It's time to throw a few logs onto the fire pit. In other places, it's known as Hot Stove season, but we're outdoors kind of people here. With help from reporters who cover the other 29 major league clubs, I've compiled an offseason report. They did the writing, except for the report on your favorite team.
Needs: Middle infielders, perhaps a center fielder and a corner outfielder, a veteran catcher to assist Nick Hundley. They're always looking for pitchers. Others clubs say the Padres want a center fielder who can fill the leadoff spot.
Surplus: Relievers. Padres could replace closer Heath Bell from within if they trade him.
Potential free agents: C Yorvit Torrealba, 2B David Eckstein, SS Miguel Tejada, PH Matt Stairs, INF Jerry Hairston Jr., pitchers Chris Young, Jon Garland and Kevin Correia.
Potential non-tenders: RF Ryan Ludwick, OF Scott Hairston (Ludwick is a big maybe).
Potential players of interest: Red Sox SS/2B Jed Lowrie.
Needs: These lads can't expect the offense to repeat that nonsense. They kept doing just enough, but they got some breaks and support from the best pitching in the land. Would be nice if the bats chipped in little more next summer. OF Cody Ross and C Buster Posey will be around all year, and that'll help. Can't continue to expect a bunch out of LF Pat Burrell and SS/3B/2B Juan Uribe. Whole left side of infield might be different. Mark DeRosa will be back and perhaps at third base. GM Brian Sabean already said 3B Pablo "Tiny" Sandoval will start in the minors if he doesn't lose a bunch of weight and figure out how to train. Sandoval could wind up at first if Aubrey Huff leaves or if Huff is moved to a corner OF spot. The whole rotation and key bullpen parts are signed or in team's control. Only Guillermo Mota is a free agent among arms. 2B Freddy Sanchez is only infielder who'll definitely be back.
Surplus: That's pitching. That doesn't mean it's for sale. Used to be. No more. Unless your club is willing to take on the great Barry Zito.
Potential free agents: 1B Huff, INF Uribe, SS Edgar Renteria, LF Burrell, OF Jose Guillen, RHP Mota. The priority is re-signing Huff, who led the team in home runs and RBI and is a team leader – all signs lead to a multiyear deal, though Huff got on the flagship radio station yesterday and said he's listening to offers because he needs to take care of his family. Poor guy. Renteria, the World Series MVP, could be back in ball next year; if it's with the Giants, would be as 25th man. Uribe wants a multiyear contract, which could mean a ticket out of town. Burrell (0-for-13, 11 K’s in World Series) had a horrible postseason and might not be back. The Giants have bullpen depth, so Mota isn’t necessary. No way Guillen, who's too sloppy with his HGH.
Potential non-tenders: Sabean said he'd like all his arb el guys back: LHP Jonathan Sanchez, Ross, CF Andres Torres, relievers Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez, Santiago Casilla, Chris Ray, INF Mike Fontenot. But at the very least, it seems they won't tender Fontenot and Ray. The Giants are eager to bring back Sanchez (key to rotation despite struggles late in postseason), Ross (NLCS MVP), Torres (the only man in the lineup with top-level speed) and Lopez (left-handed reliever who’s a nightmare for lefty sluggers). As far as Ramirez, Casilla and Ray, all right-handed relievers, it’s unlikely all will be back.
Potential players of interest: Huff sounds like he might go where the money is, unless the Giants are in the ballpark. You'd think he'd be back in SF. Renteria had a $10.5 million option, which the club didn’t exercise. He was bought out for $500,000, but retirement remains an option. Burrell, out of a job after being released by the Rays, found a home with the Giants and evolved as a power threat. But his suspect defense in left field and non-existent bat in the postseason might prompt the Giants to look elsewhere for a more athletic left fielder.
Needs: A closer is the top priority, as are other bullpen arms. They need a first baseman now that they gave Adam LaRoche a $1.5 million buyout rather than accepting his $7.5 million option for 2011. I don’t see a left fielder on the roster, but they haven’t said much about that. Right now, they have Gerardo Parra and 1B/LF Brandon Allen in left. Hard to believe they will enter the season that way. Kevin Towers also has said he will add veteran bench players -- the Tony Clark type, although Tony is not available, of course, since he has retired.
Surplus: Well, there are a lot of strikeouts available. No, really. Whiffs-R-Us. The D-backs would trade 3B Mark Reynolds. There are no extra bodies anywhere.
Potential free agents: All five potential free agents have declared for free agency – RHP Brandon Webb, RHP Kris Benson, RHP Rodrigo Lopez, RHP Aaron Heilman and LHP Mike Hampton. The only one they are interested in keeping is Hampton, who did not give up a run in 10 appearances after being purchased from Class AAA Reno on Sept. 3 and finishing the season in a specialist role. Lopez pitched 200 innings but gave up a major league-high 37 homers and as a flyball pitcher is not a fit in a park where the ball flies. Webb threw 82-83 mph in the third and last of his three appearances in Instructional League games on Oct. 7 at Chase Field, and scouts I talked to saw nothing to recommend him. The D-backs did not offer him a contract or even have talks, and he is gone.
Potential non-tenders: IF Augie Ojeda, OF Ryan Church and RHP D.J. Carrasco are likely not to be offered contracts. RHP Blaine Boyer throws a 95- mph two-seamer and is good when he is good, but wildness was an issue this season, and I have a feeling he will be non-tendered, although the D-backs could give him another try (Padres/Petco Park might be a good place for him to gain confidence--TK).
Potential players of interest: Free agent 1B Paul Konerko is a free agent and a Scottsdale native, but it seems inconceivable that the D-backs could afford him after a 39-homer season with the White Sox last season. He made $12 million last year on the final year of a five-year, $60 million deal. The D-backs like his intangibles and his bat, but unless Konerko agrees to a big home-town discount, I don’t see it. Towers will add three or four arms to his bullpen including a closer, and he is playing it close to the vest. The best closer on the free agent market, Rafeal Soriano, also seems unaffordable, especially with Scott Boras as his agent. I spoke with Boras the last weekend of the regular season in LA, and he talked about “setting a new market” for closers. That was about a week after Soriano announced he was switching agents to Scott.
Needs: Two right-handed hitters, one who can play first and third, and one who can play corner outfield spots, possibly first base. Need the right-handed run production potential to spell left-handed laden lineup that includes 1B Todd Helton, 3B Ian Stewart, LF Carlos Gonzalez and RF Seth Smith. Always looking for middle relievers. Will need a starter if they don't re-sign Jorge De La Rosa. Also need a backup catcher.
Surplus: Have some prospects of interest. Also overloaded at 2B with Eric Young Jr., Clint Barmes and Jonathan Herrera.
Free agents: LHPs De La Rosa, Jeff Francis and Joe Beimel, C Miguel Olivo, 3B Melvin Mora, 1B Jason Giambi, OF Jay Payton.
Potential non-tenders: Barmes.
Potential players of interest: Catchers Olivo, Torrealba and John Buck, LHP Arthur Rhodes, RHPs Jake Westbrook, Garland and Hiroki Kuroda. OF Jeff Francouer, INF Uribe, INF Jorge Cantu. Will try to re-sign De La Rosa and Francis, but Francis would be heavy on incentives.
Needs -- Starting pitching, even though team already re-signed Ted Lilly to three-year, $33 million deal. A left fielder to replace Manny Ramirez, preferably an experienced veteran with power. A super utility guy whose primary job will be to play third base once or twice a week to keep Casey Blake fresh.
Surplus -- No such areas for Dodgers. Upper levels of farm system are mostly bare, and big league team is thin for now in every area.
Potential free agents -- RHPs Kuroda, Vicente Padilla and Jeff Weaver; C Rod Barajas, OFs Reed Johnson, Jay Gibbons and Scott Podsednik (mutual option)
Potential non-tenders -- C Russell Martin, 2B Ryan Theriot, LH George Sherrill.
Potential players of interest -- OFs Rocco Baldelli, Johnny Damon, Jayson Werth; pitchers De La Rosa, Cliff Lee, Kevin Millwood, Jeff Suppan, Javier Vazquez.
Needs: Big question is first base (no clear replacement for Derrek Lee on roster) and a starter or two to work alongside Ryan Dempster and, barring a trade, Carlos Zambrano. It would be great to find a No. 1 or 2 guy but they'll probably settle for innings guys given trade of Ted Lilly and uncertainty over getting a repeat from Carlos Silva.
Surplus: Possibly outfield -- Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, Kosuke Fukudome and Tyler Colvin, with prospect Brett Jackson coming fast. They'd love to move Fukudome but know they're stuck with Soriano, who is only four years through eight-year deal.
Free agents: Xavier Nady.
Non-tender candidates: Jeff Baker.
Potential players players of interest: Konerko, maybe. Adam Dunn, maybe. Kerry Wood, maybe.
Needs: Are committed to giving the kids a chance in 2011 -- 1B Brett Wallace, SS Tommy Manzella, 3B Chris Johnson and C Jason Castro.
Potential free agents: OF Jason Michaels, U Geoff Blum and RHP Brian Moehler.
Potential non-tenders: None.
Potential players of interest: They would love to trade LF Carlos Lee and the $37 million he has remaining on his contract. No chance.
Needs: A starting pitcher or two. They don't have any starters coming through the system by next spring and haven't had luck in the free-agent market, so they'll look to trade an offensive player or two. First baseman Prince Fielder, a free agent after 2011, will be available to anyone willing to deal quality arms.
Surplus: Other than racing sausages, the Brewers don't have a lot of surplus of anything. They do have a good supply of hitters and probably will have to move one to get pitching. Second baseman Rickie Weeks is a free agent after 2011, also, but the Brewers will try to work out an extension with him.
Potential free agents: RHP Dave Bush, LHP Chris Capuano, INF Craig Counsell. They hold options that they won't exercise on RHP Trevor Hoffman, LHP Doug Davis and C Gregg Zaun.
Potential non-tenders: Relievers Todd Coffey and Carlos Villanueva.
Potential players of interest: Any available starting pitcher who is decent. I would imagine they will be in the derby for Zach Greinke. He would be somebody they'd love to have. And with Ned Yost as the KC manager, he could tell the Royals what to ask for from his experience in Milwaukee.
Needs: Pitching, pitching and more pitching. They need a couple of starters and all the middle and long relief they can get. A right-handed hitting first baseman or right fielder is also on the wish list.
Surplus: They really don't have a lot to trade unless someone wants to gamble and go to arbitration with LHP Zach Duke or RF Lastings Milledge. They'd probably part with LHP Paul Maholm if they could get a couple of arms back.
Free agents: RHP Chan Ho Park.
Potential non-tenders: Duke, RHP Jeff Karstens, SS Ronny Cedeno, 3B Andy LaRoche, Milledge, INF/OF Delwyn Young.
Potential players of interest: Second-tier free agents or guys coming back from injury like Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Bonderman, Brad Penny and Aaron Harang.
Needs: One more starting pitcher (perhaps own free agent Westbrook), one LH reliever to replace Dennys Reyes, more pop at third base, shortstop and second base -- or at least two of the three spots.
Surplus. Young RH relievers Jason Motte, Mitch Boggs, Kyle McClellan.
Potential free agents: Westbrook tops list. Rest only backup players, some not even that. But you could put Reyes on that list along with RHP Jeff Suppan and 3B Pedro Feliz.
Potential non-tenders. None.
Potential players of interest. Tejada, 2B Kelly Johnson, SS Stephen Drew.
Needs: Outfielder with some power, preferably right-handed but not a must. Backup first baseman, fourth outfielder (might have taken care of one or both with recent claiming of Joe Mather off waivers from St. Louis, but not a definite). Veteran reliever with closer and/or primary setup experience (in case the kids, Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters, need a break or some guidance, etc.)
Surplus: Starting pitching and top pitching prospect. The former includes Kenshin Kawakami, whom Braves are trying unload. Dump him and they're down to two rookies, Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy, competing for fifth spot. Braves have elite pitching in minors, including top prospect Julio Teheran (untouchable), Randall Delgado and Arodys Vizcaino, but also several others in pool that could possibly be drawn from in trade for an outfielder.
Free agents: 1B Derrek Lee, utility man Eric Hinske, 1B/3B Troy Glaus, closer Billy Wagner (retired), RH Takashi Saito (already released, per contract), OF Melky Cabrera (arb-eligible, but released and became free agent), OF Rick Ankiel (option not picked up), RHP Kyle Farnsworth (option not picked up). Braves picked up options on INF Omar Infante and SS Alex Gonzalez.
Potential non-tenders: OF Matt Diaz. Cabrera was in this group, but already released.
Potential players of interest: Young pitching including Jair Jurrjens, rookies Minor and Beachy and several prospects. Braves are trying to dump Kawakami on a Japanese team, and mighty see if there's a market for RHP Derek Lowe with two years, $30 million left on contract, but only if they had another proven pitcher to replace him. They'd also love to trade OF Nate McLouth, but almost impossible given the more than $7 million he's owed.
Needs: Bullpen, catching, lefty bat off bench.
Surplus: Nothing really. CF Cameron Maybin could become available if the Marlins decide to go with prospect Matt Dominguez at third and Chris Coghlan in center. LHP Andrew Miller is out of options.
Potential free agents: INF Chad Tracy, RHP Jorge Sosa, LHP Will Ohman.
Potential non-tenders: RHP Jose Veras, C Ronny Paulino.
Potential players of interest: As far as free agents they may or may not target: Catcher Buck, RHPs Jon Rauch, Scot Shields and Enrique Gonzalez. Could ask Rockies about C Chris Ianetta or Angels about C/1B Mike Napoli.
Needs: More pitching, especially with Santana’s shoulder surgery. Middle of the rotation type. May need to make trade.
Surplus. None. 2B Luis Castillo, if anybody wants him, and LHP Ollie Perez.
Potential free agents: Pitchers Hisanori Takahashi, Pedro Feliciano.
Potential non-tenders. None I'm aware of.
Potential players of interest. Sandy Alderson is still trying to figure, maybe with J.P. Ricciardi here, there now are some ex-Blue Jays. Need to sign a manager too. They did pick up SS Jose Reyes' $11-million option, a no brainer
Needs: First offseason priority is to re-sign RF Jayson Werth (highly doubtful) or bring in a veteran righthanded bat who can at a minimum platoon with hot prospect OF Domonic Brown. Also will have to look at rebuilding the bullpen since J.C. Romero, and Chad DurbinJose Contreras are all free agents.
Surplus: Not much surplus, especially not in the minors, which have been ransacked in recent years by trades to acquire pitchers Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt.
Potential free agents: Werth, LHP Jamie Moyer, Conteras, RHP Durbin, Romero, PHs Mike Sweeney, Greg Dobbs.
Potential non-tenders: Unlikely they'll have to non-tender anybody.
Potential players of interest: To repeat, a veteran righthanded bat, somebody with some upside who won't cost to much. Somebody who fits the profile of, say, Jeff Francouer.
Needs: First baseman/cleanup hitter. Either they re-sign Adam Dunn (looking less and less likely) or they have a big hole to fill. Front-end starting pitcher to anchor rotation while Stephen Strasburg recovers from Tommy John surgery. Good luck acquiring one of those. A veteran reliever who could close in a pinch but probably would serve as setup to Drew Storen. A veteran infielder who could start at second base in a pinch but would probably backup Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond.
Surplus: I suppose it's possible they could have an excess of catchers. Ivan Rodriguez has another year on his contract. Young Wilson Ramos figures to split the job with Pudge, gradually taking over by the end of 2011. And Jesus Flores, out since May 2009 with a shoulder injury, appears to finally be healthy and thus could figure into the mix. Also, one of their top prospects, Derek Norris, is a catcher, though he's only 21 and hasn't played above Class A. They also have a pretty deep bullpen, though no established closer.
Potential free agents: Dunn, 2B Adam Kennedy, OF Willie Harris, RHP Miguel Batista.
Potential non-tenders: LHP Scott Olsen, RHP Chien-Ming Wang, C Wil Nieves, RHP Tyler Walker.
Potential players of interest: Any free agent first baseman (Carlos Pena, Aubrey Huff, Konerko, Adam LaRoche), a veteran starting pitcher (Cliff Lee--never gonna happen, De La Rosa, Millwood, Vazquez, Webb).
Needs: Offense with LF and 3B the obvious holes to plug it in. Need a “catalyst” at the top of the lineup but will make do with parts on hand there (Erick Aybar, Bobby Abreu, Maicer Izturis) if they can beef up the middle sufficiently. Bullpen could also use some attention/experience. Fernando Rodney is the nominal 2011 closer right now but the Angels are uncomfortable enough with him that rookie Jordan Walden or setup man Kevin Jepsen could share the spot or take it over if no one is added this offseason.
Surplus: The Angels have three catchers they consider big-league quality (Jeff Mathis, Napoli, Bobby Wilson) and another top prospect on the verge of being ready (Hank Conger). Napoli figures to be making $5 million after arbitration this year and is the most likely to be moved.They also have a surplus of interchangeable infielders – Izturis, Alberto Callaspo, Howie Kendrick, Aybar, Brandon Wood. Any one could be moved with one of the others replacing him. The Angels will also look to unload OF Juan Rivera to free up a little payroll if possible.
Potential Free agents: Just two – RHP Shields and DH Hideki Matsui. Shields has said he will “probably” retire but will take phone calls this off-season to see if someone can persuade him not to (Tigers, I’m talking about you – Shields lives in suburban Detroit area). Matsui is not likely to get an offer to return unless the rest of the off-season plan falls apart.
Potential non-tenders: The Angels have nine arb eligible players this winter but they are mostly players who figure prominently in their plans – Jered Weaver, Kendry Morales, Kendrick, Aybar, Mathis, Napoli, Callaspo plus OF Reggie Willits and IF Kevin Frandsen. Frandsen and Willits are definite non-tender possibilities. Mathis a slight chance.
Potential players of interest: OF Carl Crawford and 3B Adrian Beltre are targets 1A and 1B this off-season. Arte Moreno will have to up the payroll over $130 million to accommodate just one of those two and has indicate he will be willing to do that. I could see the Angels making overtures to the Red Sox about Ellsbury if they fail in their bid for Crawford. Any and all 3Bs could be in their crosshairs this winter.
Needs: Big bat....or really, two. (On Wednesday, A's traded with Royals for OF David DeJesus).
Surplus: Young pitching.
Potential free agents: RHP Ben Sheets (can't play in 2011), RHP Justin Duchscherer, 3B Eric Chavez, OF Gabe Gross, OF/1B Jeff Larish, RHP Boof Bonser.
Potential non-tenders: DH Jack Cust, RHP Brad Ziegler, OF Travis Buck.
Potential players of interest. Any and every big bat.
Needs: Need to find a way to upgrade their offense, which was historically bad last year. They need to find a starter to plug between Felix Hernandez at the top, and Doug Fister and Jason Vargas at the bottom of the rotation. They need to figure out what to do with DH Milton Bradley, owed $12 million but a potential distraction in the clubhouse and coming off his second straight non-productive year at the plate.
Surplus: They don’t really have any. They do have some hard-throwing arms for the bullpen coming up, and Brandon League can move into the closer’s job, so David Aardsma could be expendable.
Potential free agents: INF Chris Woodward, C Josh Bard and RHP Jamey Wright; plus 1B Casey Kotchman and RHP Ian Snell became free agents when they declined outright assignments, and INF-DH Russ Branyan and LHP Erik Bedard became free agents when Mariners declined their 2011 options.
Potential non-tenders: 2B Jose Lopez and LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith.
Pontential players of interest: They’ve been linked to Prince Fielder, because Jack Zduriencik drafted him, but I don’t see it. I think they’re more likely to go for smaller fish. No names to throw out at this time.
Needs: Rangers will make every effort to re-sign LHP Cliff Lee, even though he had a losing record (4-6, 3.98 ERA in 15 starts) with them. If Lee moves on, they could move closer Neftali Feliz into the rotation and look for more bullpen help. They would also like to add a full-time catcher. They do not want to try to get lucky for a second year by cobbling together the position, as they did this season with Bengie Molina and Matt Treanor.
Surplus -- Not much in the way of minor-league talent. Gave away a lot in in-season deals for Lee, Francoeur, etc. Will have more payroll room unlike in recent seasons, when the club teetered on the edge of bankruptcy before falling in last year. That makes free-agent signings more likely than deals.
Potential free agents -- DH Vladimir Guerrero, C Molina, C Treanor, Lee, RHP Frank Francisco.
Potential non-tenders -- RHP Dustin Nippert.
Potential players of interst -- C Victor Martinez. C Roberto Hernandez, 3B Adrian Beltre.
Needs: A big bat is the absolute largest need. The Orioles finished 13th of 14 in the AL in runs scored. Rallies continually went to the middle of the lineup to die. OF Nick Markakis’ power numbers were way down, and one primary reason is because didn’t have any real threats (Tejada/Garrett Atkins/Ty Wigginton/ Luke Scott) batting cleanup behind him. That big bat works at first or third. Filling both holes would be optimal. They’d also like a veteran innings eater to replace Kevin Millwood. But they probably won’t pay a lot for one. They are always in the market for relief, too. And a shortstop that can play D and hit is on the wish list, but it’s likely they’ll just re-sign Cesar Izturis, who can’t hit but can pick.
Surplus: You kidding? If I had to stretch, I’d say young arms. They have a ton of guys under 26 that have major-league pitching experience. Not sure how good they are; but they have a lot of them. Guys like Dave Hernandez and Chris Tillman probably could be had in a package deal for a legit power bat.
Potential free agents: INF Wigginton, SS Izturis, RHP Koji Uehara, LHP Mark Hendrickson, RHP Millwood, INF Julio Lugo, OF Corey Patterson. Millwood and Lugo are gone, and Patterson likely is too unless he can’t find another job and accepts a minor-league one again. The Orioles will decline an option on Hendrickson and may talk to him about a lesser one-year deal. They would like to re-sign Izturis (see above) and Uehara if he is agreeable to a one-year deal with incentives. He was great as a late-inning reliever (13 of 15 save chances) but he has had problems staying healthy. Wigginton was the team’s all-star, and if they can’t land a big corner bat, they’d gladly have him back. But they won’t pursue him hard until after they thoroughly scan the market, and he could be gone by then.
Potential non-tenders: They have several arb eligible guys (Scott, Adam Jones, Jeremy Guthrie, etc), but the only one that could be non-tendered is RH reliever Matt Albers. I guess Jim Johnson is a possibility to be non-tendered after an injury-riddled season, but I really doubt it.
Potential players of interest: They’ll have some interest in every corner infielder with pop: Victor Martinez, Konerko, Beltre, Derrek Lee, Dunn, Lance Berkman, Carlos Pena. Then they’ll fish on the second pier of pitchers.
Needs: Red Sox need to figure out their own free agents - Beltre and Martinez - while also trying to add another bat with power. The Sox will also rebuild their middle relief, needing a good lefty and a good righty. May also need a catcher and a corner infielder if they lose Beltre and Martinez.
Surplus: They do have a couple of shortstops in Jed Lowrie and
Marco Scutaro they could move in the right deal. They also have some young
outfielders - Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish, Josh Reddick, who could be
attractive and available in the right deals.
Potential free agents: Beltre, Martinez, Varitek, Bill Hall are the big
Potential non-tenders - Hideki Okajima (a big maybe).
Potential players of interest - Looks like they'll have their eye on a
lefty reliever like Scott Downs or Brian Fuentes or Randy Choate from Tampa Bay. They may also go after a righty like Joaquin Benoit, Matt Guerrier, Grant
Balfour, Dan Wheeler. Someone who can shore up the sixth or seventh inning.
If they lose VMart, must find a No. 1 catcher and that's where someone like
Buck or Olivo could appeal to them. If available, they'd want
to get in on Adrian Gonzalez and move Kevin Youkilis to third. They could also
dangle Daisuke Matsuzaka to see what the level of interest is. Dice-K does
have a full no trade, but there's no warm and fuzzy to stay in Boston. He
has two years at $20 million remaining on his deal. Werth and Crawford appear to be on their radar and possiblly a first baseman like Konerko or Lyle Overbay or Adam LaRoche.
Needs. Shore up pitching, bullpen and get another hitter, although they may just stick with current outfield of Curtis Granderson CF, Brett Gardner LF and Nick Swisher, who has terrible postseason numbers in right.
Surplus. Some good young talent not getting a major league chance. C Jesus Montero should have been in the majors this season.
Potential free agents: SS Derek Jeter, RHPs Mariano Rivera, Kerry Wood.
Potential non-tenders. Did not pick up options on DHs Lance Berkman, Nick Johnson and Wood.
Potential players of interest. A guy named Cliff Lee, Crawford, Werth, although I think they will stay away from Crawford. Interested in Werth if it is not an outrageous number, they really like Gardner, who should be their leadoff man in 2011.
Needs: Bullpen will be a big one, as six relievers who worked significant innings for Rays in 2010 are free agents. They also need to improve their offense, while replacing Crawford in left field and possibly Pena at first base. However, they are cutting their payroll significantly as well. Could also use a true frontline catcher.
Surplus: One commodity Rays have is starting pitcher, returning the five incumbents plus super prospect Jeremy Hellickson, who was impressive at the end of last season. They also are a bit thick in the middle infield, which could lead to a trade of Jason Bartlett. They Rays have Reid Brignac to play SS and Sean Rodriguez at 2B, with Ben Zobrist also a candidate at second and Elliot Johnson as a super utility man.
Potential free agents: OF/DH Rocco Baldelli, RHP Grant Balfour, RHP Joaquin Benoit, LHP Choate, OF Crawford, OF/DH Brad Hawpe, OF Gabe Kapler, 1B Pena, RHP Chad Qualls, RHP Rafael Soriano, RHP Dan Wheeler.
Potentail non-tenders: RHP Lance Cormier, C Dioner Navarro, 1B Dan Johnson, INF-DH Willy Aybar.
Potential players of interest: Will look to re-sign some of their own free agent relievers first
Needs: First baseman, a third baseman or outfielder depending on where Jose Bautista plays next season. Or a second baseman, or an outifelder if 2B Aaron Hill is moved to third base. Three right-handed pitchers. Starting with a replacement for closer Kevin Gregg, who had 37 saves this year. Jays declined the options on a one-year club option worth $5.25 million or a two-year club option worth $9.5 million for 2011-12.
Potential free agents: LHP Scott Downs, RHP Jason Frasor, Catchers Buck and Olivo, RHP Gregg.
Potential non-tenders: RHPs Jeremy Accardo, Taylor Buchholz, Shawn Hill, OF Fred Lewis, 3B Edwin Encarnacion, LHP Brian Tallet, OF DeWayne Wise.
Surplus: They have six starting pitchers to begin next season: Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Marc Rzepczynski and Kyle Drabek. (They have not had three 25 yearr-olds like Romero, Morrow and Cecil finish the season healthy and full of promise in 10 years since Chris Carpenter, Roy Halladay and Kelvin Escobar). They also have RHP Zach Stewart, obtained from the Reds for 3B Scott Rolen, who they think is a stud.
Potential players of interest: They say they will not be big spenders, but I do not believe that. Jays' payroll was around $78 million in 2010, but that included the $10 million to former closer B.J. Ryan and $6 million sent to the Phillies to help pay for Roy Halladay. It did not include the $1.7 million paid to former GM J.P. Ricciardi to work for ESPN. Toronto's actual on-field product was around $62 million and that will see an increase in light of the 15 players set for arbitration this offseason. The Jays insist they have the ability to take on even more payroll if it makes sense, but, barring some major additions, Toronto might be in the $80-85 million range for 2011. First baseman Carlos Pena.
Needs: Left-handed hitter, catcher, first baseman, late-inning right-handed relievers.
Surplus: Starting pitcher, low-level minor league pitchers.
Potential free agents: 1B Konerko, C A.J. Pierzynski, OF-DH Manny Ramirez, RHP Freddy Garcia, 1B-OF Mark Kotsay, RHP J.J. Putz, OF Andruw Jones.
Potential non-tenders: Closer Bobby Jenks ($7.5 mil in 2009, in doghouse), RHP Tony Pena.
Potential players of interest. Sox have liked STL CF Colby Rasmus since 2008. Will take more than Carlos Quentin to get him. When Kenny Williams acquires a player, he'll often say, "I've wanted this player for many years."
Needs: A third baseman, probably just a stop-gap guy until prospect Lonnie Chisenhall is ready to assume the position, either late in 2011 or the spring of 2012. They could use a veteran starting pitcher, but only if he’s willing to work cheap, on a one-year deal. Their two biggest needs are the healthy returns of OF Grady Sizemore and C Carlos Santana, who both had major season-ending knee surgeries in 2010.
Surplus: Empty seats. Plenty of good sections available. Their only area of surplus is a stable of young, disappointing former pitching prospects who have fallen out of favor and spent most of this season at AAA Columbus. Guys like LHP David Huff, LHP Aaron Laffey, LHP Jeremy Sowers.
Potential free agents: None.
Potential non-tenders: RHP Jensen Lewis and INF Andy Marte.
Potential players of interest: Under-financed ownership prevents them from bidding on any significant free agents, or taking on any big contracts through trades. Indians players who would be of interest to other teams? They won’t talk about any of their front line prospects, but one player who bears watching is Sizemore. He can be a free agent after the 2012 season, which means in 2011 he will be in the same situation -- the year before the year after which he can become a free agent -- that Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez were in when the Indians traded them. If Sizemore bounces back from two injury-plagued seasons and has a strong first half, it’s not out of the question that the Indians would listen to offers for him, since they now have a history of trading players in his situation. Clearly, though, there’s no market for Sizemore this off-season, as he continues his rehab from microfracture knee surgery.
Needs: Big bat for the middle of the lineup, and the bullpen in front of closer Jose Valverde. Phil Coke is moving to the rotation, but that's not the only reason they need bullpen help.
Surplus: Pitching in the minors.
Potential free agents: C Gerald Laird and OF Johnny Damon won't be back. If RHP Jeremy Bonderman is back, it's on a minor-league invite. OF/DH Magglio Ordonez is wait-and-see on how his ankle heals. His return could also depend on whether the Tigers sign a big free-agent hitter.
Potential non-tenders. None jump out.
Potential players of interest. Any trade talks might end with top minor-league pitchers Andy Oliver and Jacob Turner. It would be a shock if the Tigers gave up either of them.
Needs: A right-handed bat with some pop. Preferably a corner outfielder. They might also look at a veteran catcher as a stop-gap because Jason Kendall isn't expected back from shoulder surgery until May at the earliest. (They might also just go with some in-house kids). The big news hereabouts is, yes, they will listen to offers for RHP Zack Greinke, who will make $13.5 million over each of the next two years. Are willing to be overwhelmed --two high-ceiling young players or prospects, including (probably) the best prospect any inquiring team possesses. The price will be steep. Probably too steep. Greinke fits comfortably within their payroll.
Surplus: The Royals have a bounty of LHP prospects and are willing to deal one for a similarly regarded prospect in an area of need, preferably (again) a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder. Their areas of surplus on the big-league club are complementary players such as OF Mitch Maier or infielders Mike Aviles and Chris Getz. Aviles could be interesting. He seemed to recapture his 2008 form over the closing weeks after undergoing Tommy John surgery in July 2009.
Potential free agents: Veteran LHP Bruce Chen is the only one. He had a nice year and should draw some interest. The Royals want him back but are unlikely to offer more than one year.
Potential non-tenders: RHP Brian Bannister. There are some who believe RHP Kyle Davies is a candidate, but I doubt it. The Royals want utility man Wilson Betemit back as a stopgap, but I don't know if they're willing to go to arbitration.
Potential players of interest: It's unlikely the Royals will make much of a splash in the free-agent market. They'll troll the bargain bins for that right-handed-hitting outfielder if a trade fails to materialize. Could also look for a veteran catch-and-throw catcher and some bullpen arms. A
Needs: Twins are picking up the pieces after their fifth consecutive first-round playoff exit, and fourth against the Yankees. They need to restock their bullpen, replace the middle infield and some would say, they need an ace. They also have payroll concerns, as C Joe Mauer’s $23 million salary kicks in next year. Even if all 10 of their free agents leave, their remaining inventory of players could make $105 million next year, with several players (including LHP Francisco Liriano, RHP Kevin Slowey, LF Delmon Young) heading for big arbitration raises. After pushing the payroll to a franchise record $100 million this year, in their first year at Target Field, it’s unclear how high they’re willing to go.
Surplus: The Twins have a pretty good stock of outfielders, especially if 1B Justin Morneau returns from his concussion (and doctors are confident he will), allowing to Michael Cuddyer move back to RF. Jason Kubel could then move from RF to DH with Denard Span in CF and Delmon Young in LF. Many of the Twins top prospects are outfielders, including Ben Revere, Joe Benson and Aaron Hicks. So if the Twins were to make an impact trade, they likely would look to move one of these outfielders.
Potential free agents: RHP Carl Pavano, DH Jim Thome, 2B Orlando Hudson, LHP Brian Fuentes, RHP Jon Rauch, RHP Jesse Crain, RHP Matt Guerrier, INF Nick Punto (option declined), LHP Randy Flores, LHP Ron Mahay.
Potential non-tenders: SS J.J. Hardy, RHP Pat Neshek, LHP Glen Perkins, OF Jason Repko.
Potential players of interest: Perhaps Greinke or another front-line pitcher.