Posted: Wednesday January 3, 2007 12:17PM; Updated: Thursday January 4, 2007 2:10AM
Andruw Jones, a former 50-home run hitter, could demand a contract similar to Vernon Wells' $126 million deal.
Comments, questions or obviously unfounded criticism? To e-mail Donovan, use the form below.
Andruw Jones, CF, Braves With Vernon Wells' recent contract extension in Toronto, Jones becomes the most valuable position player on the free-agent market after the '07 season. He'll be 30 in a couple of months and entering the prime money-making period of his career. His combination of power and All-Star defense will make him a very rich man -- OK, a much richer rich man -- somewhere in the 2008 season. It most certainly won't be in budget-conscious Atlanta.
Torii Hunter, CF, Twins He's an exciting player, a go-getter in center, but Hunter is no Jones, either defensively or at the plate (a .323 career on-base percentage). And he's almost two years older, too. Still, Hunter's good enough to merit a longer-term contract for maybe $13 million a year. (He'll make $12 million this season.) Early speculation has him in Texas playing for his friend, new Rangers manager Ron Washington.
Jermaine Dye, OF, White Sox Coming off a career year at age 32 in 2006, Dye seems ready for a huge payday. But it'll be difficult to match that 44-homer, 120-RBI, 1.006-OPS output again. And his advancing age and some injury concerns will scare some away from a long-term contract. Still, the quiet Dye, who won the World Series MVP in 2005, will draw huge interest and a lot of money if the Sox don't talk him into staying.
Carlos Guillen, SS, Tigers Rafael Furcal signed a contract for $13 million a year before last season. Guillen, one of the most underrated shortstops in the business, may not get quite that, considering that he'll be 32 as he enters the '08 season. But he should get close. He's hit .320 in each of the past two years. Last season, he had an on-base percentage of .400, hit 19 homers and stole 20 bases. His .920 OPS was the best of any shortstop.
Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners One of the top defensive corner outfielders in baseball, Suzuki continues to pile up the 200-hit seasons and All-Star selections. You know what you get with Ichiro; a league-leading amount of singles, a good amount of triples, some stolen bases if he wants (he had 45 in '06) and a guy you can put in the leadoff spot every single day. Plus, those marketing opportunities in Japan! The lack of power probably will keep him from making Jones money, but he's got a lot of good years left in him.
Bobby Abreu, OF, Yankees The $15 million club option for '08 seems steep even for the Yankees. And with a handful of good outfielders on the market next winter, the Yanks might want to poke around (Ichiro in right, Hideki Matsui in left?). Still, Abreu's patience at the plate and his ability to get on base (.411 career OBP) are attractive, even if his power numbers leave a bit to be desired.