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Report: Ryan Madson, Heath Bell won’t cost draft picks

Nov 19, 2011, 4:27 PM EDT

Ryan Madson AP

The story is still developing, but according to’s Ken Rosenthal, the top relievers left on the market will not require draft-pick compensation once the new CBA goes into effect next week.

Ryan Madson, Heath Bell and Francisco Rodriguez are among the relievers to be affected by the change.

Rosenthal says the Phillies will still have to surrender their first-round pick for signing Jonathan Papelbon. Also, top free agents like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins and David Ortiz will continue to cost a first-round pick to sign. However, lesser former Type A free agents will no longer cost a pick. Instead, new draft picks will be created to provide compensation for the teams losing free agents.

This would seem to rate as very good news for the Red Sox, Blue Jays and anyone else who might be looking to pick up a closer. Certainly Madson and Bell are going to be more attractive to Boston and Toronto now that neither will cost a first-round pick.

It’s also good news for those players, as well as fellow Type A free agents Francisco Cordero, Matt Capps and Octavio Dotel. Now, neither Capps nor Dotel was likely to be offered arbitration anyway, so they weren’t really going to cost their signing teams a free agent. But at least this means they have the opportunity to sign with teams now rather than waiting until the arbitration deadline.

According to Rosenthal, this winter’s effort is primarily a stopgap measure. For 2012 and beyond, the Elias Rankings will be abolished and teams will have to make qualifying offers (reportedly north of $12 million per year) in order to receive compensation for free agents who leave.

  1. djpostl - Nov 19, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    Good job Amaro. You further depleted your system (never mind overpaying to boot) for Papelbum in a year where there were equal/better options that would have cost you much less.

  2. proudlycanadian - Nov 19, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    This change will also affect some position players such as Kelly Johnson.

  3. Bryz - Nov 19, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    So how is it that the Phillies still have to give up their 1st round pick for Papelbon, but other teams that sign Heath Bell or K-Rod do not? Because they signed Papelbon before this change in free agent compensation was announced? I mean, I don’t care about the welfare of the Phillies, but this does seem unfair.

    • Bryz - Nov 19, 2011 at 5:25 PM

      I see on MLBTR that apparently this change is not retroactive, but I still think that it’s unfair for the Phils.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Nov 19, 2011 at 5:36 PM

      I strongly disapprove of MLB changing rules on the fly like this. But the Phillies knew exactly what they were doing when they signed Papelbon and they thought it was worth the first-round pick.

      Also, for what it’s worth, had we been playing under next year’s rules, Papelbon almost surely would have gotten that $12 million qualifying offer from Boston and thus still would have been a compensated free agent.

      But this whole thing is pretty ridiculous. They shouldn’t be making changes in the middle of the free agency period.

      • quintjs - Nov 19, 2011 at 5:57 PM

        That isn’t quite right though Matthew as with the Phillies signing Papelbon, it forces Madson to sign elsewhere, likely for a good team that needs a closer (Blue Jays, Sox). If that happened, the Phillies would gain a draft pick and their first round pick would actually be higher. Signing Papelbon and losing Madson would actually net them a far better draft position. Now they may still get 2 draft picks and lose only one – still making it worth it, but it isn’t as much of an advantage.

        Maybe the Phillies should have waited a bit longer before signing Papelbon, doesn’t sound like anyone else would have signed him.. but it is a bit unfair. Though this Sox fan is hardly complaining.

      • Matthew Pouliot - Nov 19, 2011 at 6:05 PM

        Oh, yeah, the Phillies certainly lose out a bit in this. I just think they knew the risk and decided it was worth it. There was plenty of speculation that the compensation rules would change on the fly, and they had a better idea of what those changes would be than any of us outsiders did. They still wanted Papelbon then and there so they went out and got him.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 19, 2011 at 7:33 PM

        Signing Papelbon and losing Madson would actually net them a far better draft position

        It depends. Remember that the first fifteen draft picks are protected, so if one of those teams signed Madson, the Phillies would only have received a second round pick. Also, if a team signs Madson had signed or does sign a higher Type A free agent, their first round pick would go to that team, and PHilly would get a 2nd for Madson.

      • quintjs - Nov 19, 2011 at 8:07 PM

        petuallyoutraged – yes that is correct. I still however believe having a supplemental pick and a extra second round pick is a better draft position that just the last pick in the first round and that was what i was referring too.

      • paperlions - Nov 20, 2011 at 12:23 PM

        It isn’t clear to me that the rules changed. Will the Phillies still lose their pick because Papelbon still ranks as an elite player in the new system, whereas Madson does not? Or do they lose their pick because the signing happened before the rules change?

    • marshmallowsnake - Nov 20, 2011 at 12:36 AM

      Maybe the Phillies should have waited instead of overpaying for Papleblown.

  4. drmonkeyarmy - Nov 19, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    This is complete and utter bullshit. The entire free agency period should be governed by the same set of rules. Either operate under the terms of the previous CBA or the new CBA. It is patently unfair to have different sets of rules. I guarantee you that if the Brewers had signed a type A FA relief pitcher the rules would be retroactive. Whether the Phillies knew the risk or not is completely irrelevant.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 19, 2011 at 6:42 PM

      Wait, this is just a stop gap measure too. Wow, it is even more bullshit now.

  5. sarcasticks - Nov 19, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    It’s unfair because no transactions are done in a vacuum. The Phillies’ decision to sign Papelbon undoubtedly was influenced by the potential compensation for Madson’s departure. Granted the Phillies’ knew the rules regarding surrendering a draft pick at the time of Papelbon’s signing, but they also “knew” the rules regarding Madson’s compensation.

    It’s unreasonable to expect any team to delay their free agency acquisitions simply because the rules may or may not change at an unspecified time in the future. What is reasonable is that any rule changes would be applied equitably to all parties. This is not the case with the Papelbon situation. Baseball should either retroactively apply it to all transactions this year, or simply wait until next year to institute the changes.

    It’s like congress passing a law today, and then police arresting people who violated that law six months ago when the law had yet to exist.

    With that said, the real issue is damages. Are the Phillies’ going to be damaged by this? We don’t know, because the new compensatory picks are not fully worked out yet. So it’s possible that while the Phillies won’t get a team’s pick for Madson, they may get a sandwich pick that could be as good or better. Because the Phillies would only get a team’s first round pick if that team finished in the top half of the league, record wise, last year. Otherwise they get a second round pick. So if the new compensatory picks are a first round/second round sandwich pick, it’d actually be better than a team’s second round pick under the old rules.

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