OK, which closer will lose the game of free-agent musical chairs?
Jonathan Papelbon went to the Phillies. Joe Nathan went to the Rangers. Heath Bell is going to the Marlins.
The supply of closers remains strong, but the number of teams willing to spend heavily on one is dwindling.
Of the teams still in the market, perhaps only the Blue Jays and Red Sox are willing to make a sizable investment in a ninth-inning specialist – and the Red Sox are exploring every trade and free-agent possibility, hoping to get a bargain, according to a major-league source.
The other clubs in pure need of a closer – the Orioles, Rays, Twins, Reds, Mets and Padres – are more likely to go with less expensive options.
Certain teams are wild cards: The Nationals could sign a closer and trade Drew Storen. The Angels are looking for a third late-inning specialist to go with Jordan Walden and Scott Downs.
The Rangers still want more late-inning help even after signing Nathan. The Mariners could trade Brandon League. The White Sox could move Sergio Santos – or anyone else, for that matter.
The free-agent market, though, still includes numerous relievers with closing experience – most notably Ryan Madson, Francisco Rodriguez and Francisco Cordero, but also Frank Francisco, Matt Capps and Brad Lidge, and even Jon Rauch and Fernando Rodney.
Meanwhile, the Athletics are almost certain to trade Andrew Bailey - and if the Blue Jays or Red Sox get him, that will create even more of a scramble for well-paying jobs.
Rockies closer Huston Street and White Sox lefty Matt Thornton are among the late-inning relievers available in trades.
The great unknown in all this is K-Rod, and whether he will accept the Brewers’ offer of salary arbitration and remove himself from the free-agent market.
The Brewers know that they could take a $13 million hit if K-Rod accepts. But they also know that K-Rod does not want to be a setup man for John Axford.
The same agent, Scott Boras, represents both K-Rod and Madson. Stay tuned.