5 teams that could still make noise this offseason
Time is running out on 2015, but there's still plenty of time to reshape rosters before Spring Training -- which is when the clock on '16 really begins.
An endless number of trade conversations have led to dead ends, but many others have laid the framework for deals that may still happen. The free-agent market is loaded with players who can help teams get into the postseason or reach the World Series.
While it has been a quiet offseason for some teams, that doesn't mean it is going to remain a quiet offseason for them. Here are five teams I still expect to make a bold move:
The team with the most resources has added the least to its payroll since losing to the Mets in the National League Division Series. This wasn't what anyone expected when the Hot Stove season began with the Dodgers losing Zack Greinke to the D-backs, leaving them with a rotation full of question marks behind Clayton Kershaw.
A deal to sign Hisashi Iwakuma fell apart after being reported, leaving the only significant action being the addition of outfielder Trayce Thompson, second baseman Micah Johnson and power right-hander Frank Montas from the White Sox in the three-team Todd Frazier trade. But the Dodgers have more prospects than ever to trade for a controllable starter.
Move to watch: Yasiel Puig, Montas and prospects to the Indians for Carlos Carrasco
The issues between Puig and his teammates remain after a change in the manager's office, and the addition of Thompson makes it easier to live without the mercurial Puig and his elite talent. He would bring a big bat to the Indians, who can use one. Carrasco would restore the Dodgers' divisional pitching superiority -- especially if Andrew Friedman/Farhan Zaidi also land Kenta Maeda.
The World Series champs don't have a lot of payroll flexibility to deal with the losses they're suffering in free agency (Johnny Cueto, Ben Zobrist, Ryan Madson and perhaps soon Alex Gordon). With Alex Rios also a free agent, their outfield depth has taken a real hit.
Move to watch: Pitching prospect Ashe Russell and outfield prospects Bubba Starling and Rey Fuentes to the Braves for Ender Inciarte and pitching prospect Chris Ellis
Inciarte is the best available outfielder for the Royals' needs and, for now, helps the budget. Russell, ranked by MLB.com as Kansas City's No. 2 prospect, is a high price to pay, but Kansas City needs to maximize its chances to get back to a third consecutive World Series. Ellis doesn't have nearly as high of a ceiling as Russell, but could help as a depth piece in 2016, either for the rotation or bullpen. Fuentes is ready to get a long Major League look. Starling, probably the biggest name in the deal, might benefit from a change of scenery.
No team has been linked to more trade rumors than the Rays, who have shopped a surplus of attractive starters and late-inning relievers without pulling the trigger on a deal.
Matt Silverman has tinkered with his lineup, adding Logan Morrison (DH) and Brad Miller (super utility) in the trade that sent Nathan Karns to Seattle. But he hasn't found a deal that he liked for a young hitter like the Cubs' Javier Baez, whom he pursued aggressively. Maybe he needs to not think about such a young hitter.
Move to watch: Matt Moore, Desmond Jennings and pitching prospect Jacob Faria to the Rockies for Carlos Gonzalez, utility man Rafael Ynoa and cash
Gonzalez, who is only two years away from free agency, is the kind of commodity the Rays have historically avoided. But why not get him if the Rockies will underwrite the trade?
This is a win-now move for the Rays, who have the pitching in their system (Enny Romero, Blake Snell, Brent Honeywell and Taylor Guerrieri to replace Moore, who is under control through 2019 (including three team options).
Despite having Yu Darvish sidelined all season, Texas improved by 21 wins under first-year manager Jeff Banister to win an American League West that lacked a true powerhouse. The challenge for the Rangers is to become that powerhouse, but there's little payroll flexibility left after the trade for Cole Hamels last season.
General manager Jon Daniels has stockpiled relievers, trading for Tom Wilhelmsen in the deal that sent Leonys Martin to Seattle and signing Tony Barnette, who dominated as a closer in Japan.
Move to watch: Jurickson Profar, Keone Kela and Andrew Faulkner to the Brewers for Jonathan Lucroy
David Stearns, the Brewers' rookie GM, previously asked for top prospect Joey Gallo in discussions with Texas about Lucroy. The beauty of this proposal is that both Profar and Lucroy bring risk in coming off injuries. Lucroy is still worth a big package because he'll cost Texas only $4.35 million in 2016 and $5.25 in '17 before he can be a free agent.
Re-signing Chris Davis has been the top priority for the Orioles throughout the Hot Stove season. But GM Dan Duquette and Scott Boras have been at impasse for weeks now.
Duquette did cover himself somewhat by acquiring Mark Trumbo from the Mariners and is exploring the free-agent outfield market, with Gordon as a target. But there's a big problem with Gordon and the two other big-ticket free agents, Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton. None of them is a right fielder, and neither is Hyun-soo Kim, the Korean outfielder who currently projects as Baltimore's left fielder.
Move to watch: Brad Brach and outfield prospect D.J. Stewart to the Dodgers for Andre Ethier and cash
Ideally, they would get Davis signed. But if he's intent on landing a deal beyond how he's valued in Baltimore, then acquiring Ethier to fill right field for two or three years at about $10 million a year frees up the Orioles to move on from Davis, switching that money into the pursuit of Maeda or Scott Kazmir.