2009 MLB Free Agents Rumors

Discussion: Rich Harden

Rich Harden carries a lot of upside for a Type B free agent.  His well-documented injury history will prevent any club from risking offering the right-hander a long-term contract, but a one or two-year deal (perhaps with the second year as a club option, that could become guaranteed if Harden reaches certain performance levels) in the high seven-figure range per season could prove to be a relative bargain.  Harden might be amenable to such a deal since it would allow him to cash in on an even bigger contract after the 2011 season when he's just 29 years old.

Harden only pitched past the sixth inning in five of his 26 starts last season as the Cubs wanted to keep him as fresh as possible.  The Canadian was skipped for two September starts and spent a month on the disabled list with a strained back, but given the major arm problems that have plagued his career, this actually counts as a fairly healthy showing for the right-hander.  Harden recorded an impressive 10.9 K/9 last season, and posted a 2.07 ERA in 25 starts with Chicago and Oakland in 2008.

The Cubs aren't likely to try and re-sign Harden themselves, thus leaving the door open for suitors who are willing to take the risk — and, probably more importantly, also have the financial resources to absorb the loss should Harden not pan out.  The Red Sox fit this description to a tee, and unlike last winter's similar buy-low signings of Brad Penny or John Smoltz, Harden has experience pitching in the American League.

What teams do you think will make a play for Harden, and, if your favorite team was the one making the offer, what would be the sort of contract and dollar figure you'd be comfortable seeing Harden in the fold for?

Heyman’s Latest: Best & Worst Free Agent Signings

Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman has compiled a list of the best and worst free agent signings. Here are the lists, in descending order:

The Best: Raul Ibanez, Trevor Hoffman, Francisco Rodriguez, Orlando Hudson, Mark Teixeira, Brad Penny, CC Sabathia, Ivan Rodriguez, Brian Fuentes, Randy Johnson, Adam Everett, Randy Wolf, David Eckstein, Adam Dunn, and Felipe Lopez.

The Worst: Milton Bradley, Oliver Perez, Pat Burrell, Manny Ramirez, Kerry Wood, Kyle Farnsworth, Orlando Cabrera, Jason Giambi, Ken Griffey Jr., and Edgar Renteria.

What do you think? Anyone missing from these lists? Any surprises?

Heyman has a few more bullet points:

  • With Matt Lindstrom and Kiko Calero on the DL, the Marlins inquired about Heath Bell and Joakim Soria. Of course, neither star closer is available according to Heyman.
  • Heyman likes the Mark DeRosa deal for both sides, and thinks the Cardinals did well to acquire a versatile player like DeRosa to solve their 3B issues.
  • The Indians are not anxious to trade Cliff Lee. He's making a $6MM in 2009 with a $9MM club option for 2010. The Dodgers, Mets, and Brewers have inquired. Heyman says the Rangers could get a deal for Lee done with Derek Holland or Neftali Feliz.
  • Bad news for Xavier Nady. Heyman quotes a source saying second Tommy John surgeries have "as low as 20 percent" chance of success.

Why Are So Many Pitchers Still Unsigned?

We are nearing Memorial Day, and many pitchers whose resumes would normally have landed them at least a minor-league deal by now remain unsigned.

  • Pedro Martinez is still homeless. While the complication may be in part due to Pedro's salary demands, it is surprising that nobody has signed him. Yes, his ERA was an unsightly 5.61 in 2008, but his 2007 stint was far better-2.57 ERA in 28 innings. His 87 strikeouts against 44 walks in 109 innings also suggests a pitcher who can help a team on the back end of a rotation. Given that it is Pedro Martinez, there is upside well beyond that, of course.
  • Odalis Perez remains strangely unsigned after his even stranger signing that wasn't with Washington this spring. Perez turns 32 on June 7, and had a perfectly average 2008, with a 4.34 ERA in 159 2/3 innings. Obviously, those numbers could help any number of teams.
  • Paul Byrd did what he always does in 2008-posted an ERA in the mid 4s (4.60 to be exact), struck out around four per nine innings, and kept his team in the game. Yet Byrd has yet to sign with anyone, either.

The lack of movement on these pitchers can't be due to overwhelming performances by all the starters currently employed. After all, there's Jamie Moyer and his 8.15 ERA, Carlos Silva and his 8.48 ERA, Oliver Perez and his 9.97 ERA… plenty of others at sixes and sevens, from Scott Olsen to Scott Kazmir. (Even as I type this, Moyer is giving up another home run. No, really.)

My suspicion is that teams view Martinez, Perez or Byrd as band-aid solutions. And that would be fine, normally. After all, band-aids have a rich tradition of stopping people from bleeding.

But the trade market for pitchers has the most top targets it's had in years. The Padres are already 10 games out, and Jake Peavy will likely hit the market. If Cincinnati fades, Aaron Harang could be available. If Toronto falls back to earth- and the smart money still has them finishing fourth- Roy Halladay could be someone else's ace by August. And Cleveland's Cliff Lee will be a prominent target as well.

There are even second-tier options that can help teams now and in the future, from Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie to Seattle's Erik Bedard.  And in the current economic climate, teams that fall out of the race may have even greater incentive to shed salary as soon as possible.

So it may well be that for veteran free agents, the market will only pick up once the trade deadline has come and gone. And with so many targets out there, once the deadline deals are made July 31, there may not be any place for Martinez, Perez or Byrd to land.

How The Top Free Agents Are Faring

It is still very early in spring training, but let’s take a look back at Tim’s top 15 free agents and see how they are performing for their new clubs…

1.  C.C. Sabathia (Yankees; 7 yrs/$161MM)Sabathia has made one appearance for his new club going 2 innings, giving up 1 unearned run on 2 hits. He struck out 2 and walked none.

2.  Mark Teixeira (Yankees; 8 yrs/$180MM)In 5 games, Teixeira is 7-14 with 2 doubles.

3. Manny Ramirez (Dodgers; 2 yrs/$45MM)Manny will make his spring debut on Thursday.

4.  Francisco Rodriguez (Mets; 3 yrs/$37MM). Rodriguez is pitching for Venezuela in the WBC. He has thrown 1 scoreless inning with 2 K’s.

5.  A.J. Burnett (Yankees; 5 yrs/$82.5MM). Burnett has made 1 start for the Yankees, pitching 2 scoreless innings, giving up 1 hit.

6.  Derek Lowe (Braves; 4 yrs/$60MM). Lowe has looked strong in 2 starts for the Braves, striking out 9 in 6 innings, allowing just 1 run on 5 hits.

7.  Orlando Hudson (Dodgers; 1 yr/$3.38MM). Hudson is 3-16 in 6 games with the Dodgers. He has 4 Ks and a walk.

8.  Adam Dunn (Nationals; 2 yrs/$20MM). Dunn is 1-5 with a double in 3 games.

9.  Ryan Dempster (Cubs; 4 yrs/$52MM). Dempster has made 3 appearances (2 starts) allowing 5 runs (2 earned) in 8 innings on 7 hits and 2 walks. He has struck out 5.

10.  Ben Sheets (Unsigned). Sheets remains unsigned and is currently rehabbing in Texas.

11.  Mike Mussina (Retired). Mussina visited with his former Yankees teammates today and told the press that he has "no itch" to pitch again.

12.  Raul Ibanez (Phillies; 3 yrs/$31.5MM). Ibanez is hitting .200 (5-25) with 3 doubles in 8 spring games. And I guess it is worth noting that he has not committed an error.

13.  Pat Burrell (Rays; 2 yrs/$16MM). Burrell is 4-12 and hit his first home run today, a grand slam. He has driven in 7 and has 6 walks to only 2 strike outs. He even played one game in right field.

14.  Bobby Abreu (Angels; 1 yr/$5MM). Abreu is 3-9 with 2 doubles and a walk in 4 games. He has struck out 4 times.

15.  Brian Fuentes (Angels; 2 yrs/$17.5MM). Fuentes has made only 1 appearance for the Angels, giving up 2 hits and striking out 1 in 1 scoreless inning.

Cork Gaines writes for RaysIndex.com and can be reached here.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Looking at 2009 Free Agency

A guest article by Maury Brown

With Spring Training arriving, we can start to peel back the layers of the onion we call free agency and look at some trends. To begin with, I started by taking a  look at total spending in the FA market this season. I created a table with total club spending and the percentage of spending by each club against that total.

As the linked article points out, you could take just what the Yankees lavished on Mark Teixeira and cover what the Braves, Mets, D-Backs, Padres, and White Sox have spent on free agents this off-season and still have money to spare.

I then went on to mention that there has been a sizable increase in the number of minor league contracts that have been agreed to, compared to two years ago. From 29 percent of the total FA contracts in this year’s market (and it’s not done), to 31 percent last year, to a scant 20 percent during the 2006-07 FA cycle.

For MLBTR, I decided to look deeper into the matter, and here’s what I found:

A total of $1,079,857,500 (yes, you’re looking at the number right, as in over a billion dollars) has been spent so far this off-season in the FA market over 154 contract years. Put the two together (without deferments and minor league contracts) and you get an average salary for FAs of $7,012,062. But, as mentioned prior, the Yankees have been spending like there’s no tomorrow, and that skews the figures.

Remove the Yankees from equation and you come up with an average salary of $4,914,288.

For those that wonder whether the economy (or, as a few conspiracy theorists have suggested, collusion) is influencing matters, consider the following:

  • Avg. FA salary (2007-2008): $7,357,242
  • Avg. FA salary (2007-2008, minus the Yankees): $5,408,468
  • Avg. FA salary (2006-2007): $6,331,015
  • Avg. FA salary (2006-2007, minus the Yankees): $6,339,223

You’re asking, “What gives? I thought the economy was driving the market down.”

Here’s the deal. In the 2006-07 FA market more money was spent ($1,652,395,000), but it was spread out over more contract years (261), thus lowering the average (that, and the Yankees spent far less than usual in 2006). It shows that two years ago, which by the way was right after a labor agreement was reached and several television contracts were finalized, clubs were doling out more long-term backloaded contracts, and more correctly, committing to more contract years, a sign that free agent contracts were in higher abundance.

The best examples of dipping deeply into the FA pool being the Giants dishing out 23 contract years to Rich Aurilia (2/$8M), Barry Bonds (1/$15.8M), Ray Durham (2/$14M), Pedro Feliz (1/$5.1M), Ryan Klesko (1/$1.75M), Steve Kline (2/$3.5M), Bengie Molina (3/$16M), Russ Ortiz (1/$380K), Dave Roberts (3/$18M), and yes, one Barry Zito (7/$126M).

But the Giants weren’t the only club rolling out long term deals a couple of years ago. After all, the Royals went 5/$55M for Gil Meche and the Cubs went 8/$136M for Alfonso Soriano as just two examples.

We can look at it another way…

This off-season the Yankees have obligated themselves to 24 contract years with 5 players (Burnett, Marte, Pettitte, Sabathia, and Teixeira) –  more than double what the second highest number of contract years is by the Cubs (11).  This year there are four clubs that see total contract years into double-digits

Yankees – 24 total contract years

  • A.J. Burnett, SP – (5/$82.5M)
  • Damaso Marte, RP – (3/$12M)
  • Andy Pettitte, SP – (1/$5.5M)
  • CC Sabathia, SP – (7/$161M)
  • Mark Teixeira, 1B – (8/$180M)

Cubs – 11 total contract years

  • Paul Bako, C – (1/$725K)
  • Milton Bradley, RF – (3/$30M)
  • Ryan Dempster, SP – (4/$52M)
  • Joey Gathright, CF – (1/$800K)
  • Aaron Miles, 2B – (2/$4.9M)

Braves – 10 total contract years

  • Kenshin Kawakami, SP – (3/$23M)
  • Derek Lowe, SP – (4/$60M)
  • Greg Norton, LF – (1/$800K)
  • David Ross, C – (2/$3M)

Dodgers – 10 total contract years

  • Brad Ausmus, C – (1/$1M)
  • Casey Blake, 3B – (3/$17.5M)
  • Rafael Furcal, SS – (3/$30M)
  • Mark Loretta, 2B – (1/$1.25M)
  • Guillermo Mota, RP – (1/$2.35M)
  • Randy Wolf, SP – (1/$5M)

Compare total contract figures in double-digits to last year (Yankees – 21, Astros – 10)

Compare the past two-years to 2006-07, and see the total contract years balloon: (Cubs – 29, Giants – 23, Red Sox – 22, Orioles – 20, Cardinals – 15, Dodgers – 14, Mets – 13, Yankees – 10).

Clearly, there’s a fundamental shift going on.

It should be noted that many of these contracts, especially in 2006-07, are of the 3-years and over variety. Backloaded free agent contracts can be good, if done sparingly. Done in large doses, they can hamstring a club for years; sometimes a decade or more. If you are a fan of the Yankees, and Cubs, this means trouble. The Yankees have done nearly $890 million worth of contracts with 16 free agent players accounting for 55 contract years over the last three years while the Cubs have $393.675 million worth of contracts with 17 free agent players accounting for 42 contract years. For the Yankees, only LaTroy Hawkins, Miguel Cairo, and Doug Mientkiewicz were one-year deals that have rolled off. Andy Pettitte has had three consecutive one-year deals totaling $37.5 million. For the Cubs, they have seen one-year deals with Daryle Ward, Wade Miller, Cliff Floyd and Jon Lieber roll off the books. Kerry Woods also rolled off the books seeing consecutive one-year deals totaling $5.95 million over the last three years.

It’s clear that MLB owners were seeing mountains of green dance in their heads during the 2006-07 off-season, hence their behavior. Others have speculated that GMs were still enamored with the notion of veteran free agents being of good value over their prime — the possible "PED factor".

Now, long-term investments have been pushed aside in favor of one or two-year deals, and a heavy dose minor league contracts. 

Lastly, we’ve looked at just a sliver of all that could be said about the free agent market over the past couple of years. Either on BizofBaseball.com or possibly here on MLBTR, I’ll be following up with some more. To add some fodder for conversation, here is some data to chew on. Remember, this shows contract totals that have been signed over the three-year period. Contracts may have dropped off, depending on length and signing period. The table is designed to show FA spending habits – those clubs that love to dip their toes in the FA market and those that dive head first:

Past Three Years of Free Agent Signings
Contract Yrs
Club Total
Pct of Total
Avg Sal
Yankees 55 $898,400,000 23.65% $16,334,545
Cubs 42 $393,675,000 10.36% $9,373,214
Giants 34 $305,780,000 8.05% $8,993,529
Red Sox 34 $231,700,000 6.10% $6,814,706
Dodgers 28 $221,725,000 5.84% $7,918,750
Angels 23 $205,155,000 5.40% $8,919,783
Mets 30 $163,550,000 4.31% $5,451,667
Astros 23 $148,000,000 3.90% $6,434,783
Royals 20 $124,600,000 3.28% $6,230,000
Orioles 28 $104,275,000 2.74% $3,724,107
Phillies 19 $103,750,000 2.73% $5,460,526
Braves 14 $98,400,000 2.59% $7,028,571
Reds 21 $95,052,500 2.50% $4,526,310
Mariners 13 $94,125,000 2.48% $7,240,385
Brewers 17 $93,850,000 2.47% $5,520,588
Rangers 12 $69,750,000 1.84% $5,812,500
Cardinals 22 $68,450,000 1.80% $3,111,364
Indians 13 $57,400,000 1.51% $4,415,385
Rays 12 $39,675,000 1.04% $3,306,250
White Sox 10 $35,650,000 0.94% $3,565,000
Rockies 15 $34,900,000 0.92% $2,326,667
Blue Jays 10 $34,570,000 0.91% $3,457,000
Nationals 9 $32,650,000 0.86% $3,627,778
Athletics 8 $32,000,000 0.84% $4,000,000
Padres 14 $31,550,000 0.83% $2,253,571
Twins 9 $30,250,000 0.80% $3,361,111
Tigers 5 $19,750,000 0.52% $3,950,000
Pirates 9 $12,770,000 0.34% $1,418,889
D-Backs 6 $12,050,000 0.32% $2,008,333
Marlins 5 $5,600,000 0.15% $1,120,000
TOTALS 560 $3,799,052,500 $6,784,022

is just talking about free agent signings… not extensions, and not salary arbitration contracts. On the latter, for those interested, Friday is the final day for salary arbitration eligible players to reach agreements or have hearings render decisions. Those that dig this sort of thing…

Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown’s full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

2009 Top 50 Free Agents

It’s time for the third annual MLB Trade Rumors Top 50 Free Agents list!  The entire list of available free agents can be found here.

A note before we begin – this is a complicated puzzle, and I’ll be satisfied if I’m correct on a quarter of these guesses.  If your favorite team seems under-represented, keep in mind that the list doesn’t account for trades or every single free agent.

1.  C.C. Sabathia – Yankees.  The guess here is that the Yankees will make C.C. an offer he can’t refuse, and he’ll sign a seven-year deal.  Sabathia is the key to the Yankees’ offseason.

2.  Mark Teixeira – Angels.  The Angels can probably afford one of Sabathia, Teixeira, and K-Rod.  They need Tex the most.

3. Manny Ramirez – Dodgers.  I think Manny will ultimately sign a deal in the four-year, $100MM range.

4.  Francisco Rodriguez – Mets.  The buzz at the time of this writing is that the Mets will pass on K-Rod and look to sign Fuentes.  However, there aren’t many big-money teams with closer vacancies, and I can see Rodriguez’s price dipping down to the four-year, $56MM range.

5.  A.J. Burnett – Orioles.  I am uneasy about this prediction.  We know Burnett would like to play there, but will the O’s even enter the bidding?  They do need starting pitching badly, and theoretically Burnett will still be effective when they are ready to contend.

6.  Derek Lowe – Yankees.  This would set up a rotation of Sabathia/Wang/Lowe/Pettitte/Chamberlain.  Very solid on paper.

7.  Orlando Hudson – Cardinals.  Hudson, the top free agent second baseman, would be a large upgrade over Adam Kennedy.

8.  Adam Dunn – Nationals.  The Nats attempted to make a free agent splash last year with Torii Hunter.  They’re known to be looking for a cleanup hitter.

9.  Ryan Dempster – Cubs.  Seems to be Jim Hendry’s top offseason priority.  The two have a strong relationship, but Dempster may still score a competitive four-year contract.  It should be noted that Hendry has a strong record of keeping his own free agents when he wants to, despite much hand-wringing leading up to each signing.

10.  Ben Sheets – Braves.  Under this scenario, the Braves are unable to land Jake Peavy via trade.  Sheets is one of many possible free agent pitchers the Braves may consider.  The Red Sox or Dodgers could be other suitors.

11.  Mike Mussina – Retirement.  I will go with the media sentiment that Moose is set to retire despite such a strong 2008.

12.  Raul Ibanez – Braves.  Even after bringing in two starters, they’ll have money left over for left field.

13.  Pat Burrell – Rays.  Burrell belongs in the AL, and the Rays have an open DH spot and the need for a righthanded hitter.

14.  Bobby Abreu – Cubs.  His defense isn’t a perfect fit at Wrigley, but they do crave a left-handed middle of the order bat.  Fitting his salary in could be tricky.

15.  Brian Fuentes – Brewers.  If C.C. signs elsewhere, the Brewers will be able to spread their cash to fill various needs.

16.  Andy Pettitte – Yankees.  Once again, it’s Yankees or retirement for Pettitte.

17.  Rafael Furcal – Dodgers.  The interest is mutual.  Furcal is the top free agent shortstop.

18.  Casey Blake – Twins.  If the Twins don’t like the asking prices for Garrett Atkins and Adrian Beltre, Blake may be the best third baseman on the free agent market.

19.  Milton Bradley – Blue Jays.  The buzz is that the Jays will take a look at Giambi, but Bradley is a nice fit as well at DH.

20.  Jason Giambi – Athletics.  The A’s are looking for a power hitter on a short-term deal, so a reunion makes sense.

21.  Orlando Cabrera – Twins.  Completing the Twins’ new-look infield.  Blake and Cabrera should be capable of league-average production.

22.  Jamie Moyer – Phillies.  The seventh-best free agent starter, based on 2008 numbers.  The Phils may look to add an additional starter for depth.

23.  Kerry Wood – Cubs.  A longtime Cub with a strong relationship with Hendry.  Moving Marmol to the closer role would weaken the Cubs’ pen overall, so they’ll try to hammer something out.

24.  Kenshin Kawakami – Red Sox.  Signing Kawakami for the rotation would allow the Sox to keep Masterson in the pen and let Bowden and Buchholz come along at their own pace.

25.  Randy Johnson – Angels.  An improvement on Garland, and they get the bonus of his 300th win.

26.  Oliver Perez – Dodgers.  One possible fit for Perez, who is just 27 years old.  There is a strong San Diego connection, but you have to figure money will get in the way (Perez is represented by Scott Boras).

27.  Randy Wolf – Astros.  Ed Wade has long been a fan of Wolf, and hopes to re-sign him.  There won’t be much money left over after that.

28.  Mark Grudzielanek – Indians.  Grudz only makes sense here if the Indians miss out on bigger infield targets and shift Jhonny Peralta and Asdrubal Cabrera.

29.  Ray Durham – Diamondbacks.  The D’Backs figure to add one of the veteran second basemen on a short-term deal.

30.  John Smoltz – Braves.  I see no reason Smoltz would leave after all these years.

31.  Ivan Rodriguez – Mets.  Omar Minaya seems to be a fan, and Pudge may provide an upgrade behind the plate on a one-year deal.

32.  Freddy Garcia – Indians.  Not sure if he’ll sign for one year, but Garcia could stabilize a shaky rotation.

33.  Trevor Hoffman – Padres.  Can you picture him playing anywhere else?

34.  Brad Penny – Blue Jays.  Not that the Jays need more injury risk, but they’ve been connected to Penny in trade talks before.

35.  Jeremy Affeldt – Indians.  Affeldt could be a creative closer candidate for the Tribe.  He may jump at the opportunity to pitch the ninth inning.

36.  Jon Garland – Brewers.  If Sabathia and Sheets leave, Garland can step in to eat some innings.

37.  Paul Byrd – Pirates.  The Pirates are said to want to add a veteran starter to the rotation.  Neal Huntington knows Byrd from his Cleveland days.

38.  Braden Looper – Giants.  If Jonathan Sanchez is traded for a power hitter, the Giants might want a veteran to soak up innings.

39.  Edgar Renteria – Cardinals.  The American League hasn’t worked out for Renteria.  If he’ll take a one-year deal, the Cardinals could bring him back.  Pairing him with a (hopefully) strong defender like Hudson could work.

40.  Joe Crede – Dodgers.  If Crede can get past back problems, he might be a bargain on a one-year deal.

41.  Koji Uehara – Royals.  The Royals were interested in Hiroki Kuroda last year.  Maybe they’ll add some rotation depth with Uehara.

42.  Nick Punto – Rays.  Cork Gaines suggested this idea to me.  Seems feasible, unless Punto craves a starting job.

43.  Damaso Marte – Cardinals.  I thought the Yanks would exercise his $6MM option, but a recent report indicated otherwise.  The Cardinals appear willing to spend some coin on a lefty reliever.

44.  Juan Cruz – Tigers.  A dark horse closing candidate, if he can improve his control.  The Tigers don’t have much money to work with this winter.

45.  Mark Kotsay – Reds.  Kotsay can step in at center field for a year to allow younger players to come along.

46.  Jason Varitek – Red Sox.  Tek may find that no team is willing to give him an acceptable multiyear deal.

47.  Garret Anderson – Angels.  The Halos will decline his $14MM option, but may look to bring him back at a lower salary.

48.  Odalis Perez – Nationals.  They need a veteran to eat innings, and Perez is as good as any.  If he demands multiple years, the Nats may choose to move on.

49.  Felipe Lopez – Orioles.  Lopez mashed with the Cards, though it was a short stint.  If Scott Boras doesn’t get crazy over those 169 plate appearances, the Orioles could give him a shot on a one-year deal.

50.  Jim Edmonds – Mariners.  On a one-year deal, Edmonds could play center or DH against righthanders.

Honorable mentions: Rocco Baldelli, Joe Beimel, Doug Brocail, David Eckstein, Tom Glavine, Jerry Hairston Jr., Eric Hinske, Chan Ho Park, Jason Isringhausen, Cesar Izturis, Greg Maddux, Kevin Millar, Tomohiro Nioka, Darren Oliver, Miguel Olivo, Juan Rivera, David Weathers

65 Players File For Free Agency

Yesterday was the first day to file for free agency, and 65 players did.  Here’s the list from the AP.  Many more will file.  Here’s our full list, which is updated regularly.

Free Agent Quotas

Readers often ask whether teams will face quotas if they want to sign multiple Type A or B free agents.  So tonight I busted out the Basic Agreement and tried to translate it into English.  The relevant section:


(a) Clubs shall be limited in the number of Type A and B Players, as defined below, they may subsequently sign to contracts. The number of signings permitted shall be related to the number of Players electing free agency under this Section B. If there are 14 or less such Players, no Club may sign more than one Type A or B Player. If there are from 15 to 38 such Players, no Club may sign more than two Type A or B Players. If there are from 39 to 62 such Players, no Club may sign more than three Type A or B Players. If there are more than 62 such Players, the Club quotas shall be increased accordingly. There shall be no restrictions on the number of unranked Players that a Club may sign to contracts.

(b) Irrespective of the provisions of subparagraph (a) above, a Club shall be eligible to sign at least as many Type A and B Players as it may have lost through Players having become free agents under this Section at the close of the season just concluded.

Got all that?  There will be many more than 62 players electing free agency, so the exact number of Type A/Bs allowed per team is unknown.  It is certain that each team will be allowed to sign at least three.  191 players are potentially eligible for free agency.  It seems that if 131+ players file, each club could be allotted up to six Type A/B signings (more than enough for most).

The above-quoted section b lets certain teams sign even more than the normal allotment.  Say every team is allowed to sign six.  Two teams, the Dodgers (8) and Angels (7), could potentially lose more than six Type A/Bs.  So if the Dodgers somehow lost all eight of their A/B free agents (Kent, Furcal Blake, Ramirez, Lowe, Maddux, Penny, Beimel), they would be allowed to sign eight to make up for it.

To sum it up, I don’t see any team running up against the Type A/B quota.  Comments and questions are welcome – I am not certain my interpretation of the Basic Agreement is correct.

Odds and Ends: Gillick, Cashman, Burnett

Links for Tuesday…

Free Agent Home Run Leaders

12 free agents had 20+ home runs in 2008.  Here’s the leaderboard:

1. Adam Dunn – 40
2. Manny Ramirez – 37
3. Pat Burrell – 33
3. Mark Teixeira – 33
5. Jason Giambi – 32
6. Raul Ibanez – 23
7. Milton Bradley – 22
8. Casey Blake – 21
9. Jim Edmonds – 20
9. Bobby Abreu – 20
9. Kevin Millar – 20
9. Eric Hinske – 20

Honorable mentions: Jerry Hairston Jr. (.487 SLG), Fernando Tatis (.484), Joe Crede (.460), and Orlando Hudson (.450).  The trade market features twelve 20 home run bats in my estimation: Prince Fielder, Aubrey Huff, Mike Jacobs, Dan Uggla, Edwin Encarnacion, Adrian Beltre, Adam LaRoche, Matt Holliday, J.J. Hardy, Melvin Mora, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Garrett Atkins.