Less than two weeks into the 2011 Major League Baseball regular season, we will take a look at which players may be in different uniforms before the start of next season.
Several big-name players are set to become free agents after the season, while many others have an option for next season.
Whether a team is searching for a power-hitting first baseman, a veteran starting pitcher, a closer or talent elsewhere, it should have plenty of options to choose from before next season.
We did not include CC Sabathia, Robinson Cano or Brandon Phillips on this list, simply because each of those three players has options for next season with a great team in the eight-figure range, and is therefore unlikely to switch teams any time soon. Nor did we include Adrian Gonzalez, who the Red Sox have waited to resign in order to avoid a luxury tax.
Here are the top 20 free-agents-to-be in the fall.
Capps had an excellent 2010 season, earning his first All-Star appearance with Washington before being traded to Minnesota.
Overall, the big right-hander saved 42 games in 48 chances last season with an impressive ERA of 2.47. However, Minnesota may not be in the market to re-sign him with closer Joe Nathan back from Tommy John surgery.
Nathan has been one of the very best closers in the game over the past seven years, so don't expect Capps to close for the Twins any time soon.
While Capps could be a great setup man for the Twins in future years, Minnesota is unlikely to pay the necessary eight figures per season that it will likely cost for the team to keep the young fire-thrower.
Lidge is one of the top closers in the game when healthy, but he may find himself in a different uniform next season.
Throughout his nine-year career, Lidge has saved 222 games and has struck out nearly 12 batters per nine innings.
A crucial part of the 2008 Phillies World Series-winning team, Lidge has a $12.5 million club option for next season with a $1.5 million buyout.
Philadelphia may be reluctant to sign Lidge, considering that he will be 35 years old at the start of next season and currently has a strained rotator cuff that is expected to keep him out for much of 2011.
Teams in need of a closer should try to obtain Lidge while they have the opportunity.
Wilson spent the early part of his career in the bullpen, but he embraced the starting-pitching role last season and will find himself to be one of the better pitchers on the market.
Last season, Wilson was a big part of the Rangers team that went to the World Series. He was 15-8 for Texas during the regular season with a 3.35 ERA, despite pitching half of his games in the hitter-friendly Ballpark in Arlington.
After a fantastic 2010 season, Wilson, who will be 31 years old next season, must make a good impression in 2011 in order to show the league that he is not just a one-year wonder.
Buehrle has been a fan favorite in Chicago for a number of years, but don't be surprised to see him in a different uniform next season.
One of the most consistent players around, Buehrle has pitched at least 200 innings and has won 10 or more games in each of the last 10 seasons.
He has a $15 million player option for next season, but he has made it clear that he is willing to leave Chicago for the first time in order to play for a contender.
Buehrle, who has never been placed on the DL, will be 33 years old at the start of next season and could make a big impact for a new team.
Molina is just a .267 lifetime hitter with a career OPS of .686, but he figures to draw a lot of interest this offseason.
If you take away Joe Mauer, Brian McCann and Victor Martinez, there are very few major-league catchers that are more reliable on a year-to-year basis than Molina.
A two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner, Molina has a $7 million team option for next season that should be picked up by St. Louis. However, the St. Louis organization seems very unpredictable at this point with so many Cardinal players set to become free agents during the fall.
More on that later.
Ortiz was one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball from 2003–2007, and he could become a free agent this fall for the first time since his days in Minnesota.
He will be 36 years old at the start of next season, but he showed in 2010 that he can still be an intimidating force in the lineup, as evidenced by his 32 home runs and 14 intentional walks.
Because he was a fan favorite in Boston for many years, don't be surprised if the Red Sox re-sign the six-time All-Star, even if they overpay him in the process.
Guerrero quietly signed a one-year, $8 million deal with Baltimore this past offseason, and he is set to be a free agent in the fall.
Since 1997, Guerrero has hit at least .295 in every season, and he has truly been one of the better hitters in all of baseball throughout that span. He is currently fifth among active hitters with a .319 batting average, as well as a .562 slugging percentage.
After a series of injuries in 2009, including a torn chest muscle and multiple leg injuries, it was unclear how much Guerrero had left in the tank heading into last season. However, he had a bounce-back year in 2010 for Texas, hitting .300 with 29 home runs and 115 RBI.
Guerrero will be 37 years old at the start of next season, and if he doesn't get traded by the July 31st deadline, he will undoubtedly draw a lot of interest around the league this fall.
Beltran is in the last year of a seven-year $119 million deal, and the New York Mets have to be thrilled about that.
A true five-tool player for a number of years, Beltran was a bit of a bust in New York, in big part due to a knee injury that he suffered in the middle of the 2009 season. However, he still drove in over 100 runs in three different seasons with New York, and was a large part of the 2006 Mets team that won 97 regular-season games.
Now fully healthy once again, Beltran, who will be 34 years old at the start of next season, will need to make a good impression in 2011 in order to prove that he can still be a valuable asset to a team.
As recently as the start of the 2009 season, Sizemore was widely regarded as one of the most talented young players in all of baseball.
An outfielder with both power and speed, Sizemore was an All-Star every year from 2006–2008 and appeared to be a player very much on the rise. However, an elbow injury sidelined Sizemore for much of the 2009 season before a knee injury kept him out for nearly all of last season.
Sizemore is expected to return to the Indians lineup within the next several weeks and is under a lot of pressure this season to perform well. He will be 29 years old at the start of next season and could potentially sign a long-term deal if he shows that he is still the great talent that he once was earlier in his career.
While he has an $8.5 million team option with a $500,000 buyout, it is doubtful that Cleveland will re-sign him at this point.
Bell saved just two games in his career prior to turning 31 years old, but he has quickly become one of the better closers in all of baseball.
He has saved 89 games in 98 opportunities over the last two years, while earning All-Star honors each season.
Unless the young San Diego starting pitchers can carry the team greatly, the Padres don't figure to be contenders any time soon and are unlikely to re-sign Bell.
He is set to be a free agent after the season and is expected to be pursued by a variety of teams this fall.
Swisher has just a .252 career batting average, but his .824 OPS is very good.
A player that can hit from both sides of the plate, Swisher consistently hits 25–35 home runs a season and makes up for his low batting average by earning a lot of bases on balls.
Swisher can become a free agent after the season, but he has a $10.25 million club option with a $1 million buyout for next season.
While many teams around the league would pay the $1 million buyout, the New York Yankees will probably pick up the option in order to keep Swisher for at least another year.
Rollins has spent his entire career with the Phillies, but his days in Philadelphia could be numbered.
An MVP back in 2007, Rollins has not played quite as well of late, in large part due to a calf injury. However, he is off to a great start in 2011 and is still one of the better baserunners in the league.
Rollins, who will be 33 years old at the start of next season, could draw a lot of interest around the league. Philadelphia may not be willing to spend upwards of $36 million over three years to keep the veteran shortstop, so it will be interesting to see where Rollins ends up in 2012.
A four-time All-Star, Papelbon has saved at least 35 games in each of his five big-league seasons.
Papelbon had a bit of a down year in 2010, but he has been one of the most reliable closers in all of baseball since entering the league in 2005.
A Red Sox for his entire career, Papelbon is sure to draw interest from any team needing a closer or another solid guy in the bullpen. He will be 30 years old in November and could sign a deal in the four-to-six-year range.
Broxton has been an All-Star each of the last two seasons, but after an awful finish to the 2010 season, his future is in question.
He had a great first half last season, but he had just three saves in eight opportunities after the All-Star break and a horrendous ERA that was over 7.00.
Broxton has dominating stuff on the mount, but is prone to breakdowns and big innings.
Still just 26 years old, Broxton could still be a hot commodity in the fall with a strong 2011 performance.
Over the last six seasons, Rodriguez has been arguably the best closer in baseball not named Mariano Rivera.
Still just 29 years old, Rodriguez already has 269 career saves, four All-Star appearances and an impressive career ERA of just 2.50. He has a $17.5 million club option for next season with a $3.5 million buyout.
New York is unlikely to pick up his option unless the team has an impressive 2011 season.
Closers rarely sign long-term deals, but Rodriguez may have the opportunity to do so with a new club.
Since being signed by St. Louis before the 2004 season, Carpenter has been one of the very best pitchers in all of baseball.
He has an incredible 84-34 record as a Cardinal with an ERA of 2.97. He also earned Cy Young honors in 2005.
During the 2007 season, Carpenter had Tommy John surgery, which kept him out of baseball for the better part of two years, but he has quickly picked up right where he left off. Since the start of the 2009 season, Carpenter is 33-14 with an ERA well under 3.00.
He has a $15 million club option for next season with a $1 million buyout, and at this point, he appears to be headed out of St. Louis. The Cardinals currently have several players that are set to become free agents after the season, so they may not be able to afford Carpenter.
Expect Carpenter, who will be 36 years old at the start of next season, to sign a two- or three-year deal with a new club worth upwards of $15 million per season.
Reyes is set to be a free agent after the season and could be one of the hottest commodities on the market.
He has led the NL in steals three times, and is coming off a 2010 season in which he earned All-Star honors for the third time.
New York is in a tough spot, as the Mets currently have several veteran players that are set to be free agents this season. Coming off back-to-back losing seasons in a tough division and currently dealing with a devastating shoulder injury to star pitcher Johan Santana, the Mets may decide to do the unthinkable and rebuild.
Reyes will be 28 years old in June and should still have many of his best years ahead of him.
Oswalt may be simply the Phillies' No. 3 or No. 4 starter, but he could be an ace on most major-league teams.
Since coming up to the big leagues with Houston 10 years ago, Roy Oswalt has been truly one of the greatest pitchers in the game. Oswalt made his first career start in June of 2001 and immediately went on to have a great rookie year, going 14-3 with a 2.73 ERA .
He has placed in the top-six in Cy Young voting in six of his 10 big-league seasons and does not appear to be slowing down any time soon.
Last season, Oswalt was traded to Philadelphia midseason and immediately made an impact. He had a 7-1 record with a 1.74 ERA during the regular season, and also pitched well in the postseason.
Depending on how year one with the "big four" plays out in Philadelphia—with starting pitchers Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Oswalt—the Phillies may or may not pick up Oswalt's $16 million option for next season. They can buy him out for $2 million.
Fielder will be a free agent after the season and may be the most highly sought-after player on the market not named Albert Pujols.
Still just 26 years old, Fielder is one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball. He has averaged over 40 home runs per season since 2007 and also gets on base via the walk at a high rate.
Fielder could sign a deal in the eight year, $160 million range.
Milwaukee is unlikely to pay that kind of money to re-sign Fielder, but if the Brewers make the playoffs this season, then they could make a gigantic splash during the offseason.
Milwaukee currently has Ryan Braun under contract through 2015, and the Brewers would love to have him and Fielder in the middle of the lineup for many years to come.
Who else did you expect to see at No. 1?
Albert Pujols is by all accounts the greatest and most respected player in the game. He is a three-time MVP and has ranked in the top nine in MVP voting in each of his 10 seasons.
In order for the Cardinals to re-sign the active leader in OPS, they will likely need to spend upwards of $300 million over 10 years. Pujols has not publicly stated that he wants a long-term deal worth $30 million per season, but based on history, it is hard to believe that he would sign for anything less.
The Cardinals have until December 7th to re-sign Pujols. If they don't, he will become one of the hottest free-agent commodities in baseball history.