With the 2011 Major League Baseball regular season all but wrapped up, many teams have turned their focus to the upcoming free-agency period.
This winter should prove to be very active, as some of the game's biggest players will hit the market in hopes of cashing in. In each case, the player's current team has a big decision to make regarding their future with the franchise.
The decisions are never easy, and history has shown how debilitating a bad contract can be to an organization. While we are bound to see plenty of good and bad deals this winter, sometimes the best moves are the ones a team doesn't make.
Here is "Every Team's Soon-to-Be Free Agent They Must Let Walk."
The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired Jason Marquis before the trade deadline in hopes he'd be a solid veteran arm in the middle of their young rotation.
Three starts, 11.1 innings and 12 earned runs later, Marquis fractured his right fibula to end his season.
The D-Backs have gone on to dominate the NL West while Marquis has no chance of being a part of their future.
Back in 2009, the Atlanta Braves coughed up Charlie Morton and Gorkys Hernandez to acquire All-Star outfielder Nate McLouth. It seemed like a great move at the time.
McLouth has hit .229 with 21 home runs through 250 games with the Braves, compiling an OPS-plus of only 90 over that period.
The Braves will gladly pay his $1.25 million buyout to get him out of town for good.
Although Vlad Guerrero hasn't been awful during his first season with the Baltimore Orioles, he has clearly proven how much his stats were inflated playing his home games in Texas in 2010.
After hitting 29 long balls with 115 RBI last season, Vlad has come back to hit 12 home runs and drove in 54 so far in 2011.
Guerrero, who will be 37 years old before next season begins, is not the kind of player the Orioles need to become competitive in the AL East.
I understand that Tim Wakefield is popular among Boston Red Sox fans', but allowing him to be on the team the past two seasons has been like giving to charity.
Wakefield is 45 years old and he hasn't been a respectable pitcher since the first half of the 2009 season. His ERA-plus is a combined 81 since the start of the 2010 season.
After finally getting his 200th victory, the Red Sox no longer have reason to keep the old-timer on their roster heading into the future.
The Chicago Cubs hold a $16 million option on Aramis Ramirez for 2012, but even if they don't exercise it they could come to an agreement on an extension with their longtime third baseman.
That would be a bad move for an organization buried in bad contracts.
Ramirez could still demand $10 million per year going forward, and with the Cubs' organization in such a mess because of contracts given to Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano, the chances of them contending in the next few years seem very unlikely.
It's time to start over, so let Ramirez walk.
I hate putting Mark Buehrle on this list because the guy has been the heart and soul of the Chicago White Sox for the last decade.
The fact is, the White Sox have killed themselves with bad contracts over the last two years—two in particular with Alex Rios and Adam Dunn.
Buehrle belongs in Chicago, but at this point it doesn't make sense for the team to cough up a lot of money to keep him on the south side past this season, especially seeing as they have two younger pitchers in John Danks and Gavin Floyd looking for extensions in the near future.
The Cincinnati Reds hold a $12 million option on Francisco Cordero for 2012, yet it would be in their best interest to let the soon-to-be 37-year-old walk after this season.
Cordero and the Reds have been rumored to be working on a contract extension, but they'd surely be able to land a much cheaper option from the market or in-house to replace their aging closer.
The Reds need to re-sign Brandon Phillips, plus they have guys like Johnny Cueto and Joey Votto who will be expecting big raises in the near future. No reason to waste money on Cordero for a few more years.
Three years ago, Grady Sizemore was one of the hottest young stars in the game. Now it's at the point where an $8.5 million option that was once perceived as a discount will most likely be declined.
The Cleveland Indians showed plenty of improvement this season, sticking in the divisional race for most of the season while acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez to lead their rotation for years to come.
All of their accomplishments came without Sizemore in the lineup, and any future accomplishments should come without their former franchise player as well.
The Colorado Rockies drafted Aaron Cook in the second round of the 1997 draft and he's pitched for the team ever since the 2002 season.
During 10 injury-filled seasons, spanning 205 starts, Cook has gone 72-67 with a 4.52 ERA and a 1.468 WHIP.
The Rockies hold an $11 million option on their hurler for the 2012 season. My guess is that they'll make the right decision and let Cook find a new home.
The Detroit Tigers finished the 2010 season with a rotation filled with underachieving starters behind Justin Verlander, so they took a chance on Brad Penny being able to regain form to be a capable No. 3 starter.
Penny has failed miserably, contributing to the Tigers in no way, shape or form during the 2011 season.
The hurler has gone 10-10 with a 5.07 ERA and a 1.532 ERA through 29 starts in Detroit Rock City and will surely not make the Tigers' playoff rotation.
For as bad as Javier Vasquez was during the first half of the season, he's been equally dominant since the August bell rang.
Vasquez has his ERA down to 3.92 and finally appears to be back to form after a one and a half year hiatus.
The Marlins are deep in the cellar in the NL East and a long ways away from contention, so giving another $8 million for a season of Vasquez wouldn't do much good for the beleaguered franchise.
Clearly the Houston Astros don't have much "star power" when Clint Barmes is their most noteworthy free agent this offseason.
Barmes is a great bench player to be used in a utility role, but the Astros have a lot of rebuilding to do and at this point Barmes is an afterthought.
Kyle Davies is one of the worst pitchers in baseball, regardless of whether or not he's been stuck on some abominable teams in Kansas City over the last five years.
Since the Royals acquired Davies from the Braves in 2007, the hurler has gone 29-44 with a 5.34 ERA and a 1.576 WHIP. He's also compiled just an 80 ERA-plus.
The Royals finally seem to be in a good position heading into the future with some of their young prospects, so Davies will most likely be forced into an early retirement after the season.
Joel Piniero's second year in Los Angeles has gone far worse than his debut with the team during the 2010 season.
One more pitcher could have been the difference between a second place finish and an AL West title, but Piniero hasn't been able to step up for the Angels when they needed him most.
In the last year of a two-year, $16 million deal, Piniero has pitched to a 5.33 ERA over 133 innings.
Jonathan Broxton forgot how to pitch midway through the 2010 season and now the Los Angeles Dodgers will finally have the chance to let him take a nice stroll out of town.
Broxton pitched only 12 pitiful innings for the Dodgers this season before going down to injury, although the Dodgers woudn't have fared much better with the 300-pounder coming to the mound in the ninth inning.
With their payroll expected to take a steep dive before next season, there is no way the team would come even close to matching Broxton's $7 million salary for 2011.
As a Milwaukee Brewers fan, accepting the fact that Prince Fielder could leave town is a tough pill to swallow. As a businessman, however, I can only hope the Brewers don't lock the slugger up to a gargantuan deal.
The Brewers don't need Fielder and Ryan Braun to take up half of their payroll heading into the future, especially when they'll be looking to lock up at least one of either Zack Greinke or Shaun Marcum.
Great pitching is hard to come by while power-hitting first basemen are far easier to replace, so as sad as it may be, the Brewers need to let their star hit the road.
Jason Kubel has been a pleasant surprise for the Minnesota Twins over the last three seasons, as he's become one of the few remaining consistent power hitters in the league when he's been healthy.
The problem is that Kubel has also become worse in the outfield over each season and at this point may be best suited solely as a designated hitter.
The Twins should focus on re-signing Michael Cuddyer with any available funds they have heading into the offseason, while letting another desperate team around the league overpay for Kubel's services.
Jose Reyes may end up being the most coveted free agent on the market this winter and it would behoove the New York Mets to let one of those teams sign their shortstop to a lucrative extension.
If Reyes has proven one thing over his time in the big leagues, it's that he cannot stay healthy over a full season. Why would that change as he continues to age?
We also have to wonder how wise it would be for the Mets to tie up money in Reyes considering they are a long ways away from contending in the NL East. They need pitching, so unless the Mets sign Reyes only to flip David Wright, it would make absolutely no sense.
Bartolo Colon has had a fantastic season with the New York Yankees and should be in line for the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award, yet he has shown significant signs of wear over the season's second half.
Colon will turn 39 years old early into the 2012 season, and the last thing the Yankees need is to give him a few million bucks based on how he pitched this season.
The Yanks should be able to nab a couple upper-tiered arms on the free-agent market this winter, so hopefully a reunion with Colon isn't even considered.
Hideki Matsui is further proof that Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane's "Moneyball" theory no longer works in today's Major League Baseball.
Matsui is 37 years old and it appears there is no more "Godzilla" left in the slugger at this point.
The only way the A's are going to contend is if they start locking their young players up to long-term deals, because these one-year deals with washed up veterans are no longer working.
The Philadelphia Phillies have one of the best four-man rotations ever compiled with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.
With a $16 million option for next season, Oswalt looks to be the odd man out of the fearsome foursome.
The Phillies are already pushing the luxury tax threshold, and re-signing Jimmy Rollins is their priority this offseason. Hamels will also be due a hefty contract after next season, so paying a pitcher with clearly diminishing skills that kind of money wouldn't help the Phillies heading into the future.
After nearly two decades of futility, the Pittsburgh Pirates finally showed a glimpse of competitiveness in 2011.
Exercising Paul Maholm's $9.75 million option for next season would only further hinder their chance at competing in the near future.
As underrated has Maholm has been over the last few years, he's definitely not worth that kind of salary and the Pirates have had a few quality young arms step up this season who could easily take his spot in the rotation.
Heath Bell will be the best free-agent closer on the market this winter and he'll have no problem cashing in big.
While the San Diego Padres may be open to retaining Bell, why would a rebuilding team far away from contention make a closer their highest paid player?
Petco Park is one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball and the team should have no problem finding a young arm to take over the ninth inning role in Bell's absence.
Carlos Beltran, in many ways, makes sense for the San Francisco Giants; but with a big contract-year, the 34-year-old is in line to break the bank one last time.
This has the feel of a disaster-in-waiting for the Giants, as the oft-injured slugger knows how desperate the team is for a big bat and could use it as leverage to drive his price up even further.
While it may be a sexy option and in the end it could even work out, the Giants may be better off handing a big contract to a younger, less injury-prone player.
While the Seattle Mariners would love more than anything to let Chone Figgins walk after the season, they'll at least be able to celebrate the last of Milton Bradley's contract coming off the books.
The Mariners don't have many upcoming free agents and the ones they do have aren't that exciting anyway.
Adam Kennedy is the best of the bunch, but his game has shown so much decline over the last two years that he's not even worth a spot in their lineup as a utility player.
There is a reason Edwin Jackson has been traded five times throughout his nine-year career, so the St. Louis Cardinals should think twice before giving him a hefty deal after he's performed well down the stretch in the midst of a pennant race.
The 27-year-old has struggled with command throughout his career, generally walking a lot of batters while giving up a lot of hits.
After securing staff ace Chris Carpenter for two more years and hopefully retaining Albert Pujols well into the future, the Cards would be better off spending their leftover money elsewhere.
Johnny Damon has fared well during his first season in Tampa Bay, but he will be 38 years old next season and he probably doesn't have much left in the tank.
If Damon were close to the 3000-hit mark then it would be a good PR move to keep him around. He'll be about 275 hits away heading into next season so any commitment would have to be for at least two years.
That kind of commitment doesn't make sense for the Rays, especially seeing as they are a team built on young players expecting yearly raises going forward.
Letting C.J. Wilson walk could be debilitating to a Texas Rangers' club that's built on hitting, but signing him to a monster deal would have the potential to be just as debilitating.
Everyone in baseball knows the Yankees have one eye on the playoffs with the other eye on Wilson, so his value heading into free agency as the best available starter will be astronomically high.
Unless Wilson were to take an extremely friendly hometown discount while leaving tens of millions on the table by choosing not to sign with the Yanks (similar to Cliff Lee last season), then the Rangers will be looking to replace their staff ace this winter.
The Toronto Blue Jays have continued to make impressive moves in hopes of soon being able to compete within the AL East, managing to rid themselves of every bad contract given out by the prior front office regime.
Most of the Blue Jays' soon-to-be free agents were handed over to the Cardinals in return for Colby Rasmus, so Shawn Camp is one of the few remaining players we can expect to leave Toronto this winter.
Camp will soon be 36 years old and he'll be coming off a season that's seen him struggle to a 4.52 ERA and a 1.589 WHIP.
Livan Hernandez has done great as an innings-eater for the Washington Nationals over the last three seasons, but they've reached the point where his rubber arm will no longer be needed.
With Stephen Strasburg and Brad Peacock looking to join Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan in the rotation next season, the team is finally at the point where players will be fighting to get in the rotation. That doesn't leave room for a below-average 37-year-old pitcher.
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.