Jonathan Papelbon was the first to strike this off-season. Heath Bell is the latest. One by one, the closers are coming off of the available list, leaving only a handful left wondering when they're going to find their home in the back of some team's bullpen. The only issue is that there are still too many standing for the spots that are available -- meaning when the market finally settles a bit later this winter, some are going to be frustrated.
Heath Bell just landed with the Miami Marlins for $9 million a year. Joe Nathan landed $7+ million a year from the Texas Rangers. Papelbon grabbed over $12 million a year from the Phillies. The elite closers are finding their value dropping a bit and the trade market doesn't help either. In other words, for players like Francisco Cordero, Matt Capps, Ryan Madson and Francisco Rodriguez among several others, there's still too many closers to choose from with solid closing experience.
This doesn't even consider the ones available via trade. Oakland is shopping Andrew Bailey. Huston Street can be had from the Colorado Rockies. The Royals just signed Jon Broxton and have Joakim Soria as a possible trade candidate.
In short, this is a buyer's market and it's amazing that the closers who have already signed got what they did. Nathan struck the best deal for an older player coming off of major surgery. Bell and Papelbon are elite closers and those types will still get their money. Cordero and Madson in particular will still cash in. As for others like Frank Francisco, Darren Oliver and Takashi Saito, they'd be wise to take a one year deal and re-enter the market next season. That's exactly the route that Broxton took, and he secured $4 million guaranteed.
For those teams willing to wait until pitchers and catchers are ready to report to Spring Training, they might find a solid bargain still on the store shelf. It's just that kind of year for the closer market.