MLB Winter Meetings: Every Team’s Most Likely Move
MLB Winter Meetings: Every Team's Most Likely Move
Every December, representatives from all 30 Major League Baseball organizations, over 160 minor league baseball organizations, league office officials, and guests from international baseball-playing countries meet for four days. During these days, called the Winter Meetings, many trades and transactions are made. These roster moves can shape the outcome of a franchise in the short- and long-term.
Last year at this time, free agents Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton, Kevin Youkilis, Nick Swisher and Shane Victorino were all looking for new homes. Greinke eventually signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and ended up having a great season. Hamilton signed with the Los Angeles Angels and struggled mightily, making the team regret paying him $25 million a season on a five-year deal. Youkilis signed with the New York Yankees on a one-year deal worth $11 million, but barely played due to injury. Nick Swisher left the Yankees for the Cleveland Indians and had a decent year in the first of his four year deal worth $56 million. The Boston Red Sox were able to pick up “washed-up” outfielder Shane Victorino, who was an integral part of their World Series Championship roster.
There were also several trades, highlighted by R.A. Dickey’s departure from the New York Mets after winning the 2012 Cy Young award. He was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays for top prospect Travis D’Arnaud (who missed the season due to injury), and a few other prospects.
Basically, this is a time for teams to “roll the dice”. Where will free-agents Robinson Cano and Carlos Beltran end up? There are also many quality pitchers in free agency such as starters Ervin Santana and Matt Garza, as well as relievers like Grant Balfour, Francisco Rodney and Joaquin Benoit. While it certainly isn’t a walk in the park predicting where these quality players will end up, I think I have some pretty good ideas to go along with some quality trades that might be completed. The following is every MLB team’s most likely move during the Winter Meetings.
Boston Red Sox: Re-Sign Mike Napoli
Needing an option at first base, the Red Sox should re-sign Mike Napoli, who hit 23 home runs and drove in 92 RBIs in 2013. This move is not negotiable for the Red Sox -- it is essential if they want to successfully defend their World Series victory next season.
Tampa Bay Rays: Sign Shin-Soo Choo
Last season with the Reds, Choo hit .285 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs. Sporting a career average of .288, Choo has also impressively had a career OBP of .389. In other words, he gets on base. Desmond Jennings and Wil Myers are guaranteed starters in the Rays outfield, and once they sign Choo, the outfield of Myers in left, Jennings in center and Choo in right field will be a top outfield in the American League.
Baltimore Orioles: Acquire Steve Cishek from Marlins for Prospects
The Orioles just traded their closer Jim Johnson to the Athletics, which leaves the closer role up in the air for the time being. But, not for long. The Marlins, looking to acquire more prospects, will be willing to give up closer Steve Cishek, who was one of the only bright spots on the team a year ago, converting 34 of 36 save chances. The O's would deal top prospect Eduardo Rodriguez and outfield prospect Josh Hart. Although the Orioles would be giving up their no. 2 and no. 9 prospects in the deal, they would get a solid 26-year old closer.
New York Yankees: Sign Carlos Beltran
The Yankees will not give in to Cano’s ludicrous demands of a 10-year, $310 million contract. Instead, they will sign Carlos Beltran to man a corner outfield position. The Yankees, who signed catcher Brian McCann to a five-year deal worth $85 million a few weeks ago, will most likely sign Beltran to a three-year deal worth around $50-$55 million. If the Bronx Bombers sign Beltran, they will already be a lot better than they were in 2013, especially with a lot of the team returning from injuries.
Toronto Blue Jays: Trade Jose Bautista to Orioles for Dylan Bundy
Jose Bautista missed a lot of last season with a nagging injury to his wrist. However, he still has a lot of value based on his previous seasons. The Orioles would love to add Bautista to their already-stacked lineup. They would have to give up top prospects Dylan Bundy and Jonathan Schoop, but it is a move that could propel them above the Yankees and Red Sox in a very competitive division. It would allow the Blue Jays to focus on pitching, an area in which they have traditionally struggled.
Detroit Tigers: Sign Max Scherzer to Long-Term Deal
Although he is 29-years old, Max Scherzer deserves a long-term contract, especially after winning the AL Cy Young award in 2013. I’m expecting a five-year deal worth around $120 million. Scherzer and Justin Verlander will be the most dominating one-two punch in all of baseball for years to come.
Cleveland Indians: Acquire Brett Anderson from the A's for Drew Stubbs
The Oakland A’s are willing to get rid of Brett Anderson, who stunk it up last season before getting injured yet again. However, the Indians are looking to replace Scott Kazmir, who signed with the A’s yesterday. Anderson has big-league stuff as evidenced by plenty of near no-hitters. The A’s have no use for him, and can receive utility man Drew Stubbs for him. I see this as a very smart deal for both teams involved.
Kansas City Royals: Acquire Jeff Niemann from Rays for Emilio Bonifacio
Kansas City is looking for starting pitching. Emilio Bonifacio has received a lot of interest from teams all around the league, and I don’t think the Rays would mind parting with Jeff Niemann and his $3 million salary for 2014. If Ervin Santana doesn’t re-sign with the Royals, it wouldn’t hurt as badly if they deal for a legitimate starter like Niemann.
Minnesota Twins: Sign Grant Balfour
While Glen Perkins did a very nice job serving as the closer for the Twins in 2013, he is best suited to be a setup man. Grant Balfour is arguably the best closer in free agency, and the Twins should make a strong attempt at signing him.
Chicago White Sox: Sign Joaquin Benoit
Joaquin Benoit established himself as a legitimate closer during the course of the 2013 season and playoffs with the Tigers. The White Sox have all sorts of bullpen issues, and with Joe Nathan signing with the Tigers today, Benoit won’t re-sign there. The White Sox should offer Benoit a deal to become either their setup man or closer.
Oakland A's: Sign Kendrys Morales
Brandon Moss has power, but is not an everyday first baseman. The A’s are not afraid to make deals, as evidenced by the last few days. I think they will sign the proven Kendrys Morales in hopes that he can provide stability at first base, a position that requires offensive production.
Texas Rangers: Sign J.P. Arencibia
The Blue Jays let J.P. Arencibia walk into free agency to avoid arbitration, and the Texas Rangers should pick him up right away. Already adding Prince Fielder this offseason, the Rangers can add another powerful bat in the lineup and a platoon-mate for Geovany Soto, who might not be considered the no. 1 option at catcher once Arencibia arrives.
Los Angeles Angels: Sign Bartolo Colon, Paul Maholm
The Los Angeles Angels need pitching help, and adding veterans Bartolo Colon and Paul Maholm would add that to a weak rotation for a relatively cheap price.
Seattle Mariners: Sign Nate McLouth, Kelly Johnson
The Mariners have been looking for some bats for the last couple of seasons. Last season with the Orioles, Nate McLouth played in 146 games and hit .258 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs while swiping 30 bases. Kelly Johnson hit .235 with the Rays, but showed power for a second baseman, hitting 16 home runs and driving in 52 runs. These two players could very well hit one-two in the lineup in 2014.
Houston Astros: Sign Raul Ibanez
Raul Ibanez has been known to be a mentor for young players and a leader in the clubhouse. This is exactly what Houston needs as their immensely talented prospects begin to arrive in the big leagues in 2014.
Atlanta Braves: Trade Dan Uggla to Yankees for Prospects
Dan Uggla, Atlanta’s highest-paid player, didn’t make the team’s postseason roster in 2013. That’s not something that either Uggla or the team can come back from in 2014. The team will shop Uggla, and the Yankees are a perfect destination, where Cano’s second base spot will be open. Uggla will have the potential to knock out 30-35 home runs at Yankee Stadium. The Braves would receive catcher Gary Sanchez, who fills their need at the catcher position since Brian McCann is now a Yankee. The Braves would also receive Zoilo Almonte, a top-five Yankees prospect with no place to play in the New York outfield.
Washington Nationals: Acquire Daniel Murphy from Mets
Daniel Murphy has been one of the few consistent pieces for the Mets over the past few seasons. Ross Detwiler might not have a spot in the Nationals' rotation, and Danny Espinosa had a horrible 2013 season. This trade works out for both teams, as the Nationals would receive a real second baseman, and the Mets would receive a legitimate starter and potentially good second baseman.
New York Mets: Trade Bobby Parnell, Ike Davis to Rays for Top Prospects
The Rays have a plethora of talent in their farm system, and the Mets are looking to rebuild. Tampa Bay needs a closer after Francisco Rodney left for free agency, and Bobby Parnell established himself as a legitimate one last season. Throw in Ike Davis, who was sent down to Triple-A for part of last season, and the Rays would fill two needs. However, they would have to give up top prospects Jake Odorizzi, Blake Snell and Drew Vettleson.
Philadelphia Phillies: Sign Nelson Cruz
Philadelphia is hurting for outfield production. Nelson Cruz is the perfect fit, but coming off of a PED suspension, his integrity may come into question. I still think the Phillies should take a leap of faith here and sign Cruz, who can provide power to their weak lineup.
Miami Marlins: Acquire Top Prospect Eduardo Rodriguez from Orioles
Eduardo Rodriguez looks to be a stud in a few years. Josh Hart is a young, speedy outfielder, and both of them could have the opportunity to get to the major leagues by the end of 2015. That being said, on a team that is clearly rebuilding, it makes sense to shop one of their two commodities, Steve Cischek, while building around Giancarlo Stanton.
St. Louis Cardinals: Acquire Danny Duffy, Luke Hochevar from Royals
Pete Kozma and John Jay will no longer have spots in the Cardinals lineup in 2014, and Danny Duffy and Luke Hochevar can provide relief in their bullpen with Axford and Mujica being free agents.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Sign Matt Garza
With A.J. Burnett most likely leaving Pittsburgh, the Pirates have a void in their pitching rotation. Matt Garza is a proven starter in MLB, and would be a perfect fit.
Cincinnati Reds: Sign Howie Kendrick
With Brandon Phillips a free agent, the Reds can sign a similar player in Howie Kendrick to a deal for considerably less money. I think this is a no-brainer for the Reds, and they should be negotiating with Kendrick as you read this.
Milwaukee Brewers: Sign Ervin Santana
The Brewers need starting pitching and need it badly. Ervin Santana is one of the best pitching targets available, and the Brewers will dish out serious money for a consistent starter.
Chicago Cubs: Sign Robinson Cano
Ah, the shocker. Robinson Cano will sign with the Chicago Cubs. Yep, you are reading this correctly. Since Theo Epstein has taken over as Cubs GM, they have made a number of strategic moves to dump salary and promote young talent in their system. With top prospects coming in the next few years, the team would be smart to build around a proven All-Star and future Hall of Famer in Cano. I expect him to be signed in the eight-year, $200-to-$215 million range.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Acquire David Price From Rays
This will be the trade of the offseason as David Price will be dealt this winter. The Dodgers would give up Andre Ethier, who would be their fourth outfielder right now, and top prospect shortstop Cory Seager, who reached high-A ball at 19-years old. The Rays are hurting for offensive production, and Either would give them the ability to gain some of that production immediately. Seager is a promising talent, and might see time in the MLB before he is 21. The Dodgers' triple-threat of Clayton Kershaw, Grienke and Price might be the best in the history of the game, and would immediately make the Dodgers the team to beat in the National League.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Sign Fernando Rodney, Edward Mujica
The Diamondbacks have a solid starting rotation heading into next season, but will struggle in their bullpen if they don’t get some help. Rodney and Mujica would give them that stability, and both can close games.
San Diego Padres: Sign Brandon Phillips
San Diego needs some offensive help. Brandon Phillips, who will most likely demand between $15-18 million per season, will gain the support of the Padres, who will place him in the middle of their lineup.
San Francisco Giants: Sign Roy Halladay
The Giants are in need of help on the back end of their rotation, so why not sign Roy Halladay? If he is 75 percent of what he used to be, it would be worth the risk.
Colorado Rockies: Trade Michael Cuddyer to Cardinals for Jaime Garcia
The Cardinals have no place for Jaime Garcia due to a bountiful amount of youth in their starting rotation. Michael Cuddyer would add a valuable dimension to their roster and clubhouse, and coming off of a season in which he made the All-Star team, he can fill in for Carlos Beltran. Meanwhile, Garcia would be at the front of the Rockies' rotation.