How Did Type A Free Agents Do This Winter?

You'd think it would be a good thing to be identified as a premium player at your position, but Type A status is more of a curse than a blessing for some free agents. Teams have to give up a top pick to sign Type A free agents who turn down arbitration, and that scares some clubs away. GMs covet high draft picks since they can become cheap, young contributors within a couple years, so there's a league-wide reluctance to hand over top picks for Type A free agents who aren't elite players.

That's not an issue for Mark Teixeira types – teams will want to sign Hall of Fame caliber talent no matter what – but the Elias system doesn't rank players the way front offices do, so the market for some players is limited by their Type A status. Ask Juan Cruz and Orlando Hudson about the effect the Elias Rankings can have on a player's contract.
This year, however, those who declined arbitration don't have reason to regret their decisions. All the Type A free agents below had multiple suitors and all but Billy Wagner signed multi-year deals. This doesn't mean teams are willing to hand over top picks. Instead it's likely an indication that agents are only letting Type As decline arbitration offers if the players are sure to attract lots of interest on the market. 

But players aren't necessarily handcuffed by the Elias rankings. Some, like Justin Duchscherer and Orlando Cabrera, have negotiated clauses into their contracts that forbid their teams from offering arbitration if they're designated Type A free agents.

Here's a complete look at the deals signed by the group of Type A free agents who turned down their teams' offers of arbitration this winter.


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