With some of the major dominoes such as Giancarlo Stanton down, other big names around MLB are starting to pop up in trade rumors.
Unsurprisingly, the New York Yankees are once again in the thick of the latest chatter, as are a couple of mainstays at other franchises. It is not a foregone conclusion that any of these players will be traded, but the fact there is smoke indicates they could be part of the next major swap.
Let us delve into the latest buzz and analyze what it could mean for the players and teams involved.
Rays Moving Face of Franchise?
Perhaps no player in Tampa Bay Rays history has been as important as Evan Longoria, who has spent the last 10 years with the team and was an instrumental part of the 2008 World Series run. However, there are inklings that Longoria's future in Tampa could be shaky.
According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the St. Louis Cardinals have expressed interest in acquiring Longoria as they look to reload for a pennant run in 2018. Yet, there are some obstacles in a potential deal, as Nightengale notes:
There are reasons this trade would make sense for both teams.
The Cardinals are in need of a third baseman, and Longoria would fit the bill of a great everyday player who could hit in the top of the lineup. The additions of Longoria and Marcell Ozuna would greatly improve a mediocre offense that finished seventh in the National League in scoring last season.
From the Rays side, losing Longoria would be a tough hit initially, but it would shed a 32-year-old signed through 2022 in exchange for presumably a nice haul of younger assets. For a rebuilding Tampa team, this would be ideal.
Per Nightengale, the Cardinals would need the Rays to take back an older player with a big contract. The only way the Rays could avoid this is by lowering their price in terms of desired prospects, which would then make trading Longoria moot.
Longoria's level of play has seemingly dropped in recent years. He posted his lowest average, .261, since 2014 and lowest homer total, 20, since 2012 last season. For a player carrying a long-term contract, these are red flags.
The signs indicate that a Longoria trade is unlikely. The issues for both sides are too great, as it seems the parameters of a potential deal would net a small return. If Longoria can have a excellent 2018 season, then his value may be high enough for another team such as the Cardinals to part with a top prospect despite his large contract.
Mets Looking for 2B Help
While a plethora of injuries created a revolving door in the starting rotation last season for the New York Mets, the team also did not have much stability at second base.
Gavin Cecchini, Jose Reyes and Neil Walker all spent time rotating at second base, and the production was not great as Walker struggled to stay healthy with only 38 games played. Cecchini and Reyes each hit under .250. So it comes as no surprise that the team is looking to upgrade.
New York was linked to Ian Kinsler for weeks, even as recently as Dec. 13, per ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. However, the Los Angeles Angels swung a deal for him, leaving the Mets searching. According to Marc Carig of Newsday, Cleveland's Jason Kipnis is an option, albeit a long shot:
Kipnis' value has seemingly never been lower. He played in only 90 games and hit a career-low .232 to go with 12 homers and 35 RBI. He is also not a long-term commitment, having been signed through 2019.
It is unclear who the Indians would want in return, since they hardly showed any flaws last season on the their way to earning the No. 1 seed in the American League postseason.
As Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News writes, the Mets and general manager Sandy Alderson are taking a patient approach this offseason. Rather than jump on available deals and possibly overspend, New York is waiting it out in hopes that prices will drop and better moves can be made.
This makes it more likely that any deal involving Kipnis either will not happen or will come at a much later time. The Mets are better off waiting to see what their roster and Cleveland's roster looks like in early 2018 before re-engaging for a better deal.
Still, the Mets need to make a move for a second baseman. Even though Cecchini was the No. 12 pick in the 2012 MLB draft, it seems clear the Mets do not feel he is ready for full-time duty at second base, which makes the need for a veteran even greater.
Yankees Still Shopping for Pitching
No team has made a bigger splash this offseason than the Yankees with Stanton, but they do not seem to be done yet.
CC Sabathia is returning on a one-year deal, giving the team four established starters to go with Sonny Gray, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka. The fifth rotation spot belongs to Jordan Montgomery or a young arm like Chance Adams, but the Yankees could be looking at other options on the trade market.
Per ESPN's Buster Olney, the Yankees are exploring the possibility of chasing Arizona Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin. Olney does not specify if New York has made any inquiries, but it is doing research on the lefty.
Corbin is one of a few quality starters the Yankees have been linked to, as Olney outlined the cost of what each of these options could require:
The Yankees do not lack young assets, but it does seem like Corbin could be the smartest route for a rotation that just needs more depth, not a top-end starter.
Corbin has not been great the last two seasons, posting ERAs over 4.00 while dropping 26 decisions over that span. Still, he is a lefty who can log a lot of innings and is a perfect fit at the bottom of the rotation for a contending team.
He likely would not require a top-end prospect in a trade given his lack of recent production and the fact he is only controllable through 2019.
Unless the price is right for a better arm such as Gerrit Cole or Michael Fulmer, pursuing Corbin makes sense since it would still keep the core of the farm system together. Adding him would be the icing on the cake for a tremendous offseason for the Yankees, who look like the favorites to overtake the Houston Astros in the AL.
Statistics and contract information are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
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