Starters with same agents could push prices

Updated: December 5, 2009, 5:15 PM ET
By Buster Olney
Chone Figgins is generally regarded as the third-best position player on the market, behind Matt Holliday and Jason Bay, and the fact that he is signing with Seattle for less than $10 million a year tells you that the salaries for position players continue to come down. Figgins' contract is not good news for the second layer of corner infielders, but also not for corner outfielders like Johnny Damon or Jermaine Dye. Figgins' OPS outside of Yankee Stadium is almost identical to that of Damon (Figgins is at .789, Damon .795), and Figgins is four years younger than Damon and is an excellent and versatile defensive player.

But the pitching market is probably going to be stronger, because unlike the corner outfield market -- where there are literally a couple of dozen options -- there is a relatively small core group making up the second tier of free-agent starters who rank below John Lackey. Those would be Randy Wolf, Joel Pineiro, Jason Marquis, Vicente Padilla, Rich Harden and Brad Penny.

There is relatively high demand, but less supply than the corner outfield, and on top of that, there is a dynamic in play that could help to push the prices of the second-tier pitchers: Most of them are represented by an affiliated group of agents.

Penny's listed agent is Scott Parker, and Marquis is represented by the Levinson brothers. But Wolf -- who is generally looked at as the second-best starter in this market -- is represented by the group of agents that includes Arn Tellem, Tom Reich, Adam Katz and others. And so are Pineiro, Harden and Padilla. This will make it much, much tougher for an interested team to play one of the pitchers against the other in negotiations. The Brewers figure to land one of the second-tier pitchers, and so too, will the Mets.