The World Season has been in the books for a week—which means the Hot Stove season is upon us.
And unlike years past, the Stove is at full boil this winter—especially at third base.
After the 2003 season, Gary Sheffield and Vladimir Guerrero duked it out for dollars in right field. In 2007, the fight at the hot corner will be just as fierce.
Alex Rodriguez is obviously the best player on this list, but he may have priced himself out of most of the market.
The Yankees have told everyone who'll listen that they won't negotiate after Rodriguez opted out of his contract. The Red Sox could afford him, but I'm not sure they'll want to deal with the baggage—or A-Rod's knack for disappearing in the postseason.
Look for the Angels to take the prize here. They have a new general manager and an owner with money and a love for Latino stars. After their hitters disappeared in a first-round defeat to the Red Sox, the Angels will be looking for an upgrade over Chone Figgins and his .400 career slugging percentage.
While the Giants have money to spend and a superstar void to fill with the departure of Barry Bonds, San Fran is the new doorstop in the NL West. The Dodgers are bad too, even with Joe Torre—and I don't imagine that Rodriguez is looking to play for a loser.
Then again, he did sign with Texas once upon a time.
Then there's Mike Lowell. Lowell seems to be everything Rodriguez isn't: a team leader, a clutch hitter, and a dynamic fielder. And contrary to popular opinion, he's not a sure bet to re-sign with the Red Sox.
The Yankees will be pushing very hard for their former farmhand, and if they offer five years and $70 million as has been reported, the Sox have no chance.
Unlikely, perhaps—but certainly possible.
The last wrinkle in the third baseman class comes from Florida's Miguel Cabrera, who's eligible for arbitration and due for a boatload of money. Given the number of teams looking for bats and the Marlins' limited budget, it's very likely Cabrera will be traded.
There are two problems with Cabrera are his poor defensive skills and his bulging waste line. Whichever team trades for him will get a third baseman for 2008—but a glorified DH in the Cecil Fielder mold down the road.
The only question: Is Cabrera worth it?
The Marlins are going to ask for a fortune in prospects, and the fact that they don't HAVE to trade Cabrera means they might get it.
For Boston, all discussions will start with Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz. For New York, it'll be Phil Hughes and Phil Tabata.
It's unlikely either team would pull the trigger at that price.
Minnesota might be interested, and could offer 2008 free agent Johan Santana as part of a three-way deal. A team like the Dodgers (with a package led by Matt Kemp) could be involved, and of course the Sox and Yankees might be more willing to trade big prospects for a Cy Young winner than for a fat third baseman.
Whatever happens, it's shaping up to be a red-hot winter. Hold on for the ride...