While several major free agents have already been signed this offseason, there has been relatively little change to the 2016 amateur draft order. It’s a little surprising given that, with a record 20 free agents receiving qualifying offers, the stage was set for a massive reshuffle for next year’s first round.
Or maybe, in hindsight, it’s not that surprising that the list of QO free agents is still pretty robust as we hit Christmas. As ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote in his most recent subscription-only column, some agents and executives think that with an increasing number of teams preparing to “tank” the 2016 season, this has thinned the market for suitors for these established veterans. There has also been a lot of attention paid to the free agents who didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to their services, as David Price, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Ben Zobrist have all been signed.
Assuming Daniel Murphy’s agreement with the Nationals is finalized, that will account for 11 of the 20 qualifying offer free agents off the board. Of that 11-man group, Hisashi Iwakuma and Marco Estrada signed new contracts with their former teams and while three players (Colby Rasmus, Matt Wieters, Brett Anderson) also stayed put and set a precedent by accepting the QO. That accounts for six free agent signings that impacted the updated draft order…
10. White Sox
12. Red Sox
23. Blue Jays
COMPENSATION ROUND (bonus picks given to teams who issued qualifying offers to players who signed elsewhere; picks are allotted in inverse order of 2015 record)
27. White Sox (for Jeff Samardzija signing with the Giants)
28. Nationals (for Jordan Zimmermann signing with the Tigers)
29. Mets (for Daniel Murphy signing with the Nationals)
30. Dodgers (for Zack Greinke signing with the Diamondbacks)
31. Cardinals (for John Lackey signing with the Cubs)
32. Cardinals (for Jason Heyward signing with the Cubs)
Thus far four teams (San Francisco, Arizona, Chicago and Washington) have given up their first-rounder to sign a qualifying offer free agent. The D’Backs were originally slated for the 13th overall pick of the first round, the Nationals 18th, the Giants 19th and the Cubs 28th.
Since the Cubs signed two QO free agents, they’ve also given up their first pick of the second round. It’s possible Chicago could recoup a pick in the compensation round, however, if the qualifying-offered Dexter Fowler signs with a new team. Along those same lines, Washington gained a compensatory pick for Zimmermann and will get another when Ian Desmond signs elsewhere, which undoubtedly factored into the Nats being comfortable enough to give up their first-rounder for Murphy.
The top 10 slots in the draft are protected, so Detroit kept its first-rounder (ninth overall) and only has to surrender its top second-round pick in order to sign Zimmermann.
Beyond the compensation round are the Competitive Balance Selections (which were determined by a lottery in July and can be traded) and various other extra picks given to teams who failed to sign players in those corresponding spots in last year’s draft. MLB.com’s amateur draft site has a full listing of every pick within the first three rounds, minus the changes in the wake of the Murphy agreement.