The free-agent season began as soon as the World Series ended, so it's time to look at which players might yield draft-pick compensation.
Players who rank in the top 20 percent of their position group (as determined by a statistical formula laid out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement) are designated as Type A free agents, and those who rate in the 21-40 percent bracket are designated as Type B. In order to receive compensation for a Type A or B free agent, the player's former team must offer him arbitration by the Nov. 23 deadline. The player also must sign a major league contract with his new club.
Type A free agents bring back the signing team's first-round pick and a supplemental first-rounder as compensation, while Type B free agents produce only the sandwich pick. Clubs that finished in the bottom half of the major league standings have their first-rounders protected from compensation, and teams also can't lose a consolation pick for failure to sign a draftee from the previous year. If a team signs multiple Type A free agents, the club that lost the higher-ranking player gets the better choice.
Below are the potential Type A and B compensation free agents by position, listed in order of their statistical ranking.
|Potential Type A Compensation Free Agents
Catchers: Victor Martinez (Bos), A.J. Pierzynski (CWS), Ramon Hernandez (Cin), Bengie Molina (Tex).
First Basemen: Paul Konerko (CWS), Adam Dunn (Was), Derrek Lee (Atl)
Second Basemen: None.
Third Basemen: Adrian Beltre (Bos), Miguel Tejada (SD).
Shortstops: Derek Jeter (NYY).
Outfielders: Jayson Werth (Phi), Carl Crawford (TB), Magglio Ordonez (Det), Manny Ramirez (CWS).
Designated Hitters: Vladimir Guerrero (Tex).
Starting Pitchers: Cliff Lee (Tex), Andy Pettitte (NYY), Carl Pavano (Min), Jorge de la Rosa (Col).
Relief Pitchers: Rafael Soriano (TB), Mariano Rivera (NYY), Matt Guerrier (Min), Scott Downs (Tor), Dan Wheeler (TB), Jason Frasor (Tor), Frank Francisco (Tex), Grant Balfour (TB), Arthur Rhodes (Cin).
Potential Type B Compensation Free Agents
Catchers: John Buck (Tor), Miguel Olivo (Tor), Jason Varitek (Bos), Yorvit Torrealba (SD), Gerald Laird (Det), Rod Barajas (LAD).
First Basemen: Lance Berkman (NYY), Carlos Pena (TB), Mike Lowell (Bos), Adam LaRoche (Ari), Aubrey Huff (SF).
Second Basemen: Orlando Hudson (Min), David Eckstein (SD).
Third Basemen: Felipe Lopez (Bos).
Shortstops: Orlando Cabrera (Cin), Juan Uribe (SF).
Outfielders: Brad Hawpe (TB), Scott Podsednik (LAD).
Designated Hitters: Johnny Damon (Det), Hideki Matsui (LAA).
Starting Pitchers: Jon Garland (SD), Javier Vazquez (NYY), Hiroki Kuroda (LAD), Kevin Millwood (Bal), Kevin Correia (SD).
Relief Pitchers: Jon Rauch (Min), Koji Uehara (Bal), Brian Fuentes (Min), Kevin Gregg (Tor), Joaquin Benoit (TB), Pedro Feliciano (NYM), Octavio Dotel (Col), Trevor Hoffman (Mil), Kerry Wood (NYY), Randy Choate (TB), J.J. Putz (CWS), Jesse Crain (Min), Aaron Heilman (Ari), Chad Durbin (Phi), Chad Qualls (TB).
Rendon, our 2010 College Player of the Year, is the current favorite to go No. 1 overall in the 2011 draft. It's a deep crop, however, so he's by no means a lock with pitchers such as UCLA's Gerrit Cole and Texas Christian's Matt Purke also available.
If he had entered a pro ball a year early, Rendon would be in the top 10 of next year's Top 100. Angels outfielder Mike Trout would be my clear No. 1 prospect, but I could at least argue Rendon against almost any of the other top hitting prospects, such as Yankees catcher Jesus Montero, Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown and the Royals trio of Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers (while giving the pros credit for proving themselves against significantly better competition).
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, also is in that group and almost certainly will be in our top 10. And as I've said before, I'd take Rendon over Harper because I think he'll be a better all-around hitter and a more valuable defender, not to mention that his makeup is less worrisome.
I'm still not blown away by the 2012 draft crop. The top prospect, Stanford shortstop Kenny Diekroeger, wouldn't crack a combined 2011-12 Top 10, and maybe not even a Top 15. That's a testament both to the strength of the 2011 group and the fact that the 2012 bunch doesn't have any obvious can't-miss guys.
Here are my top 10 prospects for the 2012 draft, a list that's sure to change a lot over the next 19 months:
1. Kenny Diekroeger, ss, Stanford
Unsigned Rays 2010 second-rounder sticks out with athleticism, bat speed.
2. Brian Goodwin, of, North Carolina
Five-tool potential includes plus-plus raw power, speed.
3. Lance McCullers Jr., rhp, Jesuit HS, Tampa
Touches 98 mph with his fastball, complements it with a nasty slider.
4. Nick Williams, of, Ball HS, Galveston, Texas
Recorded top SPARQ score, drew Jason Heyward comps at Area Code Games.
5. Mark Appel, rhp, Stanford
Oozes projection at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds; already flashes 98 mph with his heater.
6. Deven Marrero, ss, Arizona State
Flashy defender with some surprising pop for a middle infielder.
7. Trey Williams, ss, Valencia HS, Santa Clarita, Calif.
Has booming bat reminiscent of his father Eddie, the No. 4 overall pick in June 1983.
8. Jake Barrett, rhp, Arizona State
Sat in the mid-90s as a freshman reliever; could be Sun Devils' Friday starter in 2011.
9. Lex Rutledge, lhp, Samford
No longer flying under the radar after showing plus fastball, slider in Cape Cod League.
10. Lucas Giolito, rhp, Harvard-Westlake School, North Hollywood, Calif.
Hardest thrower at Area Codes parked at 94 mph and touched 96.
We posted our Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects list online on Friday, with McGuire at No. 2, Wojciechowski No. 6 and Sanchez No. 9. (To find out where Syndergaard checks in on our Jays Top 30, you'll have to buy the 2011 Prospect Handbook.) Those rankings are based on a combination of potential and likelihood of reaching that potential, so Rob's question is an entirely different matter.
McGuire has a good arsenal of pitches and definitely the most polish of the group, but he conceivably could rank fourth in terms of pure stuff when all of those pitchers are finished products. Wojciechowski has the best present fastball, sitting at 92-94 mph and touching at 96, but Sanchez and Syndergaard already touch 95 and have a lot of projection remaining in their slender frames. McGuire operates at 90-94 mph.
There's not much to separate McGuire's slider, Sanchez's curveball and Wojciechowski's slider. Syndergaard has made good strides with his curveball in the last year, but he figures to have the fourth-best breaking ball of the quartet. Syndergaard might have the best changeup in the long run, however, as none of them have one that stands apart from the rest right now.
Sanchez has the biggest upside of the four Jays premium picks, followed by Wojciechowski, McGuire and Syndergaard. McGuire is a lot closer to his ceiling, which is why he ranked the highest on our Jays Top 10.