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ESPN's Top 50 Free Agents


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ESPN's Top 50 Free Agents

1. Paul

Konerko 2005 stats

Age: 29

HR: 40

RBI: 100

AVG: .283

OPS: .909

SB: 0

'05 salary: $8.75M Prediction/Comment

Prediction: Red Sox.

Comment: His back-to-back 40-homer and 100-RBI seasons show his consistency. His performance in the postseason proves to large-market teams that he can handle the spotlight. Look for a bidding war.


2. Johnny

Damon Age: 32

HR: 10

RBI: 75

AVG: .316

OPS: .805

SB: 18

'05 salary: $8.25M Prediction: Red Sox.

Comment: He is the top leadoff hitter in the game. He hits for average, steals bases, drives in runs and scores plenty of runs. Plus, he gives his club an attitude and a presence. He makes any team he's a part of better.


3. Roger

Clemens Age: 43

IP: 211.1

W-L: 13-8

ERA: 1.87

BB: 62

SO: 185

'05 salary: $18M Prediction: Retires.

Comment: He had another great season, but a hamstring injury affected him in September and October. His son, Koby, is still a few years away from possibly playing in the big leagues and Roger won't be able to last that long.


4. Rafael

Furcal Age: 27

HR: 12

RBI: 58

AVG: .284

OPS: .777

SB: 46

'05 salary: $5.6M Prediction: Cubs.

Comment: His game has matured at just the right time ... when he reaches free agency. He cut down on his errors substantially in '05, and also developed the patience needed to be a premier leadoff man.


5. Billy

Wagner Age: 34

IP: 77.2

SV: 38

ERA: 1.51

BB: 20

SO: 87

'05 salary: $9M Prediction: Phillies.

Comment: He still has the most dominating stuff among all the closers on the market. Expect a bidding war because teams that feel they are close to competing for a playoff spot will value his experience immensely.


6. B.J.

Ryan Age: 29

IP: 70.1

SV: 36

ERA: 2.43

BB: 26

SO: 100

'05 salary: $2.6M Prediction: Mets.

Comment: Clubs love his youth and strength. He is a horse. Some clubs value him higher than Billy Wagner because they can think long-term with him. Everyone who likes Wagner will also keep an eye on Ryan.


7. A.J.

Burnett Age: 28

IP: 209.0

W-L: 12-12

ERA: 3.44

BB: 79

SO: 198

'05 salary: $3.65M Prediction: Blue Jays.

Comment: He has the stuff of an ace, but the record of a No. 4 starter (49-50 in his career). He has a history of health problems and an erratic personality. In the right situation, he could blossom. If everything isn't just right, then he could be a bust.


8. Hideki

Matsui Age: 31

HR: 23

RBI: 116

AVG: .305

OPS: .863

SB: 2

'05 salary: $8M Prediction: Yankees.

Comment: Along with his talent, he brings leadership and toughness. He is usually a clutch player, and gives his team instant credibility in Japan because of his reputation earned from his days with the Yomiuri Giants.


9. Brian

Giles Age: 34

HR: 15

RBI: 83

AVG: .301

OPS: .906

SB: 13

'05 salary: $8M Prediction: Cubs.

Comment: He led the majors in walks (119) and was fourth overall in OBP (.423). His power numbers aren't what they once were. On the right team, he could log huge numbers; bat him second or third in front of a couple of big boppers and he may score 150 runs.


10. Trevor

Hoffman Age: 38

IP: 57.2

SV: 43

ERA: 2.97

BB: 12

SO: 54

'05 salary: $5M Prediction: Padres.

Comment: He is second all time in saves behind Lee Smith, and can still dominate with his power changeup. A hitter can know it is coming and still swing and miss at it. He is a great guy and an even better pitcher.



11. Kyle

Farnsworth 2005 stats

Age: 29

IP: 70.0

SV: 16

ERA: 2.19

BB: 27

SO: 87

'05 salary: $1.9M Prediction/Comment

Prediction: Braves.

Comment: The best thing that ever happened to him was getting traded to Atlanta, where he had the benefit of working with Leo Mazzone for half the season. He has always had dominating stuff, and no plan. Mazzone gave him a plan.


12. Kevin

Millwood Age: 30

IP: 192.0

W-L: 9-11

ERA: 2.86

BB: 52

SO: 146

'05 salary: $7M Prediction: Indians.

Comment: He won the ERA title in the AL in 2005, but only finished with a 9-11 record. He had a bounce-back year after struggling in Philadelphia previously. Millwood is a battler, but his personality is better suited for a mid-market club.






13. Ramon

Hernandez Age: 29

HR: 12

RBI: 58

AVG: .290

OPS: .772

SB: 1

'05 salary: $4.3M Prediction: Mets.

Comment: He's handled some pretty successful pitchers in his career between Oakland and San Diego. He's also been credited for his game calling and receiving. He handles the bat well, which makes him the best catcher on the open market.


14. Bengie

Molina Age: 31

HR: 15

RBI: 69

AVG: .295

OPS: .782

SB: 0

'05 salary: $3M Prediction: Padres.

Comment: You know that any catcher that has met with the approval of Mike Scioscia and started for him for several years must be pretty special. Molina can shut down a running game and he handles the bat fairly well.


15. Matt

Morris Age: 31

IP: 192.2

W-L: 14-10

ERA: 4.11

BB: 37

SO: 117

'05 salary: $2.5M Prediction: Orioles.

Comment: He had a great first half even though he was still building arm strength after offseason surgery last year. He is a gamer, and his experience would be a real asset to a young developing staff. He can pitch in any market.


16. Jarrod

Washburn Age: 31

IP: 177.1

W-L: 8-8

ERA: 3.20

BB: 51

SO: 94

'05 salary: $6.5M Prediction: Rangers.

Comment: His elbow flared up at times, but he is a quality lefty with playoff experience. He would be a nice complement to most staffs in the No. 2 or 3 spot in the rotation. The elbow inflammation may cost him a year off of a multi-year deal.


17. Bob

Wickman Age: 36

IP: 62.0

SV: 45

ERA: 2.47

BB: 21

SO: 41

'05 salary: $2.75M Prediction: Indians.

Comment: He is a big guy, but maybe just because he has a belly full of guts. He is a leader and a warrior. If a team can pry him away from Cleveland on a short deal (one year and an option) they will be lucky. He doesn't have the best stuff, he just has the best heart.


18. Todd

Jones Age: 37

IP: 73.0

SV: 40

ERA: 2.10

BB: 14

SO: 62

'05 salary: $1.1M Prediction: Marlins.

Comment: Surprise, surprise. He proved why picking relievers can be so unpredictable. He has very good stuff, and always pitches with a plan. He will be one of the fallbacks after Wagner, Ryan and Farnsworth are off the board.


19. Tom

Gordon Age: 37

IP: 80.2

SV: 2

ERA: 2.57

BB: 29

SO: 69

'05 salary: $3.75M Prediction: Diamondbacks.

Comment: He wants to be a closer and the good news for him is that there are clubs desperate for one. He will need to be protected a bit because he has shown the propensity to get fatigued at times, but for the clubs who lose out on the proven closers he will be a pretty decent alternative.


20. Jeff

Weaver Age: 29

IP: 224.0

W-L: 14-11

ERA: 4.22

BB: 43

SO: 157

'05 salary: $9.35M Prediction: Angels.

Comment: He is a proven innings-eater, and keeps his club in games and gives them a chance to win. He is not a dominant pitcher, but is a reliable No. 3 starter. Look for him to avoid the larger East Coast markets since his time in New York was rather painful.



21. Mark

Grudzielanek 2005 stats

Age: 35

HR: 8

RBI: 59

AVG: .294

OPS: .741

SB: 8

'05 salary: $1M Prediction/Comment

Prediction: Cardinals.

Comment: He was always known as a hard-nosed offensive player -- a slasher. He also proved to be a top defensive second baseman in 2005. His arm strength is unequaled at the position. He can make plays to his right and left and he turns the double play well.


22. Alex

Gonzalez Age: 28

HR: 5

RBI: 45

AVG: .264

OPS: .687

SB: 5

'05 salary: $3.4M Prediction: Braves.

Comment: He made up one-half of the best DP combo in the NL over the past few years. A change of scenery should do him some good. His offensive struggles and elbow injury at the end of '05 could undervalue him. He is not a bad alternative for those who lose out in the Furcal Sweepstakes.


23. Nomar

Garciaparra Age: 32

HR: 9

RBI: 30

AVG: .283

OPS: .772

SB: 0

'05 salary: $8.25M Prediction: Dodgers.

Comment: Injuries have obviously hurt his value in the market. If a playoff-caliber club has interest, they better have a fallback plan in case he gets hurt. He has done the right thing in offering to play third base or even the outfield.


24. Preston

Wilson Age: 31

HR: 25

RBI: 90

AVG: .260

OPS: .813

SB: 3

'05 salary: $12.5M Prediction: Orioles.

Comment: He may be a great value this offseason. He plays with an edge, is tough and will play hurt. He is a true power threat and on the right club and in the right ballpark could be a great addition.


25. Mike

Piazza Age: 37

HR: 19

RBI: 62

AVG: .251

OPS: .778

SB: 0

'05 salary: $16M Prediction: Angels.

Comment: It is time for Piazza to make the move to the American League, where he can be used as a DH. He should be able to extend his career several more years because of it. A healthy Piazza can hit 30-plus homers still and be a real RBI threat.


26. Frank

Thomas Age: 37

HR: 12

RBI: 26

AVG: .219

OPS: .905

SB: 0

'05 salary: $8M Prediction: Indians.

Comment: His days in Chicago seem to be over, but his career is not. He could provide a young team leadership and thunder, if he gets healthy. There is some element of risk with him, but sometimes teams on the brink need to take chances to get over the hump.


27. Jacque

Jones Age: 30

HR: 23

RBI: 73

AVG: .249

OPS: .757

SB: 13

'05 salary: $5M Prediction: Tigers.

Comment: He can hit for a decent average and has some pop in his bat, as well. He is a versatile outfielder and therefore offers any number of clubs a good option in the corners.


28. Reggie

Sanders Age: 37

HR: 21

RBI: 54

AVG: .271

OPS: .886

SB: 14

'05 salary: $4M Prediction: Cardinals.

Comment: He has hit over 20 homers in a season for six different teams. The question is ... could he do it for a seventh team in 2006? He can still play, and is a great teammate and leader. If a team offers him a two-year deal, they will land him.


29. Kenny

Rogers Age: 41

IP: 195.1

W-L: 14-8

ERA: 3.46

BB: 53

SO: 87

'05 salary: $3.3M Prediction: Dodgers.

Comment: He was an All-Star and won a Gold Glove in '05. For what he brings, he is a good value in the market. His performance falls off in the second half, but for a team with aspirations for the postseason he may be just the answer to get you to the trade deadline.


30. Jeromy

Burnitz Age: 36

HR: 24

RBI: 87

AVG: .258

OPS: .757

SB: 5

'05 salary: $4.5M Prediction: Padres.

Comment: He offers power and aggressiveness, and gives 100 percent effort every day. He is a more than adequate defensive outfielder. He is a bit streaky at the plate and he tends to strikeout too much, but when he makes contact look out.


31. Ricardo

Rincon 2005 stats

Age: 35

IP: 37.1

W-L: 1-1

ERA: 4.34

BB: 20

SO: 27

'05 salary: $1.9M Prediction/Comment

Prediction: Yankees.

Comment: There are a lot of teams with a lot of money who will be looking to upgrade their bullpens. Rincon has long been a very serviceable lefty. He takes the ball and gets the job done more often than not.


32. Julian

Tavarez Age: 32

IP: 65.2

W-L: 2-3

ERA: 3.43

BB: 19

SO: 47

'05 salary: $2.6M Prediction: Mets.

Comment: He has been a solid seventh- or eighth-inning pitcher over the last few years. He is predictable in that he will be in the middle of some trouble at some point during the year. He's someone who you love when he's on your team, but you hate him when he's not.


33. Bobby

Howry Age: 32

IP: 73.0

W-L: 7-4

ERA: 2.47

BB: 16

SO: 48

'05 salary: $900,000 Prediction: Yankees.

Comment: He closed some games early in his career, but has been a set-up man for a while now. He should have clubs bidding hard for his services as an eighth-inning pitcher, but it will be interesting to see if anyone steps up and wants to sign him as an affordable closer.


34. Carl

Everett Age: 34

HR: 23

RBI: 87

AVG: .251

OPS: .746

SB: 4

'05 salary: $4M Prediction: Nationals.

Comment: He can swing the bat and is still a decent outfielder despite being a DH most of this past year. He is a tweener as he hits for a decent average and has some power, but he is not a home run hitter. Expect him to look for a multi-year deal.


35. Bill

Mueller Age: 34

HR: 10

RBI: 62

AVG: .295

OPS: .799

SB: 0

'05 salary: $2.5M Prediction: Dodgers.

Comment: He is a gamer, and has proven that he can be part of a winner. Durability has always been the question with him. He is not the prototypical power-hitting third baseman, but if a club has power elsewhere then he may be a great No. 2 hitter in a lineup.


36. Kenny

Lofton Age: 38

HR: 2

RBI: 36

AVG: .335

OPS: .812

SB: 22

'05 salary: $2.9M Prediction: Padres.

Comment: An interesting player in the market. He will play most of next season at 39 years of age, but he showed in '05 that he can still play. He got on base and scored runs. He will likely only command a one-year deal, but teams looking for a leadoff man can do much worse.


37. Brad

Ausmus Age: 36

HR: 3

RBI: 47

AVG: .258

OPS: .682

SB: 5

'05 salary: $3M Prediction: Astros.

Comment: He will be torn between his home in San Diego (the Padres need a catcher, too) and his second home in Houston. The Astros need offense, which Ausmus really doesn't give (despite having one of his better offensive seasons ever in '05). Clemens has said if Ausmus doesn't return he may retire.


38. John

Olerud Age: 37

HR: 7

RBI: 37

AVG: .289

OPS: .795

SB: 0 Prediction: Mets.

Comment: He isn't the same hitter he used to be, but he is still very smart and very capable. The question teams will have to answer is, can he play every day, semi-regularly or only on a part-time basis? If he wants to keep playing, there is a spot on most good teams for him.


39. Ray

Durham Age: 33

HR: 12

RBI: 62

AVG: .290

OPS: .785

SB: 6

'05 salary: $7.2M Prediction: Mariners.

Comment: He doesn't run like he used to, but he can still produce when on the field. He has been unpredictable physically, often being a late scratch from games with one nagging thing or another. He can be a potential top of the lineup solution, if he ever stays healthy.


40. Joe

Randa Age: 35

HR: 17

RBI: 68

AVG: .276

OPS: .698

SB: 0

'05 salary: $2.15M Prediction: Dodgers.

Comment: He is a solid professional ball player. He isn't flashy; he just makes the routine plays. Offensively he is a blender. He will get a one-year deal and be happy with it.


41. Scott

Elarton 2005 stats

Age: 29

IP: 181.2

W-L: 11-9

ERA: 4.61

BB: 48

SO: 103

'05 salary: $850,000 Prediction/Comment

Prediction: Nationals.

Comment: He has come all the way back from his arm problems as he was very consistent and productive for the Indians in '05. He will be looking for a multi-year commitment and may find it in this light pitching free-agent market.


42. Esteban

Loaiza Age: 33

IP: 217.0

W-L: 12-10

ERA: 3.77

BB: 55

SO: 173

'05 salary: $2.9M Prediction: Nationals.

Comment: He is unpredictable as he has shown flashes of brilliance in his career and has also struggled mightily at times. He pitched well in 2005, and should draw some interest from a number of clubs desperate for starting pitching.


43. Jamie

Moyer Age: 42

IP: 200.0

W-L: 13-7

ERA: 4.28

BB: 52

SO: 102

'05 salary: $8M Prediction: Mariners.

Comment: He just keeps on going and going, having completed his fifth consecutive season of 200 innings or more. If the Mariners don't want him back, he will find work if he wants it. He throws strikes and his changeup still gets a swing and a miss.


44. Octavio

Dotel Age: 31

IP: 15.1

SV: 7

ERA: 3.52

BB: 11

SO: 16

'05 salary: $4.75M Prediction: Mets.

Comment: There has been a trend over the past couple of years in which clubs have signed pitchers who were unable to perform due to injury, with the hope they would get a benefit on the back end of the deal. Dotel is that guy this year. He has a special arm.


45. Juan

Encarnacion Age: 29

HR: 16

RBI: 76

AVG: .287

OPS: .796

SB: 6

'05 salary: $4.4M Prediction: Nationals.

Comment: He does most things pretty well and nothing great. He makes a very good fourth outfielder for a large-market team and a decent starter for a small- or middle-market team. He is caught in the middle, but it does leave him many options this offseason.


46. Bernie

Williams Age: 37

HR: 12

RBI: 64

AVG: .249

OPS: .688

SB: 1

'05 salary: $12.35M Prediction: Orioles.

Comment: He has been a big part of the great Yankee run over the last decade or so. Moving on, he would be a good fit on a younger team that is learning how to win where he can serve as a mentor and semi-regular player.


47. Sammy

Sosa Age: 36

HR: 14

RBI: 45

AVG: .221

OPS: .671

SB: 1

'05 salary: $17.8M Prediction: Devil Rays.

Comment: Someone will take a shot on him, but it won't be a team he would prefer. His health is a question and his ability is deteriorating. A club that goes ahead and signs him will be looking to catch lightning in a bottle.


48. Kevin

Millar Age: 34

HR: 9

RBI: 50

AVG: .272

OPS: 754

SB: 0

'05 salary: $3.5M Prediction: Twins.

Comment: He lost his thump in '05 as he slugged just .399. He is a good guy on a club, though, because he keeps everyone loose and reminds you that the game is supposed to be fun. He will get a reduced deal for one year.


49. Paul

Byrd Age: 34

IP: 204.1

W-L: 12-11

ERA: 3.74

BB: 28

SO: 102

'05 salary: $5M Prediction: Reds.

Comment: He continues to get hitters out with guts and guile. He is a competitor, and would be valuable for a young rotation because he works hard and makes the most out of his ability.


50. Scott

Eyre Age: 33

IP: 68.1

W-L: 2-2

ERA: 2.63

BB: 26

SO: 65

'05 salary: $1.5M Prediction: Red Sox.

Comment: He has put himself in a position to cash in big for a lefty reliever as he has strung together three pretty good years. He can get lefties and righties out, which makes him more than just a situational lefty.

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