As I will continue to reiterate the MLB offseason is one of my favorite times of the year. Literally anything could happen. Impact players just changing hats like I do every morning, except they get paid to do so. For a dreamer like myself, it truly is a special time. With only a couple more days left in November, you can almost feel another big move on the horizon. What is it? Which teams will be involved? Will it be a trade or a signing? How many people had Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle heading to Toronto a month ago? Exactly no one did. That’s what makes this time of the year special. No matter what you think you know about your team, your team’s needs, or the needs of teams league wide, you can just never be sure who is going to sign where or what General Manager is ready to mortgage the farm in order to make a big time move for the present. If I woke up tomorrow and found out Albert Pujols had been traded to the Mets I wouldn’t even be shocked. That’s how unpredictable the Hot Stove can be. And with Christmas less than 30 days away, some fans are hoping they ended up on the nice list this year. Others are just hoping to throw away the coal from December’s past.
Royals Still Looking to Replace Greinke
When the Royals traded Zach Greinke for a package of prospects surrounding Acides Escobar, just about everyone agreed it was the right decision. With the Royals still years away from competing for anything significant, there was no reason to hold on to Greinke when they could fill some voids. But by acquiring a franchise shortstop the Royals created a void in their rotation. Kansas City is aceless. Hell, I wouldn’t even say the Royals have a solid number two. And that’s a major problem for any team, let alone one with a strong young core of offensive talent looking to compete sooner rather than later. The Royals have already acquired Ervin Santana from the Angels while re-signing Jeremy Guthrie. In a division which boasts Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, and Max Scherzer, Santana and Guthrie aren’t exactly looking like AL Cy Young candidates in comparison. Which is why Kansas City is dangling their top prospect, CF Wil Myers, in hopes of trading for an ace. So far, two teams have emerged as possible partners for the Royals: the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays. Both the Rays and the Sox experienced underwhelming 2012s and are looking for some changes. The Red Sox have apparently offered up Jon Lester in exchange for Myers while the Rays have talked about a package surrounding James Shields. While Tampa Bay and Boston have center fielders, both would welcome Myers’ bat to their lineup no questions asked. It will be interesting to see if Kansas City actually moves Myers to either of these teams, or to any team for that matter.
But what would the Rays or Sox do with Myers if they acquired him? For Tampa, it would be the final nail in the coffin for B.J. Upton’s career as a Ray. Desmond Jennings would continue on as a corner outfielder and Myers would likely be their opening day starter. After giving Evan Longoria a six year $100 million extension earlier in the week, this move would make a ton of sense for Tampa. The Rays have more top shelf pitching than they know what to do with. Their offense has been their problem for a while now and securing one of the top offensive prospects in all of baseball would be a wise decision for the franchise moving forward.
The Red Sox? That’s a different story. The vast majority of people in the world today who have even heard the word “baseball” before firmly believe that the Sox need to add an ace, not trade one away. But there are a couple of different factors in play here. For starters, this is still a team looking to clean house. While Lester has been a model citizen and a hell of a pitcher during his time in Boston, I believe he is due for a change of scenery. I think there is plenty of quality baseball in his future but I’m not sure he can ever fully regain form in Boston. Even with John Farrell back in the mix. Second, what happened to Clay Buchholz? For YEARS now, all I’ve heard about is that this guy has everything you look for in an ace. He has the command, the weapons, the blah, blah, blah. Well, when do we call a spade a spade here? I mean Buchholz is no spring chicken. He’s been around for quite some time now. He’s put up some quality seasons but either he’s an ace right this second or he’ll never be one. It’s as simple as that. Is anyone debating who the ace of the Los Angeles Dodgers is right now? Of course not. Clayton Kershaw has held that title for three years now and he’s four years younger than Buchholz. Either you believe in him or you do not. I do not. I believe he is an above average number two. But, I believe that about Lester too. And James Shields for that matter. I don’t think any of the three are aces. But, that’s for a different conversation.
What would Wil Myers do for the Red Sox? If Myers turns out to be the every day player he is projected to be, it would be an upgrade for the Sox in center field. That’s right. Upgrade. Spare me Jacoby Ellsbury’s 2011 season. Let’s talk about his injury plagued career, instead. The Sox cannot keep holding on to the injury excuse forever. Every team battles through injuries. The St. Louis Cardinals have made it to AT LEAST the NLCS in consecutive years dealing with far more pressing matters than the Sox have had over the same time span. Ellsbury’s contract is up at the end of the year and I’ve long been ready to move on from him. Myers would be able to step in immediately and make the transition as smooth as possible.
OR. He becomes a massive trade chip for the Sox. He’s the third ranked prospect in all of baseball behind Jurickson Profar and Dylan Bundy. Remember when the Sox traded Edgar Renteria for Andy Marte (who was once considered the top prospect in all of baseball) and immediately swung him in a deal to Cleveland? That may be the case here with Myers, assuming the Sox were to acquire him. Myers, along with many other Sox prospects, would be an incredibly tough package for the likes of the Seattle Mariners to turn down in exchange for Felix Hernandez. It would be incredibly hard for Seattle to turn down a Myers-centric package as opposed to the packages Boston is offering sans-Myers. Regardless of what the next step is, Myers makes sense for both Boston and Tampa Bay as a player and as an asset.
Relivers Inking Deals
The Cincinnati Reds thought they were all set last winter when they signed Ryan Madson to a long term deal. Then Madson injured himself signing the contract and both he and the Reds appeared to be screwed. That is, until the Reds utilized Aroldis Chapman and had one of the most electrifying closers in all of baseball for the better half of 2012. Now, both Madson, the Reds, and Chapman are all making headlines again in the Hot Stove. Ryan Madson recently agreed to a one year deal (pending physical) with the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels had one of the least reliable bullpens in all of baseball last season and with Madson coming off of Tommy John surgery, LA is hoping they got their man for cheap (a low base salary laden with incentives is expected).
The Reds, meanwhile, re-signed Jonathan Broxton to a muti-year contract to become their full time closer. But, don’t the Reds already have a closer? Yes and no. Aroldis Chapman is a beast. His 100+ mph fastball paired with a devastating slider are perfect tools for a dominant closer. But, the Reds need starting pitching. Chapman has always been pegged as a starter. There is no reason he couldn’t succeed as a starter. Most importantly, there is no reason for the Reds NOT to give him a shot in the rotation. If Chapman could learn how to harness his speed (so he does not blow out his arm) a la Justin Verlander, he could emerge as one of the best starters in the league as soon as next season. This move makes all the sense in the world for the Reds. Pairing Chapman with Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos atop their rotation is more than a great idea. The NL Central is more than winnable for the Reds. Why go out and spend big money on a starter when you likely have one of the better starters in the league already on your roster? Just doesn’t make much sense. If Broxton falters as your closer, the Reds either acquire another reliever via trade or move Sean Marshall to the ninth inning which, afterall, was the plan in 2012 before Chapman decided to become unhittable.