Although the hot stove has yet to be taken out of the cabinet, that hasn't stopped the rumors from coming in hard and fast.
Most of the speculation centers on qualifying offers to prospective free agents. Per MLB.com's Jason Mastrodonato, those players have until Nov. 11 to accept a one-year, $14.1 million contract from their team. Should they decline the offer, they hit the open market, and their former team will receive a first-round compensatory pick.
That's led to much discussion in baseball circles about which, if any, players will accept the offer, and what could happen as a result. The outcome of those decisions could send ripples throughout MLB this offseason, as evidenced by the rumors surrounding these three players.
Even at 36 years old, Carlos Beltran remains a productive player in the lineup. He hit 24 home runs and drove in 84 runs last season to go along with a .296 batting average in 2013. He also drove in 15 runs and hit .268 in the postseason. It's amazing that he's remained so good for so long.
The Cardinals already gave him the $14.1-million qualifying offer, per The Associated Press (via ESPN.com). But Cards manager Mike Matheny has admitted that there are other teams looking to sign the veteran outfielder, via ESPN's Jim Bowden.
Mike Matheny told us on Carlos Beltran, "There's already been an offer that's been put out there. Going to be a tough call for Carlos" #SXM— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) November 5, 2013
It will be a tough decision for both Beltran and St. Louis.
Although he's been very good over the past two years, you don't want to make a big financial commitment to player who's already into his mid-30s. From the player's perspective, you may want the security that comes with a multiyear deal and test your value on the open market.
Ervin Santana was one of the biggest names bounced around during the trade deadline. Since the Kansas City Royals were still pushing for a playoff spot, they ended up holding on to him. Now, he's likely going to leave anyway, and Kansas City was without postseason baseball.
The team has made the qualifying offer to Santana, via MLB.com's Dick Kaegel. At least when he denies the offer—which he almost certainly will—the Royals will get that draft pick as compensation.
Kansas City may still see plenty of Santana in 2014. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reported that the Minnesota Twins have made it known they're interested in the pitcher's services.
As expected (because they tried to trade for him last November): told the #MNTwins have formally expressed interest in FA Ervin Santana.— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) November 5, 2013
Minnesota had one of the worst starting rotations in the league last year, so it makes sense that it would be in for one of the best pitchers on the market. Santana would easily become the ace of the staff upon his arrival.
The only question is whether the Twins would be willing to pony up the dough.
The New York Yankees already have the contingency plan in place should they lose Robinson Cano. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported that the team has discussed trading for Brandon Phillips of the Cincinnati Reds:
Phillips is said to be available in the right trade, but word is, the initial price is way too steep. Of course, that's the way the Yankees look at Cano's $300 million asking price, as well.
Phillips batted .261 with 103 RBI for the Reds, but is on the market after a couple incidents -- one where he complained in a Cincinnati magazine article about how ownership handled his negoitations and another where he went ballistic on a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter after the reporter, Trent Rosecrans, formerly of CBSSports.com, tweeted about Phillips' low on-base percentage.
Phillips has $50 million and four years on that $72.5 million, six-year contract he signed despite what he suggested were rocky negotiations.
Phillips is coming off one of the worst seasons of his 12-year career. The veteran second baseman did drive in 103 runs, but his stolen bases (five), batting average (.261), slugging percentage (.396) and on-base percentage (.310) were the lowest totals since his trade to Cincinnati.
There's also the contract dilemma. Do you want to pay another $50 million to a 32-year-old second baseman who's starting to show signs of decline?
Phillips can remain a productive player, but the combination of his price tag and contract may be too much for even the Yankees to make a move, should they fail to sign Cano.