Just as over-caffeinated consumers are flocking to the malls and feverishly typing credit card info into their tablets during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, major-league general managers are prepping their to-do lists ahead of the looming Winter Meetings (Dec. 4-8). That includes purchases (free agency), returns (salary dumps) and exchanges (trades).
The Astros and Braves are among those who have gotten an early jump on the shopping season, but these six teams figure to be among the most active in the near future:
New York Yankees
Is there a free agent with whom they haven’t been linked? From the possible returns of Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran, to the possible pursuits of Edwin Encarnacion, Yoenis Cespedes and Rich Hill, the Bronx Bombers appear to have a big budget as they seek to upgrade their outfield, rotation and bullpen. And then there are the trade rumors involving Brett Gardner and Chase Headley.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Not only must they work to bring back several of their own key free agents (Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, Chase Utley, Joe Blanton), the Dodgers are monitoring the free-agent and trade markets for help in the rotation, bullpen and infield. They’ve been linked to top-tier starters like Chris Sale and Chris Archer, among others, with Yasiel Puig perhaps the next outfielder to go (remember, LA already dealt Howie Kendrick and lost Josh Reddick in free agency).
The AL West-rival Astros have been busy (see: Josh Reddick, Brian McCann, Charlie Morton) beefing up their roster, while the Rangers have added Andrew Cashner. But the potential losses of Ian Desmond, Carlos Beltran and Mitch Moreland loom large for a team that still desperately needs to address the back end of its rotation. Among the big bats that Texas could pursue (in addition to its own): Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli.
They’re reportedly willing to listen to offers for everyone from Justin Verlander to Miguel Cabrera to Ian Kinsler to J.D. Martinez to Justin Upton. And if the biggest names are available, it’s fair to assume that no one on the roster is safe as Detroit looks to shed salary and get younger. Keep in mind, however, that there are some monstrous contracts and no-trade clauses in play, potentially complicating any deals.
Tampa Bay Rays
Most of the speculation has centered on Chris Archer, though rotation mates Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Cobb also are coveted for their ability and affordability. And then there is Evan Longoria, who is under team control through the 2023 season but could fetch a nice haul in a trade — if the Rays are willing to trade the face of their franchise.
Chicago White Sox
Chris Sale is the big prize here, but fellow lefty starter Jose Quintana also could be in play for a team that isn’t willing to meet the White Sox’s asking price for Sale. Todd Frazier, Jose Abreu and David Robertson are the other big names on contenders’ wish lists, with Melky Cabrera, James Shields and Adam Eaton among those who also could be on the move.