2012 MLB Free Agents: Updating Every Team's Biggest Targets, Rumors
With the offseason now in full swing, several MLB teams have already been active, signing their own free agents, making trades and continuing their evaluation of their rosters and necessary changes for the upcoming season.
By now, each team has made a complete assessment of what their strengths and weaknesses are, and have made a list of players they want to target, either through free agency or via trade.
Each team’s “wish list” is just that—a list of who they want, but may not necessarily get. However, they all have plan Bs set up as well.
Here is a list of rumors attached to each team, who they might be dangling as trade chips and who may be rumored to be on a particular team’s radar.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Bruce Chen
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The Arizona Diamondbacks announced on Sunday that they have come to terms on a two-year agreement with second baseman Aaron Hill, solving a big piece of their puzzle for the 2012 season.
With Hill’s signing, the D-Backs middle infield is now set, having signed Willie Bloomquist earlier in November. Even if Stephen Drew is unable to return on Opening Day, Bloomquist and Geoff Blum are in position to fill in. So that leaves the D-Backs with another need—starting pitching.
Beyond Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, the Diamondbacks’ rotation is shaky. While Josh Collmenter shows promise, Tyler Skaggs, Joe Saunders and Pat Corbin don’t exactly exude confidence, and Trevor Bauer may still need time before making his major league debut.
GM Kevin Towers will have a bit of money to use this offseason, so he could target a pitcher like Bruce Chen to give his rotation depth and a bit more stability.
Atlanta Braves: Jair Jurrjens
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With a record of 50-33 and a 3.40 ERA in five seasons, Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens would appear to be set in stone in the Atlanta Braves starting rotation. However, his name keeps popping up in various rumors.
It’s no secret that the Braves covet a shortstop, and while Jurrjens got off to a terrific start in 2011, injuries curtailed a promising season. The Braves are loaded with position, so they will clearly use a position of strength to get what they’re after for 2012 and beyond.
Baltimore Orioles: Mark Reynolds
With Dan Duquette now in charge in Baltimore, he is no doubt undergoing a complete evaluation of the Orioles’ roster and farm system, and putting a long-term outline in place to position his team better for the future.
One name that keeps cropping up as far as a trade chip that Duquette could use is third baseman Mark Reynolds. Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reported on Sunday that Reynolds could very well be the biggest trade chip for the O's.
Reynolds is owed $7.5 million for the 2012 season, with an $11 million option for 2013. If Duquette feels that Reynolds doesn’t fit into the O’s long-term plans, then Duquette could be making some inquiries at the upcoming GM meetings later this week in Milwaukee.
Boston Red Sox: Anibal Sanchez
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With both John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka likely on the shelf for the entire 2012 season, the Boston Red Sox are in need of a fourth and fifth starting pitcher, and GM Ben Cherington will be addressing that need.
The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo examined that issue in his Sunday Notes column and opined about whether or not the Red Sox would consider bringing Florida Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez back into the fold. Sanchez was part of the package that went to the Marlins from the Red Sox in late 2005 in the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston.
Chicago Cubs: Chone Figgins
The Chicago Cubs spent $134 million in payroll for the 2011 season, and we all know how THAT turned out.
New president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is currently focusing on finding a manager after firing Mike Quade earlier this month, but there is no question he is currently evaluating his roster at the same time. Earlier this month, MLB Trade Rumors reporter Tim Dierkes examined the possibility of several trades that Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer could pursue, and one particular trade stood out—Carlos Zambrano for Seattle Mariners third baseman Chone Figgins.
Figgins has been a complete bust in Seattle, so a change of scenery might be just what the doctor ordered. Zambrano’s antics in Chicago have become tiresome, and the Mariners have a history of taking on head cases in the past (see Milton Bradley). It’s a trade that could work out for both sides.
Chicago White Sox: Gavin Floyd
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The Chicago White Sox, much like their counterparts on the North Side, spent well over $100 million in 2011 to no avail. GM Kenny Williams has said that he doesn’t expect to make major moves, however, that hasn’t stopped rumors from swirling about the White Sox exploring trade options for pitchers Gavin Floyd and John Danks.
Floyd is owed $7 million for the 2012 season with a team option for $9.5 million for 2013, so he will definitely attract interest among many teams seeking a durable innings-eater. Floyd has made at least 30 starts in each of the past four seasons.
Cincinnati Reds: James Shields
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The Cincinnati Reds are looking to rebound from what can only be described as a season of complete disappointment in 2011. After winning the NL Central in 2010, things were certainly looking up. However, in 2011, starting pitching was the main culprit, and GM Walt Jocketty aims to fix that.
In an interview with John Fay of Cincinnati.com, Jocketty addressed several issues and stated that he is more likely to explore trade options rather than go after expensive free agents.
One of the names linked to the Reds in the past was Tampa Bay Rays starter James Shields. Jocketty has chips to use, such as Yonder Alonso, Homer Bailey and Edison Volquez, so dangling these particular pieces could be enough to convince the cost-conscious Rays to pull off a deal. Shields is owed $7.5 million in 2012, with escalating team options for the following two seasons.
Cleveland Indians: Carlos Pena
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The Cleveland Indians were clearly a team on the upswing in 2011, and GM Chris Antonetti has already made a move to try to improve in 2012, acquiring starting pitcher Derek Lowe from the Atlanta Braves to shore up the starting rotation.
Now, Antonetti will attempt to upgrade in other areas, and specifically at the corner positions. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer examined several options, and one player that could fill an offensive void would be first baseman Carlos Pena.
Pena’s batting average is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but he still offers potential home run power and would be an upgrade over incumbent first baseman Matt LaPorta. The trick will be getting Pena to take less than the $10 million he made last season with the Chicago Cubs and settle on the stability of a multiyear contract for less money.
Colorado Rockies: Martin Prado
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The Colorado Rockies are looking for much more production from their infield, specifically at second and third base. The combination of Jose Lopez, Ty Wigginton and Ian Stewart didn’t produce much at all, and GM Dan O’Dowd will be looking to change that in 2012.
One possible trade that has been floated in rumors lately is the Rockies obtaining infielder Martin Prado from the Atlanta Braves for outfielder Seth Smith. The Braves were disappointed with Prado’s production, however, at just 28 years of age, Prado could easily bounce back, especially in the high altitude of Colorado.
Detroit Tigers: Kelly Johnson
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The Detroit Tigers will be actively shopping for both a second baseman and third baseman this offseason, and would love to find one that can also lead off.
While Jose Reyes would be a perfect solution, moving Jhonny Peralta to third base, Reyes’ salary might be too much for GM Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers to stomach at this point. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick floated the name of Kelly Johnson last week on Twitter as a lower cost alternative to Reyes. Johnson is a free agent after being traded last August by the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Toronto Blue Jays. Johnson suffered through a miserable 2011 season but showed signs of life following the trade.
Florida Marlins: Albert Pujols
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The Florida Marlins had quite a day for themselves on Friday. They introduced their new logo and uniforms for the 2012 season, officially became the Miami Marlins, and they hosted free agent first baseman Albert Pujols in a visit as well.
The Marlins are obviously looking to make a big splash in time with their move to their new stadium next April, and signing Pujols would certainly provide them with that splash. Is it likely that Pujols could take his talents to South Beach? Probably not, but not for the Marlins’ lack of trying.
Houston Astros: Wandy Rodriguez
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With the approval of the sale of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane appearing imminent, the Astros will focus on two major issues: lowering payroll and rebuilding their roster.
Starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez represents the Astros’ biggest trade chip, and his name continues to be bandied about in several rumors. GM Ed Wade told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that he will listen to all offers regarding Rodriguez, and with the GM meetings scheduled to begin this week in Milwaukee, no doubt that Wade will be a busy man.
Kansas City Royals: Carlos Zambrano
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I know, you’re thinking to yourself, why in the world would the name of mercurial starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano be linked to the Kansas City Royals? Well, you can thank Royals GM Dayton Moore for that one.
Moore told Marc Carman of 610 Sports Radio that he would absolutely be interested in entertaining an offer for Zambrano.
We would have to be interested. We would have to explore it, because that's what you should do. You should explore every opportunity. Carlos Zambrano is a heckuva competitor. Carlos Zambrano has had a lot of success in the major leagues. Carlos Zambrano is actually a very pleasant, easygoing, classy person off the field. Sometimes, as with all of us the competitiveness takes over and brings out qualities in us that we are not proud of. Obviously the Cubs grew tired of some of his outbursts, but I believe in our coaching staff, and we'll always take a chance and a risk on certain players. We'll see how that particular situation unfolds.
All I can say is: Wow, the Royals? Really?
Los Angeles Angels: C.J. Wilson
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New Los Angeles Angels general manager Jerry DiPoto is looking at several options, including strengthening his starting pitching and offensive help.
One rumor that has popped up lately is the Angels’ courting of Texas Rangers starting pitcher C.J. Wilson. Wilson has strong ties to the Southern California area, and with a flexibility of somewhere around $20 million in payroll, the Angels could easily pursue Wilson and fill other needs as well.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Clint Barmes
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With the news that Jamey Carroll has signed a two-year deal with the Minnesota Twins, the Los Angeles Dodgers are looking for infield help, and one name that has been floated in rumors that the Dodgers could be targeting is Clint Barmes.
After spending the first eight years of his career with the Colorado Rockies, Barmes spent last season with the Houston Astros, hitting .244 with 12 HR and 39 RBI. Barmes would be an attractive option given his salary would be somewhere in the range of $4-5 million.
Milwaukee Brewers: Mat Gamel
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With the pending free agency of Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and the unlikelihood of him re-signing with the Brewers, there is a distinct possibility that GM Doug Melvin could fill the void from within the organization.
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on Sunday that the Brewers are very high on 26-year-old prospect Mat Gamel and may be willing to give him a shot, should Fielder sign with another team. Gamel had a very productive season at the Triple-A level, hitting .310 with 28 home runs.
Minnesota Twins: Hisashi Iwakuma
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The Minnesota Twins will definitely be looking to bolster their starting rotation for the 2012 season, and one name that continually pops up in rumors is Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma.
Iwakuma, who attempted to sign last season with the Oakland Athletics but was unsuccessful in pulling off a deal, has already announced his intentions to play in the U.S. Iwakuma was 107-69 with a 3.25 ERA in 226 starts during his career in Japan.
New York Mets: Joe Nathan
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The New York Mets are clearly in the market for a closer, and they will be looking for a player who will be considerably cheaper than the recently departed Francisco Rodriguez.
One name that has popped up in recent rumors is Minnesota Twins reliever Joe Nathan. Nathan’s 2012 option was declined by the Twins, and Nathan has said he would be receptive to the Mets and is also receptive to a short- or long-term deal.
New York Yankees: Mark Buehrle
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The New York Yankees will be shopping for starting pitching this offseason, looking to strengthen the back end behind CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova.
New York Daily News columnist Mark Feinsand reported that GM Brian Cashman has reached out to free-agent pitcher Mark Buehrle, but no formal offer has been made as of yet. Buehrle has spent his entire career with the Chicago White Sox and will likely fetch a salary somewhere in the range of $15 million annually.
Oakland Athletics: Gio Gonzalez
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The Oakland Athletics have had a history of developing great starting pitching over the past 15 years, and then being unable to keep them once they are eligible for free agency. Gio Gonzalez may be the next pitcher who fits that mold.
Gonzalez has been the subject of several trade rumors recently. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Red Sox and Miami Marlins are two teams that would be extremely interested in Gonzalez. With the A’s stadium situation and possible move to San Jose still in limbo, they very well could opt to trade Gonzalez and continue building prospects who could help the team after they have successfully moved to a new stadium.
Philadelphia Phillies: Michael Cuddyer
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There has been much speculation about whether or not longtime Minnesota Twins star Michael Cuddyer will be relocating for the 2012 season, and rumors have the Philadelphia Phillies more than interested in Cuddyer’s services.
However, Cuddyer’s asking price may be a bit too high for the Phillies at this point, and while they are still interested, they may turn to a player like Jason Kubel or Grady Sizemore instead.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Ramon Santiago
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The Pittsburgh Pirates have several pieces in place now that make up their core, including Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker, but GM Neal Huntington is still looking to supplement his lineup with veteran help as well.
One option that has been widely rumored is 32-year-old infielder Ramon Santiago. Santiago, who played last season with the Detroit Tigers and ended up as their starting second baseman, hit .260 for Detroit while playing second, third and short. Santiago’s price tag will not preclude the Pirates from taking a hard look.
San Diego Padres: Chase Headley
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No matter how many times teams state that certain players are not available for trade, that still doesn't stop the rumors from flying about particular players. That certainly seems to be the case with San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley.
Headley is due to make somewhere in the range of $3 million in 2012 through arbitration, and while the Padres have insisted they're not keen on moving Headley, they do have prospects Logan Forsythe and James Darnell waiting in the wings, so should they decide to move Headley, they can bring up one of the youngsters and get a package of prospects in return.
San Francisco Giants: Grady Sizemore
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With the recent talks about shortstop Jose Reyes on the verge of signing with the Miami Marlins, the San Francisco Giants may be content in giving young prospect Brandon Crawford a shot at starting and continuing to build offense in other areas.
While Melky Cabrera is now in the fold and most likely the starting center fielder, the Giants could still have interest in Grady Sizemore.
Sizemore's 2012 option was declined by the Cleveland Indians, and the Giants could be tempted to offer Sizemore a contract if he's willing to move to right field. Sizemore is coming off five surgeries in the last three season, so obviously his injury history is a concern, but the Giants could offer an incentive-laden contract based on games played.
Seattle Mariners: Jamie Moyer
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Starting pitcher Jamie Moyer missed the entire 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery, and even though Moyer is 49 years old, he is looking at a possible comeback, and several teams, including the Seattle Mariners, are quite interested.
The Mariners recently sent a scout to check out Moyer during a throwing session in San Diego, and scouts reported that Moyer is throwing as well as ever.
Moyer is the all-time wins leader for Seattle, so he would be a crowd-pleaser should the Mariners be successful in signing him.
St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols
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The St. Louis Cardinals will be addressing several needs this winter, including at second base, shortstop and the starting rotation. However, until they resolve the situation with free-agent first baseman Albert Pujols, all other issues are tabled for now.
Pujols, who turned down a nine-year, $210 million contract extension last season, has recently been courted by the Miami Marlins. While their offer to Pujols may not be enough to lure him to South Florida, the Cardinals have indicated they won't waver too far from their original offer.
Tampa Bay Rays: Wade Davis
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While much of the talk surrounding the Tampa Bay Rays this offseason so far has centered on James Shields, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is reporting that the Rays are much more likely to shop starting pitcher Wade Davis than they would Shields.
Cafardo believes that the Rays will shop Davis in an effort to land an outfielder or catcher. Davis, just 25 years old, was 11-10 with a 4.45 ERA in 29 starts for the Rays in 2011.
Texas Rangers: John Danks
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The Texas Rangers face the possibility of losing their top starter, C.J. Wilson, to free agency this offseason, so they will be actively looking for a left-handed replacement. One of the names rumored to be high on their list of candidates is Chicago White Sox starter John Danks.
The Rangers have long coveted Danks, who was selected by Texas in the first round of the 2003 MLB Draft before being dealt in 2006 in the deal that landed Brandon McCarthy.
Toronto Blue Jays: Ryan Madson
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When the Philadelphia Phillies signed closer Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million contract last week, they closed the book on bringing back incumbent closer Ryan Madson. Now, the Toronto Blue Jays may come calling.
According to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, the Jays are definitely interested in Madson. However, GM Alex Anthopoulos is not crazy about offering four- or five-year deals to relievers, and Madson supposedly wanted a four-year deal with the Phillies, who would not commit to longer than three years.
Washington Nationals: Mark Buehrle
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After 12 seasons and 161 victories with the Chicago White Sox, starting pitcher Mark Buehrle is now a free agent and has already been linked to several teams, including the Washington Nationals.
ESPN's Jayson Stark is reporting that the Nationals favor Buehrle over fellow free agent Roy Oswalt. Buehrle has already visited with the Miami Marlins and is expected to draw interest from the New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and other teams as well.