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Week Ahead: Lots left to do once Yule is done

It was a headline writer's dream. Two days before Christmas, the Cleveland Indians and their new manager, Terry Francona, landed one of the best hitters left in this winter's free-agent market.

So the websites and papers billed it as "Merry Swish-mas" and "Here Comes St. Nick" and anything else clever describing the arrival of Nick Swisher into the Tribe's lineup and outfield at this most festive time of the season, and with a freshly inked four-year, $56 million deal in his sanitary stocking, Swisher was on his way to Progressive Field.

Meanwhile, the baseball world appeared to have completed its last feverish trip to the proverbial mall in time to settle down and do little but sip eggnog and watch the yule log burn until the wee hours of 2013.

But even though Monday and Tuesday might be off limits for baseball transactions, there's still the rest of the week, and there's still plenty of roster renovation to be done throughout the Grand Old Game. And as we've already seen this winter, there's seemingly no limit to the creativity of today's general managers.

Take the impending deal that could likely become official later this week after Santa's footprints are swept up and all the wrapping paper has been cleared out from under the tree, for example. Reports indicate that Joel Hanrahan will be the latest big arm to enter the Red Sox bullpen, with as many as four players going back to Pittsburgh and Boston's closer role undefined heading into Spring Training.

And what about Jason Kubel? Or, for that matter, Justin Upton? The D-backs pulled something of a surprise by adding free-agent signee Cody Ross to what looked like an already-crowded outfield, leading observers to surmise that Kubel or Upton could be moved soon, maybe even before the new year.

Arizona GM Kevin Towers was predictably noncommittal about his future poker moves, but it would seem that something's gotta give, and pretty soon.

"If we start the season with [Gerardo] Parra and Kubel and Ross and Upton, we're in good shape, and we've still got our depth with [Adam] Eaton down below," Towers said. "If somebody presents us with a deal that we think improves our club, or the right type of prospects, then we'll consider it."

Yep, there should be plenty more "considering" going on in the coming weeks, maybe even later this week. Although the signing of Swisher took another big bat off the board, there are quite a few remaining, plus a surplus of starters and relievers looking for secure, multiyear, more-than-profitable employment in 2013.

Speedy outfielder Michael Bourn moves into the headliner status for position players, a list that also includes first baseman Adam LaRoche, veteran stick Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, Delmon Young, Scott Hairston and Kelly Johnson.

The Nationals were reported to be inching closer to a deal with LaRoche, and if that agreement does indeed become official, Washington could shop slugger Michael Morse for pitching prospects.

In the pitching department, there's right-hander Kyle Lohse, who's coming off a resurgent two years in St. Louis, including a career campaign in 2012, when he went 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA and a career-high 211 innings.

Lohse turned down the Cardinals' one-year qualifying offer of more than $13 million in November, and it seems like a good decision given that the market leader, Zack Greinke, got $147 million over six years from the Dodgers and other pitchers with similar or lesser resumes have scored big deals, such as Ryan Dempster getting two years and $26.5 million from Boston and Joe Blanton getting two years and $15 million from the Angels.

Lohse turned 34 in October, however, so it will be telling to see how many years he gets, and that could very well topple the remaining starting pitching dominoes, with Shaun Marcum, Joe Saunders and Brett Myers among those left on the board.

Then there's the relief market, which is still stocked as we swing closer to January.

Rafael Soriano heads the class of closers and late-inning firemen, and he is joined by Brian Wilson, Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Jose Valverde, Kyle Farnsworth, Francisco Rodriguez and J.P. Howell, among others. These pitchers surely grinned like children on Christmas morning as they watched Mike Adams ink a two-year deal with Philadelphia for $12 million, Jonathan Broxton sign his three-year, $21 million contract with the Reds, and Brandon League put his John Hancock on a three-year, $22 million deal with the Dodgers.

In other words, there are plenty of bucks out there on the holiday horizon, a lot of fine print to be sifted through, and a lot that could happen soon.

Maybe even this week.