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Parade of possibilities at the winter meetings

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / December 4, 2011
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You can shop for the groceries anytime, anywhere, really, but there is no place like the winter meetings, which begin tomorrow in Dallas with plenty of shopping options under one roof.

Some winter meetings are more productive than others, and while there has been movement on the free agent front already - the big deal for Jonathan Papelbon in Philadelphia heads the list - the futures of Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, and C.J. Wilson have not been decided.

By the end of business Thursday, we may have a clearer picture as to where the big names wind up.

Here’s a team-by-team look at what could happen:

AL East

NEW YORK - The Yankees have secured Freddy Garcia as a fourth or fifth starter and may pursue Wilson or Mark Buehrle. They also could be intrigued by the White Sox duo of Gavin Floyd and John Danks. They will seek a lefthander reliever.

TAMPA BAY - B.J. Upton rumors are sure to crop up, but for the most part, the Rays will be seeking offense, and they could give up their surplus pitching, preferably WadeDavis or Jeff Niemann. Don’t look for them to deal James Shields, but if there’s a major bat coming back, who knows? The Rays solved part of their catching problem by inking Jose Molina. They will be looking for low-cost relievers and will need to make a decision on Johnny Damon returning as DH.

BOSTON - With Heath Bell and Jonathan Broxton off the market, will the Sox consider Ryan Madson to be their closer? Lots of talk about Oakland closer Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox. Will general manager Ben Cherington go with Daniel Bard in the rotation or make him the closer? Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Beltran remain good right-field options, with Andre Ethier, in a trade with the Dodgers, the long shot. They could use Jed Lowrie and Josh Reddick as trade bait. In a bigger deal, would the Sox part with Kevin Youkilis?

TORONTO - The up-and-coming Blue Jays are still looking for a closer after falling short on Bell. Madson could be a possibility. They have money to spend. While they have committed to Edwin Encarnacion for now, the DH spot remains fluid. They could use power at first base. Could they emerge as players for Fielder? Like about 80 percent of teams, they need starting pitching. Don’t be shocked if they field offers for Kyle Drabek.

BALTIMORE - Dan Duquette has already acquired catcher Taylor Teagarden to back up Matt Wieters. He is in need of a DH, and the flirtation with David Ortiz could be something to watch. Duquette has a good center-right combo in Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, but he may add a power bat in left field. Second base is always an issue with Brian Roberts’s health in question, so look for an infield acquisition. Payroll needs to be in the mid 90 millions, but owner Peter Angelos could always sign off on Fielder. Veteran righthander Jeremy Guthrie seems perpetual trade bait. They could also make lefthander Brian Matusz available. Duquette needs to fix the 4.89 team ERA, worst in the AL.

AL Central

DETROIT - A very good team that probably needs one more impact starting pitcher (Buehrle would be perfect) and perhaps an upgrade at third base, where Aramis Ramirez might fit. It all depends on how much owner Mike Ilitch can extend his payroll, and he usually can. The Tigers could also use back-end rotation and bullpen help.

CLEVELAND - The Tribe already has struck by acquiring veteran righty Derek Lowe, who can only help Justin Masterson, and re-signing Grady Sizemore. It doesn’t appear the Indians will do much positionally, but they could add another veteran starting pitcher.

CHICAGO - GM Kenny Williams is willing to deal, and he has attractive players to offer. Danks and Floyd head the list, which also includes right fielder Carlos Quentin and lefty reliever Matt Thornton. Williams is willing to rebuild his farm system and has the chips. The Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Orioles, among others, could have interest in his pitching.

KANSAS CITY - The Royals traded outfielder Melky Cabrera to the Giants for lefty starter Jonathan Sanchez and signed Broxton to a one-year deal. They will use rookie Lorenzo Cain (.312 in Triple A) in center to replace Cabrera, and would like to enhance the rotation further, even with the acquisition of Sanchez and the re-signing of lefty Bruce Chen. With Broxton on board, they could deal closer Joakim Soria, especially with his $8 million option for next season. The Red Sox would have to be interested.

MINNESOTA - The Twins are motivated to reward their fan base (they drew 3.2 million last season) after a 99-loss campaign. They could be interesting trade partners. They need to replace closer Joe Nathan, who fled to Texas, and make decisions on free agents Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, both of whom they’d like back. Carl Pavano is their only workhorse, so they need another dependable guy to pitch every fifth day. Lefty Francisco Liriano could probably be had in the right package. They signed catcher Ryan Doumit as a backup plan for Joe Mauer and a jack-of-all-trades. Outfielder Denard Span could be trade bait if he brings back pitching. The bullpen also needs bodies.

AL West

TEXAS - GM Jon Daniels, like Arizona’s Kevin Towers, is a bullpen builder. He bought Nathan and will convert closer Neftali Feliz to a starter to make up for the loss of Wilson. Nathan’s velocity was lower when he returned from Tommy John surgery, but the expectation is that it will return. Don’t ever count the Rangers out of anything, because they have a lot of chips in their farm system to deal and the resources to make a free agent splash with someone like Fielder.

LOS ANGELES - New GM JerryDipoto likes to deal. He has already acquired Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta for pitcher Tyler Chatwood. Yesterday he sent Jeff Mathis, a superb defensive catcher, to Toronto for lefty Brad Mills.

OAKLAND - Like Williams in Chicago, Billy Beane is open for business. The Athletics could deal anyone from Bailey to starting pitchers Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, for a hefty return.

SEATTLE - The Mariners would love to dump Chone Figgins, who has been a flop, and could be in the market for a big hitter like Fielder, who was drafted by the Brewers when GM Jack Zduriencik was an executive in Milwaukee.

NL East

PHILADELPHIA - The Phillies have already done damage with the signing of Papelbon and the trade for Ty Wigginton. Now they need to figure out shortstop. They want Jimmy Rollins back, but at their price. If not, they’ll kick the tires on a lesser player or stay within.

ATLANTA - They traded Lowe, and now Jair Jurrjens is being dangled. Big-time offense/prospects would have to come back. The Braves want an RBI guy at one of the corner outfield spots, preferably left field.

MIAMI - The Marlins have a brand new stadium, a brand new manager in Ozzie Guillen, and an aggressive attitude. They secured a three-year deal on Bell and are in competition with the Mets for Reyes. They have also made offers to Buehrle and Pujols. They could deal first baseman Gaby Sanchez and pitcher Ricky Nolasco as they also pursue a center fielder.

NEW YORK - Re-signing Reyes would be good PR. They need lots of pitching, particularly in the bullpen, where they will be active for set-up/closer types such as Octavio Dotel and Brad Lidge. It’s doubtful they would do anything big like dealing third baseman David Wright, but there would be interest if they did. They’ll likely look for non-tenders. Joe Saunders could be a possibility.

WASHINGTON - The Nationals are still searching for a center fielder. They may go for someone such as free agent Coco Crisp, though Upton remains a possibility. They will try to find a back-of-the-rotation veteran starter. There are always Fielder rumors associated with the Nats.

NL Central

ST. LOUIS - Pujols is priority No. 1. If there is any money left, the Cardinals have a great chance to acquire Buehrle, who would love to pitch in St. Louis. That would be a fairly unbeatable rotation if Adam Wainwright returns in top form. The Cards also need middle-infield help.

MILWAUKEE - A replacement for Fielder, a shortstop, and bullpen help are atop the list. The Brewers could dabble in Reyes or Rollins if they lose Fielder. They could solve first base from within with Mat Gamel.

CINCINNATI - The Reds are concentrating on back-end rotation help but would be open to dealing Edinson Volquez and shortstop Paul Janish.

CHICAGO - As usual, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have explored every free agent out there, but will they hold back, try to rebuild the farm system, and strike two or three years from now? Carlos Pena could be back at first base, but Ramirez is gone from third. Epstein could be enticed to deal righty Matt Garza for a huge package of younger players; we’d see if the Red Sox would bite. Their biggest accomplishment would be to dump Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano. They may take offers on closer Carlos Marmol, who blew 10 saves last season.

PITTSBURGH - They signed catcher Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes got a two-year deal to play shortstop, which should improve their defense. The Pirates will strive to add a veteran starter.

HOUSTON - With new ownership and a new GM on the way, the Astros want to wipe the slate clean, and their goal is to get a bounty for lefty Wandy Rodriguez while dumping the contracts of righty Brett Myers and first baseman/outfielder Carlos Lee. Lee, a DH type, makes $18.5 million, so the Astros would have to eat a lot of it.

NL West

ARIZONA - Don’t look for much wheeling and dealing by Towers. One player he could deal is Saunders, whom he may not tender with a bounty of pitching prospects coming up. He’d like to re-sign Lyle Overbay.

SAN FRANCISCO - The Giants made their offensive move by acquiring Cabrera. The focus is shortstop, where it could be anything from Reyes to Alex Gonzalez. Brian Sabean could also add a low-cost veteran starter.

LOS ANGELES - With the ownership situation up in the air, it’s hard to tell exactly what the Dodgers can do. Ethier or James Loney could be dealt for pitching. They signed low-cost lefty Chris Capuano, and need bullpen help.

COLORADO - The Rockies have a very good bullpen, but they need help in the rotation, at second base, at third base, and in the outfield.

SAN DIEGO - Shortstop Jason Bartlett might be available. Indications are that former Sox prospect Anthony Rizzo will get every opportunity to win the first base job. They would love a more powerful bat at third base. With Bell and Mike Adams gone, GM Josh Byrnes will try to rebuild the pen.


Apropos of nothing

1. Follow this: Chili Davis replaced Gerald Perry as Pawtucket hitting coach after Perry went to Oakland last season. Perry got fired and was replaced by Davis, who was replaced at Pawtucket by Perry; 2. The Angels made a mistake in letting Mike Napoli go. Did they make the same mistake in letting defensive whiz Jeff Mathis go?; 3. Dave Magadan was never allowed to seek another job, which tells you the Sox were going to retain him as hitting coach all along; 4. The Red Sox are one of the teams that will attend fireballer Joel Zumaya’s workout after the winter meetings. 5. OK, StanKasten, now you can tell me what you’re doing, right? Trying to buy the Dodgers.

Updates on nine

1. Bill Buckner, former Red Sox first baseman - He would be an excellent choice for a coach on Bobby Valentine’s staff, not to mention what a great story it would be. A new manager has to have a coach he can trust with his most personal thoughts. Buckner, Valentine’s longtime friend, would be that guy.

2. Allard Baird, vice president of player personnel, Red Sox - His name is likely to come up in connection with the Houston GM job. There will be people in the Astros organization pushing for him with new owner Jim Crane.

3. Lee Thomas, special assistant to Dan Duquette, Orioles - Great baseball guy who had been out of the game. As Duquette’s right-hand man in Boston, he had a huge part in Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon coming to the Red Sox.

4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B, Red Sox - After having abdominal surgery, he is expected to be close to 100 percent by spring training, according to his agent, Joe Bick. Youkilis was depicted as a “cancer’’ in an ESPNBoston story, but a few people associated with the team have disputed that characterization.

5. Larry Lucchino, CEO/president, Red Sox - Whether it’s a sign of backing off or having full confidence in his new management team of Ben Cherington and Valentine, Lucchino said he would not attend the winter meetings.

6. Luis Tiant, former Red Sox pitcher - Sox historian DickBresciani has put together a nice statistical package to support Tiant’s bid for the Hall of Fame in advance of today’s Veterans Committee vote. Interesting numbers: 229-172 record, 3.30 ERA, four 20-win seasons. He was 57-25 in September and October. He has more wins and a higher winning percentage than 26 Hall of Famers. He has more shutouts (49) than 46 Hall of Famers. The only other pitcher with two streaks of 40-plus consecutive scoreless innings was Walter Johnson. In 1968, Tiant went 21-9 with a 1.60 ERA, 9 shutouts, a 5.295 H/9 IP (second-best in history to Nolan Ryan’s 5.261 in ’72), and a .168 batting average against. He won two AL ERA titles: in ’68 (1.60, best in AL since 1919) and ’72 (1.91).

7. Brett Myers, RHP, Astros - The Astros are trying to make the pitch that Myers has thrown more than 200 innings the last two seasons and would be a dependable starter. Problem: He makes $11 million this year with a vesting option for $10 million in 2013.

8. Frank White, former Royals second baseman - He was fired as an analyst on the team’s game broadcasts on Fox Kansas City this week; his candid style apparently didn’t go over well with the higher-ups. White, a former Red Sox coach, should be attractive to a network that appreciates candor. White, who should be revered in Kansas City, was quite shaken by the firing.

9. Gene Lamont, third base coach, Tigers - In the Red Sox’ defense, many employers, when conducting interviews, do not notify runners-up until the deal is sealed with the person they’re hiring. And that’s exactly what Cherington did, in working out a contract with Valentine and then notifying Lamont that he did not get the job.

Short hops

From the Bill Chuck files: “Over the last three seasons, 90 relievers appeared in at least 150 games. Who do you think had the best WHIP? If you guessed Mariano Rivera, you’re wrong! Mo’s 0.879 WHIP was second to MikeAdams’s 0.852.’’ And, “A’s closer Andrew Bailey has given up 34 hits and 3 homers each of the last two seasons; however, he faced 19 fewer batters in 2011.’’ . . . Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera is the 2011 winner of the Ted Williams Award as the best hitter in baseball. Cabrera, selected by a vote of the Boston Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, will be honored at the chapter’s 73d annual dinner on Thursday, Jan. 19 at the Westin Copley Hotel. Tickets are $175 each and are available by sending a check made out care of Rusty Sullivan, The Sports Museum, 100 Legends Way, Boston 02114. Or e-mail . . . Happy birthday to Matt Fox (29) and Lee Smith (54).

Nick Cafardo can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.

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