The Indians, Pirates and Mets, who have long had interest in Cooperstown-bound pitcher Pedro Martinez, have been joined by the Dodgers. And according to Martinez's agent Fern Cuza, a couple more additional teams have recently entered the mix.
Martinez apparently sparked extra interest with a scoreless cameo for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
But while executives with four different teams tell SI.com that they're interested at some price, that price still may not be Pedro's price, which is between $5 million and $8 million, according to those executives.
Baseball executives with three of the interested teams suggest a gap remains between Pedro's figures and what they're willing to pay. Martinez's asking price could be considered reasonable given the $5 million guaranteed deals that John Smoltz and Brad Penny got, said two executives, but both suggested the sinking economy and completed payrolls may make that a reach now.
Martinez has said publicly that he wouldn't pitch for as little as $1 million guaranteed, and would instead prefer to remain on his fishing boat if he can't get what he believes he's worth. But his performance in the WBC and expanded interest should guarantee he'll easily beat that figure, even in a brutal and worsening market.
Cuza said he would begin sorting out the interest early next week with callbacks to the interested teams. In some cases, it may take a GM going back to his owner to request an expanded budget.
One club executive said he believes Martinez prefers the National League, but Cuza characterized Martinez's thinking as "open'' to other alternatives.
"What he's looking for is a chance to win,'' Cuza said.
Martinez enhanced his chances to get closer to what he seeks with a very nice three-inning performance for the Dominican Republic before it was shockingly eliminated by the Dominican Republic
"Pedro feels better than his first year with the Mets,'' Cuza said.
The agent declined to name or confirm any of the interested teams, but baseball executives say Los Angeles, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and the Mets all have some level of interest.
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti and manager Joe Torre publicly spoke of some interest within the last few days. The Dodgers were mentioned as a potential match on SI.com a month ago.
The Indians "have an eye on Pedro but are tapped out (financially),'' according to someone familiar with their situation.
The Pirates are monitoring the situation but also aren't believed likely to meet Martinez's asking price.
Martinez has said he'd love to go back to the Mets, but he and New York remain far enough apart financially that that scenario seems fairly remote. Martinez, who made $53 million in his four years in New York, has fans in the organization in GM Omar Minaya and pitching guru Guy Conti. But right now the Mets are most seriously considering Livan Hernandez plus youngsters Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell for their fifth starting job. Should Martinez's price drop, the Mets still might get back into the mix, however.