The pieces of the free-agent puzzle are coming together, and there's no doubt right-hander Joel Pineiro would like a piece of the action. The same could be said for Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherer, Aroldis Chapman and a host of other hurlers still looking for jobs in 2010.
Those who make their living in the batter's box are likely keeping a close eye on the developments between Matt Holliday, the top free-agent slugger on the market, and the Cardinals. Certainly, where he lands will affect the other big outfielder on the market, Jason Bay, who reportedly declined a four-year, $60 million dollar offer from Boston.
Some of the reality is sinking in, but a lot of rumors and rumblings remain to be heard in the coming weeks.
Where the remaining pitchers go is still to be determined. What their contracts will look like is starting to take shape.
As the top free-agent pitcher on the market this winter, Lackey's deal with Boston, reportedly worth $82.5 million over five years, set the high-water mark. Wolf, a serviceable starter who has a career record of 101-85 in 11 seasons, likely set another standard for midlevel pitchers when he signed a three-year contract with the Brewers for a guaranteed $29.75 million.
There are reports Sheets is seeking a multiyear deal worth $11 million to $12 million per season and that Pineiro wants a four-year deal with a higher annual salary than Wolf. ESPN reports that Chapman already has an offer worth $15.5 million on the table from the Red Sox. The Cuban pitcher threw in front of scouts from over a dozen teams Tuesday in Houston.
Pitchers Pedro Martinez, Erik Bedard, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson and Brett Myers are also looking to find their place on the market.
The way Lackey's deal is setting the top of the market for pitchers this winter, Holliday could do the same for hitters.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are willing to commit $16 million a season for the next eight years to keep Holliday. The backup plan in St. Louis is utilityman Mark DeRosa, who is being sought by other clubs for his versatility, but Holliday is clearly the Redbirds' first choice.
"Obviously, his bat in our lineup changed it," Cards general manager John Mozeliak said Friday. "So when you consider that, we thought he was a key component."
Meanwhile, the Yankees, Mets and Mariners have all expressed interest in Bay, but the Yankees reportedly won't go beyond a two-year contract for the left fielder.
For their part, the Red Sox also signed Mike Cameron, in addition to Lackey, and appear to have a few movable pieces (namely, pitcher Clay Buchholz and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury) if they decide to make a run at San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. There is speculation that the Red Sox are also interested in free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre.
That's right, the fun could just be getting started in Beantown.
In Anaheim, the Angels reached an agreement with designated hitter Hideki Matsui on a one-year, $6.5 million deal. The signing might set the benchmark for designated hitters and almost assuredly marks the end of an era for former Angels designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero.
Guerrero, who has been linked to the Rangers, could also sign a one-year deal but is said to be seeking a two-year contract. Other possible DH candidates looking for jobs are Jermaine Dye and Carlos Delgado.
"You can turn left, you can turn right, you can look up and down, and you've got a DH sitting right there begging for a job," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said last week. "The DH market, you've got opportunity there. You should be able to take advantage of that if you're a club."
But like the Red Sox, the Angels could make another move. The club needs a fifth starter, and FOXSports.com reports the club is a front-runner to make a trade with Atlanta for Derek Lowe. The Angels have also been linked to Pineiro and Sheets, according to reports. The emergence of Brandon Wood at third base could offset the loss of Chone Figgins to the Mariners, and the possible re-signing of Darren Oliver could help stabilize the bullpen.
Oliver is part of a strong class of relievers still on the market that includes Jose Valverde, Mike Gonzalez, Fernando Rodney and Octavio Dotel.
Bengie Molina remains the most coveted catcher on the free-agent market, and Rod Barajas is not far behind. It's certain both catchers are aware of Ivan Rodriguez's and Jason Kendall's two-year, $6 million deals with the Nationals and Royals, respectively, to serve as backups.
Veteran infielders Orlando Hudson, Miguel Tejada and Felipe Lopez are also still for hire in this evolving winter market.
The rumors will surely continue to swirl, but reality is also starting to set in.