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MLB Free Agents 2012: Predicting Every Team's Free-Agency Budget This Offseason

Robert KnapelCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2011

MLB Free Agents 2012: Predicting Every Team's Free-Agency Budget This Offseason

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    During MLB free agency, the teams that can spend the most money are usually the ones that are able to improve the most over the winter. That is exactly why each team's offseason budget is so important.

    There are teams in big markets, like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, that will spend what they need to get the players they want. Other teams, such as the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics, need to be more frugal and go after players that provide them with a better bang for their buck.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Budget: $10-20 million

    One of the big things that the Arizona Diamondbacks' budget will depend on this winter is if they decide to pick up Aaron Hill's $8 million option. The team does have Jason Marquis' contract coming off the books this winter.

    With this available cash, the Diamondbacks will be able to go after a second baseman or third baseman, depending on where they put Ryan Roberts. The Diamondbacks could also go after a pitcher such as Jeff Francis to fill the back end of their rotation.

Atlanta Braves

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    Budget: $20-30 million

    This offseason, the Atlanta Braves will finally be able to rid themselves of a few of their bad contracts. Kenshin Kawakami will be coming off the books, and there is no chance the Braves pick up Nate McLouth's $10.65 million option.

    While the Braves will have money to spend, they have a number of players who will get big raises during arbitration. Both Jair Jurrjens and Michael Bourn are arbitration-eligible.

    The Braves will need to find a new shortstop if they do not re-sign Alex Gonzalez, and Jack Wilson would be a good fit. A player like Josh Willingham could be brought in to play left field. Atlanta will also look to improve its bullpen.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Budget: $15-25 million

    In the past, the Baltimore Orioles have shown they are not afraid to make offers to big-name free agents. However, they have had a problem signing them.

    This winter will likely be no different, as the Orioles have money to spend since they do not have too many big commitments.

    Baltimore absolutely needs to improve its rotation. While they will not be able to bring in a pitcher like C.J. Wilson, the Orioles could bring in two middle-of-the-rotation starters such as Paul Maholm and Edwin Jackson.

Boston Red Sox

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    Budget: $40-50 million

    Ben Cherington will have his work cut out for him this winter, but he will also have a lot of money to spend. The Boston Red Sox will no longer have to pay J.D. Drew, and they will likely let Jonathan Papelbon leave.

    One of the first things Cherington must do is re-sign David Ortiz. After that, he will need to go after a reliever to improve the bullpen and help offset the loss of Papelbon. The Red Sox could make a run at Jose Reyes this winter.

Chicago Cubs

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    Budget: $30-40 million

    It will be very interesting to see how Theo Epstein chooses to begin to shape the Chicago Cubs. There are two big contracts that will be coming off the Cubs' books this winter. Aramis Ramirez will likely not see his option picked up, and Carlos Pena is a free agent.

    With a hole at first base, there will be two names that come up often when discussing who will fill the Cubs' vacancy. Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder will be linked to Chicago throughout the winter.

Chicago White Sox

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    Budget: $15-25 million

    The White Sox will have two big players become free agents this winter. Both Mark Buehrle and Juan Pierre will test the waters of free agency. Of the two, it is much more likely that Buehrle will be brought back.

    In addition to Buehrle, the White Sox will need to add either another reliever or starter, possibly Chien-Ming Wang, depending on what they decide to do with Chris Sale. Chicago will likely also bring in a bench bat or two.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Budget: $10 million

    The first thing the Cincinnati Reds will do this winter is pick up Brandon Phillips' $12 million team option. After that, they will look to improve the rest of their team.

    There is a good chance the Reds will bring in at least one free agent to compete with their internal options for the openings at shortstop and third base. Eric Chavez could be an option for the Reds.

Cleveland Indians

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    Budget: $15-20 million

    If the Cleveland Indians decide not to pick up Grady Sizemore's option, they will have an additional $9 million they can spend this winter. That money could go towards a starting pitcher.

    The Indians rotation is weak behind Ubaldo Jimenez. They never know what they will get out of Fausto Carmona. Cleveland could make a move for Javier Vazquez this winter.

Colorado Rockies

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    Budget: $20 million

    The Colorado Rockies' offseason could take two very different paths this winter. They are said to be pushing hard for David Wright. If they trade for him, it makes a huge impact on how much money they will have to spend.

    It is not very likely that Wright gets traded, so the Rockies will likely need to find a third baseman on the free-agent market. Aramis Ramirez could be a good fit in Colorado.

Detroit Tigers

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    Budget: $25 million

    The Detroit Tigers are seemingly just one or two pieces away from the World Series. They were close in 2011 and hope to reach the championship in 2012.

    Detroit needs a third baseman, and there are only a few quality options on the market. The team could look to re-sign Wilson Betemit, or it could go after Aramis Ramirez.

Miami Marlins

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    Budget: $15 million

    When they move into a new ballpark to start the 2012 season, the Miami Marlins will hope that the new era of their franchise starts on a high note. To ensure this, the Marlins may bring in a few free agents.

    The Marlins have already extended Omar Infante's contract. Starting pitching will be high on the Marlins' list this winter, especially if they lose Javier Vazquez. Jason Marquis could take his spot in the rotation.

Houston Astros

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    Budget: $10 million

    The Houston Astros will have one of the smallest budgets of any team in the majors this winter. They will look to continue their youth movement and are in a rebuilding mode.

    Clint Barmes will be a free agent, and the Astros could go after a low-cost veteran leader such as Craig Counsell to replace him. Houston could spend more money this winter if it trades Wandy Rodriguez.

Kansas City Royals

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    Budget: $10 million

    Last season the Kansas City Royals were one of the youngest teams in baseball. They could use some veteran leadership to help lead the team into the future.

    The Royals will have two pitchers and two catchers become free agents this winter. They have internal options at catcher, but they likely will look to sign one free-agent pitcher. This could be a player such as Livan Hernandez.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Budget: $25 million

    Almost $35 million will be coming off the Los Angeles Angels' payroll this winter. Some of that money will be reinvested in current players who will be getting raises in arbitration.

    The rest of that money will go towards finding a reliable starter for the back end of the rotation and adding a reliever or two. One possible option is Edwin Jackson. It will also not be surprising if the Angels throw their hat in the ring for Jose Reyes.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Budget: $10 million

    There will not be much money for the Los Angeles Dodgers to spend on free agents this offseason. While Hiroki Kuroda, Jonathan Broxton and Jon Garland's contracts will be coming off the books, the Dodgers still will not have money because of the team's bankruptcy. Clayton Kershaw will be getting a huge raise this winter as well.

    Los Angeles will be looking for cheap options to fill any of its holes. It will let Dee Gordon play shortstop. The Dodgers could take a flier on pitchers like Brandon Webb who are low-risk/high-reward guys.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Budget: $15-20 million

    This winter, the Milwaukee Brewers will need to try to figure out how to fill the big 275-pound hole that will be left at first base when Prince Fielder leaves this offseason. All indications point to the fact that he will not be back.

    The Brewers could go after Derrek Lee or Carlos Pena to fill the hole if they are not going to give the job to Mat Gamel. Milwaukee could also add a reliever to fill the void left by Francisco Rodriguez.

Minnesota Twins

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    Budget: $15-20 million

    This winter, the Minnesota Twins will have two of their outfielders, Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer, become free agents. The team will likely try to retain at least one of the two.

    Minnesota will also be looking to sign at least one starter and will likely need to find a new DH. Ryan Ludwick could be an option at DH.

New York Mets

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    Budget: $25 million

    There should be one goal for the New York Mets front office this winter: Re-sign Jose Reyes. The team has other holes to fill, but none is more important that the potential gap at shortstop.

    The Mets will have a smaller payroll next season, and they will not be able to bring in much more than Reyes. Pitchers such as Paul Maholm and Aaron Harang could be on the Mets' radar.

New York Yankees

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    Budget: What's that?

    Simply put, money is not an issue for the New York Yankees. They will spend what it takes for them to get the players that they want.

    This winter, the Yankees will lose Jorge Posada, and CC Sabathia will likely opt out of his deal. The Yankees will make a strong push to re-sign Sabathia and will also go after another pitcher such as Yu Darvish or C.J. Wilson.

Oakland Athletics

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    Budget: $25-35 million

    The whole Oakland Athletics outfield in addition to Hideki Matsui will be free agents this coming winter. These are a number of shoes that need to be filled.

    Oakland will try to retain at least one outfielder. The most likely option is Josh Willingham. An intriguing option for the Athletics would be Grady Sizemore.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Budget: $20-25 million

    There is a lot of uncertainty about whether Ryan Howard will be able to play for the Philadelphia Phillies next season. The team will likely need to find a replacement for Howard. Carlos Pena is one possible option.

    Philadelphia will also need to try to re-sign Jimmy Rollins this winter. Raul Ibanez leaves as a free agent and the Phillies will likely give Domonic Brown the job. The Phillies will also try to improve their bullpen this winter.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Budget: $15-20 million

    The Pittsburgh Pirates shocked everyone when they were in first place in July during the 2011 season. They will be looking to build on this success.

    Pittsburgh will have pitcher Paul Maholm, first baseman Derrek Lee and catcher Ryan Doumit all become free agents. The Pirates can target Wilson Betemit to play third base and could go after a pitcher such as Jeff Francis.

San Diego Padres

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    Budget: $10 million

    2012 will be a rebuilding year for the San Diego Padres. They may lose Heath Bell, but they can offer him arbitration. The team also has a decision to make on Aaron Harang.

    What happens with these two will have a fairly big impact on the Padres' plans. They will likely make a number of small acquisitions this winter.

San Francisco Giants

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    Budget: $25 million

    The San Francisco Giants will get a big bat for their lineup when Buster Posey returns next year. They will also try to pick up at least one free agent to improve their lineup.

    Before the trade deadline the Giants traded top prospect Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran. The Giants could try to retain Beltran for the 2012 season. They could also go after Jose Reyes.

Seattle Mariners

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    Budget: $10-15 million

    This past season, the Seattle Mariners improved their team at the trade deadline. The Mariners rotation began to come together and showed a lot of promise.

    Both Adam Kennedy and Jamey Wright will have their contracts expire this winter. The Mariners will need to pick up a few bench bats, possibly a DH, a starter and some relievers this offseason. Bruce Chen could be a fit for the Mariners.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Budget: $40-45 million

    Albert Pujols will be the first and foremost priority for the St. Louis Cardinals this winter. He means so much to both the team and the city of St. Louis.

    In addition to trying to bring Pujols back, the Cardinals will attempt to re-sign Rafael Furcal. The Cardinals may also try to retain Edwin Jackson.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Budget: $10-15 million

    The Tampa Bay Rays have always been one of the more frugal teams in the MLB, but in recent years they have begun to spend more money.

    Tampa will try to re-sign Casey Kotchman, but he will be due for a big raise. The Rays could let Johnny Damon go and try to sign Lyle Overbay or Jim Thome to replace him. Relievers will also be on the Rays' radar this winter.

Texas Rangers

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    Budget: $25-35 million

    The Texas Rangers expect to lose C.J. Wilson to free agency this winter, but that does not mean they will not try to spend money on a pitcher this winter.

    There have been reports that the Rangers will be willing to spend a lot of money to sign CC Sabathia. On top of this, the Rangers will likely try to sign a pitcher or two to help out the back of their bullpen.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Budget: $20-25 million

    The talk around MLB seems to indicate that the Toronto Blue Jays will be the favorites for Yu Darvish if he is posted this winter. There have also been indications that the Rangers are the favorites, but either way, it shows the Blue Jays are willing to spend money.

    Toronto will be big players in free agency this winter, and the Blue Jays have money to spend with a number of players coming off their payroll this season, including Frank Francisco.

Washington Nationals

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    Budget: $20-25 million

    Last offseason the Washington Nationals surprised a number of people when they were able to sign Jayson Werth. This year, the Nationals might be able to make another big move.

    Both Ivan Rodriguez and Rick Ankiel will be free agents this winter. The Nationals will also lose Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis and Chien-Ming Wang to free agency. Washington has had interest in C.J. Wilson, as he would be a great fit for the top end of their rotation.

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