With the 2011 Major League Baseball season right around the corner, it’s never too early to take a look and see what free agency can bring for the coming year. Some great players like Jimmy Rollins and Chris Carpenter will be available after this season, but age and injury concerns keep them off my list. Here are the top five baseball free agents whose contracts expire after the 2011 season.
Albert Pujols – Who wouldn’t want this guy? One of the best hitters of all time, Pujols was trying to re sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, but talks stalled, and now he is looking at becoming a free agent at the end of the year. Pujols has never hit below 30 home runs or driven in less than 100 runs. He is a career .331 hitter with over 400 career home runs. The main question remains not who wants him, but who can afford him.
Prince Fielder – The Milwaukee Brewers made some moves this off season to try and keep Fielder around after his contract expires after the 2011 season by acquiring Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to help their pitching staff. Fielder is a powerhouse first baseman who has 40 HR power, a career .279 hitter, and will be turning 27 this May.
Jose Reyes – The speedy New York Met shortstop will be available this off season, but he does have a bit of an injury disclaimer to go along with him. If he can stay healthy, he is one of the better short stops in the game. According to baseball-reference.com, an average season for him means a .286 average with 33 doubles, 15 triples, 13 home runs, 66 RBI, and 58 steals. Not too shabby.
Brandon Phillips – The Cincinnati Reds second baseman has been one of the better middle infielders over the past four seasons. While I would not expect him to match his 2007 numbers of 30 HR, 94 RBI, and a .288 average, you can usually count on him for 20 HR and 80 RBI to go along with his .267 career average.
Nick Swisher – Speaking of consistency, Swisher has quietly hit 20 or more home runs in each of the last six seasons. Since moving to New York to play for the Yankees in 2009, Swisher has hit 29 home runs each year and driven in 82 and 89 runs respectively. He is a career .252 hitter, but he is a very high energy player who knows how to get on base.
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All stats taken from Baseball-Reference.com