With Pujols, Reyes and Wilson Off the Market, Who's Next?
The big shoe dropped yesterday (Albert Pujols), and then it dropped again (C.J. Wilson). In the blink of an eye, the top position player and the top pitcher available via free-agency had both somehow ended up in LA (Angels). So with Pujols, Wilson and Jose Reyes all accounted for, the focus now shifts to the rest of the market... who's next? Here's a list of some of the biggest names still available and likely destinations.
Likely Destinations: Miami, Chicago, Baltimore and Toronto
Predicting where Fielder will go is tough. There are many more suitors in the mix for Fielder than there were for Pujols - despite a slightly limited skill set (he hits home runs in bunches) his pricetag isn't as hefty so the sticker shock is a little less paralyzing. He's also younger than Pujols. While I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up somewhere else, you have to think that the teams that missed out on Pujols will go hard for Fielder. I don't think St. Louis would look to replace Albert with Fielder this quickly, nor do I think that Fielder would want to be burdened with the pressure of replacing a legend so the Cardinals are probably out, in my opinion. I could see the Orioles and Blue Jays getting into the bidding - building around the 27 year-old Pujols would make sense for both teams as they both boast a core of younger talent. But at the end of the day, I think that the front runners in this race have to be the two other teams in the NL that missed out on Pujols- the Miami Marlins and the Chicago Cubs.
Likely Destinations: NY Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and LA Dodgers
Here's the write-up we did on Yu Darvish. Not much has changed since then except we have a general idea of what it might cost to negotiate with Yu (between $50 and $100 million). That will be enough to scare a lot of teams away. My gut tells me that the Yankees might be the only team comfortable enough with Yu to pay the price of negotiating and signing Darvish but I think that a lot of teams would love to have him and I would be shocked if he wasn't playing in the major leagues in 2012. He is simply too good to pass up.
With Jose Reyes signed and accounted for, Jimmy Rollins remains the best shortstop available on the free-agent market. Rollins and Philadelphia have seemingly been close to an agreement but a five year deal is tough to swallow for the Phils brass. It will be interesting to see who balks first.
Likely destinations: Philadelphia, St. Louis and Milwaukee... we talked about Rollins' free agency in greater detail here.
No one was more coveted at the 2011 trade deadline than Beltran. The 34 year old, six-time all-star was courted by many of the top contenders at the 2011 trade deadline and it seemed like the free agent would be in line for a big payday this offseason. Well, Beltran ended up in San Francisco (it should be noted that the Mets received a fine haul for his departure) and that experiment did not go according to plans. The Giants failed to make the playoffs in 2011 and despite the fact that Beltran posted a career best 152 OPS+ for the season, it seems like his value has diminshed a bit. Despite the incredible numbers he posted last year, teams saw flashes of the "bad" Beltran down the stretch; the one that is playing on surgically repaired knees. When healthy, he was one of the premier outfielders in the game but he'll be 32 at the onset of the 2012 season and I'm not sure who's going to be eager to negotiate with him and his agent, wonder-agent Dan Lozano.
Likely destinations: Atlanta, Miami, St. Louis, Texas, Toronto, Baltimore... honestly, this thing could go in any direction. If the market is so thin that Beltran is forced to take a one or two year deal (a la Bobby Abreu in 2009), anyone could get into the mix.