MLB Trade Rumors: Top Potential Landing Spots for Players Still on the Block

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2017

MLB Trade Rumors: Top Potential Landing Spots for Players Still on the Block

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    Brian Dozier still isn't sure where he'll be reporting for spring training.
    Brian Dozier still isn't sure where he'll be reporting for spring training.Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    At some point, Brian Dozier's time with the Minnesota Twins figures to come to an end. The subject of trade rumors for much of the offseason, MLB's premier slugger at second base is one of the biggest names left twisting in the purgatory that is the trade block.

    It's not so much that a player's current team doesn't want them any longer (though there are certainly times where that's the case), but rather said player, like Dozier, is more valuable to the team as a trade chip than a fixture on the 25-man roster.

    It's a rough place for a player to spend any significant time.

    For those, like Dozier, who find themselves on the block, there are only two rules they have to check off to be included on this list: 

    • They must have been the subject of a legitimate rumor or speculation from a known source
    • They must be a logical fit on a team other than their current one

    That last rule, coupled with recent free-agent signings, eliminated some players who were on our original list.

    Who made the cut? Let's take a look.

Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Jeff Curry/Getty Images

    Age on Opening Day 2017: 28

          

    Contract Status: Due $2.8 million in 2017, has one year of arbitration remaining

                      

    Overview

    Matt Adams isn't a unique player—teams can find sluggers who are capable of playing first base or serving as a team's designated hitter on the free-agent market, most of whom have far bigger name recognition and longer track records of success than he does. 

    But what Adams has on the likes of Chris Carter, Brandon Moss and Mark Trumbo, to name a few, is acquisition cost. None of the aforementioned players are going to sign for anything close to Adams' $2.8 million salary in 2017—and he's not going to cost a top prospect to obtain from St. Louis.

    With Matt Carpenter taking over at first base for the Cardinals, Adams has become expendable. For a team in search of left-handed bat with pop off its bench or as part of a platoon at first base or the DH spot, he's an appealing trade target.

    A solid defensive first baseman, Adams has hit right-handed pitching very well over the course of his five-year career, posting a .284/.331/.480 slash line over parts of five major league seasons.

    Kansas City had begun talks with the Cardinals about a potential deal before acquiring Peter O'Brien from Arizona, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, and it's not out of the question that the two sides could continue that dialog.

    But the Royals aren't the only American League team with which Adams would be a potential fit.

                       

    Top Potential Landing Spots: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland

Ryan Braun, Of, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Age on Opening Day 2017: 33

              

    Contract Status: Due $75 million through 2020; $15 million mutual option for 2021 with a $4 million buyout

                                     

    Overview

    The market that Milwaukee thought would develop for Ryan Braun this offseason simply hasn't. While there are worse things that could happen to a rebuilding Brewers club than to have Braun hitting in the middle of their lineup, the 33-year-old simply isn't part of the team's long-term vision.

    Hall of Fame scribe Peter Gammons has the scoop on why there's been little-to-no interest in the former National League MVP:

    One general manager says why would anyone give up a couple of prospects and take on some of the money when there are bats like Mark Trumbo and Jose Bautista on the market who require only cash, no talent in return? And one more factor—the way his representatives handled his 2013 suspension, trying to put the blame on a UPS driver, still leaves a bad taste in many mouths around the game.

    There's no disputing that Braun remains a productive player, one that could legitimately help a contender. But only a handful of teams can afford his contract, and, apparently, even fewer can handle his off-field baggage.

    One team that could, perhaps, is the Los Angeles Dodgers, which engaged Milwaukee about a potential deal last season. Those talks could still be revisited, as Braun's right-handed bat would fill a need in Los Angeles' lineup.

                               

    Top Potential Landing Spot: Los Angeles (NL)

Jay Bruce, OF, New York Mets

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    G Fiume/Getty Images

    Age on Opening Day 2017: 30

                   

    Contract Status: Due $13 million in 2017, the final year of his deal

                         

    Overview

    Sources tell CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury that the New York Mets are asking for two prospects in exchange for Jay Bruce. Teams aren't going to give up anything of value for a 30-year-old, defensively challenged slugger, especially when they can sign a similar player as a free agent, likely for less than Bruce's salary.

    Philadelphia did just that Monday, signing Michael Saunders to a one-year, $9 million deal rather than trade for Bruce, who Salisbury reports the team was interested in.

    At this point, the Mets simply need to take whatever they can get for Bruce, as his continued presence is preventing the club from adding the bullpen help it needs, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

    Sherman suggests a trade with Oakland for a veteran reliever, whether it be Jonathan Broxton, Sean Doolittle or Ryan Madson, all of whom are due less than Bruce in 2017, and he also tosses out Texas as a possible trade partner.

    The Rangers, like the A's, are deep in relievers and an intriguing fit for Bruce. If Texas still doesn't believe that Joey Gallo is ready to play in the majors, Bruce would give them a solid replacement as the left-handed part of a platoon as the team's designated hitter. 

                      

    Top Potential Landing Spots: Oakland and Texas

Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota Twins

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    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Age on Opening Day 2017: 29

                 

    Contract Status: Due $15 million through 2018

                       

    Overview

    While there's been speculation about other teams with interest in Minnesota's Brian Dozier, the only landing spot for the slugging second baseman outside of the Twin Cities that ever made sense was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal recently reported that talks between the Dodgers and Twins have stalled, with the two sides unable to agree on the players that would join top pitching prospect Jose De Leon in Minnesota. But that doesn't mean there's no chance of a trade coming to fruition.

    “The reality is there’s going to be a point in time in this offseason where we may stop initiating calls," Twins general manager Thad Levine said while a guest on Go 96.3 FM's “Deep Cuts” radio show, per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. "But we’re always going to pick up the phone and hear teams out."

    Here's another reality: Neither side is going to find a better deal elsewhere.

    The Dodgers can talk about other options, like Chase Utley, but Dozier is the perfect fit for what they need. Not only would he fill a hole at second base, but his right-handed bat would be a welcome addition to a lineup that posted an MLB-worst .622 OPS against left-handed pitching in 2016.

    De Leon, 24, is exactly the kind of pitcher the Twins need: controllable, MLB-ready, and with front-of-the-rotation potential. A one-for-one deal isn't going to happen, but a swap makes too much sense for both teams for it not to occur before Opening Day.

                        

    Top Potential Landing Spot: Los Angeles (NL)

Todd Frazier, 3B, Chicago White Sox

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Age on Opening Day 2017: 31

                 

    Contract Status: Due $12 million in 2017, the final year of his deal

                             

    Overview

    Some will point to Todd Frazier's .225 batting average, .302 on-base percentage, 163 strikeouts and, according to FanGraphs' advanced metrics, declining defense at third base as a reason why teams should avoid trading for him at all costs. 

    Maybe they're right. Perhaps Frazier is a player in decline. But what if he's not? 

    After all, he did set new career-highs in home runs (40), RBI (98) and walks (64) despite boasting a BABIP of .236, more than 40 points below his career mark of .278. It's entirely plausible that he simply had an off year.

    With an expiring contract and track record of success, Frazier is the kind of appealing bounce-back candidate teams looking for an upgrade at the hot corner should be targeting. But they're not, with the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reporting last month that Chicago had received "due diligence calls" about the slugger.

    There's no question that Frazier would be an upgrade over Adonis Garcia in Atlanta, and his name recognition certainly wouldn't hurt ticket sales as the Braves prepare to move into a new ballpark. He'd seem to be an upgrade over Eduardo Nunez in San Francisco as well.

                          

    Top Potential Landing Spots: Atlanta and San Francisco

Brett Gardner, OF, New York Yankees

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Age on Opening Day 2017: 33

                                 

    Contract Status: Due $23 million through 2018; $12.5 million team option for 2019 with a $2 million buyout; gets a $1 million assignment bonus if traded

                        

    Overview

    While Brett Gardner has been the subject of trade speculation, we shouldn't take that to mean that the New York Yankees are actively looking to send him packing.

    "He's here not because I can't move him; he's here because I'm not comfortable moving him, or haven't been satisfied in my asks that would make me move him," GM Brian Cashman told MLB.com's Bryan Hoch last month. "You're going through the process, and you see if that changes. So far to this point, I've said no to a lot of different concepts thrown my way on it."

    It's no surprise that teams would seek to add the 33-year-old. Gardner offers power and speed at the top of the lineup while providing Gold Glove-caliber defense in left field.

    That profile makes him a perfect fit in San Francisco, though, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, Giants GM Bobby Evans seems comfortable with a platoon of Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson at the position.

    But with the Giants built to win now, the team could shift gears if Parker and/or Williamson doesn't look up to the task in spring training.

                         

    Top Potential Landing Spots: San Francisco

Jose Iglesias, SS, Detroit Tigers

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    Duane Burleson/Getty Images

    Age on Opening Day 2017: 27

                          

    Contract Status: Due $4.1 million in 2017, has one year of arbitration remaining

                        

    Overview

    Jose Iglesias' $4.1 million salary isn't a huge burden, but getting it off Detroit's books would bring the club closer to their goal of getting under the luxury tax threshold. That goal remains firmly in place—and the Tigers "are a willing trade partner," sources tell Cafardo.

    Those same sources tell Cafardo that the Tigers believe prospect Dixon Machado is ready to take over at shortstop, which could push the Tigers to look to unload the 27-year-old before Opening Day. 

    Solid defensively, Iglesias, with a career .678 OPS, offers little offensively. That could make him a realistic target for a team like San Diego, which has been looking to trade for a shortstop that would represent an upgrade over incumbent Luis Sardinas this offseason.

    Top Potential Landing Spots: San Diego

Ian Kinsler, 2B, Detroit Tigers

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    Duane Burleson/Getty Images

    Age on Opening Day 2017: 34

                                

    Contract Status: Due $11 million in 2017; $10 million team option for 2018 with a $5 million buyout

                                 

    Overview

    With a limited no-trade clause that allows him to block trades to 10 teams—including the Los Angeles Dodgers—trading Ian Kinsler isn't as easy for Detroit as simply reaching an agreement with an interested party.

    “If one of the 10 teams happens to call and wants to talk about it, we’re open to talking about it,” Kinsler's agent, Jay Franklin, told Rosenthal in December. “(But) they’re going to have to extend him for us to waive the no-trade."

    While Kinsler remains one of the game's premier all-around second basemen, there can't be too many teams looking to work out a long-term extension with a player into their late 30s, even one as accomplished as the four-time All-Star.

    That said, the Dodgers may not have much of a choice.

    With talks for Brian Dozier stalled, Kinsler would fill the team's gaping hole at second base and improve their production against left-handed pitching. Adding two or three years to Kinsler's deal might be worth it for a team that is under immense pressure to win now.

                                          

    Top Potential Landing Spot: Los Angeles (NL)

Jose Quintana, LHP, Chicago White Sox

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    Jon Durr/Getty Images

    Age on Opening Day 2017: 28

                              

    Contract Status: Due $15.85 million through 2018; has $10 million team options in 2019 and 2020, each with a $1 million buyout

                            

    Overview

    CBSChicago.com's Bruce Levine reports that a few teams remain interested in Jose Quintana and that many have recently "stepped up their offers" to Chicago for the 27-year-old, who is due roughly $37 million through the 2020 season.

    The three clubs thought to be Quintana's most ardent pursuers—the Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates—are all capable of meeting Chicago's asking price, which according to MLB.com's Phil Rogers, is "multiple young big leaguers and impact prospects."

    None are believed to be willing to part with its best young talent—Alex Bregman (Astros), Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres (Yankees) and Austin Meadows (Pirates)—but all have plenty of other high-upside youngsters that would certainly pique Chicago's interest.

    It's no secret that the Yankees desperately need rotation help, and while the Pirates have a talented group of starters, only Gerrit Cole and Ivan Nova have any real big-league experience.

    As for the Astros, if they believed that signing Charlie Morton solved their rotation woes, reports about their continued interest in other starters wouldn't continue to surface. Most recently, Rosenthal tweeted that the Astros have remained in touch with Oakland about Sonny Gray.

                                                     

    Top Potential Landing Spots: Houston, New York (AL), Pittsburgh

David Robertson, CL, Chicago White Sox

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    Ron Vesely/Getty Images

    Age on Opening Day 2017: 31

               

    Contract Status: Due $25 million through 2018

                                    

    Overview

    Like Ryan Braun in Milwaukee and his current teammate in Chicago, Todd Frazier, David Robertson doesn't fit on a rebuilding ballclub. With the White Sox focused on the future, not the present, holding onto an expensive closer doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

    While he's spent much of the offseason on the trade block, Chicago hasn't seemed overly motivated to move him. Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News heard from a source that the White Sox wanted outfielder Michael Conforto from the New York Mets in a potential deal, a hefty price the Mets won't pay.

    Nightengale reported that the New York Yankees had expanded trade talks about Jose Quintana to include Robertson, who spent the first seven years of his career in the Bronx. He'd give the team its "Big Three" in the bullpen, along with Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman.

    The one rumor involving Robertson that makes the most sense finds the former All-Star heading to Washington, a team that is without an established closer. Per Nightengale, the two sides discussed including Robertson in the Adam Eaton trade, but Chicago opted to deal him separately

                                              

    Top Potential Landing Spots: New York (AL), Washington

                                               

    Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts (via Baseball Prospectus).