Fixing MLB’s Free Agent Compensation Problem

With Spring Training about to open in a few days, baseball finds itself with two of the top ten free agents still unsigned. But it isn’t because of their contract demands, as much it is the compensation teams are required to give up for their services.

Michael Bourn Kyle LohseTo fix this, the first change to be implemented should be to eliminate the bottom ten teams being exempt from losing their first round pick. The current rule could promote bubble teams to tank it at the end of the season, in order to gain an advantage over other teams.

One solution to fix the problem is to not lose any draft pick when you sign a player, but the team that loses a former type A player, would just add a first round supplemental pick.

Unless the CBA is opened up and these rules are changed, we are going to have more players like Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse still dangling in February.

It still seems that the value gained by signing Bourn and Loshe, outweighs giving up two draft picks this year. Especially for a team like Boston who would not even forfeit their number one pick, which is seventh in 2013. What are the odds that a player in the second round will make it in the big leagues?

2003 (starting with the supplemental picks) 31-70: Jarrod Saltalamacchia #36, Adam Jones #37, Tom Gorzelanny #45, Ryan Sweeney #52, and Andre Ethier #62 made it to MLB.

2004: Gio Gonzalez #38, Huston Street #40, Reid Brignac #45, Hunter Pence #64, Dustin Pedroia #65, Kurt Suzuki #66, and Jason Vargas #68 made it.

2005: Clay Buchholz #42, Jed Lowrie #45 and Chase Headley #66 made it in MLB.

2006: Cory Rasmus #38, Joba Chamberlain #41, Chris Perez #42, and Trevor Cahill #66 made it to the top.

2007: only Brett Cecil #38 made it so far.

2008: Wade Miley #43 is the only one playing in the Big Leagues.

Out of a six year span only 21 out of 240 made it to the Big Leagues, and 12 were in 2003 and 2004.

With the odds less than 10% that a pick in the second round of the 2013 draft will even make it, why are teams so afraid to give that up for top value free agents like Bourn and Lohse?

Clearly this system is broke and needs to be fixed. The solution is to open up the CBA right now, before Spring Training begins.

Do you think baseball will fix this free agent problem by opening up the CBA?

About Rick Swanson 91 Articles
Rick Swanson has been an online feature writer for numerous websites since 2005. He was also a speaker at Boston SABR meetings from 2007-2009. Rick has created three statistics for baseball.... Reaction over Range: A new way to measure defense. Divide reaction time of any play, by the range distance. Umpire Strikezone Score: Take the total number of correct pitches called, divided by the total number of pitches called. Power Pitching: Add WHIP plus ERA and subtract the number of strikeouts per inning. Rick's current title is Consultant, Red Sox and Fenway Park History. In 2007, he was nominated for President of Red Sox Nation by Red Sox team president, Larry Lucchino. You can email Rick here: rickswanson AT cox DOT net

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