The Winter Meetings have begun, which means so has all the wheeling and dealing. Traditionally, this is where the biggest deals go down in the off-season, both for free agents and trades. We all know who the big name free agents are this winter, but who are the major trade chips that could get dealt before the meetings in Nashville come to a close.
Really, this could be any of the Rays starting pitchers from Price to Hellickson to Cobb, but Shields is the leader in the clubhouse to get dealt away. The free agent pitching market gets real ugly real fast after Zack Greinke, who is expected to sign somewhere at the Winter Meetings. Once that happens, it should take all of a nanosecond for Greinke's scorned suitors to descend on the Rays to try and pry loose a pitcher from their plethora of quality arms. Shields may not be an ace, but he is good pitcher and a lock for 200+ innings. The best part about him not being quite an ace means that he should be affordable for most teams, at least until the bidding war begins.
The game of center field musical chairs is slowly coming to an end with Michael Bourn and Angel Pagan still left as the best two prizes. However, there are still more teams in need up the middle than there are quality free agent options. The Rockies recently let it slip that they were shopping Dexter Fowler, who is coming off the best season of his career. Colorado will probably ask for an arm and a leg for him, but whoever gets left holding the bag when Bourn and Pagan sign might feel better making a trade for Fowler than accepting the consolation prize that is Shane Victorino.
The Diamondbacks claim that they aren't shopping Upton anymore. Yeah, we've heard that one before. You can't place a guy on the trade block every six months without eventually trading him. This market seems to be particularly short on impact bats, so Upton will definitely be in demand. That being said, the price will be sky high for him, so this isn't a deal that will come together quickly or easily.
Something has got to give in Texas. The Rangers refuse to trade young infielder Jurickson Profar and they don't seem much interested in moving Elvis Andrus either. That is going to make things very awkward for Ian Kinsler who seems like he will be moving somewhere. It could simply be to left field for Texas, but it could also be to an entirely new team. Texas has made no bones about their desire to add another frontline starter to their rotation and if they can't find one via free agency, Kinsler should be their best bet for landing one via trade.
With Denard Span now in the fold, Morse is the odd man out in the Washington outfield. He could very easily slot into the vacancy at first base, but Davey Johnson has made it clear that he wants the club to bring Adam LaRoche back instead. Even without LaRoche, the Nats could deal Morse anyway as they seek to bolster the back of their already strong rotation.
It seems quite likely that the Indians are going to pull the trigger on some kind of major deal very soon. They are shifting back into a rebuilding mode and that means either Cabrera and/or Shin-Soo Choo is going to get moved this winter. Given the way the market is shaping up, Cabrera seems to be the more likely of the two to get dealt first, especially with rumors that the Cardinals have been sniffing around Asdrubal for quite some time.
It is hard to say whether or not Dickey actually will be traded. It seems like every time a rumor comes out that he and the Mets are making progress towards a contract extension, it is quickly followed by a conflicting rumor that trade talks are heating up and vice versa. Expect rumors from both sides to reach a fever pitch in Nashville over the next few days.
What's that you say? The Dodgers are supposed to be acquiring people, not trading them! Well, you are both right and wrong. The Dodgers seem hell bent on signing another big name pitcher, preferably Greinke, but if they do, they have to address the fact that their rotation is already overloaded. That means one of the incumbents has got to go and Capuano is the top candidate since he is not only the cheapest, but he is also coming off arguably his best season, so the Dodgers would be selling high.
If ever there was going to be a year that the Cubs were finally going to dump Soriano and at least part of his contract, this is the year. His bounceback 2012 campaign should make him appealing as a nice veteran power bat for a contending team, assuming the Cubs don't get greedy and ask for teams to assume too much of the $38 million he is still owed or demand to lofty a prospect in return.
This is why the Pirates can't have nice things. They go out and make a semi-splashy move to sign Russell Martin, but now they have to make sure he doesn't blow up their budget. Hanrahan could command nearly $7 million in his final year of arbtiration and that just isn't the kind of luxury the Pirates typically like to pay for regardless of their fancy, expensive new catcher.
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