It's almost here.
In just about two weeks, cities and small towns across Florida and Arizona will be invaded by baseball players honing their crafts and getting back into shape for the six-month, 162-game grind ahead.
But before pitchers and catchers report, there are still players looking for work and trying to land with a team. And sometimes the bargains found in late January into February turn out to be some of the biggest steals of the free-agent market.
Out of the notable players still looking for work, these are the best who can still make a contribution to whatever team they sign with or possibly make the team out of camp. So without further ado, here are the 20 best available free agents.
2010 Stats: 1-3, 6.13 ERA
Maine had a frustrating year with the Mets, which was unusual for him considering he was one of the Mets' more reliable starters during his time in New York. Now he's looking for work and could be an option for a team perhaps looking for rotation depth or a cheap fifth starter.
2010 Stats: 64 games, 4-1, 3.80 ERA
For all the times he was criticized, Durbin was still one of the more reliable pitchers in the Phillies bullpen over the last three seasons. He could very well return to Philadelphia, but whoever does pick him up will get a versatile pitcher who can be a reliever or a spot starter and just do enough to be effective.
2010 Stats: 24 G, 98 AB, .167 AVG, 2 HR, 8 RBI
The usually reliable and healthy Johnson broke down last year, limiting him to just 24 games, although he wasn't effective before that either. He's still a career .270 hitter who gets on base and does enough to warrant a look in camp. He's not a power guy, but he does get on base, which is why he still gets looks as a No. 2 hitter.
2010 Stats: 109 G, 359 AB, .239 AVG, 8 HR, 31 RBI
Kotsay's not an everyday player at this point in his career, but he is a useful bat. Perhaps he can be a platoon DH situation or a left-handed bat with some pop off the bench for a National League team. However, his age and inability to play the outfield might limit his options.
2010 Stats: 93 G, 264 AB, .249 AVG, 20 RBI
There's nothing spectacular about Lugo (average bat, a little pop, OK defense), but he's one of those guys who always seems to find work. Lugo will need to earn his way onto an Opening Day roster, but his adequate defense and decent bat will have at least one team give him a look.
2009 Stats: 141 G, 574 AB, .250 AVG, 27 HR, 81 RBI
Dye didn't play at all, and despite being 37 years old, he still had a solid bat in his last season. He's probably a DH or at best a fourth outfielder or a power bat off the bench, but he can still be effective if his power hasn't slipped off from 2009.
2010 Stats: 86 G, 272 AB, .276 AVG, 11 HR, 23 RBI
He's not the Gold Glove center fielder who made the plays that made everyone shake their heads in disbelief, but he's still a nice bat in the right situation like he was in Milwaukee. According to reports, Edmonds is contemplating retirement, but if he still wants to play someone will look at him.
2010 Stats: 148 G, 576 AB, .258 AVG, 19 HR, 77 RBI
Guillen has had character issues in the past, but he has always gotten work on his bat and his rocket arm. Guillen's power numbers were sapped somewhat by playing in two pitcher's parks in Kansas City and San Francisco, but there are a bunch of teams that would willingly take that stat line for the right price.
2010 Stats: 1-4, 7.51 ERA
Davis endured a rough 2010 season in which he was riddled with injuries. He's not a No. 1, nor has he ever been. But he can be a guy to add depth to the rotation and would be a decent back-end-of-the-rotation pitcher, despite the rough season last year.
2010 Stats: 116 G, 492 AB, .267 AVG, 1 HR, 29 RBI
Eckstein gets by on his grit and his hustle, but he's starting to slow down and the weaknesses he had for a lot of his career are starting to become glaring now. He's still a decent hitter and someone will pay for him to bat near the top of the lineup and get on base.
2010 Stats: 104 G, 396 AB, .266 AVG, 2 HR, 26 RBI
Guzman was never known for his defense, but rather his ability to get on base and create havoc with his speed once he was on base. His average is still pretty good, but he's probably more of a bottom-of-the-lineup hitter now who can add speed and an extra-base threat.
2010 Stats: 4-16, 5.10 ERA
Millwood is not as bad as the record indicated last year, but he wasn't outstanding either. A lot of times, it was the result of being around a bad Orioles team for most of the year. He's not an ace, but he'd be a serviceable pitcher on a young staff or another depth move for a good team.
2010 Stats: 123 G, 537 AB, .263 AVG, 4 HR, 42 RBI
Like Lugo, Cabrera's bat sometimes covered up for his defensive struggles, but even that is starting to slip now. The time of him being an automatic everyday shortstop might be starting to pass him by, but his bat and decent defense will be enough for some team to bring him in.
2010 Stats: 137 G, 429 AB, .218 AVG, 5 HR, 40 RBI
Feliz had maybe the worst season of his career, even struggling defensively where he's been pretty solid. But he's still a decent bat and a pretty strong defensive third baseman, although he's probably not a starter at this point, but perhaps more of a utility player.
2010 Stats: 12-6, 4.64 ERA
Garcia has had to shake off the injury-prone label in recent years, but he put together a nice year last year. The 157 innings was the most Garcia had thrown since 2006, and he's shown an interest in going to the Yankees. Looking at the Yankees' rotation, they could use him.
2010 Stats: 118 G, 416 AB, .249 AVG, 5 HR, 36 RBI
Molina is not a middle-of-the-lineup hitter and he never was. The Giants were fooling themselves to think he was the heart of the offense. But he's still a very good defensive catcher who knows how to handle a pitching staff and groom pitchers, so he does have a good amount of worth.
2010 Stats: 134 G, 595 AB, .297 AVG, 6 HR, 51 RBI
Podsednik continues to put together a nice career for himself, having one of his better offensive seasons with his .297 average last season. He'll be a great find for whoever will pick him up, and even if the bat struggles this year, he still has that blazing speed that stole 35 bases last year.
2010 Stats: 128 G, 483 AB, .270 AVG, 27 HR, 99 RBI
Glaus was great for the Braves for the first couple of months, but really tapered off at the end of the season. That led to a lack of interest and eventually news from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal that Glaus is considering retirement. If someone does sign him, they'd be getting a good bat with some power left but very limited defense.
2010 Stats: 11-3, 3.28 ERA
We all know that if Pettitte comes back, he won't be anything else except a Yankee. But that's not the question anymore. The question will be whether he comes back at all. The Yankees would definitely need him back considering the state of that rotation.
2010 Stats: 152 G, 643 AB, .300 AVG, 29 HR, 115 RBI
Guerrero had a renaissance last year in Texas, posting some of the best numbers he's had in a while. But he also struggled mightily in the field during the World Series, which limited his appeal. He's probably looking at a DH spot, although where that will be still remains to be seen. If he wanted to be a platoon player in the National League, that's an option too.