At the end of October, each MLB team's front office personnel will be busily preparing to shore up their rosters for the upcoming season.
Expiring contracts will need to be decided upon as teams weigh a number of factors in determining whether it's worth their while to extend players currently on the roster.
Bleacher Report will attempt to place odds on the top hitters' chances of re-signing with their current teams. In some cases, we may choose players who have yet to hit free agency but could be under consideration as a non-tender candidate.
Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this coming offseason, and it's a pretty safe bet that he will be back in the fold for the D-Backs.
With all of the speculation concerning the status of Justin Upton and the possibility of him being dealt this offseason, Parra should be assured of regaining his everyday position in the outfield.
Even in a reduced role, Parra has been outstanding, posting a .271 batting average with six homers and 34 RBI, providing outstanding defense no matter where in the outfield he's stationed.
Odds of re-signing with Diamondbacks: 100 percent
Center fielder Michael Bourn has been a bright spot at the top of the Atlanta Braves batting order all season long. But will that light continue to shine beyond this season?
Bourn is a client of super-agent Scott Boras, and we all know what that means. Considering the Braves' relative inactivity this past offseason and a clearly reduced payroll in recent years, Bourn's play this season could well have put him out of range in Atlanta.
Odds of re-signing with Braves: Five percent. Even that figure may be a bit generous.
Baltimore Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds presents an interesting conundrum.
Reynolds is reaching the end of a three-year, $13.5 million contract originally signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, the Orioles hold an option for the 2013 season for $11 million with a $500,000 buyout.
As of the end of July, it seemed almost a certainty that Reynolds' option would not be picked up. Hitting just .208 at the time with eight homers, 32 RBI and 96 strikeouts in 259 at-bats, Reynolds appeared to be playing his way out of a future with the O's.
However, in the past month and a half, Reynolds has turned his game around, hitting .268 with 13 HR and 27 RBI since Aug. 1.
Still, in all likelihood, the Orioles will decline the option and non-tender Reynolds. But he could still negotiate a new deal at a reduced rate if he can continue with his hot play as the O's vie for their first postseason berth in 15 seasons.
Odds of re-signing with Orioles: Zero percent with current contract. Ten percent for a new reduced-rate contract.
A recurring right Achilles strain has kept Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz limited to just one game since July 16.
However, the production provided by Ortiz before the injury was certainly typical of previous monster seasons, hitting .318 with 23 HR and 60 RBI through 90 games, with a .611 slugging percentage and 1.026 OPS.
Signed for the season at $14.75 million, Ortiz will once again hit free agency this offseason, and the Red Sox will have a decision to make regarding Ortiz's future in Boston.
Ortiz has made it clear he'd like to retire in Boston, but only with a long-term contract.
Ortiz further clarified what he meant by a long-term deal.
The thing is when people talk about me signing a multi-year contract, they make it seem like I'm asking for a four- or five-year deal. A guy like me isn't going to be looking for more than two years in the market. I know I'm going to be 37 years old and the only reason I might be asking for whatever I'm asking for is because I'm in good shape to provide something the next couple of years. The reality is my problem is not what I want or what I need, my problem is what I want to be by this time next year -- If I [will] be looking forward to going to the playoffs, or if we're going to be in the situation we are right now, which is disgusting. I like to win. I like the atmosphere around here when we are winning. I like the feeling of preparation going to the playoffs. I haven't lost that taste. The taste of that has not been there. I got used to that.
Seems like the type of guy the Red Sox should keep around, right?
Odds of re-signing with Red Sox: 60 percent. I believe that GM Ben Cherington wants Ortiz around, and the two will work out an amicable agreement.
The Chicago Cubs are going to have a decision to make regarding the hot corner for the 2013 season.
Prospect Josh Vitters was given an opportunity to show his stuff when he was promoted on Aug. 5. However, Vitters spit the bit, hitting just .103 with 27 strikeouts in 78 at-bats. It would appear that Vitters might not be an option next season at all, with the Cubs possibly looking to get him more time in the minors first.
That brings us to Ian Stewart. Stewart was acquired from the Colorado Rockies over the offseason in the hopes that Stewart's wrist injury had healed enough for him to display the power production he provided in his first couple of seasons in Colorado.
However, Stewart's season ended in June after a .201 start with five HR and 17 RBI, undergoing surgery in July after his wrist injury was finally diagnosed properly.
While there's hope that the surgery could finally see Stewart return to form, he has not been seen in Chicago at all, apparently rehabbing from home. In recent comments, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he had "lost track" of Stewart's rehab progress.
Um, that's not a good sign.
Odds of re-signing with Cubs: Three percent. Stewart made $2.24 million and is arbitration-eligible once again next season. Unless he agrees to a reduced rate and can prove he is completely healthy and can be productive, he will almost certainly be non-tendered.
At 35 years of age and in the final season of a two-year, $8 million contract, Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski in enjoying the finest season of his career.
Entering weekend play, Pierzynski is hitting .280 with 26 HR and 73 RBI, easily on track for career highs. With the White Sox nursing a one-game lead heading into a weekend series with the Minnesota Twins, Pierzynski has been a major factor in the success of the White Sox thus far.
Odds of re-signing with White Sox: 40 percent. My guess is that GM Kenny Williams won't let Pierzynski walk away without a fight.
The past two seasons for former All-Star third baseman Scott Rolen have been filled with more time spent on the disabled list than on the field of play.
Logging just 65 games last season and only 82 games entering weekend play, Rolen has played in only 48 percent of his team's games. At 37 years of age, he's certainly not going to find a fountain of youth and/or renewed durability.
Rolen is in the final season of a two-year, $13 million contract. With rookie Todd Frazier in the fold, Rolen's days in Cincinnati appear to be over.
Odds of re-signing with the Reds: Zero percent.
With six surgeries in the past three seasons and with soreness returning in his surgically-repaired right knee, Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore has certainly had to deal with pain.
The Indians dealt with the financial pain as well.
Hoping that Sizemore could contribute in some fashion after another surgery at the end of last season, the Tribe re-signed Sizemore to a one-year, $5 million contract with the possibility of earning another $4 million based on plate appearances.
At least the Indians saved themselves $4 million.
Odds of re-signing with the Indians: Zero percent. What's the old saying? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
At 26 years of age and in his fifth season in Major League Baseball, Colorado Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler has officially arrived.
Fowler has put together a career year, hitting .311 with 13 HR and 52 RBI, all career highs. Fowler's .396 OBP, .495 slugging percentage and .892 OPS are easily career highs as well.
Fowler is not a free agent, only entering his first year of arbitration. However, it's pretty clear that Fowler gives the Rockies a nice option at the top of the order as he continues to get better and better.
Chances of re-signing with Rockies: 100 percent. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of a long-term deal hashed out this offseason.
Detroit Tigers left fielder/designated hitter Delmon Young has spent the majority of his season as the DH, a position likely to be retaken by Victor Martinez when he returns next season.
Young his hitting .271 with 17 HR and 62 RBI along with a 18/93 BB/K ratio.
His arrest on a second-degree hate-crime misdemeanor earlier this season in New York likely won't help his contract negotiations much this offseason.
Odds of re-signing with Tigers: Five percent. I'll leave a slight window here, but with Martinez back in the fold, I don't see the Tigers offering much for Young at this point, especially with his troubles and his defensive liabilities.
Houston Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie finally returned to the lineup last week after a collision at second base landed him on the disabled list for two months.
Lowrie is about the closest thing the Astros have to a free agent, with all of the wheeling and dealing in recent months. Lowrie made $1.15 million this season and is arbitration-eligible for the first time.
Odds of re-signing with the Astros: 25 percent. Lowrie can definitely be an offensive force when healthy. The key two words there are "when healthy," something Lowrie hasn't been able to be on a consistent basis since reaching the majors with the Boston Red Sox.
I don't see the Astros non-tendering Lowrie, but I don't see a long-term contract, either. A trade this offseason is entirely possible as well.
The Kansas City Royals have assembled a team of 20-somethings that are growing together and all mostly under team control. Even some of those young stars have been locked up, taking them through their arbitration years and first year of free-agency eligibility.
About the only position player the Royals will have to make a decision on this winter is second baseman Chris Getz, out for the season with a broken thumb.
Getz will be entering his first year of arbitration after earning $968,000 this season, hitting .275 before his season-ending injury.
Odds of re-signing with Royals: 25 percent. The Royals are not strong at second base, so Getz has a chance of sticking and entering arbitration.
Los Angeles Angels right fielder Torii Hunter is in the final season of a five-year, $90 million contract. The way he's playing, Hunter is looking for one more payday.
The only problem is, it won't be at an average $18 million salary.
Hunter is currently hitting .309, a full 33 points above his career average, with 15 HR and 76 RBI. He still has an outside chance of hitting the 20 HR/90 RBI for the third time as an Angel, and the fifth consecutive season with at least 20 homers as an Angel as well.
Chances of re-signing with Angels: 40 percent. There is definitely a chance Hunter returns to Anaheim, but at a vastly reduced rate, somewhere in the neighborhood of a 50 percent pay cut. Whether or not he's willing to close out his career in Anaheim at that reduced rate is the question.
Money will likely not be an issue with Hunter, telling the Los Angeles Times in July that Anaheim is where he wants to be.
"This is the only team I want to play for," said Hunter. "If I'm not in their plans, no hard feelings. I've had a great time here. But money will not be the reason I'm not here."
"I'm 37—there's no way I'll make this salary. Arte (Moreno) will always give you what's fair. I owe him. If anybody is indebted to anybody, I am to Arte."
Just a week after the trade that sent outfielder Shane Victorino from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Victorino left open the possibility of signing with the Dodgers.
Victorino let his agent know his preference was to sign with the Dodgers; however, that was before the mega-trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford and their combined $262.5 million to L.A.
Victorino is in the final season of a three-year, $22 million contract and has struggled somewhat on the West Coast, hitting just .245 in 38 games.
Odds of re-signing with Dodgers: Five percent. The possibility is there, but ever so slight, especially with the commitments taken on by the Dodgers. Doubtful they would keep both Victorino and Crawford.
When the Miami Marlins acquired first baseman Carlos Lee from the Houston Astros in early July, he was believed to be the final piece that could help the Marlins into the postseason.
So much for that.
With a disastrous season and the selling off of several players, the Marlins will be looking to regroup for next season. Lee would like to return to be a part of that regrouping.
"If they want me back, I like it here," Lee said in August. "I think we can put a good lineup out there. If they want me back, I'll be more than happy to."
Lee is in the final year of a six-year, $106 million deal, and at 36 years of age, he is just a fraction of the player who routinely hit 30 HR with 100 RBI almost every season.
Lee is hitting .261 for the Marlins with just three HR and 39 RBI in 63 games.
Odds of re-signing with Marlins: Two percent. I honestly don't see any scenario in which Lee returns to South Beach.
Shortstop Alex Gonalez's first year with the Milwaukee Brewers ended all too quickly.
Just 24 games into the 2012 season, Gonzalez tore the ACL in his right knee after sliding into second base during a game with the San Francisco Giants.
Gonzalez was hitting .259 at the time with four HR and 15 RBI. Gonzalez was signed to a one-year, $4.25 million contract to help offset the loss of Prince Fielder.
Chances of re-signing with Brewers: Five percent. There is a chance Gonzalez could sign with Milwaukee, but it would be at a reduced rate.
Minnesota Twins middle infielder Alexi Casilla has one year of arbitration eligibility left before hitting free agency in 2014. But the question remains: Will he be tendered by the Twins?
At this point, Casilla could well be a non-tender candidate. With a .222 average this season and just a .562 OPS, the production simply isn't there.
Odds of re-signing with Twins: Three percent. I believe the Twins and Casilla will part ways. GM Terry Ryan is looking to transform this team, and Casilla, at this point, represents part of the problem.
The trade that sent catcher Kelly Shoppach from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Mets last month is one that has apparently pleased Mets manager Terry Collins.
Count Collins as one who would like to see Shoppach back with the Mets next season.
"We all know he's got power," Collins said. "But I really like where he sits behind the hitter – gets right underneath the hitter. Does a very good job of keeping the ball in front of him. His hands are soft. Whoever's worked with him defensively, I really like the way he handles the glove."
"And I think he's done a good job with our pitching staff, getting through a game."
Regular catcher Josh Thole has had his struggles at the plate, hitting .237 with just a .582 OPS in 95 games.
Odds of re-signing with the Mets: 40 percent. At a salary of $1.14 million this season, Shoppach certainly won't break the bank for the Mets.
Nearing the end of his six-year, $36 million contract, there has already been much speculation about whether right fielder Nick Swisher is worth a long-term contract with the New York Yankees.
It's been reported that Swisher could be seeking a similar deal to the one signed by Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth two years ago—seven years and $126 million.
That was a mistake, and it would be a mistake by the Yankees to sign Swisher for that length of time and amount now.
Swisher has been productive for the Yankees. By the time the 2012 regular season ends, Swisher will have averaged around 26 HR and 85 RBI through four seasons.
However, unless Swisher reverses his trend in the playoffs—a paltry .169 lifetime postseason average—the Yankees will likely be looking elsewhere.
Odds of re-signing with Yankees: Two percent. I just don't see the Yankees offering more than two or three years at this point, and considering what Swisher is apparently looking for, it's not in the cards.
The Oakland Athletics acquired veteran shortstop Stephen Drew from the Arizona Diamondbacks for the purpose of helping them get into the postseason.
Drew is still struggling at the plate, hitting just .219 in 20 games thus far. However, the A's are 16-4 in games Drew has started.
The A's have a $10 million team option on the 2013 season for Drew that will almost certainly be declined. However, the door could be open for Drew to return at a reduced rate.
Odds of re-signing with A's: Ten percent. The option definitely won't be picked up, but Drew could act as a bridge to A's prospects such as Addison Russell.
Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco has been absent during their surge back into contention in the wild-card race in the National League.
Polanco's lingering back issues have limited him to eight games since July 22, and he is currently on the disabled list for the second time as a result of those issues.
Polanco is in the final season of a three-year, $18 million contract, and the Phillies hold an option for the 2013 season for $5.5 million.
Chances of re-signing with Phillies: Two percent. The Phillies need to get younger, and I don't see them taking a $5.5 million gamble on Polanco's health.
Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Rod Barajas was signed for $4 million with the hope that he could add some offense from behind the plate, something missing for much of last season with injuries to Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder.
Barajas has been a disappointment, hitting just .196 with nine HR, 25 RBI and a .592 OPS.
The Pirates hold a $3.5 million option for the 2013 season.
Odds of re-signing with the Pirates: One percent. Why would the Pirates pick up an option for a .200 hitter who has seen his playing time drastically diminished in favor of career backup Michael McKenry?
Much like the Kansas City Royals, the San Diego Padres are loaded with 20-something players who are years away from free agency.
GM Josh Byrnes traded away several players for much younger players under team control, so entering the offseason, he will have few worries in terms of re-signing current position players.
To say that the San Francisco Giants have been buoyed by the performance of infielder Marco Scutaro since Aug. 1 would be a vast understatement.
Scutaro has been huge for the Giants since his trade from the Colorado Rockies, hitting .341 with two homers and 30 RBI in 44 games. Scutaro has already provided several game-winning hits, and since Melky Cabrera was hit with a 50-game suspension on Aug. 15, Scutaro has become the go-to guy.
Scutaro had his $6 million option for the 2012 season picked up by the Boston Red Sox prior to his trade to the Rockies.
Scutaro would love to return to the Bay Area as well, telling Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com that he is happy with where he is.
“I would love to come back here,” Scutaro said. “I really love it here. There are great fans, it’s a great place to play. More important, it’s a place where you have a chance to win every year.”
Odds of re-signing with Giants: 60 percent. Have to think the chances are good, given what Scutaro has provided thus far.
Nearing the end of a two-year, $7 million contract, Seattle Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo could well just be playing out the string.
With the younger John Jaso and Jesus Montero on board, Olivo will more than likely be the odd man out. Olivo is in the final season of a two-year, $7 million contract, with the Mariners holding the option for the 2013 season at $3 million.
Odds of re-signing with Mariners: Zero percent. With a .215 average and the Mariners already with two catchers under team control, there's little to no chance that Olivo returns.
Considering he's played just 31 games this season with three trips to the disabled list, it's safe to say the 2012 campaign has been one of complete frustration for St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman.
Pegged to take over at first base after the departure of free agent Albert Pujols, Berkman was being counted on to provide the production he offered up in the 2011 season—a .301 average, 31 HR and 94 RBI.
Now, Berkman is pondering retirement, and the Cardinals will be seeking a permanent solution at first base.
Odds of re-signing with Cardinals: Zero percent. Berkman has already given strong indications he's ready to return to Rice University, complete his degree and serve as a student-assistant for the baseball team. Berkman represented Rice as the College Player of the Year in 1997.
First baseman Carlos Pena signed a one-year, $7.25 million contract to return to the Tampa Bay Rays, where he had raked offensively for four years prior to his year with the Chicago Cubs.
However, this time around hasn't been quite so rosy for Pena.
Pena has struggled, hitting just .196 with 17 HR and 51 RBI along with a career-low .667 OPS and career-high 168 strikeouts.
Odds of re-signing with Rays: Zero percent. I don't see any chance at all of Pena returning, even at a drastically reduced rate.
Without question the biggest name on the list of 2013 free agents, Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is also one of the biggest question marks in terms of whether he's worth the money.
Depending on who you ask or talk to, Hamilton is worth anywhere from $100 million to as much as $250 million. The biggest questions are health and prior substance-abuse history, either of which would be question marks for any athlete on their own.
Hamilton is leading the majors with 41 HR and 121 RBI and is a former batting champion and MVP, so the resume is certainly stellar.
The Rangers have been silent regarding any negotiations, and there are no doubt several teams who will be watching with rapt interest.
Odds of re-signing with Rangers: 20 percent. I honestly believe the Rangers want him back, but I don't expect them to be offering anything close to a 10-year, $200 million deal. Some team will set the market, however. Some team always does.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays swapped second basemen last August, with Aaron Hill headed to Phoenix and Johnson traveling north of the border.
It's safe to say the Diamondbacks got the better of that deal.
Johnson showed signs of improvement with the Blue Jays following the trade, hitting .270 in 33 games after hitting just .209 in 114 games for Arizona. The Jays were impressed enough to give Johnson a one-year, $6.38 million deal.
However, Johnson has largely struggled once again, hitting just .224 with 14 HR and 50 RBI. Meanwhile, Hill completely rebounded in Phoenix, hitting .294 with 22 HR and 67 RBI.
Odds of re-signing with Blue Jays: One percent. In all likelihood, GM Alex Anthopoulos lets Johnson walk.
After a miserable 2011 season in which he played just 43 games before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery, Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is certainly a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.
LaRoche has hit .269 with 29 HR and 92 RBI, showing no ill effects from a difficult labrum surgery last year. LaRoche is in the final season of a two-year, $16 million contract, with a mutual $10 million option for 2013.
Odds of re-signing with Nationals: 40 percent. Have to think the Nationals want him back, but it is not certain if LaRoche will accept it.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.