Perhaps there is a silver lining to Boston’s dismal finish to the 2012 season, as the team’s overall record is so poor that the team’s First Round selection in next June’s amateur draft will now be protected in the event that the team signs an elite free agent option on the open market. Of course, given the group of players available this winter this may all prove to be a moot point.
Under the latest set of changes to Major League Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the entire ranking system used to determine a player’s value upon reaching free agency has been altered. As has the compensation tied to signing the league’s better options. No longer are player tied to Type A or Type B status. Teams must make qualifying offers within five days from the end of the World Series to their free agents and the players are given another seven days from there to either accept or decline. All qualifying offers are for one year at an amount determined by finding the average annual salary of the 125 highest paid players from the previous season. Qualifying offers this winter are expected to fall between $12-13 Million. It’s a much different system than before.
Should a player decline their qualifying offer and sign with another team, the signing team will forfeit their top draft pick. These picks, however, no longer go to the team that is losing a player but instead are simply dropped altogether from the First Round. The former team will receive a compensatory pick after the First Round instead. Teams with protected picks will surrender their Second Round selections, which is where this advantage comes into play.
It remains to be seen exactly how many players receive qualifying offers at the end of the season and ultimately how many of them are declined in the search for multi-year contracts. A one year, $12-13 Million deal is something that could appeal to a number of free agent options who otherwise might not see salaries in such a high range. But these offers could also be few and far between, given the desire for many teams to avoid paying such a high sum on a one year deal. Depending on the number of free agents who do receive qualifying offers, there could be few options on the open market tied to some sort of draft pick compensation.
With a protected pick in the First Round, Boston will be free to sign any free agent available this winter – provided they choose to do so – without having to worry about losing an early selection in June’s draft. For an organization hoping to continue re-building their farm system, this could prove to be a significant development. Futility is never the path of choice for any organization, but an argument could be made that at least some good will come from it all this time around.