MLB Free Agents 2012: Ranking the 5 Best Shortstops Available

Robert Knapel@@RobertKnapel_BRCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2011

MLB Free Agents 2012: Ranking the 5 Best Shortstops Available

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    Shortstop is one of the most difficult positions to fill in baseball. This winter, a number of teams will have the opportunity to pick up a shortstop that can immediately improve their lineup.

    There is one elite shortstop available, as well as a number of good players. However, the quality of the shortstops that are free agents quickly drops off after the ones that appear on this list.

5) Marco Scutaro

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    Marco Scutaro may or may not be a free agent this winter depending on if the Boston Red Sox decide to pick up his $6 million option. Even if that option is not picked up, Scutaro still has a $3 million player option.

    Scutaro still has the ability to be a starting shortstop in the major leagues. If he does become a free agent, he will likely get a short-term deal.

4) Alex Gonzalez

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    When Alex Gonzalez hits the free-agent market this winter, there will be a number of teams that cannot afford to spend the big bucks that will be interested in signing him.

    Gonzalez is a serviceable shortstop who has 20-home run pop. His power potential will mean that there will definitely be teams going after him this offseason.

3) Rafael Furcal

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    The St. Louis Cardinals hold a $12 million option for Rafael Furcal, but they will likely decline it because of Furcal's health concerns. When he is healthy, Furcal is an very good shortstop.

    However, Furcal has not played more than 100 games in a season since 2009. If he continues to perform well in the playoffs, Furcal should garner interest from a number of teams this offseason.

2) Jimmy Rollins

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    Jimmy Rollins is no longer an MVP-caliber player, but he is one of the better shortstops in baseball. He should be fairly affordable given his abilities.

    It would be fairly surprising if Rollins does not return to Philadelphia after this season. There is mutual interest in his return, and he has spent his whole career as a Phillie.

1) Jose Reyes

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    The 2011 National League batting champion will be the most coveted shortstop on the free agent market. Jose Reyes is also one of the crown jewels that will be available this winter. He is one of the most exciting players in baseball.

    Reyes might get a deal in excess of $100 million this offseason. The New York Mets will try to bring him back, but they will face still competition from teams such as the Boston Red Sox and the San Francisco Giants.