This was a big year for free agent signings - probably the biggest I've ever seen. All sorts of big names changed addresses, so let's get right to it.
10. SP Troy Stargell (25.3 M/4 years) - Augusta Hitmen
In most seasons, this kind of contract is good enough for at least 5th. This season, however, it barely makes the list. Stargell brings his career 4.07 ERA to Noes Field and its pitcher-friendly dimensions, where he hopes to be even better. He should improve the Hitmen's rotation.
9. SP Edwin Patterson (27.0 M/3 years) - Tacoma Winter Stix
The former max contract staff ace lands at the most extreme of pitcher's parks. He'll join Alex Phelps and Blake Jones in a stellar rotation that hopes to contend for an AL North Title, or at least a wildcard spot. As for Patterson, you have to wonder what he's going to look like in a couple seasons at age 40, drawing $9 Million, but the Winter Stix sure are set up to win now.
8. SS Benito Chavez ($35.2 M/4 years) - Toronto Titwillows
Toronto replaces one great SS, Erik Miller (who at the time of this writing is still available), and sign another in Chavez. This is Chavez' second tour of duty with the Titwillows, and they hope he'll bring the big bat he had once before, and get them back into contention in the NL North.
7. SP Juan Santayana ($39 M/5 years) - Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have made it very well known that they are looking to re-tool their pitching staff, and they've tried to do just that. Santayana is coming off of two strong seasons of Tacoma, but how much of that success can be attributed to the generous park effects in Tacoma? Pittsburgh will hope very little.
6. SP Jerrod Dougherty ($46 M/5 years) - Pittsburgh Pirates
This guy is the real deal. With two straight sub-3.00 ERA campaigns and an All-Star appearance under his belt, Dougherty will look to anchor the Pirates' rotation and turn them into a playoff contender. If Santayana and others hold up their end of the bargain, he can do it.
5. SS Benito Estrella ($76 M/5 years) - Tacoma Winter Stix
You didn't think the Winter Stix were finished, did you? Along with all of that pitching, they add an excellent hitting SS. He should get on base a ton, and hopefully produce the runs to help the Winter Stix win more often than not.
4. RF Lyle Lindsey (85.0 M/5 years) - August Hitmen
It's a rare season where a contract like this one isn't the largest, but there are still three to go! The Hitmen have been searching for a huge bat for the middle of their lineup, and they've finally found it. Lindsey is coming off of seven straight seasons with at least 40 HRs and 120 RBIs, and the Hitmen will hope that he will help pull them out of the cellar of both the NL East and the runs-scored category. You have to think that St. Louis was hoping for better than a third round pick from his compensation, though.
3. SP Art Whitehill ($100 M/5 years) - Chicago White Sox
Whitehill receives the first of three max contracts this season. The White Sox have won over 110 games in each of the last three seasons, but they have yet to even make it to the world series. To do this, they knew that they needed to retain Whitehill, and that's just what they did. He's won at least 20 games in four straight seasons, he's a seven-time all-star, and a former Cy Young winner. Can't ask for much more than that.
2. SP Warren Williams ($110 M/5 years) - Cheyenne Beagles
Another big name stays put, but it cost the franchise an awful lot to get him to do so. At only 29 years of age, the two-time Cy Young award winner should still be effective at the end of this contract, and maybe the Beagles will have a couple more World Series Championships to show for it.
1. SP Pasqual Romero ($110 M/5 years) - Chicago White Sox
In what they hope is the final piece of the puzzle, the White Sox add a big time starting pitcher and hope it's enough to get them to a championship. You have to wonder, though, what will this franchise look like a few seasons from now, with $40 Million tied up in two players, and Richard Christensen coming up for arbitration before long?