I was running around Arizona all weekend, taking part in Baseball HQ's annual fantasy symposium at the Arizona Fall League and catching as many AFL games as I could. The best performance I saw was Rangers lefthander Matt Harrison tossing four hitless innings, though his stuff was merely solid and far from overwhelming. I was a little less impressed with Devil Rays shortstop Reid Brignac than I expected, as he went 0-for-5 and didn't sting the ball as hard as Giants shortstop Emmanuel Burriss in the same contest. Those were both one-game snapshots, of course.
Since returning home, I've been trying (not very successfully) to catch up on everything I missed as well as the 2008 Prospect Handbook. Ask BA fell by the wayside last week, so here's an early edition for this week, with the next one scheduled for Nov. 16.
We track free-agent compensation throughout the offseason in Ask BA, so let's start with a review of how it's determined. The Elias Sports Bureau calculates ratings based on performance over the last two years, with players divided into the following groups: catchers; first basemen, outfielders and DHs; second basemen, third basemen and shortstops; starting pitchers; and relief pitchers. The top 20 percent of players at a position are designated Type A free agents, while those in the 21-40 percent group are Type B free agents.
Any free agent who doesn't qualify as a Type A or B requires no compensation. Additionally, any Type A or B free agent who isn't offered arbitration by his former club also yields no compensation. Otherwise, the former team gets the signing club's first-round pick and a supplemental first-round selection for a Type A free agent, or just the supplemental first-rounder for a Type B. The first 15 picks in the first round are protected, so if a club holding one of those choices signs a Type A free agent, it surrenders its second-rounder instead.
With all that now out of the way, here's the list of Type A and B free agents:
|Ari: RHP Livan Hernandez (B).
Atl: OF Andruw Jones (B), LHP Ron Mahay (B).
Bos: RHP Eric Gagne (B), 3B Mike Lowell (A), RHP Mike Timlin (B).
ChC: C Jason Kendall (B).
Cle: OF Kenny Lofton (B).
Col: RHP Jorge Julio (B), C Yorvit Torrealba (B).
Det: 1B Sean Casey (B), RHP Todd Jones (B), LHP Kenny Rogers (B).
Hou: INF Mark Loretta (B), RHP Trever Miller (B).
KC: RHP David Riske (B).
LAD: OF Luis Gonzalez (B).
Mil: RHP Francisco Cordero (A), 2B/3B Tony Graffanino (B), RHP Scott Linebrink (A).
Min: OF Torii Hunter (A).
NYM: 2B Luis Castillo (B), LHP Tom Glavine (A), OF Shawn Green (B), C Paul LoDuca (B).
NYY: LHP Andy Pettitte (A), C Jorge Posada (A), RHP Mariano Rivera (A), 3B Alex Rodriguez (A), RHP Luis Vizcaino (B).
Oak: C Mike Piazza (B), OF Shannon Stewart (B).
Phi: RHP Freddy Garcia (B), 2B Tadahito Iguchi (A), OF Aaron Rowand (A).
StL: SS David Eckstein (B), RHP Troy Percival (B), RHP Russ Springer (A).
SD: C Michael Barrett (A), OF Milton Bradley (A), RHP Doug Brocail (B), OF Mike Cameron (B).
SF: OF Barry Bonds (A), 3B Pedro Feliz (B), SS Omar Vizquel (B).
Sea: OF Jose Guillen (B).
TB: *RHP Al Reyes (B).
*Team holds 2008 option.
The Yankees potentially could land the most compensation draft choices of any team, as they would get four first-round selections and five sandwich picks if they were to lose Pettitte, Posada, Rivera, Rodriguez and Vizcaino. That's unlikely to happen, of course. Pettitte has said he'll either return to New York or retire, while the Yankees both desperately need Posada and Rivera and can pay them more than any other club could.
New York has four Type A free agents. The only other teams with as many as two are the Brewers, Padres and Phillies.
For the second straight year, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski identified a need, picked out a target and quickly completed a deal. In 2006, Detroit wanted to add some power and did so by getting Gary Sheffield from the Yankees for three pitching prospects.
That deal went down two weeks after the World Series ended, but Dombrowski didn’t wait nearly as long this time around. On the day after the 2007 Fall Classic concluded, the Tigers made their move for Renteria. That will allow them to move Carlos Guillen to first base.
Detroit is trying to win now, as this trade clearly indicates. Renteria is coming off one of his best years ever at the plate (.332/.390/.470) and he'll provide more offense than Sean Casey (.296/.353/.393), whom Guillen displaces at first base. I don't buy the reasoning, however, that Renteria represents an upgrade on Guillen's shortstop defense. Renteria's range has diminished significantly in recent years. With Renteria at shortstop, though, Guillen should be able to stay healthier and more productive.
This move was a no-brainer for Atlanta, which tried unsuccessfully to move Renteria at the deadline. Yunel Escobar and/or prospect Brent Lillibridge should reasonably approximate what Renteria gave the Braves at a fraction of his cost ($9 million in 2008, plus an $11 million option or a $3 million buyout in 2009). Atlanta also picked up a young pitcher to bolster its starting staff, and in time Jurrjens should settle into the middle of the rotation. Hernandez, the MVP in the low Class A Midwest League, is a dynamic center fielder and baserunner who could be Andruw Jones' long-term successor in center field.
While the trade is understandable from both sides, it favors the Braves in the long run.
The 55th overall pick in June, Hagadone already is looking like a steal. After allowing five runs in his first pro game, he pitched scoreless ball over 23 innings for the rest of the summer. He's a 6-foot-5, 230-pound lefthander with a 92-94 mph fastball and an 82-84 mph slider. His changeup has had its moments, and if he can refine it, he'll be a starter. If not, he can be a nasty reliever.
Hagadone's upside is as a No. 2 starter, but it's early and I'm conservative when it comes to projecting starters, so I wouldn't expect more than a No. 3 at this point. But his potential is certainly intriguing, and he may not need much time in the minors before he can contribute in Boston.