MLB free agency: How the crowded DH market could begin to thin

Jorge Soler, despite his having hit the ninth-most home runs overall this season, is still widely available on the waiver wire. Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

The working theory among some agents in December was that once Shohei Ohtani picked a team, the market for corner guys -- corner outfielders, corner infielders, designated hitter types -- would loosen, with clubs that lost out on the Ohtani bidding turning to alternatives.

That conjecture has faded over the past 50 days, with many of the same free agents still unsigned, still hoping for some thaw in what many on the player side see as a hard wall of groupthought. The offers are similar, agents say. "How many free agents have signed really good contracts?" one player representative said before answering his own question. "Josh Hader. Aaron Nola. Ohtani. [Yoshinobu] Yamamoto. [Robert] Stephenson got a good one."

What about James Paxton, the oft-injured lefty who got a one-year deal for about $11 million from the Dodgers? "It's a one-year deal!" the agent countered. "That's not a great contract!"

That remains especially true in the market for sluggers, though there is plenty of need among teams. After missing out on Ohtani, the Toronto Blue Jays went hard for Joc Pederson, who landed with the Arizona Diamondbacks for $12.5 million. The Los Angeles Angels need to cover some of the production lost with Ohtani's departure and are looking at various DH/first-base options, such as Joey Votto. The Boston Red Sox seemingly have a hole at DH, and the San Francisco Giants remain starved for offense. Agents view the Mariners, Padres and Marlins as clubs that need some thunder. The Texas Rangers have a spot to fill, now that Mitch Garver has moved on, and are talking about an intriguing veteran.