During my time as a baseball blogger, I’ve learned that if fans of America’s pastime are going to geek out over anything during the off season, it’s going to be caused by one of two things: 1) A player acquisition, be it through free agency or trade; or 2) A paper doll cut out. That’s why we got the infinitely talented graphics department at The Score to combine the two as a means of supporting our ongoing pursuit of attention and page views.

Ahead of the winter meetings next week, we’re going to take a look at five of the top players available this off season and mention some of their potential destinations. After looking at Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, we continue our vintage image nostalgia today with Carlos Beltran.

Despite having knees that presumably sound like the spoken consonants of several southern African languages, Carlos Beltran is the best outfielder available on the free agent market this off season. That’s both a comment on Beltran’s bounce back 2011 season and the current class of outfielders available through free agency.

You could probably make an argument for it also being a comment on how good Beltran once was. It’s rather amazing that he can be considered the best at anything after no longer being able to play center field any more or run the bases as he was once able. However, as Keith Law points out:

He can still turn on a good fastball and has enough power to profile in left or even as a DH, getting on base at a high clip with 25-home run power in a neutral park.

Last season in New York and San Francisco, got on base in almost 39% of his plate appearances while walloping 22 home runs and putting up well above average independent slugging numbers. However, the most important numbers that Beltran put up this year were his 142 games played and 598 plate appearances.The bottom line is that he’s still an asset, and a contending team with an open spot in the outfield or at designated hitter would be foolish to overlook him.

I predict that Beltran, through the tireless work of agent Scott Boras in combination with Brian Sabean’s mandate to sign aging veterans to longer deals than he should, will land a three year deal with the San Francisco Giants that will pay him $35 million. This sort of deal would look a whole lot better if it was signed with an American League team that might be able to use Beltran as a designated hitter at least in the final years of the deal, but it’s not like the Giants have ever shown a past concern with playing designated hitters in the field.

Another scenario that I could see playing out is the terms of Beltran’s contract demands scaring teams off to the point where the only deal available is a one year offer from the likes of the Tampa Bay Rays. It would be something similar to what we saw last off season with Johnny Damon, only I think it has the potential to work out even better.