Entering this offseason, the Twins had three ranked free agents that would be hitting the open market for the first time in their careers. Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Matt Capps are all eligible to sign with other teams but there was the possibility of the Twins getting draft pick compensation for the loss of these players. Major League Baseball announced their new collective bargaining agreement at the beginning of the week and this means some changes to the compensation rules for these top free agents.
Here is how the rules would have worked under the old system:
1. All of the free agents were ranked by the Elias ranking system and the top tier free agents were graded as either a Type A or Type B free agent.
2. The Twins would have to evaluate their top tier free agents and decide whether or not to offer arbitration to them.
3 (A). If the player turned down the Twins arbitration offer, he was free to sign with the team of his choice.
3 (B). If the player accepts the Twins arbitration offer, he would return to the Twins with a new one-year contract.
4. If a Type A free agent left the Twins to sign with another club, that club was forced to surrender their first round pick in next June's draft to the Twins. The Twins would also get a sandwich round pick between the first and second round.
5. If a Type B free agent left the Twins to sign with another club, the Twins would get a sandwich round pick between the first and second round of the draft.
Since this offseason started with the old system in place, MLB had to keep some of the parameters in place for the rest of this offseason before the new system goes into place for next offseason. The Elias rankings were somewhat followed for this year but they will be tossed out for coming offseasons. The system is somewhat similar to above but here are the rules that will change for the 2011 offseason:
4 (A). If a Type A free agent left the Twins to sign with another club, the signing club is no longer forced to surrender their first round pick. Instead the Twins would receive the pick directly before the signing team and the Twins would still get a sandwich round pick.
4 (B). Some Type A free agents have been modified to be Type B free agents. Those free agents do not have to be offered arbitration by their former team and if they sign elsewhere, their old club gets a sandwich round pick.
It can be very confusing but here is how the Twins free agents came out after all of the changes to the free agent compensation rules:
Former System: Type A; Current System: Type A
The Twins will most offer arbitration to Cuddyer before Wednesday night's deadline and Cuddyer would be smart to turn down that offer. He is an aging player that could be looking at his last big contract of his career. He is going to sign somewhere for a multi-year deal and the Twins will be compensated for him leaving the organization. The only change for Cuddyer's compensation will be that Twins will now receive the pick directly before Cuddyer's new team instead of taking their pick away from them.
Former System: Type A; Current System: Modified Type B
There was very little chance the Twins were going to offer Capps arbitration under the old system because he would be due a raise on the $7.5 million he made last season. Under the new system, he has been downgraded to a Type B free agent but the Twins are not under pressure to offer him arbitration. If he were to sign with another team, the Twins will receive a sandwich round pick for Capps without offering him arbitration.
Former System: Type B; Current System: Type B
There is a good chance that Kubel will also be looking at trying to sign a multi-year deal on the open market. So if the Twins offer him arbitration, he is likely to turn it down. This means that if he were to sign with another club, the Twins would receive a sandwich round pick in next June's draft.
Overall, the Twins could now be looking at stock piling four first round picks if all of their free agents exits for greener pastures. Compile that with the number two pick they already have and the Twins could be looking at five picks in the first round of the draft. That could result in quite the upgrade to the Twins minor league system that has some holes to fill in many of the levels.
If all of these players leave the Twins, the team might have plenty of holes to fill in their roster. But the draft picks the team would accumulate could go a long way to setting this franchise on the right path for the future.