Every professional baseball player acquisition comes with a certain amount of risk. Those players who are coming off of productive seasons on the field may be overpriced, especially on the free-agent market.
Take current free agent Carlos Ruiz, for example.
The Philadelphia Phillies catcher missed the first 25 games while serving a suspension for amphetamine use, then went on to have one of his worst seasons at the plate (.688 OPS). And he reportedly has a $20 million offer on the table for his age-35 and -36 seasons—at least that's the rumor his agent is spreading (via Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports).
Sure, there's a ton of risk in making that kind of deal. He very well could be on the decline. But if $10 million per season isn't going to deplete a particular team's payroll space, there could be plenty of value in signing a veteran backstop with strong defensive skills and a reputation as a clutch hitter who is one season removed from a career year at the plate (.935 OPS, 16 home runs in 2012).
Now, turn your focus to the top free agents and trade targets, and you can multiply the pros and cons of Carlos Ruiz by at least 10. There is a huge risk because of the cost—either dollars, trade return or both—but there is also the potential for a big reward.
Here are the top 25 offseason targets, along with the pros and cons that would come with their acquisition.