How Much Would MLB's Top 25 Players Cost in Soccer's January Transfer Window?

Robert Knapel@@RobertKnapel_BRCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2012

How Much Would MLB's Top 25 Players Cost in Soccer's January Transfer Window?

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    Imagine if baseball teams had to bid to negotiate with every free agent like they did with Yu Darvish. The free agent system does not allow this to happen often.

    In soccer, or football as it is called by many, there is a much different system in which players change  teams. For those under contract, they can be transferred to another club for a sum of money. Stars bring in massive sums of money for their teams and it would be interesting to see how this would work in MLB.

    After the player is transferred to the new team, his old contract is voided and he is able to negotiate a new deal with the team that purchased his rights. There are two windows for transfers in soccer.

    Baseball has a number of superstars that other teams would be willing to pay big money for. Transfer fees in soccer have exceeded $50 million and the same could happen with MLB superstars.

    For the sake of this article, we will assume that MLB owners can spend money like the owners of some of the world's most famous soccer franchises such as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United.

    The players are ranked based on the transfer fee that their team would receive for them.

25) Jose Reyes

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    Transfer Fee: $50 million

    Young athletic shortstops are very hard to find so it is no surprise that Jose Reyes would demand a fairly large transfer fee.

    Many teams would go after Reyes who is in the prime of his career. He would serve as a catalyst for an offense in the majors.

24) Adrian Gonzalez

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    Transfer Fee: $54 million

    First base is a fairly deep position in the major leagues, so that would slightly hurt the transfer value of anyone that plays the position.

    Even so, teams would pay big bucks to have Adrian Gonzalez on their team. He hits for both power and average and is the perfect hitter for the middle of a lineup.

23) Dan Haren

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    Transfer Fee: $55 million

    Just as in poker, aces are very valuable in baseball. Dan Haren has proven that he is one of the most reliable pitchers in baseball.

    Teams without an ace would be willing to spend big money to bring one in.

22) Justin Upton

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    Transfer Fee: $55.5 million

    At just 24 years old, Justin Upton still has a lot of time to improve. He should continue to get better and better.

    Being able to get a player who is already performing at an elite level before he has entered his prime is an incredibly rare opportunity for most teams.

21) Cliff Lee

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    Transfer Fee: $58.5 million

    Since 2008, Cliff Lee has been a lights-out pitcher. He has established himself as one of the best pitchers in the majors.

    At age 33, teams would not be willing to spend as much money on Lee as they would if he was on the other side of 30. Even so, he would command a massive transfer fee.

20) Roy Halladay

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    Transfer Fee: $60 million

    Roy Halladay has finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting in each year since 2006. This is an incredibly impressive feat.

    Halladay certainly has a few more years left as an ace, but the question is how many? Halladay's transfer value is hurt slightly by his age.

19) CC Sabathia

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    Transfer Fee: $62 million

    CC Sabathia is yet another ace that has a long track record of success. He has dominated hitters in the AL ever since joining the New York Yankees.

    Sabathia just turned 31 earlier this year so he definitely has a number of Cy Young caliber seasons left in his left arm.

18) Miguel Cabrera

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    Transfer Fee: $65 million

    There are few 28-year-olds with a more impressive track record than Miguel Cabrera. He is a perennial All-Star.

    Cabrera has had at least 100 RBI in each season since his rookie year, and he has averaged 31 home runs a year and a .317 batting average.

17) Dustin Pedroia

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    Transfer Fee: $67 million

    Power hitting second basemen are some of the rarest players in baseball. It is even rarer that they can play Gold Glove defense.

    Dustin Pedroia possesses both of these abilities, and he is only 28 years old. Teams would be salivating at the chance to bid for his services.

16) Robinson Cano

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    Transfer Fee: $70 million

    If you ask people who the best second baseman in the American League is, many of them will tell you that it is Robinson Cano.

    He is a young superstar, and the New York Yankees are lucky to have him. Other teams would be willing to spend the big bucks to get him on their roster.

15) Ian Kinsler

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    Transfer Fee: $70 million

    The third elite second baseman in the American League is Ian Kinsler. In addition to the power that the other two players have, Kinsler can also steal bases.

    Kinsler has two 30/30 seasons in the past three years, and he is a career .275 hitter.

14) Jered Weaver

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    Transfer Fee: $72 million

    Teams can be built around elite starting pitchers. Jered Weaver is one of those players.

    Weaver burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2006 and has been near the top of leaderboards ever since. Over the past two years he has reached the upper echelon of starters.

13) Prince Fielder

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    Transfer Fee: $73 million

    There are few pure power hitters in the major leagues that are better than Prince Fielder.

    He is one of the most attractive names on the free agent market in 2012, and he would also command one of the largest transfer fees in the majors.

12) Evan Longoria

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    Transfer Fee: $75 million

    Evan Longoria is the best player at a premium position. The elite third baseman had a down year in 2011, and he still put up outstanding numbers.

    Longoria is just 25 years old, and he is a franchise cornerstone. Players like Longoria are ones that teams can be built around.

11) Joey Votto

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    Transfer Fee: $77 million

    Joey Votto's power and patience are an outstanding combination at the plate. Opposing pitchers don't know what to do with him.

    The young star has already won one MVP award, and he could add another one to his collection soon.

10) Jose Bautista

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    Transfer Fee: $85 million

    Just a few years ago, Jose Bautista would not have got his team a transfer payment of more than $5 million. Now, they would get almost 20 times times that.

    Bautista has developed into one of the best players in baseball. He led the American League in home runs, walks and OPS in 2011.

9) Albert Pujols

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    Transfer Fee: $90 million

    It may be surprising to some to see Albert Pujols so low on this list, but when teams are going to spend tens of millions of dollars on transfer fees, they want young superstars.

    Pujols is a future Hall of Famer and is still worth a lot of money to many teams. 2011 was the worst season of his career, and he hit .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBI.

8) Troy Tulowitzki

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    Transfer Fee: $95 million

    Troy Tulowitzki posses a number of qualities that makes him very appealing to major league teams. 

    He is only 27 years old, and yet he has already established himself as the game's best shortstop. He bats .300 and has 30 home run power. Additionally, he plays Gold Glove defense at shortstop.

7) Felix Hernandez

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    Transfer Fee: $104 million

    When a player reaches the major leagues at age 19, people take notice. Felix Hernandez drew a lot of attention when he made his debut, and the eyes on him have increased as he has gotten better and better.

    After seven years in the major leagues, Hernandez will be just 26 during the 2012 season. He already has a Cy Young Award on his mantle, and he has been to two All-Star Games.

6) Tim Lincecum

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    Transfer Fee: $108 million

    Tim Lincecum won his first Cy Young Award when he was just 24 years old. He followed that season up by winning another Cy Young at age 25.

    Now 27, Lincecum still is one of the best players in baseball. He could serve as the cornerstone to any franchise in the majors.

5) Ryan Braun

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    Transfer Fee: $110 million

    Ryan Braun has received MVP votes every season that he's been in the majors. His 34 home run campaign during his first season in the majors won him Rookie of the Year honors.

    His latest performance, a 30/30 season in which he also batted .332, won Braun the NL MVP Award. He is just 28, and he has a bright future in front of him.

4) Jacoby Ellsbury

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    Transfer Fee: $115 million

    Prior to the 2011 season Jacoby Ellsbury had just 20 career home runs. Then he went off for 32 homers in 2011 to go along with 39 stolen bases. On top of that, he is a Gold Glove center fielder.

    If Ellsbury can hit 35 home runs and steal at least 50 bases while hitting .300 then he will be the most valuable player in baseball. He is just 28 so he will get much better, and teams would be willing to empty their coffers to bring him in.

3) Matt Kemp

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    Transfer Fee: $123 million

    Matt Kemp was one home run away from having a 40/40 season in 2011. He also won two-thirds of the NL Triple Crown. Kemp also brought home a Gold Glove in 2011.

    There are very few players in baseball that are better than Matt Kemp. He is only 27 and should just be entering his prime. It is scary to think of what he might be able to do.

2) Justin Verlander

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    Transfer Fee: $132 million

    Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in the majors right now. The performance that he put in during the 2011 season was incredible.

    Verlander won the AL Pitching Triple Crown, and he also led the league in WHIP. The only reason that he is not number one on this list is because of the age of the guy ahead of him.

1) Clayton Kershaw

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    Transfer Fee: $145 million

    Given all the success that he has had on the mound, it is hard to believe that Clayton Kershaw is just 23-years-old.

    Someone with his talent at his age is an incredibly rare find. The transfer fee for Kershaw would easily surpass the $132 million that was given to Christiano Ronaldo, which was the highest transfer fee ever paid for a soccer player.