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Chase Headley update: Third baseman to decide by end of Winter Meetings; Yankees, Giants interested

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Headley's market seems to be limited, but the Giants and Yankees are in hot pursuit of the third baseman.

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Free agent third baseman Chase Headley is nearing a decision and is expected to sign by the end of the Winter Meetings, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman adds that three to four teams are in the bidding for Headley, including the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants, who appear to be the likely front-runners at this point. The Miami Marlins have also been recently linked to the 30-year-old.

Last week, reports indicated that Headley had a four-year offer worth roughly $65 million on the table, however, that is now in dispute, as the industry is rather skeptical of its existence, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.

With Pablo Sandoval now in Boston, the Giants appear to be an optimal destination for Headley. The club has reportedly been "aggressively pursuing" Headley to fill its hot corner vacancy, but it appears that the Giants are currently awaiting the results of their bid for Jon Lester before gauging the amount of money they will have available for a third baseman. Per ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, San Francisco doesn't seem to be inclined to offer a deal in the range of four years at $11-12 million per annum. If a club such as the Yankees were too make an offer in that range, the Giants would likely have to drop out. Of course, a $44-48 million deal seems right in the range of what Headley will get, with a deal in excess of $50 million quite feasible. If the Giants don't land Headley, Crasnick adds that the club could explore signing Jed Lowrie.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Houston Astros have also "kicked the tires" on Headley, though the team has shown more interest in Lowrie.

Headley is coming off a season in which he hit .243/.328/.372 (102 OPS+) with superb defense for the Padres and Yankees. He has averaged a 4.0 WAR over the past five seasons, including an MVP-caliber 2012 season in which he hit .286/.376/.498 with a 145 OPS+ and league-leading 115 RBI. He is generally regarded as one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball, and coupled with an above-average bat, he has the potential to be one of the best value signings of the winter.