1 Perfect Remaining Offseason Move for Each of MLB's 30 Teams
The MLB winter meetings have come and gone with no shortage of excitement, but there are still several notable free agents left unsigned and holes to be filled on all 30 rosters around the league.
Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo, Jose Bautista, Matt Wieters, Mike Napoli, Michael Saunders, Rajai Davis, Welington Castillo, Brandon Moss and Chase Utley are among the top position players still searching for a new home.
Meanwhile, the starting pitching market still features the likes of Ivan Nova, Jason Hammel, Doug Fister, Colby Lewis, Travis Wood and intriguing bounce-back candidate Tyson Ross.
The closer market has played out but there are still several impact relievers as well, headlined by Brad Ziegler, Neftali Feliz, Jerry Blevins, Boone Logan, Mike Dunn, Daniel Hudson, Sergio Romo, Joe Blanton and another intriguing injury returnee in Greg Holland.
So with all of those capable contributors still looking for a new contract, let's take an updated look at one potentially perfect target for all 30 MLB teams.
Some targets are potential trade candidates, but most are remaining free agents. Some target suggestions are based on rumors of team interest, while others are purely speculative.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Sign RP David Hernandez
Heading into the winter meetings, the Arizona Diamondbacks were looking to add "multiple relievers" before the offseason was over, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
Veteran Fernando Rodney has since been signed to an incentive-laden one-year, $2.75 million deal to serve as the team's closer.
However, further depth is still needed to join Randall Delgado and Jake Barrett in bridging the gap to the ninth inning.
One player the team could consider to fill that void is a familiar face in right-hander David Hernandez.
Hernandez, 31, spent last season with the Philadelphia Phillies where he posted a 3.84 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings with 15 holds over 70 appearances.
Prior to joining the Phillies, he spent the previous five seasons as a member of the Diamondbacks' organization.
That included a brilliant 2012 season where he pitched to a 2.50 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 12.9 K/9 with 25 holds while setting up J.J. Putz.
A one-year deal in the $2 million to $3 million neighborhood may be all it takes to facilitate a reunion.
Atlanta Braves: Sign RP Javier Lopez
With four World Series titles and a successful 14-year career under his belt, Javier Lopez appears content to hang it up this offseason.
The 39-year-old is still open to the idea of returning for another year under the right circumstances, though.
According to Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area, those circumstances would be for an East Coast team to make him a "great offer," allowing him to stay close to his home in Georgia.
It just so happens that the in-state Atlanta Braves have a clear need for another left-handed reliever in their bullpen.
As it stands, Ian Krol (63 G, 10 HLD, 3.18 ERA) is the only lefty reliever on the 40-man roster, with veteran Eric O'Flaherty also slated to be in camp as a non-roster invitee.
Lopez did not have his best season by any stretch in 2016, pitching to a 4.05 ERA and 1.46 WHIP while posting identical strikeout and walk rates of 5.1 per nine innings.
Much of that was due to overexposure against right-handed hitting, though.
He held lefties to a .208 average and .626 OPS in 90 plate appearances. As long as he's limited to a LOOGY role, he can still be an effective bullpen piece and a valuable veteran presence.
Baltimore Orioles: Sign C Nick Hundley
Just a few days ago, Welington Castillo appeared to be the Baltimore Orioles' top target in their search for a new starting catcher.
Things can change quickly during the MLB offseason, though, as Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com reported:
A few days after free-agent catcher Welington Castillo emerged as the Orioles’ primary offseason target to replace Matt Wieters, it now appears that the club’s chances of securing Castillo’s services are waning.
Castillo has multi-year offers from multiple teams, and it is now “more likely” that he’ll sign somewhere besides Baltimore, according to an industry source.
So where does that leave the Orioles?
Earlier this offseason, it was reported by Connolly that the Orioles "definitely have an interest" in a potential reunion with veteran catcher Nick Hundley.
The 33-year-old spent the second half of the 2014 season in Baltimore before joining the Colorado Rockies on a two-year, $6.25 million deal.
He hit .282/.330/.455 over the course of those two seasons while averaging 20 doubles, 10 home runs and 46 RBI, and he looks like a viable stopgap option for the O's until top prospect Chance Sisco is ready to take over.
Boston Red Sox: Find a Taker for SP Clay Buchholz
One of the more intriguing decisions in the early days of the offseason was whether the Boston Red Sox would exercise their $13.5 million option on starter Clay Buchholz.
The 32-year-old struggled mightily to open the 2016 season, going 2-5 with a 6.35 ERA over his first 10 starts to lose his spot in the starting rotation and put his future with the team in question.
However, he was 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 58.2 innings after the All-Star break, including a strong month of September in which he rejoined the rotation and went 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA and four quality starts in five games.
That was enough for Boston to exercise the option, but that's no guarantee he'll be wearing a Red Sox uniform when Opening Day arrives.
New acquisition Chris Sale will join Rick Porcello and David Price atop the rotation, leaving Buchholz to battle Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz for the two remaining spots in the rotation and likely one bullpen slot.
With that abundance of options, it's no surprise the Red Sox have been fielding offers for their starters and the team appears to be prioritizing moving Buchholz over the others, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
Landing a mid-level prospect and shedding a good chunk of that $13.5 million salary would be a welcome move for the Red Sox as it would help bring some clarity to the rotation situation.
Chicago Cubs: Sign RP Boone Logan
Finding a quality left-handed setup reliever appears to be the only box still unchecked on the Chicago Cubs' offseason to-do list.
Veteran Brian Duensing was signed to a one-year, $2 million deal and rookie Rob Zastryzny pitched well in limited action last season, but both profile better as the second lefty option as opposed to working in high-leverage spots.
Jerry Blevins, Boone Logan and Mike Dunn are the top remaining options on the free-agent market, with Logan perhaps the most appealing of that group for the Cubs.
The 32-year-old posted a 3.69 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 11.1 K/9 last season while pitching for the Colorado Rockies and may be able to be had for slightly less than what Blevins will command after he posted better numbers.
That being said, Logan was pitching half of his games in Coors Field and has a more impressive track record, albeit with some bumps along the way.
A two-year, $12 million deal seems more than reasonable to address the team's most glaring need.
Chicago White Sox: Trade SP Jose Quintana for a Huge Return
The Chicago White Sox walked away as one of the big winners of the winter meetings after landing a wealth of prospect talent in exchange for ace Chris Sale and outfielder Adam Eaton.
More wheeling and dealing is expected before the offseason is over.
Several players are candidates to be the next out the door—including closer David Robertson, third baseman Todd Frazier and outfielder Melky Cabrera—but there's little question the team's most valuable remaining trade chip is left-hander Jose Quintana.
The 27-year-old was 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 181 strikeouts in 208 innings to finish 10th in AL Cy Young voting in 2016. That marked the fourth consecutive season he's amassed 200 innings with an ERA under 3.60.
He also has one of the most team-friendly deals in all of baseball with four years and $36.85 million remaining on his current contract.
According to baseball reporter Peter Gammons, the White Sox asked for right-handers Joe Musgrove and Francis Martes and outfielder Kyle Tucker in talks with the Houston Astros regarding Quintana.
Whether it's a trade with the Astros or someone else, picking up a return package of that sort would further bolster a farm system on the rise and serve as another big step in the team's rebuilding efforts.
Cincinnati Reds: Find a Taker for SS Zack Cozart
Alexi Amarista...Erick Aybar...Alexei Ramirez...Jimmy Rollins.
It's not exactly a stellar list of options for teams looking to add a shortstop on this year's free-agent market.
That could make Zack Cozart an appealing buy-low trade target as the Cincinnati Reds look to clear a path for young infielder Jose Peraza.
Cozart is projected to earn a modest $4.7 million in his final year of arbitration and an impressive first-half performance last season gives some hope that he's worth targeting.
Always a strong defender, the 31-year-old posted a .799 OPS with 22 doubles and 14 home runs prior to the All-Star break as he appeared to be on his way to a breakout season offensively.
His OPS dipped to .603 OPS after the All-Star break, though, and he tallied just nine extra-base hits while battling a knee injury.
Meanwhile, Peraza hit .324/.352/.411 with 13 extra-base hits and 21 stolen bases in 256 plate appearances and the team has already committed to giving him regular playing time in 2017, according to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Unloading Cozart, even if it's for a minimal return and some salary relief, makes sense for the Reds given the current direction of the franchise.
Cleveland Indians: Sign 1B Edwin Encarnacion
With an intact and fully healthy starting rotation—Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar were non-factors during the postseason—and All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley finally expected to be healthy, it can be argued that the Cleveland Indians are already an improved team.
There is still a rather significant void to fill at first base, though, with Mike Napoli reaching free agency.
Napoli proved to be a fantastic bargain on a one-year, $7 million contract, posting an .800 OPS with 34 home runs and 110 RBI while providing valuable veteran leadership.
While a reunion with Napoli is still a very real possibility, the Indians might have their sights set on something bigger in the form of Edwin Encarnacion.
The Tribe reportedly had some "traction" in contract talks with Encarnacion during the winter meetings, according to Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com.
Encarnacion, 33, turned down a four-year, $80 million offer from the Toronto Blue Jays at the start of the offseason, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. He hasn't been able to find anything close to that on the open market.
In fact, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, his market "cratered" during the winter meetings with no one even willing to go as high as $60 million over three years.
If that continues to be the case, the small-market Indians could go all-in on the upcoming season by making what would likely be the largest free-agent signing in franchise history.
The four-year, $56 million deal given to Nick Swisher prior to the 2013 season currently holds that distinction.
Colorado Rockies: Sign RP Brad Ziegler
The Colorado Rockies have a chance to surprise some people in 2017, with a high-powered offense and a starting rotation on the rise. First they need to address the bullpen, though.
The Colorado relief corps ranked last in the majors with a 5.13 ERA this past season, converting just 37 of 65 save chances along the way.
The front office showed a willingness to spend on the bullpen last winter when the team signed Jason Motte (two years, $10 million) and Chad Qualls (two years, $6 million), while also acquiring Jake McGee from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson.
There's more work to be done, though.
According to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, the Rockies have shown interest in veteran reliever Brad Ziegler, and GM Jeff Bridich had nothing but good things to say about the 37-year-old.
"He's certainly a good pitcher, and with how many times we've seen him and faced him, we feel like we know him real well," Bridich told Harding. "The way he operates, the unconventional can really work for him, and it doesn't matter where he pitches. I understand why his name keeps popping up."
While several contenders are targeting Ziegler to serve in a setup role, the Rockies can offer him a chance to close and his extreme ground-ball tendencies would play well in Coors Field.
Among pitchers with at least 40 innings of work in 2016, Ziegler ranked seventh with a 63.3 percent ground-ball rate, according to FanGraphs.
Detroit Tigers: Trade RP Justin Wilson for a Quality Prospect
It's been a quiet offseason so far for the Detroit Tigers, perhaps because they now appear to be in a better position in the AL Central after watching the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals move key pieces.
However, there's still a chance they could be active sellers on the trade market as they look to shed some payroll and add young talent to a relatively barren farm system.
Outfielder J.D. Martinez looks like an obvious trade candidate, though his market has been slow to develop with numerous right-handed power bats on the market.
Instead, it's lefty reliever Justin Wilson who could be the first to be dealt after generating significant interest at the winter meetings.
"The Tigers took calls about Justin Wilson and (Shane) Greene at the winter meetings. They're more apt to deal Wilson because his salary—and perhaps his value—are higher," wrote Evan Woodbery of MLive.com.
The 29-year-old posted a 4.14 ERA over 66 appearances last season, with strong peripheral numbers.
His 3.18 FIP is a good indication of some positive regression to come and his 2.6 BB/9 and 10.0 K/9 both represented career bests over a full season. He also proved himself capable in high-leverage situations, tallying 25 holds.
Considering the current market for quality left-handed relievers and the fact that Wilson has two years of team control remaining, the Tigers should be able to flip him for a decent return.
Landing a prospect good enough to assume a spot within the organization's top 10 would be a realistic goal.
Houston Astros: Acquire SP Jose Quintana
The Houston Astros have a bevy of starting pitching options for the upcoming season, but with Dallas Keuchel regressing from his 2015 Cy Young form, they are lacking a bona fide ace.
Here's a look at their current rotation spots:
- Keuchel (26 GS, 9-12, 4.55 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 144 K, 168.0 IP)
- Lance McCullers (14 GS, 6-5, 3.22 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 106 K, 81.0 IP)
- Collin McHugh (33 GS, 13-10, 4.34 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 177 K, 184.2 IP)
- Mike Fiers (30 GS, 11-8, 4.48 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 134 K, 168.2 IP)
- Charlie Morton (4 GS, 1-1, 4.15 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 19 K, 17.1 IP)
- Joe Musgrove (10 GS, 4-4, 4.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 55 K, 62.0 IP)
- Chris Devenski (48/5 G/GS, 4-4, 2.16 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 104 K, 108.1 IP)
That's to say nothing of prospects David Paulino and Brady Rodgers, who both saw their first taste of MLB action last season, as well as Francis Martes, who is expected to debut at some point in 2017 and currently ranks as the team's No. 1 prospect, per Baseball America.
Jose Quintana appears to be the most readily available front-line starter available on the market and he'd be a great fit atop the Astros' rotation.
Baseball reporter Peter Gammons tweeted that the White Sox asked for Martes and Musgrove as well as outfielder Kyle Tucker when the Astros inquired.
That's a ton to give up for Quintana—a very good pitcher, but more of a second-tier guy than a true top-flight ace.
However, a deal where Paulino is substituted for Martes or Derek Fisher is substituted for Tucker would be one worth making for the Astros and still a worthwhile move for the White Sox as well.
Kansas City Royals: Extend SP Danny Duffy
The Kansas City Royals are gauging interest in left-hander Danny Duffy as they continue to search for controllable talent and payroll relief, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.
Duffy began last season pitching out of the bullpen where he made 16 appearances before joining the starting rotation on May 15.
He wound up being the team's best starter the rest of the way.
The 27-year-old went 12-3 with a 3.56 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 167 strikeouts in 161.2 innings over 26 starts, including a dominant showing against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 1 where he allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out 16 over eight innings.
Even with free agency looming next offseason, Duffy would fetch a handsome return for a Royals team in serious need of an influx of prospect talent.
However, the Royals are also considering making him a long-term piece of the puzzle, with Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reporting in early November that the Royals have begun "preliminary talks" about a possible extension.
Given his age and the fact that he has just 623 MLB innings on his arm, Duffy looks like a wise player to invest in for a Royals team that has to be careful about how it allocates funds.
Los Angeles Angels: C Matt Wieters
The Los Angeles Angels already have one new face at the catcher's position.
Veteran Martin Maldonado was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for fellow catcher Jett Bandy on Tuesday, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Maldonado is a career .217/.299/.342 hitter who has never seen more than 256 plate appearances in a season, though, so it's probably safe to assume the team is still in the market for a primary backstop.
Carlos Perez is currently the only other catcher on the 40-man roster and he hit an abysmal .209/.244/.325 over 291 plate appearances last season.
Looking at the Angels' offense, the lineup is still extremely unbalanced.
The team's projected Opening Day roster, courtesy of Roster Resource, features just three players—left-handed hitting Kole Calhoun and switch-hitters Danny Espinosa and Cliff Pennington—who are not right-handed hitters.
That could make switch-hitting Matt Wieters an appealing target.
Wieters has seen his market develop slowly this winter, due in part to a poor showing as a pitch-framer, but he'd be a welcome addition to the lineup and does a good job handling a staff.
The 30-year-old posted a .711 OPS with 17 home runs and 66 RBI last season while making his fourth All-Star appearance and putting up a 1.7 WAR in 124 games.
If he can be had on a three-year deal the Angels would be wise to jump at the chance to add him to an already improved roster.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Acquire RF Ryan Braun
The Los Angeles Dodgers are somewhat lacking in overall power, having finished 17th in the majors with 189 home runs as a team.
Yasmani Grandal and Justin Turner tied for the team lead with 27 each. Finding a right-handed power bat to slot between Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez would add some nice balance to the middle of the lineup.
With that in mind, it might be time to revisit trade talks with the Milwaukee Brewers for Ryan Braun.
A deal nearly went down in August that would have sent Yasiel Puig, Brandon McCarthy and prospects to the Brewers in exchange for Braun, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today providing the full details.
It still looks like a move that could potentially benefit both teams and the two sides "vowed to revisit the talks again this winter," according to Nightengale.
Re-signing the free-agent trio of Kenley Jansen, Rich Hill and Turner has been the team's No. 1 priority since the start of the offseason. With Turner joining the other two in re-upping with the Dodgers, per Jim Bowden of ESPN, they can now turn their attention elsewhere.
Second base and the setup role are still two areas that need to be addressed, but making a move for the 33-year-old Braun or another right-handed slugger could be next on the to-do list.
Miami Marlins: Sign RP Neftali Feliz
With limited starting pitching options worth spending big on and an unwillingness to move guys like Marcell Ozuna or J.T. Realmuto, the Miami Marlins instead turned their attention to further upgrading an already solid relief corps.
Closer Kenley Jansen was the team's No. 1 target from the onset and they made every attempt to sign him, offering a five-year deal in excess of $80 million during the winter meetings, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
In the end, Jansen ended up re-signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, though, and now the Marlins are set to turn their attention elsewhere.
Who might take over as the team's top target?
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com identified Neftali Feliz as one player who could serve as a Plan B while the club was still waiting on a decision from Jansen.
A budding star with the Texas Rangers when he saved 72 games over his first two seasons and won AL Rookie of the Year in 2010, Feliz saw his career sidetracked by injuries in subsequent seasons.
Finally healthy this past season, the Pittsburgh Pirates took a chance on him with a one-year, $3.9 million deal and he quickly emerged as the team's top right-handed setup man.
The 28-year-old posted a 3.52 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 10.2 K/9 with 29 holds in 62 appearances, positioning himself near the top of the second tier of available relievers this winter.
With tier one now tapped out, there will be plenty of teams making a push to sign Feliz, so the Marlins would be wise to move quickly.
Milwaukee Brewers: Sign RP J.P. Howell
This won't be the offseason where the rebuilding Milwaukee Brewers look to add any significant pieces.
That doesn't preclude them from making a few lower-level signings to fill out the roster, though, and adding a left-handed reliever figures to be a priority.
As it stands, Brent Suter is the only lefty reliever on the 40-man roster and he made his MLB debut last August with a 3.32 ERA and 1.39 WHIP over 14 appearances.
Given the way the market has played out this offseason, guys like Jerry Blevins, Boone Logan and Mike Dunn will likely wind up outside of the Brewers' preferred price range.
J.P. Howell could be a good fit, though.
The 33-year-old is coming off a mediocre 2016 season and is only seeking a one-year deal, according to Buster Olney of ESPN, but he could prove to be one of the best bargains of the winter.
Howell logged a 4.09 ERA and 1.40 WHIP over 64 appearances this past season and eventually wound up bumped from the lefty setup role in favor of rookie Grant Dayton.
However, in the three seasons prior, he posted a combined 1.97 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 8.2 K/9 while going 13-5 with 48 holds in 200 appearances.
That makes him the perfect upside play for the Brewers. He fills an immediate need and could also serve as a valuable trade chip come July if he bounces back.
Minnesota Twins: Sign RP Drew Storen
Who will fill the ninth-inning role for the Minnesota Twins in 2017?
All-Star closer Glen Perkins is still working his way back from surgery in June to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.
The team is optimistic he'll be ready for the start of spring training, per Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press, but that's no guarantee he can jump right back into the role.
Brandon Kintzler filled in admirably this past season, converting 17 of 20 save chances with a 3.15 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 54 appearances, but it doesn't appear the team is planning on returning him to that role in 2017.
"We have somebody on our roster, Brandon Kintzler, who stepped in and did a nice job in 2016," assistant GM Rob Antony told Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. "I’m not sure we see him as a closer. I don’t think we’ve penciled in anybody."
That makes former closer and bounce-back candidate Drew Storen a logical target.
The 29-year-old saved 29 games with a 3.44 ERA and 11.0 K/9 in 2015, but he struggled mightily after being traded to the Blue Jays last offseason, posting a 6.21 ERA in 38 games with Toronto.
He was traded to the Seattle Mariners at the deadline and was able to right the ship down the stretch, pitching to a 3.44 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 19 appearances with his new team.
On a one-year deal with some incentives for saves, Storen looks like a good fit.
New York Mets: Re-Sign RP Jerry Blevins
With Yoenis Cespedes re-signed to a long-term deal and Neil Walker accepting his qualifying offer, the most important remaining free agent for the New York Mets is undoubtedly lefty reliever Jerry Blevins.
The 33-year-old made a career-high 73 appearances last season while logging a 2.79 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 11.1 K/9 with two saves and 16 holds.
He re-signed with the Mets last offseason on a one-year, $4 million deal, and another reunion could be in the works.
As Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported, the Mets are looking to add multiple relievers, including two lefties. He also specifically identified Blevins as a target, though it's fair to assume he won't come nearly as cheap this time around.
Brett Cecil set the market for quality left-handed relievers when he inked a four-year, $30.5 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals earlier this offseason.
Cecil is three years younger with a lengthier history of pitching high-leverage innings, so Blevins likely won't approach a contract that size.
However, a new deal in the ballpark of the three-year, $18 million contract that Tony Sipp signed with the Houston Astros last offseason seems reasonable.
For a Mets team that has clearly identified the bullpen as their biggest remaining priority, bringing him back at that price is a no-brainer.
New York Yankees: Sign SP Tyson Ross
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports recently listed the Cubs, Indians and Pirates as teams known to have interest in free-agent Tyson Ross, while also mentioning the Mariners and Giants as speculative fits.
Absent from that list is the New York Yankees, but it's a move that could make sense for both sides.
The Yankees strategy this offseason has been clear: Try to improve the team with short-term commitments while stockpiling payroll space for what is shaping up to be an epic 2018-19 free-agent class.
Bringing back Aroldis Chapman on a five-year pact went against that strategy, but that was more of a one-off move than a shift in philosophy.
Adding another veteran starter to fill out the rotation would be ideal. The team has been tied to Jason Hammel, per George A. King III of the New York Post, but it's unlikely he'll be available on anything less than a three-year deal.
That's what makes Ross the perfect target.
After missing the bulk of the 2016 season following thoracic outlet surgery, he'll be looking to prove he's healthy, likely on a one-year, incentive-laden deal. That fits the Yankees' plans perfectly.
As for Ross, he'd have a chance to showcase his talents and health on one of the biggest stages in the sport. The value of the exposure that the Yankees provide can't be overstated.
Remember when Brandon McCarthy turned 14 strong starts with the Yankees in the second half of 2014 into a four-year, $48 million deal with the Dodgers?
You can bet Ross remembers.
Oakland Athletics: Acquire CF Jarrod Dyson
I explored a potential Jarrod Dyson to the Oakland Athletics trade in an article earlier this week, so let's circle back to that for a moment:
The 32-year-old is entering his final year of team control with a projected arbitration salary of $2.5 million, and with the center field market moving quickly, he's an intriguing, low-cost option for teams still looking to upgrade.
One such team is the Oakland Athletics, who have Brett Eibner and Jake Smolinski as the best in-house options to man the position.
A potential match with Oakland is more than just speculation, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that Oakland was "very interested" in Dyson during the winter meetings.
Over the past five seasons, Dyson has hit .264/.327/.355 with 156 stolen bases while averaging 284 plate appearances per year.
His .728 OPS this past season was a career high, as he tallied 14 doubles and eight triples while swiping 30 bases in 37 attempts for a 3.1 WAR.
Aside from having a hole to fill in center field, the A's are also lacking a conventional leadoff hitter in the lineup, and it would be interesting to see what kind of impact Dyson could make over a full slate of at-bats.
Bleacher Report's Rick Weiner also suggested a swap sending Dyson to the A's for pitching prospect Daniel Gossett—who currently ranks as the No. 18 prospect in the Oakland system, per MLB.com's Prospect Watch—earlier this week.
Whether or not Gossett is the target, a mid-level prospect may be all it takes to pry Dyson loose.
Philadelphia Phillies: Sign RF Jose Bautista
We all know Jose Bautista won't come anywhere close to the five-year, $150 million asking price that was reported by Rick Westhead of TSN in February.
Just what it will take to sign the 36-year-old slugger and where he might land remains to be seen, though.
An abundance of right-handed power hitters and the draft-pick compensation it will cost to sign Bautista after he received a qualifying offer could mean he's one of the last big names to sign this winter.
One team worth keeping an eye on is the Philadelphia Phillies.
With a current projected payroll of $84 million, per Roster Resource, they have money to spend and right field looks like the most obvious place to make a splashy signing.
The lineup is currently led by youngsters Maikel Franco (24) and Odubel Herrera (24) and adding a veteran presence with some swagger like Bautista could be exactly what the team needs as it continues to build toward contention.
It's not impossible to envision the Phillies swooping in with something like a three-year, $50 million offer and getting a deal done as Bautista runs out of options.
That won't hamstring the team from a payroll standpoint as it continues to rebuild, while Bautista still gets a respectable payday even after a somewhat disappointing 2016 season.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Sign SP Derek Holland
The average age of the Pittsburgh Pirates' projected starting rotation of Gerrit Cole (26), Jameson Taillon (25), Chad Kuhl (24), Steven Brault (24) and Tyler Glasnow (23) is 24.4 years old.
It moves up a bit if Drew Hutchison (26) can win a rotation spot or Juan Nicasio (30) gets a chance to start again, but it's still fair to say adding a veteran presence to the staff would be beneficial.
Pitching coach Ray Searage has an impressive track record with free-agent reclamation projects and the Pirates will no doubt be shopping in the bargain bin once again.
Derek Holland is one player on their radar, as they met with his representatives during the winter meetings, according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The interest appears to be mutual with Holland identifying the Pirates as one of the teams on his "short list" earlier this offseason, per Rob Biertempfel of TribLive.com.
Holland was still a productive part of the Rangers rotation as recently as 2013, when he went 10-9 with a 3.42 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 189 strikeouts over a career-high 213.0 innings of work.
However, injuries have taken their toll in the years since.
A knee injury limited the 30-year-old to 37.0 innings in 2014, a shoulder injury capped him at 58.2 innings in 2015 and he made a trip to the 60-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation this past season.
That will likely limit him to a one-year, prove-it-type deal and the Pirates could pick up one of the steals of the winter if he stays healthy.
San Diego Padres: Re-Sign SP Clayton Richard
As things stand on Dec. 14, it can be said with extreme confidence that the San Diego Padres have the worst starting rotation in baseball.
Here's a rundown of their projected staff, courtesy of Roster Resource:
- Luis Perdomo (9-10, 5.71 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 105 K, 146.2 IP)
- Christian Friedrich (5-12, 4.80 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 100 K, 129.1 IP)
- Paul Clemens (4-5, 4.04 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 53 K, 71.1 IP)
- Jarred Cosart (0-4, 6.00 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 38 K, 57.0 IP)
- Zach Lee (0-1, 13.50 ERA, 2.57 WHIP, 3 K, 4.2 IP)
That group obviously needs a lot of work, but bringing back Clayton Richard after his strong finish to the 2016 season would be a nice first step.
The 33-year-old was released by the Cubs on Aug. 3 after pitching to a 6.43 ERA over 25 relief appearances and the pitching-starved Padres scooped him up three days later.
After a pair of appearances out of the pen Richard moved into the starting rotation and went 3-3 with a 2.41 ERA in 52.1 innings over nine starts to close out the season.
The left-hander enjoyed the best seasons of his career during his first go-around in San Diego, including a 2012 season where he was 14-14 with a 3.99 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 218.2 innings of work, so he's plenty familiar with Petco Park.
An MLB contract worth a couple million dollars should be enough to get a deal done.
San Francisco Giants: Sign 1B Mark Reynolds
San Francisco Giants fans can hold out hope someone like J.D. Martinez will be acquired to man left field, but it doesn't look like another splashy move is in the cards this offseason after the signing of closer Mark Melancon.
"The Mark Melancon signing pretty much ended any talk of the Giants adding another player with a big contract," wrote John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
That's not just speculation on the part of Shea, either.
"I don’t think there’s anything more to ask of ownership," GM Bobby Evans told Shea. "It’s more what I can do with what we have."
So where does that leave the Giants in terms of what they might do the rest of the offseason?
According to Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area, the team is still looking to add some power off the bench and Mark Reynolds is one player they've checked in on.
Reynolds, 33, has made good on cheap, one-year deals each of the past three seasons:
- 2014 MIL: one-year, $2 million (433 PA, .681 OPS, 22 HR, 45 RBI)
- 2015 STL: one-year, $2 million (432 PA, .713 OPS, 13 HR, 48 RBI)
- 2016 COL: one-year, $2.6 million (441 PA, .806 OPS, 14 HR, 53 RBI)
He fits in the budget, provides some nice pop off the bench and is capable of stepping into a larger role if Brandon Belt were to miss time at first base.
Seattle Mariners: Sign SP C.J. Wilson
In the aftermath of the trade that sent Taijuan Walker to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for shortstop Jean Segura, the Seattle Mariners are looking to shore up the starting rotation.
"Our focus is on the pitching. We're very comfortable with our position players. We would like to find one more starting pitcher," GM Jerry Dipoto told MLB Network Radio.
Ivan Nova, Jason Hammel, Doug Fister, Colby Lewis and Travis Wood represent the best remaining options on the free-agent market, but we're going outside the box a bit and suggesting left-hander C.J. Wilson.
The 36-year-old missed all of 2016 nursing a labrum injury that eventually required surgery and his 2015 season was also cut short due to bone chips in his elbow, but he's expected to be healthy for the start of the upcoming season and is an intriguing bounce-back candidate.
It's his track record at Safeco Field that really makes him an interesting fit for the Mariners.
In 14 starts and 18 relief appearances, he's gone 8-5 with a 2.95 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 92 strikeouts in 100.2 innings in Seattle's ballpark.
Worst-case scenario: He gets hurt again or winds up being Wade Miley 2.0 and the team cuts their losses on what will likely be an inexpensive one-year deal.
Best-case scenario: He's the same Wilson we saw pre-injury in 2015 when he went 8-8 with a 3.89 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 21 starts before landing on the DL and he holds down a rotation spot all season.
It's a chance worth taking.
St. Louis Cardinals: Sign 1B/OF Mark Trumbo
Now that the St. Louis Cardinals have already sacrificed their first-round pick to sign center fielder Dexter Fowler, they might be more inclined to pursue another significant free-agent addition.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote on potential future spending for the Cardinals:
The Cardinals have had $40 million come off the payroll and they are about to benefit from a $1.1 billion TV rights deal. They do not hide from their ability to spend. They could become more aggressive than previously believed, turning toward free-agent sluggers Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as possible pursuits.
For a team putting an additional emphasis on defense this offseason, neither player is a perfect fit by any stretch of the imagination.
However, Trumbo, 30, can play first base and both corner outfield spots, giving him a similar profile to departing free agent Brandon Moss.
The price would have to be right for this deal to make sense.
There's no way the Cardinals would touch the four-year, $80 million asking price that Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reported for a one-dimensional player like Trumbo.
A four-year, $60 million deal might be palatable, though, as the Cards look to make a run at unseating the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
Tampa Bay Rays: Trade RP Alex Colome for a Huge Return
With Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon all signed and Wade Davis traded, the closer market has dwindled considerably since the start of the offseason.
Alex Colome of the Tampa Bay Rays and David Robertson of the White Sox are the top remaining options on the trade market and Colome is undoubtedly the more valuable trade chip.
Robertson is owed $25 million over the next two years and he was not exactly lights out this past season when he posted a 3.47 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and tallied seven blown saves.
Colome on the other hand will not even be arbitration-eligible for the first time until next offseason and he's under team control through the 2020 season.
The 27-year-old enjoyed a breakout performance in 2016, posting a 1.91 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 11.3 K/9 while saving 37 games in 40 chances and earning a spot on the AL All-Star team.
As you would expect given his remaining team control, the Rays have placed a steep asking price on Colome, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
That won't stop teams from inquiring, though.
If the Rays can net a return package similar to what the Phillies received for Ken Giles last offseason, it would be a boon to the organization.
Texas Rangers: Sign SP Ivan Nova
The Texas Rangers are still in search of a quality No. 3 starter to slot behind Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish for the upcoming season.
As it stands, the rest of the rotation would be newcomer Andrew Cashner, left-hander Martin Perez and 2016 reclamation project A.J. Griffin.
There is no shortage of question marks with that group, though.
Cashner has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career, Perez has struggled to stay healthy prior to starting a career-high 33 games last season and Griffin faded badly down the stretch with a 6.38 ERA over his final 14 starts.
That could be enough for the team to splurge on signing Ivan Nova.
The 29-year-old boosted his free-agent stock in a big way after being traded to the Pirates at the deadline, going 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and a brilliant 52-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
So far this offseason, Nova has received offers in the three-year, $36 million range, according to Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio.
That's well short of the five-year, $70 million asking price that was reported by Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in September when the Pirates began exploring a potential extension.
Landing in the middle at $13 million annually over four years would be exactly in line with the four-year, $52 million deal that MLB Trade Rumors predicted at the start of the offseason and that may be enough for the Rangers to separate themselves from the other interested teams.
Toronto Blue Jays: Acquire RF J.D. Martinez
The Toronto Blue Jays' search for outfield help continues as we approach the new year.
With Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders both hitting free agency, the team is currently left with some combination of Steve Pearce, Ezequiel Carrera, Melvin Upton Jr. and Dalton Pompey to man the corner spots alongside center fielder Kevin Pillar.
Adding an everyday right fielder and leaving left field to the hot hand among the committee seems like the best move, and J.D. Martinez is one potential target who could help replace some of the departing offensive production.
While the Blue Jays have not been directly linked to Martinez this offseason, it stands to reason they would be interested as the outfield free-agent market has thinned considerably.
Martinez, 29, is set to earn $11.75 million in the final year of his current contract, so he'd likely come at a somewhat reasonable cost given his standing as a one-year rental.
Still, after hitting .299/.357/.540 with 83 home runs over the past three seasons, it will take at least one top-tier prospect for the Detroit Tigers to deal him.
Pompey could actually be of interest to the Tigers, who have a hole to fill in center field. The 24-year-old still offers some intriguing upside as a potential table-setter and plus defensive outfielder.
Pairing him with a high-ceiling pitching prospect like Conner Greene might be enough to get a deal done, and it would be a huge boost to a diminished Blue Jays offense.
Washington Nationals: Acquire RP David Robertson
The Washington Nationals' main focus during the winter meetings was their push to acquire Chris Sale, before they eventually shifted gears and acquired outfielder Adam Eaton.
It's unlikely they'll try to add a different starting pitcher and Eaton filled the biggest need in center field, allowing Trea Turner to shift back to shortstop and making Danny Espinosa expendable.
That leaves the back of the bullpen as the most glaring hole on the roster.
Deadline addition Mark Melancon is now a member of the San Francisco Giants and the rest of the free-agent closer market is tapped out, leaving David Robertson and Alex Colome as the top remaining options.
Colome is going to cost a boatload with team control through 2020, but the 31-year-old Robertson might come relatively cheap if the Nationals are willing to take on the $25 million he's owed over the next two years.
The Nationals tried to get the White Sox to include Robertson in the Eaton trade, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, so there's some obvious interest.
A couple of mid-level prospects and a willingness to take on his salary might be all it takes for the Nationals to shore up their bullpen, with Robertson joining the impressive setup trio of Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen and Sammy Solis.