Of the 13 players who would require compensation, three remain unsigned with teams already at spring training — shortstop Stephen Drew, designated hitter Kendrys Morales and right-hander Ervin Santana.
“The way the free agent market has played itself out over the last couple of years suggests that draft pick compensation and the free agent market in general is a concern that we’re paying attention to, obviously,” Clark said Saturday after meeting with Boston Red Sox players.
“We still have guys, very good players, quality players that can help any number of clubs who are still on the market, some with draft-pick compensation, some not.”
Teams that make qualifying offers to their own free agents are entitled to a draft pick as compensation if the player signs elsewhere. Players have the option of accepting their team’s qualifying offer and avoiding free agency. Clark said it’s up to them to decide what to do.
The problem is that some of these players who get qualifying offers are just plain mediocre. In the cases of Drew and Morales, these are two players that you’d normally consider for a one or two year deal at best. That gives teams some pause on whether they should forfeit a draft pick regardless if it’s a first or second or third round selection. We’re not talking about a Cano or Ellsbury here.
Both Drew and Morales come with some tough-to-ignore risk. Nelson Cruz realized that too late and wound up taking an $8 million dollar deal rather than the $14.1 million he had on the table. The decisions by all three to decline their qualifying offers were all shortsighted and they simply overestimated their values – spurred on by their agents, no doubt.
Now, two of those players are threatening to sit out until June to try and circumvent the system. The problem with that is that at the end of the day they are still the same mediocre players they are today. And additionally, now a new team has to worry about how much time they’d need to get back into game shape and whether it increases their already considerable risk of injury.
From the free agent’s point of view, their former teams don’t get the compensation draft pick, but more importantly their new teams don’t have to forfeit their own draft picks either. The thought process being that they suddenly become more attractive and will get the untold riches they believe they deserve. I don’t think so.
Since the current system was implemented in 2012, not a single player has accepted the qualifying offer. However, I bet that changes next offseason, especially for fringe players.
The Players Union didn’t say anything about the system when it was working in their favor, but now they are squawking too loud and too often, saying it is fundamentally flawed. Although I would argue that it’s working exactly as intended.
The system was put into place to not to suppress the escalation of all player salaries. Free agents like Robinson Cano are always going to get their paydays. This system was intended to keep players like Cruz, Drew and Morales – who are mediocre talents that come with flaws – from getting 4-5 year deals worth $60-80 million dollars.
And it seems to be working.