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Baseball world set to converge on Dallas

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor


Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Get ready for a ton of baseball rumors, wild trade scenarios and free agent signings, because the giant schmoozefest known as Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings gets underway next week at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas.

Unlike the snoozefest the meetings have been the last few years, this latest edition of the get together figures to be action packed as all of the major A- list free agents are still on the market.

The biggest fish, of course, still being Albert Pujols, who amazingly still has not been locked up long term by the St. Louis Cardinals. There is no way I see him leaving St. Louis, especially on the heels of a World Series title, but the longer this drags on it only keeps other teams involved. Not to mention opening the doors for teams you might not even be thinking of at the moment.

Miami made him an offer early on, but it was less than what he turned down last spring. Can the Cubs be players? Who knows? Reports this week linked them to Pujols, but that also may have been a well orchestrated leak from agent Dan Lozano to get the Cards moving.

Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols still has not been locked up long term by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Either way I can't imagine El Hombre leaving St. Louis for anyone, let alone the Cubs.

So, if Pujols reups with the Cardinals as most people expect look for the Cubs to then turn their attention to this winter's other big prize, Prince Fielder.

Like most of the free agent market thus far the Fielder talk has been surprisingly quiet, but that should change this week, as Seattle, Washington, Texas and Chicago are all expected to up their pursuit of the slugging first baseman.

The Nationals have supposedly made him their top priority this winter, but Texas continues to lurk in the shadows. Imagine him hitting in the middle of that order.

Will the big ticket items come off the board next week in Dallas? History tells us probably not, but there is one who could sign and that is shortstop Jose Reyes, who really hasn't gotten a lot of interest other than the Marlins.

Miami supposedly offered him a six-year, $90 million deal early on in the process but hasn't heard back. Other than that, though, there has surprisingly been next to no interest in the electric Reyes. The Marlins could be close to telling him to take it or leave it.

The Marlins will look to make a big splash this week. They have been the most active team here in the early going of the offseason, meeting with both Pujols and Reyes and signing closer Heath Bell on Thursday.

There also figures to be a ton of trade talk at next week's gathering, particularly in the starting pitching department. Atlanta is interested in moving Jair Jurrjens, Oakland will engage in some Gio Gonzalez talks, while the White Sox are dangling Jon Danks. The Cubs could also make Matt Garza available. Not bad options if teams don't want to pay the insane bounties C.J. Wilson or Mark Buehrle or seeking.

When it comes to the Winter Meetings, I have learned one very important thing: believe nothing. There are going to be a-million-and-one rumors over the next week, and chances are none of them will come true.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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