The Royals have done their part in uncluttering the free-agent market. But after they reunited ex-Cubs Travis Wood and Jason Hammel in the past week, there's still a long list of unsigned free agents looking for a team.
There are not many obvious fits in mid-February.
But there are still force-fits. Here's an attempt to put players in a situation where they could do the most good.
Matt Wieters: Rockies
Yes, we know all about the pitch-framing skills of Tony Wolters and the two-way talents of Tom Murphy, who showcased himself well when he got to Colorado last September. But the Cubs have shown us it's OK to have three catchers on a 25-man roster. There might not be as much playing time here for Wieters as with a team like the Angels or Brewers, but his work would be recognized if he helped the Rockies compete for a postseason spot. And if Murphy struggles, Wieters could prove invaluable working with Jon Gray and the rest of a young rotation.
Joe Blanton: Pirates
Bucs manager Clint Hurdle does a great job running his bullpen, but he has lost a couple right-handers (Mark Melancon and Neftali Feliz) since last summer and added only Daniel Hudson as a reliable replacement. Pittsburgh's front office just subtracted a good arm when Lisalverto Bonilla was put on waivers (and claimed by the Reds) to open up a spot for Phil Gosselin. Blanton would be a good piece alongside setup men Jared Hughes and Juan Nicasio.
Doug Fister: Yankees
The law of supply-and-demand works against the overload of starting pitchers on the market, all of whom come with questions. Now that Hammel and Wood are with the Royals, no team looking to contend more needs depth than the Yankees, and Fister seems a better bet to turn in a strong year than others on the list. He worked 180 innings for Houston last year. Fister could have a nice bounce-back year in him if Yanks pitching coach Larry Rothschild helps him regain feel for his curveball.
Ryan Howard: Astros
Yes, he hit .196 last season. But the 2006 National League Most Valuable Player Award winner showed late in the season that he's worth a look, delivering 11 homers and a .926 OPS in his last 39 games for the Phillies. As strong as it is, Houston's lineup tilts to the right side. There's room to fit Howard into a first base/DH mix with Yulieski Gurriel and Carlos Beltran, especially if Beltran plays left field occasionally. As enticing as the Crawford Boxes are, Minute Maid Park has played slightly better for left-handed power hitters than right-handed power hitters the past three years.
A.J. Pierzynski: Cardinals
While there's reason to love Carson Kelly, the 22-year-old has played only 32 games at Triple-A. Yadier Molina caught a career-high 146 games last year, in his age-33 season, and hopes to handle that workload in 2017. If anything happened to him, the Cardinals would have to turn to journeyman Eric Fryer, or hope that Kelly is ready. Pierzynski provides a long-haul option, and St. Louis' loaded lineup should be strong enough to handle his diminished production as a hitter. If he's willing to accept true backup status -- and he might prefer retirement -- then Pierzynski would be an excellent late addition.
Jorge De La Rosa: Padres
San Diego is the land of opportunity for starting pitchers, with one longtime Rockie (Jhoulys Chacin) already in the mix. Why not another one? De La Rosa, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, has made 100 of his 241 career starts at Coors Field, displaying his survival skills. He has earned the chance to spend a season at Petco Park, where he's compiled a 3.22 ERA over his career. The front five in San Diego's rotation is currently a mix of Chacin, Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill, Christian Friedrich and Paul Clemens. De La Rosa might earn an Opening Day start if he gets a chance.
Pedro Alvarez: Rangers
For the first time in his career, Alvarez delivered an OPS above .800 in 2016. He hasn't been rewarded for the feat, in part because he struck out too often and mostly was used as a DH. The Rangers made a big move by signing Mike Napoli, but Alvarez seems likely to produce more than James Loney or Josh Hamilton, who they've imported on Minor League deals. Alvarez would be perfect as a sign-and-flip candidate for the White Sox, but they don't seem eager to add pieces who could improve their 2017 team as they eye the '18 Draft.
Angel Pagan: Pirates
The Giants gave him 1,094 plate appearances the past two seasons before deciding it was time to turn the page and see what Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson can do. Pagan heads toward his age-35 season not knowing who he'll play for, other than Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. He'd be a depth piece for Pittsburgh but potentially a valuable one, eliminating the need to rush Austin Meadows if one of the Bucs' regular outfielders gets hurt. Pagan is not an explosive player, but he is solid.
Jacob Peavy: Nationals
Entering his age-36 season, there's not a lot left in Peavy's tank. But he showed with both the Giants and Red Sox that he can be valuable for long stretches, and he compiled a serviceable 4.19 ERA over 432 innings the past three seasons. He could play a fifth-starter/swingman role with Washington, which cut into its pitching depth by dealing Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito to get Adam Eaton. Peavy relieved some last year for the Giants, and he could fit into Dusty Baker's bullpen even if there's no need in the rotation.
Colby Lewis: Athletics
Daniel Mengden's foot surgery was a blow to Oakland's early-season depth. Lewis has had his own health issues of course, but he finished 2016 strong. He'd strengthen Bob Melvin's rotation and could prove especially valuable as either a candidate to be flipped midseason or to provide veteran experience if Sonny Gray is traded.