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MLB Free Agency: Top 5 Locker-Room Guys on the Market and Where They'll Go

Ray TannockSenior Analyst IDecember 14, 2011

MLB Free Agency: Top 5 Locker-Room Guys on the Market and Where They'll Go

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    The MLB rumor mill will be taking center stage for the next couple of months. There will be plenty of names to discuss, and plenty of speculation on where they could wind up.

    Today, I want to look at five of them.

    The rumor mill, as many know, is the driving force of baseball in the winter months, and there's plenty of activity to go around, so don't worry so much about the numbers of players discussed today, as plenty more are sure to surface in the coming weeks.

    Let's take a look.

Jimmy Rollins

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    According to Scott Miller on Twitter, the Phillies and Rollins are "not even close" to working out a deal, leaving the ageless shortstop free for the picking.

    The gap for teams who need shortstops is closing fast, and Rollins was hoping to sign close to a five-year deal.

    Rollins is now 33 and has dealt with a rash of injuries over the past two years, but his skill set is way above average. Unfortunately, since that gap is closing, Rollins may have to back off his demands a little bit if he wants to stay in Philly.

Luke Scott

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    After a disappointing season in which Scott hit .222/.301/.402—a season that ended in shoulder surgery—there seems to be plenty of action surrounding his services.

    Dan Connoly on Twitter is reporting that while the O's remain interested in re-signing him, there have been up to 10 teams that have expressed interest with contact.

    It'll be interesting to see what happens with Scott since the Orioles will have plenty of competition to deal with, but his injury liability may prevent him from scoring a bigger deal than what he wants.

    Scott has "bounce-back candidate" written all over him, though, but only if he can stay healthy. That aspect may bode well for him in the bargaining arena.

Jason Varitek

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    It's kinda hard to really gauge where Varitek will wind up, and the growing consensus is that he may not return to Boston, leaving him wide open in the market.

    Phil Rogers on Twitter has reported that the Chicago Cubs have expressed some interest in the old gray-beard.

    The Cubs decided to not tender Koyie Hill, meaning they could be in the market for another catcher with veteran experience to back up Geovany Soto.

    Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger are the other two in-house candidates who will battle it out for the backup job, so there is some room for everyone to begin scratching their chins on this rumor. But until more news comes about, it isn't really much to sink our teeth into.

Carlos Beltran...Really?

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    It may not be that surprising since most thought Beltran wasn't going to remain a Giant, but what surprises me, are the names involved.

    Various sources in tandem at CBSSports.Com are reporting that the Rockies, Cardinals and Blue Jays are all in serious contention for Beltran's services.

    The Cardinals make sense since they have a genuine need at OF, but the Blue Jays are a bit curious since they have a boat load (8) of outfielders on their roster right now.

    The Rockies are a bit curious, as they are currently trying to strike a deal for Twins fielder Michael Cuddyer sometime this week.

    CBSSports.com goes on to say—regarding Colorado—that both Cuddyer and Beltran are atop the Rockies' wish list, so Beltran could be their grand backup plan.

Josh Willingham

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    Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting that the Twins and Josh Willingham are "very close" to a three-year, $21 million inking, which would seemingly act as an upgrade for the Twins in the outfield.

    Willingham batted .246/.332/.477 with 29 home runs, 98 RBI and an .810 OPS in 136 games as an Athletic, so the Twins again would certainly benefit from Willingham's services, especially since he is one of the more consistent hitters in the league.

    At the ripe age of 33, however, that price tag may come back to bite Minnesota in the end, so let's hope it doesn't if the deal does get done.

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