As a Mariner fan, I was searching for a distraction yesterday. The terrible news of Greg Halman‘s death this morning weighs heavily and I wanted to think about anything else for a little bit. There is no proper transition to the run-of-the-mill machinations of the baseball offseason. Any attempt seems glib and unimportant; because it is. Baseball is just a game and countlessly more important things will happen and be ignored today than a rumor about Andrew Bailey, but it gave me an escape for a moment.
It’s not that the rumor or tweet itself is of much importance. The Athletics are shopping Andrew Bailey around and in a seller’s market for closers, appear likely to trade him. That is hardly a surprise. Andrew Bailey is really good and valuably cost-controlled for the next couple years. Of course teams are interested.
However, the rumor kicked off a thread in my brain and I realized something. Under the new CBA, free agent compensation has changed and a direct consequence is that almost all relief pitchers will fall outside Type A now and in the future. It used to be that if you were a team that believed it to be in need of an outside closer, you could dip into free agency, but have to pay market price and likely surrender a high draft pick. Or you could attempt to trade for a closer, pay less salary, keep your draft picks and even have a chance to add some when said closer went to free agency.
|Cost||salary + draft pick||players|
|Benefit||closer||closer + lower salary + future picks|
Baseball is not a perfectly efficient market given its powers of exclusivity, but the front offices are, for the most part, rational actors. Costs and benefits had to be roughly equaled for transactions to occur Also, the cost-benefit of a free agent closer had to approximate the cost-benefit of a traded for closer or the market would tilt heavily toward one until something compensated. The market has now shifted from the above to this.
|Benefit||closer||closer + lower salary|
The draft picks are gone from the equation and the scales are wobbling. I expect two actions to occur. Removed from the additional cost of forfeiting a draft pick, salaries for free agent closers will rise. Secondly, with the possible benefit of future compensation gone, teams should offer less in trades for relievers. It probably will not happen right away, but that’s my guess. I’m curious how, or if, that affects the market for Bailey and others.