Greatest Car Ride Part 2

Now I am not exactly sure how I got to this next point of arbitration and draft picks in the MLB. It must have come from the talk about Gausman and Bundy because they were early round draft picks in the MLB. This got me into the change in the balance of trades when the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was created before the 2012 MLB season and draft. My mind just went crazy trying to explain the value of trades created by baseball’s crazy rules to Heather and yes I researched some of these facts after the fact because I didn’t know all of this off the top of my head… just most of it.

Albert Pujols signing with the LA Angels

Albert Pujols signing with the LA Angels

The CBA prior to 2012 had definitions for free agents. The players that were considered type A free agents by Elias Sports Bureau were in the top 20 percent of players at their position over the past two years. Type B free agents were players who were not in the top 20 percent, but were in the top 40. The MLB uses the Elias Sports Bureau’s designations to determine the type A and B free agents. The free agent definitions gave the teams that lost them some compensation. I’ll use an actual example to explain the compensation. In the offseason prior to the 2012 season, the Los Angeles Angels signed Albert Pujols, a type A free agent, to a ridiculous contract. Pujols had previously played for the St. Louis Cardinals. Because the Angels signed Pujols as a type A players, they had to give the Cardinals their top pick in the upcoming MLB draft. The Cardinals also received a compensation pick in the “sandwich round” between the first and second round. If a team loses a type B free agent, they are given the compensation pick in the “sandwich round” but they do not get the first pick of the team that sign them. The only exception to this rule was if a team had a first round pick in the top half of the first round when they signed a type A free agent. The team that signed the type A player would only have to give up a second round pick. The MLB put this in place to try and increase competitive balance of some kind. How this relates to the balance of trades is that prior to 2012 when a team traded for a player that was to be considered a type A free agent for just half the year, they would still get the first round draft pick of the team that signed them. An example of this would be the Mark Teixeira trade in 2008. Teixeira was traded from the Atlanta Braves to the Los Angeles Angels for two young players including Casey Kotchman. The Angels made this trade in an effort to push themselves over the top to win a World Series. They ended up winning 100 games but lost in the ALDS to the Red Sox. The following off season, the New York Yankees signed Teixeira as a type A free agent. The Angels still received compensation of a first round pick from the Yankees and a “sandwich round” pick even though he was only on the Angels for less than half a season.

Now starting in 2012, the rules changed some. Free agents no longer had designations of how good they were. The way a team earns compensation for free agents being lost was by offering a contract that was the average of the 125 richest contracts in the game. An example of this would be the Kyle Lohse situation. The Cardinals offered Kyle Lohse a contract that was equal to the average of the 125 richest contracts. This meant the Cardinals would receive compensation of a first round pick if Lohse signed anywhere else. This left a lot of teams in a pickle. They did not want to have to sign Lohse to a big contract and lose their first round pick because he isn’t a front of the rotation starter and does not get a lot of strikeouts and actually… he’s just not a good pitcher most of the time. He just had a good contract year. This would be why I was happy the Orioles did not sign him. Fortunately for Lohse, the Milwaukee Brewers signed him to a 3 year 33 million dollar contract and gave up their first round pick to the Cardinals for him. This turned out to really screw the Brewers because they are an organization that should be going into rebuilding mode, but it’s kind of hard to do that when you do not have talent in the majors to acquire prospects and you don’t have a first round pick to get a top one. However, an exception to this rule is that you must have the player under contract for a full season to receive compensation for him leaving the club. An example of this is Zack Greinke being traded to the Los Angeles Angels right before the trade deadline in the 2012 season. He was traded to the Angels from the Brewers in exchange for a bundle of prospects with Jean Segura headlining them. During the offseason prior to 2013, he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers instead of resigning with the Angels.  The Angels did not receive the Dodgers first round pick even though they offered him a contract richer than the average of the top 125 players because Greinke had not been with the team for more than a year.

Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels

Now how have these rules changed the outlook of the Los Angeles Angels? The Angels trades for Teixeira in 2008 and Greinke in 2012 can show these differences. The Teixeira trade in 2008 sent Casey Kotchman and a minor league pitcher to the Braves for Teixeira. Kotchman was a first round pick in 2001 and had a great year in 2007 and was regarded as the Angels first baseman of the future. In 2008, the Angels risked losing their first baseman of the future and Teixeira in the off season because he was only signed through the rest of the season to try and win a World Series. They failed, but when Teixeira bolted for a ton of money being offered by the New York Yankees, the Angels got their first round pick and a “sandwich round” pick. And guess who the Angels turned the Yankees first round pick into? Yes that’s right, my boy, Mike Trout and he is the best player now for the Angels and will be for many years in the future. Now the Angels didn’t have the same luck when they traded for Zack Greinke in 2012. They traded two minor league pitchers along with their second best prospect Jean Segura to the Milwaukee Brewers as stated above. Segura was considered a middle infielder because the Angels didn’t know if they were going to play him at 2nd base or shortstop. The Brewers decided to play him at shortstop and he has been a top hitter in their line up this year with a .340 batting average, 9 home runs, 29 runs batted in (RBI), and 17 stolen bases. This kind of production would be extremely useful to the Angels. However, the Angels were unable to make the playoffs in 2012 and as I said earlier, lost Greinke to the Dodgers without getting any compensation. The Angels can’t seem to buy a win this year even with their massive payroll. They have no minor league talent to start rebuilding the team with. Since they lost their first round pick to the Texas Rangers when the Angels signed Josh Hamilton, they had no picks to help rebuild their team this year. So the outlook does not look good for the Angels unless Hamilton and Pujols suddenly figure out how to get back to their old great form and can hold it for the next two-three years while the Angels try to draft well and rebuild the farm system.

Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles

After all of this trade talk, I was able to get back to the Baltimore Orioles and talk about a potential trade with the Philadelphia Phillies that could possibly put the Orioles over the top this year. The Orioles have production from almost every position except second base. They cannot get any production from that position this season for some reason. Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla have not produced, with batting averages of .172 and .203 respectively. They also have had inconsistent pitching. Some outings a pitcher will only give up a run or two and the next outing they’ll give up 8 runs. It’s ridiculous and hard to watch as a fan. Now the Phillies have been struggling this year. They do not look like contenders and may barely finish above .500. They probably need to start their rebuilding process now. They have a lot of old players with huge contracts that make up their ridiculous payroll of 170,760,689 dollars… that’s a lot of money for a team to barely finish above .500. The  Phillies have been rumored to trade two players. Cliff Lee has been rumored because he has been good and could bring back the Phillies some prospects and it would get his contract that still has 77.5 million dollars on it over 3 years. The other player is Chase Utley because before he got hurt, he had been playing great and he becomes a free agent next year anyway. And what do you know, those are the Orioles needs. Could there be a possible deal there? Maybe. It all depends on how each team values the players. The Orioles wouldn’t part ways with Dylan Bundy, but maybe they would part ways with Kevin Gausman. To get Utley as well, they would probably have to throw in their top hitting prospect in Jonathan Schoop, who is on the DL now with a stress fracture in his back. Would this deal work? The Orioles give up Gausman, projected number 2 starter with a floor of a number 4 starter, and Schoop, who is a projected starter at either 3rd base, 2nd base, or shortstop. All of these positions are needed by the Phillies in their farm system. They could use an infielder for the future in Schoop and they could decide what position they want him to play. Gausman would be valuable because you can never have enough pitching. The Phillies give up Lee and Utley. This leaves the Orioles with the number 1 starter that they have needed to help push them over the top. Utley would give them the 2nd baseman for this year that would be the final piece in their order to make it dangerous 1 through 9. There are three things that would make this trade not work. The first hurdle would be the Orioles willingness to take on a contract that big for a pitcher. A contract that is fully guaranteed, that’s how all baseball contracts are, for a pitcher that is 34 and will be 35 by the end of this season. Pitchers tend to break down fast as they age so the Orioles would be worried about that. The second hurdle would be the Orioles’ front office’s goals of winning now and in the future. Which one do they value more? If they want to win now, they would pull the trigger on this trade most likely. However, if they want to be in contention with Gausman and Schoop for the next 5-6 years, they’ll probably hold off on making this trade and hope they steal a wild card spot again. The third hurdle would be the Phillies evaluation of these prospects. Do they think they are valuable enough for two players who have been fan favorites in Philadelphia? This would be an interesting trade scenario. It probably won’t happen in real life, but I believe it is a good hypothetical trade for both teams depending on their goals for now and the future.

We then arrived at Bucknell and I was shocked at how fast the ride went. Driving for about 3 hours just talking about baseball made this the greatest drive ever. I thanked Heather then and I’ll thank her now for listening to me just talk the whole way. It was an awesome trip back to school that I’ll never forget.

Greg Danchik

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