10 Players Likely to be Traded
Jerry Crasnick points out 10 players most likely to be thrown around in trade rumors this off season. Sometimes I feel bad about posting material that is in the pay part of sites, and sometimes I do not. This time, I feel kind of bad so I'll only actually put in the meaty part of players that pertain the Mets.
1. Randy Johnson
2. Sammy Sosa
The more Cubs GM Jim Hendry and agent Adam Katz say they expect Sosa to be playing right field in Chicago next year, the more events seem to conspire to suggest the opposite. Sosa's contract situation is much more palatable now that it's clear the players union will allow him to waive an $18 million option that automatically kicks in if he's traded. That makes Sosa a less burdensome acquisition – even though a $4.5 million buyout and $3.5 million severance package ensure that moving him won't be easy. The Mets remain the most likely landing spot. Omar Minaya signed Sosa as a Texas scout in 1985, and Sandy Johnson, the Rangers' scouting director at the time, is now a special assistant with the Mets. While Sosa's all-around skills are fading, he still has power and could be a drawing card in New York. A trade for Sosa also would be a way, right or wrong, for Minaya to put his imprint on the franchise. Events will continue to unfold when Sosa returns from a trip to Europe. One thing you can say about these baseball millionaires: They take great vacations.
3. Shawn Green
Green had a mediocre season in Los Angeles. The buzz is he'd like to leave, and the Dodgers would be happy to oblige him and get rid of his $16 million salary for 2005. Whether the team's feel-good run to the playoffs changed that dynamic, it's hard to say. The recent Green-for-Sosa and Green-for-Mike Piazza rumors didn't appear to make much sense. While the contracts are similar, Green is younger and significantly better in the field than either of those two. Sometime between now and spring training, general manager Paul DePodesta has to figure out a way to keep Adrian Beltre, rebuild his starting rotation and deal with an arbitration-eligible Eric Gagne. If moving Green can help in that effort, it makes sense that DePodesta will at least try.
4. Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd
Floyd seems like a reasonable trade possibility for Sosa. He'll make a total of $13 million over the next two years, while Sosa will earn $17 million in 2005, so the overall money isn't too far out of whack. The Cubs could use a left-handed bat, and they have an opening in left field with the departure of Moises Alou. As a bonus, Floyd is a native of Chicago. And as Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News points out, Floyd signed a letter of intent to play for Creighton when Jim Hendry, the current Cubs' general manager, was coaching baseball at the school in the early 1990s.Problem is, Floyd has become progressively less mobile in the field because of injuries, and he's a candidate to spend a good part of each season on the disabled list. He's been limited to 365 and 396 at-bats the past two seasons.
Piazza, 36, is due to make $15 million next year – bad news in light of his 54 RBI in 455 at-bats. His slugging percentage has declined each year since 2000, from a high of .614 to a low of .444 this year. He's best suited for a DH spot, but any team that takes him is going to want to dump some salary on the Mets.
5. Jose Guillen
6. Barry Zito or Tim Hudson
Billy Beane is never afraid to think boldly, and he's always looking at ways to maximize his resources. Beane recently shot down rumors that he'll deal one of the Big Three, but lots of observers expect him to at least listen on Hudson (who will be a free agent after next year) and Zito (who has regressed from 23-5 with a 2.75 ERA in 2002 to 11-11, 4.18 this season). "When you're on a limited budget like Billy and you might be stretching it beyond the boundaries of where it should go, that's the time to move people," said a National League front office man. Beane would really like to move Mark Redman, but it's hard to envision anyone taking the two years and $9.2 million left on his contract. Even if the A's trade Zito, they'll still have a rotation of Hudson, Mulder, Rich Harden, Redman and Joe Blanton for 2005. That should be good enough to keep them competitive in the AL West.
7. Kevin Brown
8. Alfonso Soriano
Soriano is an impressive blend of speed and power, but he's erratic defensively, has a .323 career on-base percentage, and is probably as good as he's going to get at age 28. The Rangers don't think that justifies a $7 million investment in 2005. Texas initially aimed high, talking to the Mets about Jose Reyes. But the dollars don't add up, and the interest wasn't reciprocated. Soriano also made it clear he has no interest in moving off second base to facilitate a trade. Still, the Rangers will continue to talk with other clubs in hopes Soriano might be able to bring them some pitching help.
9. A.J. Pierzynski
10. Pick a Rockie
The sleeper of the group is clearly the Cubs' Matt Clement, whose electric stuff has yet to translate into performance. Although he walks more than many prefer, his rate of 8.5 strikeouts and 7.6 hits allowed the last two years are by wide margins the best among his free-agent competition. It is these numbers that have some executives wondering if he will be the best investment of the group.
In many ways, Clement resembles Jason Schmidt, who entered the 2001 free-agent market as an enigmatic right-hander. He signed with the Giants and has blossomed into an ace.
"The guy I like is Clement," said one National League general manager, who withheld his identity and limited his remarks for fear of driving up the price. "We're buying the future, not the past."
You reading this Omar? Schwartz also mentions Odalis Perez as another potential sleeper and a lot of value for the salary he may command.
The Cubs intend to offer Matt Clement salary arbitration. Clement is a type B free agent and would require the team that signs him to surrender their first round pick. However, if a team owns a top 15 pick, then the team would get a the team's 2nd round pick.
Nov. 20 - Randy Johnson wants to play for a contender and is waiting for the Diamondbacks to come to him with specific trade possibilities. If the Diamondbacks can't trade or choose not to trade Johnson, he will honor the final year of his contract (worth $16 million).
"Randy's desire to leave isn't because he does not want to remain a Diamondback," said one of his agents, Alan Nero, at the Big Unit's annual charity golf tournament Nov. 19. "At this stage of his career, he's got some milestones he'd like to achieve, and he's a competitor. When you work as hard as he does at age 40, it's hard to come to the yard and not feel like you have the best chance of competing."
One industry source expects the Diamondbacks to get the best offer they can for the left-hander and then take it to him for approval (Johnson has no-trade rights) as opposed to first asking him which teams he would OK, the East Valley Tribune reported. In return for waiving his no-trade clause, the Unit would likely want a one-year extension.
According to the New York Daily News, several baseball officials believe Johnson will land in St. Louis. GM Walt Jocketty has made no secret of his desire to upgrade his rotation, and the Cards have more than enough resources in their farm system to appease Arizona's desire for top prospects and major-league ready players. "The money is the big stumbling block for us, but we still have to make a run at it," Jocketty recently told KMOX radio.
Nov. 19 - Fresh of their signing of Troy Percival, the Tigers now have Beltre on their radar, reports ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. Detroit signed Percival in part to send a message to other free agents that they're for real. Stark indicates the Tigers are expanding their payroll from from $50 million to nearly $70 million and have the dollars to sign big-ticket players.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and GM Paul DePodesta met with Beltre and his agent, Scott Boras, earlier this week but have yet to make the third baseman an offer, according to the L.A. Daily News. "Scott and I have had multiple conversations, and when both sides feel like the time is right, we will (make an offer)," DePodesta told the Daily News. "It's not being delayed for any particular reason."