2012 Free Agent And Trade Market Rumors

Free Agent And Trade Market For Right-Handed Relievers

The Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, Twins, Rangers, Angels, Mariners, Braves, Mets, Marlins, Brewers, Cubs, Reds, Dodgers, Padres are among the many teams likely to seek right-handed relievers this offseason.  As usual, there are plenty of options of every variety.

Right-Handed Closers Available In Free Agency Or Trade

The free agent market for right-handed relievers with recent closing experience includes Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Madson, Heath Bell, Francisco Cordero, Frank Francisco, Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez, Matt Capps, Jonathan Broxton, and Jon Rauch.  David Aardsma is also a free agent, but he had Tommy John surgery in July.

Madson appears close to a four-year, $44MM contract with a fifth-year vesting option.  That contract would set the bar for Papelbon and limit his suitors.  Bell, Cordero, and Rodriguez seem certain to get multiyear deals, unless Bell accepts arbitration from the Padres.  Looking at just the free agents, the market appears flush with closing options.  Madson, Papelbon, Bell, Capps, Rodriguez, and Cordero are Type A free agents, but only the first three are likely to be offered arbitration and therefore would come with the cost of a draft pick.

The trade market for righty closers is largely speculative, but may include Andrew Bailey, Brandon League, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Huston Street, and even Joel Hanrahan and Drew Storen.

Other Right-Handed Relievers Available In Free Agency Or Trade

There are more than 30 additional right-handed relievers on the free agent market.  The list is all over the place in terms of quality and health, but I think Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, Kerry Wood, Guillermo Mota, Mike Wuertz, Juan Cruz, Jason Isringhausen, Takashi Saito, Dan Wheeler, Scott Linebrink, Todd Coffey, LaTroy Hawkins, Chad Qualls, and Shawn Camp can get Major League deals.  If you filter to non-closers who pitched 50+ innings with a sub-4.00 ERA, a strikeout rate over eight per nine, and a walk rate under four per nine, you're left with only Dotel, Wood, and Mota.  If you're a velocity lover, you can't beat Fernando Rodney and Mike MacDougal.

The trade market has yet to take shape, but perhaps Koji Uehara, Grant Balfour, and Jason Frasor will be available.

Non-Tender Candidates

Several more right-handed relievers will join the free agent at the non-tender deadline.  Some could include Taylor Buchholz, Micah Owings, Clay Hensley, Andy Sonnanstine, and Matt Albers.

Check out our full free agent list, as well as our articles on the markets at catcherfirst basesecond basethird baseshortstopleft field, right fieldcenter field, designated hitter, and starting pitcher.

Trade And Free Agent Market For Starting Pitchers

The Braves, Rays, Cardinals, Brewers, and Diamondbacks probably will not be in the market for starting pitching this offseason, but most other teams will be.  Here's how the market shapes up.

Top-Of-The-Rotation Starters Available In Free Agency Or Trade

Yu Darvish is not technically a free agent, but any team will be able to bid for the exclusive rights to negotiate with him if the Nippon-Ham Fighters post him.  He may require a $100MM+ commitment, and would become the ace of many MLB staffs.  Regular free agents C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt would slot in as the #1 or #2 starter in several rotations.  All three have their share of question marks, but they're as close to aces as we've got.

The trade market for aces looks bleak or non-existent, if the Rays' James Shields is truly "very unlikely" to be dealt.  There is currently no reason to think Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, or Josh Beckett will be traded this offseason, though there's a surprise every year.

Middle-Of-The Rotation Starters Available In Free Agency Or Trade

The free agent market features several starters who can slot in comfortably at #3: Mark Buehrle, Edwin Jackson, Hiroki Kuroda,  and Javier Vazquez.  Erik Bedard and Bartolo Colon make solid #3s when healthy, while Hisashi Iwakuma could be worthy of the designation.

On the trade market, Gio Gonzalez and Jair Jurrjens can be considered third starters or even a little more.  With four more years of club control, the A's could having an asking price for Gonzalez exceeding that of Matt Garza last offseason.  If the A's are willing to discuss Gonzalez they may also listen on Brandon McCarthy.  Wandy Rodriguez, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Jeremy Guthrie, and Ricky Nolasco could be available as well.

Back-Of-The Rotation Starters Available In Free Agency Or Trade

The free agent market offers known commodities Chris Capuano, Bruce Chen, Jeff Francis, Freddy Garcia, Aaron Harang, Paul Maholm, Jason Marquis.  There are also many more with something to prove, like Rich Harden, Jon Garland, Joel Pineiro, Tsuyoshi Wada, and Dontrelle Willis.  

John Lannan, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, Homer Bailey, Brett Myers, Carlos Zambrano, Travis Wood, A.J. Burnett, and Edinson Volquez are speculative trade candidates.

Non-Tender Candidates

Joe Saunders, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Volstad, Ross Ohlendorf, Kevin Slowey, Jerome Williams, and Tom Gorzelanny have some chance of being non-tendered in December, so they may be presently available.  Jonathan Sanchez, a non-tender candidate for the Giants, was just traded to the Royals

Thinking Outside The Box

Last winter the Rangers were interested in signing Bobby Jenks as a starter, and a rotation opportunity motivated Aaron Heilman to sign with Arizona.  There are no obvious candidates to make the relief-rotation shift, but a few should pop up as the offseason progresses.

Free Agent And Trade Market For Designated Hitters

Supply always seems to exceed demand for designated hitters. Only 14 jobs exist, which tends to create a late-developing buyers' market. Here's a look ahead to this offseason's available and potentially available DHs:

Starting Designated Hitters Available In Free Agency

David Ortiz, arguably the league's top designated hitter, hits free agency in search of a three-year deal. He hit 29 homers and posted a .309/.398/.554 line for the Red Sox in 2011, so he has an excellent case for a multiyear deal. Assuming the Red Sox offer arbitration, the Type A free agent will cost a top pick in the 2012 draft for all teams but Boston. Ortiz's former teammate, Johnny Damon, and Jason Kubel are other free agent DHs who produced in everyday roles this past season.

Quality Backups

Vladimir Guerrero hit .290/.317/.416 in 2011, but teams will want more than a league-average hitter for their DH spots (Guerrero's OPS+ was 101). Hideki Matsui was a below-average offensive player in 2011 and Oakland's interest in retaining him appears to be waning. Jorge Posada and, to a lesser extent, Jack Cust can hit right-handed pitching, while Wily Mo Pena has hit lefties in the past. Jim Thome still has pop, but he's probably not an everyday option at the age of 41.

Non-Tender Candidates

The Orioles could non-tender Luke Scott, depending on who their new general manager is and the health of Scott's right shoulder.

Thinking Outside The Box

Ryan Doumit, Carlos Quentin and Mark Reynolds can hit and they aren't known for their defensive ability. Doumit's a free agent, while Quentin and Reynolds may become available in trades. It wouldn't be easy to pry Jesus Montero away from the Yankees, but his name may come up as a potential trade chip and few doubt his ability to hit. Josh Willingham has been an outfielder to this point in his career, but may appeal for teams looking for offense.

Other Trade Candidates

It's hard to imagine takers for Adam Dunn after his dismal 2011 season. Perhaps new Angels GM Jerry Dipoto will consider moving Bobby AbreuBilly Butler can hit, but he's getting expensive ($8MM salary for 2012-14), so it'd be interesting to see how much trade value he has. Carlos Lee could be available in trades.

Check out our full free agent list, as well as our articles on the markets at catcherfirst basesecond basethird baseshortstopleft field, right field and center field.

Free Agent And Trade Market For Right Fielders

The Red Sox, Twins, Athletics, Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, Rockies, Padres, and Giants could explore the market for right fielders this year, which mostly consists of a variety of free agents.

Starting Right Fielders Available In Free Agency

Three potential right fielders who will land starting jobs are Carlos Beltran, Michael Cuddyer, and Jason Kubel.  Beltran is a middle-of-the-order bat, but he'll be 35 in April and missed much of 2009-10 with knee issues.  Signing him will not involve the loss of a draft pick, but it may take three years and a salary of at least $13MM.  Cuddyer can't match Beltran's bat, but he is younger, more versatile, and presumably cheaper.  Signing him probably will require the loss of a draft pick though.  Kubel is a similar hitter to Cuddyer aside from handedness, but Kubel's outfield defense is a minus.

Four more free agents may be vying for a role that sits between starter and reserve: David DeJesus, Magglio Ordonez, J.D. Drew, and Kosuke Fukudome.  DeJesus, 32 in December, brings defensive value and seems the best bet.  Fukudome doesn't have the power desired of a corner outfielder, while Ordonez and Drew bring significant health risk and may be limited to AL teams.

Thinking Outside The Box

Brad Hawpe, Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham, and Cody Ross played little or no right field this year, but they've done so in their careers.  Grady Sizemore has never played right field as a pro.  Agent Joe Urbon says Sizemore prefers center but will consider corner outfield opportunities.  After missing significant time due to injury the last few years, Sizemore will be a wild card on an incentive-laden deal.

Quality Backups

Reed Johnson is likely to secure a Major League deal, while Scott Hairston, Mark Kotsay, and Corey Patterson have a shot.

Non-Tender Candidates

The Rockies could non-tender Ryan Spilborghs, who was productive in 2010.  Garrett Jones probably won't be non-tendered, but the Pirates could move him if they don't consider him worth $2.4MM or so.  Former top prospect Jeremy Hermida could be cut by the Padres; he hit .319/.400/.524 in Triple-A this year. 

Other Trade Candidates

Carlos Quentin's name is often bandied about in trade rumors as he enters his final year of team control, but there's no guarantee the White Sox will move him.  The Rockies' Seth Smith could be dealt if the team signs someone like Cuddyer.

Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti isn't inclined to trade Andre Ethier, he told ESPN's Jim Bowden in October.

Check out our full free agent list, as well as our articles on the markets at catcherfirst basesecond base, third baseshortstop, left field, and center field.

Free Agent And Trade Market For Center Fielders

The Athletics, Marlins, Mets, Nationals, and Giants are the key teams likely to seek center field help this offseason, and they'll be best served by the trade market.

Starting Center Fielders Available In Free Agency

Coco Crisp is likely to sign a multiyear deal, as he's the one viable everyday center fielder on the free agent market.  This was his healthiest year since '07, but if his on-base percentage doesn't bounce back he's not an asset at the top of a batting order.  

MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that the Indians are expected to choose a $500K buyout over Grady Sizemore's $9MM club option Monday.  That implies that Sizemore has little trade value on a one-year, $8.5MM deal.  If nothing else, Sizemore showed some pop in 71 games this year, but his health is a huge concern.  Since 2009 Sizemore has missed time due to injuries to his elbow, abdominal wall, and left knee, the last of which required microfracture surgery in June of 2010.  He had surgery for a sports hernia this year, and a right knee injury culminated in an October arthroscopy.  He's expected to be ready for Spring Training, and a one-year, incentive-laden deal with a base salary around $5MM makes for an intriguing gamble.

Thinking Outside The Box

With so few everyday center fielders available in free agency most years, teams with openings will have to be creative.  One option would be to try Endy Chavez as a center field regular; he hasn't filled that role since 2003-04 with the Expos.  His career was sidelined by a torn ACL operated on over two years ago, but his half-season with the Rangers this year was promising.

Agent Scott Boras said in March that Carlos Beltran could play center field effectively, but teams looking to invest in the 34-year-old probably won't count on that.  David DeJesus hasn't played 500 innings in center since '08, but Cody Ross tallied over 700 just last year.

Quality Backups

Assuming he doesn't retire, Mike Cameron's batting line with Florida suggests teams will have interest.  Rick Ankiel and Nate McLouth are also candidates to get Major League deals to serve as part-time players.

Non-Tender Candidates

The list of center field non-tender candidates is strong.  The Mets' Angel Pagan may be deemed unworthy of a $4.7MM arbitration salary, but there's an argument he was worth almost five times that amount in 2010.  The Giants' Andres Torres is an even more extreme example; he projects at $2.5MM through arbitration and was arguably worth over ten times that amount last year.  If teams have faith in the 2010 seasons of Pagan and Torres, they'll be popular trade targets prior to December 12th.  There's also a chance the Dodgers' Tony Gwynn Jr. is cut loose, though he projects to make only $1.1MM through arbitration.

Other Trade Candidates

Extending Matt Kemp is a top priority for Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, and Kemp doesn't want to talk contract during the season.  With Kemp entering his walk year, trade rumors will pick up if the extension talks fail.  Interest would be immense around the game for the MVP candidate.

Melky Cabrera projects at $4.4MM next year, and a multiyear deal with the Royals looks unlikely.  He's a trade candidate this winter coming off a fine offensive season.  The Rays' B.J. Upton is a fit for the more defensively-minded club, and he projects at $7.6MM in his last year before free agency.  Marlon Byrd, set to earn $6.5MM this year, may be expendable for the Cubs.  Denard Span, signed potentially through 2015, was often linked to the Nationals during the summer.  Hopefully the dizziness and vertigo he suffered this year are behind him.  Mitch Maier, Carlos Gomez, Chris Coghlan, Rajai Davis, and Alex Rios are other names to watch on the center field trade market.

Check out the full free agent list, as well as our articles on the markets at catcherfirst basesecond base, third base and shortstop.

Free Agent And Trade Market For Left Fielders

The Indians, Twins, Athletics, Braves, Padres and Giants could find themselves pursuing left fielders this offseason. Here's a preliminary look at which players will be available at the position:

Starting Left Fielders Available In Free Agency

No free agent left fielder will command Carl Crawford money this offseason. Josh Willingham, the top left fielder available, appears to be in line for a two or three-year deal.

Ryan Ludwick could draw interest, though his homer total and OPS have fallen for three consecutive seasons. Raul Ibanez and Laynce Nix also have power, but it's unclear if teams will see them as a viable everyday options. Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer have both have played left field before, although they didn't play much of it in 2011. Similarly, Johnny Damon isn't an everyday defender. Juan Pierre will likely find an everyday job. 

Quality Backups

Jonny Gomes, Juan Rivera and Bill Hall are useful bats against left-handed pitching and Wily Mo Pena and Marcus Thames have also had success against southpaws. Scott Hairston, Travis Buck, Willie Harris and Reed Johnson can add value off of the bench. Mark DeRosa and Carlos Guillen spent considerable time on the disabled list in 2011. Pat Burrell would only play for the Giants and the Braves may exercise their club option for Eric Hinske.

Non-Tender Candidates

Luke Scott, Jeremy Hermida, Steven Pearce, Ryan Spilborghs and Delmon Young are all non-tender candidates to one degree or another. Young may be a non-tender candidate in name only after his powerful stint in Detroit.

Thinking Outside The Box

Free agent David DeJesus has played left field before, though not in 2011. Scott Boras clients Carlos Beltran and J.D. Drew could be fits in left field, despite their inexperience at the position. Ryan Doumit could be worth a shot in left field and if might be easier on Grady Sizemore's knees to play left, rather than center.

Other Trade Candidates

Ed Wade and Theo Epstein may hope to move Carlos Lee and Alfonso Soriano and their generous contracts. Chris Heisey and Yonder Alonso may come up in trade talks as the Reds look to acquire a top starter. Logan Morrison appears to have displeased his bosses at times and could be on the block. The Angels could move Bobby Abreu and clear their outfield logjam. Younger left fielders, such as Josh Reddick, could also be available this offseason.

Check out the full free agent list, as well as our articles on the markets at catcherfirst basesecond base, third base and shortstop.

Free Agent And Trade Market For Third Basemen

The Tigers, Angels, Cubs, Marlins and Rockies will likely pursue starting third basemen this offseason and clubs like the Yankees and Braves could be in the market for bench help at the hot corner. Here's a preview of the offseason third base market.

Starting Third Basemen Available In Free Agency

Aramis Ramirez stands out as the top free agent third baseman available. He won't cost a draft pick and, as it turns out, neither will any of the offseason's other free agent third basemen. Wilson Betemit, who posted a .795 OPS in 2011, is another everyday option.

Quality Backups

Eric Chavez, John McDonald, Craig Counsell, Greg DobbsJerry Hairston Jr., Omar Vizquel and Aaron Miles warrant consideration from teams looking for backups. Casey Blake and Mark DeRosa struggled to stay on the field, but both have succeeded in everyday roles before. Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andy LaRoche, two former A's third basemen, should receive interest, if not Major League deals.

Non-Tender Candidates

Ian Stewart, Mike Aviles and Adam Rosales could be cut loose or traded by the December 12th non-tender deadline.

Thinking Outside The Box

Perhaps former shortstops like Orlando Cabrera, Jamey Carroll could play third regularly. There's also Yonder Alonso, who could be available in trades. If you really want to dream, imagine free agent Albert Pujols at third. He played seven games at the hot corner this offseason, but realistically he's a first baseman.

Other Trade Candidates

David Wright and Kevin Youkilis are the biggest names we might see on the trade market. Casey McGehee, Alberto Callaspo and Ty Wigginton could also conceivably be traded. Padres GM Josh Byrnes may entertain offers for Chase Headley and the Orioles' new GM could move Mark Reynolds or Chris Davis. Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker of the Cubs may also be available. Chone Figgins could likely be had given the Mariners' internal options at third.

Check out the full free agent list, as well as our articles on the markets at catcherfirst basesecond base and shortstop.

Free Agent And Trade Market For Shortstops

The Twins, Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Cardinals, Pirates, Astros and Giants are likely to express interest in shortstops this offseason and other clubs may become involved as well. Here's a look at an unusually strong market for shortstops.

Starting Shortstops Available In Free Agency

Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins are the top shortstops available. Reyes has a case for a nine-figure contract and Rollins wants a five-year deal. The options for Rafael FurcalYuniesky Betancourt will likely be declined, making them free agents, but Marco Scutaro  probably won't hit the open market and it's too early to call Ronny Cedeno's option. Clint Barmes, Jamey Carroll and Alex Gonzalez are also capable of handling an everyday shortstop job.

Quality Backups

Willie BloomquistJerry Hairston Jr.Ramon SantiagoJohn McDonaldOrlando Cabrera, Craig Counsell, Cesar Izturis, Edgar Renteria and Jack Wilson are utility and backup types to consider. Some could draw interest as second basemen.

Non-Tender Candidates

Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, Emmanuel Burriss, Chris Getz, Adam Rosales, Luis Rodriguez, Donnie Murphy, Alberto Gonzalez, Wilson Valdez, Brandon Wood, Mike Aviles and Paul Janish could all be non-tendered this offseason. They're also trade canidates leading up to the December deadline for teams to tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players.

Thinking Outside The Box

Players are converted from shortstop, not to shortstop, so don't expect that slugging left fielder to solve your team's middle infield woes. The vast majority of realistic shortstop options already play the position, which means there's not much mystery here.

Patient teams could wait until the big names have been signed and inquire on players or prospects who have been pushed down on the depth chart. For example, slick-fielding prospect Brandon Crawford could be available if the Giants sign a shortstop or Ian Desmond could be available if the Nationals obtain a more established player.

Other Trade Candidates

Jed Lowrie will likely be a bench player for the Red Sox and could be moved. Teams could inquire on Sean Rodriguez or Reid Brignac of the Rays. Yet another AL East shortstop, Eduardo Nunez, could also be available. The same goes for Jason Bartlett of the Padres.

Check out the full free agent list, as well as our articles on the markets at catcherfirst base and second base.

Free Agent And Trade Market For Second Basemen

The Blue Jays, Tigers, Twins, Mets, Cubs, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Dodgers may be in the market for second base help this offseason, and the market offers a good number of viable options.

Starting Second Basemen Available In Free Agency

As many as six free agent second basemen will likely be considered as starters: Kelly Johnson, Clint Barmes, Mark Ellis, Aaron Hill, Jamey Carroll, and Nick Punto.  If Johnson were coming off his 2010 season, he'd be a lock for a multiyear deal.  But given his struggles with Arizona this year, he might even prefer a one-year deal to rebuild value.  Hill could prefer the same.  Otherwise, Omar Infante's two-year, $8MM extension with the Marlins will be a target for most of these guys.  Having shown an ability to play shortstop everyday, Barmes may be looking for more.

Thinking Outside The Box

Aside from Barmes, shortstops like Rafael Furcal, Yuniesky Betancourt, Ronny Cedeno, Alex Gonzalez, and Marco Scutaro could be signed as second basemen.  Mark DeRosa and Carlos Guillen are other candidates.  Enough teams need shortstops that I don't expect Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins to consider second base.

Quality Backups

Willie Bloomquist, Jerry Hairston Jr., Aaron Miles, Ramon Santiago, and John McDonald should be able to find big league deals for utility jobs.

Non-Tender Candidates

Non-tender candidates abound.  Skip Schumaker, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, Chris Getz, and Adam Rosales are just a few middle infielders who may be cut loose.  Their tenuous tender situations make them trade candidates as well.

Other Trade Candidates

Jeff Keppinger is a prime trade candidate, if the Giants are confident in Freddy Sanchez.  The Rockies' Chris Nelson is another name to consider.  If Gordon Beckham doesn't show signs of improvement, he could become available.

Check out the full free agent list, as well as our articles on the markets at catcher and first base.

Free Agent And Trade Market For First Basemen

The Orioles, Rays, Blue Jays, Indians, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Cardinals, and Dodgers could be in the market for first base help this offseason.  Despite internal options at the position, the Angels, Mariners, Rangers, Marlins, and Nationals can't escape speculation either.  It's a good time to be a free agent first baseman, as power pays and plenty of teams are looking even if the Yankees and Red Sox sit this one out.

Starting First Basemen Available In Free Agency

As many as six qualified starting first basemen are eligible for free agency this winter.  Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are the best offensive free agent tandem in many years, and they'll sign contracts well over $100MM.  The terms will be a minimum of five years.  The many teams that cannot afford to bid at that level can still look at Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Pena, Casey Kotchman, and Derrek Lee.  Cuddyer is undoubtedly a starter, though it's possible his preference will be right field.  I think he'll find a three-year deal.  Pena has an outside shot at two years, but his low batting averages may limit him to one.  Kotchman needs to prove 2011 wasn't a fluke, while Lee has to get past memories of his ugly Baltimore stint if he decides to play in 2012.

Thinking Outside The Box

The Padres' signing of Brad Hawpe as a first baseman last winter didn't work out, but teams may still look beyond the six players listed above.  While we won't be seeing David Ortiz putting on a glove regularly, it's less of a stretch to think Josh Willingham, Raul Ibanez, or Ryan Doumit could spend significant time at first base in 2012.  Willingham is a lock for a two-year deal, with a ceiling of three.

Quality Backups

Eric Hinske, Lyle Overbay, Casey Blake, Eric Chavez, Mark DeRosa, Greg Dobbs, Carlos Guillen, Conor Jackson, Juan Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Jason Giambi are candidates for big league deals that could involve time at first base.

Non-Tender Candidates

The Dodgers' James Loney and the Athletics' Daric Barton are candidates to join the free agent frenzy as non-tenders.  They're both more likely to be tendered than not at this point though.  Both could become trade bait.  Luke Scott is another name to watch when the December 12th deadline nears.

Other Trade Candidates

The Reds appear to have no interest in trading Joey Votto.  It's easier to picture Adam Lind, Mark Reynolds, Adam LaRoche on the market, depending on how their teams' offseasons play out.  The Angels could have a surplus between Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales, but only if Morales comes on strong after missing all of 2011.  The Yankees could potentially consider Nick Swisher a trade chip, once they pick up his option.