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MLB Rumors: The Early-Season Buzz Around Every Team

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2014

MLB Rumors: The Early-Season Buzz Around Every Team

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    We're only two weeks into the regular season, and already the rumor mill has begun to churn.

    From potential free-agent signings and trades (both now and later in the season) to the health of injured stars, lineup shuffling to contract extensions for pending free agents, there's something rumored to be going on with each of MLB's 30 teams.

    Keep in mind that there's a fine line between rumor and speculation—and that, really, all rumors start off as nothing more than speculation.

    At such an early stage in the season, we're often forced to do a bit of reading between the lines to find the underlying story, which leaves us with more speculative takes on some situations than others.

    That said, let's take a trip around baseball and see what the latest buzz is surrounding your favorite team.

     

    Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference or FanGraphs and are current through games of April 14.

     

Oakland Athletics

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    Sam Fuld is on his way out of O-Town.
    Sam Fuld is on his way out of O-Town.Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    In his latest column, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal names the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins as possible trade partners for Oakland in a deal involving outfielder Sam Fuld, who was designated for assignment by the A's this past Saturday.

    Both the Angels, who are without Josh Hamilton, and the Twins, who are missing Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham, have a need for healthy outfielders, and, according to Rosenthal, both clubs expressed interest in Fuld during the offseason.

    The 32-year-old Fuld appeared in seven games for Oakland, going 6-for-30 (.200) with a pair of triples, a home run and four RBI.

     

Los Angeles Angels

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    Elise Amendola

    ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Angels are one of nine teams believed to have interest in free-agent reliever Joel Hanrahan.

    Hanrahan, 32, continues to work his way back from May 2013 Tommy John surgery and, according to Crasnick, is expected to hold a showcase for interested teams at some point this week.

    While Angels relievers have looked better as of late, the group has surrendered 20 earned runs in 38.1 innings of work (4.70 ERA) and an MLB-worst nine home runs on the season. If healthy, a veteran reliever like Hanrahan would be a welcomed addition to a group that desperately needs some reinforcements.

Houston Astros

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    As the rebuilding effort in Houston continues, team executives have begun to focus on the upcoming First-Year Player Draft in June, where for the third consecutive year, the Astros hold the first overall pick.

    While NC State left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon has been touted as the as the top player available up until only a few weeks ago, when ESPN's Keith Law ranked him third (subscription required), the Astros have been scouting other options.

    Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reports that team president Reid Ryan and director of scouting Mike Elias were recently in attendance to watch Tyler Kolek, a hulking 6'5", 270-pound right-handed pitcher from nearby Shepherd High School, located roughly an hour northeast of Houston.

    While there's always some added risk in taking a local product in the draft due to unrealistic expectations from a fanbase that saw a player dominate as an amateur and the pressure the player feels to meet those expectations, Kolek, one of the two players to surpass Rodon on Law's list, could be Houston's top pick.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Toronto is now missing two key pieces of its infield.
    Toronto is now missing two key pieces of its infield.Leon Halip/Getty Images

    With Toronto's announcement that infielder Maicer Izturis will require surgery to repair a completely torn lateral collateral ligament in his knee, the Blue Jays find themselves short on quality middle infielders.

    Already without shortstop Jose Reyes, currently on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, Toronto's middle infield options consist of the light-hitting trio of Jonathan Diaz, Ryan Goins and Munenori Kawasaki, who have hit a combined .216 with three home runs and 43 RBI over parts of two major league seasons.

    While no names have been floated around as possible upgrades or pieces to solidify the middle of the diamond, the rumor mill is sure to start talking about the prospects of free agent Stephen Drew taking his talents north of the border.

    That's highly unlikely, according to a report from the Toronto Star's Richard Griffin, who says that Blue Jays ownership isn't going to allow general manager Alex Anthopoulos to add additional salary to the payroll until the team that he's put together begins to earn the hefty salaries that they are being paid.

    With no hot-shot infield prospects on the horizon in the minor leagues, the Blue Jays figure to be without the quality depth that they need to bolster both second base and shortstop throughout the season.

Atlanta Braves

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    Reinforcements are on the way in Atlanta.
    Reinforcements are on the way in Atlanta.Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    A Braves rotation that has pitched to the lowest ERA in baseball thus far (1.82) is about to get even stronger, according to a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien.

    Both Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd have made three minor league rehab starts as they work their ways back from shoulder soreness and Tommy John surgery, respectively, and a return to the major leagues is on the horizon for both veteran hurlers.

    Minor, who went 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over more than 200 innings in 2013, is scheduled to make one more rehab start, with Double-A Mississippi on Friday, after which he'll be re-evaluated. Floyd, who was shut down after only five starts for the White Sox in 2013, owns a career 4.48 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.

    Per O'Brien, the plan for Minor is that, unless he feels he needs another rehab start, he'll start at Turner Field either against Miami on April 23 or Cincinnati on April 25. Floyd, on the other hand, isn't expected to join the club until sometime in mid- to late May.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Kendrys Morales remains an option for Milwaukee.
    Kendrys Morales remains an option for Milwaukee.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Just as he was during the winter, Kendrys Morales represents an upgrade at first base for Milwaukee, a team that, for the second consecutive season, continues to throw reclamation projects against the wall and hope that one of them sticks at the position.

    Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds have combined to hit only .178 with three home runs, seven RBI and a .746 OPS as the team's first basemen.

    To say that leaves much to be desired would be an understatement.

    It's why speculation about the Brewers eventually signing free agent Kendrys Morales remains alive and well, with CBS Sports' Jon Heyman the most recent to report that Milwaukee remains interested in striking a deal with the 30-year-old switch-hitter.

    While the Brewers have gotten off to the best start in baseball this season (10-3), the lack of production from first base is eventually going to come back to haunt them. Signing Morales would go a long way toward preventing that from happening.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    What's wrong with Shelby Miller?
    What's wrong with Shelby Miller?Jeff Curry/Getty Images

    Something's not quite right with Shelby Miller, who has struggled with his command and been hit hard in his first two starts of the 2014 season. In only 11.1 innings of work, Miller has allowed four home runs, eight earned runs and issued six walks.

    That's not good, and it has begun to lead to speculation about what the problem may be.

    FanGraphs' Dave Cameron recently took an in-depth look at Miller's struggles (dating back to the end of the 2013 season) and concludes that, if something doesn't change soon, the Cardinals may have no choice but to make a change in their rotation.

    What could that potential change be? Will Carlos Martinez finally get a chance to strut his stuff as a starter? Will the team look to a career minor leaguer like 27-year-old Scott McGregor or 25-year-old Tyler Lyons, who struggled in eight starts for the Cardinals in 2013?

    Or will the Cards look to move some of their minor league depth to acquire a more reliable veteran arm, allowing them to send Miller back to the minors to fix what ails him (or the disabled list if he's injured)?

    It's all speculation at this point, but how Miller fares in his next few starts is something to keep an eye on. 

Chicago Cubs

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    The better Samardzija does, the lower his chances of staying in Chicago get.
    The better Samardzija does, the lower his chances of staying in Chicago get.David Welker/Getty Images

    Trade winds have swirled around Jeff Samardzija for nearly a year and aren't likely to stop any time soon. In his latest video, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal says that the Cubs are already beginning to plan their third annual pitching auction at the trade deadline in July.

    Not only is the 29-year-old Samardzija (3 GS, 1.29 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) expected to highlight the auction, but he'll be joined by 32-year-old Jason Hammel (2 GS, 2-0, 2.53 ERA, 0.51 WHIP), who signed a one-year deal with the Cubs this past winter.

    Rosenthal notes that the four starting pitchers Chicago has traded near the deadline in recent years—Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm in 2012, Scott Feldman and Matt Garza in 2013—have given the club five of its 14 best prospects.

     

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    How much longer can Arizona keep Archie Bradley in the minors?
    How much longer can Arizona keep Archie Bradley in the minors?Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

    Things haven't gone according to plan in Arizona, with the Diamondbacks sitting seven games under .500, six games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West and with an MLB-worst minus-32 run differential.

    That's led to rival executives talking about "change" coming to Arizona, as they told ESPN's Buster Olney.

    But what kind of change are they talking about?

    Is it in the dugout, where manager Kirk Gibson, as Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes, is the favorite to be the first skipper fired in 2014? Or is it in the rotation, which has pitched to an MLB-worst 7.18 ERA and could certainly use the kind of talent that top prospect Archie Bradley has in his right arm?

    Bradley, who has pitched to a 1.50 ERA and 0.92 WHIP through two starts for Triple-A Reno, is simply too talented for the Diamondbacks to justify keeping down on the farm for much longer, especially with their rotation being a complete mess at the moment.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Extending Hanley Ramirez remains a priority for the Dodgers.
    Extending Hanley Ramirez remains a priority for the Dodgers.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    As the season began, ESPNDeportes' Enrique Rojas reported that talks about a contract extension between the Dodgers and shortstop Hanley Ramirez would continue continuing, though Rojas noted Ramirez preferred to keep things quiet (h/t Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com).

    Roughly two weeks later, we have our first bit of insight into how negotiations are going, courtesy of Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

    Sources tell Rosenthal that contract length, and Ramirez's yearly salary (expected to be somewhere between $22 and $25 million a season) is the major obstacle keeping an agreement from being reached.

    Ramirez, 30, has played in more than 100 games only once since 2011, and the Dodgers are wise to be leery about committing more than $200 million to a player with Ramirez's shaky injury history who plays such a physically demanding position.

    That said, there's no question that, when he's healthy, Ramirez is one of the premier talents in baseball, capable of putting a team on his back and carrying it for weeks at a time. It would be shocking if Ramirez makes it through the season without an extension being worked out.

     

San Francisco Giants

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    Has Pablo Sandoval played—and priced—himself out of San Francisco?
    Has Pablo Sandoval played—and priced—himself out of San Francisco?Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    During his weekly spot with CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly, Giants GM Brian Sabean offered little hope that the club and Pablo Sandoval, its All-Star third baseman, would be able to work out a contract extension before he hits the open market as a free agent after the season.

    At this point the organization has put its best foot forward and (Sandoval’s agents) have decided it’s not to their liking, and we understand that and that’s the reason it needs to be tabled. He needs to concentrate on baseball right now. I think he might be pressing a little bit because it’s in his head one way or the other. But now it’s definitely been shut down at least for the time being. I think he needs to get on with baseball.

    Anything’s possible. I just don’t know how probable it is because right now Pablo is pretty much going to have to play to get to the (salary) number that they think he’s going to be able to command on the open market. We disagree that he’s going to get that number, per se, from the Giants on the open market.

    The 29-year-old Sandoval, who arrived to spring training in the best shape of his career, is hitting only .180 with two home runs, five RBI and a .621 OPS.

    Given the team's hesitation in meeting Sandoval's asking price, it's highly unlikely that it would extend him a qualifying offer at the end of the season, which would be for significantly more than the $8.25 million that he's due in 2014.

    It's not outrageous to think that, regardless of where the Giants lie in the standings as the trade deadline draws near, they'll look to move Sandoval, avoiding the likelihood of losing him as a free agent without receiving any compensation.

Cleveland Indians

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    Could Lonnie Chisenhall be moved for additional pieces?
    Could Lonnie Chisenhall be moved for additional pieces?Associated Press

    A likely candidate to be optioned to Triple-A once Jason Giambi returns from the disabled list, a potential trade of Lonnie Chisenhall was one of the topics that the Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes tackled in his latest Indians mailbag.

    Hoynes doesn't see a trade in the 25-year-old's immediate future, citing his relative lack of success at the big league level as the primary reason.

    But Chisenhall, who lost his job as the starting third baseman to former catcher Carlos Santana, is off to an excellent start as the team's DH against left-handed pitching, leading the team in batting average (.400) and OPS (1.038).

    Looking to move a young third baseman, while his value is high, may actually make sense for the Indians, who could risk seeing his value decrease if he struggles back at Triple-A, where he really has nothing left to prove.

     

Seattle Mariners

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    Seattle's rotation is about to get even better.
    Seattle's rotation is about to get even better.Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Seattle's starting rotation, which has been one of baseball's best early in the season with a 2.89 ERA and MLB-leading 1.01 WHIP, is on the verge of getting two of its most talented arms back into the mix.

    Top prospect Taijuan Walker is scheduled to make his next rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday, and if things go well, he could be back in Seattle's rotation on Sunday, according to Bob Dutton of the News Tribune.

    Hisashi Iwakuma, who finished third in the voting for the AL Cy Young Award in 2013, isn't quite as close to a return, but he appears to be on track to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma next week, according to Dutton.

    By the end of April, Seattle could have both hurlers back in the rotation, helping them to keep pace with first-place Oakland in the highly competitive AL West.

Miami Marlins

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    Will continued losing push Giancarlo Stanton into making a decision about his future?
    Will continued losing push Giancarlo Stanton into making a decision about his future?Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The rumor mill has been silent when it comes to the Miami Marlins, who surprised all of baseball with a 5-2 opening week but now sit where most believed they would be, with a losing record (5-9) and in last place in the NL East, having dropped eight games in a row.

    Back in spring training, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton told CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that there was a "good vibe" around the team that had him optimistic about the future, noting that he'd "say so if there wasn't."

    But Stanton also said that he'd need a full year to fully assess the state of things in Miami, the results of which will certainly have a major impact on both his future and the team's.

    The 24-year-old right fielder, off to a scintillating start to the season (17 G, .305, 4 HR, 16 RBI), has two years of arbitration remaining before he's able to hit the open market as a free agent. Without question, Miami's preference would be to keep Stanton in close proximity to South Beach for as long as possible.

    But let's say that the Marlins continue to flounder this season and lose 100 games for the second consecutive season, showing little progress on the rebuilding front.

    Is it crazy to think that Stanton would demand a trade over the winter or, at the very least, tell the Marlins that there's no way he'll sign an extension before he hits the open market?

    If either scenario plays out, Miami would have a trade chip as valuable (if not more valuable) as Tampa Bay's David Price, who's expected to be the biggest prize available this coming winter.

     

New York Mets

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    Is Bobby Abreu about to make his comeback official?
    Is Bobby Abreu about to make his comeback official?Kathy Willens

    Signed to a minor league deal in early April, 40-year-old outfielder Bobby Abreu can opt out and become a free agent if he's not on New York's major league roster by April 30, according to the New York Post's Mike Puma.

    The Mets would have to clear a spot on the roster to add the two-time All-Star as a reserve outfielder and left-handed bat off of the bench, with Puma opining that either Ike Davis or Lucas Duda could find themselves back in Triple-A as a result.

    Abreu hasn't played in the major leagues since 2012, when he hit .246 with three homers and 19 RBI in 92 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Washington Nationals

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    Adam LaRoche's hot start won't make trading him any easier.
    Adam LaRoche's hot start won't make trading him any easier.Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    With third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the disabled list once again, sidelined this time by a fractured thumb that is expected to keep him out for four to six weeks, according to CSN Mid-Atlantic's Mark Zuckerman, speculation as to what the Nationals will do with him when he returns has picked up steam.

    It was only a few days before the news of his fractured thumb broke that manager Matt Williams, speaking to fans at 106.7 The Fan's "Chalk Talk," revealed that Zimmerman has an arthritic shoulder. He also acknowledged that, at some point, a move across the diamond may become necessary (via CBSDC.com):

    But we have to look at Ryan, though, and say ‘Would I like Ryan to play third?’” Williams said. “Yea, I would. For a long time? Yes. But the fact of the matter is, Ryan’s got an arthritic shoulder.

    It gives him problems, and sometimes it’s tough on him,” he said. “So we’ve started to do some things at first base, with him, where we can give him a break sometimes, in that regard, so he can go play first; he enjoys playing first; we did a little bit at spring training, worked hard at the position, and he enjoys it over there.

    While trading incumbent first baseman Adam LaRoche may seem like the obvious solution, as Zuckerman notes, other teams know that if the Nats start shopping the 34-year-old, it's a sign they're desperate to move him, giving GM Mike Rizzo no leverage in trade negotiations.

     

Baltimore Orioles

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    Kendrys Morales' name continues to pop up in Baltimore.
    Kendrys Morales' name continues to pop up in Baltimore.USA TODAY Sports

    Despite signing Nelson Cruz, rumors persist about Baltimore's interest in switch-hitting 1B/DH Kendrys Morales, with CBS Sports' Jon Heyman the latest to mention the Orioles as a potential landing spot for the veteran free agent.

    Were the Orioles to sign Morales, it would likely mean that Cruz becomes the team's full-time left fielder, with Morales taking over as the club's primary designated hitter while spelling Chris Davis at first base on occasion.

    The draft pick compensation attached to Morales may be less of an issue for the Orioles than it was previously believed to be, as the club surrendered picks to sign both Cruz and starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.

     

San Diego Padres

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    Is this Chase Headley's final season in San Diego?
    Is this Chase Headley's final season in San Diego?Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    This spring, for the first time, Padres GM Josh Byrnes sounded like a man who was less than optimistic about being able to work out a new deal to keep Chase Headley in San Diego for the long term in comments he made to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman:

    This has been a topic for a couple years. There's been dialogue. Both sides have tried. We just haven't been able to agree to the essential deal parameters. There are no active discussions. But the door's always open.

    While the door may be open on the team's end, it doesn't seem like Headley has any intention of walking through it, telling reporters: "It's not fair to the guys in the clubhouse to have anybody's attention focused on anything but trying to win and trying to do your best for the team," according to Heyman.

    That only increases the odds of an in-season trade, especially if the Padres find themselves on the outside of the playoff race as the July trade deadline draws near.

    Headley is off to a horrid start in 2014, hitting only .174 with one home run, four RBI and a .507 OPS, numbers that continue to indicate that his 2012 season, when he led the National League with 115 RBI and garnered MVP consideration, was a fluke.

    But that doesn't change the fact that he's a soon-to-be 30-year-old third baseman, one that plays above-average defense at the hot corner while spending half of his season hitting in one of the game's most unfriendly hitter's parks.

    You can be sure that there's at least one GM out there who sees him as a player who would benefit greatly from a change of scenery.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    A.J. Burnett's injury could be a major issue down the road.
    A.J. Burnett's injury could be a major issue down the road.Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    A.J. Burnett has walked six batters in each of his last two starts, something the 37-year-old attributes to the hernia that he was recently diagnosed with—and that he plans on pitching with for the entire season, as he told the Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Gelb:

    I'm going to have to deal with it. Paying attention to it, knowing it's there, knowing what I can do to overdo it and knowing what I can do to keep it where it needs to be. I'm more of a go-getter and I'm not really a take-it-easy kind of guy, so it's going to be a test.

    According to Gelb, doctors have told Burnett that while he'll need surgery to repair the injury after the season, he can't make the injury any worse than it already is by continuing to pitch and that the pain associated with the hernia can be managed with cortisone injections throughout the season.

    But what happens if Burnett can't handle the pain—or if it continues to cause major control problems?

    After top pitching prospect Jesse Biddle, the Phillies don't have much in the way of reinforcements down on the farm. For a team that's built to win now, Philadelphia needs an effective Burnett on the mound every fifth day.

    Should the injury continue to be an issue, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may have no other choice but to look outside the organization for help.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Jordy Mercer's struggles at the plate are helping to fuel the rumor mill in Pittsburgh.
    Jordy Mercer's struggles at the plate are helping to fuel the rumor mill in Pittsburgh.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Pittsburgh continues to get little to no production from its shortstops in 2014, with Jordy Mercer and Clint Barmes combining to hit a woeful .167 with a .422 OPS and seven total bases through the team's first 13 games.

    That's kept the rumor mill churning when it comes to free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew, who Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal opines could become a primary target for the Pirates (along with first baseman Kendrys Morales) once the June draft passes, removing the draft pick compensation from the veteran's price tag.

    Comments that GM Neal Huntington recently made on a podcast with ESPN's Buster Olney haven't helped to quash that train of thought, with Huntington explaining that while the team wanted to do more this past winter, the right move didn't present itself but that "if need be, we can go outside because of the depth of our player development system."

    In other words, the Pirates can make a move during the regular season if they believe they need to, whether it be a free-agent signing or a trade.

     

Texas Rangers

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    Texas will have competition for Joel Hanrahan's services.
    Texas will have competition for Joel Hanrahan's services.J. Meric/Getty Images

    Multiple teams, including the Rangers, are believed to have interest in veteran reliever Joel Hanrahan, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

    A two-time All-Star in Pittsburgh, the 32-year-old was limited to only 7.1 innings of work in Boston last season before undergoing Tommy John surgery. Expected to hold a showcase for teams at some point this week, the Rangers have nothing to lose by at least seeing where Hanrahan is in the rehab process.

    The Rangers bullpen has been ineffective this season, pitching to a 4.87 ERA and 1.50 WHIP while blowing two of the four save chances that its had. 

    If he's healthy, Hanrahan would not only give manager Ron Washington another arm with closing experience to consider in the ninth inning but a seasoned veteran who has a track record of being able to make opposing batters swing and miss.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Enny Romero could be back in Tampa Bay before too long.
    Enny Romero could be back in Tampa Bay before too long.Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    With 60 percent of its expected Opening Day rotation (Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore) sidelined by injury, speculation has begun that Tampa Bay will look to acquire a veteran free-agent hurler to fill the void.

    That's simply not the case, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, who says that the Rays will go with the options they have available internally to plug into the rotation until their injured arms are able to return.

    While confident in the arms that he now has at his disposal, manager Joe Maddon isn't trying to kid himself when it comes to replacing the pitching that he's lost, as he explained to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:

    "When you lose pitchers of Moore's caliber, or Cobb, obviously that's really difficult to replace. It's kind of an awkward thought. It's testing our depth. And I believe the guys we have are ready for the challenge."

    Veteran southpaw Erik Bedard has already been inserted into the rotation and is expected to make his first start of the year on Thursday against Baltimore, but youngsters like right-handed pitcher Nate Karns and  lefties Mike Montgomery and Enny Romero could factor into the mix as well.

    Karns made three unimpressive starts for Washington at the end of 2013, allowing five home runs, 17 hits and 10 earned runs over 12.2 innings of work. Romero fared better in his lone major league appearance, tossing 4.2 innings of scoreless, one-hit ball for the Rays against Baltimore last September, but he struggled with his command, walking four batters without recording a strikeout.

     

Boston Red Sox

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    Boston must tread lightly in extension talks with Jon Lester.
    Boston must tread lightly in extension talks with Jon Lester.Al Bello/Getty Images

    According to Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, the Boston Red Sox offered pending free agent Jon Lester, the ace of their rotation, a four-year, $70 million contract extension before the end of spring training, an offer that Lester passed on.

    While he turned down the team's offer, Lester is adamant that it doesn't mean he's shut the door on signing an extension, telling ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes: "Why does it mean that I'm out of Boston? Things can definitely change."

    Lester's future salary isn't the only thing that could change, as ESPN's Buster Olney writes in his latest insider-only post:

    Jon Lester's contract talks are drawing the attention of the other Red Sox players, and in their conversations, the seven-year, $215 million deal signed by Clayton Kershaw was noted. Kershaw is 26 years old and Lester is 30 and so any comparison is somewhat apples to oranges, but the players noted that if Lester pitched in the NL West, rather than in the AL East, he would cut up the lineups and his statistics would be more gaudy -- and put him in line for a lot more money. Not surprisingly, a lot of Lester's teammates see him as being worthy of an investment of what his market value may be.

    I don't think a team should ever base its negotiations with an individual player based solely on clubhouse sentiment, because the mistakes made would be extraordinary and legendary. But there's also no doubt that the perception of the organization within the clubhouse will be swayed by how the Lester contract talks play out.

    Lester isn't Kershaw, and talks of him getting a Kershaw-like extension are foolish.

    But he was a major part of Boston's last two World Series-winning teams, winning all three of his World Series starts while allowing only one earned run in 21.1 innings of work.

    Boston is going to have to do better than four years and $70 million to get Lester signed—and to keep the clubhouse from turning against the front office.

Cincinnati Reds

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    How much longer can the Reds allow Billy Hamilton to lead off?
    How much longer can the Reds allow Billy Hamilton to lead off?Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Nobody disputes that Billy Hamilton can change a game with his world-class speed, but that speed is useless if he's not getting on base with any consistency.

    It's a point that ESPN's Mike Petriello made recently (subscription required), and he raises two legitimate questions: How much longer can the Reds afford to have Hamilton sit atop such a powerful lineup, and if the decision is made to drop the speedster in the lineup, who takes his place?

    Petriello has two rather radical ideas, neither of which is likely to manifest itself on manager Bryan Price's lineup cards any time soon—move either Joey Votto or Todd Frazier into the top spot while dropping Hamilton down to the bottom of the lineup, where he'd hit after the pitcher.

    The fact remains that Hamilton has a .182 on-base percentage this season. That's unacceptable for a leadoff hitter in little league, much less on a team that is expected to contend for a World Series title.

    Sooner rather than later, something is going to have to give.

Colorado Rockies

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    Swinging a bat simply isn't Brett Anderson's thing.
    Swinging a bat simply isn't Brett Anderson's thing.Marcio Jose Sanchez

    With Brett Anderson out of action for the next four to six weeks, courtesy of a broken finger that he suffered in his ninth career at-bat, as reported by the Denver Post's Troy Renck, questions as to how the Rockies planned on replacing him in the rotation began to surface.

    The answer, according to Renck's colleague at the Post Nick Groke, is that the team will turn to its internal options before even considering someone from outside the organization.

    Franklin Morales, who started the season in Colorado's bullpen, will take Anderson's spot in the starting rotation for now, with Christian Friedrich and Tyler Matzek, both currently playing at Triple-A, the next two in line should Morales not work out or another starter goes down with an injury.

    Neither of the team's top pitching prospects, Eddie Butler and Jon Gray, appear to be realistic options at this point in the season.

Kansas City Royals

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    Kansas City may be looking for bullpen reinforcements.
    Kansas City may be looking for bullpen reinforcements.David Goldman

    One of the bigger surprises so far this season has been the disappointing play of the Kansas City Royals. Not only are the Royals not hitting, but the team's biggest strength, its bullpen, has been exposed as a major weakness.

    The pen has pitched to a combined 5.13 ERA and 1.50 WHIP, converting only three of its six save opportunities on the season. Only two Royals relievers—Aaron Crow and Danny Duffy—have pitched to an ERA below 4.15, doing so over a combined 6.1 innings of work.

    That's why the Royals have been linked to veteran reliever Joel Hanrahan, who, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, will work out for interested teams at some point this week.

    Owner of a career 3.85 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, the 32-year-old Hanrahan continues to work his way back from May 2013 Tommy John surgery, and if healthy, he could prove to be a valuable addition to a Royals bullpen that is in need of some new blood.

Detroit Tigers

28 of 31

    Alex Gonzalez isn't really working out in Detroit.
    Alex Gonzalez isn't really working out in Detroit.Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Whether it's in the field or at the plate, those tasked with replacing Jose Iglesias at shortstop in Detroit this season have fallen well short of the mark thus far.

    Few teams have gotten less offensive production from the shortstop position than the Tigers have, with Alex Gonzalez and Andrew Romine combining for a .167/.231/.222 slash line and an MLB-worst minus-five DRS (defensive runs saved) in the field.

    It's why the idea of Detroit signing free agent Stephen Drew continues to float around the rumor mill, but even if the Tigers decide that they want to sign Drew, they may not be able to.

    One executive told Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal that if Drew waits until after the June draft to sign, any American League club with a need in the infield could look to sign Drew if for no other reason than to keep him away from the Tigers.

     

     

Minnesota Twins

29 of 31

    Sam Fuld would be a welcomed addition in Minnesota.
    Sam Fuld would be a welcomed addition in Minnesota.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Sam Fuld has been on Minnesota's radar for a while, and with Oakland designating the 32-year-old outfielder for assignment this past weekend, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal says that the Twins are a potential destination.

    With Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham on the disabled list, the Twins have been giving Chris Colabello an extended look in the outfield, where it's become pretty clear that he's not an everyday option.

    While Fuld's numbers with Oakland this season weren't stellar, as he went 6-for-30 (.200) with a pair of triples, a home run and four RBI over seven games, he'd be an upgrade over Darin Mastroianni, who after Colabello, is the Twins only other realistic outfield option.

    Derek Wetmore of 1500ESPN believes that adding Fuld may cost Mastroianni his spot on the roster, as the Twins have been rolling with a three-man bench so they can carry 13 pitchers, but at this point, it may be a move the team seriously has to consider making.

Chicago White Sox

30 of 31

    Frank Francisco is the latest—not the last—new addition to Chicago's bullpen.
    Frank Francisco is the latest—not the last—new addition to Chicago's bullpen.Frank Franklin II

    While the White Sox recently signed veteran reliever Frank Francisco and assigned him to Triple-A Charlotte, as the team's top minor league affiliate reported via Twitter, it'd be shocking if that was the only move the team made as it looks to bolster what has been baseball's worst bullpen so far in 2014.

    Chicago's relievers have combined to post baseball's highest ERA (6.93) and WHIP (1.86) while sitting in a tie with Cleveland for the most walks by an American League bullpen with 26 in only 37.2 innings of work.

    Matt Lindstrom has struggled in the closer's role, posting a 5.40 ERA over his first five outings, Nate Jones, the preseason favorite to replace Addison Reed as the closer, remains on the disabled list and the team's two best relievers, Maikel Cleto and Daniel Webb, have only 32 big league appearances between them.

    It stands to reason that the club will, at the very least, check in on every experienced reliever that becomes available, though surprisingly, the White Sox were not one of the nine clubs that ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported to have interest in veteran free agent Joel Hanrahan.

New York Yankees

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    Despite a clear need, Kendrys Morales is still not on New York's radar.
    Despite a clear need, Kendrys Morales is still not on New York's radar.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    With Brendan Ryan and Mark Teixeira on the disabled list and Derek Jeter hobbled by a leg injury, the New York Yankees' infield depth is once again being tested, and speculation continues that, eventually, the team will give in and sign either Stephen Drew or Kendrys Morales to shore things up.

    But the Yankees don't have an interest in either of the veteran free agents, with a source telling ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews there's "no way" the team would sign either Drew or Morales, especially with both players believed to be seeking multiyear deals at more than $14 million a season.

    At this point, it's become clear that Teixeira is becoming injury prone, while Jeter, in his last season, is simply too fragile to count on being able to play more than a few games a week in the field. 

    Adding additional infield depth is something the Yankees may have no choice but to explore doing if they hope for a return to the postseason in 2014. As presently constituted, they simply don't seem to have enough.

     

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