2012 MLB Free Agency: An Ideal Move for Every Team This Offseason
C.J. Wilson is set to play a big part in the Texas Rangers' quest for a second consecutive World Series appearance as they take on the Detroit Tigers starting this weekend.
Once the season ends, Wilson will be one of many coveted free agents to hit the open market.
With the Yankees season ending prematurely by their standards, they'll certainly be active, along with a number of other teams.
As is the case with every offseason, a number of surprises will likely occur, while many free agents will likely remain with their teams for 2012 and possibly even beyond.
Here are some of the top names likely on teams' offseason checklists heading into the quest for 2012 dominance.
Houston Astros: Clint Barmes
The Houston Astros likely won't have much of a shot at bringing in big name free agents this offseason, as they'll most certainly want to enter greener pastures.
That said, they could do worse than to retain Clint Barmes to hold down the middle of their infield. Despite a relatively low batting average in 2011 (.244), Barmes did show that he has sufficient offensive abilities and could provide stability on a team that needs it.
Oakland Athletics: Josh Willingham
Any time a team loses 30 home runs and 100 RBI from their roster in an offseason, it puts the team in a rough situation moving forward.
That's exactly why the Oakland A's would be wise to lock in Josh Willingham if possible. He batted only .246 this season, but went deep 29 times and knocked in 98 runs.
Anaheim Angels: Aramis Ramirez
The Anaheim Angels had one of the top pitching staffs in the league in 2011, with Jared Weaver leading the way. This offseason, they'll likely look to improve on offense as they head into next season.
Bringing in Aramis Ramirez would provide an immediate upgrade at third base and give an additional tool in the lineup to complement the veterans already in place.
Toronto Blue Jays: C.J. Wilson
The Toronto Blue Jays are at an immediate disadvantage by having to play in the AL East. An astronomically tough schedule day in and day out makes playoff contention a tough battle to face.
Still, the Blue Jays have shown signs of improvement in recent years and have one of the most impressive offensive talents in the league with Jose Bautista.
Bringing in a starting pitcher like C.J. Wilson would provide an immediate jolt to a team that finished in the bottom third of the league for pitching.
Atlanta Braves: Roy Oswalt
After just missing out on postseason play this season, the Atlanta Braves will look to make a big signing this offseason in hopes of getting them over the hump in the competitive NL East.
Should the Philadelphia Phillies opt to let Roy Oswalt walk, the Atlanta Braves could put themselves in a great situation by improving a pitching staff that already ranked among the top five in baseball this season.
St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols
The St. Louis Cardinals are holding strong thus far in their effort to not throw endless amounts of money at Albert Pujols to keep him from entering free agency.
It looks as though he'll test the market, but the St. Louis Cardinals certainly won't give him up without a fight.
He's been the face of the franchise for years, and will be needed in the lineup in 2012 and beyond to give the team what it needs to contend on an annual basis.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Roy Oswalt
The Arizona Diamondbacks are showing off their muscle in the NLDS right now as they look to knock off the Brewers in Game 5.
In looking to add another element to their 2012 roster, the D-Backs may look to bolster the rotation by bringing in a proven starter to compete in the NL West.
If the Philadelphia Phillies don't end up picking up Roy Oswalt's option for 2012 and opt to let him enter free agency, he'd make an immediate impact.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Retain Somebody, Cheaply
With more attention for the Los Angeles Dodgers coming off the field rather than on it, it's clear that their biggest problems aren't with the team itself.
With strong young stars like Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp on the roster, there's reason to go to the ballpark and cheer on the Dodgers—but the legal hangups will likely prevent much of anything substantial from being done this offseason.
Still, the team could help its cause by retaining at least a free agent or two.
Philadelphia Phillies: Cole Hamels
The Philadelphia Phillies made massive waves last offseason when they signed Cliff Lee to a long-term deal, giving the team one of the most devastating rotations that the league has seen.
With a strong offense remaining in tact, the Phillies will look to keep their rotation mostly in tact as they work to keep Hamels around for another run at an NL East crown.
Chicago Cubs: Albert Pujols
It's a move that's been speculated upon since earlier this season when Albert Pujols was seen hugging then-Cubs GM Jim Hendry.
The St. Louis Cardinals clearly want to do everything in their power to keep Pujols around, but based on the lack of movement in contract talks, it's also apparent that they're not going out of their way to overpay for his services.
With the Cubs seeking permission to talk with Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein about a change in scenery, pulling this move off would be a great way to start a tenure in Chicago.
Boston Red Sox: Heath Bell
The demise of the Boston Red Sox can't be single-handedly placed on the bullpen, as their offense struggled to produce at times and their rotation had issues of its own.
But shoring up their late-inning situations could be a step in the right direction for a team that just barely missed postseason play in 2011.
Heath Bell will earn himself a good paycheck in the free-agent market, and a cross-country move certainly isn't out of the question for a franchise that will be willing to spend whatever it takes to avoid a repeat of this season.
San Francisco Giants: Prince Fielder
It's very hard to predict which team Prince Fielder will most likely end up with next season, as he's made it clear that re-signing with Milwaukee isn't his top priority.
With a player of this caliber, you can't count out the top payrolls in the league extending even further to bring his power on board, but it's hard to see the Yankees or Red Sox finding room for him.
That said, the San Francisco Giants would be a great fit for Fielder. Missing the playoffs just a year after winning a World Championship doesn't sit well with the organization, and if Carlos Beltran isn't retained, they could have the ability to make a push for Prince.
Kansas City Royals: Edwin Jackson
The Kansas City Royals showed this season that while they're still a ways off from contending in the AL Central, they do have a number of budding stars ready to push the team in the right direction.
One area that could certainly use improvement is starting pitching. Bringing in a pitcher like Edwin Jackson would give the team a pitcher who has proven himself to be effective. He's also shown signs of inconsistency, but is young enough that he very well may still be on his way up.
Milwaukee Brewers: Prince Fielder
It's becoming apparent that Prince Fielder is intent on testing the free-agent market to its fullest before making a move, leaving his NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers to wonder what the future holds.
It's not certain as to whether or not the Brewers will come up with the funds that it'd take to keep one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league in town, but the team would be wise to throw everything they have at him if they hope to be perennial contenders in the division.
Seattle Mariners: Josh Willingham
Ranking last in the league in runs scored, batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage this season, the Seattle Mariners will most certainly look to add offense wherever possible.
Bringing Josh Willingham up the coast from Oakland would help bolster the offense and add a good option in the outfield, but more work will certainly need to be done.
New York Mets: Jose Reyes
In not trading Jose Reyes this summer, the New York Mets made it clear that they're going to make every effort to keep him on the team for the long term.
Reyes' many tools give the Mets a dimension that they'll miss sorely should he depart, but the money he'll warrant in free agency may prove to be too much for the team to handle.
Texas Rangers: C.J. Wilson
The Texas Rangers are headed for another ALCS showdown this season, thanks to a balanced approach on both offense and defense.
They'll need their top pitcher again in 2012 if they look to make another run, but will have competition from some big market teams that will undoubtedly be willing to spend what it takes to pry him away from Texas.
New York Yankees: CC Sabathia
Yes, CC Sabathia is under contract through 2015, being paid $23 million annually. But he also has the ability to opt out of his contract after this season, something he'll definitely do.
The Yankees are clearly not in a position to let their ace get away as their rotation is relatively thin beyond him, so they'll open up their seemingly bottomless wallet to ensure that he sticks around.
Minnesota Twins: Mark Buehrle
After narrowly escaping 100 losses this season, the Minnesota Twins have more questions than ever heading into this offseason. Their offense was stagnant much of the season, and even though a good part of it can be blamed on their inability to stay healthy, they've got major pitching problems.
With a very ineffective bullpen this season and a starting rotation that had its weaknesses exposed on a nightly basis, they'll want to make changes for 2012.
A pitcher like Mark Buehrle would be a great pickup for the Twins, as he's had a lot of success in the AL Central. His age would be the biggest negative for the team, as the team's two top pitchers would be in their mid-30s with his addition.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Aramis Ramirez
Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington has been vague about moves that the team intends to make this offseason in an effort to improve on a 2011 season that saw impressive growth.
He noted that they'd look to bring in a veteran presence, but wouldn't elaborate further. A direction they could look would be to bring Aramis Ramirez back to Pittsburgh to solidify the left side of the infield.
His skills in the lineup would certainly help a team that ranked towards the bottom of the league in most offensive categories.
Florida Marlins: Mark Buehrle
With a new manager in place and a new stadium opening in 2012, the Florida Marlins will look to give fans yet another reason to come on out to the ballpark.
They already have a number of pieces in place, but in order to compete in the NL East they'll need to improve on their starting pitching.
It wouldn't be entirely surprising if Ozzie Guillen looks to entice his former ace Mark Buehrle to head down to south Florida.
Cleveland Indians: Grady Sizemore
The Cleveland Indians emerged as one of the top teams in the AL Central throughout the season, and while their efforts ultimately came up short, they gave fans in Cleveland a reason to believe in the future.
With a club option on the table for Grady Sizemore, the Indians will likely retain their biggest name in recent years and look outward to fill in other holes in the lineup as they look towards 2012.
Chicago White Sox: Mark Buehrle
The Chicago White Sox had very high hopes coming into this season after acquiring a top free-agent target in Adam Dunn and making moves to improve the bullpen.
Dunn failed to live up to expectations, batting lower than .160 and hitting only 11 home runs.
After shipping Edwin Jackson to St. Louis, the White Sox further minimized their rotation, making a contract for Mark Buehrle that much more important.
Cincinnati Reds: Brandon Phillips
As one of their most consistent offensive performers, Brandon Phillips will likely be an important piece of the Cincinnati Reds' offseason plans.
The $12 million club option will likely be picked up as they continue to work to build a veteran nucleus that can contend in the NL Central.
Tampa Bay Rays: Johnny Damon
Johnny Damon proved to be an important part of the Tampa Bay Rays push towards postseason play this season.
Despite falling short in the ALDS, the Rays will hope to continue to compete despite being overmatched in payroll compared to their AL East counterparts.
Keeping Damon around would be a veteran signing at a fair price that could do just that.
San Diego Padres: Any Offensive Help
It would seem unlikely that the San Diego Padres would be able to bring Heath Bell back for another season with the team, but not trading him away could be a sign that they'll look to make a push at it rather than let him walk away free.
Offense will likely be another important aspect of the game they look to address, as they ranked 28th or lower in runs scored, on base percentage, batting average and slugging.
Washington Nationals: Roy Oswalt
The Washington Nationals fell just short of .500 this season, finishing with an 80-81 record. There were high hopes for the team entering the season with the acquisition of Jayson Werth, but the loss of Stephen Strasburg ultimately prevented anything from materializing.
With starters Livan Hernandez and Chien-Ming Wang entering free agency, they'll need to replace some spots in the rotation—adding Roy Oswalt to complement Strasburg in 2012 would give them a great one-two punch.
Baltimore Orioles: Vladimir Guerrero/Derrek Lee
With J.J. Hardy locked in for 2012, the Baltimore Orioles should look towards retaining other sources of power as well.
Both Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee played with one-year contracts this season, and while it's unlikely that both will return next season, bringing back one would be a move the team could potentially make.
Detroit Tigers: Aramis Ramirez
The Detroit Tigers emerged as the top team in the AL Central this season as they worked past the suddenly emerging Cleveland Indians and overmatched the disappointing Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins.
With a well balanced team already in place, one aspect they may look to address is the left side of the infield.
Bringing in Aramis Ramirez would further strengthen their lineup and would certainly ensure they're the division favorites heading into 2012.
Colorado Rockies: Michael Cuddyer
The Colorado Rockies may look to address pitching this offseason after they sent out their ace Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland before the trade deadline this summer.
With the competition for pitching however, addressing offense seems like a more likely point of emphasis.
The Minnesota Twins may look to retain Michael Cuddyer, but with Jason Kubel a younger and probably cheaper option, the Rockies may have a shot at the longtime Twin.
His offensive abilities and capacity to play most positions on the field would be an asset on both sides of the game.
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