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Let the swap meet begin

Editor's note: This story originally aired on SportsCenter.

Has any World Series champ ever had a longer winter-meetings shopping list than the Red Sox, a team with 16 unsigned free agents? All they need to cram into their weekend in Anaheim is trying to reel in Pedro Martinez, court Carl Pavano, re-sign Jason Varitek, find a starting shortstop and retool their bench and bullpen. Which won't leave much time for Disney Land.

Meanwhile, the Yankees will be as hyperactive as ever. They've already signed one new starting pitcher -- Jaret Wright. Before they head home, they could stuff a couple more in their suitcases -- from a group that includes Eric Milton, Carl Pavano, Russ Ortiz and Orlando Hernandez. They're still acting like a team that's no longer in the Randy Johnson derby. But stay tuned.

No one seems more fired up to make a splash than new Mets GM Omar Minaya. At times this winter, Minaya has looked longingly at Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Moises Alou, Carlos Delgado and Richie Sexson. And he has talked about trading Mike Piazza, Cliff Floyd and Mike Cameron. So he's the early favorite for GM Most Likely To Go To The Podium More Than Once.

Cubs GM Jim Hendry re-signed his double-play combination -- Nomar Garciaparra and Todd Walker -- before his plane even left O'Hare. But now comes the hard part: finding a taker for Sammy Sosa, to open a position -- and some dollars in the checking account -- for a charge at Carlos Beltran.

The Astros and Angels will also step up their romances of Beltran this weekend. The Cardinals would love to re-sign Edgar Renteria, then make a run at Tim Hudson.

The Dodgers will keep trying to bring Adrian Beltre's price tag back to earth -- and keep dangling Shawn Green. The Tigers would love to sign Beltre, Troy Glaus (reportedly headed to the Diamondbacks) or Jeff Kent. And watch out for the Mariners and Orioles -- two teams with money to spend and an eye on both Carlos Delgado and Richie Sexson. So before all these shoppers head home next week, there's more likely to be a shortage of podiums than a shortage of action.

The trade market
It isn't every winter meetings when you can trade for a 6-foot-10, five-time Cy Young winner. But when this winter-meetings supermarket opens Friday, Randy Johnson will be the sexiest name on the shelves.

The Yankees -- a team that got one win from its left-handed starters all season -- told Arizona last week they had pulled out of this hunt. So the Diamondbacks are trying to drum up a new Big Unit market -- preferably with the Angels. But Arizona has had no luck in finding a match so far. And if the Yankees keep adding pitchers, Johnson could find himself with nowhere to go except back to the desert.

Meanwhile, clubs that aren't on the Unit's list can knock on Oakland GM Billy Beane's door. Beane is finally ready to break up his fabled three-aces rotation. And the most likely to go is Hudson, only because he's now just a year from free agency. Hudson's career record is a mind-boggling 92-39 -- the fourth-best winning percentage in history among pitchers with that many decisions. So the Braves, Orioles, Cardinals and Indians are among the teams that appear very interested -- in Hudson or Barry Zito.

The most intriguing young position player available is Rangers second baseman Alfonso Soriano, a guy talented enough to get traded for A-Rod last winter. Soriano has limited his market by saying he doesn't want to shift to the outfield. But if the Rangers can get an impact starting pitcher for him, he'll at least shift zip codes.

Then there's Sosa. After a season in which he hit .231 away from Wrigley Field, exited early on the final day of the season and threw out his back sneezing, the Cubs are hot to move him. But if the Mets backpedal away from a deal for Cliff Floyd, the Cubs might still have a market for Sammy -- in a swap for some other member of the All Contract Dump team. You know that team's starting lineup: Green, Piazza, Preston Wilson, Kevin Brown, Chan Ho Park, Junior Griffey and the latest poster boy for what-were-we-thinking contracts, Jason Giambi.

They'll all be eminently available, starting this weekend, in a winter-meetings display case near you.

The free agent landscape
There was a time when a marquee free agent like Beltran was sure to sign at the winter meetings. But that time isn't this time. Not with Scott Boras as his agent. Not with an opening price tag of 10 years, 200 million bucks. Not even with high-profile teams like the Yankees, Angels, Cubs and Astros dreaming serious Carlos Beltran dreams. Beltran will find a home. But it won't be this weekend. It probably won't be before the USC-Oklahoma game. And if the price doesn't drop, it might not be before Ground Hog Day.

So Martinez looms as the most ballyhooed free agent who could sign in Anaheim. How tempted will Pedro be by the three years and $37.5 million the Mets have offered -- not to mention the vesting option for a fourth year which the Red Sox say they won't match? We could find out this weekend.

But the most hotly pursued starting pitcher at these meetings could be Pavano. By not-so-amazing coincidence, Pavano will finish up his coast-to-coast, six-team Carl-a-palooza tour in Anaheim. And it's fitting he turned free agency into another road trip -- since he led the big leagues in road wins this season.

Shopping for a first baseman? You can sign a right-handed big bopper -- Sexson -- or a left-handed 30-homer machine -- Delgado.

Have a hole on the left side of the infield? You have your choice of Gold Glove winners at short -- in Renteria and Orlando Cabrera. And the third-base options include two of the only five third basemen in history to hit at least 47 homers in a season -- Beltre and Glaus.

Need a cerebral catcher? Varitek and Mike Matheny are still out there. Want a 100-RBI man? Alou, Kent and Jeromy Burnitz are still available. Or there's J.D. Drew, who led all current free agents in on-base percentage. And Steve Finley, who just became the third 39-year-old in history to hit more than 35 home runs.

With more than 200 unemployed players, there's a free agent for every occasion. So gentlemen, start your checkbooks.

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.