MLB Trade/FA Rumors: One Offseason Move Every GM Is Already Planning
The MLB trade deadline has already past and the non-waiver trade deadline is quickly coming to an end. Soon we will be watching the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox duke it out to go to the World Series.
While you may think it's a bit premature to be speculating on which moves each GM plans to make this offseason, you should know that any GM who wants to keep his job has an idea of what lies ahead years in advance.
Either way we appear headed for a crazy winter, as there are as many players available via trade as there are through free agency.
Here is One Offseason Move Every GM Is Already Planning.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Trade Stephen Drew
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While not biting on any offers for Justin Upton proved to be the right move last offseason, Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers will have to pull the trigger on Stephen Drew when the situation arises this November.
Drew is signed at $7.5 million in 2012 with a $10 million option for 2013. Those are hefty sums for a 28-year-old shortstop who had his best season in 2008 and has regressed ever since. Drew—who has never been an All-Star nor has he won a Gold Glove—will hit around 15 home runs while hitting near .270 each season, evident by his career OPS+ of 98. He is also an average defender at best.
Working in the D-Backs' favor is that Drew is somewhat overvalued on the market and could bring in a top pitching prospect. Plus, the Diamondbacks run at the NL West title has come since Drew has been on the DL.
Atlanta Braves: Trade Derek Lowe
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With enough young pitchers to field two teams, the Atlanta Braves' rotation is set for the foreseeable future. Derek Lowe will soon be on the outside looking in, and the Braves would love to get rid of him.
The Braves have learned their lesson after handing a four-year, $60 million contract to a 36-year-old starter showing signs of decline. Almost through his third season in Atlanta, Lowe has given the Braves a 4.44 ERA with an ERA-plus of only 89.
In essence, Lowe is the new Jeff Suppan.
While getting a team to take Lowe will be tricky, it's definitely not impossible. They would have to eat most of the $15 million remaining on his contract without expecting much in return, but at this point it is probably worth it.
Baltimore Orioles: Sign Michael Cuddyer
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I know some people believe the Baltimore Orioles have a shot at landing Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols, but it's time for you to accept the fact that that will never happen. Unfortunately, it's just not realistic.
Michael Cuddyer is no consolation prize, either. Since the beginning of the 2009 season, Cuddyer has hit .278 with 64 home runs, and he can play outfield, first base, second base and third base. The Orioles could use him at first base.
Working in their favor is that Cuddyer will be 33 years old while seeking his first free-agent contract. He also grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, which could definitely play in their favor.
Boston Red Sox: Sign Jose Reyes
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With Jed Lowrie not yet panning out how the Boston Red Sox had hoped, this move would depend on whether or not GM Theo Epstein truly believes prospect Jose Iglesias is the future anchor of their infield.
Everyone knows the Yankees will overpay for every good pitcher on the market this winter, while the Red Sox already have a four-man rotation in place with Josh Beckett, John Lester, Clay Buchholz and John Lackey.
Sure, the Sox could go after a power bat for their outfield; but Carl Crawford, Josh Reddick and Jacoby Ellsbury have the talent to be the best outfield trio in team history.
Literally, their only weak spot is shortstop—currently manned by Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie. The $14 million coming off the books with J.D. Drew's departure would cover almost all, if not all, of the annual salary demanded by Reyes.
In this scenario, the Sox could easily snag a top pitching prospect or two by trading away Iglesias.
Chicago Cubs: Trade Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Zambrano, or Both
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After the Chicago Cubs' firing of GM Jim Hendry last week, there is a sense around the organization that the team won't go out and sign a player to a massive deal this offseason, a la Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols.
It makes complete sense considering the amount of ridiculous contracts the team finds themselves caught up in at the moment.
The first task assigned to the new GM will be to reshape the organization—starting from within. That means getting rid of Soriano and part of his albatross contract, possibly along with Zambrano's and Ryan Dempster's. No team will take on their full contracts, of course, but at this point anything will help.
Chicago White Sox: Fire Ozzie Guillen
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Ozzie Guillen and fans of the Chicago White Sox go together like peanut butter and jelly. Unfortunately, Guillen is no longer the man for the White Sox organization.
He and GM Kenny Williams have always butted heads, but it didn't matter as long as they were winning on the field. Now, with easily the most talented roster in the weak AL Central after Williams re-signed Paul Konerko and brought in Adam Dunn, the White Sox have struggled to play .500 baseball this season.
Their poor play isn't all on Guillen, but someone has to take the fall, and $&%# roles downhill.
By the way, Alex Rios and Adam Dunn would be nearly impossible to move at this point. While the White Sox may entertain offers for Carlos Quentin, I still think a fresh face as manager is all the White Sox need to turn a corner.
Cincinnati Reds: Sign Omar Infante
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This may not seem like a flashy signing, but mind you that just one season ago the Cincinnati Reds won the NL Central crown.
With guys like Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto and Jay Bruce getting hefty raises in the coming years, along with the team hoping to retain Brandon Phillips into the future, the Reds don't have the resources to make a huge splash in free agency.
Omar Infante isn't an All-Star (regardless of Bobby Cox's decision last season), but he is everything the Reds need and GM Walt Jocketty knows it.
Infante can play outfield and every infield position less first base, and he can play them all well. With an aging Scott Rolen struggling to stay healthy and Paul Janish's swift glove not enough to offset his woeful bat, Infante would be a huge acquisition for the Reds.
Cleveland Indians: Sign Jason Kubel
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The Cleveland Indians got their pitching ace when acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez at the trade deadline. Now they need some bats to give him and the rest of their young pitchers some run support.
The Indians have many young hitters who have yet to find their place in the big leagues (Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana, etc.), but when they do, the Indians have a chance to be a very dangerous team.
With Grady Sizemore all but gone, the Indians will need an outfielder with a big bat to hit behind Shin-Soo Choo in the lineup, and Jason Kubel seems like the perfect fit.
For his career, Kubel has averaged 22 home runs and 92 RBI over a 162-game season with the Minnesota Twins, and he will be testing the free-agent market for the first time. Kubel would also be available to DH in the likely event that Travis Hafner goes down with an injury.
Colorado Rockies: Trade for Jonathan Sanchez
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When sending Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians, the Colorado Rockies got rid of the only true "ace" the franchise has ever known.
The Rockies have arguably the top farm system in baseball in regards to pitching prospects, but not many have panned out during the 18 years they've been in MLB. It's not easy to pitch in Denver, and they need a strikeout pitcher to anchor a young rotation.
Aside from Mike Hampton, no free agent pitcher is likely to willingly sign a long-term deal in Colorado, so the Rockies best bet is to acquire one via trade.
With the abundance of pitching talent the San Francisco Giants have at every level in their system, Jonathan Sanchez is the most likely candidate to find a new home this offseason. The Giants are in need of a 2B/SS, and the Rockies would be willing to part with Eric Young, Jr. if they were able to receive a big arm in return.
Detroit Tigers: Sign Kelly Johnson
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Kelley Johnson is an ideal fit and falls perfectly into the Tigers' desired price range. Johnson, who will turn 30 years old before the start of next season, is making less than $6 million this season in the final year of his contract. He will be a free agent for the first time and the new Toronto Blue Jay will have plenty of suitors.
While he has struggled a bit this season after a monstrous 2010 campaign, Johnson still provides exceptional power from second base and has a career 11.8 oWAR. He can also hit leadoff or in the two-hole while providing above-average glove work in the field.
Florida Marlins: Sign Dontrelle Willis
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We all know that Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria will not open his checkbook during free agency. His big move last offseason was signing pitcher Javier Vazquez to a one-year, $8 million deal, which has gone about as bad as possible to this point.
Willis was been horrible since leaving the Marlins after the 2007 season, but he did have a 3.78 ERA and a 111 ERA-plus during his five years in Florida. Maybe some familiarity is all Willis needs to get back on track.
Houston Astros: Trade Carlos Lee
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The Houston Astros have already shipped away their best two players in Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, and it appears Wandy Rodriguez may be on his way out as well.
Regardless, all the Astros want for Christmas is for someone to take Carlos Lee. Lee will be in his final contract year, which could bode well to any suitors. It is a given that they'd have to eat much of the $18.5 million remaining on his contract.
Lee would be a good fit as a DH in the American League. That's about it.
Kansas City Royals: Trade for Jeremy Guthrie
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With some of their young guns finally beginning to break out, the Kansas City Royals are in desperate need of a capable veteran pitcher to help lead their young rotation.
Jeremy Guthrie is very undervalued as a pitcher and would be a great fit with the Royals. He has mustered a 4.15 ERA during his five-year tenure with the Orioles in the tough AL East, and would stand to be ever more dominant pitching in the AL Central.
Guthrie will be a free agent after the 2012 season, although in his price range a contract extension wouldn't be out of the question.
Los Angeles Angels: Sign Aramis Ramirez
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The Los Angeles Angels just completed their top priority by locking up Jered Weaver to a long-term deal. The next item on their wish list is a big bat to man third base in place of Alberto Callaspo.
Assuming the Cubs decline his $16 million option for 2012, it's a safe bet that Aramis Ramirez will be the Angels' No. 1 target this off season. Ramirez will turn 34 years old midway through next season, so it'll be interesting to see if he can garner a four-year deal.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Trade Chad Billingsley
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With a lack of big arms on the market this winter, many teams will look to the trade market to bolster their pitching. The Los Angeles Dodgers need to control their payroll and the underachieving Chad Billingsley seems like the logical player to send packing.
After a breakout 2008 season that saw Billingsley with an ERA-plus of 133, he has slowly regressed ever since and is now pitching well below the league average.
Billingsley is locked up through 2014 at $32 million, with a team option in 2015 for $14 million. The Dodgers would have no trouble finding a team to take his contract while still getting some good prospects in return.
Milwaukee Brewers: Re-Sign Prince Fielder
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Prince Fielder is a leading candidate for the NL MVP award this season while having the Milwaukee Brewers primed for their first division title since 1982. Surely, these factors will only drive up his asking price, so the Brewers may have to get creative in order to keep Prince into the future.
Prince is represented by Scott Boras, which does not play in the Brewers' favor. The decision is ultimately up to Prince himself, and with a lack of perennial playoff contenders presumed to be in the mix for his services, the Brewers may just be the leading candidates to sign him.
Minnesota Twins: Trade Francisco Liriano
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Many were surprised that Francisco Liriano lasted in Minnesota past the July 31st trade deadline, so we can expect the Twins to send the soon-to-be 28-year-old packing before the 2012 season is underway.
Liriano has been about as up and down as imaginable throughout his career while slowly wearing out his welcome with the Twins' organization. However, he only has one more year until free agency and will probably earn only $5-6 million through arbitration.
At that price, Liriano could be an above average, mid-rotation starter on any team with a decent pitching staff.
New York Mets: Sign Edwin Jackson
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Edwin Jackson was given a great opportunity to bolster his value on the free-agent market after being acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals late last month. It's safe to say that so far he has disappointed.
As the next-next-next best free-agent starter available this winter, Jackson will surely garner plenty of interest on the market. The New York Mets are in dire need of pitching help, yet they won't be able to shell out a huge contract to get C.J. Wilson or Roy Oswalt.
Jackson would be a solid addition to a rotation that will include Johan Santana, Dillon Gee and R.A. Dickey.
New York Yankees: Sign C.J. Wilson
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Speaking of C.J. Wilson, I hear the New York Yankees threw him a "Welcome Aboard" party last weekend.
There is no doubt GM Brian Cashman will open his wallet to ensure Wilson ends up in pinstripes for the next five or six years. Wilson is by far the best available pitcher and the Texas Rangers won't be able to offer him anywhere near what the Yanks will offer him this November.
I didn't include CC Sabathia due to the fact the Yanks will outbid themselves to hell before seeing the burly pitcher walk away.
Oakland Athletics: Sign Nick Swisher
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At this point it seems unlikely that the New York Yankees will exercise a $10.5 million option on Nick Swisher's contract for the 2012 season, which leaves him as the perfect candidate to reunite with the team that drafted him in 2002.
The Oakland Athletics have a power-deprived offense in need of a bat. Although Swisher's home run total is down this season, he is still only 30 years old and is coming off back-to-back 29 home run seasons.
Signing Swisher would be a predictable move coming from GM Billy Beane, but realistically he's probably the best option they have.
Philadelphia Phillies: Re-Sign Jimmy Rollins
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Even though Jimmy Rollins has shown signs of wear over the last few seasons, I don't believe there is any possible situation where he doesn't end up back with the Philadelphia Phillies. Of course, this probably means that Roy Oswalt will be the odd man out.
The soon-to-be 33-year-old and former NL MVP will take a team-friendly deal to retire with the Phillies, and GM Ruben Amaro will make sure of it.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Sign Lance Berkman
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Lance Berkman has played himself into a two-year deal this winter, and with the St. Louis Cardinals focused on re-signing Albert Pujols, there probably won't be enough available cash to keep them both. The Cards also have Chris Carpenter to worry about.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were the surprise team of the season before the All-Star break, and with their pitching showing monumental improvement over prior seasons, the Bucco's need to add a first baseman with some pop in order to compete in the NL Central.
Berkman would be an ideal fit with Pittsburgh, having played almost his entire career within the NL Central. He would also provide great veteran leadership to the young squad.
San Diego Padres: Sign Carlos Pena
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The San Diego Padres have a solid group of young pitchers just waiting for their offense to score more than two runs a game. They need a big bat capable of hitting the ball out of Petco Field, and Carlos Pena is their man.
Pena will get nowhere near the $10 million the Cubs doled out to him before the 2011 season, so he should be relatively affordable for the Padres if they are willing to offer the slugger two or three years.
Pena hasn't hit over .250 since the 2007 season, but he has averaged more than 30 home runs per season over the same span and would surely help ignite an impotent Padres offense.
San Francisco Giants: Re-Sign Carlos Beltran
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The San Francisco Giants gave up top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler for the expiring contract of Carlos Beltran in hopes that they'd be able to convince the one-time five-tool star to stick around for a few more seasons.
Finally healthy in 2011 (sort of), Beltran regained form as one of the better hitters in baseball. If you combine the Giants pitching with a Posey-Beltran-Sandoval trio in the heart of their order, you've got a force to be reckoned with in the NL year in and year out.
Seattle Mariners: Trade Chone Figgins
Call me crazy, but I believe Chone Figgins still has some value on the trade market. Figgins is only guaranteed $17 million through the 2013 season. While he hasn't come even close to earning that money with the Seattle Mariners, the contract really isn't that bad.
Just two years ago, Figgins produced a plus-4.9 oWAR and a plus-2.0 dWAR during his last season with the Angels. While his offensive numbers have disappeared since joining the Mariners, he's still a solid defender on the hot corner with the ability to play second base as well.
Figgins has also stolen 40 or more bases during five of the last six seasons. You can't teach speed.
St. Louis Cardinals: Re-Sign Albert Pujols
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I really don't even need to delve into this subject. We've known all along that Albert Pujols would end up staying with the St. Louis Cardinals, although it was rather fun speculating as to where he might go.
In the end, the Cardinals are Pujols, and Pujols is the Cardinals. Although I will guarantee he doesn't receive a $200-plus million contract, he will surely end up back in St. Louis.
Tampa Bay Rays: Trade B.J. Upton
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B.J. Upton had plenty of suitors before the MLB trade deadline last month as the Tampa Bay Rays gauged interest levels and the possible return they might receive for their young superstar.
Now that Desmond Jennings appears to have stepped into his role with ease, Upton will most certainly find himself playing his home games in front of more than 3,000 fans next season—although what the Braves gave up to acquire Michael Bourn didn't set a high bar for the Rays.
Either way, Upton is still a 20HR/20SB center fielder with an oWAR of 12.6 since the start of the 2007 season, and he will only earn around $6-7 million in his final year of arbitration.
Texas Rangers: Sign Roy Oswalt
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After pitching for the Houston Astros during the first 10 years of his career, Roy Oswalt would head back to the Lone Star state without hesitation. With the Philadelphia Phillies unlikely to pick up his $16 million option for 2012, it's a very real possibility.
The Texas Rangers are almost certain to lose C.J. Wilson this offseason and Oswalt will demand fewer years and a lower price anyway.
Oswalt would be tasked with anchoring a skilled, yet young, rotation on a team with a potent enough offense to compete for the AL West title every year. Not a bad way to ride off into the sunset.
Toronto Blue Jays: Trade for Chad Billingsley
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I can't even begin to believe I'd be able to outsmart Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous. The man is brilliant. At this rate he'll have the Blue Jays contending in the AL East in no time.
Their biggest need at this point is a pitcher to complement Ricky Romero in the rotation, and Chad Billingsley may be the perfect fit.
The Dodgers will need to trim payroll this offseason and with Anthopolous in charge, nothing is out of the realms of possibility for the Blue Jays.
Washington Nationals: Trade for B.J. Upton
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While B.J. Upton plays his final month with the Tampa Bay Rays, no team is drooling over the center fielder more than the Washington Nationals.
He is a perfect fit for the franchise as they head into the Strasburg-Harper era. After they failed at landing Michael Bourn in July, they will make sure to get their man this winter.
You can plan on B.J roaming the Nationals outfield for years to come.