Now that the MLB season has come to an end, with the St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series, the offseason begins.
We have already seen some major moves and trades, with C.C. Sabathia re-signing with the New York Yankees and Derek Lowe traded to the Cleveland Indians from the Atlanta Braves.
Here's where I think the top 25 free agents will end up.
After he hit just .209 for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kelly Johnson was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. Johnson played like his 2010 self in his brief time with the Jays, hitting .270 with three homers and nine RBI in 33 games. Johnson will be back for the Blue Jays this year as the everyday starting second baseman.
After an abysmal year with the New York Yankees, Vazquez signed with the Florida Marlins and had a great year, finishing with a 5-0 record in September and an ERA of 0.71. Vazquez looked very comfortable with the Marlins and I expect him to re-sign with them if he does not choose to retire.
Both Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer represent huge parts of a Twins offense that was riddled with injuries this season. I expect one, if not both, of them to be retained this season.
I could see Crisp signing with a team like the San Francisco Giants. The Giants are in need of offense and Crisp could supply them with a center fielder and a leadoff man with speed.
After a season in which he hit 29 home runs with 98 RBI, Willingham would be a great signing for any team looking for offense. I could see the Athletics resigning Willingham, as they could definitely use his power.
After the news that the Cleveland Indians decided not to exercise Sizemore's option, I can see Sizemore going to a team like the Florida Marlins. Sizemore is a high-risk, high-reward kind of guy— perfect for team like the Marlins, who are looking to make a few big signings this offseason.
After three straight years of 40+ saves, Bell has established himself as one of the best closers in the majors. Bell has said that he wishes to return to San Diego, so I can see the Padres signing him to a two-year or three-year deal.
Oswalt, who considered retirement back in August, could go to a team like the Rangers, who would sign him to a one to two-year deal instead of re-signing C.J. Wilson to a longer, more expensive contract.
K-Rod wishes to return to a closing role. Because he is a Scott Boras client, I can see him getting a three-year contract with a team like the Marlins, who have an opening and are looking to make a splash.
Kuroda has said that he doesn't want to play for any other team, so I expect the Dodgers to re-sign him.
The Cubs appear intent on going after either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, so first baseman Carlos Pena will most likely not be back. Pena could go to a team like the Indians, who need the power and an upgrade at first base.
Cuddyer will most likely be back with the Twins, as he is a major part of their offense
If the Red Sox retain Jonathan Papelbon, the Phillies will most likely re-sign Madson—there isn't a free agent closer that would be a better fit for the Phillies.
It would be difficult to imagine Buehrle with another team. He could go to a team like the Yankees who need pitching—or he could join Ozzie Guillen and the Marlins. In the end, though, I think he'll return to Chicago.
Ortiz could go to a number of teams, such as the Yankees, Blue Jays, Angels—or back to the Red Sox. I can't see him signing with the Angels or Yankees, though. The Blue Jays are an interesting thought, but I think he'll re-up with the Red Sox.
The Orioles could be a major player for Ramirez this offseason. But I think the Tigers will sign Ramirez because Brandon Inge is terrible and Wilson Betemit is also a free agent.
I've predicted that both Heath Bell and Ryan Madson will return their teams, as will Papelbon. The Red Sox do have Daniel Bard, but Papelbon seems to have regained his form after a bad 2010.
Rollins probably won't find the five-year deal he wants, but the Phillies need a shortstop and have the means to reach a new agreement with Rollins.
I predict that the Red Sox will sign E-Jax this offseason. Jackson has great upside and already posts 200 innings every year. With the news that John Lackey needs Tommy John surgery, I could see the Red Sox signing the Scott Boras client to a four or five-year deal.
Beltran excelled in his short stint with the Giants and looked comfortable with them. The hitting-depleted Giants will most likely re-sign the slugger.
Although technically not a free agent, Darvish is still one of the premium arms available this offseason. The fact that the posting fee will not go towards the luxury tax and the payroll—and that Darvish wont cost a draft pick—makes me think (and hope) that the Yankees will sign him.
The Cubs, Blue Jays, Marlins, Royals, Yankees, Red Sox, and Nationals all appear to be likely to offer Wilson a big contract. I don't think Wilson will exceed $100 million, but anything is possible. Anyway, I think the Nationals will end up signing Wilson.
In my opinion, there is no way that the Mets can re-sign Reyes. If the Brewers fail to sign Fielder, I could see them signing Reyes instead.
The Chicago Cubs appear to be the front-runner in the Fielder sweepstakes. The same teams interested in Pujols are in contention for Fielder too. The Brewers don't appear to be able to re-sign Fielder. Unless the Mariners can offer a mammoth deal, I think the Cubs will end up signing Prince.
At first I thought that winning the World Series would convince Pujols to stay, but now I'm not certain. The Cubs, Blue Jays, Mariners and Rangers are all potential suitors. Still, right now, I can't see Pujols playing for any other team but the Cardinals.