Now teams are left to fight over the scraps, and how clubs go about filling their holes with the remaining names can have major implications on a season. There will be teams who are done spending and shopping for bargain-bin pickups, teams who have been jilted and can spread money around and more.
No more Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth or Victor Martinez may not be exciting, but there's still plenty more machinations ahead. The trade market may also start heating up now that teams can more clearly identify their holes or surplus players.
So who are the top 10 free agents left?
10. Kevin Gregg
Gregg closed for Toronto in 2010 and surprisingly held his own in the AL East after years of being a miscast closer and flaming out of Chicago. He's still not a great option, but as someone willing to ink for just two years, Gregg's market may open up what with the crazy three-year pacts being handed out.
How about: The Orioles seem to be the top (only?) suitor for Gregg, so let's take the safe route here and tab Gregg to the O's. This would push Mike Gonzalez and Koji Uehara to setup roles, and give the O's what suddenly looks like an intriguing top three in the bullpen that could do wonders for the young rotation's confidence in nailing down wins.
9. Brian Fuentes
Fuentes is another mediocre closer but as a left-hander with strikeout stuff, is in plenty of demand as both a setup man and closer. Fuentes is looking to max out the years on his contract but has a top team in the Red Sox chasing him, plus plenty of other clubs with the financial wherewithal to import Fuentes.
How about: The Yankees. New York has money to toss around and a need for a left-handed reliever. Fuentes ranks above Pedro Feliciano in the remaining market for lefties and Fuentes may be willing to pitch just in front of Mariano Rivera. He's likely too pricey for Colorado.
8. Bill Hall
Hall revitalized his career in Boston as a super-utilityman and rediscovered the pop he left behind mid-decade in Milwaukee. Another good season would really open up his career prospects. He's been closely linked to the Dodgers, but there's no shortage of teams that would want him as a backup. The club that can offer him the most playing time is likely the team that snags him.
How about: The Dodgers. L.A. has made a habit of collecting average players and hoping quantity beats out quality. Problem: they still haven't solved their left-field conundrum. Hall makes a lot of sense here as he can back up at multiple positions and serve as insurance in case they need to move him out from left field.
7. Jim Thome
Thome is 40 years old and still bashing home runs, cranking 25 in 340 plate appearances for the Twins. However, he looks to be squeezed out by the impending return of Justin Morneau and emergence of Delmon Young. As someone who will come on a one-year deal and a cheap base salary, any team with a hole at DH has to be interested.
How about: The Rays. The market for DHs is small, but Tampa Bay are one such team that could use Thome's thump and have a DH spot -- and no potential for losing the spot -- waiting for him. In addition, Thome could benefit from the short porch in Yankee Stadium and the moving in of the right-field fence in Boston.
6. Bobby Jenks
Jenks has often had a tumultuous career in Chicago as Ozzie Guillen hs never been a fan. However, Jenks was actually better than Rafael Soriano in 2010. Jenks's xFIP was 2.62, while Soriano checked in at 2.81. Over the next three years, Soriano is certainly the better property, but the point is that Jenks has actually been a better pitcher these last few years than given credit for.
How about: The Rays. Yes, Tampa Bay is slashing payroll, but they still have some room to spend dollars. They have an empty bullpen, putting them in position to pick and choose from any remaining reliever out there and handing them the closer's job. Jenks, however, is the only one who would likely accept a one-year deal to rebuild his value before hitting free agency again after the year. Tampa won't complain about that. (The Jays were the original pick here, but a Hardball Talk report that has Jenks and Tampa Bay close to an agreement changed that.)
5. Derrek Lee
Lee started the year hobbled by a thumb injury, and Aramis Ramirez's own struggles compounded the issue for the Cubs. Lee bounced back in the second half and showed he wasn't cooked with the Braves. However, his stock is down enough that a one-year deal could work in his best interest -- and teams would be only too happy to oblige.
How about: The Padres. Lee is a Northern California boy, and is the best first baseman remaining on the market. The Orioles seem focused on Adam LaRoche, and the Nats are talking to LaRoche as well, but Lee should provide the bigger bang for the buck in 2011. The Padres desperately need a first baseman and could make the case to Lee that they are better positioned to win in 2011 than either the Nats or O's.
4. Magglio Ordonez
Looking past how much Ordonez was overpaid the last few seasons, you see an outfielder still capable of hitting with the stick. His agent, Scott Boras, is currently being unreasonable in salary demands but since when is that news? Of the outfielders left on the market, Mags is the best bet of all to produce in 2011.
How about: The Tigers. Detroit still needs a bat, and that outfield as comprised (Ryan Raburn-Austin Jackson-Brennan Boesch) does not look pretty. There's motivation on both sides to get a deal done.
3. Carl Pavano
Pavano is a quality starter, there's no doubt about that. He can soak up innings and function as a solid No. 3 in any rotation, but he seems to be benefiting from a positive groundswell of support as there's not much differentiating him from Joe Blanton. He's understandably trying to capitalize on a market run amok, but Pavano's injury history and advanced age is working against him here.
How about: The Twins. Minnesota wants Pavano back and Pavano wants back in the Twin Cities. It's possible that Pavano, seeking a three-year, $30 million contract, could leave money on the table to do so.
2. Rafael Soriano
Soriano is a lights out reliever but seems to be suffering from a curious lack of interest. Yes, his pedigree as a closer is one reason for that as teams are balking at four years and a high salary. One might think teams are learning their lesson when it comes to overpaying for relievers, but unfortunately it appears that teams are only getting smarter when it comes to paying closers, not relievers as evidenced by the ridiculous three-year deals handed out to relievers. But riddle me this: if someone like Matt Guerrier can get three years, how can Soriano not demand four?
How about: The Rangers. Texas is scrambling to find a pitcher to replace Cliff Lee. Pavano's a possibility, but how well can he play in that park? It may be better to go for the quality arm in Soriano and convert Neftali Feliz to a starter.
1. Adrian Beltre
The best player left on the market, Beltre can pick it with the best of them and enjoyed a strong season at the plate. There's enough question marks about Beltre's offense that he's going to have to move significantly off his salary demands unless he phones Oakland and asks for the five-year, $65 million deal to be put back on the table.
How about: The Angels. It makes too much sense for the Angels to sign Beltre. They have a gaping hole at third and missed out on Crawford. Beltre, meanwhile, has seen his suitors dwindle as the market hasn't broke in his favor. This is a match for both sides that is too obvious. Then again, the Crawford-Angels match was obvious as well. As long as Los Angeles continues to negotiate as if there are no other teams involved, they will continue to miss out. The Halos could stand to be more aggressive.
-- Evan Brunell