It's not often that MLB trade rumors include Cy Young Award winners and a World Series MVP, but this offseason they do.
With free-agent price tags soaring ever higher, it's no surprise that so many rumors would be flying around as teams desperately seek alternative means to upgrade their respective rosters.
Of course, not all trade rumors are created equal. Some are the product of a general manager merely floating a name to a reporter to test if a market exists for a given player. This type of rumor generally involves an underperforming veteran playing on an outsized deal.
There is also a class of rumors involving the rising stars in the game. While no team wants to part with a young ace or an up-and-coming power bat, this type of speculation tends to surface when a team is trying to deal from a position of strength.
With these considerations in mind, here's the list of the 10 biggest stars available on the trade market this offseason.
2013 Stats: 1-4, 6.04 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 9.3 K/9
Brett Anderson was the Oakland A's Opening Day starter in 2013, but by the time the 2014 season rolls around, he might not even be on the team.
As Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported, whether the A's move the oft-injured left-hander will depend in part on if the team can re-sign Bartolo Colon.
Anderson has made just 11 starts over the last two seasons as he has dealt with a variety of injuries. Still just 25 years old, the lefty would make an ideal buy-low candidate. Plus, the A's have enough young pitching to absorb the potential loss.
Assistant GM David Forst explained to Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area that, for now, Anderson is definitely still a part of the club's plans:
Anderson's extensive injury history will play a role in whether he remains with the club. The 25-year-old has made more than 20 starts just once in his career, which would be a serious concern to potential trade partners. Despite the questions over durability, the Toronto Blue Jays have already expressed interest in the talented left-hander, as per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
2013 Stats: 15-9, 3.06 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.8 K/9
With an abundance of starting pitching, and a giant hole at shortstop, the St. Louis Cardinals will have to seriously consider dealing one of the club's young arms.
Even though he won 15 games in a sensational rookie season, Shelby Miller could be the guy to go. According to Heyman, however, the Cardinals had no interest when the Baltimore Orioles brought up a Miller-for-J.J. Hardy swap.
If the Cardinals decide to keep the 23-year-old, then fellow 15-game winner Lance Lynn would also be an option. No one would fault the Cardinals for holding onto the club's young arms. However, coming off a season in which Cardinals shortstops posted a collective .583 OPS, clearly an upgrade is in order.
In this case, trading from a position of depth would allow the Cardinals to solve one of team's most troublesome issues during the 2013 season.
2013 Stats: .261/.310/.396, 24 doubles, 18 home runs, 92 OPS+, 2.6 WAR
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Brandon Phillips is done in Cincinnati. An anonymous MLB executive told Passan: “He's gone.”
With at least 18 home runs in each of the past seven seasons, the 32-year-old possesses more power than any second baseman on the free-agent market not named Robinson Cano. However, the economics of the situation are also part of the equation, as Jon Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer noted:
He's owed $11 million next year and $50 million over the next four years. Given that contract, the list of teams that would be willing to trade for him is short. Very short. In fact, if the Yankees sign Robinson Cano, there many be no list at all.
Fay is right. The list of suitors will be short as the price for Phillips will be steep both in terms of dollars and the prospects it will take to pry him away from the Reds. There's still plenty of time for the Reds to get a deal done, but it's worth remembering that Phillips isn't the only veteran second baseman available on the trade market this offseason.
2013 Stats: .270/.328/.395, 15 doubles, 6 home runs, 105 OPS+, -0.4 WAR
It will take a bold GM to make a move for Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers still owe the 29-year-old $128 million over the next six seasons, and in 2013 Kemp appeared in just 73 games. According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers will listen to offers on "any" of the club's players.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reported that Kemp has already caught the eye of the Seattle Mariners. Ken Rosenthal, also of Fox Sports, tweeted that the Dodgers could find a match with the Texas Rangers:
The “no traction” caveat underscores that this deal won't be happening.
However, it's exactly the type of swap that the Dodgers need to pursue. Both Elvis Andrus and Kemp still have well over $100 million remaining on their respective contracts. If the Dodgers want to get out from under Kemp's deal, the best way to do so would be to take on a similarly hefty contract.
2013 Stats: .277/.344/.413, 31 doubles, 13 home runs, 105 OPS+, 2.5 WAR
According to Rosenthal, “A trade of second baseman Ian Kinsler or shortstop Elvis Andrus is starting to look inevitable.”
While either player would draw plenty of interest, Kinsler has by far the more manageable contract. The 31-year-old second baseman has four years and $57 million left on his deal, while Andrus is under control for nine more seasons and $126.5 million, as per Rosenthal.
Kinsler provides pop for a second baseman, but in the last three seasons his home run totals have dropped from 32 to 19 to 13 in 2013. With his power numbers on the decline, the Rangers would be selling at a relative low, but it's still a move well worth considering.
The team can plug Jurickson Profar in at second base, and with the money saved on Kinsler, the Rangers would be able to pursue a big-name free agent like Brian McCann.
2013 Stats: .234/.294/.453, 30 doubles, 34 home runs, 109 OPS+, 2.5 WAR
Mark Trumbo has clubbed 95 home runs over the past three seasons for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
That kind of power has made him a popular commodity on the trade market, as per Heyman:
If the Angles decide they are unwilling to flip Trumbo, the club has a variety of other options to consider. Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, Peter Bourjos and Chris Iannetta are all potential trade chips. None of those players, however, would bring anywhere near the same haul as Trumbo.
With Cy Young-caliber pitchers on the market and a starting staff in disarray, the Angels can still change their stance on Trumbo.
2013 Stats: .278/.341/.417, 27 doubles, 14 home runs, 119 OPS+, 2.3 WAR
According to Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com, there is interest in Pablo Sandoval. For now, however, San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean has no plans to move the switch-hitter:
Sabean indicates that while there are American League teams (like Boston) who have inquired on Pablo Sandoval as a first baseman and he is a free agent at the end of the 2014 season, he doesn't think he'll trade him. “We need his bat,” says Sabean.
Sabean is absolutely correct. The Giants do need Sandoval's bat. In 2013, the team finished 29th out of 30 teams in home runs. However, with Sandoval's contract set to expire at the end of the 2014 season, the Giants will have a decision to make.
The team can let him play out his contract and then either re-sign him or let him walk in exchange for a compensation draft pick. The other option would be to trade him during the offseason.
Such a move would leave a major hole in San Francisco's lineup, but it would also provide the team the chance to bolster the pitching staff and replenish the farm system.
2013 Stats: .279/.362/.457, 36 doubles, 25 home runs, 120 OPS+, 2.2 WAR
Prince Fielder is the latest Detroit Tigers star to hit the trade market.
According to John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press, the "Tigers told clubs they will listen to trade offers for Max Scherzer, Prince Fielder and Rick Porcello."
While the speculation over Scherzer and Porcello is not new, the inclusion of Fielder is. The Tigers are looking to free up money so that the club can re-sign Miguel Cabrera, whose contract is up at the end of the 2015 season.
The Tigers still owe Fielder $168 million over seven years, and the slugger is coming off a down season in 2013. Fielder posted career lows in home runs (25) and slugging percentage (.457). While those numbers were low by Fielder's lofty standards, they were still impressive enough to earn him an All-Star spot on Jim Leyland's squad.
For the Tigers, there's no downside in floating Fielder's name on the trade market.
If GM Dave Dombrowski comes across a deal he can't turn down, then he should make the move. If not, the team gets to hold onto one of the most durable players in the game (Fielder has missed one game in the last five seasons) and a guy who possesses a .916 OPS for his career.
2013 Stats: 21-3, 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 10.1 K/9
It's not often that a reigning Cy Young Award winner finds himself on the trade block, but that's exactly the situation that Max Scherzer finds himself in.
For his part, the right-hander certainly doesn't want to leave Detroit, as he explained to Casey Stern and Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (skip to the 1:15 mark):
However, Scherzer also emphasized that he understands the “business side” of the game. The 29-year-old becomes a free agent at the end of the 2014 season. Unless the Tigers sign him to a monster extension, he would likely depart in exchange for a compensation pick.
The powerful right-hander would surely draw a larger haul on the trade market, but the Tigers are looking to win now. The only way this deal will happen is if the Tigers can trade Scherzer while not making the team worse in 2014. That will be a tall order, indeed.
2013 Stats: 10-8, 3.33 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 7.3 K/9
Based on the Tampa Bay Rays' recent history, there is an excellent chance that David Price has pitched his last game for the club.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN completed a poll of 21 MLB GMs, and 17 of them told Crasnick that they expect the Rays to ship out Price this offseason.
The left-hander remains under team control for two more years, which means the Rays hold all he leverage in this situation. If Tampa Bay decides to deal Price, some of the favorites to land the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner include the Dodgers, Rangers and Cardinals.
One official explained to Crasnick: “Tampa sells high on guys...I would look at the [Matt] Garza and [James] Shields deals as a blueprint and add to the return, because those guys weren't left-handed and they didn't win the Cy Young.”
For now, Price's future remains up in the air. The Rays will be in no rush to make a decision, and there's no reason why they should be.