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Go through the gallery to see Tony Paul's top 50 Major League Baseball free agents. Click here if you have trouble viewing the gallery.

Last offseason, Major League Baseball's shopping season was mostly — and somewhat surprisingly — a big, old dud, thanks to a massive number of teams who fancied themselves in rebuilding mode.

The World Series also had just reached a three-year run of winning teams having built themselves up through long and meticulous projects. And baseball, it is true, is a copycat business.

Well, the latest World Series featured two of the game's bigger spenders, in the eventual champion Red Sox and the runner-up (again) Dodgers.

So if the copycat line holds true, more owners will be willing to crack open their wallets this time around, with free agency underway.

It also helps that this year's class has a Really Big Two, in shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado and outfielder Bryce Harper, each of whom is a game-changing player only in their mid-20s. Depending on which experts you listen to, each could land a deal north of $300 million, which would obliterate last year's top deal, the $126 million the Cubs gave starter Yu Darvish over six years.

After those two, yes, it's a pretty steep drop off, though collectively, this year's Detroit News annual top 50 is significantly deeper than last year's.

The Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Phillies and Reds appear to be the early favorites to spend most freely, but there's something for just about everyone.

And who knows, there just might even be a prize or two in store for the cost-cutting Tigers.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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