This year’s mid-season trade market is affected by the new rules in the CBA signed last winter. As many of you know, teams cannot get compensation draft picks for players they picked up during the season. This hurts the trade value of players who are in their final year of a contract. It also eliminates the reason for the Miguel Olivo trade a day before free agency began, giving the Blue Jays an extra 2nd round comp. pick for the Type B free agent. Instead of trading for the player and the subsequent draft picks, the team receiving the player only gains the services of that player.
Here is a shortened list compiled of draft picks tied to the compensation of Type A free agents.
|Year||Free Agent||From||To||Pick #1||Pick #2|
|2009||Mark Teixeira||Angels||Yankees||Mike Trout||Tyler Skaggs|
|2008||Torii Hunter||Twins||Angels||Carlos Gutierrez||Shooter Hunt|
|2007||Carlos Lee||Rangers||Astros||Blake Beavan||Julio Borbon|
|2007||Frank Catalanotto||Blue Jays||Rangers||Kevin Ahrens||Justin Jackson|
|2006||Tom Gordon||Yankees||Phillies||Ian Kennedy||Joba Chamberlain|
|2005||Orlando Cabrera||Red Sox||Angels||Jacoby Ellsbury||Jed Lowrie|
|2005||Derek Lowe||Red Sox||Dodgers||Craig Hansen||Michael Bowden|
|2005||Pedro Martinez||Red Sox||Mets||Clay Buchholz||Jonathan Egan|
|2002||3 guys||Athletics||Nick Swisher||Joe Blanton|
|2001||Mike Hampton||Mets||Rockies||Aaron Heilman||David Wright|
Of course, I have to start the list with the most unfortunate Braves move in recent memory. While Teixeira performed very well for the Braves, the packages in the transactions really hurt the team. I say the haul going to the Rangers is still worse, but the backside of the trade is nearly as bad. The players received from the Angels, Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek, were essentially of no value, while the Angels used the compensation picks for Tex on Trout and Skaggs, the key component of the Dan Haren trade. I’m not saying the Braves would have picked those two, but the thought that they could have is a bit haunting.
Going down the list, you realize that most teams don’t hit on their comp. picks that well. The Twins missed on the picks of losing Hunter and the Blue Jays on losing Catalanotto, though I have no idea how he was a Type A free agent. The Yankees did well with the Gordon picks and the Mets with the Hampton picks.
After winning the ’04 World Series, the Red Sox lost 3 Type A’s, giving them six extra picks, of which three were good and three were poor. The Moneyball A’s draft of ’02 gave Oakland the same amount of picks, with them only hitting on two of those picks, while the other four never reached the majors. The MLB draft is the biggest crapshoot of them all, which I believe makes this an over-rated portion of the trade negotiations. Since the top 10 picks are protected, you rarely find All-Star level talent after that (Trout, Ellsbury, Wright as the exceptions). Also, with the new draft pool spending limits, overpaying for a late 1st round pick is harder, making the comp. picks less desirable.
Along with the lower value of the draft picks, the process may be overstated in general. To get compensation, the player would have to receive a qualifying offer after the season worth the average of the 125 largest contracts in the league. This year, that value looks to be between $12-13M. This eliminates nearly all relievers, so they may actually move more freely this month. Overall, there are probably 10-15 upcoming free agents who this could affect, and only about five who may be on the trade market.
As a team negotiating for someone like Zack Greinke or Cole Hamels, you should treat the Brewers’ or Phillies’ demands of losing the comp. picks as something around a MLB-average player and a marginal major leaguer. This, along with the 2-month rental of the great player, should not be too much more than a normal trade. It may deter teams trying to catch up to a playoff spot, but teams with good chances of the playoffs, such as the Braves, can’t be scared to pull the trigger.