These 15 players with big contracts could be on the move this offseason
We know that J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale, Sonny Gray, Chris Archer, Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Jose Abreu, Ian Kinsler, and others with easily movable contracts could be involved in trade talks.
But how about players who have big, complicated deals that teams would like to trade? How many, if any of them, will get moved this winter? Teams can make it happen with a little creativity.
Here are some candidates:
1. Miguel Cabrera, 1B/DH, Tigers — Cabrera is a future Hall of Famer. It was shocking when Dave Dombrowski pried him from the Marlins in December 2007, and now Cabrera, at 33, is available again. He has had a few injuries here and there, but none of them have hurt his offensive production. The problem is the $212 million-plus still owed him and how much the Tigers would subsidize in a major deal. Possible destinations: Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, Rangers, Astros, Giants.
2. Joey Votto, 1B, Reds — Votto is owed $172 million through 2023. He’s an on-base machine. General manager Dick Williams said he’s not shopping Votto but would listen to offers. Possible destinations: Blue Jays, Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Rangers.
3. Ryan Braun, LF, Brewers — We’ve heard for a while now that the Brewers will deal him for the right package. The number of suitors could be growing. Braun, a 30/30 player, is still somewhat of a bargain with four years and about $80 million remaining on his deal. Possible destinations: Dodgers, Giants, Phillies, Braves.
4. Carlos Gonzalez, RF, Rockies — Here’s an outstanding player with one year and $20 million remaining on his deal. If you’re a contending team, is he worth trading for with the chance you can re-sign him? Or do you just rent him for a year? There’s some sentiment that he’s a Coors Field phenomenon, but most scouts agree he’s more than that. Possible destinations: Orioles, Rangers, Mets, Cubs, Giants, Blue Jays.
5. Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pirates — At one time, trading McCutchen would have been pure blasphemy, but a down year and a growing salary have made this plausible. The Pirates may want some major league-ready players in return. Possible destinations: Giants, Blue Jays, Indians, Cardinals, A’s, Phillies, Braves.
6. Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays — One of these years, Longoria will be dealt for multiple players so the Rays can revamp their offense and farm system. This could be the year. Possible destinations: Dodgers, A’s, Angels, Cardinals, Astros, Mets.
7. Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Marlins — The Marlins don’t want to break up their offense, but with the death of Jose Fernandez, Stanton’s name does pop up more often. He hasn’t lived up to his enormous contract, mostly because of injuries, but he does have enormous talent and the ability to have a gargantuan season. Possible destinations: Braves, Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Angels.
8. Brian Dozier, 2B, Twins — OK, the Twins have this 42-homer, 99-RBI second baseman at great money the next two seasons ($6 million and $9 million), so why would they deal him? To spread more talent around their roster. Possible destinations: Angels, Dodgers, Braves.
9. Justin Verlander, RHP, Tigers — No doubt that he’s available. He’ll be 34 on Opening Day and has pitched more than 2,300 career innings, but what a competitor to stick in the middle of your rotation. Possible destinations: Cubs, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, Angels, Astros, Rangers, Braves, Twins, Phillies, Marlins, Pirates, Dodgers.
10. Zach Britton, LHP, Orioles — Will the Orioles commit big bucks for a closer? Britton heads to free agency after next season. Best to get something for him now? Possible destinations: Giants, Dodgers, Nationals . . . you name it. He’d be a popular target.
11. Joe Mauer, 1B, Twins — Does anyone want a light-hitting former batting champion and MVP who is still owed $46 million? Likely not. But stranger things have happened. Those who know Mauer well feel he has something left in that bat. He’s still relatively young — he turns 34 in April. He’s a 10-5 player and can veto any deal. Possible destinations: Blue Jays, Phillies, Rockies.
12. Felix Hernandez, RHP, Mariners — Let’s face it, while Hernandez is still good, he’s not great anymore. He’s still owed more than $80 million on the long-term contract he signed in 2013. He has 10-5 rights so he’d have to approve any deal. Possible destinations: Blue Jays, Orioles, Angels, Dodgers, Nationals, Rockies, Rangers. Astros.
13. Zack Greinke, RHP, Diamondbacks — New baseball chief Mike Hazen said he has to maintain last year’s budget (about $100 million). About $31 million of that goes to Greinke, who is still owed $172.6 million. Will Hazen work around that or will he try to move Greinke and get himself two or three players who could help Arizona? Possible destinations: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles, Dodgers, Braves.
14. Brett Gardner, LF, Yankees — A lefthanded-hitting, top-of-the-order player with a Gold Glove? There is interest. Yankees GM Brian Cashman has said he’d listen on all of his players. Possible destinations: Cardinals, Blue Jays, Orioles, Cubs, Nationals, Giants.
15. CC Sabathia, LHP, Yankees — A back-end starter now, and the Yankees would have to eat some of the $25 million remaining on his deal. Nobody is going to break down Cashman’s door, but Sabathia was a respectable 9-12 with a 3.91 ERA last season. There’s also a no-trade provision. Possible destinations: Pirates, Angels.
MAKING HIS PITCH
Arroyo wants another shot
Bronson Arroyo wants to pitch again and he’s not giving up hope that someone will give him a shot at age 39.
Arroyo hasn’t pitched in a major league game since June 15, 2014, with the Diamondbacks. He made 14 starts that season and admitted that he made six starts pitching with a torn collateral ligament in his elbow. He still went 7-4 with a 4.08 ERA.
He underwent Tommy John surgery and then suffered a partially torn tendon in his rotator cuff while rehabbing for the Nationals. He now says he’s feeling no pain in the elbow. He had never missed a start in his 15-year big league career until 2014.
Arroyo underwent a stem-cell procedure to strengthen the elbow with Dr. James Andrews.
“In three or four weeks I should know if I’m healthy,” Arroyo said. “I definitely want to keep going. Baseball is in my DNA. I think when you’re in my position, you have to give it every chance, seeking everything medically available to see if you can keep doing it. The stem-cell injection was the last hope. If it doesn’t work, I know I’ve given it every chance.”
For years, Arroyo watched teammates go down with injuries while he never even iced.
“Because I wasn’t a max-effort guy, I always thought I’d make it through my career without a major injury. I really thought that,” he said. “And after I had the Tommy John I thought OK, I’ll give it the 14 months and I’ll be good to go. Then I went through the shoulder problem. Then the swelling in the elbow. I’m hoping now that when I start throwing, I’ll be good to go for another five years.”
If a comeback doesn’t happen, Arroyo has had quite a ride.
“I think I’ve accomplished everything,” Arroyo said. “I was an All-Star, I won the most coveted championship ring ever, and I pitched for a long time. I don’t want it to end yet. That’s why I’m trying everything I can to stay in.”
Apropos of nothing
1. Teams are trying to get Torii Hunter to assume some type of role, but so far he has resisted. Hunter is also in demand for TV work.
2. Look for David Ortiz to take on some sort of TV role.
3. Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer won the Cy Young awards, and Justin Verlander finished second in the AL. All three have pitched for Dave Dombrowski.
4. How long will MLB allow Tampa Bay and Oakland to try to solve their stadium issues before considering relocation? This has gone on for years in both markets. It reflects in their small acquisition costs. Neither team is using resources to improve its roster.
5. Among the things that Braves president of baseball operations John Hart has done for GM John Coppolella is improve his wardrobe. “There’s no doubt John is a sharp dresser,” Coppolella kidded. “I had to step it up to keep from embarrassing myself.” The two executives have built a nice bridge to the future by adding veterans R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon to the pitching staff. The Braves’ new stadium in suburban Atlanta opens in 2017.
6. In his new role as Blue Jays vice president of player personnel, Ben Cherington will not be moving to Toronto.
7. Cheers to Terry Francona for winning AL manager of the year. But I don’t think he should have won it over Buck Showalter, who finished third. Remember, the award is based on the regular season, not playoffs. Francona’s Indians were picked by many to win the AL Central because they had the best starting rotation in the league. Then they got Andrew Miller at the trading deadline. Compare that with what Showalter did. He got them to the playoffs with one of the league’s worst rotations. Many pundits picked the Orioles to finish fourth or last in the AL East. Showalter did a great job. His postseason decision to withhold Zach Britton was another story entirely.
8. The second annual PawSox Enchanted Village Holiday Party will be held Dec. 3 at McCoy Stadium.
9. The Sports Museum’s Tradition event takes place Nov. 29 and the baseball honoree is Bill Lee. Jim Bouton will present the award for Lee. Visit the website for ticket info.
10. Pretty impressive: David Price donated $2.5 million to support the baseball facilities project at Vanderbilt University, his alma mater.
Updates on nine
1. Rich Hill, LHP, free agent — As the premier free agent starting pitcher, Hill already has received numerous inquiries. It’s logical to think the Dodgers would seek to retain him, and they have the money to do it. Hill is expected to seek a three-year deal at around $45 million. Hill is from Milton, and he may prefer to be on the East Coast.
2. Greg Holland, RHP, free agent — The former Royals closer, who missed the 2016 season following Tommy John surgery, got mixed reviews throwing at about 75 percent for a bunch of teams in Arizona at the GM meetings. One team’s senior adviser commented that “he threw 88-91” and “good enough where you could see that if he rehabs properly he’ll get there. There was nothing there to excite you but nothing there to discourage you either. I think the salary being floated was two years at $20 million to $22 million, but it would be a surprise if anyone bit on that.”
3. Mike Napoli, 1B/DH, free agent — No question Napoli had a productive season with the Indians (34 homers, 101 RBIs), but Cleveland did not make a qualifying offer, which was somewhat surprising given that Napoli was considered a very good clubhouse influence. Agent Brian Grieper has been pleasantly surprised at what options Napoli will have in free agency, including some NL teams that would have Napoli play first base full time.
4. Wilson Ramos, C, free agent — Ramos’s agents have said that he will be back playing in April. Whether that’s wishful thinking remains to be seen after Ramos had major knee surgery. Ramos had the best offensive season of any catcher last season, and at age 29 will be a coveted free agent. But who takes the plunge knowing that he might not be ready to start the season? The Nationals, Angels, Braves, and Rays could have interest.
5. Jose Quintana, LHP, White Sox — One GM said Quintana was “conspicuous by his absence in conversations we had with the White Sox. It leads me to believe they’d like to hold on to him. [Chris] Sale was mentioned, [Carlos] Rodon was mentioned and all the others, but not Quintana.”
6. Victor Diaz, RHP, Red Sox — Diaz, 22, has drawn rave reviews from scouts. “Great arm. Just electric stuff. He’s going to be worth keeping track of to see how he does as he moves up the ladder,” said one scout. The same person also visited the Arizona Fall League where Michael Kopech remains the laser show. “At his age, just keep starting him,” the scout said. “By the time he gets to Triple A, if he gets to Triple A before the majors, then you make that decision.”
7. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/DH, free agent — The righthanded-hitting slugger is drawing interest from the Yankees and Red Sox. This could drive up his price. With the Yankees having shed Brian McCann and about half the $34 million remaining on his deal after his trade to Houston, Brian Cashman is hoping to add a bat or two. The Yankees and Red Sox also seem interested in Carlos Beltran. Cashman loves Beltran’s clubhouse leadership, and the Red Sox inquired about him at the trade deadline.
8. Trevor Plouffe, 3B, free agent — Plouffe was released by the Twins late last week. He never reached the potential expected of him. Efforts to deal Plouffe for anything substantial never materialized, and the new Twins regime felt it was a case of diminishing returns. Plouffe will find work somewhere.
9. Rick Peterson, former director of pitching development, Orioles — The Orioles have let Peterson go. Considered one of the top pitching gurus in the game, Peterson was dismissed in what seemed to be a power struggle between Buck Showalter and GM Dan Duquette. Peterson was never allowed to become the team’s pitching coach with Showalter there. The Orioles will now revamp their entire pitching development program.
From the Bill Chuck files — “Kenley Jansen had 30 saves for the Dodgers in 2016 in which he allowed no base runners, the most in the majors.” Also, “Leading the majors in 2016, Roberto Osuna and Alex Colome each recorded six saves in which they recorded four or more outs. In 2006, there were seven pitchers with at least six four-out saves, led by B.J. Ryan who had 13.” . . . Happy birthday, J.D. Drew (41).
What does experience get you? The Braves are about to find out, after they signed 42-year-old R.A. Dickey and 43-year-old Bartolo Colon on consecutive days this month to head their staff in 2017. What they can expect might surprise you. How teams with staffs that featured two 40-something starters have fared since 1960 (minimum 10 starts with the team).