Many fantasy sports players know that one of the most valued pieces of information when drafting is the knowledge that a player is entering into the final year of their contract. Players who have dollars in their immediate future tend to perform at another level. Derek Holland’s recent 5 year $28.5 million contract is the most notable example of players carrying over success into a huge pay day.
Spotrac takes a look at the top MLB players by position who will be playing the 2012 season for their next contract.
Starting Pitcher, Philadelphia
The Phillies #3 starting pitcher is poised to land ace money in the 2012 off-season should he continue to perform at the level he has in recent seasons. The Phillies have a daunting year ahead of them battling age, injuries, and an improved division. Their success or lack thereof may dictate Hamel’s future.
Starting Pitcher, San Francisco
Similar to Hamels, Cain has been overshadowed by flashier pitchers in the Giants rotation, but can legitimately compete at an ace-level at
times. He’ll generate plenty of conversation should the Giants decide to let him test the market.
Starting Pitcher, Milwaukee
Greinke can raise his stock considerably in this contract season by carrying a strong, but Prince-less Brewers team on his back. He’s shown in his Kansas City days that he can win with very little around him, so there’s no reason to believe he shouldn’t have a solid season.
Relief Pitcher, Kansas City
The 29 year old closer will have a lot to prove in Kansas City this year after being tossed aside by the Dodgers in 2011. Broxton sits with a 1 year contract with the Royals and a productive season may warrant him a long-term contract in 2013.
Coming off of a solid season with the Rangers (after being traded from Los Angeles), Napoli has the right mix of defensive talent, and consistent hitting to warrant another legitimate contract. It’s safe to say the Rangers will be in the mix to keep him should his 2012 numbers match up.
1st Baseman, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers now have a formidable backing in ownership, but still a mess of contracts, and franchise ramifications hanging over them. It’s not out of the question to think that the next 1-2 seasons will be bumpy in order to full recover, and that probably means losing quality talent to bigger offers. Loney is a prime candidate to fall into this category.
2nd Baseman, Cincinnati
The long-time Red has been one of the most consistent 5-tool values in the game for years now, and at only 32 years of age will certainly be in conversation should he hit the market. Should the Reds fall out of contention this year, look for Phillips to be on the trade-block.
3rd Baseman, New York Mets
The Mets do hold a club option with Wright for 2013, but it’s a $16 million option. With financial issues covering the franchise, the Mets will have to be creative to keep the long-time face of their franchise in tact. They’ve already watched Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez, and Jose Reyes head out of town, and many speculate that Wright will have to be the next in line.
Left Fielder, Texas
An off-season that was certain to include a major contract for Hamilton with the Rangers turned ugly as the slugger once again found himself in personal struggles. The Rangers have been known to take gambles though, and they’ve got the 2012 season to use as a basis for their decision. Look for Texas to make their power-hitter a significant offer should he prove to be reliable on and off the field.
Center Fielder, Tampa Bay
One of the most versatile talents in the game, Upton hasn’t been able to stay healthy for a long enough period of time to generate elite buzz. Now, entering the final year of his contract, Upton has age (28) and a plethora of talent surrounding him. He’ll have a chance to garner a big time pay-day should his 2012 season stand up.
Center Fielder, San Francisco
The multi-talented outfielder never found a comfortable spot in the Yankees lineup. But his short time in San Francisco has been successful, and many think this year becomes the 28-year-old’s true breakout season. He’ll be one of the top outfield prospects on the board should he reach free agency.
For a complete listing of 2013 MLB free agents, check out our Free Agent Tracker