One month removed from the winter meetings, Major League Baseball’s hot stove seems to have burned out. There are still two big free-agent dominoes in Max Scherzer and James Shields, but the trade winds are starting to pick up once again. 

Teams that missed out on free agents they were hoping to get, or see an opportunity to strike a deal with a team perhaps in over its head financially, will be working the phones for the next few weeks to make those final tweaks before spring training begins in February. 

Think of this portion of the offseason as a shark in the water. There’s a boat approaching that it’s going to start circling, but it’s unclear if there will be enough momentum to finish the deal. General managers will try everything they’ve got, especially if it brings them closer to a championship. 

Here are the latest rumors floating around, complete with analysis of the news. 


St. Louis Cardinals Looking For One Big Splash

Having seen their division rivals in Chicago and Pittsburgh upgrade their starting rotations this offseason, the defending NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals are starting to feel the heat. Their stranglehold over the division is more tenuous than ever. 

When you combine that with questions about what the Cardinals rotation looks like right now, it’s no surprise to see Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of report the team has made some effort into finding out the availability for two of baseballs best pitchers:

The team is exploring trades for left-handers Cole Hamels and David Price and the possibility of signing free-agent right-hander Max Scherzer, according to major-league sources.

No deal appears close on any front, and it’s possible that the Cardinals will simply decide that the acquisition cost in each case is too high.

Rosenthal and Morosi also note that the Cardinals could be concerned about the depth in their rotation. Adam Wainwright had offseason surgery to trim cartilage in his pitching elbow. Michael Wacha was injured most of last season and may need time to get his legs back under him. 

Scherzer is a different animal in this case because he’s a free agent represented by Scott Boras. That does bring a certain appeal to teams, as they would just have to shell out money without giving up multiple prospects like they would have to in a trade. 

Looking at the two trade candidates, Cole Hamels makes more sense simply because there’s more incentive for Philadelphia to move him than there is for Detroit to move David Price. 

The Phillies have finally accepted the reality that they aren’t a contender, having already traded Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo.

While there are other players who should be moved to really begin the transition to a rebuild, it doesn’t seem likely due to issues of loyalty (Chase Utley) or a bloated, immovable contract (Ryan Howard). 

Hamels is certainly a popular figure in Philadelphia, given his overall body of work and heroics during the 2008 World Series, but the ability to have a true top-line starting pitcher signed to a reasonable contract still in his prime is rare these days. 

General manager Ruben Amaro needs to find more impact young players in these trades. Getting rid of aging stars like Rollins and Byrd is nice, but they don’t bring back much in return because of their age and limitations. 

There are no limitations to Hamels at this juncture. He’s 31 years old, signed through 2018 for $97 million guaranteed with an option for 2019 and coming off a season in which he set new career benchmarks in ERA (2.46) and ERA+ (151) and tied a career high with 6.6 wins above replacement, per

Paying a top starting pitcher $23.5 million per season through his age-34 season is hardly a burden to most teams, so it comes down to whether the Cardinals would be willing to meet Philadelphia’s demands in a trade. 

Rosenthal and Morosi speculate on some of the possible names Amaro would want, including Carlos Martinez, Marco Gonzales, Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty and Peter Bourjos

An actual deal wouldn’t involve all of those names, but that gives you an idea of where conversations would get started. 

As for Price, the Tigers are having an interesting offseason. It’s certainly not a good one, as they sold low on Rick Porcello. Yoenis Cespedes‘ offense is overrated because of his power, but his .298 on-base percentage since 2013 ranks 41st out of 44 outfielders with more than 1,000 plate appearances, via

If Scherzer doesn’t re-sign with Detroit, that leaves a rotation of Price, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon. That’s certainly not the group Tigers fans have gotten accustomed to seeing the last few years. 

Trading Price, considering the Tigers are still in win-now mode, even though they are getting older and have contracts that are looking bad sooner than anyone would have predicted, would basically eliminate any hope the franchise has to contend in 2015. 

It might be the smart play for the future, as general manager Dave Dombrowski would be able to bring some talent to a depleted farm system, but it doesn’t make sense for what the Tigers believe they can accomplish right now. 


Dan Haren An Option In SF?

One of the unsolved mysteries of this offseason is Dan Haren’s status as a member of the Miami Marlins. The right-hander was traded to the Marlins from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the winter meetings, but he wasn’t happy about the move. 

Haren’s preference has been to pitch on the West Coast, to the point where The Associated Press reported on January 5 that the Marlins have “given up” in their attempts to convince the veteran to pitch for them in 2015, via

The Marlins have given up trying to persuade Haren to pitch for them this season, and the team hopes to swing a trade for the right-hander, a person familiar with the discussions said Monday.

The 34-year-old Haren wants to pitch close to his family in Southern California, and the Marlins knew that when they acquired him in a seven-player deal. He’s considering retirement but is working out this winter and preparing to pitch just as he has done in the past.

The trouble is finding a spot for Haren on the West Coast. Morosi reported on Twitter that the World Series champion Giants did have a conversation with the Marlins, but it happened before San Francisco re-signed Jake Peavy:

There are still concerns about San Francisco’s rotation in 2015. Madison Bumgarner is the ace, though there may be some pressure to lighten his load during the year after he carried the franchise to a championship in October. Matt Cain is coming back after missing most of last year following elbow surgery. 

Peavy and Hudson are back-end starters at this point in their career. Haren falls into that category as well, though he could put up solid numbers playing in a big stadium like AT&T Park. 

Given how light the rumor mill has been for Haren on the trade market, it doesn’t seem like teams are knocking down Miami’s door to get him. The Angels are a team that makes sense for Haren given his history with the franchise and the team’s need for more depth after the injuries last year to Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs

Whatever the case may be, the Haren pendulum seems to be swinging in the direction of retirement, unless the right team steps up to make Miami a fair offer to acquire the right-hander. It would be an unceremonious exit, but one he’s brought on himself by being so rigid in his demands. 


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