To finish my last thought, there will surely be a lot of offseason movement this winter. Here are the five biggest names on the list and where I believe they will end up.
Jayson Werth (OF), Free Agent
Werth is coming off of a huge second half after he started the season a bit slowly. Although his agent, the beloved Scott Boras, says that Werth is a good enough athlete to play center field, he's certainly better suited to continue playing right field. Werth is a legitimate 30/30 candidate at this point in his career, although that will probably change as he ages past his current 27 years of age. At 6'5", Werth is an athletic specimen who will command a lot of money this winter. He is one of the "Big 3" free agents who will likely need to fall into place before many of the smaller deals fall into place this offseason. He could be the recipient of a six or seven year deal worth over $100 million. Prediction: the familiar suspects will likely be involved in the bidding, such as the Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, Braves, Nationals and maybe even the Dodgers or Cubs. I'm curious if someone will be willing to overpay and just buy Werth away from the competition. Depending on where Carl Crawford lands, I see Werth staying in the National League, presumably with the Nationals. Since they may not retain Adam Dunn, Werth would be a solid replacement offensively and a big upgrade defensively, plus they may just be willing to pay the price to get him. Expect the discussion to be where to play Bryce Harper in two years, first base or left field?
Prince Fielder (1B), Milwaukee Brewers
The big firstbaseman of the Brewers could be on the move the winter. The small-market Brewers have grown tired of his antics at times and probably won't be able to afford him once his deal is up at the end of the 2011 season. As is the case with Gonzalez, the Brewers could trade Prince to bring something back in return for him moving along. A perennial 40 homerun threat, Fielder could be enticing to teams that are high on his power and not scared off by his weight problems. Prediction: while the smart move would be to move Fielder this offseason, I don't think the Brewers will get it done. Teams like the Dodgers, Braves, Nationals, Mariners and Orioles could be interested and "kick the tires" on Fielder in the next few months, but I expect the Brewers to have too high of an asking price to make a deal realistic.
Zack Greinke (SP), Kansas City Royals
Interestingly, Greinke's name has recently surfaced in trade rumors. The 2009 Cy Young winner had a letdown season in 2010 but most agree that his "stuff" is still top-notch. Because he's young and has been pretty consistent, Greinke could be a huge get for any team looking to significantly upgrade their starting pitching. It appears that Greinke has gotten frustrated with the direction of the franchise and it is truly a shame that one of the game's best pitchers plays for such an abysmal team. Prediction: This one may have some traction. The Royals may jump at the chance to move Greinke for the right pieces since they are still obviously a long ways away from being a legitimate contender. The Yankees still have Jesus Montero to deal and could presumably put something together, especially since AJ Burnett has disappointed. The Mets, Twins, Braves and Cardinals could also take a run at the Ace. Odds are that he stays a Royal but don't be surprised he does change teams in the next few months.
Carl Crawford (OF), Free Agent
Crawford is clearly the premier position player available and he will receive a very large contract with whomever he chooses. He appears to be really coming into his prime with the bat as his power numbers have steadily increased over the last few seasons. He's also a very athletic left fielder since he has the prototypical speed of a center fielder. He can steal 40 bases per season too if needed. At this point in his career, and with the price it will take to acquire him, he appears to slated for a middle-of-the-order role rather than in the leadoff capacity. The former Ray will not have the opportunity to come back to his former team since they are cutting payroll so drastically. Prediction: I firmly believe that Crawford will end up a member of the Los Angeles Angels. He's a good fit with them and they will likely pursue him hard. Other teams could include the Braves, Tigers and Red Sox. As an Angel, however, Crawford will continue to play in a warm, sunny environment (not Tropicana Field) and showcase his talents to the Left Coast.
Cliff Lee (SP), Free Agent
If you don't know who Cliff Lee is or haven't followed the hoopla that has surrounded him, I have know idea how you found this blog. Everybody and their brother will probably make a pitch at the hottest Ace to hit free agency since CC Sabathia. Turning 32 next season, Lee is not a spring chicken but isn't exactly and old guy either. His mechanics make his pitching style, which isn't overpowering, much more manageable. The Rangers will try hard to convince Lee to stay with the club but others will be lurkkng, such as the Yankees, Cubs, White Sox, Angels and even the Phillies. Prediction: Lee will be a huge target this offseason and a deal for him will help the other pieces fall into place. At the end of the day, I think Lee will re-sign with the Rangers. He's a simple guy who loves to Bass fish, Deer and Duck hunt and Texas isn't far from his home in Arkansas. The bright lights of New York would probably be a little much for him. The other teams will do their best but I don't think they will be willing to commit enough resources to garner the best postseason pitcher in recent baseball history.