Baseball's Winter Meetings are just getting underway Monday after a quiet weekend in which most of the major players, meaning team executives and player agents, were in transit to San Diego. On Friday, I rounded up some of the hottest rumors regarding the top players on the market, all of which remain relevant. To that, here's a list of four teams, listed alphabetically, to watch over the next four days.
1. Baltimore Orioles
Having lost both Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis to free agency last week, the Orioles are in desperate need of both offense and outfielders. The Orioles are said to have interest in the Dodgers' Matt Kemp and the Braves' Justin Upton, who is heading into his walk year and thus being made available by the Braves. Any team with an outfielder to spare would be foolish not to check in with Baltimore general manager Dan Duquette.
One recent rumor had the Rockies offering Drew Stubbs for pitching. The O's may also make a move on a free agent outfielder, with CBS Sports' Jon Heyman naming Nori Aoki, Colby Rasmus, and Delmon Young as players the team was sizing up as of Monday morning. Heyman says that the Orioles are not in pursuit of top free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera at the moment, however, due to the Mariners' aggressive pursuit of Cabrera. Heyman reported on Friday that Seattle's interest could result in a contract comparable to Cruz's $57 million deal.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have a glut of outfielders, a hole at shortstop, and a need for pitching depth. It's an imbalance that the team's new front office administration — led by former Rays GM Andrew Friedman, now L.A.'s president of baseball operations, and former A's assistant GM Farhan Zaidi — is likely to solve through at least one significant trade. Of the team's current outfield, which includes Yasiel Puig, Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, top prospect Joc Pederson, and lefty-killer Scott Van Slyke, Puig is the only one not on the market, while Kemp has thus far generated the most heat.
The latest rumor regarding Kemp, who has five years and $107 million remaining on his contract, finds the Padres in aggressive pursuit of the 30-year-old outfielder, offering a package built around 26-year-old catcher Yasmani Grandal. A far more logical destination for Kemp, however, would be the Orioles.
3. Oakland Athletics
The A's wasted no time making a move in San Diego, shipping first baseman Brandon Moss to the Indians in exchange for minor league infielder Joe Wendle. Moss now joins a growing list of key players the A's have shipped out of town in the last six months, following Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson. And Oakland may not be done yet, as Jeff Samardzija could be next on the trading block, with the White Sox still considered the favorite to land the former Cubs ace. There's no question that the A's will be major players at the Winter Meetings. The real question is just how far Billy Beane is going to go in stripping down his roster and what, if any, effort is he going to make to build it back up thereafter.
4. Washington Nationals
Beyond announcing that they would listen to trade offers for righthanders Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister, both of whom enter their walk year in 2015, the Nationals have been very quiet thus far this offseason. That's despite the significant amount of work they need to do to address the coming free agency of Zimmernann, Fister, shortstop Ian Desmond, centerfielder Denard Span, and relief ace Tyler Clippard, all of whom are due to hit the market next fall.
Over the weekend, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal cited a source as saying that the Nats were "likely" to trade Clippard. On Friday, ESPN's Jayson Stark passed along a popular theory that the Nationals GM Mike Rizzo could trade Zimmermann, then sign Max Scherzer, whom he drafted when he was with the Diamondbacks, as Zimmermann's replacement. Since then, however, the Nationals have moved to re-open extension talks with Zimmermann, with those talks taking place this week in San Diego.