Last winter, when Brian Cashman was arguing against the Yankees signing Rafael Soriano, part of his opposition had as much to do with Soriano’s status as his arm. Soriano was a Type A free agent, and that meant signing him would cost the Yankees a first-round draft pick, and that was a significant cost.
Yesterday, Buster Olney wrote that one of the current sticking points in the collective bargaining agreement negotiation is about Type A free agents, specifically making sure draft pick compensation doesn’t hurt the players themselves.
It ultimately didn’t hurt Soriano — and this winter it won’t hurt Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder — but some players who carry the Type A label could lose out on money because of it. They could accept arbitration for less than the open market would provide, or they could carry an added cost that brings their free agent value down. Kelly Johnson could be one such case this winter, like Grant Balfour and Juan Cruz were in the past.
According to Olney, the league and the union are discussing two alternatives to the current system.
1. Essentially making Type A free agents into Type B free agents so that they generate only compensation picks.
2. Creating a system that assures a massive payday for any Type A who accepts arbitration.
According to Olney: One of the unresolved questions is whether the Type A adjustments will be made for the 2012 season or for 2013. But there continues to be optimism, in general, that a new labor agreement will be finished sometime in the next two weeks.
An immediate change could obviously impact this winter’s free agent market, and the approach to some of the biggest names available.
Associated Press photo