When baseball's players and owners announced the new collective bargaining agreement in November, they introduced dozens of changes to the game, including one that mattered a great deal to a subset of free agents. Beginning in the 1980s, teams had to surrender draft picks to sign Type A free agents who rejected offers of arbitration from their former teams. This penalty made it difficult for many non-elite Type A players to generate interest, seams teams were hesitant to surrender a draft pick for anything less than a star.
For the 2011-12 offseason, players and owners agreed to modify the procedure for Type A free agents. The sides determined that teams should only surrender picks for the best free agents, and that it should no longer cost draft picks to sign 11 Type A players. Here's a look at how those 11 players fared this offseason, when their leverage wasn't diminished by their Type A ranking (players sorted by guaranteed conract value):
- Michael Cuddyer - three years, $31.5MM
- Heath Bell - three years, $27MM
- Josh Willingham - three years, $21MM
- Ryan Madson - one year, $8.25MM
- Francisco Rodriguez - one year, $8MM via arbitration
- Ramon Hernandez - two years, $6.4MM
- Kelly Johnson - one year, $6.375MM via arbitration
- Matt Capps - one year, $4.75MM
- Darren Oliver - one year, $4.5MM
- Francisco Cordero - one year, $4.5MM
- Octavio Dotel - one year, $3.5MM
While it's impossible to know how this group would have done if the players above had been tied to draft pick compensation, it's safe to assume they wouldn't have done any better (no team wants to surrender draft picks). In previous offseasons, someone like Dotel might have still have been waiting for a job at this point in the winter. I believe the procedural changes provided these 11 players with additional leverage and, as a result, more guaranteed money.