As the offseason winds down and more and more top free agents sign contracts to fill the needs of their respective suitors, the attention inevitably turns to which teams will trade for a player to fill a hole they missed out on fixing with a free agent signing. The players that will potentially be involved in these offseason trades, for obvious reasons, are much harder to hone in than their FA counterparts, who are listed handily on every site on the Internet. I must preface this, technically, by saying that it won’t necessarily be a list of the Most Desirable Trade Targets in Baseball, as that would just be Mike Trout and then some collection of Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez, Evan Longoria, Buster Posey, Yasiel Puig, Paul Goldschmidt, and any number of other young, cost-controlled, elite players who are not going to be traded by their clubs in 2014 barring a complete shock-buster trade. With that nasty caveat out of the way, let’s move on to Call to the Pen’s Five Most Desirable (Realistic) Trade Targets, starting with number five:
#5 COLBY RASMUS
The Toronto Blue Jays‘ center fielder Colby Rasmus came North of the border in a trade with the Cardinals along with hopes that he could recapture the form he’d shown in his early StL days before falling out of favor with LaRussa and the organization. After a couple of teases in 2011 and 2012, Rasmus delivered on his impressive potential in a big way in 2013, having a career year that saw him up up 4.8 fWAR in only 118 games. He blasted 22 bombs while playing plus defense and running the bases well, and all told his offensive line was 30% above the league average, adjusted for his home park. He’s sure to regress a bit in 2014 after posting an unsustainable .356 BABIP, so the .276 average he posted in 2013 is likely a mirage, but projection systems seem to think that he’ll still be worth well above 3.0 fWAR even once his BABIP falls back to Earth. Rasmus is only a year from free agency and is projected to earn $6.5 million in his final year of arbitration, and despite rumors of his availability, moving him would leave the Jays with Anthony Gose to man center on a daily basis, a less than ideal scenario. Expect that they’d need to be very impressed with an offer to sell high on Cletus, but given the clubs holes elsewhere and comments made recently by the player’s father, it would be unwise to discount the possibility of him moving to a team that is hurting for power in the outfield.