A hot topic in the major leagues this offseason is free agency. There hasn't been an abundance of top flight starting pitchers on the market but there's still players out there that can fill a role on a baseball team in need.
Let's take a look at some of the possible moves as we're 3 months away from spring training.Starting Pitching
C.J. Wilson is the lead candidate on the market. Although Wilson had a great season in 2011, this proves to you the quality of players that are out there, where starting pitching is concerned, is poor.
Lots of American League teams will be seeking the services of Wilson who has improved with the Texas Rangers
his last 2 seasons. In 2011, Wilson went 16-7 with a 2.94. I could see a team like the Yankees stalking a player like Wilson but after the mistake that they made with A.J. Burnett, look for him to go elsewhere. He's a level below ace status.
Mark Buehrle is the 2nd best option for unsigned free agent starting pitchers. I don't see Buehrle going anywhere. He's given the White Sox 12 years of solid service. He's never won 20 games but can always be counted on for mid- double figure wins and an era slightly less than 4.00. Buehrle is a steady pitcher. Expect for him to resign with Chicago.
Other pitchers on the list include Edwin Jackson and Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda pitched well for the Dodgers last season with a 3.06 ERA but lacked the run support needed, which resulted in a 13-16 record. A lot was expected from other pitchers like Roy Oswalt but Oswalt has proven that he's seen better days in the past.Relievers
A lot of relievers have opted to resign with their current ball clubs but the big move of the off season has been Jonathan Papelbon signing with the Philadelphia Phillies
. Papelbon felt the dissention in Beantown and signed a 4 yr-$50 million contract with Philly. A deal with Ryan Madson fell through and the Phillies coughed up the cash and strengthed their team with Papelbon
Other relief pitchers on the market include a few notables. Ryan Madson might have gotten rejected by Philly but he's a hot commodity. Madson's 32 saves and 2.37 ERA can offer a club much needed security. Heath Bell is another solid reliever on the market. Bell had 2.44 ERA and 43 saves. After this, things get dicey.
Fransisco Rodriguez is out of shape and not the same reliever that he was with the Angels. He's a risk. There's also Joe Nathan who was once one of the best relievers in the game but endured Tommy John surgery. Can Nathan regain his old form?
Other teams have exercised their options and held onto their relievers such as Jose Valverde, Kyle Farnsworth, and Jeremy Affeldt to name a few.Offense
Albert Pujols is widely considered the best player in the modern day era that hasn't taken steroids. Pujols is coming off of probably his worst season which is considered a superstar season for most. Pujols was also on the World Series Champions St. Louis Cardinals
One influencing factor is the fact that manager Tony Larussa has decided to retire. Albert has played with Larussa for his entire career. Is it time to move on? Although Lance Berkman doesn't want Pujols to leave, Pujols is in talks with the Florida Marlins. I can't see Pujols leaving a place where he's a modern day hero.
Prince Fielder has made a splash in the majors, or in his case a belly flop. Fielder is a clutch first baseman and one of the best power hitters in the game. Sometimes it's difficult to share centerstage with Ryan Braun who's already signed for the next 4 years. Fielder batted .299 with 38 HR and 120 RBI last season. Don't look for Prince to stay with the Brew Crew as many teams will be flashing bigtime cash and long term deals his way.
Looks like the Mets will say adios to Jose Reyes. Reyes gave New York his best season despite injuries. He hit .337 with 7 HR, 44 RBI, 39 SB, 101 runs in 537 at-bats. Reyes was the best player (over David Wright) last year. He's not a power hitter, therefore the moving in of the fences at Citi-Field would have no effect on his game.
The Marlins again were a consideration for Reyes. Miami has a predominantly Latin population and Reyes could possibly like sunny Florida.
David Ortiz might still have some value to a team such as the Yankees with a short right field porch and it's also a means of sticking it to the team that he's currently causing commotion with. The Yankees have deep pockets and Big Papi could be a consideration even though he brings no defense to the table.
Other players that might look to move are Aramis Ramirez (might possibly leave the friendly confines of Wrigley Field), Carlos Pena, Carlos Beltran, and Coco Crisp.
Michael Cuddyer and Jimmy Rollins might apt to stay where they are. The interest in Rollins isn't great and his MVP season is far in the past.
There you have it. A look at the free agency situation in Major League Baseball. I myself, will be interested to see where Pujols and Fielder go.