Another big year for FA pickups, although probably not as big as last. It actually cost more to break into the top 10, but the contracts at the top were not as high (only one max contract this time around, compared to three last time). Enough of that - let's get to the list!
10. 3B Brandon Franco ($31.5M/3 years) - San Francisco Seals
Franco stays within the same division, but moves from hopeful World Champions to actual World Champions. The Seals will hope that his .530 slugging over the past two years will carry over, and help them to a repeat. The best part about this contract is that it's only for three years - he isn't likely to decline too much by the end of it.
9. RP Fausto James ($33.5M/5 years) - New York Metropolitans
James is another player leaving Anaheim. He should be an important piece of the bullpen, although the price may be a little steep. Looks like he'll be moving into the closer's role for New York, which will represent new territory for him. Biggest issue seems to be his stamina. Not a bad pickup at all, though.
8. SP Enrique Tavarez ($34.6M/5 years) - Charleston Hurricanes
Tavarez comes over from Buffalo, and he just looks like a solid pitcher all the way around. He's kept his ERA under 4.00 since Season 7, and if that can continue. Charleston will compete for a playoff spot once again.
7. C J.C. Matthews ($35.1M/4 years) - Cleveland Curse
The Curse needed to do something to stay afloat in the ultra-competitive AL North and for them it meant paying big bucks to bring back one of their own players. And he's a great one! With at least 30 home runs in each of the past four seasons, Matthews will do everything he can to get Cleveland back to the post-season.
6. SP Chad Peters ($36.5M/5 years) - Chicago White Sox
The already stacked White Sox add more pitching depth in Peters. He comes over from Charleston (and posting very solid numbers for them) and will look to push Chicago to a World Series win. They were the odds-on-favorite to win it last season before being dumped from their first post-season series by the Winter Stix. This could be the year, though. It happened for the Yankees - maybe these White Sox are next!
5. 1B Howie Ross ($44.6/5 years) - Pittsburgh Pirates
Ross comes over from the White Sox and is going to look to insert a ton of power into the middle of that lineup. He belted 66 home runs for the Sox last year... 66! Pittsburgh would love to see that kind of production, and it could push them from worst to first if they can get it.
4. RF Sammy Lugo ($50M/5 years) - Minnesota Minutemen
Like Cleveland, Minnesota had to pay to bring their own guy back. Unlike Matthews, however, Lugo is going to see a pretty nice raise (at least in Seasons 11-13). And why not? He's been over 50 home runs in each of the past three seasons. These are the kinds of moves that you need to make to stay competitive in that division.
3. SP William Schneider ($64M/5 years) - Syracuse Whitetails
Boy, are we glad to see this guy leave the NL East! He moves from Cincinnati to Syracuse, where the division is wide open (only took 78 wins to take it last season). Syracuse finished tied for that last season, maybe Schneider can help them get over the hump?
2. LF Louie Zhou ($65M/5 years) - St. Louis Gateway City Slickers
Zhou moves over from the World Champions to St. Louis. He carries with him an impressive bat and is going to join an already talented squad. Will he be enough to push St. Louis over the top and get them back to the World Series? St. Louis will hope his numbers resemble what he was putting up at Florida rather than San Francisco, though, where both his SLG and OBP dropped substantially.
1. SP Blake Jones ($110M/5 years) - Anaheim Dodgers
For all of the players that they lost, they sure did gain a great one. Jones comes over from Tacoma, where he lead the Winter Stix all the way to the World Series. The Dodgers will hope for more of the same. Even with Jones, can they overcome San Francisco and St. Louis?