Yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors posted the newest set of reverse engineered Elias free agent rankings. Here’s a look at a few notable would be Type A free agents if the season ended today.
Carl Pavano, Minnesota Twins
Carl Pavano’s Type B ranking put the Twins in a win-win situation last year. An arbitration offer would either result in a supplemental draft choice or a low-risk, one year deal with a solid pitcher. Pavano was projected be roughly league average entering the season, but has posted a 3.88 FIP in the first half this year. ZiPS still only projects a 4.20 FIP going forward, but there’s reason to believe that he has recovered from the injuries that plagued his New York Yankees career and can continue to pitch at the level he’s established since joining the Twins in the middle of 2009.
Pavano is anywhere between a 2-3.5 win pitcher going forward, and as such is likely worth whatever he would get in arbitration were he to accept. That seems unlikely given his success this season. If he were to decline, the return on their investment – Yohan Pino, currently with a 4.48 FIP in AAA – could be an excellent 2010 out of Pavano along with two high draft picks. That’s certainly better than most imagined when Pavano was acquired in a waiver deal last season.
Adrian Beltre, Boston Red Sox
Beltre’s contract situation is quite odd. If he reaches 640 plate appearances – very possible, given his 329 PA total after July 4th – his player option for 2011 escalates from $5 million to $10 million. Still, given Beltre’s success this year, with a .373 wOBA and his ever excellent defense, the most likely situation would be for Beltre to decline his player option, becoming a free agent, and, if I understand my contract rules correctly, allowing Boston to offer Beltre arbitration. Much like with Pavano, the Red Sox could truly have a haul with this contract. Either they negotiate long term and get a great player in Beltre in Boston for the next few years, or they pay $10 million total for a fantastic 2010 season and two more high draft picks in 2011. Beltre is certainly making Theo Epstein look good this season.
Beltre, like Pavano, is making the jump from Type B to Type A. The combined value of a first round pick (picks 16-30, as the top 15 are protected) and a supplemental pick is about $7.5 million, according to Victor Wang’s research. Of course, we can’t expect a team with an unprotected pick to sign these players – with that accounted for, the Type A draft picks are valued at around $3-5 million. That’s still a major pickup for these general managers in Pavano and Beltre, on top of the solid production from each.
There are, of course, many other Type A’s in the AL who will be hitting the market. A.J. Pierzynski could be the next Jermaine Dye; Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford will certainly demand huge contracts. Victor Martinez‘s contract will run out. Johnny Damon is projected as a Type B at the moment but is very close to A classification. For anyone interested in the free agent market, these rankings will be important to watch as the season winds down.