Photo: AP Images
In a world where the top free agents are regularly signing $100 million contracts, small-market teams must come up with new ways to try and level the playing field.By taking advantage of baseball’s complicated free agent rules.
With one month left in the 2010 season, the Rays signed Brad Hawpe. That came one week after he was released by the Rockies, the team that still owed him $2 million. The Rays were only on the hook for about $70K. Hawpe only played 15 games for the Rays, and was left off their post-season roster.
But when Hawpe signed last week with the Padres, the Rays (and not the Rockies) netted a compensation pick in next year’s draft as a result of Hawpe’s Type B status. That pick has been valued at more than $3 million. And that figure could be even higher in this draft that is considered to be very deep in talent.
On the left coast, Yorvit Torrealba signed a one-year, $750K contract with the Padres prior to the season. In a league where the average player makes more than $3 million per season, that is a scrap-heap signing. Torrealba started 89 games for the Padres, and was worth 2.4 Wins (according to Fangraphs.com). That translates to $9.6 million in production.
And then, as a Type B free agent, Torrealba signed a two-year contract with the Rangers. That gave the Padres their own compensation draft pick worth at least $3 million.
Lucky signings? Or cheap targets by design?
In addition to Hawpe, the Rays also picked up a compensation picks when Randy Choate signed with the Marlins and Joaquin Benoit signed with the Tigers. Both players originally signed with the Rays as minor league free agents. The Padres added a second compensation pick when Kevin Correia signed with the Pirates. He originally joined the Padres on a one-year, $750K contract.
Those five players represent nearly half of the Type B free agents to sign new deals so far this off-season.
This is just another sign that the Padres and Rays represent the new breed in front offices. They were able to look beyond the on-field production and see a value in these players other teams couldn’t recognise. And as a result, both teams have set themselves up nicely to add several young prospects to their systems without having to trade away major league talent.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.