Monday, November 15, 2004
"I think this is going to drag out until January and even February," Giants GM Brian Sabean says. "There will be more players signed after the first of the year than before," says another GM. "There will be another 40 non-tendered players on the market. And the shortstop market may take five or six weeks to sort itself out."
I fully agree with the forecast above. [It is ironic that Sabean is quoted since it is reported that he inked Omar Vizquel to a three-year deal! If you want to discuss that transaction, the Sox one (Billy Traber), Sox rumors (Brian Schneider - I have actually seen him play about 10 times), and of course this post, please feel free to leave a comment.] Very little movement will happen until after the holidays. Of course, the big names will get signed before the first of the year, but only a few may be signed by new clubs prior to December 7th – the deadline for clubs to offer their free agents salary arbitration. (Sport Retort has a very informative post and links regarding free agent signing compensation.)
Since most clubs are fearful of their free agents accepting salary arbitration thereby busting their budget for next season, many teams will not offer them the option. Thus, no compensation is required of the free agents’ new employer. Clubs will wait to see if players are offered arbitration before aggressively trying to sign their targets. Most clubs do not want to loose one or two of their high draft pick(s).
Many clubs have realized the value in attaining high draft picks. (The following scenario is based on ballpark salary assumptions and that the franchise drafts and develops players adequately – getting most of its high picks to the show.) For example, a first round pick earns a signing bonus of one million and takes four years to make it to the show. His total compensation over that term is roughly $1.2 million. If he is only a reserve player, his pre-salary arbitration/first three years earnings is about a million. Hence, the first rounder’s total compensation is $2.2 million (not discounted) for three years of Major League service or $.733 per season or Gabe Kapler’s salary the last couple of seasons. The risk or player’s compensation then becomes similar to an established MLB backup.
Of course, a franchise wants more production from a first round or sandwich pick than becoming a fourth outfielder. But if that is the downside, than it is a risk worth taking or not loosing. Thus, the transaction turns into a fairly low risk-high reward proposition for the franchise.