It may seem on the early side to be evaluating the top potential free agents of next winter.
But in reality, general managers already have a detailed list of players they may be interested in come December. If you are not ahead of the game in the majors, you're behind.
There are many factors one must take into account when ranking the best available free agents. First is the player's age: an older player is less likely to be offered a long-term contract.
Second is the player's potential. While a player may have had a poor season in 2010, he may still be worth buying low on.
Javier Vazquez is an example. Everybody saw what Vazquez did in Atlanta, but he had a down season in New York last year. It would be naive to assume that he will never bounce back.
There are many other factors, such as the player's injury history, attitude towards teammates and so on.
For the purposes of this article, any player will be eligible for free agency in 2012 as long as either his contract will have run out or his team has an option on him. Player options, however, will be considered ineligible. For example, Joe Nathan will be listed in this ranking, but Rafael Soriano will not.
With that, let me unveil to you an early look at next year's most attractive free agents.