The Angels remain relatively quiet with the exception of the Jose Guillen deal. They are contenders for many of the big name free agents and those dominos likely won't begin to fall until the winter meetings beginning December 10. Carlos Beltran and Nomar Garciaparra are two free agents that the Angels have in their sights and a trade for Randy Johnson remains a possibility.
The O's remain in hot pursuit of Richie Sexson and Troy Glaus. They seem to be focusing on adding a proven bat to their lineup. If they manage to land the bat they are looking for and there are still good pitchers on the market, expect them to make a run for one.
Boston Red Sox:
One of the free agent decisions for the Sox was taken care of quickly. In a move that surprised everyone, Gabe Kapler is changing continents. He has signed with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan. The hot stove is heating up around Boston as the Pedro Martinez saga is starting to wind down. The Sox remain the primary contenders for his services but the Yankees and now the Mets remain in the running.
Chicago White Sox:
The White Sox are one of the four primary candidates to land Randy Johnson this winter. Recent reports have them offering Paul Konerko and more. With most of the other offers involving prospects or players coming off down years, it may be the offer the Diamondbacks have the most interest in. The question remains: will RJ approve a deal to Chicago?
With Wickman signed as the closer for 2005, the Indians have turned their complete attention to adding a starter. They have made offers to a few of the better names including Brad Radke and Matt Clement. If one of their primary targets can't be landed, they will look to the next level which includes Jon Lieber, Matt Morris, and Russ Ortiz.
The Tigers are reportedly very interested in some of the top targets including Carl Pavano and Troy Glaus. Pavano is expected to make a trip to the Motor City and recently-signed Troy Percival will help the team court Glaus. In a division that doesn't have any major spenders, the Tigers could rise to the top quickly if they can land their targets.
Kansas City Royals:
As expected, the Royals are one of the quietest teams this winter. They don't have much money to spend and will have to make most of their moves through trades. They started with a solid pick-up in Tankersley and have set their sights on Austin Kearns should the Reds decide to move him.
The winter of multi-year, overpriced contracts continues. Castro could have been a good acquisition if it was a one-year deal for the same annual price or a little less money for the two years. He is very good defensively but doesn't do much with the bat. Rumors have Brad Radke leaning towards coming back to the Twinkies for next season.
New York Yankees:
The Yankees were hoping to make a Thanksgiving deal for Randy Johnson but questions over Javier Vazquez seemingly prevented that. The Bombers offered Vazquez and cash for Johnson but Vazquez would be able to demand a trade next winter if the deal is made and that has held it up. Aside from Johnson, they are looking to add everything they possibly can from re-signing Jon Lieber to bringing in Carlos Beltran
In a deal that has been rumored for a week, the A's added a quality top-of-the-order catcher and cash for two relatively interchangeable parts. With Redman gone, Joe Blanton is expected to step into the rotation. A trade involving one of the Big Three is still a possibility.
All of the hopes of the M's fan base may finally be fulfilled this winter. The M's are deep into negotiations with Carlos Delgado and have gone so far as to ask him if he will bat third in the lineup. Recent reports have them offering a contract to Richie Sexson to play left field. They are also known to be interested in Corey Koskie, Carl Pavano, and possibly Adrian Beltre.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays:
All's quiet down in Tampa at the moment. Early reports had them as possible suitors for some of the better arms on the market including Matt Clement but there hasn't been any speculation since. They said they are open to trading their higher-priced players including Aubrey Huff but Huff is unlikely to go anywhere this winter.
Quiet rumors continue to swirl that the Rangers will move Alfonso Soriano this winter. The Yankees remain a target as they would then likely ship him to Arizona in a potential Randy Johnson deal. They'll also likely land one of the starters in this market, possibly Russ Ortiz. They need all the help they can get in the rotation.
Toronto Blue Jays:
The Jays have reportedly told Matt Clement that he is their top priority this winter. They likely will have trouble matching any offers he will receive so unless he likes Toronto, he shouldn't end up there. They are awaiting a counter-proposal from Carlos Delgado's agent but it is believed that their original offer isn't even in the ballpark.
Most of the news coming out of Arizona involves Randy Johnson, RJ, and "The Big Unit." The primary suitors are still involved and no new contenders have emerged yet. The only other story-line in the desert involves Richie Sexson. The D-Backs have upped their offer to the first baseman, tying all incentive money to Sexson's injured shoulder.
Expect the Braves to get involved with Armando Benitez if they officially move John Smoltz back into the rotation. They have been quietly talking to JD Drew about returning and that looks likely. Of their other free agents, Jaret Wright is the most likely one to return.
The Cubs have still not found a suitor for Sammy Sosa. They are not necessarily looking to deal him but if the right offer comes along, they will have to take it. They are the major players for all three top shortstops on the market. They have made offers to Edgar Renteria and Orlando Cabrera but could end up re-signing Nomar Garciaparra to a one-year deal.
The original rumors coming out of Cincinnati said that Austin Kearns was on the trading block but the wrong outfielder may have been mentioned. One source believes that Ken Griffey Jr. is on the block and the Reds will take about anything to clear some of his contract. This saga may continue into spring training.
The only reports coming out of Colorado involve trades for Shawn Chacon and Charles Johnson. Some have reported that the Rockies may re-sign Chacon if they can't find a suitor. With the A's acquiring Jason Kendall, they are obviously out of the running for Johnson. With third base vacant since Vinny Castilla left, many in the organization hope that Garrett Atkins can win the job in spring training.
The Marlins recently offered a one-year deal worth about $6 million to Armando Benitez but they were turned down. They were provided with a counter-offer but shot that down. The two sides are not close and the agent for Benitez said that he doesn't see a scenario in which he ends up back in Florida. Expect Guillermo Mota to enter next season as the closer.
The rumors involving Carlos Beltran have slowed down recently and that may be good news for the Astros. They have an offer on the table to Beltran and hope to bring him back. They won't have a solution until likely late December or January but it is good news that he is willing to return.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
Now that the Pirates have acquired Arthur Rhodes, many believe he will be part of a package sent to LA for Milton Bradley. The Dodgers are considering moving him to clear room so that they can bring back Steve Finley. They are also looking to find a way to bring back Adrian Beltre and have reportedly offered him a five-year deal worth over $55 million.
It hasn't been made official yet because they were unable to complete the physical during Thanksgiving but it appears to be a forgone conclusion that the Brewers will sign Damian Miller to a three-year deal. They are expected to make a run at Troy Glaus but with the interest Glaus is receiving from other teams they will have trouble landing him.
New York Mets:
With Benson set to come back in 2005, the only piece missing from the rotation is Al Leiter. One report had them close to a deal but not long after that came another saying they had parted ways. The story is still ongoing and Leiter wants to come back to New York but it is looking less likely with every passing day.
The Phillies primary need this winter has to be an outfielder. They have reportedly made an initial offer to Carlos Beltran and are waiting to hear back from his agent, Scott Boras. If they are unable to land Beltran, they will look for a solution through a trade. Randy Winn of the Mariners and possibly Preston Wilson of the Rockies could be targets down the road.
After months, even years of speculation, the Pirates were finally able to rid themselves of Jason Kendall's contract. He was rumored to be included in the Brian Giles deal two years ago and many other separate deals also involving the Padres. With him off the books they have a little more financial flexibility. Redman will likely fill the third spot in the rotation and Rhodes may be on the move again, possibly to the Dodgers for Milton Bradley.
St. Louis Cardinals:
The Cards are involved with two off-season scenarios: one involving Randy Johnson and the other involving the shortstops on the market. They have put in their offer for Johnson as well as for free agents Edgar Renteria and Orlando Cabrera. They will surely land one of the two shortstops and hope their high-upside offer to the D-Backs is enough to land RJ.
San Diego Padres:
The Padres are quietly making their moves this winter. They are hoping to bring back David Wells for another year but if they can't they'll turn their attention to another starter. They are still a quiet but long-shot contender to land Carlos Beltran. They're also hoping to move the contract of Ryan Klesko and will move Sean Burroughs in the deal.
San Francisco Giants:
The Giants are still hoping to add a big-name player to go along with their own in Barry Bonds and Jason Schmidt. Steve Finley and even Pedro Martinez are possible candidates to land in San Fran. One player that hasn't been talked about much, Magglio Ordonez, could also end up with the Giants.
With a few moves already out of the way, the next move by the Nationals may be trading Endy Chavez. Their outfield is already overstuffed so they might need to make a few deals to clear some room. Brad Wilkerson is drawing interest but they are very unlikely to deal him.