With free agency now in full force, there seem to be a select number of elite players up for grabs.
Of course, we all know Cliff Lee is a free agent, but who else is out there, and what's their story?
Everyone expected the Yankees to be a player in re-signing players, but there seems to be more difficulty in returning players.
Derek Jeter, the Yankee leader, has not yet signed despite heavy pursuit by the Yankees. Considering he had his worst statistical season offensively and did not deserve the Gold Glove he won, the $45 million, three-year contract the Yankees offered him should sound sweet.
However, at age 36, Jeter wants a four- or five-year contract. What he is trying to do is extend his career, because the end of this contract he signs will be the end of his career as a starting shortstop. If Jeter wants that contract, he might have to shop around, but to be honest, he will not as heavily pursued as he hopes.
However, if the Yankees let Mariano Rivera go, he will not return without a heavy markup in price. Rivera, coming off another great year (ERA 1.80, WHIP 0.83), he is asking for a two-year contract worth $36 million.
Rivera has proven that at age 40 going on 41, he is still one of the premier closers in the MLB. If the Yankees do not sign Rivera at his asked value, Mo will enter free agency and start a minor bidding war for his rights. There are plenty of teams looking for a closer of his talent, and they are willing to pay the price for him.
Adrian Beltre re-established his dominance at the third base corner of the Red Sox infield this season and certainly has earned the right to test free agency. He hit .321 this season with 28 home runs and a career-high 49 doubles and played in 154 of 162 games. His Silver Slugger award was well deserved, and he will carry a high price tag.
However, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has made it clear that Beltre and Victor Martinez were high priority re-signings. Beltre will be signed at a high price, but it may not be the Red Sox. If he were to leave, Boston would likely look to pursue Adrian Gonzalez next and move the versatile Kevin Youkilis to third base. After that, they may pursue Adam Dunn.
With Martinez gone, the Red Sox will look to Jarrod Saltalamacchia to take over starting duties behind the plate and probably sign a catcher to play the role of backup. The Red Sox have not ruled out yet bringing back captain Jason Varitek, who until breaking his foot was a worthy backup.
As well, the Red Sox as of now will receive the 19th pick from the Tigers as compensation for Martinez and could use that pick if they decide to sign a Type A free agent.
Other notable free agents
At 1B: Lance Berkman, Adam Dunn, Jason Giambi, Derrek Lee and Carlos Pena are all big bats that many teams could benefit from signing.
2B: Orlando Hudson appears to be the top of the pile in the slim pickings for quality second basemen in this year's pool.
SS: Orlando Cabrera, Craig Counsell, Cesar Izturis, Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada and Juan Uribe all will be receiving calls from teams to sign contracts.
3B: After Adrian Beltre is signed, teams will look to Bobby Crosby, Akinori Iwamura or Nick Punto to fill a void in the other corner.
C: With arguably the biggest bat of catchers gone in Victor Martinez, there are plenty of quality catchers out there in Rod Barajas, Josh Bard, Chad Moeller, Bengie Molina, A.J. Pierzynski, Yorvit Torrealba and Matt Treanor.
OF: While no outfielders were mentioned in this article, don't think there aren't plenty of them out there. Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Jeff Francoeur, Bill Hall, Brad Hawpe, Eric Hinske, Xavier Nady, Magglio Ordonez, Scott Podsednik, Manny Ramirez, Matt Stairs and Marcus Thames will all be receiving offers after Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth decide where they are going to sign.
RP: Jonathan Albaladejo, Grant Balfour, Chad Durbin, Kyle Farnsworth, Chad Gaudin, Trevor Hoffman, Chan Ho Park, J.C. Romero, Takashi Saito and Dan Wheeler should all see some interest from multiple teams early.
SP: Jeremy Bonderman, Justin Duchscherer, Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Carl Pavano, Brad Penny, Jeff Suppan and Javier Vazquez will be among the sought-after pitchers for those teams not in the Cliff Lee race. Ben Sheets and Dontrelle Willis will be looking for teams willing to take a chance on them with big payoffs possible.