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MLB Offseason Predictions - Free Agents

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The 2010/2011 MLB offseason kicked off at midnight, meaning that teams are free to start the bidding on Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, and even Derek Jeter. As is the case most years, there are free agents on the market that will substantially impact the standings for years to come. With that in mind, here's a look at where the top names available might find themselves on Opening Day 2011.

Cliff Lee - New York Yankees: I want to write the Texas Rangers name in there really badly, but at the end of the day, I can't imagine the Yankees getting outbid here. The Rangers have new ownership that is certain to look at making a splash, and there's no doubt that Cliff Lee would accomplish that. But the Yankees left the 2010 season with an obvious need for pitching. With AJ Burnett a complete mess in 2010 and Andy Pettitte's future uncertain, the Yankees are going to be set on finding themselves a top-tier pitcher to slot in alongside CC Sabathia, and after seeing what Cliff Lee has done to them in the last two post-seasons, you have to figure he's their guy. When the Yankees want someone, they usually get him. If the Yankees can't sign Cliff Lee, there options become severely limited. Jorge de la Rosa is the only other starter on the market that could even be a mid-rotation starter for the Yankees, but he figures not to be enough of a splash for their needs. That would turn the Yankees to the trade market, where the top possibly available pitchers don't figure to be fits either. Zack Greinke is said to have the Yankees on his no-trade list, and the Rays, who may be willing to deal Matt Garza or James Shields, probably don't want to do it in their own division. That leaves the Yankees with one main option, and if money's the only barrier, they won't be stopped. Whether or not it takes a diamond ring or two to please his wife, it's hard to realistically imagine Lee staying away from the Yankees. Second Choice: Texas Rangers

Carl Crawford - Los Angeles Angels: The Angels took a beating last offseason, losing John Lackey, Chone Figgins and Vladmir Guerrero. While two of the three wound up having down-years in 2010, they still left the Angels lacking, and unable to keep up with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers have a very good young core and a strong farm system to back it up, and don't seem likely to be a one-year wonder. That means the Angels have to make a splash or three to keep up. They'll be incredibly active this off-season, and I think it starts with Carl Crawford. Crawford would fit in as a top-of-the-lineup bat that they seek, and adding him to an outfield with Torii Hunter and Peter Bourjos is going to make for an incredible defense. Crawford's good buddies with Hunter, and heading down to the Angels helps soften the blow to his former team, the Rays, rather than if he jumped over to an AL East rival. Second Choice: Detroit Tigers

More after the jump!

Adrian Beltre - Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox are a tough team to get a handle on. They have a bunch of holes this off-season, and it's going to cost a lot to fill them all through free agency. The Red Sox are going to need to get very creative this off-season to keep up with the Yankees, but I don't think we see much of that at third base. Beltre thrived in Boston this year, and seemed to be a great fit for the park. Mixing in his great defense, which is crucial to Boston's plan, and this just seems like a fit that should continue to work for both sides. The Red Sox could shift Kevin Youkilis to third base and grab a first basemen by trade or free agency, but ultimately, I don't see Beltre getting what agent Scott Boras will seek from any team other than the Red Sox. Second Choice: Los Angeles Angels

Jayson Werth - Detroit Tigers: The Tigers are another team that are expected to be active this off-season. They've spent much of their time early in the off-season shoring up their infield, re-signing their shortstop and third basemen. That means that the Tigers should be able to make one big free agent splash, likely in the outfield, and Werth fits in as that player. Coupled with Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers could have a very dangerous middle of their lineup in 2011 and beyond. Second Choice: Boston Red Sox

Victor Martinez - Texas Rangers: As mentioned above, the Rangers are certainly going to make a splash this off-season. They have their outfield and third base spots locked up for the near future, so if they can't land Cliff Lee, then Victor Martinez is a great fit. They seek a long-term catching solution, and besides Mitch Moreland, who still has a bit left to prove, could have an opening at first base after trading away Justin Smoak to land Lee at the Trade Deadline. Second Choice: Seattle Mariners

Adam Dunn - Chicago White Sox: The White Sox wanted Dunn at the Trade Deadline, and now have another shot to go after him. They could have a vacant spot at first base and/or DH, the two spots where Dunn figures to fit in. He's a great bat wherever he is, and could give the White Sox the fire-power to get closer to the Twins in next year's pennant race. Second Choice: Washington Nationals

Many of the other big names on the free agent market are first-basemen and designated hitters, generally coming off down-years or battling with injuries. I could throw out guesses at where they might land, but it really figures to be a bit of a game of musical chairs. Still, with bats of those calibers, and names like Manny Ramirez, Magglio Ordonez, Hideki Matsui, Vladmir Guerrero, Carlos Pena and Lance Berkman, we shouldn't underestimate the potential impact they could have.