The Yankees also have been among the teams wooing Ben Sheets, who if he hadn't struggled with injury over the years might be 1-AA in that group. They've even stuck their nose in again on the Jake Peavy trade talks, though that appears to be a dead end.
They're not going to get them all, are they? OK, they might. There remains talent out there beyond those three top free agents, though it drops off considerably from there, and the market isn't exactly teeming.
Randy Johnson has drawn interest from as many as eight teams, including both Bay Area clubs and the Dodgers. John Smoltz reportedly has the Mets, Red Sox and Tigers in his sights, and younger veterans like Brad Penny, Jon Garland and Oliver Perez are out there as well. Andy Pettitte could be looking for a job outside the Bronx, too.
The teams that wanted Sabathia and lost out, they're all over the map from here. Plan B has a different translation in Wisconsin than it does in California.
In Milwaukee, the Brewers have made it clear they are not suddenly going to take the $100 million they would have paid Sabathia and spread it elsewhere. They obviously remain in the market for a starter with not only Sabathia gone but most likely Sheets, the ace for a half-decade before CC arrived.
They're said to be looking at the Rangers' Kevin Millwood via trade, but after that, it's more the likes of Carl Pavano or Randy Wolf on the free-agent market, not the bigger guns -- and that probably includes Sheets if he wants more than one year, and of course he does. Trade routes could include a venture Northwest to his old buddy Jack Zduriencik, the new GM in Seattle, who needs hitting (Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy) in his first winter away from Melvin's front office in Milwaukee.
On the West Coast, the mood is a little different -- CC clearly was California Dreamin', and so were the suitors.
The Angels admitted afterward they knew it was never going to happen, and the Dodgers never seemed fully engaged, with manager Joe Torre calling it a "tease." Unlike the Angels, the Dodgers still have a need for a veteran starter, but they're not expected to aim at the highest row on the salary chart there -- more along the lines of Johnson or Pettitte.
The Giants, meanwhile, considered Sabathia a "fallback" option (read: not a chance), and while they might go after Johnson or even Sheets, it's not exactly an area of need with National League Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and the Sabathia of a few years ago, Barry Zito. So maybe a Pavano or Wolf would make more sense.
So who is going to make some noise in the starter market? Besides the Yankees, that is? The Red Sox certainly might jump in and duke it out for Burnett, and the Braves don't appear ready to stand idly by there, either. The Rangers have made overtures to Sheets and to Johnson, and there's something about a big, hard-throwing starter that rings a bell there -- that would be Nolan Ryan, the club president.
The reality is that once the Yankees were in on Sabathia, pretty much everybody else was preparing to move on. Now it's time to move on, and there's some moving on to be done.