MLB teams will not stop at free agents to improve their teams this winter. They will also look to the trade market in an attempt to bring in players that can help lead them to the playoffs.
The trade market will be filled with rumors this winter. A number of well-known players will have their names thrown into the ring of those that may be traded. Most of these players will stay put, but a select few of them may find themselves on new teams by the time the winter is over.
Sorting through all of the MLB trade possibilities out there is an interesting task, and here are some early predictions about what will happen this winter.
Around the trade deadline there was a lot of chatter about B.J. Upton being traded to the Washington Nationals. The teams were talking about a deal, but ultimately nothing materialized.
These talks will almost definitely be rekindled this winter. Both teams will have much more time to try to work out a deal this offseason. The two sides should eventually be able to find a way to make a deal happen.
It seemed as if Carlos Zambrano was on his way out of Chicago after his tirades last season. However, new GM Theo Epstein will have to evaluate the situation before that situation may occur.
Epstein will likely conclude that Zambrano is not a part of the Cubs' plans for 2012. He will try to move Zambrano but no teams will be willing to take him on because of concerns about his ability to destroy clubhouse chemistry.
For all of the talk that Joey Votto may be on his way out of Cincinnati, it seems hard to believe that the Reds will move a player who is a perennial MVP candidate.
Teams will be hard-pressed to pay the price that the Reds are asking for Votto. He is a key player for the Reds and is important to their playoff hopes in 2012.
Just a few years ago, Lars Anderson was a top-20 prospect. He has slid significantly down the list of rankings since then. However, Anderson is still an MLB caliber player.
The Boston Red Sox do not have a spot for him in their lineup. Adrian Gonzalez is entrenched at first base and the team will either retain David Ortiz or bring in another big bat for the DH spot. Since Anderson does not fit into the team's plans, he can be dealt for pitching help.
It has always been said that teams can never have enough pitching. The Tampa Bay Rays are actually may have too many starters. They could look to move one this winter and it likely would be James Shields.
Shields is an outstanding pitcher who a lot of teams would be interested in. He would bring back a solid return for the Rays and could net them their starting first baseman for the 2012 season.
The Cleveland Indians have decided to pick up Fausto Carmona's option for the 2012 season, but that does not mean that he will be pitching for the team next season.
Carmona's mercurial performance has frustrated Indians' fans and ownership for years. He is very talented and there are teams that will be willing to offer the Indians a solid package for him.
After a rough season, it is apparent that the Houston Astros are in rebuilding mode. They will be giving a number of young players a chance in 2012 and will be looking to trade away some of their veterans in an effort to pick up prospects.
One of those players that could be moved is Wandy Rodriguez. The Astros could not find a taker for him in the summer, but things may change in the winter. Houston may need to eat some salary, but they will trade Rodriguez.
Wandy Rodriguez will not be the only veteran on his way out of Houston this winter. Carlos Lee will also be traded by the Astros.
There is a roadblock to any potential deal that that Astros could make. Lee is slated to make $18.5 million in 2012. The Astros will need to eat some of his salary if they want to get a decent prospect in return.
Losing one of the faces of your franchise is tough enough, but no team, especially the New York Mets can afford to lose two. Jose Reyes is a free agent this winter and David Wright has been connected to a number of other teams, including the rival Philadelphia Phillies.
While his name will come up in trade rumors often this year, Wright will be wearing a New York Mets jersey on Opening Day next season.
Before Ozzie Guillen made his way to the Miami Marlins, it appeared as if Logan Morrison might be on his way out. However, with Guillen as the new manager, Morrison should be staying put.
Morrison is a young player with a lot of potential so opposing teams would be very interested if he is put on the trade market. If he is on the move, a deal would be more likely to occur in the middle of the 2012 season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have Matt Kemp under contract until the end of the 2012 season and then he will become a free agent. Because of this, teams may call asking about him.
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti will immediately shoot down any offers. The Dodgers have expressed interest in trying to sign Kemp to an extension and they will not be willing to move him until the trade deadline.
The Minnesota Twins were close to trading Denard Span this summer during the days leading up to the MLB trade deadline. They will once again consider the idea of trading Span, but they will think better of it.
Span is a talented player and with two of the Twins outfielders, Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer, becoming free agents, they cannot afford to move him.
This winter all three of the Oakland Athletics' starting outfielders from 2011 will be free agents. While the team may look internally to fill at least one of the spots, they will need to look at other players.
The Athletics will likely sign one outfielder to start for them in 2012. That still leaves one more starting spot. With the number of outfielders on the market, the Athletics likely will make a trade.
Nobody knows the Boston Red Sox organization better than Theo Epstein. He knows which players have been undervalued and which have been overvalued.
It would not be very surprising to see Epstein make a move with his former team. Epstein certainly has a list of players that he would like to have come join him in Chicago.
Jed Hoyer, former GM of the San Diego Padres, also joined the Chicago Cubs this winter. If the Cubs are going to look to Boston for players, it would seem logical that they would look to San Diego as well.
While the Padres may not have as many players that interest the Cubs as the Red Sox do, there are definitely a few players on the Padres' roster who would look good in Cubbie Blue.
The Texas Rangers' ownership is not afraid to spend money and after two disappointing World Series losses, they will be willing to big in a big name player. They may be tempted to go after one of the players who just beat him in the World Series.
If the Texas Rangers make a serious play for Albert Pujols, Michael Young could be on his way out of town. He will be left without a position and trading him would also free up some additional cash for Pujols.
The Cincinnati Reds are looking to bring in a top-of-the-rotation starter to anchor their rotation. To do so, they will need to trade away one of their top prospects.
Yonder Alonso will likely beat the top of any team's list. The Reds may get very close to a deal, but they will decide not to move Alonso and find a creative way to work out a deal that does not involve him.
The best prospect on the move this winter could be Jesus Montero. As of right now, it seems as if he has the inside track to the New York Yankees' DH job.
That could very easily change this winter. David Ortiz has already been linked to the New York Yankees and the team may seriously consider him this winter. Should Ortiz or someone else be brought in, Montero very well may be traded.
Right now, the Los Angeles Angels have a logjam in their outfield. Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Mike Trout all can play for the teams outfield, but there are simply not enough spots.
One must also consider the fact that the Angels will likely use their DH spot for one of Kendrys Morales or Mark Trumbo next season. It seems like it is almost a given that the Angels will trade an outfielder.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers' financial situation, they will not be able to spend as much money as they would like to. This could become a major problem for them this winter.
Clayton Kershaw is about to get very, very expensive. He will make as much as eight to nine million dollars this winter, a significant raise from the five hundred thousand he made last year. As a result of this, some team will try to make a move for Kershaw.
The San Diego Padres will most likely be in a bit of a rebuilding mode in 2012. While in most cases that would mean that they should look to keep their young players, they may be willing to make some moves.
Chase Headley is just 27 years old, but he will be entering arbitration for the second time this offseason. He has not lived up to the hype surrounding him but the Padres could still likely get a good package of players for him.
Teams will often not move their number one prospect unless they are going to get a superstar in return. Given the concerns about Domonic Brown, the Phillies may not be able to get a top-flight player for him
This will not stop the Phillies from trying to move Brown as a part of a package this winter. He still will command a large return and it will allow the Phillies to sell while his stock is still high.
While Jonathan Sanchez would certainly do a good job at the back end of the San Francisco Giants rotation, moving him would give the team a lot of payroll flexibility.
The Giants will be looking at a few high-priced free agents this winter, so it is conceivable that they move Sanchez to free up some cash. In addition to this, the Giants should be able to get a B/B- prospect in return for him.
It seems as if Jed Lowrie will once again be regulated to a role on the Boston Red Sox bench this coming season. There are a number of teams that could be interested in Lowrie.
He could possibly replaced Jose Reyes in New York or Jimmy Rollins in Philadelphia if either of those teams fail to resign their star shortstops or bring in a replacement. A number of other teams could make a run at Lowrie.
The New York Yankees never know what they will get when A.J. Burnett steps to the mound. Some times he goes out and dominants and on other nights he has five walks by the end of the third inning.
New York will be searching for a team that has interest in Burnett. They may struggle to find one unless they pick up a lot of the remaining money left on his deal.
John Lackey will miss all of the 2012 season after he underwent Tommy John surgery. This leaves a hole in the Boston Red Sox starting rotation.
If the Red Sox choose to improve their offense through a big free agent acquisition, then they will likely look to the trade market for a starter. Ben Cherington will have a lot of eyes on him when he makes his first trade.
The San Francisco Giants will have an interesting decision to make this winter. If they are comfortable with Freddy Sanchez at second base, then Jeff Keppinger is expendable.
Many teams would be interested in Keppinger because of his versatility. Expect to see him linked to a number of different teams this winter.
Rickey Nolasco had one good year in 2008 and has been below average since then, yet there are a number of teams that have kept an eye on him because of his potential.
This winter could be when the Miami Marlins finally decide to move him. Nolasco could be a good solution for a team that is looking for a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Young pitchers with a track record of success are always very popular names when they hit the trading block. With a weak class of free agent starters, the Chicago White Sox may try to see how much they could get in return for John Danks.
Danks has a career 4.03 ERA which would be much lower if it were not for his struggles during his rookie year. The White Sox may look to trade him this winter because he is a free agent after the year and his value is highest right now.
After their big trade with the Cleveland Indians, the Colorado Rockies find themselves with a number of starting pitchers. They added Drew Pomeranz and Alex White to the mix and the have more than enough starters to fill their rotation.
This makes a pitcher like Jason Hammel expendable. Hammel is still on the right side of 30 and could be a good fit for a number of teams. He is a good back-of-the-rotation starter.
With the number of catching prospects the New York Yankees have, they would not be opposed to moving one if it meant that they could get a top-flight pitcher. Naturally, the Yankees have been connected to Matt Cain.
Cain will be one of the best pitchers available on the trade market this winter. They could get Jesus Montero in return for Cain, but the move only makes sense if they plan to move Buster Posey to first base.
Every time that MLB teams are involved in trades, Felix Hernandez name immediately comes up. He is often linked to the New York Yankees as well as a few other big market teams.
Despite the fact that once again Felix Hernandez's name will be on the rumor mills once again this winter, he will not be going anywhere. There is no reason for the Seattle Mariners to move him.
The Chicago White Sox may make a few changes to their roster this offseason. One of these changes could be trading away Carlos Quentin.
Quentin will be a free agent after the season and the White Sox may try to maximize the return that they get for him by moving him this winter. Odds are that Quentin stays put and then is moved in July.
Teams asked about Francisco Liriano before the trade deadline this past season. Given the Minnesota Twins current roster situation and the fact that Liriano will be part of the 2013 monster free agent class, the Twins now may be interested in moving Liriano.
Minnesota can take advantage of the fact that there are not that many great starting pitchers available as free agents this winter and get a few decent prospects in return for Liriano.
According to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post, the Colorado Rockies will give the closers role to Rafael Betancourt in 2012. That leaves Houston Street without a role in Colorado.
Many executives believe that Street will be shopped this winter. He is due eight million dollars during the 2012 season and no team will take that on unless he will be closing for them.
There seems to be no indication that the Kansas City Royals want to move Melky Cabrera, but that will not stop teams from calling about him. Cabrera is another player who will be a free agent after the 2012 season.
The only way that the Royals would move Cabrera is if they believe that one of their young minor league stars is ready to take over for him. Odds are that Cabrera will remain in Kansas City for the 2012 season.
There are two big name first basemen that will be on the free agent this market this winter and well more than two teams will be going after Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. For the teams that miss out on these two, there are a few options on the trade market.
With the emergence of Mike Morse in Washington, the Nationals no longer have a need for Adam LaRoche. He could find himself in a Brewers uniform next season as Prince Fielder's replacement or he could end up in Baltimore.
The Houston Astros will look to cut salary and bring up young players as they begin to rebuild. Based on these two objectives, Brett Myers does not fit into the team's future plans.
There are always teams that are looking for pitching and someone should bite on Brett Myers. Just like his teammate Wandy Rodriguez, the main issue surrounding Myers is that he is expensive. He is due $11 million next season.
The Chicago Cubs tried to trade Alfonso Soriano both in July and August this past summer. They did not get a take during either month.
Theo Epstein may finally be able to work out a deal that gets Soriano out of the Windy City. Soriano is basically a DH now and only American League teams would be interested in him. The Cubs would need to eat a ton of money to get a deal done.
The New York Mets are considering if they will tender a contract to Angel Pagan this winter. Even if they do so, it does not seem likely that Pagan will be a member of the Mets in 2012.
New York will likely look to trade Pagan this winter if they do decide to give him a contract. Considering the fact that he can hit .285 and swipe 30 bases in a year, there should be a few interested teams.