The next class

While wondering how many of you were surprised by LeRon McClain’s selection to the Pro Bowl...

With so many readers being curious about next year’s free-agent class, and debating it’s worth vs. the current crop, I wanted to pass along this link from mlbtraderumors, in case you missed it in the comments section.

You’ll notice a significant drop at first base after Albert Pujols (and this is assuming he doesn’t sign an extension before hitting the market with the same force that he uses to crush fastballs), but it’s an improvement over the group we’ve been subjected to this winter.

Garrett Atkins (31) - $8.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
Lance Berkman (35) - $15MM club option with a $2MM buyout
Wilson Betemit (29)
Jorge Cantu (29)
Adam Dunn (31)
Troy Glaus (34)
Wes Helms (35)
Nick Johnson (32) - $5.5MM mutual option
Paul Konerko (35)
Derrek Lee (35)
Doug Mientkiewicz (37)
Lyle Overbay (34)
Carlos Pena (33)
Albert Pujols (31) - $16MM club option with a $5MM buyout
Ty Wigginton (33)

Other potential free agents include catcher Joe Mauer, third baseman Aramis Ramirez, shortstops Derek Jeter and Jose Reyes, outfielders Carl Crawford, Manny Ramirez and Jayson Werth, designated hitter David Ortiz, starters Josh Beckett, Cliff Lee and Brandon Webb, and closer Mariano Rivera.

I seriously doubt the Yankees will let Jeter go, and the same holds true of Rivera if he doesn’t retire. A lot of guys on this list have significant mileage on their odometers, but I still regard the 2011 class as an upgrade. The bar hasn’t exactly been raised.

It’s way too soon to project which players might interest the Orioles, especially without knowing whether Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder are locked into third and first base, respectively. They’re not supposed to be in the market for corner infielders next winter, but you never know.

It’s also hoped that the farm system will have produced a No. 1 starter, whether it’s Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman or someone else from the “cavalry.”

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