All 30 MLB Teams' Most Likely Splash at the 2015 Winter Meetings
The annual winter meetings are always an exciting time around Major League Baseball, as an offseason full of swirling rumors finally kicks into gear and we see a number of significant free-agent signings and blockbuster deals pulled off during the four-day event.
This year's meetings will start this Monday in Nashville, Tennessee, and it's time for one last round of predictions before they get underway.
Ahead is a look at all 30 MLB teams' most likely splash during this year's winter meetings.
Some of these will be repeat predictions from the win-win trade ideas and seven most likely winter meetings moves articles that have been published in recent days, but much of this is fresh prognostication for teams that have not received a ton of attention so far.
If there's one thing we can safely predict about the winter meetings, it's that it will once again be an unpredictable week of action, but here's our best guess at what all 30 teams will be looking to do.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Signing SP Mike Leake
The Arizona Diamondbacks showed they are serious in their pursuit to bolster the starting rotation when they offered Johnny Cueto a reported six-year, $120 million deal last week, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com.
That was followed by a report from Jerry Crasnick of ESPN that Cueto is seeking somewhere in the $140 million-$160 million range, so the Diamondbacks may be forced to turn their attention to the secondary market.
One name they have been linked to in the past, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, is Mike Leake.
The right-hander will pitch all of next season at the age of 28, and in six big league seasons he's gone 64-52 with a 3.88 ERA, 1.271 WHIP and averaged 181 inning per season.
His age makes him a candidate for a five-year deal, and he would give the team a durable middle-of-the-rotation starter while they continue their pursuit of an ace.
Atlanta Braves: Trading for RF Jorge Soler
The Atlanta Braves have two of the more attractive arms on the starting pitching market in Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran, so there has been no shortage of rumors surrounding the team since the offseason began.
One rumor that has gained steam in recent days is a potential swap of Miller to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Jorge Soler.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweeted on Tuesday that the Braves are "smitten" with Soler, and a blockbuster deal built around a Soler-for-Miller swap could make a lot of sense for both sides.
The Braves would be getting a 23-year-old outfielder with tremendous offensive potential and plenty of affordable team control as they continue to rebuild.
Soler battled injuries this past season, but still wound up hitting .262/.324/.399 with 18 doubles, 10 home runs and 47 RBI in 101 games.
He then flashed his legitimate superstar potential in the postseason, setting a record by reaching base safely in his first nine plate appearances and hitting a combined .474/.600/1.105 with three doubles and three home runs in 25 plate appearances.
The Cubs signed Soler to a nine-year, $30 million deal after he defected from Cuba, and he has five years and $21.33 million remaining, so he certainly fits the budget.
Soler would give the Braves a much-needed run producer to pair with Freddie Freeman in the middle of the lineup, and he'd become a cornerstone of the team's rebuilding efforts.
Baltimore Orioles: Trading for 1B Adam Lind
The Baltimore Orioles are still expected to make every effort to re-sign slugger Chris Davis, but according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the team "would not be comfortable agreeing to a $150-175 million deal with Davis," so he'd likely need to give them a discount.
If he does in fact walk, a cheaper replacement could be Adam Lind, who is almost certain to be dealt by the rebuilding Milwaukee Brewers ahead of the final year of his contract.
Lind comes at the very reasonable price of $8 million after the Brewers exercised their option on him, and he's coming off a terrific 2015 performance.
The 32-year-old hit .277/.360/.460 with 32 doubles, 20 home runs and 87 RBI, and proved to be particularly good in the clutch with a .336 average with runners in scoring position.
He's strictly a platoon player, with a .213/.259/.327 career line against left-handed pitching, but pairing him with someone like Christian Walker could mean very solid production from the first base position.
The recent move by the Orioles to acquire Mark Trumbo does not necessarily negate a need for Lind either, as Trumbo could see time at first base against left-handed pitching, serve as the primary DH and even play some corner outfield.
Boston Red Sox: Signing RP Tyler Clippard
Despite being a consensus top-three reliever on the free-agent market, things have been relatively quiet on reliever Tyler Clippard so far this offseason.
That could change quickly though once Darren O'Day makes his decision on where to sign.
The Boston Red Sox have already added one huge piece to the bullpen puzzle when they acquired closer Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres earlier this offseason, but they are by no means done building their relief corps.
This past season, the Red Sox bullpen ranked 26th in the league this past season with a 4.24 ERA, as they converted just 40-of-61 save chances and posted a 19-24 record as a unit.
Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Robbie Ross and Tommy Layne will be back in the mix as viable bullpen options, and the team could also opt to use Joe Kelly as a reliever if he doesn't secure a spot in the rotation.
However, adding one more proven late-inning arm could make the bullpen a legitimate strength, and that's exactly what Clippard would provide.
The 30-year-old is a two-time All-Star, and over the past six seasons he's appeared in 440 games with a 2.67 ERA, 1.032 WHIP and 10.1 K/9 as one of the best setup men in the game.
It's not inconceivable to think Clippard could command a four-year deal based on the contract Andrew Miller signed last winter and the reported asking price of O'Day, but he'd be well worth the commitment if it means more late-inning stability.
Chicago Cubs: Trading for SP Shelby Miller
There were no shortage of rumors surrounding a possible David Price signing by the Chicago Cubs, but in the end he wound up joining the Red Sox and at this point the Cubs are still searching for another front-line starter to bolster their rotation.
Buster Olney of ESPN offered up an explanation on why the team may have preferred adding said starter via trade all along:
Price and the Cubs were a perfect fit in every way but one: financial risk. The Cubs already have a ton of money owed to Lester for the next five seasons, and as the Red Sox stepped into the mix and made it clear to everybody else they were going all-in to get Price, Chicago just never got comfortable with the idea of owing $55 million per year for the foreseeable future to two starters on the backsides of their respective careers.
So the Cubs already have started to examine possible Plan B's, which might include a trade for (Shelby) Miller or another young, controllable starter, and Chicago would seem to have a natural framework for a swap of Jorge Soler and Shelby Miller. The savings on Miller might allow them to go after (Jason) Heyward, whose defense is ridiculously good and who wouldn't necessarily have to be a high-end offensive player for the Cubs because of the presence of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber et al.
Miller, 25, is coming off a rough season from a win-loss standpoint as he went 6-17 for a bad Atlanta Braves team.
However, that record came with a 3.02 ERA, 1.247 WHIP and 171 strikeouts over a career-high 205.1 inning of work as the young right-hander continues to flash legitimate ace potential.
Surrendering the supremely talented Soler and his vast offensive potential would be tough, but adding Miller to a rotation that already features the one-two punch of Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester could push the North Siders over the top.
With three remaining years of team control, Miller would be a long-term addition, but with a $4.9 million projected salary this season he'd allow the team some added flexibility.
Chicago White Sox: Trading for 3B Brett Lawrie
Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors listed the Chicago White Sox, Indians, Astros, Padres, Braves and Brewers as teams that could have interest in trading for second baseman/third baseman Brett Lawrie.
That makes sense, considering the White Sox got well below average production at both of those positions last season:
- 2B: .222/.275/.305, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 52 R
- 3B: .226/.277/.345, 13 HR, 50 RBI, 59 R
While the team has a pair of solid young players with upside in Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson to potentially man second base, there is a glaring hole to be filled at third base.
Lawrie has yet to turn his terrific all-around skill set into consistent production, and injuries have played a part in that, but he's still young enough to put it all together and emerge as an impact player.
He did manage to stay healthy last season, hitting .260/.299/.407 with 29 doubles, 16 home runs and 60 RBI for a 1.9 WAR.
It's also worth nothing that the two teams also have a good working relationship dating back to last offseason, when the White Sox acquired Jeff Samardzija in a six-player blockbuster.
There's more on what the White Sox could potentially give up when we make our way to the Oakland Athletics portion.
Cincinnati Reds: Signing RP Neftali Feliz
Assuming the expected happens and the Cincinnati Reds deal All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman at some point this winter, the team could be looking for a low-cost closer to hold down the fort in 2016.
As the club starts to rebuild, chances are they won't spend big on a proven veteran.
Instead, they could target a low-cost rebound candidate in the hopes of finding this year's version of Ryan Madson.
One such target is former AL Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz, who was finally healthy this past season after pitching just 44 games combined over the previous three years.
A return to health did not mean a return to effectiveness, though, as he posted a 6.38 ERA and 1.563 WHIP over 48 appearances while splitting the season with the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers.
For as poor as his numbers look on the surface, there is some reason for optimism that Feliz can turn things around going forward.
He'll likely have to settle for either a minor league deal or at the very least an incentive-heavy guaranteed contract, so there won't be much risk for whoever signs him.
That makes him the perfect target for a rebuilding team like the Reds, and once they finally pull the trigger on dealing Chapman they could quickly turn their attention to their own in-house bullpen plans.
Cleveland Indians: Trading for CF Marcell Ozuna
To say the Cleveland Indians could use an offensive boost this winter would be an understatement.
Last season, the Indians averaged 4.16 runs per game, 11th in the AL, and finished 13th with 141 home runs. No one on the roster topped 20 long balls, as Carlos Santana led the team with 19 home runs and 85 RBI.
Chances are they won't buck a trend and suddenly spend big on the free-agent market, so a more likely solution to improving the offense would be to flip a pitcher for a controllable young bat.
The team showed interest in Miami Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna at the trade deadline, and that interest has carried over into the offseason, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Ozuna looked like a long-term piece of the puzzle for the Marlins when he hit .269/.317/.455 with 23 home runs and 85 RBI during his age-23 season in 2014.
A lot has changed in the past year, though.
With Ozuna boasting a .249/.301/.337 slash line in early July, the Marlins opted to demote him to Triple-A and he did not take the move well.
He would later say his time in the minors was "like a jail," according to Adam Zuvanich of the Miami Herald, and his name popped up in trade rumors after agent Scott Boras accused the Marlins of keeping him in the minors to delay his arbitration eligibility.
Despite falling out of favor, Ozuna still has legitimate 30-homer potential and that power is something the Indians lineup desperately needs.
More on what acquiring Ozuna might cost when we get to the Miami Marlins portion.
Colorado Rockies: Signing 1B Chris Carter
The Colorado Rockies' decision to non-tender Wilin Rosario and decline their option on Justin Morneau has left the team in search of someone to at the very least split time with Ben Paulsen at first base.
The 28-year-old Paulsen hit .277/.326/.462 with 19 doubles, 11 home runs and 49 RBI in 325 at-bats last season as a surprise contributor for the Rockies.
However, he hit just .235/.289/.265 with zero home runs against left-handed pitching, so at the very least it would appear the team needs to find a right-handed hitting platoon partner.
It just so happens an ideal candidate has recently become available in the form of slugger Chris Carter, who was recently non-tendered himself by the Houston Astros.
Carter has hit just .218 while striking out at a 33.7 percent clip over the past three seasons, but during that span he's clubbed 90 home runs to rank eighth among all players.
He's also been particularly effective against left-handed pitching, posting a .777 OPS against southpaws in his career, so he definitely looks like a fit as a potential platoon partner.
Pitching remains a glaring need for the Rockies, but they'll probably have to settle for signing whatever scraps are left on the free-agent market at the end of the offseason once again.
As far as more immediate potential moves, signing Carter seems like a realistic possibility.
Detroit Tigers: Signing SP Doug Fister
Entering the 2015 season, Doug Fister looked like a lock to receive a qualifying offer this winter.
After all, the 31-year-old was coming off the best season of his career, having gone 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA and 1.079 WHIP to finish sixth in NL Cy Young voting.
Suffice to say, things did not go according to plan in 2015.
Fister missed a month early in the season with a flexor tendon strain, and after going 4-7 with a 4.60 ERA and 1.419 WHIP over 15 starts he was demoted to the bullpen in early August.
A decrease in the velocity on his sinker—his primary offering—may have played a part as it was down from 88.61 mph in 2014 to 86.89 mph in 2015, according to Brooks Baseball.
A full offseason of rest could lead to a return in his velocity, and given his track record he's one of the more intriguing buy-low reclamation projects on the market this offseason.
Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted back on Nov. 18 that the Detroit Tigers were interested in a possible reunion with Fister, who went 32-20 with a 3.29 ERA in parts of three seasons with the Tigers before joining the Nationals.
The Tigers have already made a splash with the signing of Jordan Zimmermann, who will join Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez atop the team's rotation.
As it stands now some combination of Daniel Norris, Michael Fulmer, Matt Boyd and Buck Farmer would likely fill the final two spots, but taking a chance on Fister on a one-year deal to be the No. 4 starter seems like a risk worth taking.
Houston Astros: Trading for RP Ken Giles
After employing a bullpen that ranked dead last in the majors with a 4.80 ERA in 2014, the Houston Astros improved significantly in that area this past season with a 3.27 ERA that checked in at sixth in the league.
While the additions of Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek and Will Harris helped considerably, there is still work to be done on the relief corps, evidenced by their 30 losses and 19 blown saves.
Gregerson was solid in the closer's role, but without elite strikeout stuff he's still better suited pitching in the eighth-inning role.
It comes as no surprise then that the team has been "hell-bent" on acquiring a closer, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.
There are a number of impact closer options on the trade market right now and Joakim Soria is still available as a free agent, but right now the team's attention appears to be on Ken Giles of the Philadelphia Phillies, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.
Giles, 25, has posted a 1.56 ERA, 1.037 WHIP and 151 strikeouts in 115.2 innings of work over 113 career appearances, and he made a smooth transition into the closer's role last season after Jonathan Papelbon was traded.
However, what makes him such an attractive target is the fact that he won't be arbitration-eligible for the first time until after the 2017 season, and he's under team control through 2020.
A young team on the rise like the Astros might be more willing to target a long-term piece like Giles than they are to go after someone like Aroldis Chapman, who is set to reach free agency next winter.
Kansas City Royals: Signing OF Gerardo Parra
It appears the Kansas City Royals have known from the onset of the offseason that there was a very good chance All-Star left fielder Alex Gordon would be taking his talent elsewhere.
"The Royals had their organizational meetings a day after their World Series parade in Kansas City. GM Dayton Moore met with his scouts to go over possible moves for next season. The concern is losing Alex Gordon and Ben Zobrist. The feeling is that Zobrist could re-sign, but Gordon is likely gone," wrote Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe on Nov. 15.
Generally in free agency there is a trickle-down effect of sorts as the top tier of players at each position sets the price for the second tier, and so on.
This year's outfield market has seemingly gone in reverse as the ice has yet to be broken on the top-tier options, but guys like Nori Aoki, Chris Young and Franklin Gutierrez have already make their decisions.
That could continue at the winter meetings with a decision from Gerardo Parra, who may be the best fallback option for teams looking to add an everyday outfield but not willing to spend nine figures on one of the top guys.
The Royals would certainly fit into that category, and at the very least Parra would give them a terrific defender to replace perennial Gold Glove candidate Gordon in left field.
The 28-year-old Parra already has a pair of Gold Glove wins of his own, and he's also coming off a solid offensive season as he hit .291/.328/.452 with 36 doubles, 14 home runs, 51 RBI and 14 steals.
While they may not have the payroll flexibility to offer up a $100 million deal to Gordon, the Royals should be able to sign Parra and still have plenty of money left to address other needs like right field and the starting rotation.
Los Angeles Angels: Signing 2B Daniel Murphy
With holes to plug at second and third base and a clear need for left-handed hitting, Daniel Murphy looks like the perfect offseason target for the Los Angeles Angels.
Ben Zobrist will likely be the first middle infielder to sign this winter, as the market for him has been hot from the start, and once he does a decision from Murphy could quickly follow.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe projected a five-year, $75 million deal for Murphy in October, while Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had him receiving a four-year, $64 million contract at the start of the offseason.
Murphy is not necessarily the middle-of-the-order slugger the team would ideally find to slot between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the lineup, but he's coming off a strong season in which he hit .281/.322/.449 with 38 doubles, 14 home runs and 73 RBI.
Defensively he actually profiles better at third base, as he's always been a below-average second baseman, and with limited options on the market at the hot corner that could be where most teams prefer him.
The Angels have a lot to do this offseason, and trading one of their starters for a bat is not out of the question as they have an abundance of rotation pieces and a clear need for a couple bats.
They could lay the groundwork for such a trade during the meetings, but as far as a deal they pull the trigger on during the four-day event, signing Murphy seems as likely an outcome as any.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Trading for RP Jake McGee
The Los Angeles Dodgers could really use another proven veteran reliever or two after ranking 19th in the league with a 3.91 bullpen ERA last year, and ideally they'd find a right-hander to pair with J.P. Howell in the setup role.
Darren O'Day appears to be the team's top bullpen target at this point, but the Washington Nationals might be the favorites to sign him at this point, per Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington.
As for other targets, the Dodgers have also been linked to Tampa Bay Rays reliever Jake McGee, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.
If the Dodgers do in fact miss out on O'Day, they could quickly turn their attention to a deal for McGee.
While McGee is a left-hander, he actually has better career numbers against righties (.190 BA, .536 OPS) than lefties (.224 BA, .616 OPS) in his career, so he fits what the team is looking for.
The 29-year-old began last season on the disabled list and lost the closer's job to Brad Boxberger as a result, but he still had a terrific year with 19 holds, a 2.41 ERA, 0.938 WHIP and 11.6 K/9 over 39 appearances.
McGee has two remaining years of team control and is projected to earn $4.7 million in arbitration, so while he's relatively expensive for the small-market Rays, he'd be a significantly cheaper alternative to O'Day for the free-spending Dodgers.
Miami Marlins: Trading for SP Trevor Bauer
The Miami Marlins are looking for a solid starting pitcher to slot behind Jose Fernandez in the rotation, and flipping beleaguered outfielder Marcell Ozuna might be the answer to finding one.
Earlier we predicted Ozuna going to the Cleveland Indians, so let's take a look at what the Tribe might have to surrender to acquire the 25-year-old.
It would cost a lot more than Ozuna to land Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar, and the Marlins farm system is relatively thin at this point, but a straight-up swap for Trevor Bauer could be an agreeable deal for both sides.
The No. 3 pick in the 2011 draft, Bauer has yet to live up to his immense potential due in part to control problems. He led the AL with 79 walks at a 4.0 BB/9 clip last season, and carries a career 4.2 BB/9 mark in 362.1 innings of work.
Despite the command issues, he still finished the season at 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA (4.33 FIP), 1.313 WHIP and 170 strikeouts in 176 innings of work, and there's plenty of room for the 24-year-old to improve.
A breakout season could be just around the corner, and with five remaining seasons of team control, he's worth rolling the dice on in exchange for a player who appears to be on the outs.
Milwaukee Brewers: Acquiring Prospects for 1B Adam Lind
It's not out of line to think the Brewers might have been able to get more for Adam Lind at the deadline last year, when there were fewer impact bats on the market compared to this winter's free-agent class.
Still, they should be able to land some quality prospect talent considering his price tag and production this past season.
The 32-year-old hit .277/.360/.460 with 32 doubles, 20 home runs and 87 RBI, and proved to be particularly good in the clutch with a .336 average with runners in scoring position.
He's strictly a platoon player, with a .213/.259/.327 career line against left-handed pitching, but that won't stop teams from lining up to acquire him and his very reasonable $8 million price tag.
We touched on a potential Lind-to-Baltimore trade earlier this week, and predicted that as a landing spot once again here. The projected package included the following players:
- SP David Hess (Orioles' No. 10 prospect, per MLB.com): Hess, 22, went 10-5 with a 3.64 ERA, 1.249 WHIP and 122 strikeouts in 143.1 innings between High-A and Double-A last season. He split his college career between starting and relieving, but has the upside to be a solid future starter.
- C Jonah Heim (Orioles' No. 14 prospect, per MLB.com): The switch-hitter batted .252/.287/.342 with 11 extra-base hits in 155 at-bats this past season and made the jump to Single-A as a 20-year-old. He's already a plus receiver with a strong arm, so at the very least he profiles as a quality backup. He has some offensive potential, though, and could profile as an everyday guy with a step forward at the plate.
Minnesota Twins: Signing RP Antonio Bastardo
With Brian Duensing and Neal Cotts both hitting free agency, the Minnesota Twins really don't have a left-handed reliever who is a lock for next year's bullpen outside of All-Star closer Glen Perkins.
Logan Darnell, Ryan O'Rourke and Mason Melotakis are all in-house options for a bullpen spot currently on the 40-man roster, but none of them has much in the way of a track record of success.
There was some level of expectation around the league that the Twins would make incumbent third baseman Trevor Plouffe available after signing Korean slugger Byung-ho Park, and that they could perhaps use him to acquire some bullpen help.
However, general manager Terry Ryan has said the team intends to keep Plouffe, according to LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune.
As a result, expect the Twins to be active on the free-agent market for relievers, and there's a good chance they'll target either Antonio Bastardo or Tony Sipp, who rank as the top southpaw options available.
While there's still a good chance Sipp re-ups with the Houston Astros, Bastardo looks to be on his way to the highest bidder, and don't be surprised if that's the Twins.
The 30-year-old posted a 2.98 ERA, 1.134 WHIP and 10.0 K/9 while recording nine holds in 66 appearances last season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he has a solid track record of success.
It will likely take a three-year deal, but that's an investment worth making for a Twins team on the rise.
New York Mets: Signing 2B/OF Ben Zobrist
As expected, veteran Ben Zobrist has been one of the most in-demand free agents on the market this winter, and his price tag has continued to climb as a result.
The latest estimate has the 34-year-old seeking a four-year, $60 million deal, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo, and he's quick to note that price could go even higher before all is said and done.
Despite missing some time early with knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, Zobrist still enjoyed a strong 2015 season as he hit .276/.359/.450 with 36 doubles, 13 home runs, 56 RBI and 76 runs scored.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that there is said to be as many as 20 teams in the mix to sign Zobrist, but the one to keep an eye on right now appears to be the New York Mets.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports tweeted on Nov. 29 that Zobrist has been identified as the No. 1 target for the Mets, and the team clearly needs to do something to address the offensive void left by the departures of Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy.
However, the sticking point could be that fourth year, as Adam Rubin of ESPN reports that the Mets are unlikely to go beyond three years as of now.
The Mets are at a crossroads of sorts right now as far as their 2016 outlook is concerned, and what they do at the winter meetings could determine what direction they're headed this coming season.
As things currently stand, this team doesn't look to have the offense to be a serious threat to repeat as NL champs, and pulling the trigger on signing Zobrist would be a sign the team is committed to doing what it takes to get back to the World Series.
New York Yankees: Signing RP Ryan Madson
Keeping with the theme that relief pitching could be a hot topic of the winter meetings, expect the New York Yankees to be targeting some of the top bullpen arms on the market as well.
On more than one occasion, we've pointed to finding a right-handed bullpen arm to help take some pressure off Dellin Betances as the New York Yankees' biggest offseason need.
Betances has been nothing short of dominant the past two seasons, but he's also piled up 174 innings of work in the process, the most by any players who did not start a game.
The Yankees have a trio of solid left-handed options in Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson and Andrew Miller, but finding another reliable right-hander figures to be at or near the top of their to-do list this winter.
Once the dominoes start falling on the reliever market, they could quickly get involved, and one player that could be a fit is Ryan Madson.
The 35-year-old pitched in the big leagues for the first time since 2011 this past year, as injuries had derailed his career.
He returned in a big way, tallying 20 holds and three saves with a 2.13 ERA, 0.963 WHIP and 8.2 K/9 over 68 appearances as a key piece of the Kansas City Royals bullpen.
In the four seasons prior to his prolonged absence, Madson posted a 2.86 ERA, 1.177 WHIP and 8.9 K/9 in 272 appearances, so assuming he stays healthy moving forward he has the track record to support his stats this past season.
Oakland Athletics: Acquiring Prospects for 3B Brett Lawrie
Following the Oakland Athletics' move to re-acquire Jed Lowrie from the Houston Astros, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the team would likely look to move either Brett Lawrie or Danny Valencia before the offseason was over.
Here's exactly what she had to say:
Both are drawing interest from American League teams, according to big-league sources, but Lawrie, obtained in the Josh Donaldson deal with Toronto last winter, is considered the better bet to be traded: He can play second and third well, he has an enormous amount of natural ability and he turns 26 in January.
The prediction here is that Lawrie will wind up dealt to the Chicago White Sox, so let's take a look at what a potential return package might look like.
- SP Tyler Danish (White Sox's No. 7 prospect, per MLB.com): Danish, 21, was a second-round pick in the 2013 draft and he's steadily progressed through the White Sox farm system. In a full year at Double-A this past season, he went 8-12 with a 4.50 ERA, 1.655 WHIP and 90 strikeouts in 142 innings. He has legitimate middle-of-the-rotation upside and some scouts see him as "a bulldog in the mold of Jake Peavy," though he is a bit undersized at 6'0".
- OF Adam Engel (White Sox's No. 17 prospect, per MLB.com): A 19th-round pick in 2013 after he flashed terrific athleticism but didn't put up the best numbers during his time at Louisville, Engel is still a work in progress. The 23-year-old hit .251/.335/.369 with 39 extra-base hits and 65 steals in 529 at-bats at the High-A level this past season, then followed that up by hitting .403/.523/.642 with 12 extra-base hits in 67 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League.
Philadelphia Phillies: Trading for SP Vincent Velasquez, Prospects
With our earlier prediction of Ken Giles going to the Houston Astros, let's now take a look at who the Philadelphia Phillies could potentially add to the mix as they continue the rebuilding process and look for all the young talent they can get their hands on.
According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the Phillies inquired about young starters Lance McCullers and Vincent Velasquez in recent discussions involving Giles.
There's no chance the Astros agree to a deal involving McCullers, as the 22-year-old looked like a future front-line starter at times this past season on his way to going 6-7 with a 3.22 ERA, 1.186 WHIP and 129 strikeouts in 125.2 innings as a rookie.
However, a deal for the 23-year-old Velasquez could be a possibility, considering how insistent the Astros appear to be on landing a closer and the fact that Giles comes with five years of team control remaining.
Velasquez shot up prospect rankings after a breakout 2014 season saw him go 7-5 with a 3.53 ERA, 1.178 WHIP and 91 strikeouts in 63.2 innings.
He made the jump to Double-A this past season and was flat-out dominant with a 1.91 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 33 innings before making the jump to the majors.
In seven starts and 12 relief appearances for the Astros he had a 4.37 ERA, 1.275 WHIP and 58 strikeouts in 55.2 innings, and there is some belief that he himself could be a solid bullpen piece if he were to make that transition.
The opportunity to land one of the best young bullpen arms in the game and a long-term answer at the back of the bullpen could be enough for the Phillies to pry him away, and such a deal could very well happen at the winter meetings.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Signing SP Justin Masterson
Remember when Justin Masterson went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA, 1.202 WHIP and 195 strikeouts in 193 innings to earn a spot on the AL All-Star team back in 2013?
He looked like a safe bet to command a contract north of $100 million heading into his contract year in 2014, but then the wheels fell off and his ERA climbed to 5.88 in a season split between the Indians and Cardinals.
The right-hander wound up settling for a one-year, $9.5 million deal with the Boston Red Sox last winter, and it was more of the same as he posted a 5.61 ERA in 59.1 innings of work before being released on Aug. 19.
Injuries have played a role in his struggles, as a knee injury derailed him in 2014 and it was shoulder troubles this past year.
However, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, he is "expected to finally be 100 percent for 2016" and having his shoulder cleaned up.
The 30-year-old will have to settle for another one-year deal as he looks to prove he's healthy, and the Pittsburgh Pirates are interested, according to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Truthfully, there may be no better place for him to get his career back on track than in Pittsburgh under the tutelage of pitching guru Ray Searage.
The Pirates have a terrific track record in recent years of helping turn struggling pitchers back into solid contributors, with guys like Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, A.J. Burnett, Vance Worley, J.A. Happ, Mark Melancon and Joe Blanton all finding success in Pittsburgh.
The team has already taken a flier on former top prospect Allen Webster this winter, and they could add Masterson to the mix to compete with him for the No. 5 starter gig.
San Diego Padres: Signing SS Ian Desmond
The combination of Clint Barmes and Alexi Amarista at shortstop did not make for a pretty offensive season at the position for the San Diego Padres this past year.
Those two, along with a few scattered starts from Jedd Gyorko and Will Middlebrooks at the position, posted a .228/.279/.365 line with 14 home runs and 57 RBI.
The shortstop market is relatively thin, with Ian Desmond ranking as the top option by far. Behind him, Asdrubal Cabrera is a decent mid-level starter, while veterans Alexei Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins are far removed from their respective primes.
So if the Padres are looking to make a splash at the position, Desmond would seem to be the likely target, and they've expressed interest, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
After a rough first half, Desmond rebounded nicely and looked very much like the player who had three straight 20/20 seasons in the second half.
The 30-year-old hit .262/.331/.446 with 10 doubles and 12 home runs after the All-Star break, and that could be enough for the Padres to simply chalk up his first-half struggles as a fluke.
He won't come cheap, but he also won't be nearly as expensive as he would have been had he hit the market last offseason, and there's a chance he winds up being a solid value.
It will be interesting to see how the shortstop market unfolds, simply because there are very few options and also very few teams with a glaring need. At this point, though, Desmond-to-San Diego looks like an obvious fit.
San Francisco Giants: Signing SP Johnny Cueto
Our prediction on Thursday was that the team that missed out on signing Zack Greinke between the Dodgers and Giants would quickly turn their attention to the top remaining starter on the market in Johnny Cueto.
So here's further predicting that it will be the Giants left scrambling when Greinke re-ups with the Dodgers.
Greinke is expected to make a decision by the end of the week, so things could move quickly with Cueto once that decision comes out of sheer desperation on the part of the losing bidder.
Cueto recently turned down a six-year, $120 million offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com.
That was followed by a report from Jerry Crasnick of ESPN that Cueto is seeking somewhere in the $140 million-$160 million range.
The 29-year-old struggled a bit down the stretch with the Royals last season, but he turned in a pair of terrific starts in the postseason and still finished 11-13 with a 3.44 ERA, 1.132 WHIP and 176 strikeouts in 212 innings during the regular season.
That came on the heels of a brilliant 2014 season where he went 20-9 with a 2.25 ERA, 0.960 WHIP and 242 strikeouts in 243.2 innings to finish second in NL Cy Young voting.
Mike Leake, Scott Kazmir, Jeff Samardzija, John Lackey, Wei-Yin Chen, Ian Kennedy and Yovani Gallardo are are all solid second-tier options.
However, for a Giants team in serious need of a second front-line arm to pair with Madison Bumgarner and lacking the prospect talent to pull off a major trade, Cueto looks like their last, best hope if they miss out on Greinke.
Seattle Mariners: Re-Signing SP Hisashi Iwakuma
It's been a busy offseason already for the Seattle Mariners under new GM Jerry Dipoto, as they've been active both in free agency and on the trade market.
New to the team already are the likes of Nate Karns, Joaquin Benoit, Nori Aoki, Chris Iannetta, Leonys Martin, Steve Clevenger, Luis Sardinas, Anthony Bass and Justin De Fratus.
However, the focus at the winter meetings might be on bringing back a key piece from last year's team.
According to Jim Bowden of ESPN all the way back on Sept. 30, Dipoto indicated that re-signing starter Hisashi Iwakuma would be a priority this offseason.
That stance was reaffirmed in recent days by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, though he noted at this point that the team only appears to be willing to go to $24 million over two years.
The 34-year-old Iwakuma struggled early this past season and missed time with a lat injury, but he rounded into form nicely to go 8-4 with a 3.05 ERA and 1.017 WHIP in the second half.
In his four seasons in Seattle, the right-hander has gone 47-25 with a 3.17 ERA, 1.082 WHIP and he's turned in a quality start a rock-solid 63 percent of the time.
As long as his terrific splitter doesn't suddenly stop "splitting," so to speak, there's no reason Iwakuma can't continue to be an effective starter into his late 30s.
St. Louis Cardinals: Signing 1B Pedro Alvarez
Chances are we won't have a decision from star outfielder Jason Heyward until well after the winter meetings, but don't expect the St. Louis Cardinals to simply sit on their hands in the meantime.
This is purely speculation, but the team could have some interest in Pirates castoff Pedro Alvarez.
There is a clear need for more power on the Cardinals roster, as their .394 slugging percentage this past season ranked 23rd in the majors and represented the second consecutive season they had slugged under .400 as a club.
Alvarez may not seem like a clear fit for the Cardinals on the surface, as the team already has a pair of left-handed hitting first basemen in Matt Adams and Brandon Moss.
However, Moss is still a candidate to be dealt before he's set to earn a projected $7.9 million in arbitration and Adams has not progressed as hoped in terms of his power production.
If nothing else, Alvarez could fill the role previously occupied by Mark Reynolds in backing up both first and third base and providing power off the bench at a reasonable price.
The 28-year-old Alvarez has hit .238/.310/.456 over the past four seasons, and while his defense at both corners is below average, he's launched 111 home runs during that span to rank 11th among all players.
At the end of the day, the Cardinals may simply want to sign the slugger simply so they don't have to face him.
For his career, Alvarez has posted an .822 OPS with 16 doubles, 18 home runs and 58 RBI in 299 at-bats against the Cardinals.
That includes a .273/.348/.522 line with 10 doubles and 10 home runs in 161 at-bats in Busch Stadium, and that past success could certainly play a role in the team's decision to target him.
Tampa Bay Rays: Acquiring Prospects for RP Jake McGee
The Tampa Bay Rays have seen no shortage of interest on relievers Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger this offseason, and there's a good chance at least one of those pitcher will be moved during the winter meetings.
Meanwhile, Boxberger is still a year away from reaching arbitration, meaning he has four years of team control remaining.
For the small-market Rays, that makes Boxberger incredibly valuable, so unless they are blown away with an offer for him chances are it will be McGee who is dealt this winter.
Earlier we predicted the Los Angeles Dodgers to deal for McGee as their big splash of the winter meeting, so let's look at who could be a potential return for the Rays.
Let's start with 1B/OF Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers' No. 9 prospect, per MLB.com.
The 20-year-old Bellinger hit .264/.336/.538 with 33 doubles, 30 home runs and 103 RBI over 478 at-bats, and he recently checked in as the No. 5 prospect in the Dodgers system, according to Baseball America.
For the Rays, he'd represent offensive potential for a team that desperately needs it.
The team already has Casey Gillaspie and Richie Shaffer as first base/designated hitter-type prospects, but Bellinger has a higher ceiling than both of them, and that's not a bad problem to have for a team that has struggled to score runs at times.
Bellinger makes the most sense as a high-end prospect target, but the Rays have been known to dig deeper when it comes to trades, so a deal for a pair of low-level prospects with upside could be their preferred route.
If that's the case, keep an eye on right-hander Scott Barlow, second baseman Willie Calhoun and outfielders Jordan Paroubeck and Jacob Scavuzzo, who all had strong seasons in the low minors after entering the year without much fanfare.
Texas Rangers: Re-Signing SP Yovani Gallardo
Yovani Gallardo is one pitcher who could see his market take shape at the winter meetings after a relatively quiet offseason to this point, and at the end of the day a reunion with the Texas Rangers may be his best option.
After turning down a qualifying offer, teams may be hesitant to part with a draft pick to sign Gallardo, who had a solid season with the Rangers this past year but has shown some troubling trends in recent years.
His FIP has climbed each of the past three seasons (3.89, 3.94, 4.00), while his strikeout rate has declined over that same span (7.2 K/9, 6.8 K/9, 5.9 K/9) and he's clearly a different pitcher than the one who posted four consecutive 200-strikeout seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Still, for a Rangers team that will feature the likes of Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Martin Perez in the rotation he won't be asked to be anything more than a solid middle-of-the-rotation innings eater.
If the draft pick compensation proves to be a sticking point for other teams, Gallardo could quickly opt to simply return to a Rangers team that is expected to contend for the AL pennant once again in 2016.
Toronto Blue Jays: Signing RP Joakim Soria
The Toronto Blue Jays could still look to add another starting pitcher, despite signing J.A. Happ and trading for Jesse Chavez, but their focus during the winter meetings figures to be on shoring up the bullpen.
There's also good chance the team returns Aaron Sanchez to a starting role at some point, and if they do it would mean robbing the bullpen of its top setup arm in the process.
With that in mind, expect the team to target a proven eighth inning arm to bridge the gap to standout closer Roberto Osuna, and one name they've been linked to is Joakim Soria.
That according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, who also notes that the Royals have shown interest in the 31-year-old former All-Star.
Soria began the 2015 season as the Detroit Tigers closer, converting 23-of-26 save chances with a 2.85 ERA before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He stepped into a setup role in Pittsburgh, and all told he wrapped up the season with a 2.53 ERA, 1.094 WHIP and 8.5 K/9 over a career-high 72 appearances.
While other teams may be willing to offer up a chance for him to close games, few teams can offer up a better chance to win than the Blue Jays, so that is certainly a chip in their favor.
Washington Nationals: Signing RP Darren O'Day
As the top bullpen arm on the free-agent market this winter, Darren O'Day has seen no shortage of interest from teams here in the early stages of the offseason.
On the surface, though, it appears the list of suitors has been narrowed to two.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweeted on Nov. 22 that the Washington Nationals had joined the Los Angeles Dodgers as the front-runners to sign O'Day, and those two teams still appear to be at the head of the pack to secure his services.
In fact, according to one outlet, the Nationals might actually be considered the favorites.
"According to a source familiar with O’Day’s thinking, the veteran right-hander has mutual interest in the Nationals, owing in part to the fact his wife (Elizabeth Prann) is a Washington-based reporter for Fox News Channel," wrote Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington.
The 33-year-old is coming off a fantastic season serving in a setup role for the Baltimore Orioles, as he posted a 1.52 ERA, 0.934 WHIP and 11.3 K/9 over 68 appearances to earn a spot on the AL All-Star team.
That standout performance was nothing new, though, as he logged a 1.92 ERA, 0.939 WHIP and 9.7 K/9 in 273 appearances over the past four seasons in Baltimore.
O'Day is said to be seeking a four-year deal in the $28 million-$36 million range, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
For a Nationals team in serious need of a bullpen overhaul and with legitimate hopes of contending in 2016, that a price worth paying.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.