With all of the AL Central teams eliminated from playoff contention, it's time to look forward to the offseason as teams try to compete for what should be another wide open race.
The Detroit Tigers will try to remain champs by shoring up what little weaknesses they have. The Cleveland Indians are trying to find one more missing piece in order to become a contender again. The Chicago White Sox ended the Ozzie Guillen era and look to begin anew. The Kansas City Royals try to get one step closer to not being the doormat anymore and the Minnesota Twins try to bounce back from a disappointing year.
With this year's free-agency class filled with high-end talent, each team will try to get the biggest name.
In this slideshow, you'll see a free agent target for each team that would be a good fit, but it's doubtful it'll happen. Each team also has a different player that is highly more likely to sign with the squad.
Many seem to think that the White Sox will part ways with long-time pitcher Mark Buehrle this offseason. If that happens, Chicago will have to fill his rotation spot via free agency since it lacks many quality pitchers in the minors.
Why not replace a durable and reliable lefty with a durable and reliable lefty ace?
Probably because the Sox have no chance.
If Sabathia opts out of his contract, he will command a ridiculous amount of money, something Chicago probably will not be able to afford due to the terrible Adam Dunn signing last winter.
Besides, Sabathia will want to go to a contender. While the White Sox certainly have the pieces to win, they failed to get anything together last year, and it's doubtful Sabathia will want to join such a team with a new manager.
Despite the fact that many believe he is done in Chicago, Buehrle may be best suited in the Windy City.
The White Sox will have a new regime in 2012 and having strong veteran leadership like Buehrle will be the best way to help that transition.
If Albert Pujols isn't the greatest player of our generation, he's at least the best player on the market this winter.
Every team and their mothers will try to court Pujols this winter, but the Indians probably won't be one of them.
I could be wrong, seeing as no one saw them landing Ubaldo Jimenez in the offseason.
General manager Chris Antonetti has shown more of a willingness to make landmark moves to improve the team than former GM and current President Mark Shapiro. With Matt LaPorta looking more and more like a bust, first base is a black hole for the Tribe. Landing Pujols could give them strong consideration for division favorites.
With the probable departure of Grady Sizemore and Kosuke Fukudome, that leaves the Indians in need of a corner outfielder.
Michael Brantley will probably move to center field, and the team is trying out utility man Jason Donald in the outfield to provide depth.
Josh Willingham could be the right-handed power hitter the Indians have been craving. Injuries will always be a concern, but that will only lower the price for a money-starved Cleveland franchise.
The Tigers came close to making it to the World Series this year, but just one piece is missing. Detroit could use an upgrade in the outfield.
Delmon Young hasn't done much in his career besides 2010, and Austin Jackson is average at best in center. Magglio Ordonez shouldn't be playing every day.
That's where Carlos Beltran could step in...well, except for the fact that many consider him the best outfielder on the market and he'll be pursued heavily. Expect him to stay in the NL, while Detroit finds cheaper players that could produce just as well to help it hold onto the AL Central crown.
Michael Cuddyer has spent his entire career thus far in Minnesota, but perhaps he's best off with another AL Central team.
Cuddyer could play mostly right field but is also available to play other positions if needed.
The market seems to undervalue Cuddyer greatly, which is good news for a smart Detroit Tigers front office. They have done a good job finding cheaper replacements to fill needs, such as trading for Doug Fister.
Bruce Chen is now a free agent and isn't expected to return to Kansas City. The Royals have two great pitching prospects in Mike Montgomery and John Lamb who were expected to make their debuts last year, but things didn't turn out so well.
Montgomery struggled mightily at Triple-A and doesn't appear ready for the majors just yet. John Lamb had to undergo Tommy John surgery, which now pushes back his debut another year.
That leaves a big hole in the Royals rotation, which could make them look into signing Hiroki Kuroda.
Kuroda has held an ERA under 4.00 every year he's pitched in the majors. That kind of consistency at a relatively low price could be great for this Kansas City ballclub.
Unfortunately, Kuroda would probably not like to finish his career as a Royal. At age 36, this could be the last contract the right-hander signs. Kuroda was adamant about not wanting to leave Los Angeles at the trade deadline, and he definitely won't leave them for a bottom-feeder like the Royals.
Since Hiroki Kuroda won't give Kansas City's front office the time of day, Paul Maholm could be a more reasonable target.
Maholm isn't exactly a great pitcher, but as a stopgap on a non-contending team, he could do the job just fine.
Montgomery and Lamb still need about another year, though it's likely Kansas City will see the former at some point in 2012.
Maholm is just as good as Chen, if not better, though he isn't a southpaw. He would be the perfect replacement.
This one isn't as unlikely as some of the others on this list, but I find it hard to believe that Minnesota would be willing to show Papelbon enough money to come play in Target Field.
As an All-Star closer not expected to re-sign with the Red Sox, Papelbon will be overpaid by some team desperate for bullpen help.
Despite the fact that the back end of the bullpen was a big weakness for Minnesota this year with both Joe Nathan and Matt Capps struggling, don't expect the Twins to put enough money in Papelbon's bank account to convince him to pack his bags.
There is no way that Minnesota will pick up Joe Nathan's $12.5 million option this offseason.
It is likely, however, that it renegotiates with its long-time closer in order to have him keep his current role.
After missing all of 2010 after Tommy John surgery and struggling in his return this past season, Nathan is far from the elite closer he once was.
He could still be effective but not enough so to warrant that high of a price.
Minnesota wants Nathan, and Nathan wants to remain a Twin. A more reasonable deal should be reached quickly.