The 2011-12 MLB off-season should be a very eventful one. There are many players eligible for free agency who could be on the move. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Albert Pujols: Arguably the best hitter in baseball over the last ten years. The 31-year-old has consistently been at the top of the league leaders in nearly every offensive category, has won gold gloves for his defensive skills, and has won two World Series Championships. However, whatever team gets him is also buying the eventual decline of his career. He is either at, or nearing, the end of the prime of his career. Also, as an ESPN commentator brought up, there have been issues regarding Dominican players lying about their age in order to appear younger and called into question Pujols’ actual age.
C.J. Wilson: Over the last two seasons, Wilson has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers in baseball. He was a major reason that the Texas Rangers were able to reach the World Series the last two years. Wilson has struggled in the post-season, but with starting pitchers being one of the most desired positions in all of baseball and a rarity in the free agent market, he should be getting a big contract wherever he goes.
Jose Reyes: There is no doubt that Reyes is a talented ballplayer and could probably provide help to a team in need. He has been with the Mets since 2003, which is a situation that nobody wants to be in. It’s like realizing your dream of becoming a musician and being asked to cover Nickelback songs. Reyes’ biggest issue as of late has been injury, but he is still young and has a great deal of talent still left to offer.
Carlos Beltran: It shocks me that people actually still talk about Carlos Beltran. I’d rather have one of my roster spots filled by a magnet; at least magnets have a positive side. I can only imagine that the reason Beltran still gets attention is because he had some great years with the Kansas City Royals nearly ten years ago, helped lead the Houston Astros to their first ever World Series appearance, and then sucked Los Mets dry for $119 Million. The guy has been a disappointment every single year since 2004. At this point, any time Beltran does something impressive it’s like a blind rabbit finding a carrot. It will happen eventually.
Heath Bell: Bell is not a household name, but if he played in a large market he would be. Bell has been the most consistent closer in baseball over the last three years. However, playing in San Diego can skew numbers a little bit. The Padres ballpark is a pitchers park, and Bell could underperform were he to play in an American League hitter’s park. Bell has said he would take less money to stay with his home team, and that seems like the most likely scenario.
Jonathan Papelbon: If Heath Bell is the Cadillac of closers, Papelbon is the station wagon. Closers are always hard to come by, and the fact that Papelbon is seen as such a commodity further proves what a dearth of talent there really is at the position. Granted, Papelbon has performed on much grander stages than most other MLB closers, including Bell, but he lacks strategy. He is that annoying kid you knew in elementary school who would throw anything as hard as he could and not even think about it. If it works, he’s an incredible power pitcher. If it doesn’t work, he’s still an intimidating presence due to his willingness to be nasty and mean, but an intimidating presence that’s easy to hit.
There are a lot of big names that will be on the move and signing big contracts. It’s going to be a fun off-season, and I hope you all enjoy it.