MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Big Contracts That Could Be Dealt in 2011
In baseball, the one constant you can count on is change. Some teams will have expanding payrolls and others will be looking to shed some fat.
Big contracts can weigh a team down and allow little room for movement. If a team needs to build for the future, star players can become expendable. Or, if a player is not living up to his hefty contract, a trade could be in order.
The following list consists of ten players who could become trade bait in 2011.
Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox, Closer
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The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Jonathan Papelbon this offseason by signing him to a one-year, $12 million deal. But after a dreadful 2010 season where he blew eight saves and posted a career-worst 3.90 ERA, Papelbon may be on a short leash.
The Sox also brought in more bullpen help by adding Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler. So if 2011 does not start out well for the veteran closer, Papelbon may be trade bait.
Travis Hafner, Cleveland Indians, Designated Hitter
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Travis Hafner has been a solid DH for the Tribe. But for a team that will be unable to contend for a while, the remaining two years and $26 million left on Hafner's contract may be hard to swallow.
If they are planning for the future, the Indians may be justified in dumping Hafner to clear up payroll space.
Chone Figgins, Seattle Mariners, Second Baseman
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A number of teams have expressed interest in Chone Figgins this offseason. With three years and $26 million left on his contract after a down year in 2010, the Mariners may be wise to take offers on Figgins.
Still trying to rebuild, the Mariners can save some money in payroll with a move like this. It may also benefit Figgins to have a change in scenery.
Chris Young, Arizona Diamondbacks, Center Fielder
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Starting this season, Chris Young's paycheck is set to increase each year through 2013. He will make $5 million in 2011, $7 million in 2012 and $8.5 million in 2013.
Although he is still young, the outfielder's performance has been a bit disappointing. Young posted some nice power numbers in 2010 with 27 homers and 91 RBI, but still batted only .257.
Unless the D-Backs come out of the gates on fire this season, Young may be a contract they can move to make room for improvements later.
Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles Dodgers, Shortstop
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The injury-prone Rafael Furcal may be a piece worth moving in 2011 for the Dodgers. Having played only 97 games in 2010 and 36 in 2008, Furcal is an unknown factor with a large paycheck.
The upside for the Dodgers is that, when healthy, Furcal is a great asset. If he starts the season in good shape, it may be easier to move his $12 million salary. For a team willing to take a chance, Furcal could look like a bargain.
Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs, Left Fielder
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Since signing an eight-year, $136 million contract with the Cubs in 2007, things have gone steadily downhill for Alfonso Soriano. His numbers have declined in the years that followed—he hit only .241 in 2009 and .258 in 2010.
With four years still left on the deal, Soriano's lack of production, plus his increasing age are concerns for the Cubs. If he does not bounce back fast in 2011, look for the Cubs to attempt to move him.
Although, trying to deal an aging and expensive outfielder may prove to be difficult.
Carlos Beltran, New York Mets, Center Fielder
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In the final year of his contract, Carlos Beltran is owed $18.5 million. Beltran's agent, Scott Boras, insists the outfielder will stay in New York this season.
However, the Mets have several reasons to find a way out of his contract. Beltran had offseason knee surgery in January 2010, which the Mets claim was done without their consent.
As a result, Beltran did not play his first game of the season until July 15, 2010. And he then hit only .255 for the season after his return.
This combination of events seem to give the Mets plenty of incentive to move on.
Kyle Lohse, St. Louis Cardinals, Starting Pitcher
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After having a career year in 2008, the Cards signed Kyle Lohse to a four-year, $41 million deal. But in 2009, Lohse got hurt and has not been the same pitcher since.
Lohse's 4-8 record and 6.55 ERA in 2010 likely left the Cards regretting his contract. Although Lohse says he is back in shape and ready to compete, if the Cards can get a team to bite on his contract, they will probably move him.
Carlos Lee, Houston Astros, Left Fielder
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The Astros are still a year or two away from being able to contend. A serious drain on their payroll is left fielder Carlos Lee, who is set to make $18.5 million each year through 2013.
After a down year in 2010 when he hit only .246, Lee's age and weight are a concern. Dumping his big contract may help the Astros rebuild.
A.J. Burnett, New York Yankees, Starting Pitcher
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After posting a career worst 5.26 ERA in 2010, A.J. Burnett may wind up on the trade block. Rumors of Burnett's temper and negative attitude during the 2010 season may be a factor as well.
Burnett is owed $16.5 million over the next three seasons. The Yankees have a solid rotation already and if Andy Pettitte decides to return, Burnett may be the odd man out.