A number of significant changes simplifying Major League Baseball’s free agent compensation rules have been announced as part of the new 2012-2016 Collective Bargaining Agreement between players and owners.
Because these changes do not fully take effect until this coming fall, the Lords of Baseball agreed on interim terms that impact a handful members of this year’s free agent class. (FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has all the details.)
As a result, the St. Louis Cardinals look to be short-term winners, at least on a small scale.
Five of the club’s eight major league free agents were deemed compensation-eligible by the two-year Elias Rankings that will be eliminated after this year. They are first baseman Albert Pujols (Type A), shortstop Rafael Furcal and pitchers Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson and Arthur Rhodes (all Type B*).
The Cardinals must make an offer of arbitration for a one-year contract to these players* by midnight tonight, Wednesday, November 23, or they will be ineligible to receive compensation if the players sign elsewhere.
Pujols’ case is easy to predict. The Cardinals will offer arbitration because Pujols would never accept a one-year deal at this point. Of course, the organization hopes the two compensatory picks associated with the offer will not come into play and he re-signs with them.
My suspicion is that neither Furcal, Jackson nor Rhodes will be offered.
The two-year, $10.5 million contract that shortstop Clint Barmes received from the Pirates could signal that Furcal has an opportunity to do much better elsewhere. Despite the Cards wanting him back, I doubt they would risk going to an arbitration hearing.
Jackson, a Scott Boras client, may receive a Kyle Lohse-type of contract from some pitching-hungry club. While the Cardinals could likely pick up a comp pick by offering, in the past they have not made offers to players they do not want to bring back. That seems to be the case here. It has nothing to do with Jackson’s skills. With the Cardinals’ 2012 rotation already set and a lot of money committed to them, there seems no room at the inn for him.
Rhodes is 42 years of age. Hopefully, the 2012 Cardinals will look in another direction.
* That leaves the interesting case of Dotel. Originally, he was named a Type A free agent, which restricted his appeal to other clubs, since they would lose their first- or second-round pick by signing him. It was a high price for a reliever.
That changed this week. The special interim rules just enacted freed a small group of relief pitchers, including Dotel. He is among those immediately moved to Type B, but the Cardinals actually benefit by being assured of a compensation pick between the first and second rounds if/when Dotel signs with another club for 2012.
The team lost the chance for two picks (which they were very unlikely to chase, anyway) and get one without having to take action. The player benefits as a new prospective team will not lose a high selection by signing him.
With a draft pick essentially already in hand, the Cardinals have no reason to make Dotel an offer of arbitration. Further, with younger and cheaper right-handed relief alternatives in house, I predict they will not bring him back in 2012.
At the bottom line, there are three possible cases based on my predictions:
1) If Pujols and Dotel re-sign with the Cardinals, the club will receive no extra picks.
2) If Pujols re-signs, the Cardinals would gain one compensation pick from the loss of Dotel. This is my most likely scenario.
3) If neither re-sign with St. Louis, the Cards would pick up a first- or second-round pick plus two compensation selections in the 2012 draft.
Update: The Cardinals’ arbitration offer decisions are outlined at TheCardinalNation.com.
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