Dan's Dugout: Blizzard of Trades Seems Imminent • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Blizzard of Trades Seems Imminent


NASHVILLE — Their stomachs are full but their shelves are empty.

Now that Thanksgiving weekend is over, the winter meetings are just a week away.

There’s no better time to stock those shelves.

With teams reluctant to reach into their wallets for over-priced free agents, trades will take center stage when the baseball world gathers here next weekend.

The Dodgers will fight the Giants for Zack Grienke

The Dodgers will fight the Giants for Zack Grienke

Even the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose fat payroll tops the 30-club field by a wide margin, are keeping a tight grip on the purse-strings — with retention of incumbent ace righthander Zack Grienke a notable exception.

So far, the only top-tier free agent to move from one club to another has been Jordan Zimmermann, moving from the Washington Nationals to the Detroit Tigers.

That leaves a virtual All-Star team available if the price is right, although many members of the free-agent class would require the signing team to forfeit an amateur draft choice.

General managers would rather sign a prospect they can control for six years rather than lavish eight-figure contracts on veterans likely to be in decline before their deals expire.

That’s especially true of pitchers, whose elbows and shoulders seem to be blowing out with increasing frequency.

That being said, here are some top names who could be changing teams soon:

Aroldis Chapman has probably pitched his last game for the Reds

Aroldis Chapman has probably pitched his last game for the Reds

  • Aroldis Chapman, the Cincinnati closer who routinely reaches triple digits on radar guns, is virtually certain to go — with the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Washington Nationals engaged in a tug-of-war for his services
  • Todd Frazier, Cincinnati’s All-Star third baseman, is also on the bloc but will require an even higher bundle of prospects than Chapman
  • Robinson Cano has been a bust during two seasons in Seattle, which seeks to jettison the second baseman’s 10-year deal, $240 million contract — possibly by sending him back to the Yankees
  • Miami can’t wait to unload Dominican outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who is loathed by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, but might also listen to offers for superstar starting pitcher Jose Fernandez, a Cuban strikeout artist who happens to be a client of controversial agent Scott Boras
  • Now that they’ve cleared salary by shipping smooth-fielding shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Angels, the penny-pinching Atlanta Braves will move Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, Nick Markakis, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, and maybe even Face of the Franchise Freddie Freeman in an effort to find younger, cheaper players — possibly including Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs
  • Craig Kimbrel will make his AL debut in 2016

    Craig Kimbrel will make his AL debut in 2016

    Craig Kimbrel has already been sent from San Diego to Boston but the Red Sox are ready to make bigger moves involving erstwhile free agents Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, both proven hitters

  • If the Yankees don’t unload him a potential Cano trade, lefthanded closer Andrew Miller will join outfielder Brett Gardner as attractive trade bait
  • San Francisco, anxi0us to rebuild its rotation behind 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, might move Joe Panik or Matt Duffy, a pair of promising young infielders, for pitching help
  • The New York Mets may dangle young pitching (Zack Wheeler? Jon Niese?) in an effort to replace the offense they will lose in departing free agents Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes
  • Even the World Champion Kansas City Royals, desperate to keep free agents Alex Gordon and Ben Zobrist, may use the trade market to fill left field and second base, respectively, if they sign elsewhere (as expected)

If history serves as an accurate barometer, giving long-term contracts to pitchers is a perilous

Tim Lincecum has seen better days

Tim Lincecum has seen better days

proposition. That means the likes of Tim Lincecum, Johnny Cueto, and Doug Fister won’t get the long-term deals doled out to Kevin Brown or Wayne Garland, two pitchers who failed to justify their pacts. It’s a given that Bartolo Colon, pushing 43, won’t get more than a one-year deal — and probably not at the same rate as his just-expired Mets contract.

And what about Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Cespedes, three slugging outfielders hoping to break the bank in a free agent market that may prove surprisingly frugal?

The longer they wait, the faster their prices may fall. Teams don’t have unlimited patience and will look elsewhere if they find themselves trapped in a bidding war. Many may turn to trades instead.

One thing is certain: this year’s winter meetings should generate more than enough news to wrest tabloid headlines from the traditional winter sports.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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