really much of a question. If the Indians could splurge on Kerry Wood, somebody will splurge and take Papelbon off the Red Sox's hands, a move which could very well make both clubs better.
Rasmus' trade request and apparent fallout with Cardinals management seems to have come out of nowhere. The Cardinals' starting center fielder was looking to have a bright future in a Cardinals uniform, now it seems that his bright future will be in the uniform of another.
The story between Rasmus, Tony La Russa, and Albert Pujols is one that is going to be the crux of the Cardinals' offseason, for better or worse. There have been rumors that if La Russa leaves, Pujols may as well.
If you're Cardinals management and have to pick between Rasmus or La Russa, it may be a hard decision. If you have to pick between Rasmus and Pujols, it's a no-brainer, you pick Pujols. If it means Rasmus blossoms elsewhere, then it's a hefty price the Cardinals may need to pay. This becomes a problem on the trade market, as they may not get as much as they would like.
Rasmus's contract is not a problem, and he would be a very hot commodity if the Cards were shopping him around. He's only 23 so his upside is great as well.
If I were a Cards fan I would really hope to see all three back, but if the Cards have to part with Rasmus to keep Pujols, so be it.
This is probably the biggest name on the list where a trade is pretty much guaranteed to happen. Prince Fielder wants a huge contract, somewhere along the lines of what Joe Mauer has now gotten. Problem is, he hasn't produced much this season. Sure, a .273/30/74 statline looks pretty good, but it pales to what he's put up the past few years.
The Brewers are not a team that will pay that much for a player. At the same time, they are a team whose management is all for making offseason trades, and if it keeps them from having to go through arbitration with Fielder, it works out for them.
There would definitely be suitors for him, although the power hitting first base position in free agency is rather loaded right now (Konerko, Dunn). Teams may have to give up a good deal for him, especially giving up a couple promising pitchers, but in return they get a bat that, for some teams, could be the difference between playing in October and sitting at home.
It works out for the Brewers too, since they won't have to worry about Prince's salary now.
Inconceivable. Ridiculous. You're kidding me.
I'm could see these comments for the number one spot and David Wright. Any possibility of a trade involving Wright (or Reyes or anyone else) would be contingent on the Mets deciding to pull the plug and start over with this team. It could happen, given that they're going nowhere in the NL East the past couple seasons.
When you have a star in Wright, who is the best player you have right now, even though his production has dipped the past couple years, it becomes very tempting trade bait, because the Mets would get a lot for him. His $29M deal over the next two seasons I don't see as much of an issue, especially if a deep-pocketed team like the Boston Red Sox wants him.
Would the Mets be crazy to give Wright up? If they think they can win with their current core, yes. If not, then maybe it's not quite as crazy as it appears. Wright would love to be a Met for his career, but it doesn't look to be in the Cards. The Mets see a star in him, but that doesn't mean he's not tradable.
So many teams need a great third baseman, and while he may be a bit overpriced, I could see several teams making the plunge and taking Wright for themselves.