With more and more young players signing long-term extensions that buy out arbitration and free agent years, the amount of talent in future free agent classes isn't as impressive as it could be. Here's a list of players who would have been free agents for the first time after this season (meaning they will accrue their sixth full year of service time in 2010), but instead are still under contract for another year or two (or more)…
- Joe Blanton: The Phils have Blanton under contract for $17.5MM total in 2011 and 2012. There's plenty of value in being a league average workhorse, so he might have been able to find more on the open market.
- Zack Greinke: Kansas City owes the reigning Cy Young Award winner $13.5MM in both 2011 and 2012. He would have been the most sought after free agent in years, and would have been in a position to challenge CC Sabathia's $161MM record deal.
- Dan Haren: Arizona wisely locked up their ace, and will pay him $12.75MM in both 2011 and 2012. They also hold a $15.5MM option for 2013 ($3.5MM buyout). Haren would have been in line for a deal similar to the five year, $82.5MM contracts signed by John Lackey and A.J. Burnett, if not more.
- Maicer Izturis: The Halos control him for the next two seasons at just $6.9MM total.
- Scott Kazmir: He's under contract for $12MM in 2011 with a $13.5MM club option for 2013 that could be bought out for $2.5MM. Could he have done better than one year, $14.5MM guaranteed on the open market?
- Yadier Molina: The youngest Molina brother will earn $5.25MM in 2011, and St. Louis will presumably pick up his $7MM option for 2012. Given the dearth of quality catchers, he definitely would have found more than $12.25MM on the open market.
- Justin Morneau: He'll earn $14MM each year from 2011-2013. The market for players with Morneau's skill set has dropped off considerably, but his age (still just 29) would have been a help.
- Brandon Phillips: It feels like he's been around forever, but Phillips wouldn't have been eligible for free agency for the first time until after this season. The Reds owe him $11MM in 2011, then have to decide between $12MM option or a $1MM buyout for 2012.
- Alexis Rios: Would Rios have been able to the match the $50MM he's owed through 2014?
- Ramon Santiago: Detroit owes their utility infielder $1.25MM next season. Not bad scratch for a bench player.
- Grady Sizemore: Cleveland locked Sizemore up super early in his career, and still have him under contract for $7.5MM next year with an $8.5MM option for the year after. He would have been one of the most sought after free agents after the season.
- Chris Snyder: He's guaranteed $6.5MM after this season, possibly more if the D'Backs pick up $6.75MM option for 2012.
- Huston Street: He has yet to pitch this year, but Colorado owes their closer $15.3MM over the next two seasons, and there's also a $9MM mutual option for 2013. Considering his shoulder injury, he's probably glad to have the guaranteed money coming to him.
- Nick Swisher: The Yanks owe Swisher $9MM for 2011, then have to decide between a $10MM salary or a $1MM buyout for 2012. He probably would have been able to find more than that as a free agent.
- Kevin Youkilis: The Red Sox control their first baseman for $12MM in both 2011 and 2012, then could retain him for 2013 with a $13MM option or a $1MM buyout. He would have bested that on the open market.
- David Wright: The Mets have their franchise player under contract for two more years at $29MM total. He might have been able to quadruple that as a free agent.
Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contract for the info.