Money line

A former GM handicaps next year's free agent class

Updated: January 26, 2012, 11:18 AM ET
By Jim Bowden | ESPN Insider

A version of this story appears in the Feb. 6 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Already tired of talking about Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols? ESPN Insider's Jim Bowden, a former big league GM, ranks next year's free agents in order of how much he'd pay them if he were sitting in the front office.


Matt Cain
San Francisco Giants
Age: 27

Why he'll stay: Few players are a better fit for their home park than Cain, a fly-ball pitcher with a 3.12 career ERA at AT&T Park. Plus, the Giants have built their recent success on pitching.

Why he'll leave: Tim Lincecum will hit the free agent market a year later, and the Giants may not be able to afford both guys. I see each as an ace, but the club will likely choose Timmy.

Chance he leaves: 50 percent

Bowden's bid: Six years, $132 million

Possible fits: New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers


Cole Hamels
Philadelphia Phillies
Age: 28