Now that the Winter Meetings are over and Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth have signed mammoth contracts, what's next? What other impact free-agents are still out there?
It looks more likely this winter that there will be significant player movement via trade. In this economic climate it makes sense for smaller market teams to trade players who are looking at large salary increases in the near future in exchange for younger players that they can control for a significant amount of time.
Let's take a look at 15 of the various rumors still circulating and see if they have any juice behind them.
Michael Young is good, real good, and has been for quite some time.During his time with the Rangers, he has been an All-Star and probably their most consistent and versatile player.
So why in the world would the Rangers be willing to trade him? Apparently they are looking at that possibility with future deals in mind.
That vagueness of purpose by the Rangers leads me to believe Young won't be going anywhere.
There has been talk about the possibility that one or more of the Mets' "Big Three" could be available via trade. Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran make up the triumvirate.
Jose Reyes has been assured by Mets' G.M. Sandy Alderson that he wouldn't be traded. Reyes himself said, "I've repeated many times that I don't want to leave the Mets, since I feel very comfortable here." I don't see him going anywhere.
As far as David Wright goes, Alderson would be crucified in New York if he traded Wright. He is a fan favorite and perennial All-Star. You rarely trade guys like that except in blockbuster deals. It's not happening.
There had been some talk that the Red Sox had some interest in Beltran. Any interest they may have had, was extinguished the minute they signed Carl Crawford. If someone is willing to take Beltran, the Mets would probably have to swallow a significant portion of his salary. According to Beltran's agent Scott Boras, Beltran plans to be a Met this season.
The Red Sox and Cubs got their men trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing Carlos Pena respectively. There are still numerous teams that are looking for a first baseman.
Reportedly the Nationals and Orioles are in on Adam Laroche while the Diamondbacks have strong interest in Jorge Cantu. It seems the market has been very slow on Derrick Lee as well as Prince Fielder.
Once Laroche signs, the market will tighten up and there will be some stiff competition for what's left. Guys like Lyle Overbay, Troy Glaus and Brad Hawpe could be decent consolation prizes.
I believe La Roche will sign with the Nationals, Overbay with the Orioles, Glaus with Toronto and Derrick Lee with Arizona.
You may have noticed that a solid group of designated hitters remain on the market. It seems that teams are waiting to see what happens with position players first before sinking any serious coin into a DH.
The list includes Vladimir Guerrero, Hideki Matsui, Jim Thome, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez, Brad Hawpe, Troy Glaus and the incomparable Manny Ramirez. Some of these guys can probably still play in the field, but being a designated hitter may keep them healthier long-term.
Guerrero is likely to be the most marketable even after his World Series meltdown. After he signs, the rest is a crap shoot. It's a good bet Thome will stay with the Twins, and that's about it.
I don't expect many of these guys to sign soon. Teams will take a look at what they have left down the line and see what sticks. It may be a long winter for some of these guys.
Brandon Webb hasn't pitched in almost two years, so many clubs have serious concerns. There are a few, including the Nationals and Cubs, that have shown considerable interest.
Both, however, will put him on the back burner until some of the other available pitchers have signed or are traded. In that case, another team may be able to swoop in before all the rest of that gets sorted out.
It's highly likely that Webb will sign a one-year deal loaded with incentives. And it would make sense for a team in a smaller ballpark to sign him to best utilize his nasty sinker.
The Cubs have him at the top of their list, and I expect them to go hard after him. It would definitely be a low risk, high reward situation for them.
Rarely do you see two brothers presumably on the trading block at the same time. Well that seems to be the case for B.J. and Justin Upton.
A number of teams including the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Mariners and Marlins expressed a lot of interest in Justin Upton during MLB's General Manager meetings. Since then interest has cooled, and the Diamondbacks may have decided to find other ways to fill their needs.
While there had been a lot of talk of the availability of B.J. Upton, currently the Rays don't seem all that motivated to move him. It's possible those talks may heat up again in the near future amongst those teams that lost out on Jason Werth and Carl Crawford.
I expect B.J. to have a new home by Spring Training, but I think Justin will being staying put...for now.
Carlos Gonzalez was brilliant in 2010 just missing out on the N.L. MVP award and the Triple Crown.
The Rockies just signed SS Troy Tulowitzki to a mammoth 7-year $134.5 million deal. Rockies owner Dick Monfort would like to lock up Carlos Gonzalez to a long term deal as well.
Scott Boras is Gonzalez's agent and strongly prefers to have his clients hit free agency rather than sign a long term extension at an early stage in their career. Boras said, "And if the prospect of that is something that Carlos wants to pursue and it's something that he thinks is economically suitable for him, we would look into it."
While this scenario seems to be a long shot, Gonzalez has talked about a 10 year contract and the inclusion of a full no-trade clause in any deal. Maybe there's something to this after all.
Rockies G.M. Dan O'Dowd has said there will be no further negotiations once Spring Training starts. Stay tuned this winter.
Edgar Renteria is a hero to pretty much everyone in San Francisco and rightly so. His World Series performance was amazing.
What happens now? There has been speculation that he may retire. Reportedly he has said he would like to end his career in Florida or St. Louis. The questions he has to ask himself are, "Do they want me and is there a place for me there?" I believe the only way either team would want him is as a utility guy. And his salary would be a fraction of what he made in 2010.
I say retire and go out on the highest note anyone could possibly imagine. Don't hang around just to be in a uniform. I have always found that somewhat pathetic when athletes do that. You're a class act. Don't be one of THOSE guys.
The Dodgers non-tendered a 27 year-old former All-Star catcher named Russell Martin. Say What? In a move that shocked many, the Dodgers jettisoned Martin and got nothing in return.
Luckily for Martin there has been no shortage of potential suitors. It has been reported that the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and a mystery team have shown a lot of interest. Toronto has already traded for a Canadian native (Brett Lawrie),from the Brewers, so if that's a consideration Toronto makes sense.
Both the Red Sox and Yankees have had strong interest, but with their spending spree, Boston may be out of the running. Then there is the fact that they just re-signed Jason Varitek presumably for a back-up role. The Yankees are a much stronger possibility.
In the end I believe Martin will move back north of the border. Wouldn't you? Don't answer that.
Dominating, overpowering, wicked, brilliant and just plain sick. Those are a few ways to describe the season Rafael Soriano put up for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010.
His previous deal has afforded Soriano the chance to put himself out there on the open market. The problem these days is that teams don't value established closers as much as they used to. Closers are often found in former starting pitchers and sometimes figuratively out of left field.
There are a few teams that may be willing to make an exception. Much of the interest in Soriano centers around the Angels. The rest of the market doesn't seem to have materialized quite yet with Bobby Jenks, Kevin Gregg, Brian Fuentes and Kerry Wood still looking for work.
In the end I think the Angels will lock him up and hope he turns into the next K-Rod.
Adrian Beltre is either really good or just mediocre. He is really good in contract years and mediocre in others. So, are you willing to throw gobs of money at him, or do you plan to be cautious, let him wait and try to get him at a discount?
The A's made a pretty good offer at 5 years at $64 million, but Beltre quickly shot it down. Since then, interest in him has slowed considerably. Maybe that's because everyone's attention has been focused on Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee. But then again, maybe not.
It appears the two most interested parties are the Angels and Rangers. The Rangers would have to move Michael Young to entertain signing Beltre, and that seems to become less likely each day.
Beltre's ship may have sailed with the rejection of the A's offer. He would be lucky if the A's let him reconsider.
You may have heard it all before. Prince Fielder is a free-agent at the end of the 2011 season, and we all know that his Godzilla of an agent, Scott Boras, will be asking for the moon AND the stars.
While the Brewers have said they are not actively shopping him, I have to believe they are not just sitting on their hands either. Recently there was a rumor about Fielder going to the Dodgers for James Loney and Jonathan Broxton. That rumor was quickly debunked.
At present there are no solid rumors even though some teams including the Dodgers, Orioles and Rangers have all shown some level of interest. I don't see Prince leaving Milwaukee until he becomes a free agent especially if the Brewers are able to somehow land Zach Greinke or Matt Garza.
Doug Melvin probably waited too long, and he can watch Prince sign on to be the Yankees' DH in 2012.
That title is a song from the 1980's isn't it? Well I guess that's appropriate. Matt Garza was born in 1983. Garza has emerged as a hottest commodity on the trade front even ahead of Zach Greinke due to his current affordability.
His name has come up prominently in talks with the Cubs, Rangers and Brewers. He is quite attractive to many smaller market clubs. They can afford him now and he is under team control for several more years. Garza cannot become a free-agent before 2014.
He is durable and more than held his own in he nasty A.L. East. Not to mention the no-hitter he threw this past season against the Tigers.
A nice package of prospects could land him. I'm hearing the front runners are the Cubs. They just signed Carlos Pena, so they are obviously not all that bright. The Rangers may be in line for a nice pick up.
Zach Greinke will have to wait his turn until Cliff Lee makes his monumental decision. I can only imagine how often he checks the wire to see when Lee is officially off the market.
Greinke is an interesting case and in my mind may even be a better investment than Cliff Lee. No one can ignore his talent and dominating stuff. Don't forget he is only 27 and has more tread left on his tires than Lee. Greinke also has one of those awards really good pitchers get I think.
Seriously though, a lot of teams will make a run at him after the Cliff Lee saga ends. That includes the teams that lose out on Lee such as the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers as well as the Nationals, Angels, Jays and Brewers. Just remember Greinke has a no-trade. I'm interested to see who might be on it
Obviously the Royals will be asking for quite a package and rightly so. They are reportedly looking for help "up the middle" at SS, 2B and CF as well as high level pitching prospects. I can't imagine a G.M. scoffing at many of the offers the Royals could throw out. How often do you have a chance to get a legitimate #1 starter on your team? Please remember prospects are just that. This guy is the real deal.
I have a feeling he may just end up in a Brewers' uniform.
I can almost hear that Jeopardy! countdown music as everyone and their mother waits for Cliff Lee to make his decision. Once he actually makes up his mind, the rest of the dominoes can start falling into place.
And then there were two. It appears to be a showdown between the Yankees and Rangers. The odds are the Yankees will be right there in playoff contention again this year and might be able to pay more. So they have that going for them.
On the other hand Lee put the Rangers on his back and carried them all the way to the World Series in 2010. Does Lee want to start fresh or does he want to finish what he started in Texas? That is the enormously lucrative question he will be answering very very soon.
If I were a betting man, I'd say the Rangers get their man.