MLB Predictions: Which Teams Will Be Most Active Between Now and Spring Training
Midway through Hot Stove season, there’s been a lot of activity, but a lot has been left unsettled.
There are still many teams looking to fill needs, and there are still many players looking to fill their pockets.
Here’s a list of 10 teams who will be the most active between now and spring training.
10. Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim
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The Angels missed out on Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre, their top free agent targets.
But they still need to beef up an offense that scored 40 runs fewer than the league average in 2010. They’ve been linked to Vladimir Guerrero, despite the talk of moving Bobby Abreu to DH full-time.
They’ve also been linked to Scott Posednik, which is hard to figure: How would a guy with an OPS+ of 89 help a team with a below average offense?
What will help their offense is getting Kendry Morales back for a full season. Morales will be an upgrade over Hideki Matsui, who was a sinkhole at DH last year while Mike Napoli manned first base.
9. Philadelphia Phillies
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After signing Cliff Lee, most of the Phillies' activity will probably be focused on shedding players.
Although Ruben Amaro has proclaimed he’s happy to keep Joe Blanton, look for the Phillies to move him. The latest reports suggest that they’ll wait until Carl Pavano signs to generate a market for the serviceable righty.
8. New York Mets
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GM Sandy Alderson has made it clear that the Mets won’t go after any big names. But in his quest to fill the rotation’s final two spots in Johan Santana’s absence, he’ll continue to continue to pursue pitchers with some name recognition and hope some of them work out.
The Mets have been linked to Chris Young, Dave Bush, Jeff Francis, and Dave Bush.
The Beltran-to-the-Red-Sox rumors died when the Sox signed Carl Crawford, but don’t be shocked if the Mets move Beltran before spring training.
7. Minnesota Twins
It was reported last week that Carl Pavano and the Twins were close to a two-year deal, but that hasn’t materialized yet.
As for the bullpen, there’s a lot the Twins will have to replace: Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, and likely Brian Fuentes, and John Rauch. They have some arms in the minors to fill some roles, but don’t be surprised if they go after lower-tier bullpen arms like Chad Qualls and Todd Coffey.
The Twins would love to bring Jim Thome back, but the two sides seem miles apart on money, years, and playing time.
Thome only started 34 of the 84 games before Justin Morneau was lost to a concussion, and the same logjam will exist next year with Morneau back. If the Twins only offer him a part-time job with no guarantee of a two-year deal, don’t be surprised if Thome looks elsewhere.
6. Texas Rangers
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The Rangers made a big splash in acquiring Adrian Beltre, but they’re probably not done.
The AL Champs have been linked to Jim Thome, who would come close to equaling Vladimir Guerrero’s production last year. The only problem is that Thome’s at bats will likely come at the expense of Michael Young and Mitch Moreland.
Also look for the Rangers to add a starting pitcher. Bartolo Colon and Jeff Francis are the two names that have come up. The Rangers are probably in play for the Jeremy Bonderman, Jeff Francis, Kevin Millwood, and Chris Young class of pitcher as well.
It’s possible the Rangers might make a play for a better starting pitcher on the trade market. Wandy Rodriguez, Gavin Floyd, or Edwin Jackson might become available.
5. Tampa Bay Rays
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A recent report—albeit a shaky one based on members of the slugger’s “inner-circle”—links Manny Ramirez to the Rays.
Manny has enough left in his bat to put up huge numbers if he gets enough rest. He did have a 138 OPS+ last year, after all.
Having freed up payroll with the Garza trade, don’t be shocked if the Rays pursue another hitter like Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon or Jim Thome.
Having just signed Kyle Farnsworth, the Rays might further beef up their bullpen by signing Brian Fuentes as their closer. This offseason, they lost Dan Wheeler, Joaquin Benoit, and Randy Choate. It’s also likely they’ll lose Rafael Soriano, Chad Qualls, and Grant Balfour.
4. Seattle Mariners
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Consider the holes on this team, the Mariners have been quiet thus far, excepting the uninspiring signing of Adam Kennedy.
They need pitching, so any of those free agent pitchers—Francis, Millwood, Garcia, Bonderman—is feasible here. The M’s have also been linked to Atlanta’s Kenshin Kawakami, who was bad last year but has been adequate in 244 major league innings.
With the revelation that David Aardsma won’t be ready for opening day, the M’s need bullpen help. They have been linked to Brian Fuentes like a bunch of other teams.
General Manager Jack Zduriencik insists that Chone Figgins isn’t on the block, but that could change if a suitor emerges.
3. Kansas City Royals
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The Royals desperately need some starting pitching to have any hope of being competitive next year. That’s a priority, because they want to instill a non-hopeless atmosphere for when their bumper crop of prospects starts to come up.
The usual suspects—Dave Bush, Doug Davis, Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Bonderman, and Jeff Francis—are possibilities. General Manager Dayton Moore has also expressed interest in bringing back Bruce Chen.
2. Boston Red Sox
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With the loss of Victor Martinez to the Tigers, the Red Sox enter the season with Jared Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek as their catchers. Both are potential disasters who can sink an otherwise excellent offense, so expect Theo Epstein to get some insurance.
Gregg Zaun is a feasible target here.
The latest reports indicate the Sox aren’t interested in pursuing Rafael Soriano, having already signed Bobby Jenks. But if the Yankees emerge as Soriano’s number one suitor, don’t be surprised if Theo Epstein makes a late play for him.
Jonathan Papelbon is a free agent after 2012. On the heels of the worst season of his career last year, the Red Sox might want to turn over the bullpen. Soriano would be as good a centerpiece as any.
Soriano has indicated that he considers money his first priority ahead of the status of “closer.” That’s important for a team that has Papelbon on the roster this year.
The Red Sox have also been linked to Brian Fuentes.
1. New York Yankees
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It’s possible that the Yankees might add two big names whose stardom began in the Clinton Administration, both named “Andy”: Andy Pettitte and Andruw Jones.
We say “add” with Pettitte, because at this point it looks likely that he’ll retire. According to a recent ESPN report, Pettitte might be hesitant to return because he’s anxious about the media firestorm that would ensue if he’s called to testify in Roger Clemens’ July perjury trial.
As for Jones, he wasn’t terrible last year, and he might provide some righty outfield production to complement lefties Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner.
The Yanks have also been linked to Jeff Francis, Jeremy Bonderman, and Justin Duchscherer, and Bartolo Colon. It’s likely that the Yankees will take a flyer or two.
In terms of bigger fish, a trade for Fausto Carmona is a possibility, as is signing Rafael Soriano.