With the days until the off-season rapidly decreasing, trade rumors are heating up. Of course, Josh Hamilton is going to take center stage in the coming months, but trades are often a source of improvement without spending money.
Here are three trades that could possibly become realities during the off-season.
Justin Upton To The Blue Jays
The Diamondbacks seem destined to dangle Upton this coming off-season. During the regular season, they were just testing the market, gauging the amount of interest that was out there for him. And obviously, interest isn’t going to be a problem, as Upton is one of the game’s budding stars despite a down year in 2012. Considering that he has yet to reach his full potential, his intriguing rate to potential suitors is sky-high.
The Blue Jays’s seem to be headed in a winning direction after taking a few significant steps forward in 2012. With the Yankees and Red Sox both approaching the end of an era, the Jays could be the beasts of the East very soon.
Upton could certainly be a beneficial addition to an outfield consisting of Jose Bautista and Colby Rasmus, presumably. An outfield of such could remain intact for years to come and ultimately be the core of the Jays’ lineup. As for surroundings, his smooth power swing fits the hitter friendly Toronto Centre perfectly.
A possible package consisting of outfielder Anthony Gose and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria for Upton is a foreseeable route to embark on as both would fill Arizona’s needs, including the hole Upton would leave. Obviously, a few other deal sealers would also have to be included, but the framework is pretty much set.
The Blue Jays, who have ample amount of outfielders, wouldn’t have a problem trading Gose; a top prospect. Hechavarria could solve Arizona’s future shortstop issues after trading Stephen Drew to the A’s in August. General manager Kevin Towers is expected to explore the market for a shortstop during the offseason to fill the blank. While Hechavarria isn’t exactly an instant fix, he has the talent to eventually mold into a star.
Don’t forget that Hechavarria is just 23 years-old, and hit .292/.320/.417 with the Blue Jays in September/October. His defense is ready for an everyday role, but his offense will be the nagging question mark until he proves otherwise.
But the key is that both Gose and Hechavarria boast potential which will be a vital factor in a deal for Upton. Not only because Arizona would go for nothing less, but also because Upton himself has the same qualities, but he has also already proven himself. Gose and Hechavarria haven’t.
If the Diamondbacks were to seek more in exchange from Toronto, they would presumably target young pitching, something that the Blue Jays also don’t lack.
Realistically, Toronto could trade for anyone they craved. Their farm system is deep, and they’ve stockpiled several outfielders and pitchers that could be transform into stars at the major league level in the near future. Therefore, crafting a deal for Upton isn’t such a mighty task.
Dan Uggla To The Orioles
Orioles’ management already stated that they won’t pursue any of the marquee free agents such as Josh Hamilton or Michael Bourn to name a couple. This means that they will approach the offseason looking to fill minor needs instead of falling into the trap of making a big splash.
Second base is certainly a position that needs an upgrade, as Robert Andino didn’t hold down the fort relatively well in 2012. He hit just .215/.277/.320 over 99 games at second base only.
As for Uggla, he didn’t fare much better than Andino, hitting just 19 home runs with a .220 average. Both of those marks are career lows for the 32 year-old, and the fact that his power numbers took a deep dip is going to concern trade partners, especially considering that he’s surpassed the 30 home run mark in the previous five seasons coming into the 2012 campaign. Is it the beginning of the end for Uggla? Who knows?
But the thing is, he’s signed through 2015, making $13 million in each of the next three years, so his contract isn’t all that appealing, either. And for the Orioles, who don’t have the ability or desire to take on a dead contract like Uggla’s, acquiring him obviously doesn’t seem like a wise move in their defense.
Plus, in 2012 they thrived on young players producing. Adam Jones emerged as a star while Manny Machado got called up and made an instant impact and ultimately solved Baltimore’s third base issues. Chris Davis hit a career-high 33 home runs, and Matt Wieters played exceptional defense behind the plate. It’s safe to say that youth is working in their favor and it proved to be a successful strategy in 2012.
So, why change that successful motto?
Because second base is slim on options, and it will stay slim until they react. Many will argue that the answer to this complication is Brian Roberts, but he has played in a total of just 115 games since 2010. There’s little reason to believe that he will ever make a full return from the various injuries he has suffered over the past three years. His contract is up after 2013, anyway.
With these factors considered, Uggla in an O’s uniform suddenly seems like a reasonable proposition.
The Braves would presumably cover most of his contract if it came down to that. With Tyler Pastornicky and Andrelton Simmons both waiting to blossom in the major leagues, Uggla is clogging up that process. For the Braves, their talented youth is something that will keep them in contention for years to come. You’d like to think that they would want to get that process going sometime soon by eliminating struggling veterans.
In exchange, Atlanta would receive Mark Reynolds to cover Chipper Jones’s void. And more importantly, they would drop Uggla.
Justin Morneau To The Marlins
Justin Morneau is obviously not the player he once was thanks to a severe concussion that has released many lingering affects, derailing his overall effectiveness However, 2012 was a step in the right direction for the former A.L MVP winner. He played in 134 games, hit 19 home runs, and drove in 77 runs.
The Marlins could use some of that production with their first base troubles. Miami traded for Carlos Lee during the season in 2012 and traded Gaby Sanchez to the Pirates. Neither of those moves made much of a difference. But now that Lee is off their books, they have a gap to close.
Within the organization, the Marlins could use Logan Morrison at first base to avoid spending any money. However, that would leave left field open, so moving him isn’t going to solve much, other then just making a change to make one.
Before inquiring on Morneau, however, the Marlins’ management must align their priorities straight. Do they want to win as soon as 2013, or do they want to enter a mini-rebuilding stage? If they choose to go with the latter approach, then Morneau isn’t going to be much of a help from a winning perspective because his career is dwindling down to its final couple seasons, and the Marlins would only have him for 2013.
Now, on the other hand, if they’re set on competing next year, then Morneau is worth a look because he won’t be considered as part of their future rather than a one year deal.
So let’s assume Miami plans to compete next year. The only factor that would prevent this deal from garnering agreements from both parties is Morneau’s contract. He is slated to make $13 million in 2013, and it’s doubtful that Miami would take on that hefty of a contract for a risky player like Morneau.
I think they have learned a crucial lesson after dishing out a three-year $27 million deal to Heath Bell, who responded by posting a 5.09 ERA in the first year of the deal.
For Morneau to become a part of the Marlins, the Twins will have to eat up a sizeable chunk of his remaining salary.