|The Reiter 50: Ranking Top Free Agents|
|There is no hitter on this winter's free agent market who is as good as Mark Teixeira. There is no starting pitcher who is as good as CC Sabathia. There is no closer who is as good as Francisco Rodriguez.|
This year's crop of free agents is not as talented as last season's, and nowhere near as talented as next year's class -- which could include Roy Halladay, Joe Mauer, Carl Crawford, Aramis Ramirez, Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee and even Derek Jeter, among others -- promises to be. Baseball's general managers will probably try to save up for next winter's bonanza, and in general, that should prove to be a wise move. Most of the starting pitchers who will be on the market this offseason have an extensive injury history, or did not pitch in 2009 at all, or both. Many of the hitters are rapidly declining.
Still, there is a clear top tier that includes John Lackey, Matt Holliday and Jason Bay. None of those three will earn deals equal to Sabathia's (seven years, $161 million) or Teixeira's (eight years, $180 million), but each could get relatively close due to the paucity of other players available on the market who have the ability to satisfy win-now types.
MLB teams have until Nov. 20 -- that is, until 15 days after the World Series' conclusion -- to negotiate exclusively with their own free agents, and the Angels have already re-signed Bobby Abreu (who would have ranked no. 5 on the below list) to a two-year, $19 million deal, with a club option for 2012. The Angels, in fact, could have a significant impact on the market, as they still have six probable free agents, including five members of the top 50 in Lackey (No. 1), Chone Figgins (No. 4), Vladimir Guerrero (No. 28), Darren Oliver (No. 38) and Kelvim Escobar (No. 44).
Also making a significant impact will be Aroldis Chapman, the 21-year old left-handed Cuban defector who will likely inspire a bidding war among the game's richest clubs. He is not, as an international free agent, included on this list, but his fate will undoubtedly affect many of those who are.
Herein, the second annual version of the Reiter 50:
|Top Free Agents: 26-50|