10 most likely to be traded – Infielders

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Mark DeRosa (Indians) – With Grady Sizemore back, the Indians aren’t
likely to sell just yet. Still, at least as big of a problem as being
10 games behind is that they have four teams ahead of them in the AL
Central. DeRosa has been talked about as trade bait for close to two
months now, and the Indians have soured on him as a third baseman after
originally acquiring him to play the position. Given that he’s on pace
for about 30 homers and 110 RBI, it shouldn’t be a problem getting more
for him in trade than they would by letting him walk for draft picks at
season’s end.

Garrett Atkins (Rockies) – It certainly doesn’t bode well for
Atkins’ future in Colorado that he’s been given a total of one at-bat
with the DH available in Anaheim the last two games. At this point, the
Rockies are looking at giving him up for a fraction of what they would
have asked for a year ago or keeping him on the bench and letting his
trade value decline further. It’s unlikely that Atkins has completely
forgotten how to hit; while he was positively brutal during May, he
posted a .247/.289/.429 line in April and he’s at .256/.356/.410 in 39
at-bats during his limited opportunities at month. That he isn’t much
of a third baseman is a problem, one that really cuts into his value,
but he’s gone from overrated to potentially underrated in a hurry.

Nick Johnson (Nationals) – While some free agents-to-be are more likely
to stay with their current teams because of the ramifications of
draft-pick compensation, it only makes Johnson more likely to go. Since
Johnson was limited to 38 games last year, there’s little chance that
the Nationals will receive a pick by keeping him and letting him walk
at season’s end. Perhaps on his way to his first healthy season since
2006, Johnson is currently hitting .315/.423/.444. The OBP is no fluke
and Johnson is a quality defender, so he’s the Nationals’ best
bargaining chip as they attempt to add more young talent to their

Adam LaRoche (Pirates) – The comments he made after the Nate McLouth
trade didn’t help matters, but LaRoche was already unlikely to finish
the season in Pittsburgh. A divorce would be best for both parties, as
it’d surely help LaRoche to have a chance to ply his trade for a
contender as he heads into free agency at season’s end. While he’s been
a reliable first baseman since the day he debuted in 2004, he’s still
never topped 90 RBI in a season, partly because he sat against lefties
early on and partly because he’s hit in some poor lineups. However,
it’s also the case that his power has tended to disappear in big
situations. A few key homers down the stretch for a more visible team
might do wonders for his reputation as he enters the market.

Orlando Cabrera (Athletics) – There’s no denying that Cabrera has
been one of the AL’s weakest regulars this season, but at least the
price should be right. The A’s have no reason to hold on to him, as he
could well accept arbitration if the team tries to get draft picks for
him this winter. Cabrera is coming off three straight seasons with at
least a .280 average and a .330 OBP, and he was the AL’s best defensive
shortstop in 2008. He’s probably not through as a useful starter.

Aubrey Huff (Orioles) – It was about this time a year ago that Huff
really took off on his way to a .304-32-108 season. However, outside of
that three-month run in 2008, he’s been strictly an 800-OPS guy since
2006. The Orioles, who inked him to a three-year, $20 million deal
prior to 2007, could opt to try to re-sign him for a couple of years,
but they’d likely be better off moving on, especially if they could
cash him in for a couple of prospects this summer. Because of the lofty
RBI totals, he’ll probably be more attractive to some than LaRoche.

Dan Uggla (Marlins) – The Marlins are still a long way from being
out of the race, but unless things go very well over the next month,
both Uggla and Jorge Cantu will be trade candidates. Uggla’s average
remains down, but he has improved to .239/.357/.465 this month and he’s
on pace for 30 homers and nearly 100 RBI. There’s almost no chance that
he’ll be back with the Marlins next season, since he’s due to become
their most expensive player at $7 million-$8 million.

Freddy Sanchez (Pirates) – While it’s always Jack Wilson’s name that
comes up in trade rumors, his double-play partner is at least as likely
to be dealt this summer. If they keep him, the Pirates will have to
decide whether to pick up his $8 million option for 2010 or buy him out
for $600,000. He’s probably worth the cash, but he is 31 and second
basemen tend to age especially badly, making it unlikely that he’ll
still be a quality regular when the Pirates are next ready to contend.
He’d be an upgrade for the Giants, White Sox, Twins, Brewers, Cubs,
Angels and Cardinals.

Felipe Lopez (Diamondbacks) – Lopez could help all of those same
teams. Maybe. While Sanchez is a legitimate .300 hitter, Lopez is 40
points above his career mark in batting .303/.356/.420 this season. On
the plus side, he is cheaper, both in terms of salary and probably in
the talent that it would take to acquire him.

Miguel Tejada (Astros) – The Astros probably won’t be in the thick
of the NL Central race come September, but they’re also unlikely to
give up and start selling off veterans, no matter how much they could
use some young talent. As is, they’re still just six games back in NL
Central and five in the wild card. Tejada is a weak defender at
shortstop and he’s back hitting nothing except singles lately after his
brief power surge in May, but there’s no one in the organization who
would serve as an adequate replacement.

The Diamondbacks met with Johnny Cueto’s agent

AP Photo/David Goldman
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.

Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.

Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.

As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski is reportedly trying to trade Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe

Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.

Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.

Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.

Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.

Ben Zobrist is the “Mets’ No. 1 target”

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist posted a cool .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 126 games this summer between Oakland and Kansas City while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions.

His steady bat and defensive versatility make him a fit for just about every club in Major League Baseball, and the defending National League champions are among the teams in hot pursuit …

It’s a little odd to see the rebuilding Braves listed there given that Zobrist is 34 years old, but Rosenthal says the interest stems from a “desire for him to serve as [a] model for younger players” as the club prepares to open a new ballpark in 2017. Wasn’t that supposed to be Nick Markakis‘ job?

Zobrist and his agent Alan Nero are believed to be seeking a four-year deal.

Tigers agree to deal with starter Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Hey, the hot stove is finally generating some real fire …

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a five-year deal worth around $110 million, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

This should have a domino effect on a loaded starting pitching market. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija are just a few of the names still out there.

Zimmermann, 29, posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 164/39 K/BB ratio in 201 2/3 innings this past season for the Nationals. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2014 and threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season.

Zimmermann’s free agency is tied to draft pick compensation because he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Washington, but the Tigers finished with one of the 10-worst win-loss records in 2015 so their first-round pick in 2016 is protected. Detroit will give up its second-round pick instead.