With Major League Baseball's spring training just around the corner, most teams are about done with their offseason shopping.
But for most clubs, that's just the first step—even once everyone has signed, there are still big decisions to be made about who will play and where.
Here's a look at each team's biggest position battle heading into Spring Training.
Assuming Xavier Nady winds up in left field, Juan Miranda and Brandon Allen will be left to duke it out for first base. Miranda has absolutely raked in the minors (.281/.367/.478 in 423 games), but his age (he turns 28 in April) disqualifies him from earning top prospect status like Allen.
Miranda is out of minor-league options and thus will likely get first crack at the job, but Allen should wrest the starting job away from him by August.
Jordan Schafer homered in his first-ever big-league at-bat in 2009, then got sent back to the minors and didn't appear in an MLB game in 2010. Nate McLouth hit 46 homers and stole 42 bases in 2008-9, but then completely tanked last year, hitting .190 with a horrific -1.3 WAR in just 85 games.
Unless one of them can rediscover their old games, the Braves are stuck between a rock and a hard place here.
Felix Pie cracked Baseball America's Top 100 prospect list five years in a row from 2003-7, but he's been unspectacular since reaching the Big Show four years ago. The leading candidate to be the O's' left fielder, Pie will have to hold off Nolan Reimold, who raised eyebrows as a rookie in 2009 (.279/.365/.466) but completely collapsed in 2010, hitting .207 with a .610 OPS.
Both players have potential, but Baltimore will be lucky to get much production from either of them in 2011.
Make no mistake, Marco Scutaro is the Red Sox' starting shortstop—for now. That could change this year, as Jed Lowrie (.287/.381/.526 in 55 games as a utility infielder in 2010) will start to see some significant playing time.
Unless there's an injury, it would take a big spring for Lowrie to crack the lineup by Opening Day, but he could carve out a starting spot for himself by season's end.
Chicago will waste $33 million Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano in 2011, and they'll get plenty of chances to give the Cubs a decent return on their investment. Still, 25-year-old Tyler Colvin is waiting in the wings, and in limited time last year he was better than Fukudome.
Colvin won't get much action out of the gate, but he could take a veteran's job by midseason.
Manager Ozzie Guillen has said that 23-year-old Brent Mortel has the edge at the hot corner, but Mark Teahen will get the opportunity to fight for his old job.
Unless, at age 29, Teahen is able to rediscover the promise that once made him a top prospect, it's hard to see him holding off Mortel.
Incumbent Jonny Gomes is the favorite for playing time in Cincinnati, even after his abysmal fielding (-16.2 UZR) made him a roughly replacement-level player last year. His main competitor and likely platoon partner Fred Lewis was mediocre in 110 games for the Blue Jays last year.
Unless one of the two has a breakout year, this won't be much of a battle.
Jayson Nix is the favorite to keep this spot warm for top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall—the question is why. Last year, Nix was below replacement level (-0.1 WAR) in 102 games.
The Tribe would be much better off with Jared Goedert, who blasted 27 homers in the high minors last year.
Newly imported Jose Lopez is the favorite to win this job, but only if he can prove that last season was a fluke; J-Lo hit just .239/.270.339 for the Mariners in 2010.
The highly touted speedster Eric Young Jr. is waiting in the wings, and Chris Nelson could get a chance after hitting 317/.379/.498 at Triple-A last year.
Billed as a potential Rookie of the Year candidate last year, Scott Sizemore struggled out of the gate and will now have to fight Will Rhymes to earn his place back.
No matter who comes out on top, they'll both end up on the bench once Carlos Guillen returns.
Highly touted prospect Matt Dominguez is the Marlins' long-term answer at the hot corner, but the 21-year-old might not be ready for the big leagues yet; using Jeff Sackmann's Minor-League Equivalency calculator, his 2010 Double-A numbers translate to a mediocre .230/.287/.337 slashline.
Florida will likely opt to give Dominguez some more time in the minors, but a hot spring could give him the edge over Emilio Bonifacio.
Former top prospect Brett Wallace was awful in his MLB debut last year, hitting .222/.296/.319 in 51 games for Houston.
The Astros would be fools to give up on Wallace based on that small sample size, but outfielder Jason Michaels could close him out of a starting job with a good spring by pushing Carlos Lee to first.
I have no idea how this situation will play out—I just know it will be bad. Incumbent Mitch Maier did a passable job last year, and the Royals didn't bring in Lorenzo Cain and Jeff Francoeur to ride the bench, so they're my picks to be the Opening Day starters.
That said, Kansas City has plenty of other mediocre options, like Melky Cabrera, Alex Gordon, and Gregor Blanco.
Mike Scioscia loves Jeff Mathis. Absolutely loves him. That's why Mathis, a career .199 hitter, has appeared in 246 games in the last three years—in 2008, when he hit .194, he got more playing time than Mike Napoli.
Napoli's gone now, but top prospect Hank Conger could force his way past Mathis on the depth chart.
Padres non-tender Tony Gwynn Jr. is probably the favorite here. His .204/.304/.287 slashline last year leaves a lot to be desired, but his great glove (32.9 UZR/150 last year) makes him a useful player.
His defense is especially important for a Dodgers team that will also feature outfield statues Andre Ethier (-19.7) and Matt Kemp (-25.6), so he'll likely hold off Jay Gibbons and Marcus Thames.
Don't expect much from Carlos Gomez, whose blazing speed goes to waste because of his inability to get on base (.293 career OBP).
Still, with Lorenzo Cain out of the picture, his only real competition is Chris Dickerson, who hit .206/.250/.268 last year.
Veterans Denard Span, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer will compete for playing time with former top prospect Delmon Young (coming off the first decent season of his career) in the Target Field big green.
Assuming Justin Morneau is healthy and Jim Thome can handle playing most days, someone's going to get edged out. It will probably be Cuddyer or Kubel, who combined for 0.7 WAR and -25.4 UZR in 2010.
With Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, and Angel Pagan on hand, the Mets' Opening Day outfield seems set. And yet, things could get complicated quickly—Bay and Beltran played poorly and struggled through injuries last year, and top prospect Fernando Martinez is waiting in the wings.
The veterans will get chances to redeem themselves, but F-Mart's presence means that the others are on a short leash.
Perhaps the most high-profile spring battle will be in the Yankees' rotation. After missing out on Cliff Lee and losing Andy Pettitte, the Bombers will send youngsters Joba Chamberlain, Ivan Nova, and Sergio Mitre out to compete with old veterans Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon for the final two starting spots.
And that's assuming New York doesn't trade for someone else or lose a pitcher to injury.
The A's have a very talented outfield with Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, and Josh Willingham, but all have health or durability issues. Moreover, Ryan Sweeney will try to reclaim his starting job, and top prospect Chris Carter is going to find playing time somewhere.
With Hideki Matsui at DH, Oakland simply doesn't have room to accommodate everyone.
Yes, Brad Lidge is the Phillies' incumbent relief ace, but Ryan Madson is better.Over the last two seasons, Madson has a 2.97 ERA and a 4.1 K/BB ratio, while Lidge has a 5.35 ERA and 1.4 K/BB.
Look for Madson to usurp Lidge's role in 2011.
The Pirates' ninth-inning job won't be a gold mine of save opportunities, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
Between Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek, Hanrahan will likely pitch better thanks to his advantage in 2010 tERA (2.69 to 3.38)—the best predictor of future ERA for relievers.
With Adrian Gonzalez moving to Fenway Park, the Padres have a huge hole at first base. Brad Hawpe will get first crack at the job, but after hitting .245 last season, he might not be able to keep it.
Jorge Cantu, also trying to revive his career after a poor 2010 (.256/.304/.392), will Hawpe's main challenger.
Pat Burrell is the presumptive starter here after helping the Giants down the stretch in their 2010 championship run (.266/.364/.509), but his miserable performance with the Rays in the previous year-and-a-half (.218/.311/.361) suggests he's in for some major regression. He'll have to fend off Aaron Rowand and Mark DeRosa for playing time.
And if first base prospect Brandon Belt plays well, Aubrey Huff will usurp the left field job.
Top prospect Michael Saunders will have to compete with veterans Jack Cust and Milton Bradley for the two available spots. If he can't handle second base, you can throw Dustin Ackley into the mix as well.
Saunders and Cust will probably open the season in left and at DH, respectively, but that could change quickly.
David Freese is the presumptive starter here, but his injuries last year and his inexperience (he's almost 28, but he's played only 87 MLB games) have given the Cardinals pause.
Newly signed Nick Punto could see significant playing time if Freese falters.
Desmond Jennings has been groomed to be the next Carl Crawford, and after he signed with the Boston Red Sox, he was expected to be his replacement. That's no longer the plan (at least, not immediately) now that the Rays have Johnny Damon in the fold.
Jennings is likely to get called up to fight for a job midseason, but it would take a big spring for him to usurp Damon on the depth chart by Opening Day.
With Justin Smoak now gone, Mitch Moreland and Chris Davis are left to duke it out for the first base job in Texas.
With presumptive DH Michael Young demanding a trade and uncertainty of where Mike Napoli will play, there's no telling how this lineup will look on Opening Day.
Octavio Dotel was the favorite to close in Toronto before Jon Rauch arrived. Now, with Frank Francisco in the fold as well, the job is up in the air.
Dotel has the most experience closing, but Rauch put up the best numbers last year, and the Blue Jays wouldn't have dealt Mike Napoli for Francisco if they didn't have a plan for him. This will be an interesting situation to watch.
Roger Bernadina is the favorite here after appearing in 134 games last year, but the signing of Rick Ankiel and rumors about trading for Grady Sizemore suggest a lack of confidence in his ability to be a productive hitter (.246/.307/.384 last year). Mike Morse is a better option, and he's a good candidate to be 2011's Jose Bautista.