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Tag:MLB Free Agents
Posted on: October 28, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Tigers pick up closer Valverde's option

ValverdeBy Evan Brunell

In a no-brainer move, the Tigers have exercised their $9 million club option on closer Jose Valverde.

Valverde saved every single opportunity he had in 2011, finishing with a club-recod 49 saves, besting Todd Jones' 42 in 2002. Anytime a team can re-up with a successful reliever for just one season, you have to do it. There's too much risk in long-term deals for relievers, and although the closer's market in free agency may have depressed Valverde's price due to the amount of closers hitting the market, Detroit still made the right call in picking up Valverde's deal. Now, if he has a poor season, the club can walk away after the year with no strings attached.

The club could still extend Valverde, perhaps giving him two to three years at a lesser annual salary. The righty posted a 2.24 ERA in 72 1/3 innings in his second season with Detroit. The 33-year-old is 58 saves away from 300 for his career.

For all free agency moves, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.


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Posted on: October 27, 2011 6:57 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 6:59 pm
 

Soriano won't opt out of contract with Yankees

Soriano

By Evan Brunell


In what had to be one of the most obvious calls in a long time, reliever Rafael Soriano will not opt out of his contract with the Yankees.

"He adjusted to the [seventh- eighth-inning] role, liked being there with Mariano [Rivera] and he adjusted to New York City," agent Scott Boras told the New York Post of Soriano, who tried to pretend this movie was about liking his situation and not about money. "The player is happy there."

Soriano signed a three-year, $35 million deal with New York prior to last season after not finding a market for his closing services. Soriano and agent Scott Boras settled for closer's money, but a setup role under Mariano Rivera. As part of the deal, the righty received the right to opt out of the deal after each of the 2011 or 2012 seasons. Soriano earned $10 million in 2011, an $11 million salary due in 2012 and then a bump to $14 million in 2013, which is not that surprising given that incumbent closer Mariano Rivera's deal runs through 2012, which could leave Soriano as closer in 2013. If Soriano opted out, he would have received a $1.5 million buyout.

Maybe if the flamethrower had a season reminiscent of his 2010, when he was a dominating closer for the Rays, he would have opted out. Except that Soriano had an injury-plagued year and pitched just 39 2/3 innings, coughing up a 4.12 ERA. He wasn't the same person when he was on the mound, struggling with command which may dissipate now that he has time to heal from his injuries, but either way, he wasn't going to sniff anywhere near two years and $25 million on the open market, so he is making the obvious decision to stay in New York.

This move is about money, period. If Soriano was truly interested in remaining as a setup man, these options wouldn't have been built in, and he wouldn't have taken so long to sign with a team. But that's OK -- nothing wrong with a pitcher trying to score what will be the biggest payday of his career. And the Yankees do have some optimism moving forward for Soriano to reclaim his dominance and give the club a devastating one-two punch in 2012. Once Soriano returned on July 30 from right-shoulder inflammation, he threw 24 1/3 innings, posting a 3.33 ERA and with control numbers reflecting his previous effectiveness. Between Soriano and fellow setup man David Robertson -- who emerged following Soriano's injury -- the Yankees are in great shape. And Boras credits them with starting what might be an emerging trend, utilizing two closers in the game and noting how Milwaukee followed in a similar path by acquiring Francisco Rodriguez to supplement John Axford.

"I give the Yankees a lot of credit, they used the platform well," Boras said. "At first [clubs] will say we are overpaying. Then it's oh my [gosh], we are winning a lot of games."

Except this is more of a gambit by an agent to get setup men more money than it is teams utilizing two closers. Boras is doing his job and one could argue that setup men are even more valuable than closers. I'm one of those in that camp, as setup men can be used in high-pressure situations in virtually any inning and most setup men are allowed to pitch more than one inning more often than a closer. There is a reason ex-Red Sox manager Terry Francona always called Boston setup man Daniel Bard his most valuable relief pitcher for years. But setup roles are exactly how Soriano and Rodriguez were utilized. Soriano received just two saves for the Yankees. One came on April 20 in a 6-2 Yankees win after Lance Pendleton failed at mopping up the game by allowing two batters. Rivera had pitched the day before, and three of the previous four games. The next save by Soriano came in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 21, when New York's playoff chances were secure and Rivera closed the first game out.

Rodriguez didn't even get one save as a Brewer. These guys may have been closers, but they served in the very specific role of a setup man. These teams did not utilize two closers; two people splitting saves. It's the same arrangement that has worked so well in Boston, and Bard has never closed. He's been a setup man. That's the very reason why Soriano is returning to New York -- if he was valued as a quality closer, he would be a free agent.

For all free agency moves, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.

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Posted on: October 27, 2011 3:05 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 3:06 pm
 

Free agent shortstop rankings: High risk, reward



By Matt Snyder

The theme here is high-risk, high-reward guys, at least toward the top. In the top two (and I'd include number four as well) teams are possibly looking at All-Star seasons or an albatross contract down the road, depending on how things shake out with health and the aging process. The entire list here contains gambles, but you know what? Sometimes in gambling you win.

List of MLB free agents

1. Jose Reyes. The 28 year old has now been an All-Star four times. He's led the majors in triples four times and the NL in steals three times. He upped his on-base percentage to .384 (nearly 30 points higher than his previous career high) in 2011 while winning the NL batting title. Had he not injured his hamstring twice, he may have been an MVP candidate. Of course, therein lies the issue. From 2005-08, Reyes was very durable. Since then, he's been unable to shake injuries. Someone is going to give him a big contract, there's little question about that. If Reyes can stay healthy, he'll be worth every dime. If he can't, the contract could end up handcuffing a franchise.
Potential teams: Mets, Tigers (shifting Jhonny Peralta to third), Giants, Nationals, Phillies, Brewers, Mariners

2. Jimmy Rollins. He turns 33 in a month and is actually coming off his best season since 2008. He can still steal bases, can still hit for moderate power and play good defense. He's just not a star anymore, and Rollins seems to be seeking a star-like contract. The hunch is some team that misses out on Reyes gives Rollins three to four years and regrets the deal by the third season, but it's possible he could be a good signing. 
Potential teams: Same as Reyes, Rollins is just the second option.

3. Marco Scutaro. He'll be 36 in less than a week, but he should have enough left in the tank to be a meaningful starter for the next two seasons. He had a .358 OBP in a tough division, so Scutaro could prove a good option for some ballclub that isn't capable of spending big money to fill a hole at short. Of course, they probably won't have a chance, because the Red Sox are expected to pick up Scutaro's option.
Potential teams: Red Sox

4. Rafael Furcal. It seems like Furcal has been around forever, and that's because he was a rookie at the ripe young age of 22. He's 34 now and certainly has lost some speed and power. Plus, he has only been healthy enough to play at least 100 games once in the past four seasons. Furcal has played better since joining the Cardinals, but he still hasn't shown enough to be considered a big name on the free agency market. He has said publicly he wants to remain in St. Louis and a one-year deal there is a distinct possibility.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Twins, Reds, Giants, Brewers, Mariners, Phillies

5. Clint Barmes. Barmes had a decent 2011 season for the Astros, shifting back to being an everyday shortstop -- the position he lost to Troy Tulowitzki in Colorado. He'll be very affordable and the Astros may let him walk, considering that's very little chance for them to compete in the next two seasons. It makes Barmes a nice, cheap option for teams strapped for cash.
Potential teams: Twins, Reds, Braves, Pirates, Giants

6. Willie Bloomquist.
The Diamondbacks will be getting Stephen Drew back from injury, but Bloomquist still has value to the franchise as a sort of supersub -- someone who can be plugged in as an injury replacement anywhere on the field (in 2010 he played every position except pitcher and catcher). The D-Backs are expected to pick up his option.
Potential teams: Diamondbacks

7. Yuniesky Betancourt. He has power, but his inability to get on base (.271 OBP in '11) and awful range at shortstop make Betancourt a liability most games. He did have a great offensive NLCS, so it's possible that lands him a few extra bucks on the open market. It's possible the Brewers pick up Betancourt's option if they can't get one of the above guys, but it's a $6 million option. That's hard to justify for a guy who can't get on base or field very well.
Potential teams: Pirates, Astros, Brewers, Twins, Braves

8. Ronny Cedeno. He's 29 and already shown his upside is severely limited. If the Pirates don't pick up his option, it's hard to see anyone signing him to come in and be the starter, at least not unchallenged.
Potential teams: Astros? Otherwise he'll be a backup just about anywhere.

9. Alex Gonzalez. The veteran will be 35 before next season starts, but he still has some pop. A team looking to bolster the offense's power could give him a one-year deal. There is talk the Braves will end up keeping him, so that bears watching.
Potential teams: Braves, Twins, Giants, Mariners

10. Cesar Izturis. He's only 31, but he's long since shown that he can't be a decent major-league hitter. He can help someone as a backup middle infielder that is only used as a defensive replacement, but his value is minimal. Look for teams with a good offensive shortstop that can't field to see Izturis as a late-innings defensive replacement -- but it can't be a star. Stars don't usually come out of the game.
Potential teams: Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Rays, Nationals, Brewers, Retirement

11. John McDonald. Very similar to Izturis in that McDonald can play defense but not hit. He's just depth.
Potential teams: Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Rays, Nationals, Brewers

12. Edgar Renteria. Is there a place for an old backup who can barely hit or field anymore, but was once an All-Star and has a penchant for dramatic postseason hits? It's possible. Renteria could realistically be forced into retirement, but the guess is someone gives him a modest one-year deal.
Potential teams: Brewers, Twins, Mariners, Astros, Pirates, Retirement

13. Felipe Lopez. He's a headache off the field and has alienated himself from several ballclubs. He was an All-Star in 2005, when he hit 23 home runs and stole 11 bases, but Lopez hit just .206/.247/.277 in 2011 and he's north of 30 years old. If he gets a chance somewhere, it's gonna be on a minor-league deal.
Potential teams: anyone other than the eight teams he's already played for ... or forced retirement.

14. Orlando Cabrera. The soon-to-be 37 year old can't hit and his defense is drastically declining. With more and more teams ready to go young instead of wasting money on veterans, there is likely to be zero market for Cabrera's services early in the free agency period. It's possible when several of the names above fly off the board that some club grabs Cabrera on the cheap, but he also might end up like Jermaine Dye a few years ago ... just waiting on the right deal that never comes along.
Potential teams: Marlins? Mariners? Brewers? Retirement very possible.

15. Drew Sutton. He hit .315/.362/.444 in 31 games for the Red Sox, but there is little chance of that keeping up in the long run. Sutton is probably more likely to land a job -- for different reasons -- than Cabrera (age), Lopez (personality) or Renteria (asking price), but it's hard to tell who is going to view him as the proper fit to back up their shortstop.
Potential teams: Anyone and everyone.

Other free agents who could play shortstop: Jamey Carroll, Jerry Hairston, Ramon Santiago, Jack Wilson, Nick Punto, Omar Vizquel, Craig Counsell, Alex Cora

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Posted on: October 27, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: October 27, 2011 6:19 pm
 

Cardinals pick up Adam Wainwright's option

Adam WainwrightBy C. Trent Rosecrans

We're going to have a lot of these reports in the next couple of days -- the things you knew would happen, but actually happened. Today's edition is that the Cardinals officially told right-hander Adam Wainwright they are picking up his 2012 and 2013 options at a total of $21 million, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Wainwright recorded the final out of the 2006 World Series for the Cardinals, but has been relegated to cheerleader in this year's World Series. Wainwright missed all of 2011 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but is expected to be fully ready to pitch come spring training.

For all the free agency moves, check out our Free Agent tracker

Wainwright, 30, finished in the top three in Cy Young voting in both 2009 and 2010, going 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA in 2010. 

With the option picked up for $9 million in 2012, the Cardinals already have more than $74 million on the books for 10 players in 2012, with Albert Pujols unsigned. The team also has an option on shortstop Rafael Furcal, while Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs and Ryan Theriot are all arbitration-eligiible. Right-hander Edwin Jackson, catcher Gerald Laird, infielder Nick Punto and outfielder Corey Patterson are also free agents.

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 10:10 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 10:12 pm
 

Blue Jays could make run at David Ortiz

OrtizBy Evan Brunell

Could Big Papi be headed north of the border?

The Boston Herald writes that the Blue Jays "will not rule out" going after David Ortiz.

The Red Sox slugger is a free agent, coming off a bounceback year that saw him crack 29 homers and hit .309/.398/.554. While Ortiz isn't expected to get a lucrative contract, especially at age 35, he should end up with a two-year deal worth around $20-$25 million in free agency. That is well within Toronto's budget, which is looking for a left-handed complement to Jose Bautista. Ortiz would certainly fit the bill and give the club some serious thump in advance of the team trying to make a move in the division.

Ortiz knows the Blue Jays manager, John Farrell, from his time in Boston as a pitching coach and has always enjoyed Rogers Centre, where the Jays call home. Excluding Boston's Fenway Park, the lefty has slugged more homers in Rogers Centre than any other stadium, going deep 29 times and slashing .270/.357/.597 in the park. However, again, Ortiz is 35 and that might not fit with Toronto, whose window of opportunity is likely at least one more year away. Plus, Papi would be stuck at DH and prevent Toronto from cycling other players through the position. In addition, it would mean that one of Adam Lind, Travis Snider and Eric Thames would be squeezed out of playing time.

After the Red Sox's historic collapse, Ortiz was quoted as saying he was tired of dealing with the drama in Boston, but later said he wanted to return to the team. It's likely that he will, and new GM Ben Cherington said that he wouldn't rule out Papi re-upping with Boston during the five-day window of exclusivity teams have with their free agents following the World Series.

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 2:12 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 4:41 pm
 

Free-agent postion rankings: Thin crop at 2B

Brandon Phillips

By C. Trent Rosecrans


For all free agency moves, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.

Second base is hardly a marquee position -- there are some good players at the position, but at its core, it's a position of deficiencies. Second basemen generally aren't good enough defensively to play shortstop, or hit well enough to be a third baseman or outfielder. That's not to say there aren't some great players who play the position like Dustin Pedroia and Chase Utley, but it's not a marquee position, and it's even less so in this free agent market.

Brandon Phillips1. Brandon Phillips: If the Reds were to decide against exercising Phillips' $12 million option, he'd certainly be in demand. But that's not happening. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has said he's planning on picking up Phillips' option, while Phillips prefers an extension. Phillips has said the Reds simply picking up the option on his contract would be a slap in the face -- but maybe one day I can be slapped in the face for $12 million. Phillips said the Reds won't get the "homeboy hookup" (otherwise known as the "hometown discount") in any extension talk. So while Phillips will be in a Reds uniform on opening day, the end of the season and beyond, that may be a question.
Possible teams: Reds

Jamey Carroll2. Jamey Carroll: Yep, Jamey Carroll is number two on this list -- which should tell you as much as you need to know about the remaining 11 names on this list. Carroll is a fine player, but nothing more than that. He hit .290/.359/.347 for the Dodgers this season and hasn't hit a home run since 2009. He did put up a .383 on-base percentage as a leadoff man, something that could make him much more attractive to potential suitors. Carroll could be a good second baseman (or shortstop) for somebody, but he's not exactly the type of player that's going to turn around the team or get a fanbase fired up.
Possible teams: Dodgers, White Sox, Royals, Diamondbacks, Rockies

Jerry Hairston Jr.3. Jerry Hairston Jr.: Hairston is one of the more versatile players in the game and also had a very good postseason, so good that someone may consider him an everyday player. Hairston played second, third, shortstop, left field and center field last season, but started each of the NLCS games at third base. He played 45 games for the Brewers and 75 for the Nationals in 2011, hitting .270/.344/.383 with five home runs overall.
Possible teams: Brewers, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Mets, Royals

Ramon Santiago4. Ramon Santiago: Santiago could play shortstop as well, increasing his value. This year was the first year he played mostly second base, starting 40 games at second and 22 at shortstop for the Tigers. Still, he doesn't exactly project as a first-division starter at either spot. He hit .260/.311/.384, not too far off his average in his 10 seasons in the big leagues with the Tigers and Mariners. He's most likely a utility infielder at this point in his career.
Possible teams: Twins, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Padres, Dodgers

Mark Ellis5. Mark Ellis: Ellis certainly earned brownie points for teams watching from afar when he gracefully stepped aside for the arrival of second baseman Jemile Weeks in Oakland and was then traded to Colorado. Ellis, a good defensive second baseman, struggled offensively in Oakland before the trade but hit quite a bit better in Colorado (imagine that). Ellis is likely to return to Colorado.
Possibile teams: Rockies, Diamondbacks, Dodgers

Aaron Hill6. Aaron Hill: The Diamondbacks have options for the next two seasons on Hill, but there's close to zero chance the team will pay him $8 million for next season. Still, Arizona has expressed interest in bringing back Hill, whom the Diamondbacks got in a change of scenery trade with the Blue Jays. Hill hit .315/.386/.492 with two homers in 33 games for the Diamondbacks after hitting just .225/.270/.313 for the Blue Jays.
Possible teams: Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Cardinals

Aaron Miles7. Aaron Miles: After his disastrous turn in Chicago, Miles has rebounded pretty well the last two seasons. For the Dodgers in 2011, Miles hit .275/.314/.346 in 136 games. Miles will be 35 next season. The Dodgers have expressed some interest in bringing him back. Miles made $500,000 last season and should get a little bump, but don't look for anyone giving him a long-term deal.
Possible teams: 
Dodgers, Cardinals, Nationals

Jack Wilson8. Jack Wilson: Wilson finished last season with the Braves, playing shortstop and third base. he played mostly second base for the Mariners to start the season, but that was because the team had Brendan Ryan at short. Wilson, who has never had much of a bat, may be entering the stage of his career where he can serve as a late-inning defensive replacement at any of the infield positions.
Possible teams: White Sox, Royals, Brewers, Dodgers, Cardinals

Carlos Guillen9. Carlos Guillen: Let's just say Guillen will take a pay cut in 2012 after his four-year, $48 million contract with the Tigers has run out. In those four seasons, the Tigers got a .266/.345/421 hitter with 30 home runs and 12 stolen bases. At 35 in 2011, Guillen hit .232/.265/.368, playing second base and first base in just 28 games.
Possible teams: Blue Jays, Cardinals, Rockies, retirement

Kelly Johnson10. Kelly Johnson: Johnson was the other half of the Blue Jays-Diamondbacks underachiever swap. And like Hill, he responded well in his new home, hitting .270/.364/.417 in 33 games in Toronto, while hitting .209/.287/.412 with 18 homers in 114 games with Arizona. The Blue Jays are likely to offer Johnson arbitration, so he can take it or hit the free agent market. He's likely on the borderline between Type A and Type B, if a Type A, he'd almost be forced to take arbitration because his value on the free agent market would take a huge hit if a team had to give up a draft pick. But the class of second basemen is so weak, he may be able to go anyway. It's an interesting situation.
Possible teams: Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Royals, Dodgers

Nick Punto11. Nick Punto: Punto hit .27 8/.388/.421 in a bounce-back year for the Cardinals, but was limited to just 166 plate appearances, so take that with a grain of salt. Punto's no longer an everyday player (if he ever really was), but is instead a utility player and there's always a place for that. He does add defensive value at most spots he plays, so there will be some demand.
Possible teams: Cardinals, White Sox, Mets, Nationals, Dodgers, Padres

Craig Counsell12. Craig Counsell: After the NLCS loss to the Cardinals, the Brewers utility man said he wasn't whether he'd return for a 17th season, but he'd certainly listen to offers. "When you're hitting .170 and you're 41 years old, you question yourself, there's no doubt," Counsell told me after the Brewers' loss to the Cardinals. It's a good question. He's had a very good career, but he did hit just .178/.280/.223 and tied a big league record with a 45 at-bat hitless streak.
Possible teams: Brewers, Diamondbacks, retirement

Jose Lopez13. Jose Lopez: The Marlins out righted Lopez to the minors in July, before calling him back up in August. With the Rockies and Marlins in 2011, he hit a combined .216/.245/.373.He did hit .273/.296/.597 with six home runs in 32 games (16 starts) after being called back up. He played third, second and first base. An All-Star in 2006 with the Mariners, Lopez will likely sign a minor-league contract to get into camp with someone, but he's no team's idea of an answer to any question other than who is on the travel roster for a split squad game.
Possible teams:
Nationals, Dodgers, Padres, White Sox, Royals, Mets

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 4:34 pm
 

Twins decline Joe Nathan's option

NathanBy Evan Brunell

For all news, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.

The Twins have declined closer Joe Nathan's $12.5 million option, the team announced.

Nathan will receive $2 million as part of his buyout. The righty made a solid return to the majors after missing all of 2011 thanks to Tommy John surgery. The 36-year-old had a 4.84 ERA in 44 2/3 innings, although he pitched more impressively than the ERA may indicate. He punched out 43 and walked 14, and there will be no shortage of teams that are interested in Nathan's services, either as a setup man or closer.

The Twins will be one of those teams, as GM Bill Smith said the club is interested in resigning Nathan. Given closer Matt Capps is also a free agent, there will be a spot for Nathan should he re-up with the team, which he has previously expressed an interest in doing so. After saving 14 of 17 games, he now has 261 saves for his career, with all but one coming with the Twins franchise.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 4:49 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Top-heavy 1B

Fielder, Pujols

By Evan Brunell


For all news, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.

The first-base crop of free agents is extremely top-heavy, boasting the best player in the game in Albert Pujols. Even without Pujols, the first-base list would still be star-studded, as 27-year-old Prince Fielder is also hitting the market and should command a sizable deal. However, after that, it drops off significantly, and by the end of the top 10 list, we're looking at someone who hit .194.

Pujols1. Albert Pujols: What more can you say about Pujols that hasn't been said already? He's the best hitter the 21st century has seen, and he may hold that mantle for quite a while. Pujols may be 31, but that shouldn't stop him from commanding a hefty contract given his strong bounceback after starting the year poorly, plus his dazzling defense. There's been a lot of talk about Pujols' failings in dealing with the media, but neither Pujols nor whichever team he ends up with will care much about his approach to the media. The team will care about homers. Pujols will care about money and winning. The media is just a sideshow.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Cubs, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Mariners, Nationals, Orioles, and because they have money: Yankees, Red Sox

Fielder2. Prince Fielder: Fielder is four years younger than Pujols, but he'll struggle to match what Pujols gets -- not just because Pujols is an elite, once-in-a-generation hitter (which, admittedly, Fielder could become), but because there are conditioning issues with his weight that lend comparisons to a late-career breakdown like Mo Vaughn. However, the lefty has appeared in 485 of a possible 486 regular-season games over the last three years, so it's hard to get too worked up about it. He's going to have a robust market and may even sign in advance of Pujols.
Potential teams: Same as Pujols -- Cardinals, Cubs, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Mariners, Nationals, Orioles, and because they have money: Yankees, Red Sox

Cantu3. Carlos Pena
: Pena can hit balls a long way. It's too bad he can't make contact regularly. But there are far worse first-baseman one could have, and getting a 30-homer player with strong defense and leadership skills is something most teams will kill for; Pena will get a healthy contract this year wherever he ends up. Whichever teams lose out on Pujols and Fielder will gun for Pena, so his market figures to be late-developing and it may be into January before he signs anywhere.
Potential teams: Cubs, Dodgers, Rays, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Orioles, Indians, Twins

Lee4. Derrek Lee
: It looked as if Lee was heading the way of Vladimir Guerrero and the other aging power-hitters as of late after beginning the year in a tough spot with Baltimore. Fortunately for Lee, he got dealt to the Pirates at the trade deadline and that reinvigorated him to the point where he should be able to scrape up a starting job somewhere this winter, although Lee may struggle to land with a top-flight contender. The Pirates would like for Lee to return to the team, but unless the Pirates offer one of the only starting jobs in the game, it's tough to see the righty returning.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Pirates, Rays, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs

Kotchman5. Casey Kotchman
: Kotchman was once a promising up-and-coming first baseman that was part of a Mark Teixeira trade, heading to Atlanta from Los Angeles. That's where his career frayed, and the Red Sox picked him up on a lark. No go. After a forgettable 2010 in Seattle, Kotchman somehow bounced back in Tampa Bay to rake up a .308/.372/.422 line. However, batting average seems to be what's driving Kotchman, and that's one of the least predictive statistics anyone can use. This upcoming season will determine a lot for Kotchman and his future, but no one should invest heavily in him. Unfortunately, after the year he had and with the poor free-agent class, he could haul in a sizable deal.
Potential teams: Rays, Dodgers, Pirates, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Astros, Indians, Orioles

Giambi6. Jason Giambi
: Giambi had a fantastic season as a pinch-hitter for the Rockies, helping to soften the blow when Todd Helton needed out of the lineup. Giambi smashed six doubles and 13 homers in just 152 plate appearances, an absolute wrecking ball off the bench. Who really knows what teams Giambi would sign with, but he'll certainly get plenty of offers to choose from. Wherever he lands, it'll be as a bench player although depending where he ends up, he could be in line to get at least 200 at-bats for the first time since 2009.
Potential teams: Rockies, Yankees, Athletics, Phillies

Overbay7. Lyle Overbay
: Overbay looked cooked as a starting first-baseman, but a resurgence in Arizona after leaving Pittsburgh will help matters significantly, even if he played in just 18 games for the Diamomdbacks. A team desperate for a stopgap at first base could entice Overbay, but it figures that his biggest market will come as a platoon first-baseman. A return to Arizona to mentor and play behind Paul Goldschmidt makes sense. If he wants a shot to start, it'll be with a team that doesn't quite harbor postseason aspirations -- but things have a funny way of working out once options dwindle.
Potential teams: Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Brewers, Cardinals, Pirates, Astros, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Padres

Gload8. Ross Gload
: Gload, whose career got a late start, has been plying his trade in the NL the last three seasons, primarily as a pinch-hitter for Philadelphia over the last two years. The first-baseman actually led the NL in pinch-hits in 2011, although you wouldn't know it given his poor statistics. Gload should have no problem getting a pinch-hit gig somewhere in the senior circuit this offseason and might even be enticed back to the AL if he can get a decent amount of playing time. Gload and the remaining names on the list could conceivably end up with any team, as their role would fit virtually anywhere as a backup.
Potential teams: Any team

Branyan9. Russell Branyan
: Branyan is a retirement candidate. At age 35, he took a significant step back as his trademark power was missing all year. While his .197 batting average isn't all that far from his .232 career average, that's not why teams kept playing him. No, Branyan got at-bats because of his power, but he only banged five homers and seven doubles in 146 plate appearances all season. Branyan hit 56 homers combined from 2009-10, so teams will still be willing to give him a shot. He could be entering the phase of his career where he hangs on for a few more season as a pinch-hitter in the NL.
Potential teams: Any team

Cantu10. Jorge Cantu
: Cantu's going to have a lot of trouble securing a major-league deal after the awful season he had, appearing in just 55 games for the Padres and hitting .194/.232/.285 before mercifully being released and finishing out the year in the Rockies' minor-league system.  It's quite the fall for the 29-year-old who hit 29 homers in 2008. Over the last two years, Cantu has regressed significantly and will have to play his way onto a team this spring on a minor-league cont
Potential teams: Any team

Others that could be first basemen: Mark DeRosa, Edwin Encarnacion, Eric Hinske, Conor Jackson, Xavier Nady Juan Rivera, Nick Swisher, Josh Willingham.

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

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