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The 2005 draft class, already regarded as the best ever, is now the richest. In the past month Ryan Zimmerman, Cameron Maybin and Andrew McCutchen ('05 first-rounders all) signed multiyear deals to delay their free agency eligibility. That means nine of the 48 '05 first-round picks are playing under long-term deals (list below). The number will increase soon: Royals leftfielder Alex Gordon (the second overall pick), Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (23rd) and Cubs righthander Matt Garza (25th) will likely earn megadeals when they become free agents after the 2013 season—if not sooner.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
Next winter's free-agent class won't have the same sizzle as the last one, which included Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes, who raked in nearly $600 million between them. All-Star lefthander Cole Hamels would be the top pitching prize, but he's already discussing a long-term extension with the Phillies—leaving the Brewers' Zack Greinke and the Giants' Matt Cain as the most attractive potential starting pitchers to hit the market. Another position where windfalls are to be found: the outfield. All eyes will be on this quartet in 2012 to see if they sign extensions with their current teams—or if they'll start bidding wars in free agency.
Pro: Former MVP and batting champ
Con: History of injuries and substance abuse