MLB Trade Speculation: Players That Could Be Traded by Opening Day
The big dogs are finally off the market.
That means the rest of the hot stove dominoes will begin to fall. That could be as remaining free-agent signings or via trade for many teams.
While we have already witnessed some large trades take place this winter, there is nothing that says the trade market is anywhere near cooling off.
Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle are all acclimating to life north of the boarder, having been part of a drastic trade that took place between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays earlier this offseason.
Longtime Texas Ranger Michael Young, a seven-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, has found a new home this winter via trade, as has National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.
Here is a peak at some other names that may find themselves in new laundry come the 2013 season.
Washington Nationals: Michael Morse
The Washington Nationals have enjoyed 197 games of Adam LaRoche playing first base for them.
With LaRoche hitting free agency this season, the Nationals may have to face life without him should he decide to sign elsewhere.
Should that be the case. the Nats would hand the reigns over to Michael Morse.
Morse came to the Nationals in 2009 and has been a productive member of the team, posting a .283 batting average with a .839 OPS in 378 games.
A majority of those appearances have come in the outfield, but he has played first 99 times.
According to a tweet by Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the Nationals do feel confident that they'll be able to re-sign LaRoche, which would make Michael Morse the odd man out.
#Nationals remain confident they will get LaRoche. Morse then could be dealt to Mariners, who have big interest.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 5, 2012
The Seattle Mariners wouldn't mind taking back the offense that Morse can offer. He would be an immediate upgrade over Justin Smoak at first, should that be the direction the team would like to go.
Of course he could also play the outfield, which is all the more reason why the M's would want him; he's a versatile player.
Texas Rangers: Derek Holland
On the surface it would seem like the Texas Rangers would want to keep whatever pieces they have left at this point.
Catcher Mike Napoli signed with the Boston Red Sox.
Left fielder Josh Hamilton signed with the division rival Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
They were unable to sign Zack Greinke or Anibal Sanchez for that matter, yet they do still have pieces to make some noise on the trade front, should they so desire.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal had reported during the Winter Meetings that the Rangers were involved in multi-team talks in an effort to obtain Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks.
While the talks have stalled to the point of non existence, Holland could still be a piece that gets moved.
Holland could be moved for another piece like a Jacoby Ellsbury as an example or Justin Upton should a deal be constructed on either end.
Holland went 12-7 for the Rangers in 2012, posting a 4.67 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 27 starts.
Seattle Mariners: John Jaso, Hector Noesi or Justin Smoak
According to his blog in the Seattle Times during the winter meetings, Geoff Baker describes how the Mariners were attempting to shop pitcher Hector Noesi, catcher John Jaso and first baseman Justin Smoak.
The Mariners were looking to acquire Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Garrett Jones.
Jones had what many would consider a breakout season in 2012, belting 27 home runs with 86 RBI to go with his .832 OPS.
Both his OPS and home runs totals would have led the Mariners, while his 86 RBI would only have been tied by Kyle Seager.
It is obvious that the Mariners are in need of offense. They were very interested in signing Josh Hamilton until he landed in Anaheim, an AL West rival; that according to a tweet by CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 13, 2012
While a deal never came to fruition for Jones, nor were they able to sign Hamilton, it would seem short sighted to rule out the Mariners trying to acquire more offense, and a package of Jaso, Noesi and Smoak seems logical.
Keep an eye on the Nationals. Should they re-sign Adam LaRoche, the Mariners might offer up this package or one similar for Michael Morse.
San Diego Padres: Joe Thatcher
According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the San Diego Padres are strongly pursuing free-agent pitcher Edwin Jackson.
That may not be the only piece the team adds.
It seems that the Padres may have some interest in the Detroit Tigers' Rick Porcello.
At least so says ESPN's analyst Jim Bowden. (The original tweet has since been deleted; however, it has been cited numerous times online.)
In order to acquire a starting pitcher, Corey Brock of MLB.com suggests that the team would have to part with either Luke Gregerson or Joe Thatcher.
If the #Padres trade for a SP, I can't see how they don't part with Gregerson or Thatcher as 'part' of a deal. Reluctant to move prospects.— Corey Brock (@FollowThePadres) December 15, 2012
On paper, Thatcher would be the more attractive piece for the Tigers specifically.
He is a left-handed reliever that can help to bolster the middle of the bullpen.
In 2012 he had a 3.41 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP in 31.2 innings of work for the Padres.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Joel Hanrahan
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports points out that the Texas Rangers are looking to bolster their bullpen.
He notes that Pirates reliever may be just what the Rangers are looking for.
In 2012 Joel Hanrahan posted a 2.72 ERA with a 1.27 WHIP in 59.2 innings of work for the Pirates, racking up an impressive 10.1 K/9 ratio, striking out 67 batters.
Adding Hanrahan to the mix with Alexi Ogando and Joe Nathan would be downright intimidating.
Of course, this is all based on the notion that the Rangers would pursue a trade for Hanrahan instead of finding help in free agency.
Nevertheless, there is interest in Hanrahan as the Pirates appear eager to move him.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports tweeted the following:
People who have talked to the Pirates say they're pushing to move Hanrahan. Dodgers are one possibility.
— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 17, 2012
It begs the question: Are the Dodgers ever going to be done this winter?
Los Angeles Dodgers: Andre Ethier
Despite having just signed a five-year, $85 million extension this past season, the Dodgers may very well be shopping Andre Ethier.
Of course, they may not be as well.
Such clairvoyance was given Tuesday by Ken Rosenthal in his piece on FoxSports.com.
While the Dodgers are not officially, actively trying to trade Ethier, they aren't exactly turning offers away yet either.
If the right deal were to come across their plate, you can bet a deal could be made.
That would make room for the Blue to sign Nick Swisher or Michael Bourn, as Rosenthal points out.
Ethier hit .284 with an .812 OPS for the Dodgers in 2012. He added 89 RBI and 57 extra-base hits in the form of 20 home runs, 36 doubles and a triple.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Vernon Wells
Take your pick: Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos, Mark Trumbo or Kendry Morales. All have had some mention in a trade rumor dating back...well, really since the emergence of Mike Trout.
Now with Josh Hamilton in the mix, it seems logical that the Halos will have to deal one of their log-jammed outfielders.
Remarkably, Vernon Wells is the one player whose remaining $42 million in contract dollars could almost literally catapult Swaziland's economy out of the gutter!
Okay, that might be a bit drastic, but Wells, who is set to earn $21 million in 2013 and 2014 respectively, has garnered interest from the New York Yankees.
It may very well be a long shot, but with the Yankees involved in any talks, Wells could be on the move before anyone else on the Angels roster.
Houston Astros: Bud Norris
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Astros have received calls on Bud Norris.
Specifically, the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers have shared interest in the righty.
Norris posted a 7-13 record for the Astros last season with a 4.65 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in 29 games and 168.1 innings of work.
Despite the fact that Norris has a 8.8 H/9 mark that equals his 8.8 K/9 ratio, if brought into a good pitching system, the 27-year-old could become a solid fourth or fifth starter.
Detroit Tigers: Rick Porcello
The Sporting News reports that since the Detroit Tigers have re-signed Anibal Sanchez, they could be looking to move 23-year-old righty Rick Porcello.
Porcello posted a 10-12 record for the Tigers in 2012, earning a 4.59 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP.
He gave up 226 hits, which led the American League.
Despite the less than admirable numbers last season, there are several teams that retain interest in the right handed hurler.
According to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, the Tigers have fielded a dozen or so calls on Porcello.
Next up for the Tigers: Trading Rick Porcello. I'm told they had almost a dozen calls within 3 hours of news of Sanchez deal.
— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 17, 2012
Boston Red Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury
The Boston Red Sox have already tried to make a deal using Jacoby Ellsbury as bait. So says Jim Salisbury of CSNPHILLY.COM.
It appears that Boston tried to flip Ellsbury to Philadelphia for Cliff Lee, which was obviously turned down. Since that offer made news, little has come of any Ellsbury trade rumors.
However, don't take the silence for granted.
Ellsbury could be a key piece for teams like the Rangers or Phillies, for example, who are looking to add a piece, if even for one season.
Just one season removed from his American League MVP runner-up season of 2011, Ellsbury is a dynamic player than is entering a contract year.
The Rangers, having lost out on Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton, also have lost Mike Napoli this winter. That means the pitching staff has stayed the same while the offense is now short 60 or so home runs as it stands for next season.
A chip like Ellsbury could prove to be a nice commodity, one the Red Sox will listen to offers for, regardless of any public declarations of Ellsbury's unavailability, as Peter Abraham reported in the Boston Globe.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton
Is he or isn't he going to be traded?
It seems like an on-going soap opera with Justin Upton and the Arizona Diamondbacks. At almost every trade deadline or meeting his name comes up.
Then, D'backs ownership shoots down all the rumors.
The time has come to show the cards or fold.
Though general manager Kevin Towers denies that Upton will be traded, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal states that several opposing GMs believe he will pull the trigger on a trade.
Clearly there would be no shortage of interested parties.
During the winter meetings, there was talks of a multi-team, multi-player trade involving Upton, the Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2012
The Diamondbacks could get quite a bit in return for the slugger, despite Upton having a down season in 2012.
He put up a .785 OPS with just 45 extra base hits.
He is just 25 years old with a lifetime .278 batting average and .832 OPS, not to mention he is under team control for the next three seasons.
All of which are enticing characteristics for anyone in the market for a bat.