Six compensation free agents were taken off the market before other teams could negotiate with them. That included two Type A free agents, as the Padres picked up Brian Giles' option and the Yankees re-signed Damaso Marte during their exclusive negotiating period. The four moves involving Type B free agents were the Rangers picking up Hank Blalock's option, the Brewers picking up options on Mike Cameron and Salomon Torres and the Astros re-signing LaTroy Hawkins.
Below is the updated list of potential compensation free agents, though their former clubs have to offer them arbitration in order to cash in on their departure. Type A free agents yield the signing team's first-round choice and a supplemental first-rounder, while Type Bs return only the sandwich-rounder. Clubs who finished in the bottom half of the major league standings can't surrender their first-round selection.
|Type A Free Agents
Catchers: Jason Varitek (Bos).
First Basemen: Mark Teixeira (LAA).
Second Basemen: Orlando Hudson (Ari).
Shortstops: Orlando Cabrera (CWS), Edgar Renteria (Det).
Outfielders: Manny Ramirez (LAD), Raul Ibanez (Sea), Bob Abreu (NYY), Adam Dunn (Ari), Pat Burrell (Phi).
Starting Pitchers: C.C. Sabathia (Mil), A.J. Burnett (Tor), Andy Pettitte (NYY), Mike Mussina (NYY), Ben Sheets (Mil), Oliver Perez (NYM), Derek Lowe (LAD), Jamie Moyer (Phi).
Relief Pitchers: Francisco Rodriguez (LAA), Brian Fuentes (Col), Russ Springer (StL), Ryan Dempster (ChC), Juan Cruz (Ari), Kerry Wood (ChC), Trevor Hoffman (SD), Doug Brocail (Hou), Darren Oliver (LAA), Bob Howry (ChC).
Type B Free Agents
Catchers: Ivan Rodriguez (NYY), Greg Zaun (Tor), Paul LoDuca (Fla).
Second Basemen: Jeff Kent (LAD), Juan Uribe (CWS), Mark Loretta (Hou), Mark Grudzielanek (KC).
Third Basemen: Casey Blake (LAD).
Outfielders: Garret Anderson (LAA), Moises Alou (NYM), Ken Griffey Jr. (CWS), Luis Gonzalez (Fla).
Designated Hitters: Milton Bradley (Tex), Frank Thomas (Oak).
Starting Pitchers: John Smoltz (Atl), Brad Penny (LAD), Jon Garland (LAA), Randy Wolf (Hou), Paul Byrd (Bos), Greg Maddux (LAD), Braden Looper (StL), Randy Johnson (Ari).
Relief Pitchers: Alan Embree (Oak), Brian Shouse (Mil), Jason Isringhausen (StL), Dave Weathers (Cin), Brandon Lyon (Ari), Jeremy Affeldt (Cin), Arthur Rhodes (Fla), Joe Beimel (LAD), Dennys Reyes (Min), Rudy Seanez (Phi), Luis Ayala (NYM), Eric Gagne (Mil).
When I started researching this, I figured that there would be another team this decade to pull off this double, with the Athletics or Rays as leading candidates. I was wrong. The last organization to take Triple-A and Double-A titles in the same season was the 1993 Astros.
The Tucson Toros won both halves in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League's Southern Division, then defeated the Portland Beavers four games to two in the championship series. The Jackson Generals also won both halves in the Double-A Texas League's Eastern Division, then won six of seven playoff games against the Shreveport Captains and El Paso Diablos.
Each club featured a league MVP—Tucson outfielder James Mouton and Jackson first baseman Roberto Petagine—but neither was unusually loaded with talent. The Toros had three players who had significant major league careers in Todd Jones, Phil Nevin and Shane Reynolds, but the best future big leaguer on the Generals was Brian Hunter.
The Cubs didn't seem to have learned from rushing Corey Patterson to the majors before he could refine his considerable tools into skills. If Pie hadn't injured his right ankle in mid-2005, he would have been called up to play center field for Chicago as a 20-year-old. But now, three years later, he hasn't gotten a full opportunity to show what he can do.
Pie, who's only 23, is still raw in many phases of the game, and that's the problem. The Cubs have championship aspirations, and they don't want to have their center fielder going through on-the-job training. He got an opportunity to play regularly in June 2007 but hit just .218/.296/.333, and he hasn't gotten a second chance. He still is figuring out the intricacies of strike-zone discipline, of tapping into his power potential, of maximizing his considerable speed on the bases.
That said, Fukudome was a disaster last year, batting .217/.314/.326 after the all-star break and looking completely lost at the plate. Pie is the best defensive center fielder the Cubs have, and I'd give him every opportunity to win at least a platoon role in spring training. I'm not sure manager Lou Piniella feels the same way, however, and it's no coincidence that Pie's name surfaces every time Chicago engages in trade talks.
If Pie gets the chance to play, I see him being a solid regular but not the star he once projected as having a chance to become. It's becoming increasingly unlikely he'll get that chance with the Cubs.
Sharpley led the Fighting Irish with 13 homers last spring despite starting just 33 games and getting only 136 at-bats. His football commitments detract from the time he can put into baseball, but he has a lot of raw power in his strong 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame. Teams didn't think he was signable, so he went undrafted in 2008.
Sharpley isn't a big baseball prospect, because he swings and misses too much (47 strikeouts in 2008) and he hasn't developed any skills besides his power. The coaching staff also has limited his exposure to lefthanders, making it that much more difficult to project his chances of reaching the majors.
He might be more interested in signing a baseball contract in 2009 if someone wants to take a chance on him, but it won't be for big money. He's not playing much as the backup quarterback to Jimmy Clausen, and it's possible that he's close to completing his degree in history in his fourth year at Notre Dame. Baseball may look more attractive to Sharpley next summer, and he also could turn pro in baseball and return for his final season of football, as Jeff Samardzija did with the Fighting Irish two years ago.