After dominating much of the conversation yesterday, it appears as though we aren’t quite done with the collection of Albert Pujols contract rumours. However, with the Miami Marlins wanting to explore alternatives if they can’t land the perennial MVP candidate, we might finally come to a resolution on where the best player in baseball will be plying his trade for potentially the next ten years.

Albert Pujols

First, it was down to two. Then a mystery team was added. Then there might have been as many as five teams in on Pujols. However, we start Wednesday morning back down to the two interested parties that were most talked about yesterday: the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins.

Surprisingly, consensus on the favourite has switched over, with many executives believing that the terms and money being laid out by the Marlins will end up swaying Pujols to forget about the importance of a no trade clause. Joe Sheehan brought up an interesting idea in his subscription newsletter, forecasting a scenario in which Pujols ends up moving around a lot through the rest of his career, unable to secure five-and-ten rights with any organization.

Prediction: I just can’t see how the Cardinals can let Pujols walk away. Of course, there’s the legacy issue, but this isn’t like the New York Yankees resigning Derek Jeter or even Alex Rodriguez’s last contract. Pujols has been, far and away, the best player in baseball.

Update: The latest word on the street is that Pujols has received an offer of $220 million over ten years from the Cardinals.

Prince Fielder

For all of the noise surrounding Pujols, there’s been little chatter about Prince Fielder, and I wonder if Scott Boras isn’t just fine with sitting in the bushes until after the other elite first baseman on the market signs his contract. There’s no use in playing second fiddle, and a massive Pujols contract, combined with the lengthy deals that other comparable first basemen have signed in recent years bodes well for Fielder.

At this point, the favourite to sign Fielder is likely the Seattle Mariners who met with representatives of the former Milwaukee Brewers player last night. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik spoke with a radio station yesterday, saying that a time will come, be it this year or sometime in the next 2-3 years, where ownership “will step up and give us the resources that we absolutely need to get us over the top and I think we are all excited about that.”

Hmm. That sounds awfully familiar.

Prediction: I’m wavering a bit on saying that Fielder is Texas bound, based solely on how reasonable it seems, especially given the Rangers supposed interest in working out an extension for Mike Napoli and other free agents, including Mark Buehrle. I’ll stay with it, but I’m not putting as much confidence in this as I was before.

C.J. Wilson

Despite a rumoured six year offer on the table, C.J. Wilson still remains a free agent, suggesting to me that such an offer doesn’t really exist. The left hander met with his former team yesterday, and it’s believed that they made an offer of four years for $60 million. Those are pretty fair terms for a pitcher whose success is largely based on his consistency in throwing called strikes.

Prediction: However, I think the hometown Los Angeles Angels solidify their offer in the coming days and land Wilson for something less than Jered Weaver’s recent five year, $85 million extension.

Mark Buehrle

After interest was expressed by several teams in signing Mark Buehrle at a comparative discount, considering C.J. Wilson’s demands, the left hander’s asking price has predictably gone up. He’s now seeking a four year deal and has narrowed his destination down to five teams, although which five teams are anyone’s guess. I feel as though any of the Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins, and even the Minnesota Twins could have Buehrle with an offer of four years.

Prediction: With the sudden improvements to the NL East, the Nationals might take advantage of the distracted Marlins’ ongoing interest in Pujols, and step up to sign Buehrle. I still think a three year deal worht $36-$39 million with a vested option for a fourth is a club’s best option given  the amount of pitches that Buehrle has thrown over the last several years.

Gio Gonzalez

It’s not just left handed free agents being talked about at the Winter Meetings. MLB Trade Rumors tells us that Detroit Tigers were making a strong push for the Oakland lefty, and then the Philadelphia Phillies were stepping up with interest of their own.

The Phillies are an interesting scenario in that they might see Gonzalez as a cheaper alternative to keeping Cole Hamels, who is scheduled to hit free agency after this season. Personally, I probably think Gonzalez is a better pitcher than most, but the Athletics’ reported asking price (two or three prospects close to Majjor League ready) seems far too rich for my blood. Teams would do well to exploit the A’s laughable lack of depth in their outfield.

Andrew Bailey

Oakland is also interested in trading closer Andrew Bailey, and they might have found a match in the Boston Red Sox. While Boston is reportedly willing to move Josh Reddick along with others to acquire the reliever, the A’s asking price is apparently third base prospect Wil Middlebrooks.

Wheeling And Dealing

The New York Mets built their bullpen in less time than it took me to write about it, overpaying Jon Rauch $3.5 million for one year, getting value on Frank Francisco at $12 million for two years and trading Angel Pagan to acquire personal favourite Ramon Ramirez (along with Andres Torres) from the San Francisco Giants.

The Chicago White Sox began the organizational rebuild in earnest, and the Toronto Blue Jays were happy to take advantage by acquiring their best asset reliever Sergio Santos (with six years of team friendly control) for pitching prospect Nestor Molina.

The Colorado Rockies landed non-tender candidate Kevin Slowey from the Minnesota Twins. His high fly ball rate should make things fun in Denver (for opposing batters).

The Los Angeles Dodgers continued their pursuit of the most expensive replacement level team of all time by signing Aaron Harang to a multiple year deal. Seriously.