The signings of Willie McGee, Terry Pendleton and Dennis Martinez have led to all sorts of other possibilities in the frenzied free agent market.
With some of the big names now on the dotted line, serious bids might be finalized soon for Bob Welch, Teddy Higuera, Zane Smith and George Bell.McGee was the big winner on Monday when he signed a four-year deal for $13 million with the San Francisco Giants.
Even though he finished the season with American League champion Oakland, McGee ended up winning the National League batting title with a .335 average for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cards feared they could not sign McGee and traded the speedy outfielder to the A's on Aug. 29 for outfielder Felix Jose and two minor leaguers. McGee left Oakland because manager Tony La Russa could not guarantee an everyday job.
"Willie McGee wants to wake up in the morning knowing he's in the lineup," La Russa said. "With Dave Henderson in center, I couldn't promise that."
The Giants feared center fielder Brett Butler would be declared a new-look free agent and general manager Al Rosen was not prepared to pay his asking price of $15 million for four years.
Butler, who will probably be a free agent by Thursday, will be a hot property. Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets have expressed an interest and both have the bucks to spend.
The Dodgers have already signed Darryl Strawberry to a $20.25 million deal for five years, but would rather he played right field instead of center.
To make up the loss of Strawberry, the Mets are trying to sign free agent Vince Coleman to play left and may also go after Butler.
Pendleton, a teammate of Coleman and McGee, left the Cardinals on Monday when he signed a four-year deal with the Atlanta Braves for $9.8 million. The switch-hitting third baseman batted .230 with six homers and 58 RBIs for the Cardinals last season in 121 games.
Pendleton, when healthy, is among the best defensive third basemen in baseball. Three times he has led the NL in assists and twice he has won a Gold Glove award.
The Braves needed a third baseman since Jim Presley became a free agent and indicated he would not return. Presley may end up in San Diego.
Like Butler, the Expos were concerned Martinez would leave if he was declared a new-look free agent. He re-signed with Montreal on Monday for $9.25 million over three years.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were considering going after Martinez if they lost Zane Smith. But since Martinez stayed in Montreal, the Pirates may increase their $7 million-plus offer over three years to the left-hander.
Smith is also being pursued by the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds. By the time it's all over, he may end up with close to $8.5 million for three years.
In another free agent signing on Monday, the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a three-year deal with right-hander Kevin Gross for $6.4 million. Gross is 80 -90 in eight seasons with Philadelphia and Montreal. Gross was 9-12 for the Expos last season and opponents hit .272 against him.
Two more free agents signed late Monday night when veteran outfielder Willie Wilson agreed to a two-year deal with the A's and right-hander Bill Gullickson agreed to a two-year deal with the Detroit Tigers.
Wilson, 35, was released by Kansas City after 15 seasons. He is a .290 career hitter and the Royals' all-time stolen base leader.
The next big winner could be Welch, and he figures to either stay in Oakland or go to the Chicago White Sox. It may take about $16 million over four years to do it, though.
Welch won 27 games in helping the A's win their third consecutive AL pennant and was selected the Cy Young Award winner.
George Bell, who slumped to 21 homers last season for Toronto, is looking for the $3 million range, and the Chicago Cubs are interested.
The Milwaukee Brewers met with Higuera's agent on Monday, and manager Tom Trebelhorn thought the chances were "excellent" that the right-hander would stay.
There was only one minor deal on Monday as the New York Yankees sent outfielder Oscar Azocar to the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later.
Commissioner Fay Vincent was unable to attend the meetings because of a respiratory illness, but the text of his state of the game address was released.
For the immediate future, Vincent lists negotiations with the umpires and expansion fees allocation as baseball's most pressing problems.