MLB free agency is officially underway

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As Saturday turned to Sunday last night, MLB’s free agency period officially kicked off.

It’s hot stove season and we’ll be digging up and dissecting rumors all winter long here on Hardball Talk.

In the meantime, HBT’s own Matthew Pouliot has ranked this offseason’s Top 111 Free Agents.  A refresher:

111-91
90-71
70-51
50-31
30-11

And here’s the Top 10 with Rangers ace Cliff Lee leading the pack.  He turned in a gorgeous 3.18 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 28 starts this season, striking out 185 batters in 212.1 innings and walking only 18.  The Yankees are almost certain to try for him and Texas will try desperately to keep him.  The Red Sox may get involved, too.

Carl Crawford is another impressive name on the free agent market this winter.  He has speed, a great defensive glove, a fantastic swing built to make contact and even a little pop.  The 29-year-old finished with a .307/.356/.495 batting line and 19 home runs over 154 games this year and is expected to draw interest from the Red Sox, Angels and other big spenders.

Report: Yankees J.A. Happ, closing in on a three-year deal

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UPDATE: Rosenthal is now walking the report back a bit, saying that indications that the Yankees and Happ are close to a deal but that it is not yet done.

10:29 AM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees and J.A. Happ have come to terms on a three-year deal. The agreement is pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known.

Happ just turned 36, but he has been effective enough to warrant a three-year commitment. The Yankees know this as well as anyone, having acquired him last year and watched him post a 7-0 record and a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts in New York. For the entire season he was 17-6 with a 3.65 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 193/51 in 177.2 innings between the Yankees and the Blue Jays.

With Happ back in the fold, the Yankees rotation now consists of Luis Severino, James Paxton, Happ, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, not necessarily in that order. A good group, assuming it stays healthy.