Beltran, Cespedes offer shoppers intriguing contrast

There's not a whole lot out there on the outfielder market, which is why it'll probably be good to be a young Cuban with a free-spirited video, and why it'll definitely be good to be Carlos Beltran(notes).

First off, Michael Cuddyer(notes) makes perfect sense for the Philadelphia Phillies, and that should get done. For a team that won 102 games last season, the Phillies could use Cuddyer in a lot of places: first base, left field, maybe third, maybe second.

And with Cuddyer presumably in Philly – or the strong possibility of such – that further broadens Beltran's market. Grady Sizemore(notes) is available as well. There was a time Sizemore was playing himself into the superstar, when this very payday was going to be massive. Imagine the fuss over Sizemore, aged 29, had he been uninjured and on the field, progressing toward a regular 40-40 guy.

Now the Cleveland Indians can't afford to have him back because they can't afford to miss on him. He might never be that Grady Sizemore again, and they have no funds for sentiment.

So, that leaves the likes of intriguing Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, along with Josh Willingham(notes), Jason Kubel(notes), David DeJesus(notes), Coco Crisp(notes), Johnny Damon(notes), et al.

And Beltran, who'll be 35 in April, just played 142 games for the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants, and might have another two or three seasons left in those knees.

Of course, that'll be for the calendar to determine. But if you're the Giants or the Boston Red Sox, and you really, really don't want to whiff the postseason again, and the choice is the can't-miss Cuban prospect or Beltran. That's an interesting dilemma, particularly since Cespedes sounds like a pure center fielder and Beltran might not be anymore.

The Giants have said they won't have interest in Cespedes, and maybe they won't. But the Red Sox will, as will plenty of other clubs who could narrow their evaluations to Beltran's present against Cespedes' future.

Teams such as the Cincinnati Reds, Florida Marlins, Minnesota Twins and, say, the Los Angeles Dodgers might not have time to wait.

The Giants and Red Sox certainly can't.

And that's why this could be a good winter for Beltran.

Also:

I keep thinking the Reds and Rays could find themselves again talking trade: Yonder Alonso(notes) for James Shields(notes) (or Wade Davis(notes)). The deal made less sense last summer when Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman(notes) was raking. The Rays wouldn't play Alonso in the outfield but conceivably have room at first base and at DH in 2012 and beyond. And, as ever, the Reds could use help in their rotation. …

Apparently, all those years of nickel-and-diming their fans have led the Marlins to this offseason, when they open the new ballpark and the old wallet. Already having put Ozzie Guillen on the top step, they've jumped early on Jose Reyes(notes), Cespedes, Mark Buehrle(notes) and Beltran, at least. Hanley Ramirez(notes) once played the good organizational man when asked about moving to third base for Reyes, saying he'd be happy to. I wonder if that still sounds good to him. Ramirez, recovering from shoulder surgery, is nearly 28 (younger than Reyes). Does he really want to give up on shortstop at 28?

Sadly for Ramirez – and the Marlins – Ramirez has played himself to a place where the Marlins would consider an upgrade at the position, and Ramirez would be forced to consider it. If he doesn't, and Reyes signs elsewhere because Ramirez won't come off shortstop, the locals might not look too kindly on another down season. …

The Ryan Madson(notes) contract with the Phillies was a phone call away, and then it wasn't. By the end, apparently, team president David Montgomery was less concerned about the average annual value ($11 million) than he was the term (four years). That deal is off the table but both sides could circle back on something similar, working off that framework. …

Willie Bloomquist(notes) really loves Arizona – he took less guaranteed money from the Diamondbacks ($3.8 million over two years) than the Giants ($4.6 million over two years).