The official Elias free agent compensation rankings were released earlier today. For those unaware, these rankings essentially determine the draft compensation (if any) a player’s previous team will recover based on a few criteria. For one, the former team must offer the player arbitration or have the player sign before the arbitration offering deadline. From there, Type-A players who sign with a team outside of the top half of round one will see their new team surrender their first round pick and their old team receive said pick as well as a compensatory pick in the supplemental round. If a player signed with a team in the top half, then the old team will receive a compensatory pick and the team’s second rounder. If one team signs enough Type-As, it’s conceivable another team could receive only a third round pick for their Type-A free agent, like Toronto with A.J. Burnett last year.
Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Florida, Kansas City, Milwaukee, New York (N), Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Texas, and Washington take no part in the fun this year, although most of those teams have at least one Type-B free agent on their hands.
Some names, like Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, and John Lackey are no doubters. There are a few players, notably Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Betancourt, and Jermaine Dye who have an option holding them up from free agency. Then, there are players like LaTroy Hawkins, Kevin Gregg, Bengie Molina and John Grabow who raise more questions about the process and rankings than anything else.
Go to the Type-Bs and you run into some fun comparisons. For instance, did you know, that if Carl Crawford’s option weren’t exercised earlier, he would have the same compensation necessary to sign Scott Eyre, Jason Kendall, and Fernando Tatis? Or that Chan Ho Park is equal to Melvin Mora and Miguel Olivo. Or – this one is the best – Adrian Beltre is equal to Xavier Nady and Jason Varitek.
Most teams are going to take advantage of the system underrating players like they always do. This free agent market doesn’t figure to be as strong as last year’s, and remember how long it took for Type-A players like Juan Cruz to finally land deals? Unless their original teams step into the fold, it’s going to be a long winter for players like Darren Oliver, John Grabow, and LaTroy Hawkins; or maybe just a long winter for the fans of a few teams who give up a first or second rounder for their rights.