Jason Heyward (to the Cardinals) and Shelby Miller (to the Braves) headlined the first major deal of the baseball offseason.
Who’s next to be dealt? Could the Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann be the next domino to fall as we approach the Winter Meetings in December?
Zimmermann to the AL?
The Washington Nationals have told teams that they’re more than willing to listen to offers for starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, but also that they’re not going to settle for less than a handful of promising prospects.
The #Nats are informing teams that ace Jordan Zimmermann is available,but only if they get strong return,emphasizing it is not a salary dump
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 20, 2014
Last week, Zimmermann was the subject of trade talks that linked him to the Chicago Cubs, but those reports died down after it was revealed the Cubs and Nationals weren’t talking a potential deal.
Source says Cubs not getting Zimmermann from Nats and haven’t exchanged names, as rumored.
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) November 12, 2014
Zimmermann, entering his prime at 28 years old, was the Nationals’ ace last season, posting a 14-5 record with a 2.66 ERA. He is only under one more year of team control in 2015 for $16.5 million, so his trade value isn’t sky-high like the Nats would want.
Washington is looking for middle infield prospects that can hold their own near or at the major league level to supplement or replace current second baseman Danny Espinosa, who OPSed .634 last year with a .219/.283/.351 slash line.
Two AL teams could come knocking: The Indians and the Red Sox.
Cleveland’s trade chips could be infielders Dorssys Paulino and Jose Ramirez. The 22-year-old Ramirez played in 68 games for the Indians in 2014, triple-slashing .262/.300/.346 with 10 stolen bases. The raw Paulino, who is 19, converted from shortstop to outfield in A-ball last year and projects as an above-average contact hitter.
Whether the Red Sox pursue Zimmermann depends on whether or not southpaw Jon Lester accepts Boston’s 6-year, $110 million deal on the table as of Thursday. With the Sox set in the middle infield with shortstop Xander Bogaerts and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, Boston could move the defensively adept Deven Marrero or the speedy Sean Coyle for pitching help. If the Sox are desperate or willing to overpay, they could offer up 2B/OF Mookie Betts, who was ranked the 58th best prospect in baseball by MLB.com this year.
Kemp to Chicago?
The Dodgers have a glut of outfielders, and it’s almost certain they’ll trade one of them this offseason.
Which outfielder they’ll decide to move remains a mystery. They won’t trade Yasiel Puig. But the Dodgers could say farewell to Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, or Matt Kemp.
As much as the Dodgers are stacked in the outfield, they’ve got a glaring hole at shortstop. Hanley Ramirez became a free agent after the World Series and is as good as gone.
With this in mind, the Dodgers are going after the White Sox’s Alexei Ramirez.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 18, 2014
Chicago needs a stud outfielder – can you even name any of their three starting outfielders at the moment? I can’t.
The Dodgers could try to flip Ethier or Crawford for Ramirez, but they don’t have too much trade value. Kemp, a former MVP runner-up, may be the key to this deal, and while a straight-up swap might be unfair, if the White Sox throw in a prospect or two, Kemp could be headed to Chi-town.
Hamels to Boston?
Cole Hamels of the Phillies had the best season of his career in 2014, ERA-wise. Hamels is 30, but he’ll still demand a hefty haul if a team decides to bring on the lefty as a staff ace or co-ace.
The Red Sox, if they don’t bring back Lester and can’t land Jordan Zimmermann, may decide to trade for Hamels.
These Hamels-to-Boston rumors are fueled by news that the Phillies are doing their due diligence looking into Red Sox prospects Matt Barnes, Christian Vazquez, and Mookie Betts, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Hamels has 4 years and $90 million left on his current contract, something that the Phillies could jettison during their rebuilding stage and a sum the Red Sox could easily pick up, provided they don’t go all-in with other elite pitchers as well.
This deal would benefit both teams, but will fall apart if Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro, Jr.’s asking price for Hamels is through the roof.
Many Rival evaluators find PHI asks on their players to be greatly overpriced within the context of the current market, as they did in July.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 19, 2014