Real value lies beyond top tier

Updated: November 7, 2003, 5:10 PM ET
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
Vladimir Guerrero has five tools and an aura of mystery after playing seven years in front of empty seats in Montreal. Greg Maddux goes on the market with those always-desirable Cy Young comparisons and, if history is a guide, a bound-and-collated presentation by Scott Boras.

Gary Sheffield still turns on the best fastballs at age 35. Javy Lopez set a record for homers by a catcher this season. Miguel Tejada won an MVP award for Oakland in 2002. Andy Pettitte and Bartolo Colon each have 20-win seasons on their résumés, and Kevin Millwood has won 18 games twice, even if most teams don't believe he's an ace for a team with championship aspirations.

Need a closer? Keith Foulke, Eddie Guardado and Ugueth Urbina are on the menu, with the requisite portfolios-by-Rolaids. Potential suitors just have to determine how valuable a "save" really is.

While this year's free-agent crop isn't the strongest in memory, it has enough star appeal to get by. But the action isn't always confined to All-Stars. Several players a notch or two below the big names will attract plenty of interest. Here's a list of 12 second- or even third-tier free agents whose agents will be busy boys:

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer