In 2006, the major league baseball collective bargaining agreement scrapped Type C free agents, modified what it meant to be a Type A free agent and then gave us Type B free agents, affording the former employer a “sandwich” pick (thus, it no doubt should be referred to as the Eno Sarris pick) between the first and second rounds. This rule was first put into effect in 2007. A moderate amount of chaos ensued.
As the collective bargaining agreement is being currently re-worked, there have been rumors that Type-B free agents will be done away with, that Type-B compensation picks will be done away with, or both (we’ve recently learned that there will be Type-B free agents for this off-season). What’s at stake is fairly obvious, but it did get me wondering about the sandwich picks since 2008 and what has become of them. There are some pretty interesting names in here. While their teams wouldn’t be categorically annihilated, the absence of some of these players would certainly put a dent their respective farm systems, and in a couple cases their major league rosters.
For purposes of simplicity, I’m going to us just say things like “Jordan Lyles is Trever Miller” to represent Jordan Lyles was selected as a supplemental pick in compensation for the loss of free agent Trever Miller — just so I don’t have to say so-and-so was selected as a supplemental pick in compensation for the lost of free agent so-and-so 55 times. Thanks for humoring me.
The 2008 class of compensation picks features a few pretty interesting players, the most newsworthy being Lance Lynn (Cardinals) for outgoing Troy Percival. Lynn, of course, was the butt of many jokes after being the reliever called upon in Game 5 of the World Series to throw four wide ones to Ian Kinsler and summarily sit down. Despite the TLR blunders, he has a ring, not to mention an awfully impressive 2.70 xFIP and 10.38 K/9 and a pretty bright future, be it in the bullpen or rotation for the Cardinals.
Jordan Lyles (Astros) is Trever Miller, which might be one of the better sandwich picks on the list as Lyles is likely to be a staple in the Astros rotation for many years, although this move to the American League won’t do him any favors. Doug Brocail became Logan Forsythe for the Padres, and while he struggled mightily in his short stint in 2011, he has a pretty impressive track record in the minors, hitting .326/.445/.528 in AAA last season. He may not be a star in the making, but he should be a very good regular for them for years.
Lastly, Conor Gillaspie (Pedro Feliz) was the first of the sandwiches to make it to the major leagues with a quick flirtation in 2008, followed by two-plus seasons in the minors. After posting a .297/.389/.453 line in 500 AAA at-bats, the Giants recalled Gillaspie in 2011 when the rosters expanded and the kid hit perhaps the most embarrassing first major league home run ever (the Brian Wilson reaction is priceless).
There were but six 2009 sandwich picks, one of which was Tanner Scheppers (Rangers) who is Milton Bradley. Scheppers has a minor league career K/9 of 9.7 and generally considered to have overpowering stuff. He got knocked around a little in AAA last year, but part of that was rotten luck (near .400 BABIP) and part of that was his miserable control (5.23 BB/9). He has been suggested as the “closer of the future” for the Rangers, despite the fact that the club has more than once stated they’d like to see him in the rotation.
In 2010, the Rays turned Gregg Zaun into Drew Vettleson, a 20 year old outfielder who turned in a .282/.357/.462 line with seven home runs, 40 RBI and 20 stolen bases in just 61 games played in the Appalachian League. Vettleson is interesting because he was also a pitcher in high school with the ability to throw both right and left handed, but the Rays see him as an outfielder with a plus arm and great contact skills for the future.
Taijuan Walker (Mariners) is Adrian Beltre, and has no doubt been a very pleasant surprise in Seattle where the raw 17-year-old turned in a very solid 2011 campaign in the Midwest league, tossing 96.2 innings, giving up 69 hits, and striking out 113 batters while posting a 2.89 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. He’s not far away. The Mariners own two of the sandwich picks from 2010 as they also employ Chance Ruffin who was a compensation pick for Fernando Rodney, and summarily traded for Doug Fister. Ruffin ought to be a longtime staple in the Mariner bullpen.
Speaking of Tigers, Detroit turned Brandon Lyon into Nick Castellanos, who impressed in the Midwest League with a .312/.367/.436 line along with seven home runs and 76 RBI in 135 games. At age 19, he has a long road ahead, but he could turn out to be something special.
Marlon Byrd became Mike Olt for the Rangers, who raked at Myrtle Beach to the tune of .267/.387/504 with 14 HR’s in just 69 games. He’ll have to work on the strikeouts (25%) a bit, but at 23, he’s more of a polished hitter than many prospects at his level. While he’s blocked by Adrian Beltre for the foreseeable future, his development could also be terrific trade fodder and he could be manning third base for a competitor by 2013.
The kids from 2011 are all very low level prospects but it was also the largest Type-B free agent compensation group to date with fully 18 sandwich picks. The most intriguing of the group are probably two sons of former major leaguers Dante Bichette and Dwight Smith.
Dante Bichette (junior), was compensation for the loss of Javier Vazquez for the Yankees. Bichette, 19, is a third basemen who posted a .342/.446/.505 line in his rookie league over 240 plate appearances, walking 12.5% of the time (Daddy’s career average was 5.2%, so who knows where that came from). Whether he sticks at third or needs to be moved to the outfield remains to be seen, and there’s clearly several levels in which he needs to prove his bat, but he’s off to a pretty solid start and he certainly has the pedigree.
Dwight Smith, whom the Blue Jays chose after losing Kevin Gregg, is the son of former Cubs and Braves outfielder with the same name (in fact, the link takes you to the elder Smith). At 5′ 11″ and 190 lbs, Smith is a stocky lefty who projects to have plus power, but obviously there’s a lot of work to be done ahead of him.
There you have it, your Type-B Free Agent Compensation pick highlight reel (you didn’t even know you wanted it, did you?). And just because I have the list, here’s the full sandwich pick group for your enjoyment:
Conor Gillaspie (Giants) – Is Pedro Feliz
Jordan Lyles (Astros) – Is Trever Miller
Lance Lynn (Cardinals) – Is Troy Percival
Brett DeVall (Braves) – Is Ron Mahay
Ryan Flaherty (Cubs) – Is Jason Kendall
Wade Miley (Diamondbacks) – Is Livan Hernandez
Jeremy Bleich (Yankees) – Is Luis Vizcaino
Bryan Price (Red Sox) -(no) Is Eric Gagne
Logan Forsythe (Padres) – Is Doug Brocail
Brad Boxberger (Reds) – Is Jeremy Affeldt
Tanner Scheppers (Rangers) – Is Milton Bradley
Michael Belfiore (Diamondbacks) – Is Brandon Lyon
Matthew Bashore (Twins) – Is Dennys Reyes
Kyle Heckathorn (Brewers) – Is Brian Shouse
Tyler Kehrer (Angels) – Is Jon Garland
Asher Wojciechowski (Blue Jays) – Is Rod Barajas
Drew Vettleson (Rays) – Is Gregg Zaun
Taijuan Walker (Mariners) – Is Adrian Beltre
Nick Castellanos (Tigers) – Is Brandon Lyon
Luke Jackson (Rangers) – Is Ivan Rodriguez
Seth Blair (Cardinals) – Is Mark DeRosa
Peter Tago (Rockies) – Is Jason Marquis
Chance Ruffin (Tigers) – Is Fernando Rodney
Mike Olt (Rangers) – Is Marlon Byrd
Tyrell Jenkins (Cardinals) – Is Joel Pineiro
Andrew Chafin (Diamondbacks) – Is Adam LaRoche
Michael Fulmer (Mets) – Is Pedro Feliciano
Trevor Story (Rockies) – Is Octavio Dotel
Joseph Musgrove (Blue Jays) – Is John Buck
Keenyn Walker (White Sox) – Is J.J. Putz
Michael Kelly (Padres) – Is Jon Garland
Kyle Crick (Giants) – Is Juan Uribe
Travis Harrison (Twins) – Is Orlando Hudson
Dante Bichette (Yankees) – Is Javier Vazquez
Blake Snell (Rays) – Is Brad Hawpe
Dwight Smith (Blue Jays) – Is Kevin Gregg
Brett Austin (Padres) – Is Yorvit Torrealba
Hudson Boyd (Twins) – Is Jesse Crain
Kes Carter (Rays) – Is Joaquin Benoit
Kevin Comer (Blue Jays) – Is Miguel Olivo
Jace Peterson (Padres) – Is Kevin Correia
Grayson Garvin (Rays) – Is Randy Choate
James Harris (Rays) – Is Chad Qualls