Thanksgiving week is typically one of the slowest times for Major League Baseball free agents to start signing, but it is not shy in churning out rumors about teams and players who could be wining and dining each other over the holiday weekend.
Really, the next two weeks are going to feel like the calm before a giant free-agent frenzy hits. The Winter Meetings begin in Nashville on December 3, which is when we finally get all these agents, players and team executives in one spot to iron out details of a contract.
Until then, all we have to stew over are a slew of rumors surrounding the biggest names on the market. Here is all the latest chatter on the superstars who comprise this year's free-agent class.
Josh Hamilton Rolling Into Fenway?
While Josh Hamilton has lofty aspirations this offseason, his market doesn't seem to be building in the way that would suggest a huge bidding war will take place to land the 2010 American League MVP's services.
However, as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports, there is one rather big dog lying in the weeds who could be looking to make an impact this offseason.
While several less-monied teams have been speculated as players for the superstar outfielder, some suggest to keep an eye on the Red Sox.
"Boston wants to do something big and it wouldn't shock me if they became players for Josh Hamilton,'' one competing GM said.
Unless the market for Hamilton never materializes and he is forced to take a short-term deal with a big average annual salary, the Red Sox don't make much sense considering they just dumped $260 million worth of long-term investments in August.
The Red Sox do need offense, and they will always have money to spend, but general manager Ben Cherington is smart enough to know when and how to properly use the resources at his disposal.
Zack Greinke to Benefit From Dodgers' Ability to Print Money?
Which Free Agent Will Sign First?
It is not a deep market for impact starting pitching, but Zack Greinke is easily the top pitcher available and, to me, the top overall player. He is just 29 years old, has thrown at least 200 innings in four of the last five seasons and has a Cy Young on his mantle.
That kind of resume is going to attract a lot of attention from some big-spending clubs. No team in baseball has been as willing to go above and beyond to land a player than the Los Angeles Dodgers, who Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports will go hard after Greinke.
According to an industry insider, the Dodgers are the favorites to wind up with top free agent starter Zack Greinke, with the Angels and Rangers on the outside looking in.
New ownership has been in place for less than a year, but we have already reached a point where if you hear the Dodgers are in on someone they should be the favorites to land him, because they are likely to do whatever it takes financially to make it happen.
That might come back to bite the Dodgers in the long run but it will generate a lot of buzz at the box office in the short term. Plus, a rotation with Clayton Kershaw and Greinke at the top looks really, really enticing.
B.J. Upton Lining Up National League East Suitors
It is a good time to be B.J. Upton. He is a 28-year-old center fielder with tools that few in the game can match. However, his production, particularly on defense and approach at the plate, and lack of determination on the field leaves a lot to be desired.
That doesn't mean teams won't sign up for upside. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Upton had a meeting with the Philadelphia Phillies last week.
Sources: #Phillies met with B.J. Upton earlier this week.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 16, 2012
If that's not enough, Braves general manager Frank Wren was on Sirius XM's MLB Radio Show on Sunday and said that the team is looking at Upton (h/t ESPN's Jim Bowden).
Frank Wren confirmed with us that Josh Hamilton is in their mix along with Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton as possible CF for next yr XM 89— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) November 18, 2012
Of those three teams, the Phillies make the most sense. They have a huge need for outfield help after trading Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence last season. Despite their early-season struggles in 2012, they are still a formidable contender in that division heading into next year.
The Nationals make a little sense because they need more offense from their outfielders in 2013. But I would still like to see them plug Bryce Harper in center field, where he played 715 innings in 2012 and saved 13 runs (per Fangraphs), and let him develop there, where is bat will be more valuable than in a corner spot.
The Braves have a glaring need with Michael Bourn hitting the market, but they don't have deep pockets to get in a bidding war. Upton is going to go where the money is, so the Braves strike me as a distant third in these sweepstakes.