Justin Upton Rumors

NL Notes: Mercer, Morel, Cueto, Bruce, Alvarez, Upton

Pirates infielder Jordy Mercer was injured by a take out slide while turning a double play earlier today. The extent of the injury is unknown. The Pirates may activate utility infielder Brent Morel if Mercer misses more than a few days, writes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The club is already carrying a short bench, and none of the three healthy players have experience at third base. Morel was pulled from his Triple-A start today. The Pirates 40-man roster is full, so activating Morel will require a roster move.

  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter) heard that the Reds did not want to trade Johnny Cueto last month because they feared having to watch him pitch for another team in the All-Star Game.  Of course, Cueto was not named an All-Star and he remains a member of the Reds as of this writing.
  • The Orioles are among the teams scouting the Reds, tweets Morosi. They’re most interested in Cueto and outfielder Jay Bruce. Cueto is a free agent after the season, but Bruce is under contract through 2016 for $12.5MM with a $13MM ($1MM buyout) for 2017.
  • Pirates manager Clint Hurdle acknowledged the challenges Pedro Alvarez is having in his first season at first base, but he told reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that he’s not about to lobby GM Neal Huntington to make a move.  “I think our [GM] knows as well as I do what we’re looking to identify as strengths and weaknesses on our club,” Hurdle said. “We will do everything we can to fortify and make our club better. I’m not a fan of saying OK, we need A, B and C when A, B and C are out there [in the clubhouse].
  • Justin Upton was pulled out of today’s game early, but it wasn’t a sign of an impending trade as many speculated.  The Padres simply had a muscle tighten up on him in the middle of today’s contest and he was pulled from the game as a precaution due to weather, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

Orioles Interested In Upton, Gomez

4:08pm: The O’s have also inquired on Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.  As Rosenthal writes, it’s questionable as to whether the Orioles have the prospects necessary for a big move.

Rosenthal reported on Saturday that the Astros have also scouted Gomez.  Late last week, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Brewers are now showing a willingness to trade both Gomez and Jean Segura.

3:50pm: The Astros also have interest in Upton, Morosi tweets.  The Astros are on their way to a 51-43 record as they lead the Rangers by a wide margin.

3:45pm: The Orioles have expressed interest in trading for Padres outfielder Justin Upton, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  The O’s have been looking to add an outfielder this season.

The Orioles aren’t the first team to show interest in Upton this summer.  The Mets are reportedly aiming high in their pursuit of outfield help and Upton is high on their list.  Upton, who is in his first year with the Padres, is owed the prorated portion of a $14.5MM salary for the rest of the season.  Through 370 plate appearances this season, Upton owns a slash line of .252/.331/.426 with 15 homers plus 17 stolen bases.

For his part, Upton said recently that he hopes to stay in San Diego.

“At this point, I haven’t given up on the team,” said Upton late last week. “I really like the guys, and I like the clubhouse. We still have some time to change the minds of the front office. In a perfect world, we play well over the next two or three weeks and [GM] A.J. [Preller] pumps the brakes on dismantling the team.”

The Orioles are 46-45 after topping the Tigers earlier today, putting them 4.0 games behind the first place Yankees in the AL East.


Heyman’s Latest: Dodgers/Hamels, Braves, Frazier, Price, Brewers, Upton

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his weekly Inside Baseball column by reporting that the Dodgers have “quietly continued having dialogue with the Phillies” regarding Cole Hamels. The Dodgers are also giving serious consideration to the rental market and prioritizing Johnny Cueto over others among such targets. The Dodgers “appear determined” to land a top-of-the-rotation arm to pair with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, writes Heyman, but most executives think they’ll hold onto top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias. The Dodgers have a deep farm system beyond that pairing (righty Jose De Leon has recently been ranked a Top 25 prospect by Baseball America and ESPN), and one exec tells Heyman that the Phillies’ asking price on Hamels has become “more reasonable” recently. The Dodgers feel that Greinke is a lock to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and while they could possibly re-sign him by adding a year or two to the deal and upping his $24.5MM AAV, Hamels would provide insurance should Greinke sign elsewhere. Jeff Samardzija is also a consideration for the Dodgers, but while they like him, they consider him more of a No. 2/3 starter and don’t love him.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s article, though the synopsis won’t cover everything within the piece, so I’d highly recommend reading it in its entirety…

  • The Braves will be deadline sellers, Heyman hears, with Jim Johnson, Juan Uribe and Cameron Maybin among the players that will be available to interested teams. Chris Johnson, too, continues to be available, but there are no takers for his contract, which Atlanta has aggressively tried to move in the past.
  • With the Reds expected to trade so many veterans to other clubs, many in the industry expect the team to make a run at extending Todd Frazier beyond his current two-year deal, Heyman writes. (Frazier has one more year of arbitration following his current pact.) Jeff Todd and I have discussed Frazier’s situation on the MLBTR Podcast in the past (and will do so again this afternoon), and I’ve personally taken the stance that given the significant commitments to Joey Votto and Homer Bailey, the Reds could have a difficult time affording Frazier, whose 2014-15 breakout has hugely inflated his price tag. Given the lack of impact bats on the trade market, Frazier would net a king’s ransom and could rapidly expedite the rebuilding process, though the PR hit of trading him with so much control and on the heels of a Home Run Derby victory would of course be significant.
  • In other Reds news, Heyman hears Mike Leake‘s ground-ball tendencies are appealing to AL East clubs, and he’s drawn interest from the Blue Jays, Orioles and Red Sox in addition to the Royals, Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs and Giants. Manny Parra and Marlon Byrd are both “likely to go” as well.
  • Asked about the possibility of signing with the Cubs this offseason due to his relationship with skipper Joe Maddon, Tigers ace David Price replied, “Wherever I play baseball next year it’s not going to be because of a manager.”
  • The Astros are interested in both Cueto and Leake, and Houston seems willing to deal from its glut of MLB-ready outfield prospects, including Domingo Santana and Preston Tucker. (Previous reports have indicated they’re reluctant to part with Brett Phillips, however, who may be the best among the outfield bunch.)
  • The Brewers are now showing a willingness to trade both Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, Heyman hears. Though it was previously believed they were reluctant to move Segura, the emergence of Orlando Arcia (the younger brother of the Twins’ Oswaldo Arcia) may have changed Milwaukee’s thinking. However, Arcia himself is also drawing a huge amount of trade interest, and the Padres have called to express interest. One NL exec called him the best player he’s seen in the minors this year, while another comped him to Francisco Lindor, but said Arcia is better. Regarding Segura, Heyman hears that the Mets dislike his free-swinging approach.
  • The Twins aren’t closed off to the idea of re-acquiring Gomez from the Brewers, but their primary focus at this point is bullpen help.
  • The Mets are aiming high in their pursuit of an outfield bat and have both Gomez and Justin Upton on their radar. They’re not likely to add Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers unless they receive bad news on the prognosis of David Wright. They also have little interest in swinging a deal for Uribe.
  • Padres officials insist that they haven’t determined their course of action heading into the deadline, but Heyman writes that free-agents-to-be such as Upton, Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit and Will Venable could be traded regardless. James Shields‘ backloaded contract limits his value, but one GM felt Benoit has “big value” and Heyman notes that Craig Kimbrel would be in huge demand as well, should the Padres try to recoup some value from that deal.
  • Cueto, Samardzija and Leake are atop the Blue Jays‘ wish list, and the team was also in talks with the Braves regarding Jason Grilli prior to his season-ending injury. A top starting pitcher is Toronto’s top priority at this point, says Heyman. He also adds that there’s no evidence to suggest that manager John Gibbons is on the hot seat.


Rangers Unlikely To Land Cole Hamels

Rumors connecting the Rangers to Phillies ace Cole Hamels have been circulating for months, dating back to Yu Darvish‘s Tommy John surgery. However, a club source tells MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan that such an acquisition is improbable. “If we were going to do that trade, we would have already done it by now,” said Sullivan’s source. There’s currently “no traction” between the two clubs, Sullivan hears.

Similarly, when asked about the team’s approach to buying or selling at this year’s deadline, GM Jon Daniels told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Jeff Wilson“…I don’t think you’re going to see us on either extreme end. My mind-set is always wanting to add to the club and always wanting to win, but you’ve got to pay attention to the realities of the standings.”

The Rangers, according to Sullivan, dislike Hamels’ contract as well as the asking price in terms of prospects. Previous reports linking the two sides had noted that Philadelphia covets catching prospect Jorge Alfaro and outfield prospect Nomar Mazara, though Mazara’s stock, in particular, has risen in 2015. The 20-year-old is slashing .285/.361/.446 with 10 homers at Double-A in 2015, despite being quite young for the level. That strong play landed him 34th on Baseball America’s midseason Top 50 prospects list and as high as sixth on Keith Law’s new list a ESPN.com.

Two players who very well could become available, however, are Wandy Rodriguez and Carlos Corporan, Sullivan reports. Texas is open to moving Corporan and pairing Tomas Telis with Robinson Chirinos behind the dish. As for Rodriguez, multiple teams have told the Rangers that they consider the veteran lefty a fallback option if they’re unable to secure other targets in trades.

The fate of Yovani Gallardo, Sullivan writes, will be determined closer to the trade deadline. The Rangers won’t want to move him if they’re still in the hunt for the division title, but poor performances in pre-deadline matchups against the Angels and Astros could cause him to become available.

If Texas performs well in those two intra-division series, however, it does remain possible that Daniels and his staff will make some incremental moves to bolster the roster. Wilson lists a right-handed bat to balance out the lineup (noting that someone of Justin Upton‘s caliber simply is not realistic) as well as another reliable reliever to pair with closer Shawn Tolleson and solid rookie setup man Keone Kela. Daniels himself mentioned earlier this week that the Rangers would pursue such targets.


NL West Notes: Seager, Pederson, Upton, Preller, CarGo

Dodgers shortstop/third base prospect Corey Seager sits atop the midseason top fifty prospect list of ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link). After a flurry of top prospect graduations early in the season, it seems fairly clear that observers have settled on Seager as the new number one overall pre-big league player in baseball.

Here’s more from the NL West:

  • Another key young Dodgers player, center fielder Joc Pederson, landed in a virtual tie alongside Mookie Betts of the Red Sox as the most valuable trade piece not to make the top ten list of Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron. The pair of outstanding and controllable assets are the last two members of Cameron’s top dozen. As he explains, preferring one to the other is largely a matter of slight preferences in valuation.
  • We don’t yet know what direction A.J. Preller will take the Padres at the deadline. But major offseason acquisition (and pending free agent/possible trade chip) Justin Upton said at the All-Star Game that he hopes to stay with San Diego, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports“At this point, I haven’t given up on the team,” said Upton. “I really like the guys, and I like the clubhouse. We still have some time to change the minds of the front office. In a perfect world, we play well over the next two or three weeks and A.J. pumps the brakes on dismantling the team.” That certainly seems like a tall order, but the rookie GM has managed to surprise the baseball world plenty in his short tenure.
  • Over at Grantland, Rany Jazayerli has some rather harsh words for the performance of Preller. Not only is the dramatically-compiled big league roster a bust, says Jazayerli, but the players moved to make that possible have almost universally looked great in their new organizations. It’s certainly an interesting read, which makes some compelling points. But risk is inherent to any action, in baseball and in life, and part of the equation in assessing risk (and whether it’s worth taking it on) involves dealing with the downside. With the deadline approaching, we may have an opportunity to see what kind of bailout plan Preller has in mind for the shorter-term assets he acquired.
  • Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has swung a hot bat at an opportune time, Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes“Finally, I’m getting my timing back, which is the biggest key for me,” said Gonzalez. “I’m able to sit back on my back leg. It was something I wasn’t able to do that last two years. But I knew at some point I’d get there. I’m still confident.” The question, of course, is whether this recent uptick will be enough to drive significant trade interest. As GM Jeff Bridich recently said of Gonzalez: “His stats aren’t as good as Tulo’s or some of the other guys on our team, so if a team is just going off that, I don’t know. But we’ll certainly know more in 10 days to two weeks.”

John Hart Talks Braves Trades Of Past And Future

Braves president of baseball operations John Hart discussed the upcoming trade deadline and a wide range of other topics in a fascinating Q&A with Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A full read of this excellent interview is highly recommended, but here are some of the highlights:

With July 31 fast approaching, Hart said it’s still an open question: “Do we pick up the phone or answer the phone? I’m not sure yet.” Noting that he “never made any false promises that we were built to win this year,” Hart nevertheless said it’s still possible that the team will make some additions at the deadline. But he cautioned that “we’re not going to be big buyers.”

[RELATED: Braves To Sign Jason Frasor]

Of course, selling is also still a distinct possibility, but Hart made clear that he wouldn’t move veterans just to get something back. “We don’t have the big chip that will take somebody over the top,” said Hart. “If people want good pieces and they can offer us something, yeah. But we’re going to take great care. We’re playing short. There is a very real possibility we won’t do anything.”

Looking back, Hart said that his first order of business upon taking the reigns of baseball decisionmaking in Atlanta was “to rebuild the pitching staff” at the major league level and “grow” the farm system. It was not, apparently, a tough choice to move veteran assets to facilitate those efforts. As he put it: “At some point, you have to stop and ask, ‘How long are we going to chase this?'”

And the major challenge? Per Hart: “[W]e had some economic pieces out there that weren’t conducive to this club making moves. I had to think about moving some good players and I had to think: How do I attach good players to move money? I had some of the most unusual trade conversations I’ve had in my life.”

Hart also talked through the deals that were ultimately made. You’ll need to (and should) read the entire piece for his full breakdown, of course. Hart indicated that he was somewhat disappointed with being unable to add both a current major league starter and a future arm for Justin Upton (after achieving that with Jason Heyward).

“The Justin Upton deal we [discussed] so many pieces. The guys we wanted, [the Padres] didn’t put in — they got put into another [trade],” Hart said. “[Evan] Gattis, we looked at a lot of different names. There were some circumstances that didn’t work out.” (It’s not clear this is the deal he’s referring to, but it’s worth noting that San Diego shipped Jesse Hahn to the A’s, as part of the Derek Norris deal, the day before acquiring Upton.)

[RELATED: Braves Trade Justin Upton To Padres]

As for the deal that sent closer Craig Kimbrel to the Padres on the eve of Opening Day, Hart explaind that it took an exceptional set of circumstances. Questions via Schultz, of course:

Q: But was your only chance to get rid of B.J. Upton’s contract.

A: That was obviously the intent. We had 10 calls on Kimbrel in the winter but we just hung up because they wouldn’t take an off load. San Diego was one of the clubs that came up early.

Q: Did it shock you when they said they would take Upton?

A: Yeah, it did. They put all of their chips in.

Hart went on to address catcher Christian Bethancourt, saying that he believes the youngster needs to improve his “level of preparedness.” As to whether the team moved him to the big leagues too soon, Hart explained: “We talked about it in the winter. We called him up last year and he had a good first month and a not-so-good last month. That sort of left a bad taste. It’s fixable. But at some point the player has to assume some responsibility.”

Finally, Hart offered rather effusive praise for skipper Fredi Gonzalez. He indicated that he felt it would be an easy decision to decide whether to retain him for 2016, though stopped short of making any promises. “I don’t want to go there,” said Hart. “There’s timing. But Fredi’s been really good. He’s been good to work with and he’s done a good job with his staff. And this club may fall apart but I know if it happens it’s not going to be because Fredi forgot how to manage.”


Heyman On Grilli, D-backs, Marlins, Dodgers

Here are the highlights from Jon Heyman’s massive new Inside Baseball article for CBS Sports. Be sure to check out Heyman on the latest edition of the MLBTR Podcast.

  • The Braves have had “serious talks” about dealing closer Jason Grilli to a contender, Heyman writes, with the Blue Jays and Dodgers among the teams that make the most sense.
  • The Diamondbacks have made infielder Aaron Hill and pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and Addison Reed available in trades, and all three players have attracted at least some interest.
  • The Marlins could trade starter Dan Haren for the right return. On paper, the Dodgers would seem to make sense, but that seems unlikely, since the Dodgers treated Haren basically as a throw-in in the Dee Gordon trade in the offseason. The Dodgers would also prefer to find a starter they could use in the playoffs, and Haren likely doesn’t qualify.
  • Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins could become available in a trade as top prospect Corey Seager continues to demonstrate he’s ready for the big leagues.
  • The Dodgers, Blue Jays, Nationals and perhaps other teams had scouts on hand as Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma returned from a lat injury this week. Iwakuma could be a trade candidate, but Heyman notes that giving up four homers to the Tigers probably didn’t exactly increase his value.
  • Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez still seems set on retiring after the season, despite agent Paul Kinzer’s efforts to get him to continue.
  • The Padres have been scouting the Mets lately, leading to speculation that the Mets could be trying to trade for Justin Upton.
  • The Phillies are “not bending” in their demands for Cole Hamels, and his limited no-trade clause remains an obstacle.
  • The Giants have had talks with free agent infielder Everth Cabrera. The Orioles released Cabrera last month. He would provide depth for San Francisco.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Padres, Niese, Cubs, Jays

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:

  • At 36-40, the Padres have considered buying as well as selling at the trade deadline. They could pursue a shortstop and left-handed hitter if they buy. If they sell, they could consider dealing Justin Upton, James Shields and Craig Kimbrel. Upton is the only one of the three who’s eligible for free agency after the season, though, and the Padres might not want to tear down entirely, since they’re hosting the All-Star Game next year.
  • The Cubs have considered dealing for Mets left-hander Jon Niese, although they might also aim higher. The salary remaining on Niese’s current deal (he’ll make $9MM next year, plus a $500K buyout or $10MM option in 2016) might also be a slight obstacle to trading him.
  • The Blue Jays are interested in pitching, but also perhaps in outfield help. Acquiring an outfielder would help the Jays to keep top young player Dalton Pompey in the minors — he’s currently hitting very well for Double-A New Hampshire after struggling in both the big leagues and in Triple-A this year.
  • Former Padres manager Bud Black could be a possibility for the Braves if they eventually decide to replace Fredi Gonzalez. Black worked for the Indians front office when current Braves GM John Hart was in Cleveland, and Braves president John Schuerholz traded for Black all the way back in 1982, when Schuerholz was GM of the Royals.

NL Notes: Price, Mets, Cubs, Frias, Upton

The struggling Reds are hosting this year’s All-Star Game, but the possibility of bad P.R. shouldn’t prevent them from dismissing manager Bryan Price, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Rosenthal notes that owner Bob Castellini likes Price and Jocketty and is wary of an upheaval before the break. But the Reds have played poorly lately, and Price’s occasional bursts of odd behavior (including an infamous profane tirade against the media a few weeks ago) raise questions about whether he’s well suited for the job. The organization has third base coach Jim Riggleman, Triple-A manager Delino DeShields and perhaps roving instructor Barry Larkin as potential replacements. Here’s more from the National League.

  • The Mets have lots of talented young pitching and the Cubs have terrific young position players, and MLB.com’s Jim Duquette proposes several trades the two clubs might make. By far the wildest one (and one Duquette fully acknowledges is vanishingly unlikely) is Matt Harvey for Kris Bryant. The Mets and Cubs’ respective fan bases have pinned their hopes heavily on those two players, so such a trade would be nearly impossible, but it’s fun to think about. The sense here is that the Mets would easily be getting the better of such a deal — Bryant’s bat is rare, to put it mildly, and Harvey is three years closer to free agency and probably also more of an injury risk.
  • Carlos Frias‘ poor performance Sunday shows why the Dodgers are likely to pursue outside starting pitching help, Anthony Witrado of ESPN Los Angeles writes. Frias gave up ten runs, including two homers, over four innings against the Padres, more than doubling his ERA. Frias did pitch reasonably well in four starts before that, but there’s no doubt the Dodgers’ rotation situation is somewhat uncomfortable, due to injuries to Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy.
  • The Padres haven’t performed as well as they’ve hoped, but Justin Upton has been terrific, and the team needs to do everything it can to keep him, Matt Calkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. The Padres’ new ownership did well to open its wallet last winter, but it must continue to show it’s serious about winning. Of course, keeping Upton won’t be easy to do — Upton currently tops MLBTR’s 2015-2016 Free Agent Power Rankings.
  • Cardinals lefty Marco Gonzales will miss a start with Triple-A Memphis on Monday with pectoral muscle tightness, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com writes. Gonzales dealt with the same injury earlier this season. Gonzales hasn’t yet pitched in the big-leagues this season, but as Langosch points out, he’s a key part of the Cardinals’ rotation depth, especially given Adam Wainwright‘s absence.

Possible Qualifying Offer Players Who Could Be Dealt

Next year’s free agent market contains plenty of players who could receive qualifying offers — David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Heyward, and others. Here’s a look at potential qualifying offer recipients who have the best chance of being traded this season, thus preventing them from receiving that designation.

At issue, of course, is draft pick compensation and forfeiture. A team extending a qualifying offer to a player receives a draft pick in return if the player signs elsewhere. The signing team also gives up a draft pick. But a player who has been traded in the season before he becomes a free agent can’t be extended a qualifying offer and thus isn’t attached to draft picks. That can be an important consideration for teams shopping for free agents, as we’ve seen in recent years in the cases of Kyle Lohse, Nelson Cruz, Ervin Santana, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales, whose markets have all shrunk in part because of the qualifying offer.

Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, Reds. The Reds are off to a 4-0 start but still aren’t that likely to contend, which means that Cueto and Leake could hit the free agent market this summer. Trading Cueto, in particular, would be a great way for the Reds to add to their collection of young talent. Leake might be somewhat trickier to trade, since the Reds’ return might not be worth that much more than the draft pick and negotiating leverage they would forgo by dealing him.

Ben Zobrist and Scott Kazmir, Athletics. Billy Beane’s trade for Zobrist this offseason was a somewhat surprising one to begin with. The Athletics could easily contend, but if they don’t, Beane seems unlikely to sit still, and finding a new home for Zobrist wouldn’t be difficult given his versatility. Kazmir is another possibility — if he performs at his 2014 levels, he could receive a qualifying offer if the A’s contend or be traded if they don’t.

Alex Gordon, Royals. The Royals haven’t discussed an extension with Gordon, who would undoubtedly be an attractive trade target if the Royals were to fall out of contention in the AL Central. They’re currently 4-0, however, and there’s still the matter of Gordon’s $12.5MM option. Exercising it would likely not be an optimal financial decision from Gordon’s perspective, but he’s expressed interest in doing so before. If he were to make clear to the Royals that he planned to do so, he almost certainly wouldn’t be a trade candidate.

Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy, Padres. San Diego gambled heavily this offseason on the Padres’ ability to win in 2015. If they don’t, A.J. Preller doesn’t seem like the sort of GM to hang onto two key players who are due to become free agents. One possibility if the Padres were to trade Kennedy or especially Upton would be to acquire big-league talent in return, much like the Red Sox did when they dealt Jon Lester last summer. That would enable the Padres to re-tool for 2016, when they’ll still control most of the players they acquired over the winter.

Yovani Gallardo, Rangers. The Brewers exercised what was effectively a $12.4MM 2015 option ($13MM minus a $600K buyout) before trading Gallardo to Texas. His market value likely is somewhere near the value of a qualifying offer, and extending him one wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Rangers if he performs well this season. They could easily trade him rather than doing that, although that might be somewhat difficult given all the higher-impact starters who might be available and the value that would disappear if the ability to extend Gallardo a qualifying offer were to vanish.

Jeff Samardzija, White Sox. The new-look White Sox are 0-4, and GM Rick Hahn has said he will be “nimble” in turning his attention to the future if the organization’s moves to contend this summer don’t work out. That might mean Samardzija could be traded for the third time in a year. He would likely command significant value on the trade market.

Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, Orioles. Davis and Wieters are worth watching, although it’s somewhat unlikely that they’re valuable enough to receive qualifying offers and that they become trade candidates. Davis had a down season in 2014, while Wieters continues to struggle with health problems (and there’s currently no timetable for his return from an elbow injury). If Davis and Wieters are productive and healthy, the Orioles could well contend, and thus it’s unlikely they’ll be traded. If they aren’t, they might not be qualifying offer candidates.