Here's what to expect as we prepare to enter 2011…
Boras Clients Will Find Homes
Last January, Matt Holliday, Adrian Beltre, Rick Ankiel, and Xavier Nady signed. This offseason Scott Boras still has to place top clients Beltre and Rafael Soriano despite no signs of bidding wars breaking out. He also has to find homes for Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Andruw Jones, Kevin Millwood, and Bruce Chen, among others. A year ago, Damon talk dominated January and he didn't sign with the Tigers until late February.
Multiyear Free Agent Deals Will Dry Up
In January 2010, Holliday and Jason Bay came off the board in the first week. Otherwise only three multiyear free agent deals were signed, as Danys Baez, Jose Valverde, and Joel Pineiro received two years. Aside from the Boras guys, Adam LaRoche, Carl Pavano, and a handful of relievers are trying to find multiple years now. Most free agents should expect one-year deals in the $1-5MM range, though.
A few interesting international signings may occur, for example Aroldis Chapman and Colby Lewis last January.
Big Trades Are Rare
Kevin Kouzmanoff was the biggest name moved last January. In 2009 the Cubs dumped Jason Marquis and Felix Pie in separate deals, while the Mariners were active in deals involving David Aardsma, Aaron Heilman, and Ronny Cedeno.
Teams Address Arbitration Eligible Players
On Wednesday of next week, over 150 players will begin filing for arbitration. Many will settle on one-year deals in advance of the salary request exchange date, January 18th. Extensions will be abundant – 14 multiyear deals were reached in January 2010, and nine in January 2009. Possible candidates for multiyear deals next month include Geovany Soto, Miguel Montero, Chad Billingsley, Johnny Cueto, Delmon Young, Jonathan Sanchez, Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, Matt Garza, Joey Votto, Billy Butler, Francisco Liriano, and John Danks. Agent Matt Sosnick has gotten a jump on things by reaching deals for Jay Bruce and Ricky Nolasco.
January is also a good time to address players who can become free agents after the season. Examples this year: Albert Pujols, C.C. Sabathia, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Reyes, David DeJesus, Mark Buehrle, Edwin Jackson, Rickie Weeks, Dan Uggla, Jose Bautista, Josh Willingham, Wandy Rodriguez, and C.J. Wilson.
Other Fun Stuff
Top 50 prospect lists will come out. Waiver claims and DFAs will occur. A few players may retire, while others will start talking comeback. Former big names will sign minor league deals. MLBTR will cover all of it, while also trying to figure out how to make the site even better in 2011.