With no baseball action to distract us from the countless rumors circling the internet, the MLB winter meetings are like the trade deadline on steroids. It’s just baseball’s best and brightest minds talking shop all day long and us baseball nerds fanatics just soak it all in. Of course, every move that is made, whether it’s major or minor, has an impact on the fantasy universe so here are my top 10 players you should keep an eye (and ear) on during this year’s baseball meetings.
10. Mike Napoli, C, BOS and B.J. Upton, OF, ATL
Let’s get the two big names that have already signed out of the way first. Bryan wrote an extensive piece yesterday about how Napoli will fare with Fenway Park as his new home and Upton will be traveling a couple hours up I-95 to play in Atlanta in 2013. For Upton, calling anywhere other than Tropicana Field home has to be a welcoming sight for his offensive prospects, but he will also have to adjust to a whole new style of baseball in the National League.
9. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, MIA
The only reason Stanton is #9 and not #1 on this list is that I don’t think he’s going anywhere. Still, the rumors have been circling that ever since the monster deal that sent away Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle and Co., Stanton hasn’t been happy with the direction of the Marlins. The Rangers have popped up as a logical trade partner since they have top-prospect Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt as trade chips. Reality aside, I’m salivating at just the idea of Stanton hitting in Texas.
8. Nick Swisher, 1B/OF
Swisher is a walking machine and best-suited for an AL team. He’s been linked to the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles and Rangers which would all be a good fit for him. Don’t expect him to sign before Josh Hamilton though as he will look to capitalize on those teams that miss out the premier free agent of this year’s class.
7. R.A. Dickey, SP, NYM
Dickey should absolutely be traded this offseason. We can talk about how bad the Mets have been, but knuckle-ball pitchers are notoriously inconsistent from year to year and there’s no doubt the Mets could cash in on the Cy Young Award winner to help rebuild their roster. It seems like the asking price is a bit steep so the chances of something happening this week are slim.
6. Dan Haren, SP
We all know about the velocity struggles in 2012, but Haren could be a nice bargain for a team willing to take a bit of a chance. You have to wonder why Theo Epstein backed out of a Carlos Marmol for Haren swap because if it was health-related then this could be a long winter for the former All-Star.
5. [Insert Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher not named Matt Moore here]
It’s highly unlikely David Price is dealt either, but the Rays could try and get an overhaul of talent for someone who will be a free agent in three years. The most likely candidates to be traded are James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson. Shields has been linked to Royals top hitting prospect Wil Myers, which would make sense for the Rays who are in need of some offense.
4. Michael Bourn, OF
Bourn might be turning 30 in a couple of weeks, but he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down on the base paths. It sounds like he’s getting a lot of interest from a handful of National League clubs, but wherever he lands his skills will be unaffected. He’s an elite speedster who can score 90 runs even in the worst of lineups.
3. Justin Upton, OF, ARI
These trade talks have been gaining some steam and it looks like the Diamondbacks are ready to do some work this offseason. Could he join his brother in Atlanta, where they are still in the market for a corner outfielder? Will Texas bite the bullet and send over Elvis Andrus or will the Diamondbacks accept a lesser package of Mike Olt/Derek Holland? Could another team (Boston?) sweep in with a package surrounding a contract-year player (Jacoby Ellsbury)? These are all good questions.
2. Zack Greinke, SP
It looks like Greinke is going to stay in LA, but it’s not to play with the Angels. The Dodgers are basically doing everything short of handing over a blank check to the former Cy Young pitcher. A move to the NL West would be a welcome one for Greinke who would get to pitch in the pitcher-friendly confines of Dodger Stadium, Petco Park and AT&T Park. Let’s just hope signing one of the biggest pitching contracts in baseball history won’t bring back those anxiety issues that have plagued him in the past.
1. Josh Hamilton, OF
He has been the most polarizing fantasy player since he broke out in the 2008 season and now his services are up for grabs. The good news is that it doesn’t really matter where he ends up because he’s that good offensively, but there’s not doubt that Texas is the best landing spot for him.