With the offseason underway, one team to keep an eye on will be the New York Mets as they will look to improve a team that showed plenty of potential in the first half before falling apart after the All-Star break.
Priority No. 1 for the team will be reaching extensions with R.A. Dickey and David Wright, both of whom are set to hit free agency at the end of the 2013 season. If the two sides can't come to terms, however, it could be a substantially different offseason for the Mets as one or both could wind up on the trade market.
As it stands though, the team's biggest need lies in the outfield, although you could argue that the bullpen in fact deserves the top spot.
If the season started today, the Mets outfield would consist of some combination of non-tender candidate Andres Torres, outright-release candidate Jason Bay, Mike Baxter, Jordany Valdespin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis filling two starting spots alongside Lucas Duda.
Should Cody Ross Be The Mets No. 1 Free Agent Target?
One thing that all five of those players have in common is a complete and total lack of power and run production ability, as they combined for 29 home runs and 126 RBIs in 1,220 at-bats during the 2012 season.
Ross would be an immeasurable upgrade over any of them as far as middle of the order presence, after tallying 22 home runs and 81 RBIs in just 476 at-bats with Boston last season.
While Ross is not the top outfield option on the market, he may very well represent the best option for the Mets from a financial standpoint.
The team doesn't have much to spend, as the expiring contracts of Jon Rauch ($3.5 million), Torres ($2.7 million) and Scott Hairston ($1.1 million) essentially represent the team's spending money.
That puts top tier guys like Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher well out of reach, but could still be enough to land Ross.
The 31-year-old made just $3 million on a one-year deal with the Red Sox last season and while he will receive a sizable raise from that, the three-year, $21 million deal that Josh Willingham signed with the Twins last offseason could be a good comparison for what Ross is worth.
Obviously a lot could happen between now and the start of the season, and a trade of either Wright or Dickey would change things in more ways than one. But as of now Ross appears to be perhaps the team's best free agent option, from both a financial and production standpoint.
Time will tell if the team can reel him in, as there will likely be more than a few teams after the resurgent slugger.