|The Reiter 50: Ranking Top Free Agents|
|The San Francisco Giants just won the World Series with a lineup that seemed as if GM Brian Sabean had soldered it together on the fly, using other clubs' unwanted spare parts, but this winter's free agent market -- which opens at 12:01 AM on Sunday -- ought to be as competitive as usual, particularly at its top end. This year's player pool is not quite as deep as it once promised to be, due, among other things, to the Twins' long-term extension of Joe Mauer and the Phillies' of Roy Halladay, and the regression of Derek Jeter. However, it still features perhaps the game's most uniquely skilled offensive player, Carl Crawford, and an annual Cy Young candidate in Cliff Lee, as well as five or six other players who should continue to be perennial All-Stars. It will also feature several key pieces from the cost-cutting AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays, including five members of the Top 50 in Crawford (No. 1), Rafael Soriano (No. 10), Carlos Pena (No. 11), Joaquin Benoit (No. 18) and Grant Balfour (No. 44).|
What it does not feature are many quality options for teams in need of middle infielders, nor of a third baseman (other than Adrian Beltre), nor, unusually, for those in search of outfielders. Jayson Werth is the only outfielder other than Crawford who can be considered an elite player. Still, there is the usual compliment of aging, if still productive, first base/designated hitter types (among them Lance Berkman, Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome and, possibly, David Ortiz), and the usual crop of formerly successful, and recently injured, starting pitchers (Brad Penny, Rich Harden, Brandon Webb, Chris Young) whom teams will sign in hopes of a rejuvenation.
Herein, the third annual (and humbly named) Reiter 50, consisting of the top 50 players who will likely be available come Sunday:
|Top Free Agents: 26-50|