MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Players Who Could Move onto Trading Block by Opening Day
How realistic the chances are that they'd move, or even that the team would want to disrupt the shape of their club, is perhaps the better question.
So we'll attempt to find the 10 players who are most likely to be seriously shopped around for various reasons.
The Mariners closer was widely assumed to be dangled as trade bait this winter. After it was revealed he'd need hip surgery, his trade stock obviously tumbled.
This isn't the type of injury that will kill his career, but it could cost him some time to start the season. Everything will need to go right this spring for the Mariners to get serious offers to trade him for full value, let alone trade him at all.
He'll need to get on the mound and throw, and show he's capable of holding up. There will also likely need to be a team who has a sudden need. If someone's closer's arm goes dead and they aren't comfortable with their in-house alternatives, you could see someone take a chance if Aardsma is showing that he's healing well.
It's really going to have to be a perfect storm; otherwise we're looking more at July than April for Aardsma's move.
Liriano is an interesting case, in that it now seems silly for the Twinkies to trade him.
Last offseason, while he was coming back from Tommy John surgery, there were rumors that Minnesota had entertained some offers for him. That all screeched to a halt as he was pitching well and pain free in the Venezuela Winter League.
That turned out to be a good decision as Liriano had a solid comeback campaign. He had a 3.62 ERA, which might even stand to improve in 2011 based on the 3.06 xFIP he posted.
With two years of arbitration remaining for the 27-year-old lefty, it could be time to start thinking about maximizing their return.
Reports say that when the Twins tried to talk extension with Liriano, he wanted far more money than they were prepared to offer. This could make it difficult for them to retain him past 2012 when they have other big dollar contracts to pay for and more to come.
Minneapolis-St. Paul isn't a big market, even with a new ballpark. If Liriano's demands don't meet what the club is willing to pay him in two years, they should consider trading him now while his stock is high and the risk (age, injury, salary) is still low enough for their trading partner to get a solid return.
The Reds reportedly offered Volquez a contract extension that would have covered four years and possibly in the neighborhood of Johnny Cueto's $27 million.
Volquez missed portions of a couple seasons due to injury, yet he's looking for big money. The Reds did well with minimal contributions from him in 2010, so they could consider trading him for another useful piece or a prospect.
The same way the Reds traded Josh Hamilton for Volquez (oops), they could swing him for another youngish player with a team that has the opposite surpluses and shortfalls that they do.
Bourn is starting to get paid, now in his second year of arbitration. This means he has one more season of arbitration and then can become a free agent.
He's not expensive yet. Due only $4.4 million in 2011 after a couple 4+ WAR seasons, a player with his value would cost far more on the open market.
He's entering his age 28 season, which means he'll be 30 when hitting the free agent market. While players with his skill set tend to age well, the risk after 30 always goes up. It's quite possible he's already in the prime of his career and could start to decline in his early 30's.
To make things worse, he just added Scott Boras as his agent. Scott Boras clients don't sign contract extensions.
There are two things the Astros, a team in desperate need of prospects, could do. They could hang onto Bourne and hope he improves on his 2010 numbers or try to maximize their return now.
I personally think Bourne stands for a small amount of regression. This doesn't kill his value, but it doesn't improve it either. Teams prefer as many seasons of cheap club control as possible, so obviously two is better than one.
Adding Boras as his agent could get the Astros thinking about seeking a big return now while Bourne is young, cheap and under club control.
Then again, the Astros are as bad as they are because of the thinking of those in charge.
Matt Kemp isn't the worst player to have around. Though his defensive woes hurt his value, he does provide some offensive pop.
That said, even his strong point took a pretty big dip in 2010. The on-base percentage was especially alarming, as being close to .300 obviously isn't good.
At his age, it's a little surprising he's struggling with the fastball so much already. At only 26 years of age, he should still have bat speed. His home runs stayed steady, but everything else took a dive.
So, what do the Dodgers do? Just by way of age and performance over the last few years, he stands to get more expensive through arbitration and when he can become a free agent after 2012.
You have to wonder, based on the type of struggles he had in 2010, if they'd be better off trading him now and getting what they can get.
Figgins obviously had a poor 2010. Not doing himself any favors, he tried to fight his manager and complained about being moved down in the batting order after hitting worse than Willy Bloomquist.
Several weeks back, a rumor surfaced that the Oakland A's were interested in Figgins after they lost out on Adrian Beltre.
While nothing ever happened there, and the Mariners claim they never took the talks seriously, it's not hard to fathom them wanting to move Figgins and at least some of his salary.
While his signing, when it happened, wasn't a detriment to the team, it is now. They're in rebuilding mode, and shedding some of the money owed to him would help them gear up for 2012 and beyond.
Closers are no different than other pitchers, in that they're inconsistent.
The thing is, teams highly value these players even though they appear to be commodities when they're found. Look how many "proven closers" started out as guys who got thrust into the role when their team's current closer was hurt or went through struggles.
Paps didn't have a terrible 2010, but it was one that saw more blown saves, a higher ERA and more home runs than he's seen since being handed the stopper role.
There's all sorts of things swirling, and he's being distracted by reporters' questions.
So, should the Red Sox consider dishing him for an interesting prospect or two?
After the 2008 season, the Mariners turned J.J. Putz into Franklin Gutierrez, Jason Vargas and a few other minor pieces.
If the Sox find the right team determined that they are a top-notch reliever away from contention, they could find themselves with a nice return. Also, Theo Epstein is the kind of GM smart enough to know that he can find that next "proven closer" from a big pool of available relievers.
Now, reserve your initial thoughts and stick with me a second.
Yes, I am fully aware that Pujols not only has 10/5 veto power, and yes, I know that he plans to use it if the Cards look to trade him.
That doesn't stop the Cardinals from putting him on the block and seeking a trade partner if talks continue to stand still.
At the end of the day, I think an 11th hour deal gets struck where the Cardinals blink first. But before that, I would not be at all surprised if they try to build leverage by asking Pujols if he'll accept a trade to Team A.
This has been an epic staredown, because both sides want this to get done. Albert doesn't want to leave, and the Cardinals certainly don't want him to. As they get closer and closer to that deal, at some point a trade discussion is going to come up if it hasn't already.
Bautista, a super-two arbitration eligible player, has set a deadline with the Blue Jays for a contract extension.
That's an interesting position for a guy coming off a career year at age 29 to take. It's quite possible that things have clicked for Bautista, but it's also quite possible that he'll massively regress this season.
The Jays were able to wiggle out of that horrible Vernon Wells deal thanks to an Angels team desperate to make any kind of splash this offseason. So, do they really want to add another high risk deal?
If Bautista was 25, this wouldn't be a big deal. Entering his age 30 season, though, the Jays are probably wise not to hand him anymore money than his arbitration raise will dictate. Furthermore, it might be time to consider selling high.
Unhappy with his new role as a super utility player and DH, Michael Young forced his way onto the trading block whether the Rangers like it or not.
Currently, the Rangers are fielding offers from the limited number of teams they can trade Young to without his permission. This is where they're likely to get the most value.
As we get closer to spring training, and perhaps after a few really uncomfortable days of workouts, things may start to get more serious.
It's obvious Michael Young wants out. The Rangers are a better team with him on the club, but the distractions caused with a disgruntled player won't be good for the reigning American League champions. So the list of teams the Rangers talk to, and the list of teams Young will accept a trade to, should grow.
Outside of improved division rival Oakland, who could really use Young after missing out on Adrian Beltre, the options should grow exponentially as spring training progresses. Though, don't count out a sneaky Billy Beane, who could be working on a stealthy three-team trade the Rangers don't know about.
The Rangers should hold out for a deal that knocks my socks off. The guy already wants to leave. Texas is a talented club that should be able to handle the distractions in spring while its leverage grows and Young eventually agrees to go almost anywhere.