Status of free-agent superstars as Winter Meetings get underway
Jose Reyes is off the board but several other big names are still available
The Blue Jays, Cubs, Rangers, Mariners and Nationals are eyeing Prince Fielder
C.J. Wilson is looking for $120 million but teams are balking at that asking price
DALLAS -- With the ultra-aggressive Marlins agreeing to terms with the multitalented Jose Reyes on a $106-million, six-year deal that establishes them as a major winter player, the first superstar is off the board. So where do the rest of the superstars and stars stand now as the Winter Meetings officially begin? Here's an update:
1. Albert Pujols. The Cardinals have been viewed as the heavy favorite from the start, and that probably hasn't changed, though one might have to wonder what those sudden spenders, the Marlins, might be up to. As of a few days ago, the Marlins were the only team known to have made a bid this winter for the iconic Cardinal who turned down about $200 million for nine years from St. Louis before the season. Sources on other teams have suggested all along that Reyes is Miami's main target, but the Marlins haven't pulled out of the Pujols derby as of yet, adding to the intrigue.
The Cubs have talked to Pujols, but it's harder to see how he fits them, beyond hurting their main rival, the Cardinals. But Pujols' home, his charity and his legacy remain in St. Louis. It will be hurt leaving the Cardinals but moreso if he goes to the Cubs. The Rangers haven't been connected to Pujols yet but have been known to make late bids, as they did last year when they signed Adrian Beltre.
2. Prince Fielder. The Blue Jays, Cubs, Rangers, Mariners, Nationals and incumbent Brewers all have been seen as possibilities. Toronto has a lot of money to spend and Fielder and Jose Bautista would make a nice tandem. The Cubs are a better fit for Fielder than Pujols since they are a rebuilding team and he's just 27 years old compared to Pujols' 31. Plus, it can't hurt that new Cubs manager Dale Sveum, most recently the Brewers hitting coach, is a Fielder-file from their days together in Milwaukee. The Rangers have been more aggressive in other areas so far but can't be completely ruled out for Prince, either. The Mariners are telling folks they have a tight budget, but they do love Fielder and haven't given up hope. The Nationals have been seen as a pursuer, but they do have more pressing issues, and they'd have to make room for him at first base. The Brewers aren't giving up hope, though they would have to stretch to do it. About two years ago Milwaukee offered $120 million over six years with an opt-out after three, but the target figures now are Mark Teixeira's $180 million deal, and $200 million, which, when spread out over eight years, would match the annual average value of Ryan Howard's deal.
3. C.J. Wilson. It's hard to guess where he's going to get his $120 million asking price, or even anywhere close to that. The incumbent Rangers are just about out now, and even the Yankees find that figure quite pricey for Wilson. His hometown Angels hosted him for a visit, but they are looking at several areas for improvement. The spend-happy Marlins are in play, as are the Nationals, though they seem to prefer Mark Buehrle. The Red Sox reportedly are considering Wilson, as well.
4. Mark Buehrle. He's receiving all sorts of interest, and no wonder; he's consistent, tough and clutch. Fourteen teams are said to be in play. The Marlins are in the mix here, as are the Tigers and Nationals. The Yankees and Red Sox have to take a look. The Twins and Diamondbacks are among the surprise entrants, but the price seems a bit high for them. He seeks to make about $14 million, and he's said to have three-year offers.
5. Aramis Ramirez. The Angels and Brewers look like logical players for the superb-hitting third baseman, with the Angels probably favored. Milwaukee is looking to upgrade the left side of its infield, but third base has been a trouble spot for awhile in Anaheim. The Phillies are also interested, according to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post.
6. Jimmy Rollins. Everyone figures he will eventually go back to Philadelphia. He has sought a five-year deal, but Philly would happily sign him to a three-year contract. They love his defense and leadership, and he seems fairly well ingrained on that team. So far the Cardinals, Giants, Brewers and Braves look to be going cheaper at shortstop, but that could change. The Tigers are seeking a leadoff hitter, and they are a good stealth player. They could move shortstop Jhonny Peralta to third base.
7. Ryan Madson. The Red Sox, Angels and Blue Jays are logical pursuers of the late-developing closer with the terrific changeup.
8. Edwin Jackson. The talented righthander has yet to match his ability with his performance, but scouts love his potential as he's a consistent 95-mph thrower who's working on a changeup. The Yankees like him but hope the price drops from around $60 million for four years.
9. David Ortiz. The Red Sox and Ortiz are likely to eventually figure it out. The Blue Jays are viewed as a possibility but it's hard to imagine the iconic star leaving Boston. The Orioles' interest was overstated early. He should get at least a two-year deal but also has an opportunity offer that could net him $14 million plus.
10. Carlos Beltran. The Giants are still showing some interest, and the Red Sox are a logical landing spot. His history of knee trouble may limit him to a two-year deal.
11. Michael Cuddyer. The Twins want him back, the Giants and Red Sox make sense and the Phillies are not believed to be out even after the Ty Wigginton pickup. Cuddyer will probably get three years and is likely shooting to hit $30 million.
12. Francisco Rodriguez. It was a surprise to hear Sunday the Mets had checked in. It's hard to envision a reunion, but they do need a closer and have some money left to spend. Some execs are wondering whether he might even accept arbitration, but that is highly unlikely because he seeks a closer's job and there isn't one to be had in Milwaukee, where John Axford blossomed into a star.
13. Carlos Peña. He has the Cubs' offer of arbitration but is said to have a multiyear market. The outside opportunities have yet to be identified.
14. Josh Willingham. A solid and consistent RBI producer, he hit 28 home runs playing home games in the Oakland Coliseum. But he can only play either leftfield or DH, which may somewhat limit his field. Like Cuddyer, he'd like a three-year deal.
15. Francisco Cordero. He gets lost a bit in a deep closer market, but he's a solid pitcher. The Red Sox, Angels, Blue Jays, Twins, Orioles and Mets are the ones still seeking closers.
16. Hiroki Kuroda. The Dodgers spent the $12 million he sought filling several holes, so he'll have to find a new team. The Cubs, Diamondbacks and Rockies have been mentioned as possibilities, but he could also determine he'd prefer to return to Japan.
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