Baseball notes

Checking out the offseason marketplace

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / November 7, 2010

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Here’s a look at the best free agents on the market and their possible destinations:

Starting pitchers
1. Cliff Lee, LH — Something you heard a lot after Lee lost twice in the World Series: “Is he worth as much as he’s looking to be paid?’’ Legitimate question. He may ask for five or six years, but a team that gives him that will have to hold its breath, considering he’ll be 33 next season. The Rangers, Yankees, and possibly Brewers, Mets, Tigers, Nationals, and Red Sox will make a run at him.

2. Carl Pavano, RH — A good No. 2 or 3 starter. He has gone from enigma to very steady. The consensus is he may get a three-year, $30 million deal. The Twins, Brewers, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Rangers, and Mariners are interested.

3. Jorge De La Rosa, LH — The Red Sox dealt him in the Curt Schilling deal, and he has become a very good lefty starter, though with command issues. At 29, he could be a nice piece in the middle of a rotation. The Rockies are trying to re-sign him, but look for the Brewers and Rangers to be interested parties.

4. Hiroki Kuroda, RH — There are a lot of rumors about Kuroda, 35, wanting to return to Japan, but it looks as if he’s going to entertain major league offers. Another decent middle- to end-of-the-rotation starter.

5. Jon Garland, RH — He did a terrific job for the Padres eating up innings and lending stability. He could do the same for a number of teams, such as the Nationals, Brewers, Mets, Astros, or Rockies. A return to San Diego also is possible.

6. Javier Vazquez, RH — He was a bust with the Yankees and is better suited for the middle to end of a National League rotation.

7. Rich Harden, RH — He never pitched well for the Rangers and was released. He could even emerge in Boston, where Curt Young, his former coach in Oakland, now works.

8. Jake Westbrook, RH — The Cardinals really liked what they got out of him and want him back as their No. 4.

Others to consider: Kevin Millwood, Brandon Webb, Aaron Harang, Rodrigo Lopez, Jeff Francis, Ian Snell, Bruce Chen, Jeremy Bonderman, Vicente Padilla, Kevin Correia, Brad Penny, and Freddy Garcia.

1. Rafael Soriano, RH closer — He’s the top closer out there after a great season in Tampa Bay. The White Sox could be a buyer.

2. Joaquin Benoit, RH setup man — Could he fit in Boston with Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon? Other possibilities are the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Phillies, or even back to Tampa Bay as closer.

3. Scott Downs, LH — The Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels will go hard for him.

4. Kerry Wood, RH — He proved he can still be a very effective back-end guy, either as set-up or closer. He could go with the Yankees, Red Sox, Marlins, or, yes, back to the Cubs.

5. Brian Fuentes, LH — The former Rockies and Angels closer will likely seek a closing role somewhere, but a setup role in Minnesota, Boston, or New York (either one) also could be in the works.

6. Matt Guerrier, RH — This solid middle guy will be on the wish lists of several teams.

7. Kevin Gregg, RH — Another former closer, he had a good year in Toronto. Wouldn’t be shocking to see all of the AL East contenders interested.

8. Pedro Feliciano, LH — An effective situational lefty, he will draw interest from the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays and Angels.

9. Grant Balfour, RH — Another attractive middle/setup option for the Red Sox, Yankees, Twins, Angels, and Dodgers.

10. Jon Rauch, RH — Has closed and set up. Versatile and effective will play big in the market.

11. Trevor Hoffman, RH — He had regrouped by the end of the season and was very effective. The Red Sox inquired about him at the trade deadline, but Hoffman wanted to stay in Milwaukee. He could retire or hook on with a Western team.

12. Dan Wheeler, RH, — With his sinker, he will draw some attention, but the price tag must be low for a team to bite. The Rays are interested in re-signing him.

Others to consider: Randy Choate, Octavio Dotel, Kyle Farnsworth, Aaron Heilman, Cla Meredith, Jason Frasor, Miguel Batista.

Infielders, outfielders
1. Carl Crawford, LF — By all accounts, he’ll be the most sought-after free agent on the market and could demand a six-year, $120 million deal or more. The Angels, Rangers, Mariners, and Red Sox are among the teams that could go strong for him.

2. Jayson Werth, RF — A righthanded bat with pop, and a high-effort player, he should command a hefty deal. Five years and $75 million is plausible for Werth, 31, but the Red Sox may not offer that many years. The Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Angels, Phillies, and several others will get into the bidding.

3. Adrian Beltre, 3B — If he doesn’t return to Boston, he likes the West Coast, but it doesn’t appear that the Giants (money concerns) or Mariners (been there, done that) would have interest, so it may be limited to the A’s, Angels, and an outside chance for the Rockies and Padres.

4. Paul Konerko, 1B — If he doesn’t return to the White Sox, he is a nice first base option for the Red Sox, Orioles, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Nationals, or Cubs. He doesn’t need more than three years and may take two.

5. Aubrey Huff, 1B — He had a terrific postseason for the Giants, who are trying to bring him back at a reasonable amount, likely for not more than two years.

6. Carlos Pena, 1B — He still provides power, production, and strong defense, but it’s awfully tough to carry his batting average and strikeouts. He may return to the Rays for a year, and is a possible fit for the Nationals if they lose Adam Dunn. Also a fallback for the Red Sox.

7. Derrek Lee, 1B — There won’t be a big market for the former Cubs and Braves slugger. The Orioles and Rangers may have mild interest.

8. Adam LaRoche, 1B — A 100-RBI guy whose option wasn’t picked up by the Diamondbacks. Could draw some interest from the Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, White Sox, or Cubs.

9. Lyle Overbay, 1B — Like LaRoche, he is a lefthanded hitter with a nice Fenway stroke. The Sox looked into him in September, but he had concussion issues.

10. Johnny Damon, OF — It was thought the Tigers would keep him as a DH, but it appears they have other plans. Working in his favor is a lack of quality left fielders on the market. San Diego and San Francisco are possible destinations, though Damon wants to stay East.

11. Jhonny Peralta, SS/3B — He is only 28 and has power, but his numbers have tanked. The Tigers are talking about a two-year deal. Giants may have some interest.

12. Orlando Hudson, 2B — Could return to the Twins.

13. Orlando Cabrera, SS — He has become a rent-a-player who performs well for a year or so wherever he goes. But he’s getting up there (35), and there do not appear to be many options left.

14. Miguel Tejada, 3B — A dearth of third baseman could extend his career. The Padres could bring him back, but there are other possible destinations, including St. Louis, where David Freese’s injury situation leaves him up in the air.

Others to consider: Jermaine Dye, Rick Ankiel, Melky Cabrera, Brad Hawpe, Troy Glaus, Ty Wigginton, Magglio Ordonez, Bill Hall, Nick Johnson.

1. Victor Martinez (C/1B) — The switch hitter draws big-time interest because of his bat, particularly from the right side. The Tigers, Blue Jays, Rockies, and possibly the Rangers and Mariners will be suitors.

2. John Buck — Coming off fine offensive year, showing power. He’s a good influence on a team, so he will likely have the Red Sox, Brewers, White Sox, Marlins, and possibly Reds making a run.

3. A.J. Pierzynski — Still a good offensive player, and handles pitchers well (but not a good thrower). He will work in a platoon somewhere, possibly with the Dodgers, Tigers, Rays, or Rangers.

5. Miguel Olivo — Threw out 42 percent of runners and had some righthanded pop. Could be a Red Sox target if Martinez leaves. Won’t have trouble finding a job. The Jays traded for him to get the picks, then declined his option, but they could work out something there as well.

4. Jason Varitek — Good veteran backup/mentor for Red Sox, Brewers, Orioles, Giants, Marlins or someone else.

Others to consider: Gerald Laird, Bengie Molina, Yorvit Torrealba, Matt Treanor.

1. Adam Dunn, 1B/OF/DH — Baseball people say Dunn is a DH. But he doesn’t like the job. He’d rather play first or the outfield. The A’s, Cubs, or Orioles might give him that opportunity; the Tigers will give him a chance to DH. He’ll get one of the bigger deals of the offseason.

2. Vlad Guerrero, DH — The Rangers may use the DH spot as a place to give Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, and Michael Young a rest. Guerrero slowed down in the second half and hit only .226 in the postseason. Tampa Bay (he has ties to Joe Maddon) is a possibility.

3. Manny Ramirez, DH — He has to accept that he’s a $7 million player not a $20 million player. The Rays might be a possible destination, as could the White Sox.

4. Jim Thome, DH — Could go back to the Twins or White Sox.

5. Hideki Matsui, DH — Not sure there’s a place for him, though the Mariners are a possibility.

6. Lance Berkman, DH/1B — Someone would have to buy into his resurgence as a hitter. The Rangers, White Sox, Cubs, and Orioles could all be landing places. You’ll hear some talk about a return to Houston, but I’m not buying it.

7. Pat Burrell, DH — Hard to imagine he would get a job anywhere but San Francisco.

Others to consider: Russell Branyan, Jason Giambi.

Special Yankees note
Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and Andy Pettitte were not included in the above categories because the feeling here is they’ll re-sign with the Yankees.


Apropos of nothing

1. Would you try trading Marco Scutaro to the Giants and giving the shortstop job in Boston to Jed Lowrie?; 2. Love watching Buster Posey; 3. Whom would you rather have as your top two starters: Tim Lincecum/Matt Cain or Jon Lester/Clay Buchholz? 4. After Vladimir Guerrero’s $9 million option was declined by Texas, it seemed David Ortiz was more appreciative of the Red Sox picking up his $12.5 million option after he tried to sell them on a multiyear deal since July; 5. Give the Mets credit for cutting ticket prices 14 percent.

Updates on nine
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, Red Sox — According to a major league source, Ellsbury recently had a CAT scan performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles that showed healing of that troublesome posterior rib. Ellsbury is working out in Arizona, and the expectation is that his rib issues will be resolved before spring training. He has not had problems with the four ribs that healed earlier in the season. Ellsbury will be a key figure for the Sox for one of two reasons. He could be the major piece in an Adrian Gonzalez deal or he could be a major returning part of a lineup that lost four major starters for significant time in 2010 (five, if you include Victor Martinez).

2. John Farrell, manager, Blue Jays — There are no restrictions on him as far as hiring Sox personnel, so third base coach Tim Bogar, catching coach Gary Tuck, bench coach DeMarlo Hale, and PawSox manager Torey Lovullo are all in play. Still no word on whether Ron Johnson will return as Sox first base coach; he had to leave the team to tend to a family emergency. Interim first base coach Rob Leary did a nice job and is currently recovering from a right hip replacement.

3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres — After the Padres exercised their 2011 option, they met with agent John Boggs and it became evident that they won’t work out a long-term deal. Gonzalez is seeking Ryan Howard/Mark Teixeira numbers, far too rich for the Padres. So Jed Hoyer is about to be bombarded with offers — possibly from the Red Sox, Orioles, and Nationals, to name three. The price won’t be cheap, but if there ever was a player built to hit at Fenway, Gonzalez is it.

4. Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers — The trade offers the Brewers have received since last season have been underwhelming. They have to come away from a deal with at least two top pitching prospects and a first base replacement. Don’t know if anyone wants him badly enough to do that.

5. Pedro Martinez, RHP, free agent — He said he wasn’t going to pitch last year and was true to his word, but a new year is ahead. One never knows what Pedro is thinking, but a source close to him indicated that he’s considering a comeback.

6. Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians — This is a player who bears watching as trade bait. Could be this offseason, but more likely at the trading deadline. The very talented Sizemore is coming off two injury-plagued seasons, but has reached the point where most Indians depart: a year before free agency. Happened to Cliff Lee and Martinez.

7. Ron Roenicke, manager, Brewers — Surprising choice? Sure, considering Bobby Valentine was among the final candidates, but the Mike Scioscia tree has yielded good results in Bud Black and Joe Maddon. The decisions of Brewers general manager Doug Melvin haven’t always worked out, but I love his process. He picks people who have done something, who have paid their dues, and who get it. After 11 years as an Angels coach (five as bench coach), Roenicke was ready. Now Melvin needs to get pitching coach Rick Peterson a staff.

8. Bobby Jenks, closer, White Sox — You keep hearing the White Sox will non-tender Jenks, whose performance has declined the past three years, with his WHIP rising from 1.103 to 1.275 to 1.367. But you tend to be skeptical.

9. Elijah Dukes, former major league outfielder — What a sad story for the troubled Dukes, who owes more than $140,000 in child support for three children with three different mothers. Dukes, who was held in jail after being charged with contempt of court, broke down crying in front of a Hillsborough, Fla., judge. Dukes told the judge he had no home of his own and “I live where I lay my head.’’

Short hops
From the Bill Chuck files: “Since John Farrell started as Sox pitching coach in 2007, his hurlers had a 4.11 ERA; over that same span, Oakland pitchers under Curt Young had a 4.05 ERA.’’ Also, “The Red Sox’ first-round draft pick in 2003, Matt Murton, broke Ichiro’s Japan League record for hits in a season, finishing with 214 and a .349 batting average.’’ . . . Happy 44th birthday, Andy Tomberlin.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.

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