There’s usually a lull in the MLB offseason during the holidays, but expect the peace and quiet to come to an end once the calendar turns to 2015. There’s still wheeling and dealing to be done.

For now, it seems as if even the MLB trade rumors have taken a backseat to eggnog and caroling. The few we do have focus on players with the ability to play the outfield.

The free-agent market for outfielders is mostly depleted, with options like Nori Aoki, Colby Rasmus and Mike Carp representing the best players left available for teams to bid on. Naturally, it’s not a surprise that teams searching for outfield help have turned their attention to the trade market.

Teams still have some time to make upgrades before spring training, but they better act fast. If they wait, then the best options will be gone.

Below are the latest rumors on some of the more intriguing outfielders available.


Ben Zobrist

Traditionally a second baseman or shortstop, Ben Zobrist has played over 400 career games in the outfield. He can play any position on the field except catcher, and that makes him one of the more invaluable players in the sport.

So how can the Tampa Bay Rays justify dealing him away?

Nothing is imminent yet, but Peter Gammons reports that several general managers have told him that the San Francisco Giants will eventually trade a package of prospects for the versatile veteran.

Should the Giants acquire Zobrist, they’d likely pencil him in as the team’s everyday left fielder. Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford have second and short locked down, respectively, and Casey McGehee will most likely assume third-base duties after the position was vacated by Pablo Sandoval.

Even if it’s not the Giants who acquire Zobrist, Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi writes that “there’s a decent chance” Zobrist will be moved before Opening Day.

The 34-year-old may be worth more to the Rays in a trade than he would be on a team looking like it will enter a mini-rebuild next season. A free agent after 2015, he’s owed just $7.5 million next year. That’s extremely affordable considering his value. He has produced a WAR of at least 5.4 each of the past four seasons, per FanGraphs.

A switch-hitter who can deliver a line of .270/.350/.420 with 15 homers and 70 RBI can be a difference-maker for a lineup in need of more depth. The Giants certainly do after losing Sandoval and Mike Morse to free agency.

Couple his bat with his versatility, and Zobrist is easily one of the most valuable players in baseball. The Giants better be ready to deal top prospects if they want to add him to the team.


Nick Swisher

Fresh off the worst season of his successful 11-year career, Nick Swisher has become the subject of trade rumors this offseason.

He hit just .208/.278/.331 with eight homers and 42 RBI in 401 plate appearances in his second year with the Cleveland Indians. While he still has two more years left on his contract, the Indians already appear to be moving on.

They acquired Brandon Moss earlier this offseason, a player with the exact same set of skills as Swisher. He’s a first baseman who can also play the outfield but should really be the designated hitter—just like Swish.

Naturally, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reports that the Indians “would like to trade him.” It won’t be easy to trade someone coming off such a bad season. Indians general manager Chris Antonelli has to sell him to other teams as a big bounce-back candidate, but even that might not work.

Cafardo lists the Chicago Cubs as a possible trade partner. On paper, that seems like a fit. The Cubs have a talented young roster but need to infuse some more veteran leadership in the final months of the offseason. Jon Lester is there to command the pitching staff, but there isn’t someone to help groom the young hitters.

With Anthony Rizzo firmly entrenched at first base, Swisher could play a semi-regular role as a corner outfielder. He’d have to yield time to Jorge Soler and others, of course.

Perhaps a one-for-one deal could work if the Indians are interested in taking Edwin Jackson from the Cubs. Sometimes a change of scenery is good for struggling veterans. At the very least, the Indians would be getting another arm who can be used in the back of the rotation.

We’ll have to wait to hear more information on a potential Swisher trade, as Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes that “the Indians consider Jason Kipnis, Bourn and Swisher three of the keys to 2015.”

Conflicting reports are nothing new this time of the year, so we’ll just keep waiting.


Other Outfielders

Plenty of teams have outfield depth from which to deal. Morosi lists nine teams and several players who could be involved at some point, with Zobrist and Swisher both named on the list.

He writes that we should see “heavy activity” when it comes to outfield bats following the holidays. Among the list of names are a few intriguing ones.

Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies, Josh Hamilton of the Los Angeles Angels, Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds and Mark Trumbo of the Arizona Diamondbacks are among those names probably on the unlikely-to-be-dealt list; however, the craziness of this offseason should leave our minds open for anything.

Trumbo is a player who would certainly garner interest if made available, but Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweeted back on Dec. 10 that nobody has been able to gauge Arizona’s interest in moving him:

Piecoro tweeted a few days earlier a quote from Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart regarding the idea of moving the slugger:

It would be hard to justify moving Trumbo. Sure, he only slashed .235/.293/.415 in 362 plate appearances, but you have to remember that he was troubled by a foot injury for most of the season. Even still, he hit 14 homers and drove in 61 in 88 games.

That’s nearly 30 home runs and over 100 RBI projected over a full season, and one would have to assume that his slash line would have approached his four-year average with the Angels—.250/.299/.469—had he been fully healthy.

Trumbo is a valuable bat for an Arizona team that might surprise next season. He, Paul Goldschmidt and Yasmany Tomas form a tough trio for pitchers to work through, and their are plenty of other young hitters ready to take the next step.

Arizona should only move Trumbo if it is blown away by an offer. Given his performance last year, it probably won’t be.


Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn.

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