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Top 100 Free Agents - Nos. 75-51

No. 66

Counting down this winter's top 100 free agents...

Nos. 100-76

75. David Weathers* (40) - Surprised many by accepting arbitration as a free agent last year, and he's thrown eight scoreless innings so far this season. The Reds hold a $3.9 million option for 2010 with a $400,000 buyout.

74. John Smoltz (42) - The final four months of this year will determine whether Smoltz wants to give it another try in 2010. If he struggles to make it back from shoulder surgery, he'll likely call it a career.

73. Ryan Franklin* (37) - The Cardinals can and will exercise their $2.75 million option if he just turns in a season similar to the last two.
Considering that he's yet to allow a run in 11 1/3 innings, he might have something more in store.

72. Chad Tracy (29) - Tracy posted a 722 OPS in his first year back from knee surgery and is at 686 in 72 at-bats this season. He'll need to do improve significantly if he wants to be viewed as a starter this winter. That he's on the right side of 30 will only count for so much.

71. Trevor Hoffman (42) - Since missing the first three weeks with a strained oblique, Hoffman has pitched five scoreless innings.

70. Marlon Byrd (32) - Essentially worthless in his final three years in the NL, Byrd has bounced back to hit .304 in 899 at-bats for the Rangers since the beginning of 2007. Some team figures to pay him like a regular, so he's probably done in Texas after this year.

69. Joel Pineiro (31) - Pineiro won just seven times and finished with a 5.15 ERA in 25 starts in the first season of a two-year, $13 million contract. He's off to a 4-1 start with a 3.24 ERA this year, but the 10 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings say that he won't keep it up.

68. Pedro Feliz* (34) - A disappointment offensively in his first year with the Phillies, Feliz has rebounded to hit .321/.382/.449 in 78 at-bats so far in 2009. He's still an elite defender, so if he could hit .260 for just the second time in his career, the Phillies might pick up his $5 million option. However, they do have Jason Donald waiting in the wings.

67. LaTroy Hawkins (37) - AL teams will likely stay out of the bidding after Hawkins was a bust with the Yankees last year. However, the setup man has been very successful in 90 innings as an NL reliever over the last three years.

66. Jason Varitek (37) - This winter's negotiations could be quite a bit simpler with the Red Sox holding a $5 million team option and Varitek owning a $3 million player option. Boston will likely exercise its end if Tek maintains a 750 OPS. He's at .222/.317/.458 right now.

65. Kelvim Escobar (33) - Escobar will skyrocket up the list if he comes back from shoulder surgery and puts together a strong final four months. He hasn't pitched in a major league game since 2007.

64. Melvin Mora* (38) - Drove in 104 runs last year, but outside of the final three months of 2008, he hasn't been an above average regular since 2005. If the Orioles bring him back in 2010, it would likely be at a lesser salary than the $8 million he'd make under the terms of his option.

63. Ramon Hernandez* (33) - The Reds only took on Hernandez's $8 million salary because the Orioles were willing to accept Ryan Freel's $4 million in return. His $8.5 million option for 2010 figures to be declined.

62. John Grabow (32) - While he's not a big name at all, Grabow will likely be regarded as one of the top setup men on the market. He had a 2.84 ERA in 76 innings last season, and he's right there again so far this year.

61. Marco Scutaro (34) - Scutaro may be on his way to a career season in his walk year, but he's not young and he doesn't have great range at shortstop. He may find himself back in a utility role in year two of his next contract.

60. Randy Johnson (46) - Johnson is all set to top 300 wins this year. Returning for 2010 would seemingly make him a lock for 5,000 strikeouts.

59. Octavio Dotel (36) - He's getting up there in years, but Dotel is still one of the game's premier strikeout relievers. He had a 3.76 ERA in 67 IP last year, and he's yet to give up a run this season. Between the two seasons, he's fanned 103 in 75 1/3 innings.

58. Rafael Soriano (30) - Soriano has it working so far this year, allowing just four hits and striking out 15 in 11 innings for the Braves. He can't be counted on to stay healthy, but if he throws 60 innings, he'll get multiyear offers.

57. Braden Looper (35) - Looper expected much better as a free agent after last winter. He's making $4.75 million this season, and the Brewers have a $6 million option for next year. Looper, though, can void the option if he believes he'll do better elsewhere.

56. Austin Kearns* (29) - He's earning his $8 million salary so far by hitting .267/.421/.533 in 60 at-bats, but even if he keeps this up for six months, the Nationals probably would buy him out for $1 million rather than exercise his $10 million option for 2010.

55. Vicente Padilla* (33) - The Rangers hold a $12 million option on Padilla, who is just 1-2 with a 7.43 ERA this season. That his velocity has been down suggests that he's covering up an injury.

54. Brad Penny (31) - Penny's BoSox career is hardly off to a rousing start, as he has a 7.61 ERA, but his velocity has seemingly gotten better every week and it figures that the results will come soon if he manages to stay healthy.

53. Kevin Gregg (31) - Too wild to be an elite reliever, Gregg was still a capable closer for nearly two years with the Marlins before knee problems ruined his final six weeks of 2008. He's given up seven runs in 12 2/3 innings as the Cubs' closer this season.

52. Jason Marquis (31) - Not yet a bust in Coors Field, Marquis is 4-1 with a 3.31 ERA after five starts. Youth and durability could land him another three-year deal, though AL teams may choose to shy away.

51. Jon Garland* (30) - Then again, youth and durability didn't do much at all for Garland in the tough market last winter. He signed a one-year deal with a $10 million mutual option. The Diamondbacks can buy it out for $2.5 million. If they pick it up, Garland can still opt out and receive a $1 million payout.