This isn’t a major concern for most teams, (especially in the current market) but sandwich picks and other compensation in the rule 4 (amateur) draft are determined by a cockamamie formula developed by the Elias Sports Bureau.
Teams that lose a Type A free agent are compensated with two draft picks. Teams that lose a Type B free agent get one pick in return. The other particulars, along with the entire list of this year’s FA Class Rankings, can be found here. The entire list of Elias rankings (everybody, not just FAs) can be seen here. (The formula takes into account the previous two seasons–that’s how a guy like Mark Mulder and his 93 IP of 7.14 ERA in ’06 can wiggle his way to the top of the B class of starting pitchers.)
It’s interesting because it’s an exploitable area. If you’re a low-budget team looking to build your organization through the draft and player development, losing the right guys (overvalued, Type A free agents) can pay dividends. Similarly, signing the right low-level (Type-B/No-Comp) undervalued FAs, whereby you don’t lose a pick, is certainly low-risk, and might be high-return if you’re lucky.
With position classes weighted equally, losing David Riske (RP) gets you as many compensatory picks as losing Jason Schmidt (SP) or Alfonso Soriano (1B,OF,DH). White Sox fans can feel good about that one, and Red Sox fans can rejoice with Mark Loretta making the A-list.
Keep in mind, nearly all these comped picks are within the first two rounds, that’s before solid-looking prospects like Jonathan Papelbon, Elijah Dukes, or Ricky Nolasco are getting picked…they are slots where you’re essentially getting instant top-20 prospects within your organization.
(UPDATE: Apologies. Teams that sign a Type B Free Agent do lose one of their own draft picks. Also, (and something pretty important that I forgot to mention) the top 15 picks are protected. So, as a few commenters pointed out, the Cubs, for instance, do not lose their cozy #3 slot as a result of signing Alf.
–Koch at CubDumb