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12/07/08 10:00 AM EST

Starters aplenty this offseason

Sabathia's deal expected to set bar for free-agent pitchers

The biggest chip in a loaded market of starting pitchers has had more than three weeks to mull over whether to sign his name to a $140 million contract, a wonderful luxury that nearly none of us will ever experience.

So who can blame CC Sabathia for enjoying his time as a free agent? While the Yankees would have loved to hear a quick response to their initial bid, Sabathia leads a pack of available players in which the pitchers appear firmly in control of their own destinies.

It is no secret that pitching wins championships, something that the 30 Major League teams continue to keep in mind as they restock their roster for improvement in 2009.

While the world waits for Sabathia to decide his own fate and if he wishes to become the game's best-compensated hurler, the rest of the pitching market is watching with open eyes.

As soon as one leaves the pack, a domino effect could follow, finally doling out the logos that will grace next year's packs of baseball cards, to say nothing of the future All-Star teams.

Here is a quick glance at the biggest names drawing interest on the pitching market:

CC Sabathia

Teams interested: Angels, Brewers, Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, Yankees

Latest chatter: The Yankees want Sabathia more than he seems to want them; why else sit on such a huge offer for so long? The California native reportedly prefers the West Coast and the National League. That won't stop the Red Sox from at least checking in.

What is he waiting for? Sabathia owes it to himself to see if the Angels or Giants, particularly, will jump into the fray. The Yankees' offer probably won't be exceeded, but he may be willing to give a home-state discount.

He'll sign during WM if ... Agent Greg Genske hears what Sabathia really is looking for, and wants to completely dominate the week in Las Vegas.

A.J. Burnett

Teams interested: Blue Jays, Braves, Orioles, Phillies, Red Sox, Yankees

Latest chatter: The Braves may be willing to go where no other club will, offering an easily attainable fifth year in a contract that could be worth as much as $75 million. Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi admits that Burnett is likely gone.

What is he waiting for? Burnett's wish for a guaranteed fifth year scared some suitors away, but Atlanta's willingness to at least discuss 2013 opened the gates somewhat.

He'll sign during WM if ... A big league club steps to the plate with the right dollar amount and a guaranteed pact for that fifth year.

Jake Peavy

Teams interested: Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees

Latest chatter: The Cubs are hot and heavy on Peavy's trail, as the Padres are resigned that they will be trading their ace by Opening Day. The Braves turned their attention to Burnett.

What is he waiting for? The Cubs may be waiting to see if they can acquire an outfield bat, and their unsettled ownership situation isn't helping push things along.

He'll move during WM if ... Chicago can get a third team involved for a swap that provides San Diego with experienced players, and Peavy agrees to waive his no-trade clause.

Derek Lowe

Teams interested: Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Red Sox, Yankees

Latest chatter: An American League East bidding war could be in store. Agent Scott Boras discussed Lowe with the Yankees, and it's no secret Lowe was fond of his time with the Red Sox, who would like him back. The Phillies have reportedly discussed parameters.

What is he waiting for? A contract offer that goes beyond three years -- Philadelphia's cap -- would be a winning bid. Lowe also could wait to see where Sabathia or Burnett signs to help set the market.

He'll move during WM if ... Sabathia and/or Burnett pose for photos with new jerseys, and Lowe's name comes up next on the must-sign pitching list. If Philadelphia can't sign Jamie Moyer, their urgency increases.

Oliver Perez

Teams interested: Braves, Mets, Yankees

Latest chatter: Boras is doing his best to sell Perez to teams interested in pitching. The lefty's name reportedly came up in discussion with the Yankees last week.

What is he waiting for? Perez should settle somewhere in the second wave of free-agent pitchers to be signed after the biggest names come off the list. With Boras as his representative, a quick signing seems unlikely.

He'll move during WM if ... A few of the big names like Sabathia and Burnett fall off the list first, and someone wants to move quickly. Boras spoke this summer about a deal of five years; that ballpark probably won't be reached for Perez.

Randy Wolf

Teams interested: Astros, Dodgers, Yankees

Latest chatter: Negotiations have slowed between Wolf and the Astros, as Houston still tries to evaluate how much payroll it will have to work with.

What is he waiting for? The Astros have frozen talks for at least a week, but it is known that a multiyear deal could be on the table.

He'll move during WM if ... Houston reenters the picture armed with such a deal, or the door is opened for another team to swoop in.

Andy Pettitte

Teams interested: Astros, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees

Latest chatter: Pettitte wants to return to the Yankees, and the Yankees want him. The hold-up is a matter of salary -- Pettitte rejected an initial one-year, $10 million offer.

What is he waiting for? Pettitte earned $16 million in '07 and '08, and his agents Randy and Alan Hendricks are working to help him avoid a pay cut. The Dodgers have some interest, but manager Joe Torre said that he believes Pettitte will be in New York.

He'll move during WM if ... The Yankees come back closer to the $16 million sum, or if he can be otherwise convinced. Pettitte has said he wants to pitch in the new Yankee Stadium and would retire rather than go elsewhere.

Ben Sheets

Teams interested: Astros, Brewers, Rangers, Yankees

Latest chatter: Sheets picked an unfortunate time to suffer an elbow injury, which puts him in the stand-by line as the bigger names fall off the list. His reliability is a concern.

What is he waiting for? Sheets seems to believe he will be able to do better than the one-year, $11 million deal he could have had from the Brewers through arbitration.

He'll move during WM if ... A new club comes prepared with a multiyear contract -- perhaps as little as two -- and the type of money Sheets is looking for.

Jon Garland

Teams interested: Angels, Braves, Mets

Latest chatter: The Angels' offer of arbitration to Garland could paint their intentions somewhat with regard to a pursuit, or lack thereof, to Sabathia.

What is he waiting for? Garland may be able to get more on the open market, as supporters will tout his durability, inning-eating abilities and win totals. He'd have to hope teams look past his ERA and strikeout ratio.

He'll move during WM if ... He accepts the Angels' arbitration offer and looks to score a deal near the $12 million he made in '08.

Brad Penny

Teams interested: Blue Jays, Cardinals, Rangers, Red Sox

Latest chatter: Penny is hoping to prove that he can return to top condition after his shoulder bothered him for most of the '08 season.

What is he waiting for? Penny may yet emerge as an option to teams which had an eye on Ryan Dempster and still might be keeping an eye on Burnett. He is younger than either (he does not turn 31 until May 24), and went 32-13 in 2006-07 for the Dodgers before having last season ruined by right shoulder problems.

He'll move during WM if ... Penny's option for '09 was $9.25 million, and he received a $2 million buyout from the Dodgers. Any offer in that ballpark could be intriguing.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.