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February 17, 2009

Prospectus Today

Changing the Game?

by Joe Sheehan

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Well, this is a ridiculous notion:

Major League Baseball, the players' union, the Diamondbacks, and [Juan] Cruz's agents are in discussions to facilitate a sign-and-trade involving Cruz while adhering to the collective-bargaining agreement.

Free agents cannot be traded before June 15 without their consent, but the union will permit Cruz and other Type A players to waive that right in advance, according to Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice-president of labor relations.

That's Ken Rosenthal, passing on a notion first floated by LaVelle Neal of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. All of the wailing and moaning about the plight of the remaining Type-A free agents with draft picks attached to them is ridiculous, as if they were somehow victims of an unfair system. It might be unfair, but if so, it's that way by design. The free-agent compensation system, which dates in various forms back to 1981, is designed to lower the demand for free agents by adding to the cost of signing them. At first it was player compensation; now, it's draft picks. In any case, the idea is to make free agents less desirable.

In 2009, it's not that the system hasn't worked, it's that it has worked, and it's worked beautifully. We're so far removed from the original arguments over free agency that we've forgotten that the point of compensation is to restrict the market. Owners wanted a mechanism that would make it harder for players to move around, lower the financial costs of signing them, and provide something in return for losing them. My god, there was a strike over this, because the players recognized that free agency with compensation wasn't free agency at all.

For years, this didn't matter very much because the industry operated at well-below peak efficiency. Teams would sign Type-A free agents and give up their first- or second-round draft pick because they didn't adequately value either item. Many, even most, free agents will return less than what it costs to sign them, and they'll decline over the time frame of a deal. High draft picks are gold, a teams' best chance to secure low-cost, high-value talent through its peak years. Over a generation, the perceived values of each of those things have gone in opposite directions, and they crossed paths this winter. Now, most teams would rather have the draft pick and the cash than the veteran player. This is new; it was just a few years ago that the Giants signed Michael Tucker before the Royals even had the opportunity to decline to offer him arbitration, because they wanted to forfeit their first-round pick.

The thing is, you can't change the rules because they're working too well. We talk all the time about the Law of Unintended Consequences. This ain't that; this is the Law of Intended Consequences. Free-agent compensation rules are designed to lessen the demand for free agents. Well, this is what less demand looks like, and while it isn't fun for Orlando Hudson or Juan Cruz or Orlando Cabrera, to make a change now would have effects that we can't see, while also being unfair to those free agents and teams that reached agreements under the current understanding.

Think about the teams that signed Type-A free agents and who will now pay for that signing with draft picks. Had they waited, perhaps they would have been able to acquire those players without sacrificing the picks. The Yankees signed three Type-A free agents at a cost of their top three draft picks; no one feels sympathy for them, but a post-facto change in the rules would negatively affect them. The Angels gave up their first-round pick to sign Brian Fuentes; the Mets coughed up theirs for Francisco Rodriguez. How is it at all fair to these teams to make them lose a draft pick, but not do the same for the teams that end up acquiring Cruz, Hudson, Cabrera, or Ben Sheets, all of whom are governed by the same clause in the CBA?

Think also about the effect on the players who signed. Would Derek Lowe or Oliver Perez have held out a bit longer if they'd known that eventually the draft pick hanging from their necks would be removed? Would Jason Varitek have had better options than returning to the Red Sox? You're penalizing those players, all of whom tried to sign as free agents requiring compensation, by changing the rules after they reach agreements. We know that the market for these players was hampered in part by the need to give up a draft pick by signing them. Don't they have a right to be free agents under new rules that take that cost away?

The MLBPA, in allowing advance waivers, is trying to address the problems some of its members are having. Their intentions are good, but doing so would be to undercut the interests of its members that made decisions under the rules of the CBA. That Perez and Lowe and Fuentes and Rodriguez reached deals where Cruz and Hudson and Cabrera have not should not end up benefiting the latter group. It just happens that the demand for their services isn't enough at the cost of a salary and a draft pick. As I say, the system is working.

This would also set a terrible precedent for future offseasons. If owners and GMs know that these "sign-and-trade" deals will eventually be available, then they have every incentive to lowball free agents deep into the offseason. A situation that is largely coincidental this year would become the result of a strategy in future seasons; why sign a player on January 8 and sacrifice a pick when you can wait until March 8 and sign him for the cost of an inconsequential prospect? It would also affect the decisions to offer and accept arbitration, as the risks and benefits of doing so will have changed for both player and team. Players should be more likely to decline arbitration, knowing that they might eventually be able to sign without their new team giving up a pick. Teams should be less likely to offer arbitration, because while players are more likely to decline, the prospect of getting a pick when the player changes teams is reduced.

I play in a perpetual fantasy league, a good one, in which there was a huge controversy heading into the second season having to do with the salaries of players taken in the minor league draft. After the rules were set one way, it was proposed to change them as we headed into the second season, effective immediately. I fought hard against the change. The details are unimportant, but the principle carries over to this situation: you can't change the rules midstream when decisions have been made based on the old rule set, and the rules are working as intended.

Free-agent compensation is designed to lower demand and the prices paid for free agents by introducing a cost over and above the salary. All of the Type-A free agents previously offered arbitration who signed this offseason have had to deal with that cost attached to them, and that cost affected what they earned on the market. The teams signing those players have had to deal with the loss of those draft picks. While you might feel for the remaining Type-A free agents, their free agency isn't some accident of fate that needs to be accounted for; it's what happens when the system works. The free agents are simply going to have to sign for a salary that makes the total cost of acquiring them-draft pick included-worth it for the signing team.

The MLBPA should not change its rules, because doing so would be unfair to everyone who played by them.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

43 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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I agree entirely, Joe.

Plus, the players can quickly adapt to this. Next off-season, I suspect more players will accept arbitration as a result of this lower demand for free agents. As a result, the ntext off-season after that fewer teams will offer arbitration, and we'll back back where we were before, but without compensation.

Let the system work, people.

Feb 17, 2009 10:44 AM
rating: 1

I think a good point is made here, but that doesn't change the fact that certain aspects of the compensation system are broken. First, why should The Brewers and Blue Jays suffer by not getting a first round pick because a team like The Yankees had the money to sign three Type-As and not care about their second and third round picks after their first was gone? It would seem more just that The Brewers would recieve the Yankees first rounder in 2010 and the Jays would get it in 2011.

The system that ranks the players may also need to be re-evaluated. In the long run, that Cabrera and Cruz are Type-As could be a bigger problem than what to do with them.

Feb 17, 2009 10:58 AM
rating: 2
John Carter

Yes, that the Type grades are so badly calculated was bound to cause a problem. I think that is the root of the problem actually. It is amazing it took this to materialize.

Feb 17, 2009 14:22 PM
rating: 1

Any system where CC Sabathia=Juan Cruz probably needs some tweaking.

Feb 18, 2009 08:05 AM
rating: 1

I think the downside to this is being severly overstated. The key thing is, there has to be NO market for a free agent to have their original team do a sign and trade. The Diamondbacks gets 2 compensatory picks if Cruz signs with another team. They get zero picks after a sign and trade.

There are 2 reasons to do a sign and trade: if there is a big chance the player will be signed by no one or if they receive more value than 2 picks in a trade. It would make no sense for the signing team to give up more than 2 picks of value; I cannot see a scenario where that would happen.

Also, the system clearly has not worked in establishing the true values of type A and B free agents, especially for relief pitchers (and washed up catchers).

Feb 17, 2009 11:06 AM
rating: 2

Good point about player valuation and the sign-and-trade scenario, todmod.

I think Joe was saying the overall free agency system is working well, though the Elias rankings of Type A and B free agents is obviously and significantly flawed.

Feb 17, 2009 11:08 AM
rating: 1
Matt Kory

I don't think Joe was saying that the system is working well so much as he is saying that it is working as intended.

Feb 17, 2009 12:21 PM
rating: 2

The MLBPA's "intentions are good, but doing so would be to undercut the interests of its members that made decisions under the rules of the CBA."

Kinda like the MLBPA's intention to destroy all the confidential (and supposedly anonymous) drug test samples from the 2003 survey testing? That worked real well, didn't it, Mr. Fehr? The Players' Association leadership is failing its members.

Feb 17, 2009 11:06 AM
rating: 1

This doesn't look like a rule change to me. This looks like a progression in addressing a rule. Others may have been in a different situation. For example, the Red Sox may have told (and had the right to tell) other teams that they would not negotiate a sign and trade. Similarly, I don't think the Brewers would have cooperated to allow CC to leave. The end result may be, should be, that Type A free agents like Varitek or Hudson accept arbitration in the future or work harder to get deals made sooner.

The power in this deal is still held by the Diamondbacks. They can refuse to negotiate, but if the cost of a first round pick is more than a team is willing to surrender, then Cruz or Hudson will go unsigned, hurting both the Diamondbacks and the player. The MLBPA is simply putting one more tool in the team toolbox. Football has done the same thing with the franchise tag, although the sacrificial picks are so valued in the NFL that a franchised player cannot change teams without a trade.

I don't think you can count on the MLBPA to be this cooperative every year. I don't think you can count on teams or players to want to work this type of deal (essentially becoming a three-entity negotiation for 'free' agency). Thus, it seems more like a gaming of the rules than a rule change, and rule gaming happens all the time.

Feb 17, 2009 11:25 AM
rating: 1

It's new and different, but still within the Basic Agreement. An innovation within the rules is not the same thing as a changing of the rules.

Feb 17, 2009 11:29 AM
rating: -1

Joe, I usually love your columns, but your thesis here doesn't make much sense to me.

You seem to contend that a rule should be kept in place whenever two conditions are satisfied: 1) the rule is accomplishing its original intent, and 2) changing the rule would disparately impact different people. Your argument proves too much; there are lots of imaginable rules fitting both these criteria that should nonetheless obviously be rejected. Suppose there were a rule that all BP writers had to be thrown into a well, with the intent of keeping them from enjoying the sunshine. This rule would accomplish its goal! If Will and Christina had already been thrown in, should we go ahead and throw you in too, for fairness sake? Would setting you free be wrong, because of some negative post-facto impact on them? Obviously, meeting these two criteria isn't good enough reason to keep a rule.

Moreover, you sidestep the important question of whether the original intent of the rule was actually something that should be done to begin with. In this case, the original intent was to protect owners from paying the actual value of the services they'd like to procure, merely by shuffling draft picks amongst themselves. Why should we care that a rule is accomplishing its purpose if the purpose ought not be accomplished?

The current situation is an artificially created market inefficiency. Players like Cabrera and Hudson--men who've worked their whole lives to compete at the highest level and are by all accounts worthy of an MLB job--can't get a contract because the anvil of a lost draft pick is being hung around their neck. The situation is manifestly unfair to them. The effectiveness of the rule does nothing to mitigate the fact that it's unjust.

It's easy to see how players who signed earlier in the offseason might be upset by a sudden change in the playing field, but they wouldn't actually be any worse off than if nothing changes. It isn't as if letting Juan Cruz have a sign-and-trade deal will actually cut Jason Varitek's paycheck. Teams who signed free agents and gave up draft picks this offseason might have a legitimate beef, but it seems to me their ire could just as well be directed at an unfair system as at whatever team lands Cruz.

The MLBPA should change its rules, because not doing so would be unfair to players who have to play by them.

Feb 17, 2009 11:48 AM
rating: -1
Ryan V.

Your well scenario doesn't exactly parallel very well. You would need to assume that the BP writers *themselves* negotiated to get chucked down a well. I'm guessing few of the writers at BP would be down with that...

The fairness of the rule really doesn't seem (to me) to be overly relevant in this case. After all, they players themselves (through the MLBPA) negotiated them. If they don't like the rule, they can discuss it the next time their contract is up. I don't see how you can have a hand in making a rule, and then turn around and say it's not fair.

Feb 17, 2009 12:23 PM
rating: 4
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Actually, the Holocaust was full of scenarios of similar philosophical debate. For example, think of the Judenrat. The Nazis wanted self-policing by the Jews in Poland. A Jewish police agency was formed to keep their fellow Jews in line. These Jewish cops were often very cruel to their fellows and, as has been reported, often played a role in certain selections - giving life-saving favours, which resulted in life-taking for someone else. The decisions made by Judenrat were made under the thinking that if they didn't act thus, the Nazis would be sure to murder them and their families as well - many joined to save their family from the horrible acts taken out on their neighbours. The actions they took were often extremely cruel, but were undoubtedly made under extreme duress. Should the Judenrat system survive Nazi Germany even though the context of their decision making has thankfully changed? Or should we realize that the Judenrat system was horribly wrong and eliminate, even though it would mean that the life-altering decisions made earlier have now been made meaningless? As bischopscreed wisely pointed out - justice is more important than precedence. Every time. What Joe Sheehan should have asked - is the sign and trade justice? Is the rule, although effective, just?

Feb 17, 2009 12:52 PM
rating: -7
Ryan V.

I'm not sure I buy the Judenrat parallel, either. Again, the players themselves negotiated this rule into the CBA. The Judenrat system you describe wasn't something the Jewish people had a say in creating. It was *imposed* upon them. Not the same thing at all. Or at least, not the way I'm seeing it.

I'd also note that I don't see how this particular rule is unjust or unfair to the players in question. After all, ALL MLB players fall under this rule. Everyone has the same likelihood of getting pinched by it. I would say that the rule, as written, sucks, but that doesn't make it unfair to Varitek et al.

Just my thoughts.

Feb 17, 2009 14:23 PM
rating: 3

I see what you're saying. However, the metaphor is intended to debunk the somewhat simplistic formula Joe seemed to me to be promoting, namely that 1) rule that works + 2) disparate effects of changing the rule, justifies the conclusion that the rule should be kept in place. I think his argument for why the MLBPA should reverse its position here is ill-considered, and the parallel doesn't have to be exact to make that point. By the reasoning Joe gave, you'd have to throw him in the well! The fact that the players accepted the current CBA in negotiations isn't part of the argument he makes in the article.

I also doubt whether something being accepted by MLBPA really means that the players in question consented to it. Suppose you were Orlando Cabrera. You have a rare skill worth a few million dollars and modest fame in the marketplace, but due to an arbitrary scheme dreamed up by the cabal that monopolizes that skill, you may end up taking fifty grand to play in some independent league instead. Given that your skills will deteriorate before the next CBA, bringing it up for the next contract is cold comfort.

Feb 17, 2009 15:35 PM
rating: -1

This counterpoint is ridiculous, for it has little to nothing to do with the principles of labor/management relations. A collective bargaining agreement is established between the two principles-- management and collective labor-- precisely so that this relationship can be codefied and rationalized, expressly against any "special deals" between a worker and management. Either the workers stand united-- under the same rules for everyone--, or they do not stand at all. Do not pit Cruz against Veritek; that's precisely what a *collective* bargaining agreement should guard against.

I for one really do hope this compensation method is eliminated or changed, precisely for the reasons you cite, Joe. That, or stop having Bavasi... er... Elias rank free agent compensation. Does the CBA allow the MLBPA to have a say in *how* players are ranked?

Feb 17, 2009 14:26 PM
rating: 3

Guys like Cabrera and Hudson could have gotten a contract, they could have accepted arbitration. They just horribly misjudged the market.

The other players who signed either judged the market just fine or accepted what may have been a less than ideal contract to their satisfaction. There's a legit argument that Varitek could have gotten a better deal if he didn't come attached with the frfeiture of draft picks.

I can't exactly feel sorry for guys like Cabrera and Hudson who helped bring this situation upon themselves. And I'm not in favor of bailing out people who made poor decisions at the expense of people who made better decisions.

Feb 17, 2009 22:40 PM
rating: 0

Nicely done, Joe. I was feeling exactly the opposite - we should let players get as much salary as they are worth, after all, and this is restricting where they can go and who they can play for.

But I think you more than anyone would agree with that. It's not your point. Your point is that it's unfair to change it midstream, and I wasn't considering that. But tballgame may be right if it's already within the rules. It could change the game significantly and hurt free agency even MORE, as you've outlined.

Joe, would you recommend that the union push for removing this draft pick compensation at the next CBA negotiation?

Feb 17, 2009 11:59 AM
rating: 0

Joe: Apparently this is not a rule change. Trading a new free agent has been allowable. This is simply getting Cruz to agree in advance to a trade -- presumably in writing, because Cruz could always say, "Sure I won't mind" and then veto the trade anyway.

It's not the players' association that would be hurt by this. As usual, the players appear about to outsmart the owners.

If the D-backs simply refuse to sign-and-trade Cruz, his choices are limited. If no other team wants to give up a draft pick for him, he'll have to go back to the D-backs for the minimum (or play in an independent league until June and hope somebody offers more than the minimum then.) This was exactly what the owners tried to achieve by collusion 20 years ago.

The other owners should be on the horn to the D-backs telling them not to budge; they're winning one for once. But baseball owners have proven so many times who the real brains in the game are.

Feb 17, 2009 12:00 PM
rating: 0

If this is so, then why must the union get involved in it at all? If Arizona still has some 'compensation' rights re Cruz, there is some rule in place preventing them from bartering those rights as they see fit? (a la with draft picks?)

Feb 17, 2009 12:24 PM
rating: 0

Bishop, I'm with Joe, a rule shouldn't be changed if it is accomplishing its original, stated goal and it would disparately effect different people.

Why would you change a rule that was working? Especialy, if it will adversely effect those that played by the original rule.

True, changing the rule now wouldn't take money from Varitek's pocket. But, maybe Varitek could have earned more from another team if the other team had been permitted to do a "sign-and-trade."

Feb 17, 2009 12:02 PM
rating: 1
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So, you'd throw Joe in the well?

And what does it matter what Varitek could've done in some hypothetical case? Yeah, he could've earned more in a free market; let's change the rule so other people don't get cheated too.

It's perverse to use the fact that some people have been robbed to argue that everyone should be robbed.

Feb 17, 2009 12:08 PM
rating: -4

If Joe negotiated to be thrown into the well, yes.

I think you need a better metaphor.

Feb 17, 2009 14:07 PM
rating: 6

I don't believe that collusion has occurred this off-season but this sounds to me like MLB owners are concerned about it. There is no reason for them to agree to this kind of change but as a way of mollifying the union they agree to this and the union doesn't pursue a collusion charge if everyone gets signed for "reasonable" money.

Feb 17, 2009 12:34 PM
rating: 0

I blame the way the rule is written such that a middle reliever who throws only 50-60 innings per year can be designated a Type A free agent. Same thing for a light hitting, slick fielding shortstop like Cabrera.

Having said that, I agree with Joe's comment that Type A free agency was instituted for a reason, although I would not say the only reason is to depress the market for free agents. It is also to promote competitive balance and provide some reward to small market teams who lose their players after 5-6 years to the big market teams.

As the article reads, the only rule change being considered is the one that prohibits a team from trading a free agent signee before June. I don't see anything wrong with letting the team that is losing the free agent have an exemption from the rule by mutual agreement with the player. The team still will get compensation in the trade and the purpose of the rule will be supported. If the team does not want to agree, and wants to hold out for draft picks, it can do so.

Feb 17, 2009 12:40 PM
rating: 0

The solution here is to change the way free agents are valued.

And MLB doesn't allow draft picks to be traded, so that's not an option for the signing team.

Feb 17, 2009 14:11 PM
rating: -1

I agree with Joe, except to ask is the rule is, in fact, working as intended. Joe mentions the total cost (salary and draft picks) to sign a Type A player. Is the draft pick cost now so high that the salary a Type A can command is actually less than other free agents? It doesn't seem to me that the intention of the rule was to make it so that Type A players would get offered lower salaries than their lesser counterparts. I'm not saying that that is happening, but if it is, then that's an unintended consequence, right? The idea is to depress everyone's value, not to have Type B (or no Type now) players get paid more than Type A players.

Feb 17, 2009 13:00 PM
rating: 0

I think the real issue is that MLB needs a better system in place to designate Type A, B, and C free agents. If that happened, I don't think this would be an issue. With all the sabermetric advances made in assigning value to players, there should be a better system in place than the one currently used. Why should a team signing Orlando Cabrera forfeit the same draft pick as the team signing C.C. Sabathia? Or, using a real life example, a WORSE draft pick since the Yankees signed multiple free agents? It's bizarre.

Feb 17, 2009 13:03 PM
rating: 0

I 100% agree. The real issue is why Type A free agents include players like Cruz and Cabrera.

Feb 17, 2009 14:09 PM
rating: 1

I don't share the outrage becasue no rule is being broken and 3 independent & adverse parties are making a deal.

#Arizona says, we'll facilitate Cruz's signing if we get a player traded to us.

#Cruz says, I'll waive my right to block a trade, if Arizona facilitates a trade.

#The third team says, I'll pay Cruz and Arizona if I get Cruz's services.

All voluntary, all in line with existing rules. The only strecth seems to be that a player hasn't waived such rights in a contract, but why shouldn't it be a negotiable chip?

Feb 17, 2009 13:20 PM
rating: 4

I don't get the point here. In the Cruz case, the Diamondbacks would still get some sort of compensation as part of the trade. The Diamondbacks are under no obligation to trade Cruz for anything less than what they value that 1st or 2nd round pick to be worth. The Diamondbacks would also be better off doing this than if Cruz waited until after the June draft to sign and the DBacks get nothing.

I'm also not sure what the Diamondbacks are doing about trying to sign Cruz. If they are not even trying to sign the guy, then I argue that the rule is broken (unintended consequence) since it is intended to keep the player on his former team. If they are trying to sign him, then they should refuse to agree to the trade concept and keep working toward a team friendly deal and nothing changes from before.

And lastly, most of this isn't against the rules. As I understand it the player is given the right to sign and then not be traded until June 15. It would then also be their choice to waive that right. I think part of why the union is getting involved is because normally the union is against players waiving any rights they have worked hard to earn. The only part that would be bending (if not breaking) the rules is the part (which is not mentioned in the article) that the team would HAVE to trade him during a window or he becomes a "free" agent again. That part should probably not be allowed.

Feb 17, 2009 13:31 PM
rating: 0

Except that the Diamondbacks will feel internal pressure to take less than Type A value the longer the player goes unsigned, just so they get something back.

Plus, if there was a team willing to give up Type A value for Cruz (or whoever), wouldn't they have already done so?

Feb 17, 2009 14:15 PM
rating: 0
Michael Bodell

Can't a team like Arizona sign these players for a major league minimum salary with an option (Based on not being cut) for more money, and then when they trade them have the players demand that the option part becomes guaranteed? If that is already allowed, then the change is pretty minimal here.

Feb 17, 2009 13:41 PM
rating: -1

by offering arb to cruz, the diamondbacks took the risk that he would accept and thus be part of their team, not tradeable until june 15 i assume. so he rejects. do the backs still want him on their team? why not say he can sign with them for a certain amount or leave it. he knew his status. did they offer hoping they would only get the picks?

after declining arb, he's a FA- so it strikes me as odd that the backs would negotiate a deal for a player not even under contract to their team. can they even negotiate with another team before he is on a roster or something? do they negotiate their salary offer with the other team and then see if cruz agrees? does the other team deal with cruz directly but then offer players when amount is in place?

note to middle relievers everywhere- you're fungible.

Feb 17, 2009 13:59 PM
rating: 1

What's fair is fair, to be sure, but how fair is it to the Arizona franchise to have to carry Chad Qualls, Jon Rauch, Scott Schoeneweis, Tony Pena AND Juan Cruz in their bullpen?

The D'Backs need some relief, no pun intended.....

Feb 17, 2009 14:03 PM
rating: -1

Very well written article, Joe. It is refreshing for me to go to a baseball website and actually read an article that was well thought out and makes perfect sense (unlike anything from sites like cbs sportsline).

Feb 17, 2009 14:11 PM
rating: 0
Matthew Avery

Why is the CBA getting edited to make up for the stupid decisions made by a few players and their agents? These guys could've accepted arbitration, gotten a raise, and this whole stink could've been avoided.

Feb 17, 2009 14:12 PM
rating: 0
James Martin Cole

The CBA isn't getting edited. The player, the union, the league the team, and a second team are going to work within the CBA to find a solution that suits everyone. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me. I can understand why other players wouldn't be happy about it, but honestly, I think you can chalk that up to a lack of creativity more than anything else. If, for example, Jason Varitek wanted a similar deal, then he should have talked to his agent, who is plenty creative in his own right.

Furthermore, is anyone in baseball upset about this?

Feb 17, 2009 18:24 PM
rating: 1

I appreciate Joe not commenting on what's happened in that fantasy league *since* the starting salary of minor leaguers was changed... ugh. Mind you, that would be a column all on its own, and one probably not worth reading.

Feb 17, 2009 14:20 PM
rating: 0

Changing the rules would open a huge can of worms. It's not worth it just to benefit a handful of second-tier players who a) made a bad decision by not accepting arbitration, and b) have so far decided they'd rather not play than get paid current market value for their limited services.

When Bobby Abreu gets a 1-year, $5m deal, the Orlando Cabreras, Hudsons, and Juan Cruz's of the world simply aren't worth very much. There's no need to change the rules just because they won't accept that.

Feb 18, 2009 10:32 AM
rating: 0
Brian Kopec

If Juan Cruz was represented by Scott Boras, and Boras was the one suggesting these alternative solutions, who wants to bet this would be getting a different treatment in the mass-audience baseball press?

Feb 18, 2009 12:57 PM
rating: 0

This is confusing.
Cruz can be signed by anyone at the cost of a draft pick.
-Except Arizona can sign him, since they lost him, and not lose a draft pick.
Cruz can always accept a trade.

So the problem isn't the sign and trade, the problem is the sign and got stuck with Cruz. The D'backs want to be able to sign Cruz to a ten-day option to trade him, but not be on the hook for millions if it doesn't work out. I don't see anything wrong with a player allowing himself to be traded, allowing the teams to pretend that players are free agents when the only way they can change teams is to sign for less and beg for transfers is a bad thing.

Feb 18, 2009 16:20 PM
rating: 0

Taken to its logical conclusion, suppose a Type A free agent was valued sufficiently poorly (due to the anomalies of an obviously imperfect ranking system) that even at the major league minimum, nobody felt he was worth losing a high draft pick for?

"The free agents are simply going to have to sign for a salary that makes the total cost of acquiring them—draft pick included—worth it for the signing team."

Feb 22, 2009 09:55 AM
rating: 0
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