Free Agents Can Sign With New Teams

Let the bidding begin!  Free agents are now allowed to sign with new teams.

Activity may still be limited this month, however.  55 Type A or B free agents are eligible to be offered arbitration at the November 23rd deadline, based on the Elias rankings.  In many cases, teams will wait to see whether an arbitration offer is made before signing a free agent.  Say the Pirates want to sign Type A free agent Ramon Hernandez.  If they sign him before November 23rd, an arbitration offer becomes assumed, and the Pirates have to give the Reds their second-round pick in the June 2012 draft.  They'll want to see whether the Reds actually offer arbitration, because if not there will be no draft pick compensation. 

This concept matters less for Type B free agents, because the new team doesn't directly give a draft pick to the old one.  Teams still may not want to guarantee their competitors draft picks, though.  If the Red Sox want to sign Type B free agent Freddy Garcia, doing so before November 23rd guarantees the Yankees a supplemental draft pick.

Certain star players will be obviously be offered arbitration, for example Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Jose Reyes.  With these players the November 23rd deadline is not important, but stars usually don't sign in November anyway because they prefer to let the market develop into December or January.

Last year free agents were free to sign with new teams as of November 7th, and the arbitration offer deadline was November 23rd.  Victor Martinez was the only Type A free agent to sign with a new team during that period, while Joaquin Benoit and John Buck were the only Bs.  All three were locks for arbitration offers, so there was no harm in signing them early.  There were several re-signings during that period, including Aubrey Huff, Jake Westbrook, Ramon Hernandez, and Jhonny Peralta.

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