There are still two playoff spots to be determined and a full post season to be played. But like many, I can't help but think about this upcoming off season. Many top flight players will be looking to cash in.
David Ortiz, Jimmy Rollins, Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder, and Albert Pujols will all be free agents. There has been plenty of speculation, but there is no way of knowing for sure where these guys will end up next season.
Some of these might seem a bit strange, but here are possible new homes for the top five free agents.
Big Papi will be 36 at the start of next season. With his body, I doubt we'll be seeing him playing deep into his forties. This may be Ortiz's last go-round.
I think he'll want to go out with a bang. Ortiz has always stepped up in the post-season, and has come up with some huge hits for the Red Sox. Well, Boston seems to be in a full-fledged collapse right now. What will the feeling be like in Beantown should the Sox miss the playoffs?
Ortiz will surely want to play for a winning team, and the Rangers may be a good suitor. They are a great offensive team, but don't really have a regular DH. Big Papi would bring some stability to that position, and he would bring another power bat to the middle of their already talented line up.
If Jon Daniels will guarantee him two years and include an option for a third, this could happen.
Where I think he'll actually end up: Boston Red Sox
After all he's done in Boston, it's hard to imagine David Ortiz on a different team. I don't think it will be an easy negotiation, but I think Theo Epstein gets a deal done.
Rafael Furcal is in the final year of his contract, and I don't really think Ryan Theriot can be the answer at short stop. There doesn't seem to be a long term answer at short in St. Louis.
Not only would signing Rollins provide an experienced veteran leader, but it could help their chances at re-signing Pujols.
Outside of 3-4-5 (Holliday, Pujols, Berkman), this Cardinals line up really isn't too scary. Albert is going to want to win, and I think they'll need another bat to seriously contend. Would they be able to afford both? Maybe not. But if Pujols does decide to leave, I could see the Cards sending a big time offer Rollins' way.
Where I think he'll actually end up: San Francisco Giants
Rollins is from the Bay Area, and he very well could be playing out there in 2012. I think the Giants will initially target Jose Reyes, and then turn their attention to Rollins when Reyes signs elsewhere. This season made it pretty clear that the Giants need another bat in their line up if they want to return to the World Series. They'll go to great lengths to improve their offense this off season, and I can see them outbidding the Phillies for J-Roll's services.
The Jose Reyes situation is a really interesting one. He might win a batting title this year and has put up extraordinary numbers. But has been on the DL twice with hamstring issues. Will teams want to dish out big bucks for an injury-prone player who depends on his legs?
There was a report earlier this year that Reyes told friends that he would "love to sign with the Angels" when he becomes a free agent. I think something like that will go a long way in determining where he signs because, ultimately, the decision is his. He's going to go wherever he wants to go.
This makes sense for the Angels for a few reasons. The Angels are very similar to a National League team. They aren't built around the long ball. They run, bunt, and play small ball. Reyes would fit in perfectly with Mike Scioscia's managerial style.
The Angels need to make a big splash like this to get some excitement going again in Anaheim. And for some reason, I can just picture Jose wearing an Angels hat.
Where I think he'll actually sign: New York Mets
This may be a case of wishful thinking on my part. I want Jose to be back in Queens more than anything. I think Sandy Alderson will match or outbid any other offer. Reyes just means so much to the future of the organization. While Jose might like Anaheim, he has gotten used to living in New York and relishes the spotlight. I think he'll be back with the Mets next season.
Prince Fielder has made it known that this will probably be his last hurrah in Milwaukee. Winning a World Series would be quite a way to go out.
The same problem effects both Prince and Pujols. The Yankees and Red Sox are both pretty set at first base. This may effect their value on the market.
I think the Rays are prepared to make a serious run at Prince. They can sell him on a few things. They are in the AL East. Yes, they play in an ugly dome but they play 20 games a season at Fenway and Yankee Stadium. That's great exposure. And look at what the Rays have accomplished lately without a very deep line-up.
The Rays can pitch—there's no doubt about that. They may be on the verge of one of the most unlikely Wild Card titles in recent memory. If they add Prince Fielder to their line-up, they can be serious World Series contenders for years to come.
Also, Prince went to high school in Florida. He's a nice, quiet guy, and returning home to a small market might appeal to him.
Where I actually think he'll end up: Chicago Cubs
The Cubs have struggled big time lately, but they will have a new GM coming in. Whoever it is, I think they should make an immediate splash by bringing Prince to the Windy City. I don't think the Cubs are in a position to compete next season, but you can build a team around a guy like Prince. The Cubs will be able to afford Fielder, and his easy going attitude would make him a fan favorite in a city like Chicago.
The Giants need a big bat in the worst way. Well, you can't find a bigger bat than Albert's.
Like I mentioned earlier, I think this will be a very busy off season for Brian Sabean. The Carlos Beltran trade didn't pan out, and he should look to remedy that. It wouldn't surprise me if they re-sign Beltran, but I think they're a sleeper to land Pujols.
They do like Brandon Belt, but he can be moved to outfield. And, come on—it's Albert Pujols.
The Giants' pitching is too good not to be in the post-season. Yes, they lost Buster Posey earlier in the year, but there really isn't an excuse for them not playing in October.
Where I think he'll actually end up: St. Louis Cardinals
Players love playing in St. Louis. It's a baseball crazy city, and a really unique place to play in. I think Pujols will have a hard time leaving the Cardinals, especially if they match all other offers. I find it hard to imagine Albert Pujols anywhere else but St. Louis in 2012.