While the World Series has attracted the collective focus of the baseball world, it doesn’t mean the rumor mill has decided to take a week off.

The MLB offseason is rapidly approaching, so teams are beginning to get their free-agent plans together. This year’s free-agent class doesn’t boast a ton of top-end talent, which will drive further interest in those stars at the top of the market.

The three players below will be among the most coveted.


Yoenis Cespedes

While he didn’t repeat his blistering second half from 2015, Yoenis Cespedes was one of the New York Mets’ best hitters this year. He led the team in home runs (31), runs batted in (86), slugging percentage (.530) and was tied for second in batting average (.280).

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Saturday a return to the Big Apple could be in the cards for the 31-year-old Cuban:

The Mets’ perception is that, all things being equal, Cespedes would prefer to play for them, something he demonstrated by taking their deal last winter, with less guaranteed money than what Washington offered. They want him back but probably wouldn’t chase him if he got an enormous long-term deal elsewhere, given his age and the streaky nature of his production. If Cespedes wants to revisit the concept of effectively updating his current deal with another that has an opt-out clause, the Mets would probably be open to that conversation.

Cespedes is signed through 2017 and 2018 and will earn $23.75 million annually. Both of those years are player options, though, and he’ll almost certainly opt out this offseason considering how few proven sluggers are available.

Last year, Mets ownership allayed any fears it was unwilling to spend what’s necessary to make the Mets World Series contenders. Since re-signing Cespedes was a success, the front office should have few qualms with offering him a similar deal this winter.

On Oct. 6, ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin reported the Mets could give Cespedes another lucrative extension with an opt-out after next season. According to Rubin, the team’s thinking is that offering an early opt-out would provide continued motivation to Cespedes, thus preventing any sort of malaise setting in after he gets paid.

By staying with the Mets, Cespedes gets to play for a title next year and remain in one of the country’s biggest markets.

Prediction: Cespedes re-signs with the Mets


Mark Melancon

The Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals are both evidence as to how important a strong bullpen can be in the postseason. Along with that, the free-agent trio of Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon could reset the market for how much it takes to sign a proven closer.

Of the three, Melancon will almost certainly be the cheapest, which isn’t to say the team that signs him will get any sort of bargain. The 31-year-old recorded 47 saves and finished with a 2.42 FIP, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo speculated teams this offseason could view Melancon as a closer or a flexible middle-innings reliever, similar to how the Indians have deployed Andrew Miller.

Cafardo also reported the Washington Nationals are likely to make re-signing Melancon a priority.

While the Nationals may make a major push to bring Melancon back, their desperation won’t match that of the San Francisco Giants.

Going strictly by the numbers, San Francisco’s bullpen wasn’t a complete disaster. Giants relievers combined to rank 11th in FIP (3.78) and 14th in xFIP (4.09), according to FanGraphs.

The trouble for the Giants was that the bullpen melted down at the worst possible times, most notably when Derek Law, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo and Will Smith combined to allow four runs in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the National League Division Series. Romo had blown a save in Game 3 as well.

McCovey Chronicle’s Reuben Poling thought the bullpen played an outsized role in the NLDS:

The Giants desperately need an elite closer, and they showed last year they aren’t afraid to spend in order to capitalize on their title window. San Francisco committed $220 million to Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to bolster the rotation, and the team also traded for Matt Moore midway through the regular season.

General manager Bobby Evans will identify signing Melancon, Jansen or Chapman as a necessity this winter. Getting Jansen will be difficult with the seemingly endless funds available to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Melancon is a far more realistic target.

Prediction: Melancon signs with the Giants


Ian Desmond

The 2016 season couldn’t have gone much better for Ian Desmond. He finished with a .285/.335/.446 slash line along with 22 home runs and 86 runs batted in.

Granted, his transition to the outfield wasn’t quite so smooth. According to FanGraphs, he ranked 37th out of 54 qualified outfielders in UZR per 150 games (-1.8) and 39th in defensive runs saved (-4).

In Game 1 of the American League Division Series, Desmond’s inexperience in center was on display when he failed to run down a fly ball off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki. Tulowitzki tripled and scored three runs to put the Toronto Blue Jays ahead 5-0 in the third inning:

Still, with a dearth of good hitters available, Desmond will have a number of offers this offseason.

The Washington Post‘s Chelsea Janes reported the Nationals could attempt to bring the 31-year-old back to the nation’s capital. A source told her, “I don’t see it, but anything is possible.”

Assuming he stays in the outfield, the Houston Astros would be a nice fit for Desmond.

The team will almost certainly let Colby Rasmus walk, which would free up the $15.8 million he earned in 2016. Even if Houston re-signs Rasmus, Jake Marisnick is a solid defensive option but a career .225 hitter in MLB, so offensive reinforcements would be helpful.

The Astros don’t need to radically transform the roster after winning two fewer games in 2016 and missing out on the playoffs. But this year showed Houston still has some holes to fill if it’s going to become a serious World Series contender.

Upgrading the outfield would help the team get to that point.

Prediction: Desmond signs with the Astros

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com