- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
- 0 Shares
Last time the winter meetings visited the bustling city of Dallas, a mere five years ago, they were more like The Macy's Free Agent Parade. If your team didn't go home with a $100-million free agent (or a $252-million free agent), it was pretty much a lost week.
The biggest trade of that edition of the winter meetings might have been the spectacular swap of Fernando Tatis for Dustin Hermanson. Barely edging the show-stopping Wilmy Caceras-for-Seth Etherton extravaganza.
But this year, thanks to a free-agent class with slightly less fiscal magnetism, we're going to see a different kind of winter meetings.
A winter meetings out of the good old days.
A winter meetings where trade rumors will be flowing out of more taps than Yellow Rose Pale Ale.
A winter meetings where it will take more than a checkbook to fix what ails your team.
Yep, it's going to be a Let's Make A Deal kind of winter meetings -- for a change. So it's time to present our annual list of 10 Guys Who Could Get Traded at the Winter Meetings.
OK, so we cheated this year. OK, so it's really 17 guys, when you count tag teams. But it's shaping up as that kind of week -- a week when 10 names weren't nearly enough to fit in all the likely suspects.
Can anyone think of a player -- who has never been traded in his life, by the way -- who has had more air time, more inches of newspaper space, more talk-show venting or more sheer where's-he-going verbiage devoted to him than the sole occupant of Planet Manny?
Well, if you thought the last month and a half was entertaining, wait till Winter Meetings Week. It has all the makings of one huge Mannyfest.
But where would the Red Sox get back those 130-150 RBI they're giving up? Not from the Mets (even though Lastings Milledge would entice them). Not from the Angels (who have never been the blockbuster type). Not from the Diamondbacks (unless somebody has a theory on where Troy Glaus could fit).
"We'd love to have the guy," said an official of one team that has inquired about Manny in the past. "But I still don't see why they'd trade him. I mean, would you give up that guy? I know he says that if they don't trade him, he won't show up. But do you believe that? I don't. People who know Manny know he says one thing one day and says something else the next day. So no matter what they say, they really don't have to trade him, and I bet they won't. All they have to do is sit on this, and they can force his hand."
2. Barry Zito
That Esteban Loaiza signing in Oakland only makes sense if the A's turn around and deal Zito. So even though he's a year away from free agency, there isn't a single active pitcher under 30 with more wins and a better career ERA than Zito (86-53, 3.50). Which means the bidders could be lining up from Dallas to the Bay Bridge -- and any or all rumors are believable. But watch out for all these teams: Blue Jays (if they don't sign A.J. Burnett), Orioles (ditto), Indians and (who else?) the Mets.
3. Bobby Abreu
It's no sure thing that the Phillies are going to move the only Gold Glove-winning Home Run Derby champ on their roster. But an official of one interested team said: "Until we inquired, I had no idea he was as available as he really is."
Nevertheless, clubs that have spoken with the Phillies say they want to move him only for a top-of-the-rotation starter or a package that would dramatically change the nature of their pitching staff. Plus, the team taking him would have to find his $30-million price tag acceptable over the next two years.
So the matches are minimal. But get ready for rumors about the Cardinals (for Jason Marquis), Orioles (for Erik Bedard), Yankees (for Chien-Ming Wang), Giants (for Jason Schmidt), Astros (for Chad Qualls and Brandon Backe), Diamondbacks (if Javier Vazquez would agree to go to Philadelphia) and A's (for Zito, if there was a way to even out the money). One of them just might come true.
Isn't it amazing how things change in baseball? A year ago, Vazquez and Glaus were the Diamondbacks' two biggest and proudest acquisitions. Now, they're so available, you can practically pick them up on eBay. Vazquez has been connected with a bunch of teams (Nationals, Mets, Red Sox, Indians). Glaus, despite his 37 home run trots and 97 RBI this year, has been a tougher sell, in part because he has three years and $32.75 million left on his contract.
But somewhere out there, there are possible fits, given the right combination of other moves -- in Boston, Baltimore or even back in Anaheim, from whence Glaus came. "I don't know if they'll be able to move him," said one NL executive. "But if they do, I don't think it will happen next week."
The Marlins have 10 teams chasing the lovable Pierre. But they might sit back awhile and let the offers flood in (and, with any luck, position Pierre as a lower-budget alternative to Johnny Damon, assuming Damon signs before Groundhog's Day).
Lo Duca, meanwhile, is looming as a hot option for teams tired of waiting on free agents Bengie Molina and Ramon Hernandez. The Mets, Rockies, Astros, Diamondbacks and even the Yankees are believed to have some level of interest.
6. Danys Baez, Julio Lugo, Aubrey Huff, Toby Hall, Joey Gathright
Back in the late, great Chuck LaMar administration, nobody ever would have picked the Devil Rays as a threat to win the Most Likely to Make Five Big Deals at the Winter Meetings award. But with the energetic Andrew Friedman and the savvy Gerry Hunsicker in charge, it's a different universe in Tampa Bay.
So there should be furious action on Baez, who is signed for "only" $4 million next year and led the big leagues in saves after the all-star break (28 for 30).
And it's astounding how many people predict Lugo will land in Atlanta if the Braves lose Rafael Furcal (or possibly with the Dodgers if they lose out).
Huff, whose OPS has dropped from .922 to .853 to .749 the last three years, is being marketed to all the teams that lost out on Brian Giles.
Hall has his admirers in the Actually Affordable Catcher aisle of this auction mart.
And Gathright, viewed as a poor man's Juan Pierre by a slew of teams, could actually wind up replacing Pierre in Florida -- or in about 11 other places.
Could the Devil Rays crank out a press conference a day in Dallas? They'll give it a shot.
7. Lyle Overbay
GM Doug Melvin keeps saying he doesn't have to move Overbay. But that mountain-esque Prince Fielder sure does look as if he's almost ready to start bashing about 90 homers a year. And teams sure do keep calling on Overbay, even though his numbers at first base (.276, 19 HR, .449 SLG) were more comparable to Matt Stairs and Adam LaRoche than to Derek Lee or Carlos Delgado. So Melvin is listening.
But he's only dealing Overbay if he gets a significant upgrade in his rotation or bullpen out of it. Hottest rumor going around recently: Overbay to Boston for Matt Clement. But one front-office man shoots that one down, saying: "Clement isn't Doug's kind of guy." Other teams expected to knock on Melvin's door: the Blue Jays and Giants.
Soriano is the juicier name among this duo. But it's Mench who has the juicier income level (in the neighborhood of $2 million). So guess which one is more likely to get traded? The Blue Jays, Cubs, Nationals, Cardinals, Royals and Pirates are all drooling over Mench, who has hit exactly as many home runs (51) over the last two years as Chipper Jones, Vernon Wells, Jose Guillen and Aubrey Huff.
Soriano, meanwhile, has more extra-base hits (145) in the last two seasons than that luminary he was once traded for, A-Rod (140). But Soriano also figures to make 10 million bucks this year, thanks to the miracle of arbitration. So the Twins and Cubs -- who both chased him at the trading deadline -- have backed off. The Mets aren't in on him. And the team with the most interest, the Nationals, doesn't have the pitchers to deal for him. There would be a bunch of teams in this hunt if Soriano would just agree to move to the outfield. But Soriano hates that idea even more than he hates the thought of taking more than three pitches a night.
We're not even going to start by firing out those annual Adam Dunn or Junior Griffey trade rumors. What's the point? The Reds are more of a threat to sell the team to Pete Rose than they are to trade those two guys. Kearns, on the other hand, is officially available -- for a change.
GM Dan O'Brien has been telling teams he doesn't want to go to spring training with both Kearns and Wily Mo Pena. But even though clubs like the Royals, Cardinals, Cubs and Astros (among others) have massive interest in Kearns, the Reds keep scaring them away by pasting Nieman Marcus price tags on the forehead of a guy who has hit .237, with a .329 on-base percentage, the last two years, and played himself back to triple-A in June.
One team that expressed interest this winter said the Reds wanted four players in return -- a starting position player, two of its best young pitchers and a prospect. So either O'Brien prefers to move Pena, or he'll find himself with the same overcrowded outfield next year that he had this year.
10. Milton Bradley
OK, it's true Bradley isn't a threat to appear on the cover of Model Citizen Monthly. But he is A) still only 27 years old, B) not half as volatile as he's made out to be and C) a heck of a talent. So he will be traded -- and probably sooner than later. The Dodgers have had nibbles from the Yankees, Astros and Cubs. But the team most interested is (surprise) Oakland, which has never met a talented bargain it didn't like.
Brad Wilkerson, Dmitri Young, Corey Patterson, Darin Erstad, Steve Finley, Luis Gonzalez, Orlando Hudson, Todd Walker, Jay Gibbons, Frank Catalanotto, Shea Hillenbrand, Mike Lieberthal, Johnny Estrada, Jason LaRue, Larry Bigbie, Dave Roberts, Carlos Pena, Craig Monroe, Ben Broussard, Casey Blake, Kaz Matsui, Edgardo Alfonzo, Jason Michaels, Pedro Feliz.
Erik Bedard, Adam Eaton, David Wells, Matt Clement, Jason Marquis, Jeff Suppan, Kris Benson, Victor Zambrano, Kyle Lohse, J.C. Romero, Miguel Batista, Jeremy Affeldt, Chad Qualls, Dan Wheeler, Kip Wells, Orlando Hernandez, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, David Riske, Mark Redman, Ron Villone, Gil Meche, Joel Pineiro, Vicente Padilla, Jerome Williams, Mike MacDougal.
Don't bet a powerball ticket on it
Pudge Rodriguez, Torii Hunter, Ichiro Suzuki, Pat Burrell, Jason Schmidt, Marcus Giles, Gary Sheffield, Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre, Oliver Perez, Geoff Jenkins, Todd Helton, Mark Loretta, Mike Sweeney.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
Due to a weak free-agent class, many trades could be made at the winter meetings.