MLB Offseason: 10 Moves That Already Should Have Happened
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New York Mets outfielder Jay Bruce.Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Full disclosure: When I began working on this story, one of the sections was titled, “Colorado Rockies: Sign Mark Trumbo.”
It made sense. The Rockies were an ideal fit for Trumbo, who could have easily surpassed 40 home runs playing first base at Coors Field and allowed Ian Desmond to slot into the outfield mix.
Instead, the Baltimore Orioles swooped in and signed Trumbo for three years and $37.5 million, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
It’s a cautionary tale: Pull the trigger, or someone else will.
Here are 10 more deals that remain unconsummated as of this writing but should have already happened because of need, compatibility and the waning nature of the offseason.
Tap the late-winter clay off your cleats and proceed when ready.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Acquire a Second Baseman
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Tampa Bay Rays infielder Logan Forsythe.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
If the season started today, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ second baseman would be Enrique Hernandez, who posted a .190/.283/.324 slash line in 2016.
The Dodgers have targeted the Minnesota Twins’ Brian Dozier, but those talks are “at a standstill,” according to Heyman.
The Detroit Tigers’ Ian Kinsler is a possible Plan B, though the 34-year-old could demand a contract extension before waiving his no-trade clause and going to L.A., per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
An interesting third option for Los Angeles is Tampa Bay Rays infielder Logan Forsythe, who has been on the club’s radar since at least the 2016 trade deadline, per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
The 30-year-old hit .264 with 20 home runs last season for Tampa Bay and is owed $7 million in 2017 with an $8.5 million option and $1 million buyout for 2018.
Whichever avenue they choose, this is an area the big-spending, title-starved Dodgers absolutely must upgrade, even if it means surrendering top prospects such as right-hander Jose De Leon or first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger.
Houston Astros: Acquire Jose Quintana from Chicago White Sox
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Jon Durr/Getty Images
The Houston Astros rotation posted a modest 4.37 ERA in 2016. Their ostensible ace, 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, inflated that figure with a 4.55 ERA.
So far, Houston’s biggest starting pitching addition has been Charlie Morton, who logged just 17.1 innings last season and hasn’t posted a sub-4.00 ERA since 2014.
The ‘Stros have beefed up the offense by acquiring catcher Brian McCann and signing veteran designated hitter/outfielder Carlos Beltran. They’re in position to challenge for the AL West title after storming the playoffs in 2015 but missing the dance last season.
A trade for Chicago White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana could cement Houston’s status as legitimate Junior Circuit contenders.
The Astros have been linked to Quintana for most of the winter and are “still engaged in trade talks” with Chicago, per Yahoo Sports’ Chris Cwik.
The White Sox previously demanded MLB right-hander Joe Musgrove plus the Astros’ top two prospects—righty Francis Martes and outfielder Kyle Tucker—per baseball insider Peter Gammons.
It’s a steep ask, and perhaps the Astros can edge the Sox down a little. But Quintana is a 27-year-old, cost-controlled, ace-level arm. Those don’t come around every day.
Washington Nationals: Sign Greg Holland
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Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The Washington Nationals lost incumbent closer Mark Melancon to the San Francisco Giants. They swung and missed on other top targets, including free agent Kenley Jansen and trade target Wade Davis.
Now, the defending division champs are staring at a mishmash of in-house options headlined by Shawn Kelley, who owns a total of 11 career saves in eight big league seasons.
Enter Greg Holland.
On Dec. 23, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reported the Nats “have had some interest” in the former Kansas City Royals closer and high-upside reclamation project.
Holland saved 125 games between 2013 and 2015 but missed the entire 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
For what it’s worth, Nats right fielder Bryce Harper tweeted his support for a Holland addition Wednesday.
It’s a roll of the dice with the injury comeback. But with the Nationals in a win-now window and their bullpen options dwindling, it seems like one worth making.
Texas Rangers: Sign Mike Napoli
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Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
After losing Beltran to the Astros and Mitch Moreland to the Boston Red Sox, the Texas Rangers need a veteran first-base/DH bat to supplement youngsters Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar.
On Dec. 29, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reported the Rangers were “moving closer” to a deal with Mike Napoli, who hit a career-high 34 homers with the Cleveland Indians last year but became redundant after Cleveland signed Edwin Encarnacion.
Napoli spent two productive seasons with Texas in 2011 and 2012. This makes too much sense to not be finalized by now.
St. Louis Cardinals: Re-Sign Brandon Moss
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Michael Thomas/Getty Images
The Cardinals starting outfield is locked down with free-agent addition Dexter Fowler and the duo of Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk.
However, St. Louis’ fourth outfielder, Tommy Pham, has been injury-prone. The depth chart behind him isn’t inspiring.
That brings us to Brandon Moss, who hit a ho-hum .225 for the Cards last season but added 28 home runs and could log time at first base in addition to the corner outfield spots.
“Moss was beloved in the Cardinals clubhouse,” Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently noted. “He was celebrated as one of the guys who tried to loosen up a stiff team. The longer he goes without signing, the smarter it would be to bring him back on a club-friendly contract.”
New York Mets: Trade Jay Bruce
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Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images
Yoenis Cespedes, who returned on a four-year, $110 million deal, is the New York Mets’ offensive anchor. Curtis Granderson hit 30 home runs but turns 36 in March. Neither is a true center fielder.
Young Michael Conforto, likewise, is a corner outfielder. Juan Lagares grades well defensively in center but owns a .633 career OPS against right-handed pitching.
That brings us to Jay Bruce.
The Mets exercised Bruce’s $13 million option for 2017 but now find themselves with few takers for the 29-year-old, despite the fact that he hit 33 home runs last season. Mike Puma of the New York Post suggested it could be down to the Rangers and Giants, with neither a perfect fit.
It could be the price tag, or Bruce’s defensive limitations, or the glut of sluggers on the market. Maybe all of the above.
At this point, however, the Mets should be prepared to eat some salary to clear their outfield logjam and then look to address their center field conundrum.
Los Angeles Angels: Sign Matt Wieters
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Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, has been something of a forgotten man this winter.
That could change soon. The Los Angeles Angels “have been considering making a run” at the 30-year-old backstop, per Heyman.
It makes sense. The Halos are in go-for-it mode as they try to maximize Mike Trout’s prime and atone for last season’s dismal finish.
As Heyman noted, “The Angels would appear to have a need for a catcher, as they have only Carlos Perez plus trade pickup Martin Maldonado in the fold. Manager Mike Scioscia, a former Dodgers catching great from a defensive standpoint, is known to be particular about catchers.”
Wieters finished with a modest .243/.302/.409 line last season and had Tommy John surgery in 2014, so he’s no sure thing.
He would be a definite upgrade for Los Angeles, however, and at this point in the offseason is unlikely to command an exorbitant deal.
Chicago Cubs: Re-Sign Travis Wood
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The defending champion Chicago Cubs are the most complete team in baseball. They could use another left-handed bullpen pitcher and possibly another back-of-the-rotation arm, though, and their old friend Travis Wood is conveniently waiting on the market.
Wood posted a 2.95 ERA in 61 innings out of the bullpen for the Cubs last season. Currently, Chicago’s top lefty option out of the pen is Brian Duensing, who sported a 4.05 ERA in 2016.
Wood has also made 133 starts in his big league career, so he provides coverage there as well.
“Cubs officials,” Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported, “continue to hold Wood in high regard.”
Oh, and in case you forgot, he can rake.
Tampa Bay Rays: Sign Chris Carter
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Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
The Rays have resisted trading much of their stash of starting pitchers and added All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos. It appears the small-market darlings plan to make a run in the AL East.
Tampa Bay could use a right-handed power bat to slot in at designated hitter, first base and possibly the corner outfield to supplement lefty swingers Corey Dickerson and Brad Miller.
That describes Chris Carter, who clubbed 41 home runs last season but is still dangling on the market thanks to his tendency to whiff and his .218 career average.
In mid-December, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times mentioned Carter among several hitters the Rays could pursue. Depending on the price tag, it still seems like a fit.
San Francisco Giants: Acquire J.D. Martinez from the Detroit Tigers
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This one almost certainly isn’t happening. The Tigers look like they’re not selling for now, and the Giants are apparently out of money.
“I don’t think there’s anything more to ask of ownership,” San Francisco general manager Bobby Evans said after the club signed Melancon, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s more what I can do with what we have.”
What the Giants have is a pair of inexperienced options in 26-year-old Mac Williamson and 28-year-old Jarrett Parker at left field, neither of whom has proved much of anything at the big league level.
One or both could pan out, but it’s a big gamble at a premium position. If the Giants were willing to add a little payroll and part with a couple of decent prospects, they could possibly insert the Tigers’ J.D. Martinez and his 20-plus-homer pop into the middle of a lineup that hit the third-fewest home runs in baseball last season.
Martinez, who is owed $11.75 million in 2017, was linked to San Francisco as far back as mid-November. Those hot stove coals have since gone frigid. In a few months, the Giants might regret it.
All statistics and contract information courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.