It is often said (frequently by the kind of people who write blog posts on sites just like this one) that free agency is a fool’s errand. That the kind of money required it takes to lock up talent on the free market is better spent elsewhere, that the long-term nature of many big time contracts means paying through the nose down the road for a decent return in the present.
Such is the price for locking up premium talent on the free agent market. When players like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and C.J. Wilson are offering up their services, the contracts will get long and the risk substantial.
The next tier below this elite talent is where a smart GM can really punch up his/her lineup. There is a lot of value offered in a more manageable price range and, so far in 2012, it looks like a lot of GMs did a lot of good work with more modest deals.