Ultimately, a player's career determines his value come free agency; however a big contract year can draw attention to a player and force a bidding war where a player gets paid, the more than he would have expected when the season started. Use Danny Tartabull as an example.Tartabull had two great seasons leading up to the off season of 1991-2. One of those great seasons was the 1991 campaign which was parlayed into one of the biggest contracts in baseball (Only $5 million a year, but it was 1992). The following players could benefit from a big second half just like Tartabull.
TOP OF THE CLASS
Cliff Lee - Lee would be the #1 starter for most clubs and will be the most sought after pitcher on the market. His season so far has done nothing to change anyone's minds, but a second half collapse could drive the market down. It's highly unlikely that will be the case. Lee will continue to dominate and he'll dramatically increase a teams odds of winning in 2011.
Carl Crawford - Like Lee, Crawford will be one of the most sought after free agents this offseason. He posses all of the tools teams need and will be a top of the order fixture for whoever he signs with. So far so good in 2010, where Crawford has continued to do what he does. A big second half would be nothing more than icing on the cake, but rest assured that Crawford knows a big second half will afford him a lot of icing.
Adam Dunn - Since 2004, Dunn has only hit less than 40 HR once, last year when he hit 38. He'll be 31 when he signs and should have a few more years left to slug at the same rate. With 17 HR in 2010, Dunn is among the best in baseball at hitting the long ball, and will get paid like one if he continues to do what he's always done.
Paul Konerko - Unlike Dunn, Konerko doesn't have age on his side and will have to fight the nay sayers who expect him to tail off. He's showed a downward trend over the last few years, but he's come alive in his contract year. A revitalized Konerko could demand a hefty salary as long as he doesn't fade toward the end of the season.
Jorge de la Rosa - De le Rosa looks to be a late bloomer who could add a lot of value to any rotation. After a magnificent 2009 season, he got started right where he left off this year, but has been on the DL since April because of a tendon issue in his finger. Before going down he was on pace to improve upon 2009, but only time will tell how the rest of the season pans out. Jorge should be back soon and stands the chance to leap frog past a lot of other candidates with a big second half. Perhaps no other pitcher has as much riding on the second half as de la Rosa.
Juan Uribe - Uribe has been down this road before; a bad 2008 contract year allowed the San Fransisco Giants to have the upper hand in negotiations. He laid the ground work for some playing time in 2010 with a productive 2009 and with the help of some injuries to others, Uribe found more playing time than most expected. Uribe didn't put this time to waste and has proved to be the Giants most productive hitter this year. The market should be good for an infielder that plays three positions well...if he has a big 2010.
Jonny Gomes - Gomes has quietly hit 20 HRs three times in his career even though he's never seen a full season with everyday at bats. Jonny is on pace to see his most ABs in a season and will need to put up his most productive numbers this year to garner a lot of interest this offseason.
Jorge Cantu - A corner infielder with power is what every team desires, how about a player that can play both corners? Even better... Cantu can do just that and has shown a lot of power from time to time. Although his career numbers may not support as much power as some may think Cantu has, he should fit well in any line up and shows no signs that he isn't due for a monster season. A big 2010 second half would sure help many believe.
Rafael Soriano - Soriano found himself buried in middle relief until 2009 where he shined once getting a shot at closing with the Braves. Soriano has improved on his 2009 season and if he can keep getting better, he'll be the best closer (not named Marino Rivera) available.
John Buck - In April, Buck was just another soon to be free agent catcher. Now as the All Star break approaches, Buck has put himself in position to be held in high regard by many teams. He's approaching career highs Rs, 2Bs, HRs, and RBI..... and it's not even July. If Buck expects a nice payday, he better keep on keepin' on.
Derek Jeter - The market for 37 year old Shortstops has never been better. Jeter hasn't shown many signs that he's playing days are past him and if he produces more in the second half, there isn't another Free Agent story that will have more drama. Most would be shocked if Jeter signs with anyone but the Yankees, but what if better offers are out there?
CLASS OF 2010
Troy Glaus and Aubrey Huff signed one-year deals prior to this season, because teams were unsure how these veterans would hold up in 2010. How ya like me now? Both players have produced quite well this year and if they can improve on their numbers, each should expect a nice pay day this offseason.
Which of these contract players will have the greatest fantasy baseball value in the second half of 2010?
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Article by James Weston exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com. Check back weekly for James' excellent fantasy insight and analysis.
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