Teams have offered arbitration to a total 35 Type A and B free agents, meaning that they'll get compensation if those players sign with another club. A Type A free agent will yield the signing team's first-round pick (unless it's one of the top 18 choices, in which case it becomes a second-rounder) plus a supplemental first-rounder, while a Type B will bring back only the sandwich-round selection.
Three free agents changed teams before their original club had to finalize arbitration plans, making those decisions a no-brainer. The Red Sox will get the 19th overall pick and a sandwich-rounder (currently 34th overall) after losing Victor Martinez (Type A) to the Tigers. The Blue Jays (John Buck, Type B, to the Marlins) and Rays (Joaquin Benoit, Type B, to the Tigers) both collected supplemental first-rounders.
Since the Nov. 23 arbitration decision deadline passed, two more Type B free agents have found new addresses. The Padres get a sandwich pick after Jon Garland went to the Dodgers, while the Yankees pick one up after Javier Vazquez signed with the Marlins (pending a physical).
Below is the draft order as it stands now. I'll continue to update it here in Ask BA throughout the offseason:
7. Diamondbacks (for failure to sign 2010 first-rounder Barret Loux)
10. Padres (for failure to sign 2010 first-rounder Karsten Whitson)
15. Brewers (for failure to sign 2010 first-rounder Dylan Covey)
19. Red Sox (from Tigers for Victor Martinez, Type A)
21. Blue Jays
23. White Sox
24. Red Sox
Supplemental First Round
34. Red Sox (Martinez)
35. Blue Jays (for John Buck, Type B, to Marlins)
36. Padres (for Jon Garland, Type B, to Dodgers)
37. Yankees (for Javier Vazquez, Type B, to Marlins)
38. Rays (for Joaquin Benoit, Type B, to Tigers)
Supplemental Third Round
99. Mariners (for failure to sign 2010 third-rounder Ryne Stanek)
Remaining Type A Compensation Free Agents
First Basemen: Paul Konerko (CWS), Adam Dunn (Was).
Third Basemen: Adrian Beltre (Bos).
Outfielders: Jayson Werth (Phi), Carl Crawford (TB).
Starting Pitchers: Cliff Lee (Tex), Carl Pavano (Min), Jorge de la Rosa (Col).
Relief Pitchers: Rafael Soriano (TB), Scott Downs (Tor), Jason Frasor (Tor), Frank Francisco (Tex), Grant Balfour (TB).
Remaining Type B Compensation Free Agents
Catchers: Miguel Olivo (Tor), Yorvit Torrealba (SD).
First Basemen: Adam LaRoche (Ari).
Second Basemen: Orlando Hudson (Min).
Third Basemen: Felipe Lopez (Bos).
Shortstops: Juan Uribe (SF).
Outfielders: Brad Hawpe (TB).
Starting Pitchers: Javier Vazquez (NYY), Kevin Correia (SD).
Relief Pitchers: Kevin Gregg (Tor), Pedro Feliciano (NYM), Octavio Dotel (Col), Trevor Hoffman (Mil), Randy Choate (TB), J.J. Putz (CWS), Jesse Crain (Min), Aaron Heilman (Ari), Chad Qualls (TB).
The Rays could land the most compensation picks, as three Type A and four Type B free agents could result in a total of 10 extra choices. Two other American League East teams are next in line when it comes to potential draft bonanzas, as the Blue Jays could grab seven extra picks (two Type A and three Type B) and the Red Sox could snag five (two Type A and one Type B).
Changing subjects, there are few people who love college baseball and baseball simulations more than I do, so I enjoyed following What If Sports' college Dream Team tournament. What If Sports created 25-man rosters of major leaguers for 16 colleges, then pitted them against each other. I won't give anything away, other than to say that the finals turned out exactly as I predicted when I saw the initial bracket.
And finally, a scheduling note. There will be no Ask BA next week, when I'm traveling to the Winter Meetings. Ask BA will return with a post-Meetings edition on Dec. 13, then take two weeks off as I wrap up the 2011 Prospect Handbook and then recover/enjoy the holidays.
Then-Yankees scouting director Brian Sabean said at the time that his team didn't think Jeter would get to New York with the sixth overall pick. In retrospect, none of the first five teams was close to taking him. At the time, many club were still reeling from the $1.55 million the Yankees paid Brien Taylor, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1991 draft, nearly tripling the previous draft bonus record.
In his book "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," Buster Olney details how Hall of Fame pitcher Hal Newhouser, the Astros' area scout responsible for covering Jeter as Kalamazoo (Mich.) Central High, told Houston brass that Jeter was a special player and person. There were rumors Jeter wanted a seven-figure bonus to pass up a Michigan scholarship, however, and Houston was worried about signability as much as ability.
The Astros were in the process of being sold, and they had declined to sign No. 6 overall choice John Burke when he held out for $500,000 the year before. Houston was determined to work out bonus parameters with 1992's top pick before the draft, and did exactly that, negotiating a $700,000 deal with Nevin.
The Indians (who held the No. 2 pick), Expos (No. 3) and Reds (No. 5) also valued cost certainty and selected players who agreed to terms on draft day. Cleveland grabbed Shuey for $650,000, Montreal took Wallace for $550,000 and Cincinnati overdrafted Mottola for $400,000.
The Orioles (No. 4) were the lone team picking ahead of the Yankees that was willing to pay for top talent. They did exactly that by taking Hammonds, the draft's consensus top prospect, and ultimately signing him for $975,000—the largest bonus paid in the 1992 draft.
As for Jeter, he signed for the same $700,000 that the Astros gave Nevin. Disgusted that his team disregarded his judgment, Newhouser quit his job with Houston.
Teams rarely develop early-round picks or quality prospects as relievers, unless they enter pro ball in that role. They'll almost always try to turn a talented arm into a starter, moving him to the bullpen only when it appears he won't be able to cut it in a big league rotation or when a need arises there. Even if the pitcher winds up becoming a reliever, getting work as a starter in the minors gives him extra innings to develop.
The Cardinals will try to groom Blair for their rotation after drafting him 46th overall and signing him for $751,500. He has the stuff to make it as a starter, working mostly with a 92-94 mph fastball and a potential plus curveball and mixing in a changeup and cutter. If he can refine his command, he could be a good No. 3 starter.
If not, Blair could focus on his two best pitches as a reliever. He has touched 98 mph as a starter and theoretically would pitch in the mid-90s coming out of the bullpen. If he goes that route, he could become a set-up man or possibly a closer.
Signed for a then-Giants record $2.1 million in 2006, Villalona had the best raw power in the system but struggled in high Class A three years later. He strained his quadriceps in July 2009, ending his season, and went home to the Dominican Republic that fall to visit his mother. Before he could return to the United States for instructional league, Villalona was arrested and charged with fatally shooting a man Sept. 19 in a dispute over a seat in a bar.
Villalona remained in jail until he was released on bail Nov. 6. The family of the victim, Mario Felix de Jesus Velete, requested that all charges be withdrawn—after Villalona paid them $138,000—but prosecutor Jose Antonio Polanco has told the Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle that the case will go to trial. Villalona had a preliminary hearing in court on April 27, but no new details have emerged since then.
The Giants haven't commented publicly while the legal proceedings are ongoing. San Francisco hasn't released Villalona, instead placing him on the restricted list to retain his rights without having to use a roster spot on him. His U.S. visa has been revoked, however, and it's uncertain whether he'll get another one even if he's cleared of murder charges.
I'll believe he'll play baseball in the United States again when it happens. His questionable strike-zone discipline and athleticism combined with his long layoff make it doubtful that he'll ever be a significant big leaguer.