About Those Free Agent Compensation Picks….

An article by posted on October 15, 2011

I happened across an interesting debate on our site today and the subject of free agent compensation came up. I’m only including the part of the debate between t agee and TruFan that went into the comp picks.

t agee says: I would bet anything that the strategy is to get the best guys who will sign one year contracts, especially in the bullpen or in spot duty (like Paulino) in situations in which they thrive.

If guys in the pen have even an average year with no blow up innings their almost guaranteed to be type B free agents the following season netting a sandwich round pick (where many of the best prospects at all levels of the minors come from)

Getting four supplementary round picks in addition to your own #1 and #2 give you a great chance of having three good major leaguers up here in 3-5 years. Add in another minor leaguer from a deadline deal every year and that’s another half a chance for a good player 2-3 years from now. Do that for 3 straight years and your adding 10-11 good players to the 10-11 Minaya provided and then your down to selectively targeting the right 4-5 guys to round out your team and you’ve provided your minor league depth with next years crop…

TruFan says: Don’t bet on it. It’s very possible that the new CBA will get rid of FA compensation.

t agee says: Well that’s very true, and it would be extremely unfair to the smaller market teams. It’s basically been the way a TB can compete. Without getting both good play and fresh horses from the guys they draft they have no hope.

The players union and the big market teams would love to do away with the current system but it works very well, for everyone all things considered. The only thing that’s a little unfair about it is that teams sometimes balk at giving up a #1 pick for a non closer relief pitcher. There should be a tweak in the minimum innings pitched so most relievers would be type B’s instead of A’s if they are not closers…But I know your right, it has been talked about and once that happens……

First of all, TruFan is right. From most of the people I’ve spoken to and from what I’ve read, Free Agent Compensation is as good as gone and it could happen as soon as the new CBA is ratified this offseason.

The motives behind instituting free agent compensation were noble. The intent was that it would raise the bottom and bring down the top and create more parity in the league between the haves and have-nots. In that regard, look around you and it doesn’t take a Harvard graduate to see it has failed, much like the luxury tax did. It also didn’t keep salaries from escalating either, which was supposed to be one of the residual benefits for the owners.

Everyone knows that the only thing that will ever bring parity to the league is a salary cap coupled with a salary floor. Until that happens, everything else they do is just a feeble attempt to complicate matters, ignore the bigger problem and ultimately fix nothing.

As a Mets fan, I feel that the last thing our team should be worrying about is free agent compensation. How can a team who plays in the grandest and richest sports market in the world spend one second worrying about what was intended to help small market teams like the Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals?

My longtime reader and friend t agee says that he felt the front office strategy all along last offseason, was to try and find players who had a chance of evolving into “B Type” free agents so that at the end of the year we could stockpile extra picks. I never thought about that until today and sadly I think he’s right. That said, it begs the question of how can a large market team like the New York Mets operate that way?

I don’t like free agent compensation one bit. No New York Met fan should like it. You want to take the Mother Theresa approach and feel pity for the smaller market teams and all that “for the good of the game” stuff? Don’t waste your time because compensation helped no teams and fixed nothing. You know who reaped the best players with compensation picks over the years? The same teams you’ll find at the top of the food chain; large market teams like the Red Sox, Yankees and some team that that won the NL Championship in 2000 and got David Wright as a comp pick the following June.

If there were no such things as free agent comp picks, maybe the Mets would start acting like a big market team once again.

For one thing, Jose Reyes would just have completed the first year of his 5 year, $85 million dollar deal instead of his walk-year. This front office would have never picked up that team option on Reyes last November and would have instead signed him to a 5-year incentive laden deal . But the allure of potential comp picks were like visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. Things would be much different today with Reyes already signed, sealed and delivered with a reasonable contract.

Instead all I keep reading about the Mets needing to go after Grady Sizemore, Paul Maholm and today Adam Wainwright, all because they are injured, could be cheap, and won’t cost the team any picks. It feels like the Salvation Army gearing up to do battle against US Special Forces. What has this franchise morphed into? Do we even have an identity anymore?

Anyway, I’m all for getting rid of the free agent compensation picks because there’s no evidence that it ever worked and plenty of evidence that large market teams got better and spent more.

Oh and before everyone starts jumping up and down and pointing to and screaming about the Tampa Bay Rays… Not one single Rays player that has donned their uniform this season was acquired as compensation draft pick…

Yeah, that’s right… I checked it out… Not one comp pick from the 42 different players who had at least one plate appearance or threw one pitch for the 2011 Rays this season… Not One. It had absolutely nothing to do with their success… Zero, Zilch, Nada…

About the Author ()

I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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