Free agency is the most common way players change teams in this day and age, but what about the good old-fashioned trade? Lots of big name players get moved every winter. Last year, former All-Stars Heath Bell, Justin Upton, James Shields, Ervin Santana, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, RA Dickey, Martin Prado, and Mark Melancon all changed addresses, while 2013 breakout stars Tyson Ross, Yan Gomes, and Wil Myers all also found new homes. That doesn't even consider guys like Shin-Soo Choo, Jordan Walden, Chris Johnson, and John Jaso, who were all traded and were all excellent contributors for their clubs in 2013.
That trend will once again continue this offseason. Players will sign as free agents with new teams, and more will be traded to new teams, especially considering the weak state of the free agent market this offseason. But which players are the most likely to get dealt? Here are ten, though there could be many more.
1. David Price. With two years of arbitration left and eight figures in salary coming in each, the small market Rays really won't be able to afford Price anymore. He's more than likely going to be dealt for a package of young talent, much like Tampa Bay did last year with Shields, and the club will be better off in the long run, as much as that might hurt the fanbase to admit. Considering the free agent market really lacks a dominant ace, Price could bring back a hefty return for the Rays.
2. Josh Willingham. The Twins don't *need* to trade Willingham. After all, he's only making $7 million in 2014, his final year of a three-year deal signed prior to the 2012 season. But the Twins don't look like they're going to contend next year, so why not try to get rid of Willingham and his balky knees to save a little money and maybe get a young pitcher? They did it this summer with Justin Morneau, and I'd expect them to do the same with Willingham, even if he doesn't give the team a return like last winter's trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere.
3. Adam Dunn. The issue with Dunn isn't "do they want to?", it's "does anyone want him?" Chicago owes their DH $15 million in 2014, and he's coming off of a season where he hit just 34 home runs, his lowest total in a season with at least 500 plate appearances since 2002, when a 22-year old Dunn hit 26 bombs. Combine this year with his disastrous 2011, and his tenure with the Pale Hose has been terrible. Managing to pare his salary from the payroll would be a huge feather in the cap of GM Rick Hahn.
4. Mark Trumbo. If you're the Angels, you're in a difficult position with Trumbo. Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun need to play every day. Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols are both aging and are going to need days off at DH. Peter Bourjos should be the first man off the bench to play the outfield. Essentially, that would make Trumbo the caddy of Pujols, which isn't too good for a guy with a sub-.300 OBP and 30 homer pop, There's just no room for him in Anaheim anymore, even with Pujols' never-ending injury issues. Trumbo is also one of the few trade assets that an Angels organization lacking a solid farm system has to upgrade a pitching staff that desperately needs an infusion of new blood.
5. Dan Uggla. Uggla's in the same boat as Dunn. The Braves would love to trade him, but does anyone even want him? Uggla's due $13.2 million in each of the next two seasons from Atlanta, and his offensive numbers have fallen into a steep decline over the past three years. Any question about Uggla's future in Atlanta was answered when he was left off of the NLDS roster and light-hitting utility man Elliot Johnson got the starting nod at second base.
6. Adam LaRoche. The Nationals are in a tough position with LaRoche. He'll be 34 on Wednesday, and his offensive numbers took a decisive step back in 2013 after a fantastic 2012. He's making $12 million in 2014, and the defensive issues of Ryan Zimmerman at third base are going to necessitate a shift across the diamond sooner rather than later, which will allow Anthony Rendon to move back to his natural position of third. The weak first base market could make moving him easier than expected, though.
7. Giancarlo Stanton. They say it's not going to happen. The Marlins keep talking about Giancarlo Stanton as a building block for the future and a key piece of their 2014 team. But honestly, who actually believes them? Trading Stanton would bring in a bounty of prospects, both of the major league ready and far-off varieties. It would also probably end up being the last straw for disgusted Marlins fans and would intensify calls for Jeffrey Loria's head on a silver platter.
8. Rickie Weeks. Weeks is in a position similar to that of Uggla, in that the Brewers are definitely going to try to dump him...but does anyone want him? Weeks will make $12 million in 2014 after playing in just 104 games this past season, hitting .209/.306/.357. After the great, albeit probably unsustainable, production by Scooter Gennett in the second half, Weeks' time with Milwaukee seems about up.
9. Andre Ethier. The Dodgers have four outfielders for three positions. The most talented of the four is the cheapest. The most expensive is the most injury prone. Of the two remaining, which do you trade? The older of the two is Carl Crawford, who is also the more expensive of the two. That leaves us with Ethier, who is guaranteed a minimum of $71.5 million over the next five years. He'll be 32 in April and can't his lefties at all anymore. Los Angeles is going to need to eat a ton of his contract to move him, but if Matt Kemp doesn't get a clean bill of health following offseason shoulder and ankle surgery, I'd imagine they'd hold on to Ethier at least until Kemp is good to go.
10. Chase Headley. The Chase Headley rumors will only end when he's traded or signs a long-term contract. The Padres have shot down rumor after rumor about their third baseman getting traded, but with the team treading water in 2013 and Headley's offensive production taking a step back, maybe this offseason is finally the time he'll get dealt. He'll be a free agent after the 2014 season, so it's go-time for Josh Byrnes in relation to Headley.
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Tanned Tom, would agree, but also add Trumbo. The rest are heading towards the twilight. Being a Rays fan, will hate seeing Price in another uniform.
@Tanned Tom Well, some of those salary dumps aren't guys who can't earn the higher salaries, their teams can't afford to pay them. For some teams, getting prospects when players are about to get too expensive is part of their business plan.