Winter might be the time you like to cuddle in your blankets, but it’s also the time MLB players are getting set to move around.

Baseball is unlike any other sport in that an exorbitant amount of players change homes during the offseason. The winter months are truly a time of activity for MLB clubs, as general managers across the league make acquisitions in order to put together their rosters.

Through trades and free agency, GMs and front offices put countless hours of work into constructing their teams. There’s no hibernation for them.

The work starts early, evidenced by the bevy of rumors already making their way through the MLB rumor mill. A few notable ones are discussed below.


Yasmany Tomas

Yasmany Tomas, 24, is the top Cuban slugger available this offseason. Naturally, his market is pretty competitive. We don’t know which teams are in the mix at this point, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News keyed us in on one team that likely won’t be:

Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors and Jorge Arangure of Vice Sports tweeted that there are multiple teams actively courting him:

It has taken a while for the market to really heat up for the Cuban prospect. He has major power and a decent arm, but his contact skills against breaking pitches surely hasn’t impressed scouts. Ben Badler of Baseball America pointed out a few of his flaws at the plate:

Tomas did show some swing-and-miss tendencies at the WBC with an uppercut stroke and trouble handling good breaking pitches. Three months after the WBC, when Cuba took a team to the U.S. last summer to face the college national team, the U.S. power arms were able to exploit some of those holes by beating him with good velocity up and in and getting him to swing through soft stuff in and out of the zone.

The potential is there for him to be a solid contributor at the big league level. That is, of course, if he corrects those problems. Major leaguers will exploit those weaknesses.

Teams are apparently ready to move past those flaws and sign him, though, as Arangure tweets:

Without a ton of big-time bats on the market, Tomas could command a contract in excess of five years and $80 million. Whether he’s actually worth that is debatable.


A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett hasn’t retired despite early-offseason rumors, and his agent told Jayson Stark of that he “wants to pitch for a contender.”

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted that one potential contender, the Baltimore Orioles, had extended an offer his way:

Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun refuted that report, however:

It’s reasonable for Burnett to want to pitch for a contender, but not that many contenders might want him to pitch for their team. At least, his 2014 numbers indicate that he doesn’t have much left in the tank.

He led the National League in losses with 18 (eight wins) and also posted an ERA of 4.59 (4.14 FIP). That number was influenced by the fact that he led all starters in the league in earned runs and walks issued.

Granted, there were some positives teams could look at. He struck out 190 hitters in 213.2 innings. He also pitched much of the season with a hernia issue. That definitely affected the way he pitched.

Burnett is not the right fit for the Orioles. They’re still trying to cope with the massacre that was Ubaldo Jimenez’s contract, and he still has three years remaining on his contract. The O’s could trade him, but then why would they replace him with a similar hit-or-miss pitcher?

Burnett will find a home for 2015. That said, it might not be for an early-season favorite. It might not want to take the risk.


Alex Avila

The 2011 season was an outlier for Alex Avila.

He slashed .295/.389/.506 and produced a 5.1 WAR that year for the Detroit Tigers. He hasn’t hit over .243 since, and his total WAR in the past three seasons is just 5.4.

As a result, the Tigers could finally be fed up with the 27-year-old backstop. He’s still a buy-low candidate for other teams, however, and Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe tweeted that Detroit would be willing to move him:

Avila, a left-handed bat, would be semi-useful in a platoon on the right team. He’s a career .256 hitter against right-handers compared to .215 against southpaws.

At this point, the Tigers would probably take anything in return for Avila. His strong defense isn’t enough to make up for his poor offense, and the Tigers might just dump him after three straight disappointing seasons.

Detroit might only get cash relief and a mid-level prospect in exchange.

It’s interesting to hear from Cafardo that the Atlanta Braves are interested. Christian Bethancourt is supposedly the catcher of the future, and that has been reinforced with rumors that Evan Gattis is permanently moving to left field.

Unless the Braves plan on platooning Bethancourt and Avila, the veteran’s presence on the roster would simply take at-bats away from the youngster.


Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn

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