With the MLB offseason rapidly approaching, it’s time to start analyzing what players could be made available.
Some players, such as Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, will almost assuredly keep producing at their current levels.
However, some players are riskier acquisitions that could fail to produce for their new teams.
Here are the 15 riskiest players that will be available this winter.
Note: Some of these players are still under contract with their current teams. Having them listed is pure trade speculation.
Derek Lowe had an abysmal 2011 season, going 9-16 and struggling down the stretch.
GM Frank Wren has already said Lowe will not be in the Braves’ rotation in 2012, and a 15 million dollar long relief man doesn’t make much sense.
Lowe is a big risk for any team, but maybe a change of scenery is just what he needs.
Speaking of changes in scenery, John Lackey desperately needs one.
His stint as a Boston Red Sox has been nothing short of a disaster, and if he is in a Red Sox uniform in 2012 the fans will let him and the front office know just how they feel.
Lackey has to be on the move this offseason.
The Adam Dunn experiment failed to say the least for the White Sox.
Dunn finished the season batting well under the Mendoza Line, and his bat speed was gone.
Just a year after signing a big offseason contract, Dunn could already be on the move.
After blowing up and walking out on the team in a game at Atlanta last season, Carlos Zambrano will not be a Chicago Cub in 2012.
Zambrano is a huge risk because of his temper, and it will be interesting to see if and where he ends up playing next year.
Carlos Beltran was supposed to turn around the Giants offense last summer and help propel them to the playoffs.
That planned never panned out, and Beltran doesn’t look like the same player he was only a couple seasons ago.
A free agent this offseason, it seems plausible that a team will overpay for the aging Beltran just because of who he used to be.
After getting off to a promising start to his career, Grady Sizemore has battled many injuries and is no longer a potential superstar.
A free agent this offseason, Sizemore will garner attention from a lot of teams due to his potential, but he remains a big question mark because of his injury riddled career.
Roy Oswalt had a down year in 2011, finishing the season with a 9-10 record.
More importantly, Oswalt battled back injuries all year and even contemplated retirement.
Whether the Phillies pick up Oswalt’s option or he signs with another team, Oswalt looks to be on the decline.
Javier Vazquez is a lot like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
He can be a great pitcher, like in 2009 with the Braves, but also be atrocious, as in 2010 with the Yankees.
His 2011 campaign with the Marlins went well, going 13-11 with a 3.69 ERA. Whoever signs Vazquez this offseason will be hoping they get the Atlanta and Florida Vazquez.
Brad Lidge is one of the most unstable closers in the big leagues.
After spending 2011 as Ryan Madson’s set-up man, Lidge will most likely be out of Philadelphia.
If Lidge lands on another team as a closer once again, the ninth inning will be one roller coaster of a ride.
After returning from Tommy John surgery, Joe Nathan took a little time to get back into a groove.
Nathan will be a free agent this offseason, and while he used to be one of the game’s best closers, there are a couple more question marks surrounding him post-surgery.
It is highly unlikely the Yankees will bring back Jorge Posada, so it appears he will wind up another AL team as a DH.
Posada is in the twilight of his career, and whatever team that signs him may not get that much production in 2012.
Though he has had a resurgence in St. Louis, Rafael Furcal is still a big question mark heading into 2012.
Furcal only hit .231 in 2011 with 28 RBI and may not be a starting shortstop for too much longer.
After spending big money on Jason Bay, he has largely been a bust for the Mets.
He is still under contract until 2014, so the Mets will surely be looking for a taker for Bay. The big question is whether any teams believes he can still be a contributor.
Though he had a good year in 2011, Aramis Ramirez will be a question mark heading into 2012.
Ramirez is starting to get up there in age and has had some down years.
After signing this latest contract, Ramirez could take several steps backwards.
This one is a long shot, but there is a slight chance the Braves could move Jason Heyward this offseason.
According to Buster Olney, there are several dissenters in the Braves front office that don’t believe Heyward is one of the cornerstones for the Braves’ future, and Heyward could be on the go.
Heyward is still only 22 years old with a lot of potential, so there would be several teams interested.
However, after his 2011 season, there are several questions surrounding the Say Hey Kid.