As was the case in 2007, Bengie Molina once again stood alone atop a weak market for free-agent catchers before signing a three-year deal with the Giants. This time, he re-signed with the eventual World Series champs on a one-year, $4.5 million deal, but he finished the season on the runner-up Texas Rangers after he was traded there in July.
No one would've expected that Chone Figgins' days of being even an average big leaguer were behind him. If the Mariners would've know that, they wouldn't have given him a four-year, $36 million deal. But you couldn't blame them at the time, as Figgins had finished in the top 25 of AL MVP voting four times while posting a .755 OPS and averaging 44 stolen bases per season.
Adrian Beltre's value was down after a terrible final season in Seattle, forcing him to settle on a one-year deal with Boston. Orlando Hudson, Marco Scutaro and Miguel Tejada were solid options for the middle infield, while first baseman Adam LaRoche finished the season with a bang after being traded to Atlanta (.957 OPS, 12 HR in 57 games).
Matt Holliday was the top free agent available after an incredible two-month stint in St. Louis after they acquired him from Oakland. He remained on the market until January but returned to the Cards on a seven-year, $120 million deal.
Jason Bay (pictured), who was coming off of an MVP-caliber season in Boston, appeared to be a nice consolation prize for teams missing out on Holliday, but he was mostly a bust after signing a four-year, $66 million deal with the Mets.
Veterans Mike Cameron and Johnny Damon, entering their age 37 and 36 seasons, respectively, were still good values at this point in their careers, and Marlon Byrd, who had 20 homers, 43 doubles and 89 runs batted in for the Rangers in 2009, was set to cash in on a multiyear deal.
There was a huge drop-off from the previous season in this area. John Lackey was clearly the best starter available, and the Red Sox awarded him a five-year, $82.5 million deal. Lefty Randy Wolf was next in line, landing a three-year deal with the Brewers for close to $30 million.
The biggest story involving free-agent pitchers, however, was the Reds' signing of Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman, who could reportedly exceed 100 MPH regularly with his fastball. At the time, the thinking was that he'd be a starting pitcher. Four years later, he's one of the best closers in baseball, although there is still talk of him becoming a starter at some point.
Jose Valverde, who had 116 saves over the previous three seasons, landed a two-year, $14 million deal with the Tigers, while the Rays were able to land their next closer, Rafael Soriano, on a one-year, $7.25 million deal because he was not yet a household name in the ninth inning around the league.