Trade Targets: Bartlett, Greinke, Upton, Fielder
The winter started out with a good number of potential trade targets. Some deals have been completed already such as the ones that sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston and Dan Uggla to Atlanta. Additional names have since been added to the list of prospective trade targets. So let’s take a look at the latest on some of the potential players we still may see move:
The Tampa Bay shortstop has been a popular discussion topic of late as the team has shown a high willingness to deal him this offseason. The factor that makes this easiest for the Rays is the existence of Reid Brignac who could easily step in and take over at shortstop for Bartlett if he is dealt. With an extremely poor shortstop market there has been some varying levels of interest in Bartlett. San Francisco was believed to be a front runner at one point in time but that possibility was eliminated once they signed Miguel Tejada to a one year contract. St. Louis was also believed to have some serious interest before they acquired Ryan Theriot and signed Lance Berkman, which eliminated much of their remaining financial flexibility.
Over the past few days there has been a great deal of talk about a deal happening with Baltimore, likely in exchange for Nolan Reimold and another player. However, it now seems as though the deal will not be taking place as Baltimore is hesitant to deal Reimold. The latest news from the Winter Meetings has San Diego and Pittsburgh as the two favorites to acquire him. Reports have relief pitching being the key piece to any trade. Bartlett also seems to want a contract extension with any club that acquires him.
Update: As I was typing this post word came out that a deal was indeed completed with the Padres. In exchange the Rays are receiving a pair of relief pitchers, Adam Russell and Cesar Ramos. Ramos is left-handed and has struggled through 23.0 career innings to the tune of a 6.26 ERA and 1.927 WHIP. He has shown an ability to strike batters out, recording 7.4 K/9 over those innings, but otherwise poor peripherals. Russell, who’s right-handed, had been acquired by San Diego in the Jake Peavy trade in 2009 and saw limited time with the Padres. In 59.0 career innings he holds a 7-1 record, 4.50 ERA, 1.537 WHIP, and 9.0 K/9. Tampa Bay is looking to build a bullpen on the cheap and this gives them two more potential arms to mix into the field.
Update #2: Reports from both teams now say a deal has not yet been completed and no announcements will be made tonight.
Next to Cliff Lee, Greinke is easily the most appealing pitcher believed to be available but there have been mixed reactions to whether or not Kansas City actually intends to deal their ace. The potential suitors have been numerous, as one would expect with a former Cy Young Award winner on the open market. Greinke does have a limited no trade clause in his contract which would limit the Royals’ suitors but the growing opinion is that he is tired of losing and willing to go almost anywhere if it would give him the chance to be on a competitor. According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal the Royals are looking for pitching and help up the middle in return.
The Rangers are believed to be the favorite to land Greinke and have been for much of the offseason. They have the need, especially if they are unable to resign Lee, and the minor league system to meet Kansas City’s asking price. They have reportedly made a handful of offers that have yet to satisfy the Royals front office but it’s quite possible the team is waiting on Lee to sign somewhere so that the price for Greinke will go up. Texas was even involved in a three team discussion that allegedly would have sent Greinke to Florida. That would have only made sense if Ricky Nolasco was one of the players going to Texas in return but those talks seemed to have cooled.
Toronto has expressed some interest but Kansas City’s asking price reportedly started with Kyle Drabek and Travis Snider. It seems unlikely the Blue Jays would be willing to part with both players but I could see an offer centered around one of them being made. There have also been varying degrees of interest from the Brewers, Nationals, Dodgers, Twins, Phillies, and Yankees.
New Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers made a big splash when he let it be known that he would consider dealing his star outfielder a few weeks ago and naturally the speculation ran wild on where he could potentially land. Nearly all 29 other teams were named as possibilities in one way or another but naturally they wouldn’t all be feasible trade partners for one reason or another. Now it appears that a deal is highly unlikely.
The cost to acquire Upton was never going to be cheap as he is still young, signed to a relatively affordable contract, and has the potential of becoming an even better player. It never really became clear what exactly it would take in order for Towers to complete a trade.
This winter’s free agent class for first baseman is one of the strongest in recent years. Yet there was a great deal of speculation that in addition to all of the available options there would also be trades for both Gonzalez and Fielder to be worked out. Gonzalez of course was dealt to Boston and a number of the free agent options – Carlos Pena, Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, Aubrey Huff – have already come off the board. The number of teams in need of a first baseman are dwindling which limits Milwaukee’s potential suitors.
Fielder is open to discussing an extension with the Brewers but it seems unlikely they’ll be able to afford him, especially in lieu of the deal signed by Jayson Werth and the extension that Gonzalez will likely get from Boston. The Dodgers, White Sox, and Orioles have all been mentioned recently as potential suitors. Chicago’s interest has likely cooled considering they’ve signed both Konerko and Dunn to significant deals.
Other potential candidates to be dealt sometime this offseason include Matt Garza, Nolasco, Ryan Doumit, Marco Scutaro, Carlos Beltran, Michael Young, Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.J. Hardy, and Josh Willingham. Some of these players are more likely to be dealt than others and some aren’t actually available but teams have inquired.