Beltré, Guerrero, Soriano, Ramírez and Fuentes. The names read like an All-Star ballot. But these Latino free agents are still out there, waiting for the right fit to come along as the calendar flips to 2011.
Adrián Beltré is considered the prize of the remaining free agents. After batting .328 with 28 home runs and 102 RBI, he seemed well-positioned to cash in. But after tepid interest from the Boston Red Sox, who went in a different direction with the blockbuster trade for Adrián Gonzalez and the signing of Carl Crawford, Beltré remains out there for a team in need of a slick-fielding, power-hitting third baseman.
The Los Angeles Angels have shown the most interest, but negotiations have hit a snag, as they removed their offer from the table when Beltré's camp wanted more money. Beltré is represented by Scott Boras -- who is either reviled or beloved -- depending which side of the negotiation table you're on. Either way, the Angels are expected to get their act together and restart talks with Beltré. They really have no choice in the matter, after their production from third base was the worst in baseball last season.
Vladimir Guerrero is another star who is long in the tooth but can still hit, as he showed last year in a campaign of redemption with the Texas Rangers. A rejuvenated Guerrero bounced back from an injury-plagued year with the Angels to bat .300 with 29 home runs and 115 RBI. But his hopes of a multi-year deal appear to be dashed as the Rangers only want him back on a one-year deal. He is expected to re-sign with the Rangers.
Rafael Soriano is the top free agent reliever on the market, but teams have as yet refused to bite on his demands for closer money. The Chicago White Sox appear to be a fit for Soriano but it will take a compromise from both sides after the team committed big dollars to Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, and A.J. Pierzynski. The signing of Soriano would go a long way towards making the White Sox a World Series contender, however.
The New York Yankees are a stealth possibility when it comes to Soriano. After missing out on Cliff Lee, the team is trying to preach patience, expecting agents and general managers to try to pounce on their possible desperation for a big free agent splash. The Yankees would love Soriano to set-up for Mariano Rivera -- but will they pay closer money for a set-up man? Time will tell.
Brian Fuentes is a former star who is looking to bounce back. He probably won't close anymore after up-and-down years with the Angels and the Minnesota Twins but he still gives left-handed hitters fits. Fuentes as an option against lefty-boppers would be a welcome addition to any manager's bullpen.
And lastly there is Manny. Manny Ramírez, once one of the most feared hitters in baseball, has seen his star plummet after a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs and lackluster years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. No team is going to be comfortable with him playing the outfield, so Ramírez must look to the American League. Maybe he can find a team that thinks he can recapture some of the magic and be this year's Vladimir Guerrero.
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