MLB Top Prospects: Will We See Brendan Rodgers in 2019?

Rated as MLB.com’s No. 9 overall prospect and the Colorado Rockies’ No. 1 prospect, infielder Brendan Rodgers is nearing his MLB debut, and it could finally come in the 2019 MLB season.

The 22-year old Rodgers, who was the third overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft, has slowly advanced up the minor league latter and has put up strong numbers at each level. He reached Triple-A for the first time last season and while he batted just .232/.264/.290, it was in a small sample of just 69 plate appearances. He spent most of his 2018 season in Double-A, where he hit a strong .275/.342/.493 with 17 homers in 357 PAs.

As mentioned above, Rodgers went No. 3 overall in the 2015 draft and the two players that were drafted above him, Alex Bregman and Dansby Swanson, are both already contributing at the MLB level. It’s only a matter of time until Rodgers himself starts to contribute, but when will he?

Brendan Rodgers had primarily been a shortstop before he was drafted, but ever since the Rockies drafted him, they have moved him around the infield at second and third base as well in the minors. Rodgers has the ability to play each of those positions, but with Nolan Arenado at third base and Trevor Story locked in at short, Rodgers’ best chance at seeing time if he’s to make it to the big league level next season would probably be at second base. Of course, he could split time at all three positions, and if Arenado leaves Colorado in free agency in the 2019-20 offseason, Rodgers could be the long-term solution at third.

There’s always those out there that would wonder what Colorado could get if they were to use Rodgers to headline a trade for an elite big league player, but that is highly unlikely to happen. It would take more than just a lot to even consider trading a potential future franchise cornerstone in Rodgers. Of course, Dansby Swanson was traded to the Braves before he could even climb up the latter in the D-Backs farm system, so you never know.

While Brendan Rodgers could finally make his MLB debut in 2019, don’t expect it until later in the season, as Rodgers will have to spend more time mastering the Triple-A level.

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Paul Goldschmidt or Nolan Arenado?

It’s a simply put question, but as always there’s no answer without a discussion. So here we go.

Two players who have been franchise cornerstones for their respective teams, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are both nearing free agency and that has gotten many to wonder whether or not Arizona will trade Goldschmidt and whether or not Colorado will trade Arenado. It’s two different situations however with both players.

The Diamondbacks are gearing up for somewhat of a rebuild and have been open to offers for their star 1st baseman. They’ve even been rumored to possibly consider a package deal where the team would attach the massive contract of Zack Greinke to get Greinke’s contract off the books at the same time trading Goldschmidt for some prospects. That would limit a return in prospect capitol and/or major league assets so that may not ultimately be the route Arizona goes.

As for Goldschmidt suitors, the most recent of teams to have expressed interest are the Minnesota Twins. While they inquired about Goldschmidt, they may not end up fully pursuing him. There are other teams that have been reported to express early interest but right now nothing has gotten far enough between the D-backs and another team to see a deal close at this time.

No doubt Arizona is going to want a strong return for Goldschmidt given his performance over the years, and speculative fits like the Astros and Yankees, have the farm systems to give a strong return. He’s got one remaining year of control however, so it could somewhat limit a major prospect haul.

Now onto Nolan Arenado, perhaps the top third baseman in the game. Another perennial MVP contender, Arenado, despite one year of team control remaining himself, could net an even bigger package in a trade, given both his numbers and elite defense at the third base position. Teams will lineup for his services if Colorado dangles him on the trade block.

The “if” means a lot. The Rockies have discussed a potential contract extension with Arenado in the past but have come to no deal to this point, setting up his free agency following the 2019 season. Plenty of time still to get a deal done. And unlike the Diamondbacks, the Rockies are aiming to get back to the playoffs again next year and contend for a World Series title. While that’s a tall task, they have made it to the postseason in each of the last two years. Trading Arenado is definitely a route they don’t want to take. They could however, cash in Arenado for major league assets that could fill other holes on the roster immediately if they so choose.

While Paul Goldschmidt seems the likelier to move based on Arizona’s intentions on rebuilding the roster, don’t be surprised if Colorado at least considers shopping Nolan Arenado to see what teams are willing to offer. So, who would you want to see on you’re team, feel free to leave a comment.

Goldschmidt’s 2018 numbers: .290/.389/.533, 33 HR, 83 RBI, 5.4 WAR, 6th place in MVP voting

Arenado’s 2018 numbers:

.297/.374/.561, 38 HR, 110 RBI, 5.6 WAR, 3rd place in MVP voting, Gold Glove Award

Yankees To Acquire Giancarlo Stanton

The New York Yankees have a deal in place to acquire NL MVP slugger Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins in exchange for a package including 2nd baseman Starlin Castro, according to many reports. While Stanton needs to approve of the trade, he is expected to do so according to reports.

This is a huge deal and could end up being one for the ages as Stanton will join a Yankees lineup that includes Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, which will make for quite a powerful lineup and tough outs for opposing teams.

Stanton has been the center of attention since the outset of the offseason due to the fact that Marlins ownership had been aggressively shopping him in an effort to get rid of his salary and drop payroll. Stanton has full control over where he goes due in part to the full no-trade clause in his contract, which was put to use yesterday when Stanton rejected trades to both the Giants and Cardinals, two teams that had been trying hard to acquire him.

While this puts a massive contract on the books for New York, it isn’t new to a team that has carried quite a lot of money on the books over the years, and Stanton’s performance over the coming years will be key to the risk of acquiring such a huge contract. Nonetheless, it’s a blockbuster none of us expected ending in the Yankees landing Stanton, but quite the deal to help a team that came within one game of the World Series last year.

Trading Manny Machado? Can The Orioles Make A Deal And Still Compete In 2018?

With Manny Machado one year away from free agency, it’s no surprise that we all question the fact that should the Orioles deal Machado to build up their farm system or acquire major league ready players to fill other needs on the team, or should they ride out the last year of his contract and go for a title with their franchise 3rd baseman? Indeed, the latter is just what option Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette is going for.

The Orioles are focused on adding pitching to a decimated rotation that was among the worst in baseball in 2017, so their focus right now is clearly elsewhere. But the Orioles nonetheless are still receiving calls regarding Machado, and those rumors will only heat up more as we approach the winter meetings. Duquette has continued to state that Machado will be in an Orioles uniform heading into next season, but if an offer too good to pass up comes along, Duquette should pull the trigger on a deal.

There are plenty of different routes the Orioles could take to still compete for a playoff spot in the 2018 season without Machado and among those could be signing a top free agent to replace Machado in the event he does get dealt.

One option would be to add Mike Moustakas to fill the hole that would be created in the event of a Machado deal. Now while the Orioles don’t want to take on a big salary on a long-term deal, Machado’s big salary being shipped out would create room for Moustakas, and the way the free agent market has been this offseason, maybe Moustakas could even be had on a not too long four-year deal.

Now trading Machado could fill the biggest need on this team overall, the rotation. There are plenty of spots open and any acquiring team would need to come up with major league ready starting pitching, among other pieces, if Baltimore is to consider a Machado deal. Some have said that the Yankees and Phillies could be fits in a Machado trade, but the Orioles will most likely not trade with a division rival in the Yankees, especially if they have intentions to compete for a playoff spot.

The Phillies do have some young starters that were pitching in the big leagues last year, but the Orioles may not be interested in their unproven starters. Then there’s the the St. Louis Cardinals, who have been connected to just about every third baseman on the trade market. They do have pitching to offer, however.

Teams are going to try to pry Machado away from the Orioles this offseason, but it will take a substantial offer to even get Dan Duquette to consider dealing the team’s franchise cornerstone.

Yankees, Red Sox Out On Shohei Ohtani, Finalists Include Mariners, Giants

Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani has informed the New York Yankees that he will not be signing with them, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. The Yankees were considered favorites to sign him from the outset of this offseason’s Ohtani sweepstakes.

Ohtani was just officially posted on Friday and teams have been lined up meeting with Ohtani and his agent since and with the highest international bonus pool in MLB, among other advantages, the Yankees were in a good position to be favorites to land the two-way star from Japan. However, that is no longer the case now that Ohtani has made the decision to not sign with the team.

In narrowing his decision to some of the finalists, Ohtani’s decision has reportedly come down to the Giants, Mariners, and a few other teams. It seems we may be seeing the final decision on where the phenom will finally play next season.

UPDATE AFTER ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN:

The Red Sox are also out on Ohtani.

Taking A Look At The Rays Top Trade Chips

The Tampa Bay Rays normally carry a small payroll every year, ranging anywhere from $60-70MM per year, with the team’s highest payroll coming in the end of the 2016 season at just over $81MM. Tampa’s owner Stuart Sternberg has called for a drop in payroll this offseason, which means another offseason of tough decisions are ahead for the Rays’ front office. With a strong farm system, the Rays don’t exactly need to have a fire sale and trade everyone, but they will have to market several veterans nonetheless. Let’s take a look at the players who may come up in discussions at the winter meetings.

-Jake Odorizzi/$7MM(arb projection)

Odorizzi enters his last season of club control next season before he hits free agency, and trading him and his projected salary is a no-brainer for a team that is cutting payroll. The Rays may not get as much in return as they would have in the past couple of years, but nonetheless Odorizzi and his 3.83 career ERA could fill a No. 3 or 4 spot in another team’s rotation.

-Corey Dickerson/$6.5MM(arb projection)

Dickerson was a 2.7 WAR player who hit a career high 27 homers and made the all-star team in the 2017 season but he struggled in the year prior and actually had his hot and cold streaks during this past season. Teams may not value him very highly despite the ability to hit 20+ homers per year. He’s not valued highly defensively, which is why the Rays use him as a DH often in the lineup. He can provide enough offense however that teams may have some interest.

-Alex Colome/$6MM(arb projection)

One of the top closers on the trade market, Colome is expected to receive plenty of interest, we’ve already heard the Cardinals are interested, and he should have a wide market for teams looking for back-end help that don’t want to pay the current free agent closers. The Rays will have a big asking price on Colome due to his club control, but with a reliable closer who saved 47 games in 2017, he should receive a big return.

-Evan Longoria/$13.6MM

He’s spent his entire 10-year career in a Rays uniform and has been a franchise cornerstone, but the Rays have been rumored to at least consider listening to teams if they call about Longoria in the past couple of years. The Rays have given no indication that they are shopping their longtime star 3rd baseman, but with his $13.6MM salary and the fact that his salary will rise in the years ahead, Tampa President of Baseball Operations Matthew Silverman may have to make a very tough call in considering trading the teams’ longtime franchise player. Despite his somewhat down 2017, Longoria has proved he is a strong offensive weapon and can help any major league lineup. The fact that he is 31 and is signed through his age 37 season could give teams some pause however.

-Wilson Ramos/$8.5MM

Ramos was added last winter with the hopes of him returning from his ACL injury to be the player he was prior to his injury, when he had a huge year with the Nationals in 2016 where he hit .307/.354/.496 in 523 PAs. He returned midseason to hit .260/.290/.447 with 11 homers, so perhaps the Rays may have to keep Ramos around and hope he can have a better year in 2018, where he’ll have a full year to prove his health and hopefully fully return to form to get some value at next year’s trade deadline.

-Chris Archer/$6.4MM

The clear top player in terms of trade value on the Rays, Archer is both very affordable and a top of the rotation starter. And as such, the Rays should have a massive asking price on the 28-year old right-hander. He is mentioned due to the fact that teams are always calling about Archer, but once again, unless if they are to receive a massive offer, don’t expect Archer to be traded.

Kevin Kiermaier/$5.6MM

Kiermaier was only recently extended last year, so he would be one of the last players the team would trade, but like Archer, unless the Rays receive a big offer, don’t expect a Kiermaier trade to happen.

Adeiny Hechavarria/$5MM(arb projection)

With the deadline to tender contracts to arb-eligible players, there’s the chance that Hechavarria may even be non-tendered. If he isn’t, the Rays are sure to aggressively shop the gifted defender at shortstop. His light bat works against the Rays and his projected $5MM salary in trade talks, and while he won’t receive much of a return in the event of a trade, the Rays getting out from his salary would be enough to make the team happy.

Brad Miller/$5MM(arb projection)

Perhaps the toughest player in terms of tendering a contract by tonight’s deadline, Miller looks like he’ll be tendered a contract despite those that say he may not. Miller had a really rough year in 2017, however his breakout 2016 in which he smacked 30 homers could help the Rays in at least keeping him around with the hopes of finding a taker in trade talks.

Special thanks to Cot’s Contracts for providing salaries.

Giancarlo Stanton Interested In Joining Dodgers

In the latest news of the Giancarlo Stanton saga, the MVP slugger has reportedly submitted a list of teams of which he would accept a trade to to the Miami Marlins front office. Among those teams are the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to a tweet from Jon Morosi of MLB Network. He goes on to mention that sources say the Dodgers may be his preferred destination in a trade.

The Dodgers have made contact with the Marlins about Stanton, but it’s not known how deep talks are. To this point, the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants are the two teams that are still showing the most interest.

Stay tuned for more as the Stanton situation continues to hold up the hot stove season.

Examining Greg Holland’s Market

Free agent closer Greg Holland enters the market coming off of a solid season in which he racked up 41 saves to go along with a 3.61 ERA in 57.1 IP in a Rockies uniform. He will now try to turn that production into a lucrative multi-year contract with a new team(or if the Rockies are to re-sign him).

It’s easy to see why teams will want to lineup for a player like Holland, as he’s just about always shown he is a reliable option in the 9th inning his entire career to this point. Even pitching in the tough Coors Field in Colorado didn’t do much to decrease his performance. Before signing with the Rockies in the 2016-17 offseason, Holland had just been coming off of a year that was wiped out due to Tommy John surgery, which caused him to sign a 1-year deal with a player option(which he then declined) so no one knew what to expect out of the former Kansas City Royal. He silenced any critics however, and proved he’s the same pitcher he was before, once again pitching brilliantly.

While it’s easy to point to the success he’s had, it’s also easy to point to the blemishes that may impact his market. Holland’s Tommy John surgery history alone will always at least make some teams a little concerned at what to expect going forward in his career and whether that will affect him down the road at some point. It’s also worth noting that despite the fact that he recorded 41 saves, he faded down the stretch for Colorado after pitching amazingly in the first half of the season.

With all of that being said, exactly who will be vying for Holland’s services? The St. Louis Cardinals are the first team to mention, due in part to the gaping hole in the back of their bullpen. The Cardinals are willing to do whatever it takes to land an elite closer and prefer to sign Holland over anyone else that is available. It’s not known exactly how much they are willing to offer Holland, but they will surely be one of the top bidders.

Next is the Rockies, the team he just wrapped up his contract with. While he declined his player option with the team, there is interest between the two sides in a reunion. Colorado will have to cough up a pretty penny to get their closer back though. However, despite Holland’s potentially big asking price, the Rockies are reportedly going to make a play to retain their closer on a long-term deal.

The Minnesota Twins will be in the market for a closer and are plenty familiar with Holland from his time with the Royals. Holland would be a huge boost to the Minnesota relief corps and for a Twins team that is looking poised to contend on top of the fact that they have plenty of money to spend going forward, they could easily make the biggest bid if they are interested enough in Holland.

Other teams that could be linked to Holland this offseason could be the Astros, Cubs, D-Backs, Rangers, and Phillies. Even though he endured a rough second half of the 2017 season, most teams will probably look past that as Holland has always shown he is a capable and elite closer.

Blockbuster Moves Cardinals Could Make At Winter Meetings

The St. Louis Cardinals have been the most frequently mentioned team since the offseason began. Giancarlo Stanton has been the most frequently mentioned name since the offseason began(other than Shohei Ohtani). With that being said we will kick off Stanton and the Cardinals in this post. Before we do that though, it’s worth mentioning that there are other moves that we will be speculating on other than Stanton and the Cardinals, as St. Louis could perhaps be the most active team once the winter meetings begin in a couple of weeks. We will take a look at some moves St. Louis could make that could dominate the transactions front this winter. Lets begin with the aforementioned Stanton/Cardinals potential move.

Cardinals acquiring Giancarlo Stanton:

They have reportedly submitted an early offer to the Marlins for Stanton, but that doesn’t mean much right now as both teams will continue to go back and forth over the coming weeks as Marlins management continues to look for what they will be the perfect offer for their MVP slugger. St. Louis and San Francisco are the top two teams vying for Stanton at the moment, and it’s beginning to look likely that it could come down to those two teams in the Stanton sweepstakes.

The Marlins want both prospects and the acquiring team to pay down a significant portion of Stanton’s contract, which will obviously be the main sticking point in negotiations. Unlike the Giants, the Cardinals have the payroll space to take on more money from Stanton’s contract. I believe St. Louis will get him, as they have the most enticing collection of players and the space to acquire him. Money however, will obviously play the biggest role.

Now here’s one sort of deal I thought of would be both interesting, but difficult to envision. It would be an expanded deal between the two teams. The deal would send Stanton, Dee Gordon, Dan Straily, Kyle Barraclough, and Miami would pay down $150MM total between the Stanton and Gordon contracts to St. Louis. In exchange in the deal, the Marlins would receive outfielder Stephen Piscotty, 2nd baseman Kolten Wong, starter Michael Wacha, and two of the Cardinals top 10 prospects.

The Cardinals in the deal would finally land Stanton, and would also fill two other needs in the rotation with Straily and the bullpen in Barraclough. While the Cards probably don’t need Gordon, they could take him on as a way of being able to trade Wong, who has sort of fallen out of favor at times by the Cards. Money does play a huge role in how much St. Louis would take on in the Stanton/Gordon deals, however.

For the Marlins, they would receive the salary relief they are desperately looking for plus they would get Piscotty who has plenty of upside at a much lesser of a cost(though he will never replace Stanton’s production). They would also fill a need in the rotation by getting Wacha, plus Wong could fill the void left by Gordon at a lesser cost as well. A couple of prospects could also head the Marlins way.

While that type of deal has plenty of flaws(and plenty of people that will call me crazy), some of the players in that speculated trade(not including Stanton) could realistically be in the discussions between the two teams.

Nonetheless, I expect the Cardinals and Marlins to eventually work something out to send Stanton to St. Louis, even if it takes plenty of convincing to get Stanton to waive that no-trade clause. Speaking of their payroll space..

-Cardinals Signing Jake Arrieta

They would like to add a frontline starter, whether through trade or free agency, but I can see them making a real play for Arrieta. Stanton drama aside, Arrieta would fill that frontline starter role, giving the Cards another top rotation piece to what president of Baseball Operations John Moezliak hopes to be a World Series contender. Not to mention they have plenty of familiarity with Arrieta when he was pitching with the Cubs.

-Cardinals signing Greg Holland and/or Wade Davis

Another need and pretty much the biggest need for the Cardinals is a closer. They will be in the market for the top relievers available, and they have already been linked to Holland. But would it be crazy to see them sign Holland then make a bid at another top reliever in Wade Davis? Signing those two would make the St. Louis bullpen as scary as any pen in baseball.

It’s also worth mentioning Shohei Ohtani, as every team in baseball will be linked to him, but it’s a lot less likely St. Louis would land the Japanese phenom due to their logjam in the outfield(where Ohtani has interest in playing on days when he doesn’t pitch) and smaller international bonus pool.

The Cardinals are guaranteed to make at least one big splash at the winter meetings and whether it’s move(s) that involve any of these players, or moves that could involve any other free agents(Yu Darvish) or trade candidates(Brad Hand, Gerrit Cole), President of Baseball Ops John Mozeliak is all but guaranteed to help make this team a World Series contender in 2018.

Orioles Starting Pitching Targets

Plain and simple, The Baltimore Orioles need starting pitching. One of the worst starting rotations last year was one of the main reasons the team couldn’t sustain a winning record and a shot at the postseason. Now, the Orioles head into the offseason with their sights set on adding some starters who can provide the team with quality innings at an affordable price.

Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette has stated that his team will not break the bank for a starter, but that they will hunt for multiple pitchers who can provide innings at a lower cost.

That means the team will surely be out of the race for Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. However, they may make a play for second tier starters Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. Problem with that is both Lynn and Cobb, while won’t cost as much as Darvish and Arrieta, will be looking for lucrative long-term deals themselves. Which brings us to the next wave of free agent starters.

If the team wants to hunt for low-cost, short-term starters as expected, the most notable names would be Jason Vargas, Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman, Jaime Garcia, and Tyler Chatwood, among others. All of those would check the box for the Orioles, but wouldn’t be much of a guaranteed upgrade.

Orioles starters combined for one of the worst ERAs in baseball(4.97) and the second worst in the American League(only the Tigers were worse with a 5.36 team ERA). This team will need to address their rotation problem in a big way if they want to give it one more run with the current core they have in place.