It might stink to be Kelly Johnson this offseason. Sure, he'll be signing for millions of dollars, but it's possible that if he wants to explore the open market as a Type A free agent, he'll be saddled with the cost of a draft pick. For example, having to give their #23 overall pick to the Blue Jays next year might deter the Cardinals from making a serious offer to Johnson. Like so many non-star free agents who are offered arbitration, Johnson could be in a bad place because of his Type A status.
As part of the ongoing collective bargaining agreement discussions, the owners and players union "seem focused on two possible solutions for the Type A quandary," writes ESPN's Buster Olney.
The first idea: instead of the new team giving a potential first-round draft pick to the old one, the old team would simply receive a supplemental pick sandwiched between the first and second rounds. In a way, this would be like making all players Type Bs. For example, instead of the Red Sox receiving the Tigers' #19 pick in the 2011 draft for Detroit signing Victor Martinez, maybe they would have received a pick in the 30s, not from the Tigers. This solution seems reasonable.
A second idea would deter teams from offering arbitration to non-star free agents in the first place. Olney equates this to the NFL's system, where a star free agent must be paid 120% of his previous salary or the average salary of the top five highest-paid players at his position, whichever is higher, or else be granted unrestricted free agency. That could mean $8.5MM or more for someone like Kelly Johnson, which could deter the Jays from offering arbitration. The current free agent arbitration system works this way to a lesser extent. Johnson will get a raise if he accepts, despite a down year. This is the reason a Type A free agent like Francisco Rodriguez has no chance of getting an arbitration offer.
Olney says one unresolved question is whether Type A adjustments would be made for the 2012 season or for '13. I think some teams would cry foul if the changes were made for '12. At any rate, Olney is optimistic for a labor agreement within the next two weeks.