MLB Free Agents: 5 Coups We Could See This Offseason
As we hit the stretch run in the 2011 MLB season, with fall baseball around the corner, it's time to start considering what star free agents may change scenery this offseason.
The 2012 free agent class will include big name stars like Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, and the events that transpire this winter are sure to be very intriguing.
Here's a look at some possible free-agent coups we could see this offseason...
Jose Reyes to the Cardinals
Jose Reyes was the subject of the most intense trade talk of any player prior to July 31, yet ironically the Mets did not deal him. Instead his teammates Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran were moved.
Reyes will almost certainly not be a Met come next season, and the St. Louis Cardinals could be a potential suitor.
If the Cardinals are unable to re-sign Albert Pujols this offseason, they will be hurting for an offensive presence to fill the vacuum left by the departure of the slugging first baseman.
Obviously, Jose Reyes cannot produce the way Pujols does, but his electrifying ability at the top of the lineup could be extremely valuable for the Red Birds.
Hiroki Kuroda to the Rockies
The Colorado Rockies were the team that was supposed to push the defending World Champion Giants for the National League West title in 2011.
Things didn't exactly turn out that way.
The Rockies find themselves in third place in the West, and don't have much to hope for this season.
But come winter, the Rockies could go shopping for some starting pitching.
Colorado has plenty of offensive firepower with the likes of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez in the middle of a lineup that plays its home games at the best hitters' ballpark in the country.
But the Rockies rank 14th out of 16 NL teams in team ERA (4.32), and the only way they will compete in 2012 is by improving their pitching corps.
The Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda could be Colorado's man this offseason. Kuroda is 10-14 this season, but has a 2.92 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP. Kuroda has a career ERA of 3.43 and a career WHIP of 1.19.
He could be donning the uniform of a division rival come 2012.
Carlos Beltran to the Angels
While Jose Reyes of the Mets was the name everyone spoke when talking about potential trade scenarios early in the season, his teammate Carlos Beltran was the most coveted acquisition to be made once the deadline approached.
Beltran was traded to the San Francisco Giants, and has gotten off to a very slow start (.239, 0 HR, 2 RBI in 12 games).
Beltran also went on the disabled list with a wrist injury, but started his first game since coming off the disabled list on Wednesday night.
Assuming Beltran begins to hit again, he will be a very valuable free-agent bat on the market following season's end.
The Los Angeles Angels might just have enough room on their payroll to hire the services of Beltran, which would help a team that currently ranks 11th in the league in runs scored improve their offensive output and become better equipped to compete with the Texas Rangers in the AL West.
Prince Fielder to the Mariners
Prince Fielder is perhaps second only to Albert Pujols in terms of free-agent star-power this offseason, and Fielder could make a huge impact for a team searching for offensive help.
One such team, a club that has solid pitching and could, with offensive upgrades, become a real playoff contender, is the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners currently rank seventh in the American League with a 3.79 team ERA.
But Seattle also ranks last in all of baseball in runs scored, with just 443.
The addition of Prince Fielder could go a long way toward changing that latter statistic and thrusting the Mariners into relevance in the AL West.
Albert Pujols to the Cubs
Perhaps the biggest name on the free-agent market this offseason will be Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols.
Pujols will be 32 next year, and is still an offensive juggernaut, hitting .289 with 31 home runs and 77 RBI so far this year, and boasting a career batting average of .328 with 439 homers and 1,307 RBI.
The Chicago Cubs are a team that will very likely be looking for a first baseman. Their current first baseman, Carlos Pena, was placed on waivers Tuesday, and is likely not returning to Chicago next season.
A Pujols acquisition by the Cubs, whose long-suffering fans continue to wallow in defeat year after year, would be huge to say the least, and is a real possibility.