Remember last year when the free agent class was terrible and the only news you could hear was the usual teams fighting over Johan Santana?
You may get tired of hearing Jake Peavy's name this offseason, but an exceptionally deep free agent class will take your mind off him.
Last year, Carlos Silva was the best pitcher on the free agent market. Remember that? The guy who got four years and $48 million from the Mariners who were supposed to be good? To compare this free agent class to that of last year, could you honestly see Silva making more than 3 years, $18 million? Not likely. Here's the best free agents this year:
1. CC Sabathia: He's earned the label of best pitcher in baseball, dominating in two leagues in the last two years. Sabathia comes in as the most coveted free agent. Some point to his weight to try and look smart by predicting that he will get injured. If you take a closer look at him, he's not out of shape by any means. He's an amazing athlete and he should have an incredible prime. Mostly large market teams will salivate over Sabathia's services.
Prediction: Yankees, seven years, $150 million.
2. Mark Teixeira: Teixeira has hit at least 30 home runs every year since 2005 and at only 28 years old, he still has time to hit more. He is a proven slugger in both leagues and can help out any team in need of a power bat. He proved to be a part of a great 3-4 punch with Vladimir Guerrero on the Angels and with Guerrero only signed through 2009, the Angels may want Teixeira to be their franchise player.
Prediction: Angels, six years, $140 million.
3. Adam Dunn: How good is Adam Dunn? Well, he's 18th among active players in OBP and he's the only player to hit at least 40 home runs every season since 2004. A great player who goes under the radar. Not a good fielder, but can transition to first base or DH if necessary. He will be undervalued because teams who undervalue plate discipline will shy away from Dunn.
Prediction: Indians, five years, $75 million.
4. Manny Ramirez: It's incredible how Manny is still one of the best all-around hitters in the game despite his age. Will anyone give him a long-term deal? Someone will since he could have won MVP in either league if he stayed long enough. Power is at high demand and Manny is the best right-handed power bat available.
Prediction: Mets, four years, $90 million.
5. Ben Sheets: He's injury prone, but Sheets is an ace. His career K/BB ratio is just under four and his stuff is dazzling. His ability should harness a multi-year deal, but Sheets will be paid like a two starter.
Prediction: Astros, three years, $48 million.
6. AJ Burnett: Almost as injury prone as Sheets, but has the stuff of an ace. Leading the majors in strikeouts this year, he pitched close to an ace level, which he has had trouble reaching throughout his career. Burnett has had an ERA lower than four since 2005.
Prediction: Mets, four years, $60 million.
7. Francisco Rodriguez: K-Rod is far from the best closer in the majors, but he's the best in the free agent market. He's only 27 and has been reliable since he came to the majors and you can build a bullpen around him. The Mets and Cardinals should have interest since bullpen is their No. 1 need and they are not afraid to overpay closers.
Prediction: Cardinals, five years, $55 million.
8. Milton Bradley: Bradley is a spectacular switch hitter. He led the AL in OBP and was fourth in SLG. Bradley would be considered a superstar if he wasn't injury prone. Bradley is best suited as a DH and may struggle to get a multi-year deal, but his talent should appeal to teams.
Prediction: Blue Jays, two years, $30 million.
9. Ryan Dempster: Where did that come from? Once a mediocre relief pitcher, Dempster pitched like an ace in his first year of starting. Jim Hendry said his top priority is to re-sign Dempster and I can't imagine him pitching better anywhere else. He's a perfect fit.
Prediction: Cubs, four years, $42 million.
10. Pat Burrell: It's awfully fashionable to say that one sucks because of low BA and because they play in a hitter-friendly park. Those are two common misconceptions. Burrell's OBP is through the roof and he's a better hitter on the road: .270/.387/.577. The Phillies should contend for years to come and Burrell was a valuable part of their team this year.
Prediction: Phillies, four years, $48 million.
11. Raul Ibanez: Ibanez is one of baseball's most consistent hitters, posting an OBP of .350 with 20 home runs every season since 2005. He will most likely part ways with the Mariners during their rebuilding process. Although not an all-star, he can be a great cornerstone for any team looking for a bat.
Prediction: Royals, three years, $36 million.
12. Oliver Perez: Perez was the most reliable pitcher on the Mets roster for the past two seasons as a whole. He developed amazing control, but seemed to regress in 2008. He has a high ranking because of his age. Going into next year, Perez will be 27 and should be relied on as a No. 2 starter.
Prediction: Dodgers, four years, $48 million.
13. Orlando Hudson: Mark Ellis was re-signed by the A's, which puts Hudson in a position for a nice payday as the best middle infielder on the market. Nothing gets past his glove and his great K/BB ratio makes Hudson a good guy to have around.
Prediction: White Sox, four years, $40 million.
14. Ivan Rodriguez: Catchers are hard to come by these days, but Pudge has been decent with young pitching staffs wherever he's gone. His bat is adequate for a catcher and he could play first base once in a while if you're desperate. Not great, but he's the best available.
Prediction: Reds, two years, $25 million.
15. Edgar Renteria: I suppose it's now proven that Renteria is a NL player. Oh well, he'll just sign with an NL team. It was only a year ago when Renteria averaged .332 with the Braves (hit just .270 for the Tigers this season). Shortstops are at high demand and Renteria is only 33 going into next season.
Prediction: Cardinals (again), two years, $20 million.
16. Derek Lowe: When Lowe signed with the Dodgers, many though they were giving him too much, be he lived up to the contract. Lowe has had an ERA under four and has walked less than 60 batters every season in a Dodgers uniform. Although he's aging, he's not injury prone as he has never made it to the DL.
Prediction: Phillies, three years, $42 million.
17. Brian Fuentes: Fuentes has been a very consistent relief pitcher in a hitter-friendly park and he will be the cheaper option to those who don't want K-Rod. Fuentes has amazing control and a WHIP under 1.20 since 2006.
Prediction: Mets, four years, $32 million.
18. Rafael Furcal: Furcal is one of the best shortstops in the NL when healthy. He walks almost as much as he strikes out, showing great consistency in hitting. Not a great glove, but a shortstop with a bat is getting harder to find.
Prediction: Dodgers, three years, $30 million.
19. Orlando Cabrera: Cabrera doesn't let many balls get by him. He lacks plate discipline, but doesn't strike out much. Will appeal to teams developing young pitching because of his excellent range.
Prediction: Blue Jays, three years, $25 million.
20. Mike Mussina: Mussina was as great as ever this year, but is ranked so low because of age. Mussina found his former self by pitching to the inside more in his quest to win the World Series and make the Hall of Fame. I think he's proven himself for the HOF, but Mussina does not seem committed to play until 300 wins, which he says will take three more years.
21. Bobby Abreu: Abreu is one of the best combos of power and speed in baseball. He's become a very streaky hitter with the Yankees, but has been a passable hitter in front of A-Rod. He most likely won't be re-signed with the outfield jam in New York, but his talent will appeal to other teams.
Prediction: Cubs, two years, $24 million.
22. Darren Oliver: Heard of him? Learn who he is if not. Oliver has been a consistent middle reliever for the Angels who could be a Type A free agent. Oliver had a K/BB ratio of three this year and a WHIP of 1.15. He looks to have finally found a place in L.A. and should be back with the Angels making it obvious that K-Rod won't be.
Prediction: Angels, two years, $10 million.
23. Kerry Wood: Wood has gone under the radar as a free agent because we all know he's gonna re-sign with the Cubs. Wood has given the Cubs stability in their great bullpen that they haven't had in previous years. And no, Oliver over Wood is not an error.
Prediction: Cubs, two years, $16 million.
24. Brian Giles: Giles is still a great hitter, with a 133 OPS+ with the Padres. He's still an above average corner outfielder and a great leader. Giles has been a reliable bat even with age and seems to love life in San Diego. It's uncertain whether or not the Padres will part ways with him as they will most likely rebuild next year, but the young players may want to turn to him.
Prediction: option exercised.
25. Hank Blalock: When writing this article, I didn't want to use guys with team options that would obviously be used, but Blalock presents an enigma. Blalock was a young superstar, but has struggled to stay healthy. A permanent move to first may be best for him.
Prediction: option exercised.
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