The pitching market has mostly been at a standstill this offseason with Jon Lester being the presumed catalyst to increased talks on other arms, but the latest MLB trade rumors suggest that several premier arms could be on the move in the near future.

It naturally takes just one domino to fall to start a chain reaction. Once Lester signs, which should be sometime Tuesday, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney, increased talks between teams regarding viable arms will occur.

After watching the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals dominate through the postseason because of pitching, expect teams to put an emphasis on improving their staffs. That’ll result in bidding or trade wars for the best available talent.

Below is the latest chatter regarding several pitching options from the 2014 winter meetings in San Diego.


C.J. Wilson

A surprise addition to the rumor mill, Los Angeles Angels lefty C.J. Wilson has had his name pop up in talks during the early stages of the winter meetings.’s Alden Gonzalez tweets that the team has received interest from a few clubs:

But what good is a rumor without a high-ranking executive saying it isn’t true? Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweeted a quote that Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto told him about Wilson:

Believe who you’d like to, but it’s honestly tough to picture the Angels dealing away one of their top arms. Garrett Richards is a major injury concern entering the 2015 season, nobody knows if Matt Shoemaker will post the same dominant numbers and Jered Weaver’s drop in velocity is bound to catch up to him eventually. Plus Tyler Skaggs will miss all of next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Of course, the evaluation of any trade cannot occur until we find out which players are being talked about in return.

It appears as if the Angels would be selling low on Wilson if he’s moved. He posted a 4.51 ERA (4.31 FIP) over 175.2 innings, walking 4.35 batters per nine innings and producing a WAR of just 0.6, per FanGraphs.

Wilson is owed $38 million over the next two seasons, meaning a potential deal would probably be a type of salary dump. The Halos really don’t have a pressing need in the lineup or in the bullpen, and you can never have too many arms. You certainly wouldn’t trade Wilson for bench depth, because that area of the team can be addressed during free agency.

There are very few possible scenarios in which the Angels would benefit from trading Wilson this offseason. 


Dillon Gee

A far more likely arm to be dealt is Dillon Gee, the five-year veteran with good back-end stuff from the New York Mets. He’s just 28, under team control for two more years and can eat innings when healthy.’s Adam Rubin reports that Gee is the most likely to be dealt from the trio of himself, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon: “The Mets are aggressively shopping Dillon Gee to teams in need of a starting pitcher, a high-ranking source at the winter meetings told”

Rubin writes that the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers have both expressed interest in Gee.

Gee has only posted a career WAR of 2.5 over parts of five seasons in the bigs, per FanGraphs, so it’s unlikely that he’d draw a huge coup for the Mets. Of course, the organization in rich in pitching talent, so any haul would be beneficial.

Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal tweets that the Amazins definitely won’t be able to address their hole at shortstop by dealing Gee:

They could instead look to acquire bullpen or bench depth, or simply a mid-level prospect who can play the outfield.

Having excess pitching is never a problem. The Mets will improve through trading one (or more) of their veteran starters. It all comes down to what areas they are able to address relative to the available free agents, though.

Matt Harvey’s return gives the organization high hopes for 2015, but the Mets won’t be able to compete if they run out the same lousy offense that they did in 2014.


Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels is one of the many fallback options for the unfortunate teams unable to land Lester, and the Boston Red Sox would definitely be a threat to the rest of the pack in negotiations.

They have a wealth of young talent to offer, including (but not limited to) Xander Bogaerts, Henry Owens, Mookie Betts, Deven Marrero, Matt Barnes, Garin Cecchini and Blake Swihart. All of them are potential impact players at the next level.

Swihart plays a premium position, and the catcher is an attractive bargaining chip should the Red Sox show a willingness to move him.’s Gordon Edes reports that such action probably won’t be necessary, however:

Reading critically helps us to see that the Philadelphia Phillies wouldn’t insist on Swihart. The Red Sox could presumably get a deal done without him, but it might take a higher volume of players. That’s something the organization could be skeptical of doing.

Including Swihart would likely make the Phils more apt to trade, especially with Carlos Ruiz on his last legs and no in-house candidate ready to immediately take over. Cameron Rupp, currently Ruiz’s backup, has shown little skill offensively in the minors or majors.

Hamels is the crown jewel of the trade market when it comes to pitchers. It goes without saying that he’s one of the top southpaws in the game because of his control and ability to get hitters out with his changeup.

He hasn’t started less than 30 games since 2007 and has been considered for the National League Cy Young four times in his career. Those are all the positives.

The negatives really only include the length and value of his current deal. He has $94 million in future salaries through the 2018 season, plus he also has a $20 million team option (or a $24 million vesting option) for the 2019 season, per Baseball-Reference.

This contract could prevent the Phils from getting a blockbuster-type haul, unless, of course, the organization shows a willingness to pick up part of the tab.

Boston appears to be one of the best fits for the player and the organizations involved, so this is a situation to monitor closely in the coming weeks. 


Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn

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