This off-season presents an interesting situation at the 6-hole, where several teams could potentially swap shortstops and more than 25% of the league is in need of an upgrade.
Here are eight players who might be available and could be considered starting shortstops:
Free Agents: Rafael Furcal, Edgar Renteria, Orlando Cabrera, Cesar Izturis
Trade Candidates: Bobby Crosby, Julio Lugo, Yunel Escobar, Khalil Greene
(Note: Two notable omissions here are J.J. Hardy of the Brewers and Jack Wilson of the Pirates. Wilson makes $7.5 million next year and is less attractive than these eight; Hardy I left off purely because I doubt he's realistically available at this point. Next year, after Alcides Escobar has spent some time in AAA, I could see him being traded. But not yet.)
The next list is six teams in need of shortstop upgrades:
A's, Dodgers, Tigers, Orioles, Giants, Cardinals
(Some notes here: The White Sox have said publicly that they are very likely to give their vacant shortstop job to Alexei Ramirez. The Cubs made inquiries initially with Furcal, but Dempster's signing and Ryan Theriot's success make that extremely unlikely.)
I'll add the Braves and the Padres to this list, only on the possibility that the two teams eventually consummate a Jack Peavy trade and Yunel Escobar is inevitably involved.
8 teams, 8 players - where will they go, and why?
Furcal - A's. We've written thousands of words about this already.
Renteria - Cardinals. Seems destined for a return to the NL. Cardinals want more offense than they've had at the position.
O. Cabrera - Dodgers. They have money to spend, but seem interested in starting an SS to a shorter-term deal than Furcal, so as to not block their SS prospects.
Izturis - Orioles. They're stressing defense and won't be an attractive option to any of the top 3 FA's. No sense in playing major bucks for Cabrera or Renteria, anyway.
Lugo - traded to the Tigers, in a swap for Dontrelle Willis (who could then be re-routed to the Rangers or to the NL by the Red Sox in exchange for a catcher or prospect, perhaps).
Escobar - traded to the Padres in a Jake Peavy trade, as part of a huge package
Greene - traded to Atlanta along with Peavy, with Atlanta absorbing all salary and giving up 4-5 prospects. Greene played his college ball in the South (Clemson) and might experience a mini-renaissance in a better hitter's park.
Crosby - traded to the Giants(?) This one's admittedly wishcasting. But I see some semblance of a fit: he's a life-long Californian, he might hit a lot of doubles in that park, and the Giants won't want to enter the year with Burriss as their primary option. Crosby wouldn't be their first or even second choice, but this is assuming they missed out on two of their favorite options (Furcal, Renteria).
I could also see Renteria to the Giants, Crosby to the Orioles, and Izturis re-upping with the Cards.
*I think part of why the A's are trying to strike quickly with Furcal is to eliminate the Dodgers from the bidding. If the Dodgers are still waiting for the C.C. Sabathia and Manny dominoes to fall, they're probably reluctant to commit major money elsewhere, in hopes that they might still land one of those pieces.
But where do YOU see these eight guys landing?