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The Globe and Mail

Blair: Pitching expected to be on the block at MLB winter meetings

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland pitches to the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning in Game 4 of MLB's World Series baseball championship in Arlington, Texas, October 23, 2011.


With middle of the rotation, free-agent pitchers such as Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson expected to command above-market contracts this off-season, it stands to reason that some general managers will test the trade market for their own pitchers.

The Opryland lobby was rife with speculation Sunday that pitchers such as Homer Bailey, Derek Holland and possibly one of either James Shields or even David Price will be put on the market by their respective teams. It's understandable, since the best free-agent pitcher on the market, Zack Greinke, is expected to break Matt Cain's record for the largest-ever contract signed by a right-hander, which likely means he's out of the reach of any team other than the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers or Texas Rangers.

The Toronto Blue Jays, despite their 12-player mega-deal with the Miami Marlins, are still being linked with Canadian-born, free-agent pitcher Ryan Dempster. But they'll have competition, with the Minnesota Twins, Arizona

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Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers also interested. A Blue Jays source said it was doubtful the team would get into a bidding war for a fifth starter, which is what Dempster would seem to be at this stage of his career.

The first signing of the meetings was made formal Sunday night when the Tampa Bay Rays signed James Loney to a $2-million deal with an additional $1-million in incentives.

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