The Nationals re-signed Adam LaRoche last week, reducing the pool of potential compensation free agents to three: Michael Bourn (Braves), Kyle Lohse (Cardinals) and Rafael Soriano (Yankees). None is drawing a lot of interest, because draft picks are more valuable than ever and teams have been reluctant to surrender a first-rounder for any of them.
Here's how the 2013 draft order stands as of today, as well as where the compensation picks for Bourn, Lohse and Soriano would fall if they do change addresses:
7. Red Sox
9. Pirates (for failure to sign 2012 first-rounder Mark Appel)
10. Blue Jays
18. White Sox
Angels (forfeited No. 22 pick for free agent Josh Hamilton)
Braves (forfeited No. 28 pick for free agent B.J. Upton)
xx. Cardinals (potential pick for free agent Kyle Lohse)
30. Rays (for Upton)
31. Rangers (for Hamilton)
xx. Braves (potential pick for free agent Michael Bourn)
32. Yankees (for free agent Nick Swisher)
xx. Yankees (potential pick for free agent Rafael Soriano)
Supplemental First Round (Competitive-Balance Lottery Picks)
34. Marlins (acquired from Pirates)
38. Tigers (acquired from Marlins)
Indians (forfeited No. 42 pick for Swisher)
Supplemental Second Round (Competitive-Balance Lottery Picks)
73. Marlins (acquired from Tigers)
76. Mets (for failure to sign 2012 second-rounder Teddy Stankewicz)
96. Phillies (for failure to sign 2012 second-rounder Alec Rash)
Supplemental Third Round
106. Athletics (for failure to sign 2012 third-rounder Kyle Twomey)
I say this a lot, and I'll repeat it again: Except for the very best and worst farm systems, it's hard to know exactly where they'll rank until I sit down and start stacking them all up against each other. In my mind, I thought the Padres had one of the best systems in baseball. But when I started looking at all the systems, San Diego wasn't as impressive as I thought.
I do think the Padres have one of the deeper systems around, but their Top 10 list pales in comparision to several others. I love the ceiling of 2012 first-rounder Max Fried, the best high school lefthander since Clayton Kershaw, and Austin Hedges is the third-best catching prospect in the game. Jedd Gyorko is one of the better hitters in the minors, though he's defensively challenged.
But three members of our yet-to-be-released Padres Top 10 are pitchers who had elbow issues in 2012: Robbie Erlin, Casey Kelly and Joe Wieland. Neither Erlin nor Wieland has overpowering stuff to begin with. I don't want to reveal the whole Top 10, but the back half of it didn't stand out.
I wound up ranking the Padres 17th on my personal organization rankings. I put that list together before the Blue Jays gave up catcher Travis d'Arnaud and righthander Noah Syndegaard in the R.A. Dickey trade, so I'd move San Diego up a notch now. The three other editors who ranked systems for the 2013 Prospect Handbook put the Padres at 13th, 16th and 19th, so I wasn't alone in keeping them out of my top 10 systems.
On Thursday, Upton vetoed a trade that would have sent him to Seattle for Furbush, Franklin, Pryor and Walker. In Bill's proposed scenario, I see only one team being happy: the Yankees.
Seattle keeps Walker, but it gets one year of an inferior 31-year-old player whose offensive game (all power) is ill-suited for Safeco Field instead of three years from a 25-year-old with a ceiling few big leaguers can match. Instead of getting Walker, whom I rate as the 16th-best prospect in baseball, Arizona winds up with Banuelos, who peaked as a prospect in 2010 and will miss this year with Tommy John surgery, and Marshall, who profiles as a No. 4 starter.
There was some uproar that the Mariners were giving up way too much to get Upton, but I didn't see it that way. Prospects aren't sure things. If Walker turns into the second coming of Dwight Gooden, Franklin becomes a 20-homer middle infielder, Pryor emerges as a closer and Furbush continues to repeat his strong 2012 season, that would have been a great haul for the Diamondbacks. But the likelihood of all four of those things happening, or even three of them, isn't great.
I'm not sure if I would have made the trade if I were running the Mariners, because I don't think they're one player away from contention and the American League West definitely isn't there for the taking. Seattle needs to build for 2014 and 2015—though Upton sure would make a nice cornerstone.
The prime minor league free agents sign as soon as they become available in November. Transactions guru Matt Eddy does an amazing job of keeping our Minor League Free Agent Tracker updated, and it shows that 289 of the 637 free agents already have found new teams.
I spent some time combing the other 348 players still on the market, and I can't say that there's any former big name like Bell or Golson who caught my fancy. There wasn't really anyone who caught my fancy, but I did come up with three players I liked more than the rest.
Second baseman Harold Garcia is a career. 292/.372/.432 hitter in the minors, though he hasn't played since blowing out his right knee in April 2011. Righthander Omar Poveda misses more bats than his average stuff suggests he should, and I wonder if he might make a nice seventh-inning reliever if he moved to the bullpen. Drew Sutton is 29, but he has held his own at the plate in the big leagues and played decently at six different positions, giving him some utility value.