Some clubs still ready to make a deal
Crede, Inge and Roberts top list of players who may move
The Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues are in full swing, but a few embers from the Hot Stove season are still glowing.
There are potential deals to be made, with Joe Crede of the White Sox, Detroit's Brandon Inge and Baltimore's Brian Roberts among the players who could be changing teams before Opening Day.
Those three are not alone.
"I think you're going to see a few deals," one veteran scout told MLB.com. "By the middle of March, teams have had time to see certain players [play in exhibition games] and staffs have had another chance to reevaluate everybody. But Crede, Inge, Roberts, those are the names you hear the most."
Other names have been popping up regularly this spring.
Teams are monitoring Washington to see if the Nationals deal one of their first basemen -- Dmitri Young and Nick Johnson. The Cubs might trade right-hander Jason Marquis if he doesn't make their starting rotation. Boston's Coco Crisp is being eyed by teams looking for outfield help. The Mets reportedly are offering pitchers Jorge Sosa and Scott Schoeneweis.
Injuries can fast track trade talks. So can unmet expectations, or strong performances by other candidates. For these or other reasons, the likelihood for certain deals is better now than during the Winter Meetings because the situations have changed.
"The teams interested in Crede were waiting to make sure he was healthy," the scout said.
By all accounts Crede, the Chicago third baseman who underwent back surgery last June, has satisfied interested parties that he is healthy with his play in the Cactus League.
Roberts' name has been bandied about the rumor mill for months, but his chance of getting traded from the Orioles to the Cubs appears to have increased, as the Cubs may be more willing to meet Baltimore's asking price as a result of questions about second baseman Mark DeRosa's health.
Here's a rundown on some of the players who might be on the move in the weeks ahead:
Crede: With Josh Fields ready to be the everyday third baseman, and Crede heading to free agency after the season, Crede is expected to be moving on soon. Several scouts from other organizations have been following Crede in the Cactus League.
The Giants, who have been looking for a veteran third baseman, are believed to be the frontrunners. San Francisco would be a good fit. Crede's bat would give the Giants another power source they desperately need, and the Giants have the young pitching the White Sox would require for Crede.
On the other hand, Crede is 30 years old and will be seeking a multiyear deal as a free agent next winter. That might not jibe with the Giants' long-term plans if they aren't looking at Crede as a place holder.
Inge: Detroit's acquisition of Miguel Cabrera relegated Brandon Inge to the bench, but Inge has made it clear he would like to be an everyday third baseman somewhere, if not with the Tigers.
Inge, however, is not likely to make a fuss if the Tigers are unable to deal him. Inge could remain with the team as a kind of super-utility player.
"He's doing all the right things, saying all the right things," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He's a professional. He's one of my favorites. I want him to play third base somewhere every day. Is that going to happen? I have no clue."
Inge hit .236 with 14 homers and 71 RBIs for the Tigers last season. The Giants and Dodgers both have scouted Inge, but the money Inge is owed -- $19.1 million over the next three years -- is believed to be one of the stumbling blocks.
"At this point, I'm a Detroit Tiger, and I will have to assume that I will be a Detroit Tiger for the remainder of the contract," Inge said. "With that being said, I'm going to have to do whatever it takes to get the most playing time and help out as much as possible."
Roberts: The Cubs and Orioles have had off-and-on talks regarding Roberts since December. Roberts, who stole a career-high 50 bases last season, would give the Cubs the additional speed they are seeking for the top of their lineup.
Thus far the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement on what it would take to send Roberts to Chicago. DeRosa's uncertain status as a result of an irregular heartbeat might convince the Cubs to go ahead and make the deal.
Roberts as the catalyst at the top of the batting order would enable the Cubs to move slugger Alfonso Soriano to a spot that would make better use of his power. Just like that, a dangerous lineup would become one of the best in the league.
The Orioles are believed to be looking for a package that includes pitcher Sean Gallagher, shortstop Ronny Cedeno and two pitching prospects. The Orioles have had scouts in Mesa, Ariz., where the Cubs train, while the Cubs have had eyes on Roberts at the Orioles' camp in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Crisp: The emergence of Jacoby Ellsbury could spell the end of Crisp's time in Boston. A strong defensive center fielder with speed, Crisp didn't have a great year offensively in 2007. But he's drawing attention from scouts this spring, and his contract status of $11 million through 2009 is not prohibitive.
After posting a career-best .300 batting average in 2005, Crisp hit just .264 and .268 in his first two seasons in Boston, with a total of 14 home runs.
"I want to play every day," Crisp said. "I think everybody wants to play every day, and if you don't, I think there's something wrong with you. I don't want to sit on the bench. I could cheerlead with the best of them, but that's not where I want to be. I would honestly rather be somewhere else and play than be on the bench. But I'll take whatever comes and deal with it."
Young: Other teams expect the Nationals to trade either the 29-year-old Johnson, who hit .290 with 77 RBIs and 23 homers in 147 games in 2006 before breaking his right leg or Young, 34, who batted .320 with 74 RBIs and was an All-Star last year.
Young is considered the better bet to be moving on. He is five years older, and Johnson is the superior defensive player. Young is signed through 2009 for $10 million, while Johnson is in the second year of the three-year $16.5 million contract he signed before the '07 season.
Young, however, hasn't been able to swing a bat this spring because of tightness in his lower back and hip. Consequently, any chance of moving him, or Johnson for that matter, is on hold until Young returns.
Marquis: Marquis has said if he doesn't make the rotation he possibly would request a trade. Only 29, the right-hander was 12-9 with a 4.60 ERA last season and has averaged 13.5 wins per season the last four years.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.