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Where Does This Year's MLB Free-Agent Class Rank Against the Last 8 Classes

Brandon CroceAnalyst IDecember 15, 2012

Where Does This Year's MLB Free-Agent Class Rank Against the Last 8 Classes

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    Even though the season has been over for two months now, this is still an exciting time with the "Hot Stove" heating up. Following the rumors swirling around free agents and potential trades will keep fans busy during the winter months.

    This year's free agency class is pretty good with some of the top players already knowing where they will be playing in 2013. Starting pitcher Zack Greinke is heading to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Josh Hamilton is on his way to the Los Angeles Angels. There is really only one marquee free agent remaining, and that is center fielder Michael Bourn.

    For these rankings, I have tried to base my rankings on the perception of the free-agency class heading into that year because we do not know the impact this current class will have on their future teams. This is how the past eight free-agent classes compare to one another.

9. 2009-10

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    Top Free Agents: John Lackey, Matt Holliday, Jason Bay

    This was a lackluster free-agency class, especially when this article from 2009 ranks Marlon Byrd as the 11th-best free agent available. Lackey, Holliday and Bay were the marquee names and Pettitte could be included as well, but no one thought any team but the New York Yankees had a chance.

    This was the year of aging veterans looking for that one big final contract with players like Randy Wolf, Johnny Damon and Miguel Tejada all on the market. By far one of the weakest free-agent classes over the past 10 years.

    A complete listing of free agents for this year can be found here.

8. 2008-09

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    Top Free Agents: Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia

    The Yankees were the big winner in 2008 when they grabbed the top position player, Mark Teixeira, and the top pitcher, CC Sabathia. The problem for the rest of the league was there was not much after that to get to improve their team.

    Some other notable players from this class included Bobby Abreu, Edgar Renteria, Derek Lowe and Adam Dunn. Along with 2009-10, this was one of the worst free-agent classes over the past 10 years.

    A complete listing of free agents for this year can be found here.

7. 2010-11

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    Top Free Agents: Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Jayson Werth

    This year was a little bit of a down year with not many top-line free agents available. Jayson Werth was coming off a strong year with the Philadelphia Phillies and parlayed that into a monster contract with the Washington Nationals.

    Outside of the three listed above, Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre changed homes during that offseason, but after them there wasn't too much left in the free-agent pool.

    A complete list of free agents for this year can be found here.

6. 2012-13

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    Top Free Agents: Josh Hamilton, Zack Grienke, B.J. Upton

    This year's class is fairly strong with a number of good-to-above-average players like Mike Napoli, Nick Swisher, Anibal Sanchez and Michael Bourn. The big-name players, though, were Josh Hamilton and Zack Grienke—who will both be calling Los Angeles home.

    The problem is that both have their flaws, and many believe Hamilton is not the type of player to carry a franchise. This year's class is average, and that is why they are ranked where they are.

    A complete list of free agents for this year can be found here.

5. 2006-07

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    Top Free Agents: Alfonso Soriano, Barry Zito, Carlos Lee

    This was a good year for teams because there were a lot of good players available in free agency. Outside of the three listed above, there was also Aramis Ramirez, JD Drew and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the market.

    The majority of these players were coming off strong seasons, and players like Ramirez and Matsuzaka still were relatively young in their career.

    A complete list of free agents for this year can be found here.

4. 2007-08

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    Top Free Agents: Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter

    This year the options for pitching were weak, with Carlos Silva being the top starting pitching option available, but in terms of position players, it was one of the best over the last decade.

    Alex Rodriguez infamously announced he was opting out of his contract during the 2007 World Series and was able to get his current monster contract with the Yankees. Andruw Jones was coming off a number of strong years with the Atlanta Braves, winning a number of Gold Gloves and being a beast at the plate.

    This was also the year that Torii Hunter left Minnesota for the California coast.

    A complete list of free agents for this year can be found here.

3. 2003-04

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    Top Free Agents: Vladimir Guerrero, Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada

    The 2003 class had a number of high-quality players available and was one of the deeper classes over the past 10 years. There was a number of players in their prime like Guerrero and pitcher Bartolo Colon, who both ended up with the Angels this year.

    There was also a number of veterans who were still performing at a high level. This group included starting pitcher Greg Maddux, catcher Ivan Rodriguez, outfielder Gary Sheffield and first baseman Rafael Palmeiro. It may have been lacking in terms of star power at the top, but it was a very deep free-agency class.

    A list of the top 50 free agents from 2003 can be found here.

2. 2004-05

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    Top Free Agents: Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez

    This is probably the second-best class of the past few years and not just because of the players listed above. There was a lot of depth with players like Edgar Renteria, Carlos Delgado and Nomar Garciaparra also available.

    It is hard to argue with a class with two of the best pitchers of this era in Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. Carlos Beltran was also relatively young and coming off a superhuman playoff run with the Houston Astros.

    A list of the top 50 free agents from 2003 can be found here.

1. 2011-12

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    Top Free Agents: Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, CC Sabathia, Jose Reyes

    Last year's class was easily the best that teams have seen over the past few years. It had arguably the best player in the game, and a future Hall of Famer, in Albert Pujols and one of the top pitchers in the game in CC Sabathia. Now, it was a foregone conclusion that Sabathia would return to the Yankees, but he was still technically a free agent.

    Teams also saw players like Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson, making this one of the deepest free-agent classes and why they were ranked No. 1.

    A complete list of free agents for this year can be found here.

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