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Trade Market Rumors
On Tuesday we analyzed the free agent market for first basemen, noting plenty of openings and a large group of players who will be fighting for regular playing time. Let's see what the trade market adds to the equation.
The Big Names
The Winter Meetings are coming up in a couple of months, and trade talk could be dominated by Prince Fielder rumors. 77.8% of MLBTR readers expect the big man to be traded this offseason, according to a recent site poll. Fielder, 27 in May, had an off-year in terms of his 32 home runs and .471 SLG yet led MLB with 114 walks and posted a stellar .401 OBP. Fielder, a Scott Boras client, reportedly rejected an extension offer from the Brewers in the five-year, $100MM range. He's arbitration eligible this winter and could earn around $15MM in 2011 before hitting free agency. The White Sox and Rangers were reported July suitors for Fielder; the Brewers figure to seek pitching.
A year ago Adrian Gonzalez was considered a strong trade candidate. I think the Padres' surprising run this year takes him off the market this winter, but it'd be silly not to listen. At $6.2MM for 2011, Gonzalez would be a superior trade target to Fielder.
Carlos Lee is more of a big contract than a big name – he's owed $37MM over the next two seasons. Lee spent most of his time in left field but picked up 20 games at first base toward the end of the season. He slumped to .246/.291/.417 this year and could only be dealt for a similarly bad contract.
James Loney, Casey Kotchman, and Dan Johnson are our speculative first base non-tender candidates. Loney has enough promise that a trade is much more likely than a non-tender. Kotchman, on the other hand, is certain to be cut loose. As for the Rays' Johnson? He would not be expensive to retain through arbitration, having picked up only 140 big league plate appearances this year. He is 31 years old, though, and the Rays could non-tender him in December for the flexibility. Johnson's appeal lies in his destruction of Triple-A pitching this year, though there's no particular reason for the Rays to move him.
Four other first basemen who could draw trade interest: Travis Ishikawa, Chris Davis, Garrett Jones, and Jeff Clement. Ishikawa's future with the Giants may depend on whether they re-sign Aubrey Huff or another free agent. The 27-year-old Ishikawa has a career line of .265/.327/.400 in 665 plate appearances, with problems against southpaws in a scant 67 PAs. Davis had a shot to take over as the Rangers' regular first baseman this year, but his minor league success has not carried over. He too has struggled against lefties and must await his team's offseason decisions. Clouding the picture for Davis is Mitch Moreland's success this year.
The Pirates may have given up on regular playing time for Jones and Clement. Jones had a full 654 plate appearances to prove himself, and he did hit 21 home runs, but his .247/.306/.414 line was subpar. Like Ishikawa and Davis, lefties give him trouble.
Reds prospect Yonder Alonso would not be labeled a project at this point, but we'll put him in this group. 24 in April, Alonso was drafted 7th overall in 2008. He hit .296/.355/.470 in 445 Triple-A plate appearances this year, and is blocked by Joey Votto. Alonso has increased his versatility by playing 30 minor league games in left field, but he still may be dealt to fill a need.
We mentioned in the free agent post that the Orioles, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, White Sox, Rangers, Braves, Nationals, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Dodgers, and Giants could be seeking first base help this winter. The trade market adds two serious names in Fielder and perhaps Loney, plus a host of players who would be cheap to acquire and will have to earn their playing time.
Trading a catcher this offseason won't be easy, because there are plenty of free agents and many teams are going young. We analyzed the free agent catching market here; now it's time to consider the trade market.
MLBTR broke the news last week that the non-tender deadline was moved up ten days, to December 2nd. The non-tender candidates mentioned here – including Russell Martin, Ronny Paulino, Mike Napoli, Jeff Mathis, and Dioner Navarro – will presumably be shopped in advance of that date – before the Winter Meetings. Of course, non-tender rumors can kill a player's trade market, as we saw with Kelly Johnson and Matt Capps last winter.
Catchers Under Contract
Three catchers under multiyear extensions may be trade candidates: Ryan Doumit, Chris Iannetta, and Kelly Shoppach. Doumit, owed $5.6MM for one year, would be a salary dump on the Pirates' part. They seem likely to move him somehow. Iannetta, owed $6.1MM over two years, had a lost season after the Rockies signed Miguel Olivo. If Olivo is re-signed for 2011, the Rockies might want to trade Iannetta before his stock drops further. Shoppach is owed $3MM next year and has a club option for '12. If the Rays have faith in the strong play of John Jaso, they could trade Shoppach and find a cheaper backup. Shoppach missed significant time due to knee surgery this year, however.
The trade market for catchers offers no stars. Instead you'll find bounceback candidates and useful but overpaid players. Offensive-minded clubs should look to the trade market, with Doumit, Napoli, and Iannetta possibly available.
We've finished our position-by-position Trade Market series:
- First basemen
- Second basemen
- Third basemen
- Left fielders
- Center fielders
- Right fielders
- Designated hitters
- Starting pitchers
- Lefty relievers
- Righty relievers
My challenge to you: create the best possible lineup, rotation, and bullpen out of players you believe actually will be traded this offseason.
Finishing up our Trade Market series, today we'll take a look at righty-relievers (those not covered in the closer post). We've already seen a few right-handed relievers dealt in Jesse Chavez and Aaron Heilman, with the latter deal more predictable.
- Dan Wheeler, Rays. If the Rays prefer a change at the back end of their bullpen, they could deal Wheeler and free up $4.5MM. The 32-year-old displayed fine control this year but allowed 11 home runs in 57.6 innings.
- Zach Miner, Tigers. Miner is arbitration-eligible for the first time, so the Tigers could trade or non-tender him to save money. On the other hand, Miner still won't be too expensive and the Tigers may lose Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney to free agency.
- Manny Delcarmen, Red Sox. Delcarmen, 28 in February, is another first-time arbitration player. The Nationals offered Nick Johnson for him in May, and the Red Sox turned it down. Delcarmen struggled as the season wore on, posting career-worst strikeout, walk, and groundball rates. Ramon Ramirez and Daniel Bard appear capable of handling Boston's right-handed setup duties.
- Kyle Farnsworth, Royals. With $5MM and one year remaining, Farnsworth will only be moved for another bad contract. He posted a strong strikeout rate in his Royals debut season, but he was hittable and missed time with a groin injury.
- Juan Cruz, Royals. With $3.75MM and one year left, Cruz's contract can also be considered a burden. Strikeouts disappeared while his control issues continued; a shoulder strain may have been a factor.
- Scott Linebrink, White Sox. Linebrink still has two years and $10.5MM left on his deal. This year his home run problems continued, while his control worsened and hits were plentiful. He lost his set-up role in August. The White Sox are losing Octavio Dotel from their 'pen, but now have Tony Pena for the entire year.
- Seth McClung, Brewers. An October tweet from McClung indicated the reliever feels his time with the Brewers is up. This year he was homer-prone and posted 40 strikeouts against 39 walks in 62 innings while dealing with an elbow sprain. He's likely to be non-tendered if not traded first.
- Manny Corpas, Rockies. Corpas is owed $6.5MM over the next two years. His peripherals were decent this year, but he had a 5.88 ERA and multiple elbow surgeries to end his season. He'd have to prove his health to make a trade possible.
- Santiago Casilla, Athletics. Casilla is a non-tender candidate after posting a 5.96 ERA in 48.3 innings. He missed time with a knee injury and posted lousy peripherals.
The free agent market features plenty of lefty relievers, with Joe Beimel, John Grabow, and Darren Oliver among the "bigger" names. How about the trade market?
- Arthur Rhodes, Reds. The Reds could trim $2MM from the payroll by trading Rhodes. The 40-year-old shuts down lefties, but so does Danny Herrera.
- Scott Downs, Blue Jays. Entirely speculation, but the Jays might like to reallocate Downs' $4MM. He missed time this year with toe and hamstring injuries, tallying 46.6 innings and spending some time as the team's closer.
- Brian Tallet, Blue Jays. Mentioned in our starters post, Tallet is earning more than a million bucks and might be expendable. Lefties knocked him around this year though.
- Renyel Pinto, Marlins. Pinto is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter. He has control issues and lefties hit him well, so he won't bring much in return.
- Bobby Seay, Tigers. Seay is due a raise on this year's $1.3MM salary, so the Tigers might prefer to shop him prior to the December 12th non-tender deadline.
- Rafael Perez, Indians. Perez pitched well in 2007-08, with huge strikeout rates and limited walks. The wheels came off this year, and lefties crushed him. Like several others on this list, Perez is in danger of being non-tendered to save money.
The free agent market features closers such as Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, Fernando Rodney, Jose Valverde, and Billy Wagner, plus former closers like J.J. Putz and Takashi Saito. How about the trade market?
- Joe Nathan, Twins. Nathan has long been among the game's best closers. He's guaranteed $24.5MM over the next two seasons, and some have wondered if the Twins might trade him as a way to clear payroll.
- Heath Bell, Padres. Even with a small payroll, the Padres don't have to move Bell's salary. He's due a sizeable arbitration raise on this year's $1.255MM salary and is under team control through 2011.
- Francisco Cordero, Reds. Cordero's contract is a burden for the Reds – $25MM over the next two years. With all the closer options named in this post, Walt Jocketty will be hard-pressed to find a taker.
- Bobby Jenks, White Sox. Jenks is due an arbitration raise on this year's $5.6MM salary, and moving him would give the White Sox payroll flexibility. So would non-tendering him, if Kenny Williams comes up empty on the trade front. Matt Thornton would be his replacement.
- Matt Capps, Pirates. Capps is under team control through 2012, and he's due an arbitration raise on this year's $2.3MM salary. It wouldn't be much of a raise, given this year's 5.80 ERA. Like Jenks, we can't rule out a non-tender. The Pirates offered Capps to the Brewers for J.J. Hardy before the Twins trade, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Kerry Wood, Indians. Set to earn $10.5MM in 2010 with a 2011 vesting option, Wood is an unnecessary piece on the now-rebuilding Indians.
- Matt Lindstrom, Marlins. The arbitration-eligible Lindstrom hit the DL with an elbow issue and lost the closing job to Leo Nunez. He seems a good bet to be unloaded this winter.
- No matter how you slice it, there are more than ten available closers this winter via trade and free agency. The Orioles, Rays, Tigers, Angels, Braves, Phillies, and Astros face late-inning uncertainty, and it looks like a buyer's market.
- Roy Halladay, Blue Jays. Doc is perhaps the game's best pitcher, and new Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos may look to cash him in for a bevy of young talent. Halladay has a no-trade clause and $15.75MM remaining on his contract.
- Edwin Jackson, Tigers. The rumor first surfaced at the GM Meetings that Jackson could be made available as a way for the Tigers to trim payroll. Jackson's probably not as good as his 3.62 ERA this year, but he's only 26 and is under team control for two more years.
- Justin Verlander, Tigers. We haven't heard Verlander's name in trade rumors. But he's similar to Felix Hernandez, a young ace headed toward a large second-year arbitration award. Imagine the teams that would come calling for Verlander.
- Nate Robertson, Tigers. At $10MM next year, the Tigers could attempt to unload Robertson in a bad contract swap or by pairing him with someone valuable. He had minor elbow surgery in July and hasn't been effective in years.
- Dontrelle Willis, Tigers. Willis, owed $12MM in 2010, suffered through another lost season this year. He has even less trade value than Robertson.
- Jeremy Bonderman,Tigers. The 27-year-old Bonderman would be an interesting project if he wasn't owed $12.5MM. He's coming back from a shoulder injury.
- Derek Lowe, Braves. Trading Lowe would free up $45MM over the next three years for the Braves. The contract might be viewed as excessive, but Lowe still has value.
- Kenshin Kawakami, Braves. With $13.3MM owed over the new two years, Kawakami would be an affordable mid-rotation acquisition. Kawakami posted a 3.86 ERA in 156.3 innings in his MLB debut.
- Javier Vazquez, Braves. Vazquez was an ace in 2009, ranking fourth in baseball with 238 strikeouts. He's earning $11.5MM in '10, and can block deals to AL and NL West clubs. The Braves may extend him if they trade Lowe.
- Felix Hernandez, Mariners. At the GM Meetings, Ms GM Jack Zduriencik said "Felix is our property," but wouldn't rule out a future trade. The expectation is that the Mariners will attempt to lock him up and might consider a trade if they fail. Hernandez will turn 24 in April.
- Barry Zito, Giants. Zito is owed $83MM over the next four years, and has a full no-trade clause. He's pretty much untradeable, and aside from Vernon Wells' deal there's not much worse.
- Bronson Arroyo, Reds. The durable Arroyo pitched below a 2.00 ERA over the season's last two months, dragging his '09 mark down to 3.84. He has $13MM and one year left on his contract, and presumably the Reds could dump him to cut costs.
- Aaron Harang, Reds. Harang has been very hittable in recent years, but his strikeout and walk rates are still pretty good. He has $14.5MM and one year left on his deal, so he might be tougher to move than Arroyo.
- Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles. Guthrie turns 31 in April, but he's still under team control through 2012. His numbers slipped last year, and the Orioles could move him to the NL and still get something decent in return.
- Josh Johnson, Marlins. Arbitration-eligible Marlins always make the Trade Candidate posts. Johnson is the rare talent the Fish will actually try to lock up, though.
- Jeff Suppan, Brewers. His ugly contract is wrapping up, with $14.5MM left for one year. The Brewers need starters, but not ones with a 1.08 K/BB ratio.
- Roy Oswalt, Astros. Will the Astros fixture finally be traded this year? He has a full no-trade clause and is owed $33MM over the next two seasons. His value seems to be slipping as his salary increases. But if the Astros are trying to contend, they must keep Oswalt.
- Carlos Zambrano, Cubs. A trade rumbling popped up in September, but was quickly shot down.
- Gil Meche, Royals. Meche will earn $24MM over the next two seasons. Shoulder and back problems resulted in his first lousy Royals campaign this year.
- Brian Bannister, Royals. The studious righty drew trade deadline interest from multiple clubs. Shoulder fatigue ended his season, during which he posted a 4.73 ERA in 154 innings. Like Guthrie, Bannister is under team control through 2012.
- Brian Tallet, Blue Jays. The 32-year-old lefty moved in and out of the Jays rotation this year, and seems expendable. He's headed toward an arbitration raise if tendered a contract.
- Dave Bush, Brewers. The Brewers are not in a position to shed pitching, but the arbitration-eligible Bush earned $4MM in '09. If the Brewers consider him a non-tender candidate, they could look to trade him first.
- Brandon McCarthy, Rangers. Another arbitration-eligible righty, McCarthy has never pitched more than 101.6 big league innings in a season. The Rangers may decide to go with someone else for their fifth starter job.
- Andy Sonnanstine, Rays. The soft-tossing righty couldn't hang on to his rotation spot this year despite 13 wins in '08. He lost his pinpoint control, but the NL has a way of making those things return. Bonus: he's not yet arbitration-eligible.
- Oliver Perez, Mets. Just another ugly contract, with $24MM over two years remaining. He'll try to rebuild his value with a winter at the Athletes Performance Institute.
- Carlos Silva, Mariners. Silva has $25MM remaining over two years, so he's probably unmovable.
- Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks. Webb is one to watch as a possible summer trade candidate, should the D'Backs fall out of contention.
- Jamie Moyer, Phillies. Moyer profiles as the Phillies' fifth starter, with Pedro Martinez and Brett Myers headed for free agency. The 47-year-old wasn't thrilled about being sent to the bullpen in August, and ESPN's Jayson Stark pondered his offseason trade prospects at that time. The $8MM he has coming next year would be the issue.
- Chris Young, Padres. At $6.25MM in 2010, Young is the highest-paid Padre. If he can bounce back from exploratory shoulder surgery, he could be put on the block next summer.
- Jake Westbrook, Indians. The Tribe surely wouldn't mind shedding Westbrook's $11MM. He had Tommy John surgery in June of '08 and hasn't pitched in the Majors since.
There are plenty of DH candidates on the free agent market, but trades are possible too. Here's our look at the DH landscape…
- Milton Bradley, Cubs. The Cubs seem certain to unload Bradley, perhaps on the Rangers, Mets, or Rays (obviously the Mets would have to use Bradley in the outfield). Surely by now you've memorized the fact that he's owed $21MM over the next two seasons.
- Luke Scott, Orioles. Scott came up in our left field analysis. He could fit the mold as an arbitration-eligible trade candidate, in the vein of Jeremy Hermida and Mark Teahen.
- Travis Hafner, Indians. I'm guessing Hafner can be had; he's owed $40.25MM over the next three seasons. His .272/.355/.470 line this year was a step in the right direction though.
- Jack Cust, Athletics. We mentioned Cust in that same left field post, wondering if the A's will tender him a contract next month.
- Pat Burrell, Rays. He's been linked to the Cubs in a possible Bradley swap, though the money doesn't match up and the Cubs would have to flip Burrell or else have ghastly outfield corner defense.
- Mike Jacobs, Royals. The only reason the Royals would tender Jacobs a contract next month would be to save face for last year's Leo Nunez swap.
- David Ortiz, Red Sox. No real indication that he's on the block, but Ortiz is owed $12.5MM next year and slumped to .238/.332/.462 in '09. If only he could have a mulligan on those first two months.
- Brad Hawpe, Rockies. Hawpe, 30, hit .285/.384/.519 this year in 588 plate appearances. He's set to earn $7.5MM in 2010 and has a $10MM club option for '11 that he can void if traded. The knock on Hawpe is his poor defense. Last month in response to rumors, Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd said, "We have no desire to move him at all." Speculations persists because the Rockies have Seth Smith, Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez, and Ryan Spilborghs in the outfield.
- Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals. Ludwick gets a mention because he was part of trade talks a year ago. The 31-year-old slipped to .265/.329/.447 this year after mashing 37 homers in '08. He's under team control through 2011.
- Milton Bradley, Cubs. The Cubs seem likely to trade Bradley after he slugged just .397 in his first season for them and caused problems off the field. Since he's owed $21MM over the 2010 and '11 seasons, the Cubs will have to match him up with another bad contract.
- Jose Guillen, Royals. Guillen's bad contract only has one year left, at $12MM next year. He was hobbled by hip and knee injuries this year.
- Travis Buck, Athletics. Buck seemed to have a bright future after a .288/.377/.474 rookie season in '07. Instead, he's been affected by shin splints, a concussion, a shoulder injury, and an oblique strain. He hit .272/.345/.418 at Triple A this year.
- Gary Matthews Jr., Angels. You know the story – Matthews is owed $23MM over the next two seasons and wants to be some team's starting center fielder. He's listed here because he has spent 562 innings in right over the past two seasons.
- Curtis Granderson, Tigers. Granderson, 29 in March, slipped to .249/.327/.453 in 710 plate appearances this year, but he did hit 30 home runs with 72 walks. David Golebiewski of FanGraphs considers Granderson's slash line misleading. Granderson struggled mightily against lefties; last year's .739 OPS against them was the only decent showing of his career. He's owed $25.75MM for the next three seasons and is well worth it. As far as trade speculation, it stems entirely from Lynn Henning of the Detroit News.
- Cody Ross, Marlins. Ross is here simply because he's an arbitration-eligible Marlins player. He turns 29 in December and is coming off a .270/.321/.469 performance with 24 home runs. He plays center and right field; his defense is hard to judge statistically.
- Aaron Rowand, Giants. We're guessing the Giants wouldn't mind unloading the $36MM owed to Rowand for the next three seasons. The 32-year-old has a limited no-trade clause.
- Gary Matthews Jr., Angels. With two years and $23MM remaining on his contract, Matthews wants a trade and an everyday role. Good luck with that.
- Vernon Wells, Blue Jays. With $107MM coming over the next five years and a full no-trade clause, Wells' brutal contract puts Rowand and Matthews to shame. Hopefully Wells can bounce back in 2010; he's having wrist surgery soon.
- B.J. Upton, Rays. Golebiewski analyzed Upton's struggles this year and wondered if poor health was to blame. The 25-year-old at least continued to play a fine center field. He's arbitration-eligible for the first time, and I'd be surprised to see the Rays sell low on him.
- Jody Gerut, Brewers. Gerut is a non-tender candidate after a .230/.279/.376 showing, but the Brewers may need him if they don't re-sign Mike Cameron.
- Willy Taveras, Reds. Taveras was non-tendered a year ago, and now the Reds may release him with $4MM remaining on his contract.
- Felix Pie, Orioles. The O's may prefer to keep Pie around to see if his scorching August was a sign of things to come. Then again, the 24-year-old may have more value to another team since the O's can use Nolan Reimold in left field and have Adam Jones entrenched in center.