There are just eight potential compensation free agents. With the rule changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams have to make a one-year offer equivalent to the average of the top 125 major league salaries ($13.3 million this year) in order to get a draft pick for the loss of a free agent. Nine players received such offers by the deadline last Friday.
David Ortiz and the Red Sox since have agreed to a two-year, $26 million contract. The other eight players have until this Friday to accept the qualifying offer, work out a longer deal or hit the free-agent market with strings attached. Those eight are: Michael Bourn (Braves), Josh Hamilton (Rangers), Hiroki Kuroda (Yankees), Adam LaRoche (Nationals), Kyle Lohse (Cardinals), Rafael Soriano (Yankees), Nick Swisher (Yankees) and B.J. Upton (Rays).
If these players change addresses, their new team will surrender their first-round pick (unless it falls among the top 10 choices, in which case it gives up a second-rounder) and their former club will get a choice at the end of the first round. The Yankees could wind up with a record four first-rounders if they lose Kuroda, Soriano and Swisher and refrain from signing one of the other compensation free agents.
Among the most prominent free agents not receiving qualifying offers were Dan Haren (Angels), Torii Hunter (Angels), Edwin Jackson (Nationals), Mike Napoli (Rangers), Angel Pagan (Giants) and A.J. Pierzynski (White Sox). Players who didn't spend the entire season with one team, such as Zack Greinke (Brewers and Angels) and Anibal Sanchez (Marlins and Tigers), aren't eligible for compensation.
Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, is also the clear No. 1 among that group in terms of offensive potential. He has drawn comparisons to Manny Machado (who in turns gets likened to a young Alex Rodriguez), and Correa's size, bat speed, strength and mature approach should allow him to hit for average with considerable power.
After him, I'd give Russell a slight edge over Seager, followed by Mondesi and Quinn. Quinn has top-of-the-line speed, making him easily the fastest of this group and a possible dynamic leadoff man, but he doesn't impact the ball the way the other guys do.
All of them have the present tools to remain at shortstop, with Mondesi the biggest lock to do so. Seager is the most likely to outgrow the position, a fate that also could befall Correa, but both of those guys have the bats to profile as stars elsewhere. Russell has some thickness to his body but toned it up this year, while some scouts have wondered if Quinn might be a better defender in center field.
Barely a day goes by when I don't get an email or a Tweet from a fan asking me about the chances of his favorite team liberating Andrus or Profar from the Rangers. Texas does have an embarrassment of riches at shortstop, with Andrus coming off his second All-Star Game selection at age 23 and Profar ranking as the game's best prospect. The Rangers also have several other shortstop prospects in the minors, most notably Luis Sardinas.
But Texas has no need to trade either Andrus or Profar unless someone blows them away with an offer. Andrus can't become a free agent until after the 2014 season and will make $10.3 million over the next two years, while Profar won't be eligible for arbitration until after the 2015 season. Profar has enough bat to profile all over the diamond, so it makes the most sense for the Rangers to leave Andrus at shortstop, put Profar at second base and reduce the wear and tear on Ian Kinsler by moving him to the outfield.
Andrus is one of the game's best shortstops and Profar is a potential superstar, so dealing either for a combination of lesser players doesn't make much sense. It's a lot easier to find a first baseman or reliever than a shortstop, so I can't see that Adams/Rosenthal package interesting Texas. Catchers are much scarcer, so I imagine the Rangers would have some interest in d'Arnaud (but not the less well-rounded Arencibia), but I still don't see them giving up Andrus or Profar.
Quackenbush has yet to post an ERA above 0.94 at any of his four stops in pro ball, including his eight scoreless and hitless AFL appearances. He has gone a combined 5-3, 0.75 with 50 saves in 95 appearances, striking out 154 in 108 innings while allowing just 67 hits, one homer and 36 walks.
An eighth-round pick out of South Florida in 2011, Quackenbush signed for $5,000, the lowest bonus in the top 10 rounds last year. He had little leverage because he was a college senior and because his baseball career could have ended on Oct. 31, 2010, when he was arrested on a felony count of leaving the scene of an accident with injury in Tampa.
According to the police report, Quackenbush hit a marked police car with his pickup truck at 2:59, flipping the car three times and into a ditch. The officer suffered a cut to his head and Quackenbush continued home to his apartment, where he was arrested a half-hour later. As part of a plea agreement, he avoided jail by accepting to 100 hours of community service, four years of probation (during which he can't consume alcohol and is subject to drug testing) and $1,600 in court costs.
As is the case with many relievers who star in the minors, Quackenbush's stuff isn't as spectacular as his statistics. He usually pitches at 91-92 mph and peaks at 95 mph with his fastball, which plays up because of the deception in his herky-jerky delivery and the downhill plane his 6-foot-3 frame provides. His slider has some tilt but is fringy, and his control and command are merely average.
Quackenbush is a prospect, albeit one who will have to prove himself at every step of the minors. He obviously has had no problem doing that so far. Projecting him as a closer would be a stretch, but he could push for a big league job in 2014.