The World Series will end soon and then we can start thinking about 2012. Every off-season comes with a few trades, borderline 3rd-starers getting overpaid and a management shake-up or two but this winter will be all about the power at corners. The NL is ripe for turnover and while the Red Sox and Yankees might be not enter the fray, there will be new spenders to emerge. Who will be available and where might they go?
The 33-year-old Ramirez could be a casualty of Theo Epstein’s new rebuilding project and threatens to leave as he demands a long-term contract. Health is always a concern with Aramis but he was extremely productive (.871 OPS) in 149 games last year after playing 208 in the two previous seasons combined. Theo has the payroll flexibility to afford his 33-year-old 3B but he also wants to build the organization from the bottom up and is unlikely to succumb to Ramirez’s recent demands:
Fielder’s incredible talent and concerning weight issues make his impending free agency a true crapshoot but there will be at least five years for a Scott Boras bat of this caliber. Prince Fielder’s value after a 38 HR, .981 OPS season is higher than any other 1B but Pujols and many long terms concerns could be addressed by moving to the AL. Boras may find more dollars by pitching Fielder as a position player to NL teams where there are many suitors for a 1B. ESPN’s Jon Weisman points out that the Los Angeles Dodgers have the necessary coin:
The New York Mets are at a crossroads this off-season as ownership issues create an uncertain budget and the team faces a costly decision on superstar-when-healthy Jose Reyes. If the team loses Reyes to free agency and faces a 2012 of little more than David Wright, Jason Bay (?) and Johan Santana (?) they might also decide to rebuild by dealing their most talented player. David Wright is a solid 3B with speed with a $15,000,000 year in 2012 and an option on 2013. After playing 102 games last year, you may never get more for him than right now and the team isn’t expected to compete in 2012 anyway. The talented but injury-prone star is currently under contract but being offered around the league, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post:
Despite Cincinnati claims to the contrary, Joey Votto is highly rumored to be on the market and with the 1B position about to change dramatically in the NL, the Reds might be wise to put him up for auction. The 2010 MVP was a rock in the middle of the order of a potent Reds offense for 161 games last year and may be the safest 1B on the market at 28 years old. Evaluations of Votto’s success vary depending on how his generous home ballpark is taken into the equation and despite playing at the Great American Launching Pad he failed to match Fielder’s numbers. Our own Mark Miller outlines his possible destinations:
The prize of the 2011 off-season is in line for a $200 million deal and could go anywhere from the Cubs to the Nationals but isn’t likely to woo the AL East’s big spenders with rock-solid 1B in Boston and New York. His age is a concern (and cause for debate) but there may be no better hitter in baseball. One has to like the Cardinals coming through for their franchise player but ESPN’s Buster Olney likes the Rangers chances: http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play?id=7152213&s=espn