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Nov. 09, 2015
Nov. 09, 2015

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Nov. 9, 2015

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WORLD SERIES
  • FOR THREE DECADES THE ROYALS WANDERED IN THE BASEBALL DESERT, LOSING MORE GAMES THAN ANY OTHER CLUB. THE DROUGHT IS OVER, THE RESULT OF A NEW MODEL FOR HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED, THOUGH ONE THAT IS NOT EASILY REPLICATED

MEN'S
THE SECOND TIER: Players of the Year
FRED VANVLEET
POINT AFTER
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A SNEAK PEAK AT THE REITER 50: THE TOP FREE AGENTS THIS WINTER

This is an article from the Nov. 9, 2015 issue

• Free agency is allegedly a dying institution, due largely to the ultra-long-term contract extensions given to many of baseball's best young players, but it will look more lively this winter with the best class of free agents in the game's history. Here's a sneak peek at the eighth installment of the Reiter 50, SI.com's annual ranking of the off-season's top 50 free agents. The full list can be found at SI.com/mlb.

1 DAVID PRICE

LHP

Age: 30

Current Team: Blue Jays

Best Fit: Yankees

Price is a power southpaw whose ERA (2.45) and strikeout rate (9.2 K/9 IP) were better than they were when he won the AL Cy Young Award in 2012. The Yankees are committed to thrift these days, but they could make an exception for Price.

2 ZACK GREINKE

RHP

AGE: 32

Current Team: Dodgers

Best Fit: Dodgers

Expensive pitchers in their 30s are usually risky propositions. Then again, Greinke just put up the best single-season ERA (1.66) in 20 years. L.A. can't afford to lose Greinke—and it can afford his sky-high price tag.

3 JASON HEYWARD

OF

Age: 26

Current Team: Cardinals

Best Fit: Phillies

Conventional stats don't suggest that Heyward is this year's top offensive talent, but they don't take into account his elite defensive and baserunning skills. And at age 26, he has plenty of room to blossom as a power hitter.

4 YOENIS CESPEDES

OF

Age: 30

Current Team: Mets

Best Fit: Angels

The Mets can't match the nine figures Cespedes will command, and perhaps they shouldn't try: His .805 OPS over his four full seasons doesn't scream superstar. But the Angels could view Cespedes as the final piece of a lineup that is built to win now.

5 JUSTIN UPTON

OF

AGE: 28

Current Team: Padres

Best Fit: Mariners

Upton is a slugger who strikes out a lot. But clubs will value not only his productive current form, but what he still has time to become at his relatively young age. Even though Upton blocked a trade to Seattle three years ago, the team is much closer to contention than it was then.

6 JORDAN ZIMMERMANN

RHP

Age: 29

Current Team: Nationals

Best Fit: Cubs

He was continually overshadowed in his own rotation, but Zimmermann has been a model of consistency for five full years now, in which he's averaged 31 starts and a 3.14 ERA. The Cubs' NLCS loss to the Mets showed that they need another top-line starter behind Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta.

7 CHRIS DAVIS

1B

Age: 29

Current Team: Orioles

Best Fit: Red Sox

This year Davis hit 47 homers with a .923 OPS—and that should earn him a $100 million--plus contract. He'd look very good in Boston, which will need to replace the 39-year-old David Ortiz sooner rather than later.

8 ALEX GORDON

OF

Age: 31

Current Team: Royals

Best Fit: Astros

He was a key to their title, but Gordon doesn't fit the financial profile of players the Royals sign. His premier fielding in left would make the Astros' excellent defense even stronger; his championship-level experience would fortify their clubhouse; and his on-base skills would give their lineup needed balance.

9 MATT WIETERS

C

Age: 29

Current Team: Orioles

Best Fit: Braves

Wieters is by far the best catcher available this winter—and the rebuilding Braves need someone with a power bat who can also help develop the many high-caliber minor league arms they've assembled.

10 JOHNNY CUETO

RHP

Age: 29

Current Team: Royals

Best Fit: Rangers

Before his deadline trade from the Reds to the Royals, Cueto was on Price's level, but then he went 4--7 with a 4.76 ERA in 811/3 innings with K.C. Still, he could be the wild card in a Texas rotation that already has Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels.

PHOTOTIM CLAYTON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (CESPEDES)PHOTOJEFF GROSS FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (GREINKE)PHOTOMATT BROWN/ANGELS BASEBALL LP/GETTY IMAGES (PRICE)