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USA Today

During the regular season, teams usually call up their top prospects to fill a role that’s been affected by injuries or productivity issues.

While those obviously aren’t relevant concerns in the offseason, teams still have to consider the futures of its top prospects when addressing roster concerns caused by free-agent departures.

In some cases, teams will turn to internal replacements to fill glaring roster holes, as the Reds did with Billy Hamilton this season. Other clubs show more pause in passing the torch to a largely unproven, young player, and instead pursue outside help, potentially blocking a prospect’s path to the major leagues in the process.

However, these 10 players have the potential to benefit from their respective team’s free-agency situations.

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Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Believe it or not, the New York Yankees don’t plan on being big spenders this offseason. At least compared to previous years.

According to Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News, the Yankees are not expected to pursue top free-agent pitchers Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields, as well as free-agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

Instead, the team is likely to address its needs by targeting “mid-level free agents” such as Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy, notes Feinsand and Madden.

Though it’s difficult to discount the Yankees' potential to make a splash on the free-agent market this year—especially after the team’s spending spree last offseason—avoiding more large, multi-year contracts to players approaching the wrong side of 30 is the right call.

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Koji Sasahara/Associated Press

This year’s class of free agents features top-tier pitchers such as Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields, as well as a few middle-of-the-order hitters such as Hanley Ramirez, Victor Martinez and Pablo Sandoval. However, some organizations may be more interested in what the international market has to offer.

As of now, Yasmani Tomas is expected to be the most coveted international free agent, as teams have flocked to see the Cuban outfielder in various showcase events over the last two months. However, he is only one of numerous international talents capable of making an impact in the major leagues as early as the 2015 season.

But how much will teams spend on this year's top international talents?

Here’s an early look at the potential contracts for the top 10 international free agents, ranked by cost. Please keep in mind that this article features players who have not officially defected from Cuba as well as players expected to be posted this offseason by a Japanese or Korean league.

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Ben Margot/Associated Press

The (multi) million-dollar question this offseason is whether Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda will be posted by Nippon Professional Baseball’s Hiroshima Carp.

Maeda was the subject of rumors last offseason as well, after the 26-year-old right-hander openly expressed a desire to pursue a career in Major League Baseball. However, with four years of team control remaining at that time, the Carp chose not to post their top pitcher, keeping him in Japan for at least one more year.

Now, with the free agency underway, speculation regarding Maeda’s future in the States is once again picking up steam. But according to a recent report from The Japan Times (h/t MLB Trade Rumors), Hiroshima Carp owner Hajime Matsuda hasn’t decided whether the club will make Maeda available through the posting system.

“We have the right. We would like to let him go, but based on his production this year it will be difficult,” Matsuda said.

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Major League Baseball announced the 2014 Comeback Players of the Year in the American and National Leagues on Friday, and they got both of them right.

Seattle Mariners right-hander Chris Young was bestowed with the honor in the AL, after the 35-year-old pitched to a 3.65 ERA over 165 innings and cemented the back end of the team’s starting rotation with 12 wins in 29 starts.

Young spent the 2013 season with the Nationals, but injuries prevented him from reaching the major leagues. He managed to log just 32 innings at Triple-A Syracuse, where he registered an ugly 7.88 ERA and made only seven starts.

A clause in Young’s contract allowed him to opt out of his deal at the end of spring training, and soon thereafter he caught on with the Mariners. The veteran turned out to be a bargain for the M’s, costing them only $1.25 million on the year.

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Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Baseball’s offseason has only just begun, but with the winter meetings roughly a month away, speculation regarding this year’s trade market is already heating up.

In recent years, we’ve seen more and more teams willing to trade their top prospects, like when the Royals dealt Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi to the Rays prior to the 2013 season, which was also the same offseason that the Blue Jays sent Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud to the Mets.

And even though the deals that transpired last offseason didn’t involve as many big-name prospects, we still saw numerous highly regarded young talents, such as Matt Davidson, Michael Choice, Jesse Hahn and Robbie Ray, get moved in exchange for veteran players.

With that being said, here’s an early look at four potential impact prospects who could be wearing a different uniform at the start of the 2014 season.

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The offseason is officially underway, as Major League Baseball on Thursday released its list of 121 players set to become free agents.

However, that number has already increased, as both teams and players have already declined options. Plus, even more players are expected to enter the mix this offseason, as teams will be forced to decide whether to offer specific players arbitration.

So, which teams stand the best chance at landing this year’s elite free agents?

In order to determine which free agents should be considered elite, we looked at each player’s 2014 production, using WAR as the determining factor, while also considering the latest rumors regarding his perceived interest on the open market.

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The conclusion of the World Series on Wednesday means that free agency is nearly upon us.

This year’s free-agent class features three high-end pitchers in Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields, as well as a few middle-of-the-order hitters such as Hanley Ramirez, Victor Martinez and Pablo Sandoval.

However, there’s an even longer list of less notable players entering free agency, including Aaron Harang, Jed Lowrie, Colby Rasmus and Brandon McCarthy. While they could offer great value to the right team, they also come with considerable risk—usually as a result of injuries or underwhelming production in previous years.

With that in mind, here’s a look at four soon-to-be free agents that are either currently in a decline or likely to decline in the coming years. They should therefore be avoided by teams looking to make a meaningful upgrade during the offseason. 

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The 2014 season came to an end Wednesday night, as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 of the World Series, 3-2, to claim their third title in the last five years.

Madison Bumgarner further etched his name in baseball history with five scoreless innings out of the bullpen, and he did it on two days’ rest after firing a four-hit shutout in Game 5. In his third trip to the World Series, the 25-year-old Bumgarner went 3-0 and allowed just one earned run in 21 innings. And for the second straight postseason series, the left-hander walked away with MVP honors.

While Bumgarner’s domination of the Royals on three separate occasions deservedly captured all the headlines, the standout performances by players on both teams in the series also offered a preview of Major League Baseball’s next wave of potential stars, including Yordano Ventura, Eric Hosmer and Joe Panik.

With that said, here are the biggest takeaways/lessons learned from the 2014 World Series.

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Koji Sasahara/Associated Press

With the 2014 Major League Baseball season set to end Wednesday night with Game 7 of the World Series, teams will soon direct their focus toward the free-agent market.

Even though this year’s class features top-tier pitchers such as Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields, as well as a few middle-of-the-order hitters such as Hanley Ramirez, Victor Martinez and Pablo Sandoval, organizations may be more interested in what the international market has to offer.

As of now, Yasmani Tomas is expected to be the most coveted player. Teams have flocked to see the Cuban outfielder in various showcase events over the last two months. However, he is only one of numerous international players who are capable of making an impact in the major leagues as early as the 2015 season.

But which teams are most likely to make a run at this year's top international talents?