With the Major League Baseball trade deadline well behind us and the 2011 season nearing an end, the upcoming free-agency picture is finally beginning to come into fruition.
We already know that some of the hottest names on the market this summer will be back up for grabs this winter, except many more of them are likely to move.
There's also a free-agent class full of big names looking for their first or next big deal, albeit a bit top heavy.
No matter which way we look at it, this offseason looks to be a busy one for every team in the league. It'll be interesting to see how it all pans out.
Here are the "50 Biggest Names To Target This Offseason."
David DeJesus spent eight seasons with the Kansas City Royals turning himself into a respectable outfielder before being traded to the Oakland Athletics prior to the 2011 season.
These days, Oakland has turned into the place where hitters go to die, so it's no surprise DeJesus has had the worst season of his major league career in 2011.
At 32 years old next season, DeJesus still has a couple years left in the tank and could be an upgrade for many ball clubs. Until this year, he'd always been good at getting on base while providing above-average defense in the outfield.
After hitting 37 home runs and making his lone All-Star appearance in 2008, Ryan Ludwick has been on a slow decent to obscurity.
He's 33 years old and will be coming off a horrible season split between the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates. Ludwick has hit .239 with 12 home runs and 71 RBI this season.
As bad as he's been, Ludwick can still drive in runs, and there will be a team who misses out on other free-agent outfielders that will sign him out of desperation.
Even though he'll be 34 years old to start next season, Rafael Furcal is arguably the second-best free-agent shortstop available this winter.
Furcal has definitely had his struggles this season, but he missed the second half of last season and the first half of this season due to injury. He is still plenty young to be an above-average shortstop heading into next season.
Furcal sat with a 125 OPS-plus before he went down in 2010, and he has the potential to be a huge steal this winter.
With three years and a guaranteed $26 million left on Chone Figgins' contract with the Seattle Mariners, the team would either have to do a bad contract swap or eat a hefty portion of his contract to trade him.
As bad as he's been, I still see some upside to a team acquiring Figgins if they're able to snag him for a cheap price.
He still provides above-average defense at two positions, and when healthy, he's a lock for 30-plus stolen bases. I would take that gamble if the Mariners were willing to pay a large portion of his remaining salary.
Rich Harden has been a model for inconsistency this season and throughout his entire career, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have talent.
Harden has started 12 games for the Oakland Athletics this season, six of which he's allowed two runs or less and six of which he's allowed four runs or more. He does, however, have 82 strikeouts over just 68 innings.
The promise in Harden's arm is there, and some team will take a chance on him in hopes of an injury-free season.
Kelly Johnson got the raw end of the deal when the Arizona Diamondbacks traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays a few weeks ago. He went from a contender to a non-contender while losing the opportunity to boost his free-agent value in the postseason.
Regardless, Johnson is easily the best second baseman on the market and should have no problem cashing in.
He's struggled in the batting average department this season, but Johnson has put up 46 home runs since the start of the 2010 season. Pair his power with solid defense and I'd imagine he'll be a fairly popular target this winter.
At 35 years old, Ramon Hernandez has parlayed two solid seasons with the Cincinnati Reds into what will most likely be the last multi-year deal of his career.
It was surprising that the Reds chose to hold on to their catcher at the deadline, seeing as he was drawing plenty of interest across the league.
Hernandez can still give a team 100 games behind the plate while hitting for a solid average with a potential for double-digit home runs. Considering there's absolutely no way the St. Louis Cardinals don't pick up Yadier Molina's $7 million option for next season, Hernandez is the best available free-agent catcher.
Many were surprised to see Carlos Pena nab a $10 million deal from the Chicago Cubs last offseason, although the slugger has given the team everything they had expected.
Pena has 27 home runs and 88 RBI so far in 2011, so he has proven he can still hit the long ball. That will be attractive enough to land him another deal, although I doubt he will reach $10 million again.
Depending on who the Cubs decide to pursue this winter, Pena may very well end up back in Chicago for the 2012 season.
Similar to Pena, Josh Willingham has plenty of power paired with a poor batting average.
Willingham is sitting at 24 home runs and 84 RBI on the season, and according to his 118 OPS-plus, he is much better than the average left fielder.
While I doubt Willingham will be able to secure a multi-year deal, he would be a great fit to a team looking to add a little power with proven run production.
With the abundance of available closers hitting the market this November, Matt Capps' value will take a huge hit.
While he should still be able to secure at least a two-year deal, Capps may not even have a chance to be the closer with his new team.
The 28-year-old Capps sports a 3.47 ERA and 124 saves for his career. Those numbers will get him paid, just not as much as the other dozen closers on the market.
Carlos Lee has one year left on his deal for $18.5 million. That is a steep price to pay for an overweight 35-year-old.
It appears that the Astros will gladly eat a large portion of Lee's salary in order to move him. While I'm sure no NL squads would have interest, Lee could definitely be productive as a DH in the AL.
So long as he's not being a defensive liability in the field, Lee is worth a shot for the potential production at the plate.
Alfonso Soriano probably has the worst contract in baseball, being owed $18 million per season through 2014. The Chicago Cubs would love to move him, but it is unknown how much of his contract they are willing to swallow.
For what he's being paid, Soriano absolutely sucks. But if a team can work out a deal where they only have to pay $5 million of his salary per season, he could at least earn his money's worth with the new club.
Soriano can still hit for power and could thrive as a DH in the AL.
It's hard to imagine Brad Lidge getting a deal to be a closer, but he has pitched very well for the Philadelphia Phillies the last two seasons. Of course, that's when he's been healthy.
Lidge will be 35 years old next season, so it's very unlikely that he'll be able to land anything but a one-year deal.
A good postseason performance could increase his value, and he'd be a solid setup man for many teams around the league.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a young-and-improving starting rotation, so it seems unlikely that the team would pick up Paul Maholm's $9.75 option for next season.
While they may want to work out an extension to keep him around, Maholm has a better chance of cashing in on the open market.
Maholm is only 6-of-14 this season, but he's still managed a 3.66 ERA, and he doesn't give up many home runs.
Jonathan Broxton went from being one of the most promising young closers in baseball to an afterthought in the span of a year-and-a-half.
As a free agent for the first time, teams may be hesitant to give the 300-pounder more than a one-year deal. A number of other bullpen arms on the market makes a multi-year deal even more unlikely.
Broxton is still only 27 years old and has been injured for most of the 2011 season. If he can regain form, he has a chance to turn a solid season on a one-year deal into a big contract in 2013.
Grady Sizemore is in the midst of a three-week audition to determine whether or not the Cleveland Indians will exercise his $8.5 million option for 2012.
Showing no signs of his former self, Sizemore will most likely head to free agency this winter.
Sizemore was once the most promising young player in the game until injuries derailed his career. Many teams will be interested in his services for the sheer potential that he brings.
Coco Crisp has actually increased his value on the open market during his two seasons with the Oakland Athletics.
Crisp is a solid leadoff hitter and an above-average defender in center field. He has a great K/BB ratio, and he owns a .276 batting average.
The biggest asset to Crisp's game is on the basepath's, where he has swiped 70 bags over the last two seasons while only being caught 12 times.
While I doubt any team will be duped into giving Erik Bedard a multi-year deal, he has proven to be quite efficient on the mound after missing the entire 2010 season due to injury.
Bedard has pitched to a 3.50 ERA with 119 strikeouts over 123 innings with the Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox.
If he is selected to be a part of the postseason rotation for the Red Sox, Bedard could sharply increase his value heading into free agency. He will turn 33 years old before next season.
The market for Jason Kubel will be decided by whether he's viewed as a capable outfielder or solely as a DH heading into the future.
Either way, Kubel should have no problem locking up a two or three-year deal. He provides plus-power and is capable of 90-100 RBI per season, especially on a team with more offensive prowess than the Minnesota Twins.
Kubel has battled through injuries to hit .282 with 12 home runs and 56 RBI this season.
Despite a decline in production over the season's second half, Lance Berkman is a shoo-in for Comeback Player of the Year, and he's earned himself a two-year deal this winter.
Berkman has hit 30 home runs this season while making the sixth All-Star appearance of his career.
Berkman will be 36 years old next season, and whether or not he returns to the St. Louis Cardinals could hinge on the outcome of the Albert Pujols negotiations.
Although it's almost a guarantee that the Cincinnati Reds will not pick up Francisco Cordero's $12 million option for 2012, the two parties may end up agreeing to a contract extension nonetheless.
If an agreement isn't reached, Coco will be in the middle of a crowded field of free-agent closers.
The 36-year-old Cordero has been solid during each of his four seasons with the Reds, but he'd be lucky to get a two-year deal on the open market.
Jake Peavy hasn't quite lived up to expectations since the Chicago White Sox acquired him from the San Diego Padres two seasons ago.
The oft-injured pitcher is owed $17 million next season plus a $4 million buyout of his contract for 2013. The buyout will surely be exercised.
At only 31 years old next season, Peavy still has some good years left in his arm if he can manage to stay healthy over an entire season. He may be best suited back in the senior circuit.
Nick Swisher has bounced back during the second half to put together another nice season for the New York Yankees, but it may not be enough for the team to exercise is $10.25 million option for next season.
Swisher is a great addition to any clubhouse, and his 22 home runs and 80 RBI so far this season should get him plenty of attention on the open market.
While Swisher may very well end up back in New York, it would more than likely be on a new multi-year deal.
Carlos Quentin has been, for the most part, one of the lone bright spots on an underachieving Chicago White Sox squad this season.
Quentin made his second career All-Star appearance and has hit 24 home runs in only 117 games this season. He's sitting with a sparkling OPS-plus of 125.
With GM Kenny Williams looking to make changes during the offseason and the team unlikely to offer Quentin a contract extension after his final year of arbitration, the slugger will most likely find a new home before next season.
Long thought to be the expendable piece in the San Francisco Giants' rotation, it appears likely that Jonathan Sanchez will finally be sent packing this winter.
It's no secret that the Giants need a few bats for their stagnant offense, and Sanchez could net at least a decent prospect in return.
The soon-to-be 29-year-old will be entering his final arbitration year in 2012.
Will the Houston Astros make Wandy Rodriguez available this offseason? Without a doubt. Whether or not they'll be able to find a suitor for the 33-year-old pitcher is the real question.
Rodriguez has had an ERA of 3.60 or less during every season since 2008, so he's proven to be quite dependable on the mound. Scouts worry he wouldn't find the same success in the AL, which obviously diminishes his value on the market.
The biggest deterrent in a trade is the three years and $36 million remaining on his contract. Any potential suitor would want the Astros to pick up a fair portion of his salary, which they may not be willing to do.
The Minnesota Twins chose to hang on to Michael Cuddyer past the July 31st trade deadline in hopes that they'd be able to re-sign their longtime utility man to a long-term deal during the offseason.
Cuddyer is coming off his first All-Star appearance, and it will be his first time testing the free-agent market.
The 33-year-old will most likely be signing the last long-term deal of his career, so my guess is that he will seek top dollar instead of taking a hometown discount.
Now that Hisashi Iwakuma is a free agent in Japan, he will finally be able to pursue his career in Major League Baseball. The Oakland Athletics failed to sign him after winning the bid to negotiate with him last year.
If Iwakuma has fully recovered from a minor shoulder injury suffered this season, he may end up being one of the top six starting pitchers on the market.
Through 54 innings in Japan this season, the 31-year-old Iwakuma posted a 1.67 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9.
Francisco Rodriguez was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers after agreeing to waive his player option for next season for more cash up front.
K-Rod has been one of the premier closers in the game over the last decade, and he's sure to garner plenty of interest during his second appearance on the open market.
The fact that he's only 30 years old could help him land the longest and most lucrative deal out of any available closers.
Opting not to waive his no-trade clause to join a contender down the stretch surely lost him a chance to increase his value, but Hiroki Kuroda will find plenty of interested parties this winter.
Kuroda has pitched to a 3.51 ERA over 680 innings since the Los Angeles Dodgers brought him over from Japan before the 2008 season.
At 37 years old before the 2012 season begins, Kuroda probably won't land more than two years on a new deal.
It's very unlikely that the Philadelphia Phillies or their fans let Jimmy Rollins leave town, but he will in fact be a free agent so he had to be considered.
The former NL MVP and team leader has lost a few steps at the plate and at shortstop over the last three years.
Regardless, Rollins would get plenty of action on the market if he so desires, although in the end, he will almost surely end up back in Philly.
Mark Buehrle has spent his entire 12-year major league career with the Chicago White Sox establishing himself as one of the most consistent pitchers of the era.
He owns a 3.83 ERA for his career and would be a stellar No. 3 starter on a contending ball club. Buehrle has always given up a lot of hits, but he makes up for it by not walking many batters.
Both the White Sox and Buehrle are believed to be open to a contract extension, so there is a good chance he will be staying on the south side for a few more years. I just wonder where they'll get the money from to be able to give him a reasonable contract.
No one in Major League Baseball has been traded as many times over the last few years as Edwin Jackson. He's gone from the Rays to the Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox and now the Cardinals.
Jackson has been vital to the Cardinals late-season push toward the postseason, going 4-2 with a 3.39 ERA through nine starts with the team.
At 28 years old, Jackson should have no problem locking up a nice deal this winter. I do, however, believe he is better suited for the National League.
After struggling through the 2010 season, Jonathan Papelbon has come back with a vengeance this season as he primes himself for the big contract he has so long desired.
His ERA sits at 2.65 on the season and his K/BB ratio is all the way back up to 7.50, which is the second highest of his career.
The Boston Red Sox have Daniel Bard waiting to take over for Pappy should he depart after the season, so it's anybody's guess as to where he'll end up next season.
Ryan Madson has been a key piece to the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen over the last five years. His ERA has stayed between 2.55 and 3.26 each season.
Madson, a southpaw, assumed the closer's role this season and has been absolutely stellar. He's still only 31years old with a bright future ahead in the back of a new team's bullpen.
With Scott Boras as his agent, you can bet Madson will get at least a three-year deal, possibly four.
David Ortiz will be a free agent this winter, yet the chances of him going anywhere are slim to none.
Not only is the market for a 36-year-old designated hitter rather bare, but the Red Sox will give Big Papi a player-friendly deal seeing as he is the "Derek Jeter" of the their franchise.
Yu Darvish will come at a price similar to the $100 million it cost the Boston Red Sox to nab Daisuke Matsuzaka and his infamous "gyro-ball" a handful of seasons ago.
Darvish will be just 25 years old next season, so he could be in line for a long career in Major League Baseball.
After dominating hitters in Japan for the last five season's, whoever signs Darvish can only hope he doesn't wind up like Kei Igawa.
While the San Francisco Giants already regret sending top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler to the Mets for four months of Carlos Beltran, the outfielder has proven he can still hit with the best of them now that he's finally healthy.
Through 126 games, Beltran has slugged 17 home runs with a .291 batting average.
Beltran will definitely test the open market seeing as it's his last chance to secure a multi-year deal, yet it wouldn't be shocking to see him batting in between Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval next season.
Similar to Chris Carpenter's situation with the Cardinals, the Philadelphia Phillies hold a $16 million option on Roy Oswalt next season with the uncertainty of whether they'll have the available funds to exercise it.
With Jimmy Rollins expected back and Cole Hamels in line for a hefty contract after next season, it seems rather clear that Oswalt will be the odd man out.
Oswalt is still only 34 years old and could command around $10 million per season on the open market.
With all the horrible contracts on the Chicago Cubs' payroll, at this point, there is no way they exercise Aramis Ramirez's $16 million option for next season.
Ramirez has had a resurgence this season, hitting .303 with 24 long balls and a 132 OPS-plus. He is by far the best free-agent third baseman on the market.
Considering he's still only 33 years old, a four-year deal is not out of the question.
Heath Bell is the best available closer this offseason, and he will finally be able to nab a long-term deal.
Bell has notched 126 saves while logging a sub-2.50 ERA since taking over for Trevor Hoffman as the San Diego Padres' closer in 2009.
He will be 34 years old next season, so he may end up getting less years on his deal than fellow free-agent Francisco Rodriguez.
CC Sabathia is opting out of the remaining four years and $92 million on his deal with the New York Yankees to "test" free agency.
Actually, Sabathia is opting out of his deal knowing the Yankees will bid against themselves until he secures another deal around $150 million.
With one arbitration year remaining before he hits free agency, it would be shocking to see the Tampa Bay Rays hold on to B.J. Upton heading into next season. Especially with the way Desmond Jennings has played since being called up last month.
There was a lot of interest in Upton before the July 31st trade deadline, but the Rays decided to stand pat in hopes of a late push to the postseason.
With his talent level and a salary expected to be around the range of $6-$7 million in 2012, Upton will garner plenty of interest from around the league.
I've said all along that either Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp wouldn't be wearing Dodger blue in 2012. With the season Kemp has put together, it appears Ethier is more likely to be the odd man out.
Both players will be free agents in 2013, and although GM Ned Colletti would probably like to retain them both, the chances of that happening seem very slim.
Ethier would be one of the best trade chips on the market and should be able to bring in a nice return.
The New York Mets chose to hang on to Jose Reyes rather than deal him away, showing a clear sign they may extend an offer to the shortstop this winter.
While the thought of Reyes returning to the Mets is by no means shocking, I still don't believe it makes sense considering they are in a financial mess and are still a few years away from being able to contend in the NL East.
Whoever lands the oft-injured Reyes will be taking a huge gamble with a potential for a great reward.
In addition to Jose Reyes, the Mets need to decide whether David Wright will be a part of their future.
If the Mets are indeed able to re-sign Jose Reyes, it wouldn't at all be surprising to see David Wright traded away.
Realistically, they don't need both of them at this point. If the Mets aren't interested in any soon-to-be free-agent pitchers, which is their biggest need, they could re-sign Reyes and then use Wright as a trade piece to land pitching via trade.
Wright has two years and $31 million (includes option) remaining on his current deal.
C.J. Wilson is the best free-agent pitcher on the market not named CC Sabathia, although there is a good chance both pitchers are wearing pinstripes in 2012.
The Texas Rangers may have the financial flexibility to re-sign their staff ace, but I'd be surprised to see more than a handful of teams seriously pursuing him due to his potential contract demands.
Since becoming a starter before the 2010 season, Wilson has gone 31-14 with a 3.17 ERA for the Rangers.
With an abundance of young pitching talent continuing their march toward the big leagues, the Tampa Bay Rays will most likely move a pitcher this offseason to make room for their future aces.
James Shields seems the most likely to be moved considering he is their highest paid pitcher and because his value will never be higher than it is right now after the season he's put together in 2011.
Shields has three options remaining on his deal worth $28 million.
It's not very often that one of the best players in Major League Baseball history hits the open market, and it's even more rare that it happens when the Yankees aren't expected to be suitors.
The odds are astronomically low that Albert Pujols will leave St. Louis, especially after the 2011 season has been a down year for the slugger compared to previous seasons.
It will be interesting to see how it all plays out, especially because Pujols will most likely set the bar for the best free agent available this winter.
While his eyes look like dollar signs and we hear faint cries of "Show me the money!," Prince Fielder is ready to cash in with a $200 million deal.
Prince has had a monster walk-year, winning MVP of the All-Star Game and in consideration for the NL MVP Award while leading the Milwaukee Brewers to what appears will be their first division title since 1982.
The biggest plus Fielder has over Pujols is age, as Prince will still be 27 years old when the 2012 season begins.
Fielder is expected to have numerous suitors lining him up with offers, so whether or not he ends up back in Milwaukee will all depend on how the market plays out.
Jeffrey Beckmann is a MLB Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Jeffrey on his new Twitter account for all of his latest work. You can also hear him each Friday at 1 p.m. EST on B/R Baseball Roundtable.