As the season winds down, teams out of the playoff race are looking at the future of their respective franchises to see who may fit in and who needs more seasoning. There is another game being played, and that is the game of "let's see what we can get for our star."
The way teams are building now, you don't see a lot of teams making huge splashes in the free agent market. Teams are either trading away their stars for younger talent or trying to lock them up long term.
But in most cases, teams can't do both. This installment will look at a number of stars that could be on the move this off season and what their current teams may be looking for.
Twins Needs: Infield Defense and Starting Pitching and Bullpen
This was the worst season for the Twins in a long time. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong this year, and some pundits claim it won’t be a lot better next year. In order to make sure that doesn’t become a reality, the Twins need to part with a couple of faces that have been fixtures with the organization for the past few years.
Francisco Liriano is the only strikeout pitcher the Twins have, but he’s also one of the most inconsistent. His violent pitching motion also makes him an injury risk, however the upside for a team may be worth it. Morneau is an injury waiting to happen. The Twins have some corner infield depth that could suffice if Morneau were to be moved.
Marlins Needs: Starting Pitching
With the Marlins moving into their new stadium next year, they need to have a product that people will come out and see. Moving Ramirez probably isn’t a great move for them, but they could get back a lot for the all-star.
Josh Johnson is ace material but after that it’s a little thin. To compete with the likes of the Braves, Phillies and up-and-coming Nationals, the Marlins will need to have the arms to do so. Scoring runs usually isn’t a problem with this team; it’s stopping the other team from doing so.
Mets Needs: Starting Pitching
With the possible departure of Jose Reyes via free agency, the last remaining big name, everyday player is David Wright. Unfortunately, one player can’t compete in the quickly becoming deeper NL East.
The Mets did miss Johan Santana this season and has been shut down after experiencing soreness in his arm earlier this week, but the pitching staff wasn’t going to improve on his left arm alone. Mike Pelfrey and R.A. Dickey are probably bottom of the rotation guys at best, and they were at or near the top of the Mets pitching staff.
They also traded off Francisco Rodriguez for prospects. and they should think about doing that again with Wright this offseason.
Orioles Needs: Starting Pitching and Bullpen Help
With Buck Showalter coming aboard last year, the Orioles seemed to be heading in the right direction. Unfortunately for Baltimore, that wasn’t the case this season. The Orioles may have actually regressed and again are forced with a decision as to what to do for the future.
Nick Markakis probably has the highest trade value and he could bring some more prospects to the O’s, but I would venture a guess Baltimore wouldn’t move him. That leaves Brian Roberts who is almost identical to Justin Morneau when it comes to injury. He is an all-star and a top flight second baseman when healthy, but of course no use when injured.
There are plenty of teams that could use a top line second baseman, but can the Orioles go out and find that suitor?
Mariners Needs: Power in the Middle of the Lineup
There is speculation around the league that the Mariners will try and make another splash in free agency this year and go after Prince Fielder. Unfortunately, Fielder won’t make the Mariners a contending team right away, so the M’s, although better, still wouldn’t be in the class as the Rangers and Angels.
Their second best trade piece (behind King Felix) is Ichiro. He can still hit, but this year had his worst statistical year since coming to the majors. He still is a threat on the base paths and is a good lead-off hitter.
Successful teams have good lead-off hitters to set the table for the rest of the order. Unfortunately for the M’s, there isn’t much behind him.
Cubs Needs: Culture Change
Ramirez wants to return to the Cubs and right now is one of their best players. They are starting to build a pretty decent foundation with Castro and Barney up the middle. Ramirez is also 33 years old. The Cubs could add more pitching to a rotation that drops off considerably after Garza and Dempster.
I didn’t add Zambrano because you can’t count on him. Zambrano needs to go and a change of scenery would hopefully help his once promising career. Getting rid of Big Z and getting anything back would be worth the rebuilding process on the north side.
Astros Needs: Everything
The problem the Astros are running into with Lee is what exactly is he now and is he worth that huge chunk of change somebody will have to shell out for him? He used to be a serviceable outfielder with pretty good pop in his bat. He then signed the huge free agent contract with the Astros and has been decent but not great for the last few years.
The Astros traded up solid players in Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn at the trade deadline and could still deal Lee for any type of prospects they could get. Anything could be better than what they have right now.
Padres Needs: Any Type of Offense
I know this is a stretch simply because it’s possible Bell won’t even return to the Padres but hear me out. With all the needs that the Padres are needing, why not take a page out of the A’s book and sign him for a one- or two-year deal and then trade him to the highest bidder next offseason?
The market for closers is always high, and it would be a win/win situation for the Padres. They would be able to keep one of baseball’s best closers, or if they trade him, they can improve their offense which is anemic. Something to definitely think about, Padre fans.