Much of the chatter in the MLB has died down as the winter chill has set in across the nation, with the majority of big-name free agents inked to lucrative contracts and a variety of blockbuster trades—including of course the high-risk, high-reward moves pulled off by the San Diego Padres—already stamped as done deals.

Of course, baseball organizations have a great many moving parts, whether it’s building a contender at the MLB level, bolstering the farm system for (hopefully) a future playoff run or finding the right balance among pitching, hitting, defense and speed. 

The latest rumors floating around the Web involve the futures of high-caliber players capable of turning downtrodden franchises into potential contenders or at the very least shoring up areas of weakness on the roster. 

Let’s break down the buzz surrounding three MLBers who could be looking at new homes in the 2015 season.

Troy Tulowitzki

No matter how well a baseball player plies his trade, there is always a chance that injuries derail their career and make them expendable. Such is the case with Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who was well on his way to putting together an MVP-caliber season in 2014 before a hip surgery cut his campaign short in July.

Tulo has missed a grand total of 222 games over the past three seasons, but that reportedly hasn’t stopped the New York Mets from taking an interest in him.

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the two teams are still quite far apart in trade talks, and the New York Yankees have now made inquiries regarding Tulo. Heyman broke down where the teams might be coming to an impasse:

The sides have been discussing packages centered around top Mets pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, but some have suggested that at least at some point the Rockies were also requesting Zack Wheeler be included in the package, though talks are fluid, so that may not be the case now. Just about every young Mets pitcher and player has been mentioned at some point, including right-hander Dillon Gee and shortstops Ruben Tejada and presumably Wilmer Flores, though those players are drawing limited interest and would be considered as perhaps third and/or fourth pieces in a potential deal.

With his injury history and age, Tulowitzki carries a significant risk, but it’s one the Mets should be willing to take considering the sorry state of their franchise over the past few seasons—although a second-place NL East finish in 2014 gives them hope going forward.

Should starting pitcher Matt Harvey recover well from his Tommy John surgery, the Mets could have two cornerstone players in the fold, although everyone at Citi Field would have a panic attack anytime one of these two players so much as took a scratch.

The Mets could desperately use help in the middle of the infield and would have made good candidates for Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang, but the Pittsburgh Pirates are the ones set to negotiate with the potential star slugger.

The Yankees could easily come to financial terms with Tulowitzki, and if there is any player up to the challenge of replacing Derek Jeter, one of the most beloved players in team history, it’s the Rockies’ four-time All-Star. MLB even sent out this interesting tweet regarding Tulowitzki‘s admiration for the legendary Yankee:

The Rockies would likely have trouble explaining this move to their fanbase and could be in for a long season considering the aggressive moves made by division rivals such as the Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, not to mention the dynastic presence of the San Francisco Giants.

If they do trade Tulo, it’s quite possible they go for a full rebuild and ship off star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, as the 29-year-old might not be worth holding onto for what could be a very lean period in the franchise’s history.


Dan Haren

The Los Angeles Dodgers have had an extremely busy offseason, including a frenzied few days that saw the team complete a number of notable trades. Swept up in the whirlwind of roster moves was starting pitcher Dan Haren, who found himself shipped across the country along with shortstop/second baseman Dee Gordon to the Miami Marlins in a seven-player deal. 

According to Heyman, this development doesn’t appear to sit well with Haren, who hopes for a return to the West Coast:

Prior to the trade, Haren made it abundantly clear that he wouldn’t be partial to playing away from his family.

“My signing with the Dodgers last year and my decision to exercise my player option were based on my desire to play in Southern California near my family,” he said, via email, per’s Mark Saxon. “I had other opportunities, but at this point in my career, I have no interest in playing in a city away from my family.”

The 34-year-old righty put together a solid season in 2014 for the NL West champion Dodgers, but a strong start and finish to the season disguise Haren’s implosion during the summer stretch.

It’s nice that Haren was able to pull things together after an awful July, but if he’s not happy in Florida, the Marlins might be better off without an aging, handle-with-care starter.

When Haren pitched for the Washington Nationals in 2013, he posted an ERA+ of 81, his worst mark since his rookie year, per It’s quite possible scenery means more to Haren’s performance than it does some other players, so the Marlins might not have much to work with even if he does decide to play for them in 2015.

The Los Angeles Angels don’t figure likely to welcome Haren back with open arms considering he went 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA in his last season (2012) with the team.

The San Diego Padres could use a veteran on their pitching staff, and the Dodgers are paying his $10 million salary for 2015, per Spotrac, but it makes little sense to take on Haren when they have a number of intriguing young options for use the rotation, including Robbie Erlin and Odrisamer Despaigne.

That being said, Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi passed along a salient point from a fan on Twitter regarding a potential Padres ploy:

The Marlins could bolster their team by adding a backup outfielder for Haren—with Carlos Quentin being one possible option, although he is an injury risk—but they won’t be in dire straits if Haren decides to forego another long season and retire.


James Shields

James Shields isn’t the top free-agent pitcher still out on the open market—that title belongs to Max Scherzer—but he appears set to ink quite a lucrative contract, according to The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo

The final Shields numbers are expected to be close to the five years and $110 million remaining (if the option is picked up) on the Cole Hamels deal, according to one major league source who was privy to Shields’s demands. The Giants and Red Sox are in the picture, and the Yankees may be another suitor.

A deal with similar numbers to Cole Hamels would be quite a coup for Shields, as he has put up comparable numbers to the Phillies star but is three years older.

Still, the market forces are at play here, and with Scherzer reportedly looking for a whopping salary, Shields looks like a great value as a starting pitcher in comparison. Insider Jim Bowden (subscription required) gave the Giants the best odds of signing Shields and noted their tough offseason could motivate them to make a big offer:

The world champions have had a difficult offseason after losing third baseman Pablo Sandoval to the Boston Red Sox (for basically the same offer they made) and then falling short on their bids for free agents Jon LesterMelky Cabrera andChase Headley. (They were able to retain reliever Sergio Romo, who signed for less to stay home.) However, they’re still hard at work, and Shields is atop their wish list. They would love to be able to slot him behind Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain and ahead of Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy in their rotation. 

Indeed, Shields would be tough to deal with pitching on the heels of Madison Bumgarner and/or Matt Cain and would provide the Giants with a nice right-lefty balance in the rotation.

However, the Yankees are always a threat to snatch up premier talent, as are the Red Sox, and the New York club could be compelled to make a grand offer considering they aren’t ones to get comfortable with missing out on the postseason more often than once in a blue moon. 

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