With the free-agent deadline just around the corner, every team in baseball is trying to budget their payroll, balance the team’s checkbook, trying to scrape those extra few dollars to bring in that one missing cog to propel their team into the post-season. With the later deadline for players to file for free-agency, there was speculation that there would be a smaller number due to teams having longer to re-sign their own players. This is definately not the case, as of November 2 there are 161 total players who have filed. The most intriguing of the 161 is not even in this country yet. Daisuke Matsuzaka the MVP of the World Baseball Classic and 17 game winner from the Seibu Lions will look to get possibly the most lucrative deal this off-season. Insiders believe that his price tag could top the $70 million mark. The usual suspects are looking to open their pockets in order to lure the young right-hander to the U.S. are the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets. Aside from Matsuzaka, there are rumors abound.
The Phillies seem to have keen interest in Alfonso Soriano, waiting to see if they can sign him before engaging in any sort of Pat Burrell talks. If that falls through, they would not have to offer anything more then Gavin Floyd to land Gary Sheffield from the Yankees who want nothing more then to elevate the crowded outfield. Bullpen help by means of hard throwing Danys Baez and Joe Borowski look to be safe bets. Carlos Lee is another option they might want to explore if Soriano falls though before trading for an aging Sheffield.
The Barry Zito sweepstakes may keep the lefty in the Golden State. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have both the payroll space and the need for a front line starter with the uncertainty of Bartolo Colon’s health after last seasons shoulder surgery.
The Cubs are another teams who has thrown their hat into the Matsuzaka ring, looking to sure up an oft-injured rotation. All those looking for help at third from Aramis Rameriz might want to find a second option, both sides seem to be relatively close on a deal.
The Mets will be an intriguing team this off season, Tom Glavine has a $14 million option for next year, but the New York Times reported this week that a two year extension is being talked about. Pedro has said he will retire if surgery does not go well, so this might push the Mets over the top in their bid for Matsuzaka. The Mets are not going to re-sign Cliff Floyd opening the door for Lastings Millitch, however the Times also reported they have expressed interest in Moisis Alou in order to give Millitch one more year to develop. Carlos Delgado might be on the trading block as well. Late season elbow problems might sideline Delgado for the beginning of next season, with his long term big money contract, a run at Soriano might spell the end of his stay in Queens.
San Francisco has some work to do in the off-season. The Giants have more significant players who are free-agents then just about anyone else. A lot of people are uncertain if they truly want Barry Bonds back, but both sides are in preliminary contract negations. The Giants have expressed interest in Nomar Garciaparra.