4 Post-Winter Meetings Predictions for the Rest of the MLB Offseason

Jason Catania@@JayCat11MLB Lead WriterDecember 13, 2014

4 Post-Winter Meetings Predictions for the Rest of the MLB Offseason

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    Now that the Phillies have gone into rebuild mode, will ace Cole Hamels be on the move?
    Now that the Phillies have gone into rebuild mode, will ace Cole Hamels be on the move?John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Just because Major League Baseball's busy-as-all-get-out winter meetings are in the rearview mirror doesn't mean the hot stove has to cool down any time soon.

    Having been over the winners and losers of the busiest four days baseball has had in quite some time, it's time to turn attention toward what still might happen next.

    The offseason is only a month-and-a-half old, which means there's enough time for a heck of a lot more moves to be made before pitchers and catchers report in mid-February.

    Like, perhaps, some of these predictions.

Top Free Agent Max Scherzer Won't Get Quite the Contract He's Seeking

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    Max Scherzer: The next $200 million pitcher?
    Max Scherzer: The next $200 million pitcher?Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    You've heard about what Max Scherzer is seeking, right?

    According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, "Scherzer is seeking a guarantee of more than $200 million."

    Scherzer entered the offseason as arguably the biggest name on the free-agent market, and now that Jon Lester is off the board, he's clearly the top dog. Combine that type of talent with agent Scott Boras, and, well, anything—and any dollar figure—is conceivably in play.

    "He's a Peyton Manning, No. 1 kind of guy," Boras said via Anthony Fenech of USA Today Sports. "I think every general manager in baseball wants Max Scherzer on their team."

    Here's the thing, though: The only pitcher to sniff, let alone surpass, the $200 million mark is Clayton Kershaw. And as great as Scherzer has been the past few seasons, he's no Kershaw.

    Scherzer, who rejected a $144 million extension from the Detroit Tigers last March, likely will land a contract somewhere north of Lester's $155 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

    But as much as he and Boras are pushing for a "$" and a "2" as the first two characters in Scherzer's salary, a more reasonable target might be sticking with a number that checks in ahead of the $180 million total value of Justin Verlander's pact with the Detroit Tigers.

    That would make Scherzer only the second-highest-paid pitcher ever.

The Red Sox Will Trade for Cole Hamels

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    If the Red Sox want Cole Hamels to be their ace, they have the pieces to trade for him.
    If the Red Sox want Cole Hamels to be their ace, they have the pieces to trade for him.H. Rumph Jr/Associated Press

    There's been plenty of chatter about the Boston Red Sox being interested in Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels. Almost so much that it's surprising a trade hasn't happened yet, especially because the Sox have the pieces to pull the move off, should they so choose.

    Even if they refuse to part with young shortstop Xander Bogaerts or second baseman/outfielder Mookie Betts, Boston still has any number of prospects—from catcher Blake Swihart to left-handers Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez to righty Matt Barnes to shortstop Deven Marrero—that should entice the Phillies enough to make this happen.

    The price will be steep from the Red Sox's perspective. If anything, though, after acquiring Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson to improve the middle of its rotation, the club just might be more apt to do a blockbuster to score the much-needed ace that just signed with the Cubs instead of coming back to Boston.

    There is one hang-up to all this, of course.

    "The Red Sox have been linked a lot to Cole Hamels," writes Buster Olney of ESPN (subscription required), "but keep in mind, Boston is on Hamels' no-trade list, and if he doesn’t want to pitch in the American League, a deal to John Farrell’s staff isn’t going to happen."

    So maybe the ultimate decision isn't how much the Red Sox want to part with from their batch of young big leaguers and deep farm system, but rather whether Hamels will agree to go to Boston at all.

    That's not a small obstacle. Then again, with the Phillies coming off two straight losing seasons and finally entering what appears to be a full rebuild, would Hamels really want to waste the rest of his prime pitching for an irrelevant franchise?

The Giants Will Land at Least One of the Remaining Big-Name Free Agents

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    Whether it's James Shields or someone else, the Giants have to bring in some reinforcements soon.
    Whether it's James Shields or someone else, the Giants have to bring in some reinforcements soon.Elsa/Associated Press

    If you haven't checked the free-agent market in the wake of the frenzy of activity during the winter meetings, then suffice it to say there's not much meat left to pick off the bone, particularly the good kind of meat.

    Aside from Scherzer, the best three readily available players are right-hander James Shields, third baseman Chase Headley and outfielder Melky Cabrera.

    That represents both good and bad news for the San Francisco Giants.

    On one hand, the reigning champs are left with those "top" options from which to choose, in large part because they watched as Pablo Sandoval walked away and then lost out on Lester.

    On the other, Shields, Headley and Cabrera just so happen to line up rather well with San Francisco's three biggest holes—starting pitcher, third base and left field.

    "The Giants made hard runs at both Pablo Sandoval and Jon Lester," writes Richard Justice for Sports on Earth. "They are considered to be interested in Chase Headley and James Shields. About the surest bet in baseball is that general manager Brian Sabean will make a couple of deals before Opening Day and that both will work out."

    In other words, the World Series winners both want to spend and also need to do something, especially with the NL West-rival Los Angeles Dodgers being the most active team around since Sandoval caught the final out of the Fall Classic in late October.

The Braves Will Trade Justin Upton

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    The Braves would be wise to get as much as they can for free-agent-to-be Justin Upton.
    The Braves would be wise to get as much as they can for free-agent-to-be Justin Upton.John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Although they took a break during the winter meetings—sorry, picking up Alberto Callaspo doesn't count here—the Atlanta Braves were rather busy in the first few weeks leading up to them.

    After trading Tommy La Stella for Arodys Vizcaino, swapping Jason Heyward for Shelby Miller and signing Nick Markakis, new president of baseball operations John Hart doesn't appear to be close to finished.

    The speculation primarily has been around outfielders Evan Gattis and Justin Upton, and if one of those two is going to be moved, the latter is more likely to go.

    Upton's big-time right-handed power—he's hit 27 and 29 home runs in his two years in Atlanta—makes him a highly sought-after commodity, especially since he's still only 27 years old.

    So why would the Braves give Upton up? Because, just like Heyward, he's entering the final year before becoming a free agent, and the club doesn't have the financial fortitude to spend more than $100 million (minimum) to keep him around long term.

    The latest scuttlebutt is that the San Diego Padres are after Upton, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Their plan, it seems, is to team Upton with newly acquired fellow star outfielder Matt Kemp to provide a major boost to an offense that was catastrophically terrible in 2014.

    If that doesn't happen, Upton still should be traded. There are other clubs on the prowl for a power-hitting outfielder, namely the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, New York Mets and—who knows?—maybe even the Cubs.

    Statistics are accurate through the 2014 season and courtesy of MLB.com, Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

    To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11.

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