The best way to summarize Major League Baseball’s offseason is it resembled a heavy metal concert. There was a quiet beginning, followed by the massive head rush that happened at the winter meetings and currently waiting for one loud coda before spring training begins. 

All eyes are on the two big free agents still on the market, Max Scherzer and James Shields, but the trade rumblings are also starting to pick up steam. Teams are more reluctant to deal with each other because of the cost in money and prospects, though it’s still a more efficient way to upgrade a roster. 

Another thing that will also determine trades, at least in the next couple of months, is injuries. Teams are aware of players still recovering from ailments that occurred last year, or unexpected findings during the offseason, that can force them into a deal. 

Whatever the rationale for trades may be, here are the rumors that have captivated our attention and what they could mean. 


Dan Haren’s West Coast Saga

There will need to be some resolution to the Dan Haren dilemma soon, as the Miami Marlins are scheduled to open camp with pitchers and catchers on February 20 in Jupiter, Florida.

Haren, who was acquired from the Dodgers on December 11, has reportedly reiterated that he doesn’t want to pitch away from his family on the West Coast, per Joe Frisaro of  

Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald has reported the Marlins have been trying to move Haren with no success thus far:

At his request, the Marlins have been trying to trade pitcher Dan Haren to a team closer to his Southern California home but have found no takers. The Marlins have no intention of parting with the $10 million that the Dodgers are giving them to pay Haren’s salary or to keep if he retires.

There is a new player in the Haren sweepstakes, per Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, though it’s not exactly the ideal match the right-hander is likely hoping for:

Haren has been trying to dictate his fate this entire offseason, though nothing seems to be in his hands. The Dodgers wanted to get rid of him, to the point where they are paying his whole salary to Miami, and no other team has stepped up to make an appealing offer. 

The Giants were linked to Haren for a time, though Morosi also noted that was before they re-signed Jake Peavy:

Colorado doesn’t fit Haren’s criteria exactly, other than the fact the Rockies play in the National League West. It’s also a bad environment for a pitcher like Haren, who isn’t a power pitcher and doesn’t miss a lot of bats (145 strikeouts in 186 innings last year), so he has that to consider. 

The other big question for Haren, if the Marlins can’t find a trade partner, is will he be willing to walk away from $10 million? In an email he sent to ESPN, Haren has said that is an option

Speaking strictly about his baseball ability, because family is another matter entirely, Haren seems to understand that the West Coast is best for where his skills are at. The parks out there, either in the American League or National League, are typically better for pitchers. 

The only true hitters parks in either West division are Texas, Houston, Colorado and Arizona. That leaves five places for Haren to pitch, excluding the Dodgers for obvious reasons. It all comes down to what the Marlins are willing to take for him and how it changes the financial component for his 2015 salary. 


Nationals Not Willing to Pay Price for Zobrist

One team that has been linked to Ben Zobrist, if the Rays are going to trade him this offseason, is the Washington Nationals. The defending NL East champions certainly need an upgrade at second base.

Danny Espinosa, who has been the primary second baseman since 2010, has battled injuries the last two years and was a mess when he did play. The 27-year-old has hit .200/.255/.326 with a wins above replacement total of negative-0.1, per FanGraphs

Further compounding the Nationals’ need for offense is this report from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports about Jayson Werth needing shoulder surgery:

However, a later tweet from Rosenthal seems to indicate the Nationals aren’t going to increase their efforts to land Zobrist because the price is so high:

Credit the Nationals for not wanting to overpay, but if there is a franchise that should be willing to do it for a chance to win now, it’s this one. Washington is nearing the end of this window that’s been open since 2012.

This might be the last year with this current roster together, as Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister will be free agents after the season. Stephen Strasburg isn’t eligible for free agency until after 2016, but his arbitration numbers are going to start increasing exponentially. 

At some point the financial cost of keeping this rotation together will become too great. Zobrist is only under contract through 2015 at $7.5 million, which both helps and hurts his value. Teams like seeing the low salary but don’t want to give up multiple talented assets for one year of control. 

Werth‘s injury doesn’t seem like a long-term issue, though you never know how things will respond once he starts to swing a bat. It’s reasonable to expect the offense will be better through internal options, especially if Bryce Harper is finally able to play 140 games. 

Yet even with Harper at 100 percent, this lineup is still flawed. It lost some production with Adam LaRoche leaving. Ryan Zimmerman, another injury-prone star, isn’t the same player he used to be. 

Zobrist is exactly the kind of player Washington needs because he can play every position except pitcher and catcher. He doesn’t add much pop to the middle of an order, but a .350 on-base percentage would look nice hitting in front of Harper, Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon. 


Mets Have Pitchers for Sale

It’s been a long time since there was a rumor about the Mets trading one of their starting pitchers. Fortunately, that problem seems to be ending at some point in the near future. 

According to Mike Puma of The New York Post, the Mets are expecting to start receiving offers for at least three of their starters soon:

Most notably, the team has three starting pitchers for two spots in the rotation and expects trade talks to heat up soon, according to a club source.

But the source added that if the Mets can’t find a deal for Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon or Jon Niese, there is a chance the team would go to spring training with six starters and potentially begin 2015 with one of them in the bullpen.

One thing that always happens when teams appear to have too many starting pitchers is questions abound over what to do with all of them. Yet no one ever seems to talk about how much of a luxury that is, especially at this stage, because someone will inevitably get hurt. 

The Mets are also in a delicate position with Matt Harvey, who is returning after missing all last year recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s not going to come out of the gate the way he left things in 2013. His innings will be closely monitored all year. 

As far as the names mentioned in potential trade talks, none of them has a lot of value. Jon Niese is the best of the bunch, posting three straight seasons with an ERA of 3.71 or less, but he’s also allowed 351 hits in 330.2 innings since 2013. 

Dillon Gee likely has the most value simply because he’s not signed to a long-term contract. He’s in his second year of arbitration and is projected to make $5.1 million in 2015, per Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors

Despite the earlier sentiment about needing pitching depth, trading someone is essential for the Mets because that lineup is in desperate need of an upgrade. Michael Cuddyer might be David Wright’s buddy, but he certainly isn’t the answer. 

Trading Gee, Niese or Bartolo Colon isn’t going to bring back an impact hitter either, but at least the team should be able to get a serviceable hitter to play shortstop or an outfield spot. 


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