MLB Rumors: Jimmy Rollins and 20 Infielders Who Could Leave After 2011

Greg Pinto@@Greg_PintoCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2011

MLB Rumors: Jimmy Rollins and 20 Infielders Who Could Leave After 2011

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    NEW YORK - APRIL 08:  Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks to run against Jose Reyes #7 of the New York Mets during the last home opener at Shea Stadium on April 8, 2008 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    With both the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues underway, Spring Training has officially begun. As pitchers fine-tune their command and overall "stuff" and hitters try to refine their swing, the rest of us can only look on in awe, now waiting for the games that actually count in eager anticipation. However, there are a select few who are looking forward.

    Heading that group of select few are General Managers who will be looking to upgrade their teams next off-season. It seems ridiculous to think that, but as they send scouts to watch potential free agents, we must realize that is indeed the case.

    So, as teams prepare for the long haul of the regular season, general managers and players in contract years alike will look to strut their stuff, hoping to land the big contract.

    From power-hitting first basemen to slick fielding shortstops, these players will not be flying under anyone's radar. If you're looking to add power to your lineup, look no further.

    If you need an anchor in your middle infield to handle sharply hit ground balls, we've got what you're looking for. Of course, who will call your game without a catcher? They're here too.

    So with that in mind, we'll take a look at Jimmy Rollins and other potential free agents at season's end. At the end of each slide, I'll list some teams that could have interest in the player.

20. Third / First Baseman, Edwin Encarnacion

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 02:  Edwin Encarnacion #12 of the Toronto Blue Jays rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run in the fifth inning against the New York Yankees on August 2, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by
    Michael Heiman/Getty Images

    Edwin Encarnacion is an intriguing player on this list. His defense at third base has been so terrible in years past that baseball fans have kindly given him the moniker, "E5," which of course is how you score an error at third base.

    This memo has not gotten past the desk of the Toronto Blue Jays unnoticed, however, as they plan on giving him plenty of looks at first base this spring, which could improve his value to the club in 2011, and his stock for 2012.

    In spite of his defensive woes, Encarnacion has shown that he has the power to be recognized as a corner infielder, and more so, a middle-of-the-order threat. He hit 26 home runs with the Cincinnati Reds in 2008, and after ending up in Toronto as part of the deal that sent Scott Rolen to Cincinnati, hit just 13 home runs in 2009.

    However, with a more regular role in 2010, his offensive numbers improved. He posted a slash line of .244 / .305 / .482, to go along with 21 home runs and 51 RBI.

    The Blue Jays hope that his defense will improve with a move to first base. After all, many of his defensive woes are thanks to terrible accuracy, and not a bad glove. There will be a few teams looking for a cheaper alternative at first base next winter, after all.

    Potential Suitors: Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres

19. Catcher, Ryan Doumit

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    ATLANTA - MAY 28:  Catcher Ryan Doumit #4 of the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 28, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    In a lot of ways, Ryan Doumit is in the same boat as Casey Blake. Last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates made a surprising trade, bringing in catcher Chris Snyder from the Arizona Diamondbacks, despite already having Doumit in the fold.

    As a result, the disgruntled catcher moved to right field for playing time. They'll probably share the same roles this season, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Doumit is a catcher by trade, and some team could find use for him there.

    For a contending team, Doumit could be a nice addition behind the plate. The switch-hitting catcher posted a slash line of .251 / .331 / .406, with 13 home runs and 45 RBI.

    In the past, he's shown that he has the ability to hit for average as well. Though he improved his walk rate in 2010, his strikeout rate took a sharp turn for the worse, and that's something he'll look to improve upon this season.

    Defensively, Doumit has shown he can be at least an average catcher. He's had problems with blocking balls in the past, and doesn't have the strongest arm in the game.

    For those reasons alone, people around baseball believe that he may be best suited as a right fielder, but for Doumit, being a catcher is what he wants to do.

    Potential Suitors: Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres

18. Third Baseman, Aramis Ramirez

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    CHICAGO - JULY 21: Aramis Ramirez #16 of the Chicago Cubs takes a swing against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field on July 21, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Astros defeated the Cubs 4-3 in 12 innings. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Any team that takes a chance on Aramis Ramirez is taking a gamble, but should that gamble pay off, said team is getting an above-average third baseman.

    Though he's struggled with injuries and inconsistency in recent years, the 32-year-old, two-time All Star has shown he can be among the game's elite third basemen in the past.

    Though he appeared in 124 games last season, Ramirez struggled to impress anyone offensively. He posted career-worst or near-worst marks on his slash line, which was just .241 / 294 / .452, along with 25 home runs and 83 RBI. 

    As you can see, the potential is still there. The man has power and can be a threat in the middle of any order.

    He's never been a great defensive third baseman, and in the future, that may make him more qualified to be a designated hitter than a third baseman.

    With that being said, however, I don't think his defense is at a point where he can not be a quality third baseman. There will be teams in desperate need of help at the hot corner, and that should help his value.

    Potential Suitors: Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, Florida Marlins

17. Shortstop, JJ Hardy

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 09:  J.J. Hardy #27 of the Minnesota Twins warms up against the New York Yankees  during Game Three of the ALDS part of the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 9, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris M
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Before he becomes a free agent following the 2011 season, JJ Hardy will suit up with his third team after being acquired by the Baltimore Orioles in the off-season.

    In a stronger free agent market, Hardy probably wouldn't be ranked so high, but the demand for quality shortstops is greater than the supply. As a rare commodity in a weak infield market, Hardy makes the list at No. 16.

    Following his breakout season with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007, Hardy has experienced a series of subpar seasons. He spent the 2010 season with the Minnesota Twins, who, after acquiring Tsuyoshi Nishioka, were less than thrilled with his performance.

    After he posted a slash line of .268 / .320 / .394, with six home runs and 38 RBI, they shipped him to the Orioles for relievers.

    What he has been lacking offensively, he more than makes up for defensively. He posted a UZR of 8.1 for the Twins last season, and hasn't posted a UZR below six since 2006, peaking at 12.9 in 2007.

    With good defense, teams will take a chance on Hardy hoping that he sees a return in his offensive production. The Orioles would certainly like to see their investment pay off.

    Potential Suitors: Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants

16. Utility Infielder, Omar Infante

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    ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 09:  Omar Infante #4 of the Atlanta Braves against the St. Louis Cardinals at Turner Field on September 9, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Omar Infante may be a surprising name on this list, but I think the impact he can potentially have on a club is largely underrated.

    As part of the deal that sent second baseman Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves, Infante's first season with the Florida Marlins should give us a good idea of what he can do as an everyday player, as he's slated to handle either second or third base for the Marlins.

    In 134 games with the Braves last season, Infante posted a slash line of .321 / .359 / .416, with eight home runs, 65 runs scored and 47 RBI.

    It will be interesting to see if he can handle the strain of playing a full season, which he should do without a hitch, and continue to produce at such a high level in Florida.

    Defensively, Infante is no whiz with the glove, but he is no butcher, either. Replacing Uggla at second base, the Marlins will see an upgrade defensively, and while they're losing the power production in the middle of the order, they're getting a contact bat to hit near the top.

    Even if used as a super utility player, Infante has value on the free agent market.

    Potential Suitors: Florida Marlins, Seattle Mariners, Washington Nationals, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants

15. Second Baseman, Mark Ellis

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    OAKLAND, CA - JULY 21:  Mark Ellis #14 of the Oakland Athletics bats against the Boston Red Sox at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on July 21, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Speaking of underrated second basemen, Mark Ellis checks onto the list at No. 14. Constantly overshadowed by bigger names like Chase Utley and Robinson Cano, Ellis has flown under the radar in Oakland as one of the better second basemen in baseball.

    While there are better second baseman who could potentially hit the open market, Ellis may be the most likely to find a new home.

    With the Oakland Athletics in 2010, Ellis posted a slash line of .291 / .358 / .381, with five home runs, 45 runs scored and 49 RBI, appearing in 124 games.

    Though he's struggled with injuries in each of the past three seasons, if healthy, Ellis could be one of the better bargains in baseball at second base.

    On the other side of the ball, he's one of the best in baseball. In eight major league seasons, he posted a negative UZR just once—in his rookie season in 2002. Last season, he posted a UZR of 9.9, which is among the best in baseball for second baseman.

    Potential Suitors: Oakland Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants

14. First Baseman, Michael Cuddyer

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    MINNEAPOLIS - OCTOBER 06:  Michael Cuddyer #5 of the Minnesota Twins hits a two run homer in the second inning against the New York Yankees during game one of the ALDS on October 6, 2010 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Ima
    Elsa/Getty Images

    You may not think of Michael Cuddyer as a first baseman, since he plays a majority of his games in the outfield with the Minnesota Twins, but when he hits the open market as a free agent, you can bet your bottom dollar that he and his agents will make sure that he is marketed as an outfielder and a first baseman.

    Blocked by Justin Morneau in Minnesota, Cuddyer could be an appealing power option when some of the other big-name first basemen go off the board.

    Like many other Twins from last season, Cuddyer's new, spacious ballpark was reflected in his numbers. He posted a slash line of .271 / .336 / .417, with 14 home runs, 93 runs scored and 81 RBI.

    Of course, his power numbers were down from the 2009 season, when he blasted 32 home runs in his final year in the Metrodome.

    Defensively, he's more of a Ryan Howard than a Mark Teixeira at first base. He posted a UZR of -6.1 with the Twins in 2010, but with more time spent training a first base than in the outfield, he could see a rise in those numbers to a point where his terrible defense wouldn't off-set his offensive production.

    Potential Suitors: Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres

13. Second Baseman, Kelly Johnson

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    SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 26:  Kelly Johnson #2 of the Arizona Diamondbacks swings his bat against the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields on February 26, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona..  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Kelly Johnson is an interesting player to watch next off-season. After being tossed to the curb by the Atlanta Braves following a disappointing 2009 season, he stuck it to them in 2010 by showing a glimpse of his true potential with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    Of course, I say "glimpse" because he also showed that he can be an incredibly streaky hitter.

    As the starting second baseman for the Diamondbacks, he posted a slash line of .284 / .370 / .496, with 26 home runs, 93 runs scored and 71 RBI.

    If he can maintain that offensive production over the course of an entire season, Johnson could be an affordable option at second base, as opposed to some of the other potential second baseman coming up later on this list.

    He was also very good defensively last season, posting a positive UZR for the first time in his career at second base at 7.1. You can make the same case for his defense that you can for his offense—if he shows that last season wasn't a fluke, he'll have no problem finding a starting job.

    Potential Suitors: Oakland Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants

12. Shortstop, Jimmy Rollins

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    CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 19:  Infielder Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws to first base during a spring training workout February 19, 2011 the Carpenter Complex at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    The namesake of this article, Jimmy Rollins is potentially the most interesting name on this list, in terms of how his 2011 performance will affect his 2012 value.

    If he can return to form and post offensive numbers more like his 2007 MVP season than his disappointing 2010 season, he could shoot his way up this list and into the top five.

    Over the course of the off-season, we've heard a lot about Rollins' injury-plagued 2010 season. He posted a slash line of .243 / .320 / .374, with eight home runs, 48 runs scored and 41 RBI.

    Suffering from several re-occuring leg injuries, he also stole just 17 bases—removing from the greatest overall aspect of his game: speed.

    On the other hand, Rollins is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. Even in a season where he appeared in just 88 games, Rollins posted a UZR of 6.9.

    He's an above average defender, and will be following this season as well. Even if his offensive numbers never return to form, there will be a number of teams that are interested in him for his defense alone.

    Potential Suitors: Philadelphia Phillies, Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants.

11. First Baseman, Nick Swisher

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 20:  Nick Swisher #33 of the New York Yankees runs the bases on his solo home run in the bottom of the third inning against the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 20, 2010 in
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    I may be reaching a bit to come to this conclusion, as the chance of something like this happening is less than slim to none, but hear me out for a second.

    If the New York Yankees, who hold a $10.25 million club option for the 2012 season, decide that Nick Swisher is not a fit at that price, would he not be wise to test the free agent market as both an outfielder and a first baseman, a position he has played in the past?

    Swisher, who has rarely seen the light of first base since the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira, posted a slash line of .288 / .359 / .511 last season, with 29 home runs and 89 RBI, playing a vast majority of his games in right field.

    In what was arguably the best season of his career, he saw a sharp decline in walks, but also managed to lower his rate of strike outs.

    Over the course of his career, at first base, Swisher has been slightly below average, posting a career UZR of -0.4. That is, by all means, an acceptable level of defense, and could see some improvement with regular playing time. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's able to play right field as well.

    Potential Suitors: New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres

10. Second Baseman, Freddy Sanchez

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    SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 19:  Freddy Sanchez #21 of the San Francisco Giants throws the ball to first base during spring work outs at Scottsdale Stadium on February 19, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    You may be surprised to see a guy like Freddy Sanchez on this list, as he's probably one of the most underrated shortstops in baseball.

    However, with the early infield market looking relatively weak, a guy like Sanchez could be a valuable piece to any contending team looking to put the finishing touches on a World Series-caliber club.

    Plain and simple, a good, natural second baseman is hard to come by, and Sanchez's experience makes him a good option, if he can stay healthy.

    He appeared in just 111 games last season—and 111 in 2009 as well—struggling with various injuries, including a pesky knee.

    In spite of that, he posted a slash line of .292 / .342 / .397, with seven home runs and 55 runs scored, and was an essential part of the San Francisco Giants' World Series team. Keeping him on the field will be they key.

    Defensively, Sanchez is one of the better defensive second basemen in baseball. For his career, he's generated a UZR of 17.5, and in 2010 alone, he posted a very solid UZR of 5.9.

    Finding an above average second baseman who could also put the ball in play is no simple feat, and Sanchez could make up half of an impressive double play combination.

    Potential Suitors: San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies

9. Second Baseman, Aaron Hill

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 04:  Aaron Hill #2 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats against the New York Yankees on August 4, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Frankly, there isn't much of a chance that Aaron Hill becomes a free agency. The Toronto Blue Jays hold a complex series of options beginning with an extremely affordable $8 million option for the 2012 season.

    However, as we are all aware, this is the sport of baseball, and anything can happen. So with that in mind, should the Blue Jays decide that Hill is not worth the $8 million, he will become one of the off-season's better free agents.

    2010 was a disappointing season for Hill. A year after breaking on to the scene as one of the premier second basemen in baseball, he posted a slash line of just .205 / .271 / .394, with 26 home runs and 68 RBI—down from the 36 home runs and 108 RBI he posted in 2009.

    Even still, Hill should rebound in 2011, and in the event that he hits the open market, be one of the more attractive offensive second basemen.

    His defense, on the other hand, improved last season. After posting a -4.9 UZR in 2009, Hill showed that he could play both sides of the ball well in 2010, posting a UZR of 3.7, bringing his career total to 21.0.

    Potential Suitors: Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies

8. Second Baseman, Brandon Phillips

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    CINCINNATI - SEPTEMBER 11:  Brandon Phillips #4 of the Cincinnati Reds swings at a pitch during the game against the Pittsburg Pirates at Great American Ball Park on September 11, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    While Brandon Phillips' mouth and attitude have earned him a bit of a reputation around baseball in recent seasons, it is his status as one of the game's best second basemen that first got him into baseball's spotlight.

    That certainly was the case in 2010, as he helped lead the Cincinnati Reds to an NL Central Division title.

    Keeping up with many of his career norms, Phillips posted a slash line of .275 / .332 / .430, with 18 home runs and 100 runs scored.

    He also managed to swipe 16 bags for the Reds, showing his versatility in the lineup by hitting in the leadoff spot, third, clean-up, or wherever the Reds' needed him that day. He saw a slight rise in the rate of his strikeouts, but that's no cause for alarm, as his walk rate was in line with his career average.

    On the other side of the ball, Phillips is one of the best in the business. The 2010 All-Star has put a vise grip on the National League defensive awards, winning the Gold Glove twice and earning a Fielding Bible Award for his play in 2008.

    For his career, he's generated 44.5 WAR, and in 2010 alone, posted a UZR of 9.7. Though the Reds hold a $12 million club option that is likely to be picked up, the thought of Phillips becoming a free agent is an intriguing one.

    Potential Suitors: Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies

7. First Baseman, Carlos Pena

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Infielder Carlos Pena #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays rounds the bases after his home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Carlos Pena, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays, was a free agent this off-season, and he used an old Scott Boras ploy that puts a lot of weight on his shoulders this season.

    He inked a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs hoping to build more value before he re-enters free agency, and because he now plays his home games a Wrigley Field, there's a good chance he'll see a return in his numbers,

    2010 was a down year for the slugging first baseman, as he battled with injuries and couldn't even crack the Mendoza Line.

    He posted a slash line of .196 / .325 / .407, with 28 home runs and 84 RBI, but don't let those numbers fool you—in any given season, this guy is a big-time power threat. This season, he'll need to work on drawing more walks and striking out less, and everything else should follow naturally.

    Though his career numbers don't prove it—he's compiled a career UZR of -16.2—Pena isn't going to kill you with his glove. In fact, he has pretty steady hands, as he won a Gold Glove in the American League in 2009.

    However, his range at first base is not optimal, and is probably the direct result in his low UZR. Nonetheless, Pena should rebound at the plate and become one of the more appealing options on the market.

    Potential Suitors: Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres

6. Catcher, Yadier Molina

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    ST. LOUIS - AUGUST 21: Yadier Molina #4 of the St. Louis Cardinals catches a fly ball against the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium on August 21, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    There has certainly been no lack of drama out of St. Louis Cardinals' camp thus far. First, we dealt with the ongoing Albert Pujols saga, which did not lead to a contract extension. Next, Cardinals' ace Adam Wainwright learned that he'll need to undergo Tommy John surgery, keeping him out of the season.

    At the very least, it is comforting for Cardinals' fans to know that they have one of the best catchers in baseball under contract. Then again, he could become a free agent following the 2011 season.

    By his standards, Molina had a bit of a down year at the plate in 2010, posting a slash line of .262 / .329 / .342, with six home runs—which of course is perfectly acceptable for a major league catcher. When he's healthy and hitting his stride, he's one of the better offensive catchers in baseball.

    Though he had a slightly elevated strikeout rate in 2010, his walk rate was in line with his career norm, and he should return to the top of the catching leader-boards in 2011.

    Defensively, he is the best in baseball, and there are few catchers that even come close to doing what Molina is able to do.

    One of the greatest arms in the game was at it again in 2010, as he threw out 33 runners and allowed just 35 stolen bases.

    So how could he become a free agent? The Cardinals have a $7 million club option that they'd be crazy not to exercise. He's not going anywhere.

    Potential Suitors: St. Louis Cardinals

5. Shortstop, Jose Reyes

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    PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Jose Reyes #7   of the New York Mets strikes out against the Atlanta Braves at Digital Domain Park on February 26, 2011 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Jose Reyes, when healthy, is easily one of the best shortstops in baseball. In 2010, he played in 133 games for the New York Mets, posting a slash line of .282 / .321 / .428, with 11 home runs and 30 stolen bases.

    Short and simple, if he's healthy and getting on-base, he's a key cog for any team that needs a shortstop. Whether he finishes the 2011 season as a Met is in question, however, one thing is certain—he'll be a free agent when the year is over.

    Defensively, he's no wizard with the glove, but he's actually not as bad as some people make him out to be. He is as sure-handed as shortstops come, but his accuracy needs some work.

    Over the course of his career, he's compiled 16.6 UZR as a shortstop, but took a step back in 2010, posting a UZR of -5.0.

    Potential Suitors: Philadelphia Phillies, Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants

4. First Baseman, Prince Fielder

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    ATLANTA - JULY 15:  Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 15, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Now we're getting into the $100 million players. The next four guys are the most likely to crack that $100 million plateau, and at least one of them is set to at least double that, and possibly, triple it.

    After months of trade speculation, Prince Fielder is still in the same place he's been throughout his career, as the Milwaukee Brewers attempt to make one last push for a World Series with Fielder under contract, before he surely leaves via free agency.

    Offensively, 2010 was a bit of a down year for Fielder. He posted a slash line of .261 / .401 / .471, with 32 home runs and 83 RBI.

    Then again, I suppose you can't hit 50 home runs every season. One thing he did manage to prove, however, was his durability, as he appeared in 161 games for the Brewers after appearing in all 162 in 2009.

    On the other side of the ball, Fielder isn't terribly impressive. Like a lot of other big guys from around the game, he has good hands, but his mobility and range factor into his UZR, giving the perception that he is a poor fielder.

    So for what it's worth, he posted a UZR of -7.4 in 2010, and over the course of his career, is the proud representative of a -31.2 UZR.

    Potential Suitors: Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox

3. Second Baseman, Robinson Cano

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 20:  Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees reacts after he scored on his solo home run in the bottom of the third inning against the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 20
    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    After emerging as one of the best second basemen in baseball last season, if not the best, Robinson Cano made a move that mirrors that sentiment—he hired Scott Boras as his agent.

    That won't have any standing on his 2011 season, or his 2012 season for that matter, but I'm sure Boras will find some way to make Cano a $100 million player.

    Cano challenged for the MVP all season long, providing the heartbeat of the New York Yankees' offense by posting a slash line of .319 / .381 / .584, with 29 home runs and 109 RBI, both career highs.

    Though he struck out a bit more than usual in 2010, his walk rate nearly doubled. Just entering the prime of his career, there should be many more MVP-like performances out of Cano.

    Though some will tell you otherwise, Cano can improve defensively. While we all know that he has a strong arm, he could show more mobility and range at second base on a consistent basis.

    While his UZR has been improving over the last two seasons, he still has a -36.8 UZR for his career. Luckily for Yankees' fans, Cano won't be a free agent following this season. The team holds a $14 million option that they would be foolish not to exercise. That said, the possibility exists.

    Potential Suitors: New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies

2. First Baseman, Adrian Gonzalez

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    FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 19:  First baseman Adrian Gonzalez #28 of the Boston Red Sox throws home during a Spring Training Workout Session at the Red Sox Player Development Complex on February 19, 2011 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Im
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    The chances of Adrian Gonzalez and the Boston Red Sox not agreeing to a contract extension are slim to none. In fact, the chances are so remote that at first, I wasn't even going to include him on the list.

    While some believe that the Red Sox are withholding the announcement of an extension in large part due to the luxury tax, until there is an official deal in place, we must accept the fact that there is a possibility that Gonzalez becomes a free agent this off-season.

    When people talk about players who spent time with the San Diego Padres, they normally feel the need to make an excuse for their lack of power production thanks to the ridiculously huge dimensions of PETCO Park.

    Gonzalez, however, needs no excuses. He posted a slash line of .298 / .393 / .511, with 31 home runs and 101 RBI on a surprise Padres squad. To make things simple, it's scary to think what the man could do in Fenway Park.

    On the other side of the ball, the Red Sox are swapping out a good defender in Kevin Youkilis for a great defender in Gonzalez. He has some of the best hands in the game and posted a negative UZR just twice as a member of the Padres.

    For his career, he has a total UZR of 6.2, and his defense at first base saved the Padres 12 runs in 2009. The Red Sox hope for much of the same in 2011.

    Potential Suitors: Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners

1. First Baseman, Albert Pujols

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    CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 24: Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a single in the 9th inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 7-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    And then there was Albert Pujols. What is left to be said about the man that we haven't already heard this off-season?

    After months of speculation and a failure on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals in reaching a contract extension with the greatest player in baseball, Pujols is set to become a free agent following the 2011 season, and now, there's no stopping it.

    When you can consider the following slash line a "down year," it's no wonder why you feel justified in asking for $300 million. In 2010, Pujols posted a line of .312 / .414 / .596, with 42 home runs and 118 RBI. The man even stole 14 bases. Frankly, is there anything the man can not do?

    The same thought could be echoed on the other side of the ball. Just halfway through his career, Pujols has compiled an incredible 63.3 UZR, including last season's UZR of 1.5 and his career best UZR of 24.7 in 2007.

    I'd go into depth about how great his hands are and his range, but do I really need to? The results should speak for themselves.

    Plain and simple, he's not just the best infielder in baseball set to become a free agent, he's the great player in the game right now set to become a free agent, and honestly, it's hard to believe that any team in baseball wouldn't have some level of interest.

    Rather than putting "everyone" after "potential suitors," however, I'll just name a few.

    Potential Suitors: St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees