The 2014 MLB offseason has begun, and it's time for teams across the league to part ways with some of their best stars who will be relocating to a new city during the upcoming winter months.
While this offseason's crop of free agents might not feature as much depth as the market has in recent years, the top players available this season are some of the best in the league. Guys like Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo are all exceptionally talented, though it remains to be seen whether or not they'll be switching teams by spring training.
Given the fact that the market isn't all that deep, the game's top free agents will have nearly all the leverage in negotiations. This will surely shrink the markets for each individual player, but it will also result in big paydays for them.
There will be somebody willing to give these guys money, though, and that will be the team that stocks up on talent this offseason. Don't be surprised if some of the game's best change teams as a result of larger offers from other organizations.
There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding Curtis Granderson this offseason, as it remains to be seen how much teams will be willing to pay for a perennial 40-home run, 180-strikeout hitter with declining skills in the outfield.
If one thing's for sure, though, it's that the New York Yankees likely won't be offering him a long-term contract. I mean, they did extend him a qualifying offer that he could very well accept in an effort to re-establish value in 2014, but don't expect to see him in New York beyond next season.
There are other teams that are likely willing to give him a multiyear contract this offseason, and Granderson would be foolish to turn them down to play one more year with the Yankees. A Chicago native, Granderson has already been contacted by the Chicago White Sox about a potential deal.
Even the Chicago Cubs could look to get in on the action, but don't expect them to enter a bidding war at this point in time. They aren't close enough to contending to handcuff themselves with a potentially volatile contract.
Granderson has also said he's open to signing with anybody, so expect him to have a plethora of suitors in the very near future.
I say the White Sox grab him, but don't be shocked if it's somebody else. It certainly won't be the Yankees, though.
Ellsbury is probably still off celebrating his team's 2013 World Series victory, but he has more pressing issues on the horizon. He's now a free agent for the first time in his career, and he has the tools to make him a valuable player to a lot of teams.
The Red Sox know the type of player the center fielder is at this point in his career, but that may actually give them a disadvantage in the negotiation process.
Ellsbury is now two full seasons removed from the year in which he produced 32 homers, 105 RBI and 39 steals. He's hasn't come close to matching those marks in the past two seasons, and not once before 2011 did he even show an inkling of being that type of player.
Unfortunately for Boston, he'll likely be given a contract this offseason indicative of his 2011 season.
Don't get me wrong here. Ellsbury is definitely worth a pretty penny. With that being said, he is not worth the type of money that would be given to a .300 hitter with that type of power. At best, Ellsbury is a 15-homer, 50-steal type of guy.
Boston will likely be priced out of the market early on this offseason, as agent Scott Boras will be looking to get every dollar he can for his client. There will be teams willing to meet Boras' demands, and I just don't see that being the Red Sox.
Perhaps a team like the Detroit Tigers or the Seattle Mariners would be willing to open the check book to sign him. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com says Seattle is interested, and it could be big players if that's indeed correct.
The Texas Rangers don't have a great chance of re-signing Matt Garza this offseason, and that's mostly because of the sheer volume of teams that will be involved.
The Washington Nationals, the Yankees, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are all big spenders that could use another starting pitcher, and that will make it difficult for Texas to keep up.
Despite an injury-filled past two seasons, Garza will be paid handsomely. Whether or not he deserves the big bucks because of his performance is also worth debating, as his career 3.84 ERA and 1.283 WHIP are hardly indicative of him being an ace.
Regardless, there will be at least one team willing to shell out $75 million or so over five years for him.
The pool of decent starting pitching this offseason is surprisingly strong, but that won't do much to alter Garza's market. He's one of the top three starters available and will be paid as such.
In the end, I see Garza leaving for either Washington or Philadelphia. Texas will be hard-pressed to allocate $75 million his way. It has other holes it needs to fill.