An updated top 50 free agents

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Taking into account recent signings and some new arrivals courtesy of the non-tender deadline, here’s a new list of the top 50 free agents available. Posted Japanese players Yu Darvish and Norichika Aoki are not included. Darvish, a right-handed pitcher, would come in at No. 2 on the list, while Aoki, an outfielder, would slide in right around No. 25.

(A note: this is more a list of how I believe teams view the free agents than how I view them myself. Personally, I’d slide Carlos Beltran and Josh Willingham above Michael Cuddyer.)

Top 50 Free Agents

1. Prince Fielder (1B Brewers)
2. Yoenis Cespedes (OF Cuba)
3. Jimmy Rollins (SS Phillies)
4. Ryan Madson (RP Phillies)
5. Edwin Jackson (SP Cardinals)
6. Michael Cuddyer (OF Twins)
7. Carlos Beltran (OF Giants)
8. Hiroki Kuroda (SP Dodgers)
9. Josh Willingham (OF Athletics)
10. Roy Oswalt (SP Phillies)
11. Jorge Soler (OF Cuba)
12. Javier Vazquez (SP Marlins)
13. Joe Saunders (SP Diamondbacks)
14. Carlos Pena (1B Cubs)
15. Francisco Cordero (RP Reds)
16. Paul Maholm (SP Pirates)
17. Wei-Yin Chen (SP Japan)
18. Derrek Lee (1B Pirates)
19. Hisashi Iwakuma (SP Japan)
20. Jason Kubel (OF Twins)
21. Coco Crisp (OF Athletics)
22. Casey Kotchman (1B Rays)
23. Tsuyoshi Wada (SP Japan)
24. Johnny Damon (OF Rays)
25. Joel Pineiro (SP Angels)
26. Bartolo Colon (SP Yankees)
27. Cody Ross (OF Giants)
28. Vladimir Guerrero (DH Orioles)
29. Ryan Ludwick (OF Pirates)
30. Jason Marquis (SP Diamondbacks)
31. Wilson Betemit (3B Tigers)
32. Darren Oliver (RP Rangers)
33. Luke Scott (OF Orioles)
34. Brad Lidge (RP Phillies)
35. Rich Harden (SP Athletics)
36. Hideki Matsui (DH Athletics)
37. Kerry Wood (RP Cubs)
38. Hong-Chih Kuo (RP Dodgers)
39. J.D. Drew (OF Red Sox)
40. Jeff Francis (SP Royals)
41. Jeff Keppinger (2B Giants)
42. Yuniesky Betancourt (SS Brewers)
43. Casey Blake (3B Dodgers)
44. Chad Qualls (RP Padres)
45. Juan Pierre (OF White Sox)
46. Kosuke Fukudome (OF Indians)
47. Brad Penny (SP Tigers)
48. Andruw Jones (OF Yankees)
49. Mike Gonzalez (RP Rangers)
50. Chris Snyder (C Pirates)

A few notes:

– The 19-year-old Soler comes in at No. 11 even though he’s likely a couple of years away from contributing. There’s talk of the power-hitting outfielder getting a deal worth more than $20 million. Cespedes, on the other hand, will be expected to make an impact immediately.

– Vasquez is still believed to be leaning towards retirement.

– Non-tenders come in at No. 13 (Saunders), 33 (Scott), 38 (Kuo) and 41 (Keppinger). Ryan Theriot was a near-miss. I also like Clay Hensley and would have put him in a personal top 50, but he may have to settle for $1 million or less after his rough year.

Report: Mike Trout as recognizable to Americans as NBA’s Kenneth Faried

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On Monday, the Washington Post cited Q Scores, a firm that measures consumer appeal of personalities, with regard to Angels outfielder Mike Trout. According to Q Scores, Trout is as recognized to Americans as NBA forward Kenneth Faried, who has spent seven seasons with the Denver Nuggets and is now a reserve with the Brooklyn Nets. Trout’s score was 22, which means just over one in five Americans know who he is.

We have talked here at various times about Trout’s lack of marketability. He has expressed zero interest in being marketed as the face of baseball. Additionally, based on the nature of the sport, it’s harder for baseball to aggressively market its stars since star players don’t impact teams the same way they do in other sports. LeBron James, for example, carries whatever team he’s on to the NBA Finals. James has appeared in the NBA Finals every year dating back to 2011. Trout, despite being far and away the best active player in baseball and one of the best players of all time, has only reached the postseason once, in 2014 when his Angels were swept in the ALDS by the Royals. Trout can’t carry his team to the playoffs and his team hasn’t helped him any in getting there on a regular basis.

Baseball is also more of a regional sport. Fans follow their local team, of course, and don’t really venture beyond that even though games are broadcast nationally throughout the week. The NFL schedule is much shorter and occurs once a week, so fans put aside time to watch not just their favorite team’s game, but other games of interest as well. A June game between the subpar White Sox and Tigers doesn’t have much appeal to it since it’s one of 162 games for both teams, and both teams will play again later in the season. Comparatively, a game between the Bears and Lions has more intrigue since they only play twice a year.

It’s kind of a shame for baseball that Trout isn’t bigger than he is because he is a once-in-a-generation talent, like Ken Griffey Jr. In fact, Trout is so good that he’s still underrated. He’s on pace to have one of the greatest seasons of all-time, going by Wins Above Replacement. Despite that, he’s anything but a lock to win the MVP Award at season’s end because the narratives around other players, like Mookie Betts, are more compelling.

Trout’s marketability is an issue that isn’t likely to be fixed anytime soon. Trout is who he is and forcing him to ham it up for the cameras would come off as forced and unnatural. Major League Baseball will simply have to hope its other stars, like Betts and Bryce Harper, can help broaden the appeal of the sport.