Free agent bidding starts today in Belle, and as usual, speculation and rumors abound.
When asked about the relative scarcity of trades (save for Austin) so far, one GM (who asked to remain nameless), opined that this year's relatively rich free agent crop has teams looking to that market, rather than parting with prospects to upgrade.
Another disagreed: "Look at how many teams put $20MM into their prospect budgets (11). International free agency used to be a secret in this league...teams like the (Washington D.C.) Revenge would build up their farm system by snagging a couple of prime free agents a year. Lotta teams are going to pass on free agency this year to play in the int'l market."
Yet another: "It's a good free agent crop, not a great one. If you need something you'll be able to get it, even if you pass on the big bucks guys. I doubt anybody will build a team on this class."
A lot of the buzz seems to be centering on the eventual contract for top-of-the-class superstar Rafael Brogna. A few pundits think it might approach the max contract Victor Morales pulled down last year; more think it unlikely, and at least one was assuredly outspoken: "No way he'll get the max. He's 3 years older than Morales was in his FA year, and his power's already in decline. Besides, look what it did for D.C. last year - Morales had a good year, and they won fewer games."
Syracuse seems to be the most-anticipated future destination for Morales, although that's far from a unanimous opinion. "They were right there with him last year," said one observor, "they can't afford NOT to go get him." On the flip side: "Their pitching is what got them to the WS last year. They didn't get to the WS last year by being stupid. Why would they blow a bundle on a 30 year-old, when they already have almost the same guy (Al Cortes) who's 26. Cortes only got 300 AB's last year 'cause Brogna was there."
Austin is another oft-mentioned locale. "He's got the money...that's for sure," offered one GM, "but I can't tell what he's going to do with it."