- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
The Toronto Blue Jays were the first team to jump into winter with an early hammer, but some general managers and agents say that their sense of the market is that others are waiting. Waiting for the prices to drop, or waiting for more opportunities to pop up, or waiting to see how much urgency they need to have.
A lot of consumers may have stampeded through doors today, but most baseball GMs are just waiting. "I think it's going to be slow going," said one long-time agent earlier this week.
The teams will have to move eventually, because there are major holes to be filled among the perceived contenders. The San Francisco Giants have been talking with Angel Pagan, but aren't sure they want to give him as many years as he wants in his next deal, and they believe that they'll work out something with Marco Scutaro to return as their second baseman. If San Francisco retains those two players, most of their heavy lifting for the winter will be done.
Here are some other issues that perceived contenders must address.
1. Tampa Bay Rays: Middle of the lineup
As respected as this organization is -- really, the Rays are the polar opposite of the Miami Marlins -- they still probably don't get enough credit for the annual makeover they must undergo. Every winter, the Rays have to try to reconstruct some semblance of a bullpen and everyday lineup with the few dollars they have remaining, while clinging to their young starting pitching. Their ability to piece together bullpens despite their financial limitations has been almost miraculous, but they haven't been quite so lucky in getting production from their chosen position players.
Carlos Pena was a bust last season and so was Luke Scott, and now B.J. Upton is gone. So the Rays must find help at first base and in the outfield and at DH. As usual, they'll wait for some of the more expensive veterans to come off the board and then sift through the likes of the secondary options such as Mark Reynolds, if he's not tendered a contract by the Orioles, or Travis Hafner, who gets on base when he plays.
2. Los Angeles Angels: Starting pitching
The stakes for the Angels in their talks with Zack Greinke are incredibly high. They let Dan Haren go and traded Ervin Santana, and as of today, their rotation is comprised of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson -- who is recovering from elbow surgery -- and Jerome Williams. The 24-year-old Garrett Richards could also be an option. Rival executives say the Angels' farm system is very thin, and if they lose in the Greinke bidding, they will be left to scramble among the secondary options in the free-agent market -- viewed by some GMs as incredibly overpriced -- or to look for trade for some pitching in the bargain-basement bins.