Today let’s take a look at the players in next winter’s free agent class who will be under 30 years old for the 2009 season.
Mark Teixeira (29) – Teixeira is a Scott Boras client, and he seems primed to mash 40 homers and 120 ribbies in his contract year. I think we’re talking seven years, $150MM here. Will the Braves pony it up? What about big budget teams like the Yankees and Mets? What about the Red Sox, Angels, or Giants? The Orioles have made no secret about their desire to bring the Annapolis native aboard. (Speaking of Baltimore, I just finished season four of The Wire and it was awesome).
Felipe Lopez (29) – He’ll need to get his OPS back up over .700 to become interesting. And the move to second base doesn’t help.
Cesar Izturis (29) – He’s only had an OPS over .700 once in his career…he’ll be flashing the leather for the Cards this year in an attempt to rebuild value.
Hank Blalock (28) – It’d be pretty surprising if the Rangers passed on his $6.2MM option for ’09.
Adam Dunn (29) – He’s basically Teixeira with worse defense. I wonder if he’ll get Torii Hunter’s five-year, $90MM deal.
Wily Mo Pena (27) – He’s got a $5MM club option or a $2MM player option for ’09…seems that one of ’em will be exercised.
Rocco Baldelli (27) – The Rays have to make his option decision by April 1st. He remains an intriguing talent in need of a good medical staff.
Jon Garland (29) – Seems that Garland is primed to push the bar for mediocrity to $13-14MM over four or five years.
Oliver Perez (27) – Think he’s going to get a lot of attention next December? He just needs to replicate his 2007 season to earn himself a good $16MM per year. No joke. Earned only $2.3 mil in ’07, too. Could be an expensive consolation prize for teams that miss out on Sabathia.
C.C. Sabathia (28) – Johan Santana’s contract may serve as a guidepost…I’d be surprised if Sabathia takes less than $20MM annually. He’s the top free agent pitcher in this class, unless Santana plays out the string with the Twins.
Francisco Rodriguez (27) – Mariano Rivera got three years, $45MM. K-Rod is set to coast past that to set a contract record for a closer. Five years, $80MM maybe? Seems absurd but could happen. If he doesn’t fly past Rivera, Joe Nathan will.
Rafael Soriano (29) – Could be a $9-10MM guy if he has a big year and saves 35 for the Braves. If the Braves lose Soriano and Teixeira, at least they’ll get some sweet draft picks.
Juan Cruz (28) – Intriguing live strikeout arm, needs a healthy ’08.
Brandon Lyon (29) – Could earn one of those big-money setup man deals for $5-6MM over three or four years.