#20 – Zack Greinke, SP, Kansas City
It would have been unfair to expect Greinke to repeat his remarkable 2009 season, and thus far, he hasn’t been able to do it. However, even after taking a step back, he’s still among the game’s best pitchers, and he is signed to a bargain contract that will pay him just $27 million in 2011 and 2012. Of all the guys in the Top 50, he’s probably the most likely to be moved before his current contract expires, so it will be interesting to see if we actually find out what Greinke’s trade value is in the next year or so.
#19 – Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh
Teams love players who can do everything, and that’s McCutchen in a nutshell. He’s above average in every area, and as a 23-year-old with a broad array of skills, he’s got room for even more development. He’s already one of the game’s best center fielders and would get significantly more notice if he played somewhere besides Pittsburgh. Given that the Pirates have him under team control for five more years, they don’t have to worry about losing their franchise player any time soon.
#18 – Adam Wainwright, SP, St. Louis
Anyone who wasn’t sure how good Wainwright’s curve was learned during Tuesday’s All-Star Game. His curve ball is probably the best in the game, and his fastball, slider, and change-up aren’t bad either. He throws strikes, gets groundballs, and misses bats. There are really no flaws in his game. The Cardinals control him through 2013 at a grand total of $27 million, and the last two years of the deal are team options, limiting the liability if something goes wrong and he ends up hurt. Overall, the combination of excellence, low cost, and minimal risk adds up to a highly valued asset.
#17 – Kevin Youkilis, 1B, Boston
A six-win player signed through 2013 for a grand total of $37 million? Yes, please. Youkilis has surpassed what anyone thought he would become, and has turned himself into one of the best all around players in the game. He hits for contact and power, draws a bunch of walks, and plays quality defense at multiple positions. Even at age 31, he’s showing no signs of slowing down, and while he has a skillset that generally doesn’t age all that gracefully, he should remain highly productive through the rest of his contract.
#16 – Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Colorado
No, he’s not pitching as well as his ERA would suggest. Yes, he’s still a phenomenal pitcher. His combination of stuff and performance is up there with anyone, and when you see him light up radar guns, it isn’t hard to see why hitters are having such a tough time generating runs against him. Beyond just what he brings to the mound, though, his contract is super team friendly – he’s got four years left on his deal (the last two being club options) for a grand total of $21 million. The last option is voidable if he’s traded, however, so an acquiring team would only get three years from him, which keeps him out of the top 15, but still makes him a tremendously valuable asset.
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