Now that the 2010 MLB season is over and the San Francisco Giants emerged as the world champs, we now move into that time of year that fans so affectionately refer to as the Hot Stove. There are plenty of big names on the free agent market and plenty of teams with holes to fill.
Will Cliff Lee pitch in pinstripes next season? How much money will Jayson Werth command and who's going to give it to him? Will the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim snatch up all the big names available after a disappointing season?
There are plenty of big questions and the free agent signing period has barely begun, but there have been a few moves and positioning from teams looking to make a change for the 2011 season. Let's take a look.
Cliff Lee, SP (Regular Season: 12-9, 3.18 ERA, 185 SO. Postseason: 3-2, 2.78 ERA 47 SO)
Cliff Lee picked a great time to pitch well in the postseason, as he is definitely the most coveted free agent on the market. And like most highly coveted free agents, the New York Yankees have their eye on him. It was no secret during both the regular season and postseason that the Yankees were going to make an offer for Lee's services.
Sunday was the first day of the free agent signing period and the Yankees contacted Lee's agent on the very first day, according to The Associated Press. The Yankees have plenty on their plates already. They have to negotiate the contracts of their own free agents, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, but are most definitely going after Lee hard.
Lee is expected to command a contract of four to six years and around $100 million. We'll have to wait and see how much time and money the Yankees are willing to commit to Lee.
Jayson Werth, OF (Regular Season: .296 27 HR 85 RBI .388 OBP/Postseason: .200 2 HR 6 RBI)
Most people waffle between whether Werth or Carl Crawford is the best free agent outfielder available. Werth is best known as a gritty, all-or-nothing type of player, whereas Crawford is a slick-fielding, defensive specialist. Werth will give a team more with his bat and has a solid arm in right field.
Werth is reportedly on the radar of the Boston Red Sox, who have already contacted Werth's agent, Scott Boras. Having Boras for an agent could make negotiating with Werth expensive and difficult and the Red Sox most likely have their eye on Crawford also.
The Red Sox were hampered by injuries to their outfield during the regular season and will look to add some durability in players like Jayson Werth.
Aubrey Huff, 1B (Regular Season: .290, 26 HR, 86 RBI. Postseason: .268, 1 HR, 8 RBI)
The San Fransisco Giants will look to resign their big first baseman for the 2011 season and beyond. Huff was a risky pickup entering the 2010 season but went on to lead the Giants in all three Triple Crown categories. He's still relatively young, 33, and the Giants have plenty of questions to answer in the offseason, but resigning Huff has to be a no brainer.
The Giants have already reached out to Huff's agent, but they may also give it a little time to let their world championship sink in before they make an offer. One thing is for sure, Giants fans want Huff back.
Adrian Beltre, 3B (Regular Season: .321, 28 HR, 102 RBI)
Beltre had a monster season for the Boston Red Sox but declined his $10 million mutual option for 2011 and will test free agency. Beltre should get a good multi-year contract from whoever signs him. He played a solid third base to go along with his big offensive numbers.
The Angels are possibly the frontrunner to sign Beltre, and also shouldn't be counted out of signing other big free agents like Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford; they may even try to wet their beak on the Cliff Lee talks. So far there hasn't been any news regarding Beltre as far as teams that have inquired about his services, but I'd expect the Angels to make the biggest push.
Adam Dunn, 1B/OF (Regular Season: .260, 38 HR, 103 RBI)
Dunn is a model of consistency. He's almost guaranteed to give any team 35-40 home runs and 100-105 RBI each season. Dunn is coming off a two-year, $20 million contract with the Washington Nationals. The Nats have made it clear that they'd like to resign their big slugger and Dunn has also expressed interest in staying in Washington.
Dunn isn't a very solid defenseman, having committed 13 errors at first base last season. The Chicago Cubs are likely to make a push to sign Dunn, wanting a big offensive slugger to stick into the middle of their lineup, something they didn't really having during the regular season.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B (Regular Season: .298, 31 HR, 101 RBI, .511 SLG)
Gonzalez exercised his $5.5 million option for 2011 with the San Diego Padres, so he is not a free agent. But he will will most definitely test free agency at the conclusion of the 2011 season, so will the Padres look to move Gonzalez knowing they wont be able to resign him?
Gonzalez has been one of the most underpaid and underrated players in baseball. He has languished in San Diego as the best hitter in the lineup. With almost no protection around him, Gonzalez still manages to average 32 HR and 99 RBI per 162 games over his career.
There are going to be a ton of teams looking to make a deal for Gonzalez during the Winter Meetings, but the Padres are going to ask a lot in exchange for their All-Star first baseman. If the Padres do make a deal for Gonzalez, the team who acquires him will hopefully also be a team who would be able to sign him long term. Gonzalez could very well ask for Ryan Howard (five years, $125 million) or Mark Teixeira (eight years, $180 million) money as a free agent.
The Hot Stove is going to heat up over the next few weeks heading into the Winter Meetings. Plenty of teams have holes to fill and big expectations entering the 2011 season. We'll have to wait to see what names pop up on team's radar as the weeks go on.
Have any free agents you want to see your team pursue? Leave them in the comments section.