My free agents picks to watch:

Arodmug Alex Rodriguez, third base: Rodriguez is a Gold Glove shortstop and slightly above average third baseman. He is on his way to the third AL MVP of his career and shows no signs of slowing down, not even at age 32.  Rodriguez is believed to be looking for a 10-year deal worth more than $300 million dollars. Few teams can afford that price but look for the Angels and Dodgers to be major players. The Giants are also a long-shot as are the Chicago Cubs. Rodriguez could end up back in New York despite what the club has said about refusing to negotiate with him when he opted out of his original deal. The club needs a third baseman. They also have the money to pay him.

Mike Lowell, third base: A Gold Glove caliber infielder, Lowell hit a career-best .324 with 21 home runs and a career-high 120 runs for the Red Sox in 2007. The 2007 World Series Most Valuable Player will be 34 when the 2008 season starts and is likely seeking a multi-year deal worth at least $10 million a season. The Red Sox are the front-runners to land Lowell but the Dodgers are an option if they do not land Rodriguez. Look for at least a three-year deal for Lowell.

Huntermug Torii Hunter, center fielder: Hunter is arguably the best defensive player in the game today and good in the clubhouse. He lives in Texas, loves Rangers manager Ron Washington, and is from Arkansas but that doesn’t meant he will play in Arlington next season. Hunter wants to win and the Rangers are not a playoff contender at the moment. The Rangers, Dodgers, Nationals and maybe the Red Sox will inquire about Hunter. He will likely seek a five-year deal worth at least $60 million.

Andruw Jones, center field: Coming off a down season, Jones might be a steal for  a club looking to solidify the defense and add power to the lineup. He won’t come cheap. Jones is only 30 and will want a five or six-year deal worth more than $70 million. The Dodgers have the money. The Nationals need a star.

Riveramug Mariano Rivera, closer: He’s not what he used to be but he still is arguably the greatest closer of all time.  The Yankees pay him, offering a two-year deal with an option for a third. He is human after all and he can’t pitch forever. The Rangers need a closer and might be a darkhorse if the club overpays Rivera – by a lot.

Francisco Cordero, closer: The Brewers can’t afford to lose their top reliever but they might not  be able to afford his price tag. Cordero had a stellar year in 2007 and will seek a long-term deal. He could be in Yankee pinstripes in two years at the age of 34. Look for Cordero to make at least $8-9 million a year.

Bondsmug_1 Barry Bonds, DH: Bond’s days of playing in the National League are over. He simply can’t play defense the way he used to. But he can still hit. Look for a one-year deal with either Oakland or the Angels. He can help many teams as the DH but he won’t come cheap. He’ll ask for more than $10 million in 2008.

Aaron Rowand, center field: Rowand is solid defensively and a good middle of the lineup player but could benefit from having Hunter and Jones also on the market. The other two players will set the market and Rowand will cash in. Look for offers for a four-year deal worth at least $10 per season from Rangers and Dodgers.

Bartolo Colon, pitcher: Remember him? Colon is not the pitcher he once was and has not been in a while. He is no longer a top of the rotation pitcher but can still contribute to a winning ball club. He is not a no. 5 starter. He’ll come cheap and could be had on a one-year deal. Every team should at least take a look at Colon. The Nationals, White Sox, Rangers, and Mariners could come knocking. The Yankees have taken bigger gambles.

Bellmug On a completely different note, George Bell the Sheriff could be the biggest pickup of the winter. No, it’s not that George Bell.

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