How It All Shakes Out
We are now a little more than a month into the free-agent signing period, and a little more than a week into the full-on Mark Teixeira Watch. Already, we have seen the Yankees exert their financial might in both the pitching and the initials-as-first-name markets (C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett). We have seen the New York Mets do the same thing with closers (Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez, J.J. Putz).
But there is a long way to go and a lot of highly desirable players still out there. Here is one man's educated guess as to where the top targets will wind up when it's all said and done:
*Teixeira: Red Sox. They have the most incentive (the Yankees' arms build-up), the most available money (the Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek, Coco Crisp and Curt Schilling contracts coming off the books) and a history of doing whatever it takes to get a player they desperately want (Daisuke Matsuzaka comes to mind).
*Manny Ramirez: Yankees. In the end, the Steinbrenner brothers won't be able to pass up the chance to stick it to the Red Sox by signing Manny, especially if Teixeira ends up in Boston.
*Adam Dunn: Nationals. Maybe he's half the player Teixeira is, but at half the price he can still give the Nats what they need above all else -- a power bat.
*Derek Lowe: Cubs. He would slot nicely into the payroll space they were prepared to carve out for Jake Peavy, and he wouldn't cost them any players (besides a draft pick) in return.
*Jake Peavy: Braves. If the Braves land Rafael Furcal, they say they are prepared to move Kelly Johnson to the outfield and use a Furcal-Yunel Escobar combo in the middle infield. But I suspect that's posturing, and eventually they will send Escobar to San Diego as the centerpiece of a Peavy trade.
Feel free to take your own stab, and maybe we'll revisit this in a few weeks to see how we all scored.
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