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MLB Winter Meetings 2016: 5 players to keep an eye on


November 29, 2016

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With less than a week until the 2016 MLB Winter Meetings, here at Inscriber we are taking a closer look at what’s to come in the world of baseball. Yesterday we took a look at five teams that should be watched when the Winter Meetings get underway starting Sunday, December 4th (link). The Meetings will take place until Thursday, December 8th, and are sure to change the landscape of MLB.

Over the course of those days, many players will be changing uniforms. Then there will be those who end up re-signing with their old club, but still having a large impact on how other organizations approach the rest of their winter. Both signings and trades will be made, and at their core, there is one common key element: Players.

So that begs the question, which players will help shape these MLB Winter Meetings, and therefore shape the remainder of the MLB offseason. There are plenty of candidates to choose from and believe me there are way more than five guys who will alter the landscape of MLB during the Winter Meetings.

But for the sake of time, we will keep this list at five players. So here are five names who could have a major impact on how the Winter Meetings and the rest of the MLB offseason unfolds.

Dexter Fowler

The outfield market has a few interesting names available via free agency. In particular, there are quite a few center fielders who are poised to be on the move. The first of the center field dominoes to fall could very well be Dexter Fowler, who is coming off a season with the World Series champs, the Chicago Cubs. So obviously, his market will start with the Cubs.

But his market will go way beyond Chicago. Teams like the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals and Baltimore Orioles are just a select few who appear to be in line to try and bring in the switch-hitting center fielder. A bidding war could very well emerge for his services. But once he signs, there are going to be plenty of teams left still looking for a man to fill their hole. Ian Desmond, Charlie Blackmon, Marcell Ozuna and Lorenzo Cain could all have their markets defined by where Fowler lands.

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Ryan Braun

The Milwaukee Brewers are in an interesting position right now. They are coming off a 73-89 season that saw them finish fourth in the NL Central. With the Cubs and Cardinals in the division, it is not going to be an easy climb into playoff contention. They have some intriguing young players ready to contribute, but that does not make them contenders in 2017. So the time is now to part ways with longtime Brewer Ryan Braun.

The 33-year-old is coming off a solid 2016 season that saw him hit 30 homers, bat .305 and drive in 91 runs. But he is not getting any younger, and he has battled injuries for several years now. So the Brewers will certainly entertain the idea of moving him, and plenty of teams could use a big bat. The Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, and Texas Rangers all represent potential fits.

A move to the AL would also help Braun, as he could DH at times. While his name has been mentioned much as of yet this offseason, it is a matter of time, and the Winter Meetings is the ideal time for the Brew Crew to pull off a deal.

Aroldis Chapman

It is no secret that the relief market is the strongest of any position this winter. Names like Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Melancon, Greg Holland and Wade Davis are all out there and could be wearing a new uniform come 2017. But it will be Chapman is the top man on the totem pole, and will likely be the first piece to fall, as he will be setting the market. And boy is the market deep with teams in need of closers.

The New York Yankees are considered the favorites. The Chicago Cubs will look to retain his services. The Los Angeles Dodgers can never be counted out.  Then you have teams like the Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants and several others who could be in the mix. He is going to be the recipient of a record deal, and that deal could very well happen during the Winter Meetings.

Todd Frazier

The Winter Meetings is the same without a big trade that involves a player that comes out of nowhere. Now Todd Frazier’s name has been mentioned in rumors this winter, but not many. And most rumors surrounding the White Sox are about Chris Sale. But if the team is going to pull off a deal in a few days, a Frazier deal is a lot more likely to come to fruition. The Sox are coming off a 78-84 season, and Frazier will be entering his contract year. Given the soon to be 31 year old is coming off a 40 home run season, interest will surely be plenty for anyone in need of a third baseman.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are certainly a possible option. They were involved in the three-team deal that sent him to Chicago last year, so there is a working relationship there already. The Boston Red Sox could certainly use an upgrade at the position, plus have an opening at DH.

Another team with a hole at the DH slot is the Baltimore Orioles, and Frazier would be a nice fit in Camden Yards. The San Francisco Giants are expected to roll with Eduardo Nunez at third, but there is no denying they would have some interest in Frazier at the right price. Finally, the St. Louis Cardinals have some flexibility with their current roster, and Frazier could very well fit into the mix there.

Brian Dozier

Just like Frazier, Brian Dozier represents an intriguing trade candidate this offseason. Dozier has two years left on his deal, but the Twins are not likely to be competing those two years. They entered last season with high hopes after a nice 2015 season  but floundered and finished an MLB-worst 59-103. The team has aways to go, and moving Dozier now while he is at his highest value could be the smartest move. He is coming off a 42 homer season that will surely catch the eyes of many teams around the league.

Dozier’s market starts exactly where Frazier’s does, with the Dodgers. The Dodgers have a ton of holes, and second base is certainly one of them. The Toronto Blue Jays, a team that is typically built around power, could potentially pursue him. The Atlanta Braves have been making moves this winter, and a deal for Dozier would be a bold move for them that would get fans in Atlanta talking. Finally let’s not forget the Cardinals, who could use Kolton Wong in trade negotiations to help land them a center fielder.

So what do you think? Will these guys be on the move during the Winter Meetings? Who do you want your favorite team to acquire? Tell us in the comments!

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com