Plenty of big names have been signed but there are still choice free agents ripe for the plucking. Each week SBR discusses the rumors, gossip and innuendo that will allow us to get a jump on our MLB picks when the Boys of Summer return in the spring.
A Call to Arms
Pitching – it is the one thing a professional baseball team can never have enough of and yet a bona fide ace is still on the market. Max Scherzer is of course the elite assassin on the hill for hire to the highest bidder but as of this moment he is unemployed. Scherzer is a client of super-agent Scott Boras which means this offseason soap opera will linger long into the dead of winter. The rumored $200 million price tag has thinned the herd considerably but one of the big market teams will surely come calling if his former employer doesn’t pull the trigger first. The growing suspicion is that Scherzer may return to Motown if Boras has overestimated his client’s appeal and the current state of the market.
However, the next big name hurler, James Shields, will extract considerably less dollars from his new team. It is pretty much a lock that Kansas City will not spend the $100 plus million that it will take to retain his services and that is where it becomes interesting. The Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and World Champion San Francisco Giantsare the leading candidates to acquire the 33-year-old innings eater.
The fly in the proverbial ointment is the five-year deal that Shields’ camp is demanding. Though his inclusion as a number two or three starter on any of these rotations would bolster their staff and perhaps drop their MLB odds going forward. The alternative is a deal with Philadelphia for the highly sought after Cole Hamels who is still contractually tied to the Phillies but would be willing to waive his no-trade clause in exchange for a guaranteed fifth year. The usual suspects for the services of Shields are contemplating their side of the trade but blue chip prospects will most definitely be part of that equation. It is being bandied about that the Padres could also be a possible destination for Hamels who hails from San Diego.
Tulo a Met?
The most recent MLB odds suggest the New York Mets are a long shot at returning to the postseason stage after a drought that has lasted almost a decade. However the Metropolitans are considered viable contenders for the best shortstop in baseball Troy Tulowitzki. Obviously the 30-year-old shortstop comes with plenty of medical baggage but when he’s right, he’s the best there is. The Rockies’ premier second baseman managed only 91 games last season but torched opposing pitchers to the tune of a .340 batting average with 21 home runs and 52 RBI’s.
If Tulowitzki, currently rehabbing from a hip injury, is indeed pried out of Colorado and into the Big Apple then the potential for a high impact middle of the order featuring Tulowitzki, Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda could certainly drop the current MLB odds of 25-1 to a more competitive 15-1 if the Mets can wheel and deal their way to acquiring the superstar shortstop.
Reds to Acquire Aoki?
While this acquisition will not convince anyone, who isn’t otherwise convinced, that the Cincinnati Reds should be a lock for postseason glory next season, it could be one of the more intelligent moves that the 50-1 longshots could make to shore up their outfield dilemma. Nori Aoki, the Japanese transplant who contributed to the Royals’ startling success last season, is rumored to be in the crosshairs of the Reds management team. Aoki has a solid bat and was a six-time Gold Glove recipient in Japan.
As always, SBR will keep you updated on the MLB odds and which teams add value to your MLB picks for the 2015 season.