Finding value in a relievers market

Updated: December 1, 2011, 11:26 AM ET
By Buster Olney

The Philadelphia Phillies' $50 million signing of Jonathan Papelbon sent reverberations throughout the baseball industry, that continue today as other elite closers continue to see similar deals -- guys such as Heath Bell, Ryan Madson and Francisco Rodriguez.

You could draw a direct line from Papelbon's four-year deal to Joe Nathan's two-year, $14.5 million deal with the Texas Rangers because this was Texas making a move on the best of the B group -- the good relievers who are, because of age or injury or inexperience, more modestly priced. Jonathan Broxton fit that description, and the Kansas City Royals signed him for $4 million to be their setup man. In the days ahead, you can look for more of these kinds of relievers to come off the board. Some candidates:

David Aardsma: He had 31 saves in 2010 but missed last season after having surgery. Aardsma is just 29 years old.

Juan Cruz: He had great matchup numbers against left-handed hitters and often was used for one- or two-out appearances.

Octavio Dotel: The right-hander had a nice showing in 2011 and can fill a number of roles; his preference has been to go back to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Frank Francisco: The good news is that he can fill any role, from closer to match-up right-hander; right-handers hit just .177 against him last season.