A group of players on the current free-agent market answers those questions well and without much argument. Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson and Nelson Cruz are all in possession of a combination of offensive skills that should render them the most sought-after available position players this winter.
But they'll also be the highest paid.
That leads us to the next question: Aside from those guys, who's going to give you the most professional at-bat for the buck?
Glad you asked. Here are some:
Mike Napoli, 1B/DH: Forget the beard for a moment and look at the on-base percentage (it was .360 this year; it's .357 for his career) and the fact that Napoli saw more pitches per at-bat than any player in the Majors in 2013. Mix in the 23 homers, 92 RBIs and .842 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) and you've got a well-rounded offensive player whose documented hip problems could lead to a bit of a bargain, as the Red Sox enjoyed this year.
Jhonny Peralta, IF/OF: Peralta missed 50 games because of a performance-enhancing drug suspension but seemed contrite upon his return and happened to excel in the batter's box prior to that, putting up a .303/.358/.457 line that shows he's still a very good offensive player. He's always struck out a lot (98 Ks and 35 walks this year), but he has good success when he puts the ball in play.
Carlos Ruiz, C: Ruiz had a down year at the plate (.268/.320/.368), but if he rebounds to anywhere close to where he was in his career year of 2012 (.325/.394/.540, 16 homers, 68 RBIs), this could be the steal of the winter on a one- or two-year deal. Even with the off-year, Ruiz has a .358 lifetime on-base percentage, which is stellar for a catcher.
Omar Infante, 2B: Infante has become a very useful player who has the skills to help out just about any big league team. That's a good thing this time of year, and Infante, who has hit over .300 in three of the past five seasons, including a .318/.345/.450 line and only 44 strikeouts in 2013, should be rewarded handsomely for it.
Marlon Byrd, OF: Considering the stark disparity between his 2012 season (.210 average, one homer and nine RBIs in 143 at-bats) and his 2013 body of work (.291/.336/511, 24 homers, 88 RBIs), at the age of 35, it's tough to know which Byrd a team will be get. Odds are that a club or two will be willing to bid on Byrd because they believe he'll be just as good next year as he was this year.
Lance Berkman, 1B/DH: If Big Puma is healthy, Big Puma can still rake, but that's a big if, especially since he'll be 38 next year. Berkman had more knee woes and got only 256 at-bats for Texas, but he did put up a .301/.412/.547 year with 31 homers and 94 RBIs in 2011, so if he doesn't feel like retiring, he might help someone.
Kendrys Morales, 1B/DH: Morales was looking like one of the best young hitters in baseball prior to the broken lower leg he suffered while celebrating a walk-off grand slam in 2010. He missed all of 2011 but has been rounding back into form. He had a .277/.336/.449 line while hitting 23 homers and driving in 80 runs for the Mariners
Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B: Tough call here. Youkilis has missed so much time and lost so much effectiveness because of back problems over the past few seasons that it seems like a huge risk to sign him and expect anything resembling what he provided in his prime years with Boston from 2006-11, when his lowest on-base percentage was .373 and he averaged more than 20 homers and about 84 RBIs. The Yankees took a shot this year and it didn't work out. He'll be 35 in March. We'll see if he's got anything left.
Michael Young, IF/DH: Young used to be a poster boy for the term "professional hitter" when he was cranking out 200-hit seasons (he has six) and hitting over .300 (seven times). Young is 37, is coming off a down season in which he became a bench bat for the Dodgers and has never been a prolific drawer of walks -- hence his career .300 batting average and .346 on-base percentage. But if he can get back to anything like he was in 2011, when he put up a .338/.380/.474 line, led the American League with 213 hits and drove in 106 runs, he'll be a great get for an organization.
Other possibilities: Mark Ellis, 2B; Corey Hart, OF; Paul Konerko, 1B; James Loney, 1B; Justin Morneau, 1B; Luke Scott, OF; Chris Young, OF.