However, there remain other outfielders who could be dealt, whether because of a surplus created by new acquisitions or because they simply don’t fit into their team’s long-term vision. For some teams, it will take swallowing salary, but regardless, any of these five outfielders could be wearing a different uniform by Opening Day.
Despite the near MVP numbers he put up in 2011 and his enormous potential, the 25-year-old Upton has been seemingly dragged through the mud by the Diamondbacks. General manager Kevin Towers has put Upton on the market three times since he joined Arizona in 2010, with the latest line thrown catching the attention of the Mariners. Upton ultimately used his limited no-trade clause to nix the trade, which could have netted top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker.
But Towers knew the Mariners were on Upton’s no-trade list, so to go through full negotiations with the Mariners knowing Upton would veto the trade is perplexing. The D-backs’ handling of Upton is surprising if not disappointing.
The team has alienated Upton so much that it’s highly unlikely he’ll perform up to his potential in Arizona. But the Mariners non-trade set the bar for what Towers is looking for in return, and just two teams can meet that standard -- the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers -- but they have balked at that asking price.
Towers’ leverage is limited, and the best he can expect is a Texas package of Mike Olt, Martin Perez and Cody Buckel. It seems highly unlikely Arizona will go into the season with Cody Ross, Upton and Jason Kubel in the outfield, with Adam Eaton earning a starting spot in center field.
As the saying goes, “woulda, coulda, shoulda.” Soriano has probably said that a million times this offseason after torpedoing a trade to the San Francisco Giants in July. The Giants went on to win the World Series; Soriano’s Cubs went on to 101 losses.
Soriano might have changed his tune since then. He has told friends that he would be amenable to a trade to a contender, and Philadelphia could use his bat. Soriano’s giant contract remains the stumbling block, with two years left at $18 million each. Cubs president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have made it known it would be no problem to absorb that salary for decent prospects in return.
A massive contract has overshadowed the fact that Soriano has been a productive hitter over the course of his deal. He’s averaged 27 home runs a year, and in 2012, Soriano even established a career high in RBIs with 108. In Philadelphia’s cozy Citizens Bank Park, Soriano could hit 30 homers in the Phillies’ No. 5 or 6 hole. Despite the bad knees, Soriano keeps himself in top physical condition. In Philadelphia, his defensive liabilities and limited range could be eased with speedy Ben Revere in center field.
Wells finds himself in a situation similar to what Bobby Abreu found himself in last April -- a man without a position and, really, a roster spot.
With Josh Hamilton, Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout in the outfield and Mark Trumbo as a DH and backup in the corner outfield spots, Wells has nowhere to go on the Angels’ roster. With $42 million due to him, Wells is almost as unmovable as Soriano. The Angels will have to eat Wells’ remaining salary to even interest someone.
For Wells’ sake as well as the Angels, he needs to come to camp in outstanding shape and have a good spring camp if he wants to continue his career and prove he has something left in the tank. The New York Yankees and Phillies could be interested, as both are in need of some right-handed power. Regardless, the most Wells can hope for is a limited role off the bench.
A’s manager Bob Melvin told me that Crisp is his starting center fielder. After all, Crisp is an outstanding defender. But Young is nearly on par with Crisp and offers more power? So what’s the debate?
Melvin said he will rotate Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Young and Crisp through the DH role. But it’s painfully obvious that Cespedes is the emerging star in Oakland, so he needs to play every day. Likewise, after Reddick’s breakout season in which he hit 32 home runs and drove in 85, Reddick needs to play every day too.
The A’s gave up Cliff Pennington and Yordy Cabrera to get Young this offseason, so it’s highly unlikely that they would relegate Young to a platoon situation in which both he and Crisp would not be happy. Still, if Melvin is committed to Crisp, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Young is traded to the first team that suffers a bad injury to its starting center fielder. Crisp has said he wouldn’t be opposed to a trade to a contender. It's possible Young or Crisp will be moved before Opening Day.