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A look at possible draft pick compensation

Tim Darley, a regular blogger at ESPN Dallas and someone very interested in Type A and Type B free agents and their compensation, sent this over about where the Rangers stand today based on the projections done by mlbtraderumors.com (which tries to predict what Elias Sports Bureau will do to determine who is Type A and Type B). Here's Tim's entry:

MLB provides draft pick compensation to teams losing players ranked by the Elias Sports Bureau in the top 40% of similarly positioned players, provided the previous team offers the player arbitration. Compensation for losing a player in the top 20% (“Type A”) is one pick from the players new team and one pick in the supplemental round. The next 20% of players (“Type B”) net their previous team a pick in the supplemental round.

Currently, the Rangers have 8 potential free agents: Jorge Cantu, Frankie Francisco, Vladimir Guerrero, Cristian Guzman, Rich Harden, Cliff Lee, Bengie Molina, and Darren Oliver. Based on the current projected Elias rankings published this week by mlbtraderumors.com, here’s a look at the potential compensation the Rangers could gain if they lose these players:

Cristian Guzman: He is currently not projected to be a Type B free agent. The last Type B free agent in the 2B/3B/SS category is fellow Ranger Elvis Andrus. Had Guzman capitalized on the playing time opportunity with Ian Kinsler on the disabled list, he could have improved his ranking, but at this point in the season, there is virtually no chance that Guzman will net the Rangers a compensation pick.

Jorge Cantu: He is also outside the top 40% of players ranked in the 1B/OF/DH category. About a month ago, only one player, David Murphy, stood in between Cantu and Type B status. Now, thirteen players stand between Cantu and Type B status, including recently acquired Jeff Francoeur. Like Guzman, Cantu will not earn Type B status.

Rich Harden: As recently as last week, Harden was the highest rated player outside the Type B category for starting pitchers. His demotion to the bullpen and poor performance now have him ranked 5 spots out of the last spot to garner a compensation pick, which is currently occupied by ex-Ranger Kevin Millwood.

Bengie Molina: He is currently near the top of the Type B category among AL catchers. Given Molina’s current play, he will most certainly net the Rangers one compensation pick, if the club decides to offer arbitration. Of course, the Rangers would have to offer Molina arbitration which could result in a 2011 salary around $5 million. In that event, Molina would provide a nice safety blanket to what has become one of the more scarce positions in the Rangers system and baseball in general.

Frank Francisco: He is currently safely ranked as a Type A player. Players are not penalized for time spent on the disabled list, so Francisco’s recent injury will have little affect on his overall ranking. If Francisco leaves in free agency this off season, the Rangers would add a top draft pick, usually a first or second round pick, from the signing team and a compensation pick in the supplemental round, which occurs between rounds 1 and 2.

Darren Oliver: Just ahead of Francisco sits Darren Oliver, the Rangers elder statesman. While Oliver is all but assured of maintaining his Type A ranking, he is also all but assured of dropping off the list of potential free agents. Oliver appeared in his 57th game Wednesday, which leaves him only 2 appearances away from guaranteeing his option for the 2011 season, an option the Rangers almost certainly would have exercised anyway. Oliver may not provide the Rangers additional picks in the 2011 draft, but he will be a key member of the 2011 bullpen.

Vladimir Guerrero: Just after the All Star Break, Guerrero was the top rated potential free agent in the 1B/OF/DH category. His dip in performance has resulted in a corresponding dip in ranking, but he still projects as a Type A player. The drop in rankings, below potential free agents Carl Crawford and Jason Kubel, could correspondingly drop the position of the Rangers pick in the supplemental round, since those draft positions are determined by the overall Elias rating. If Vlad leaves in free agency, the Rangers will net two additional draft picks, and a resurgent Vlad in September could improve the picks the Rangers receive.

Cliff Lee: The bell cow of the Rangers pending free agents, Lee is assured of Type A status no matter how many substandard or scratched starts he strings together. Currently, six free agents rank higher on the Elias scale than Lee, regardless of position. Four of them, Albert Pujols, Victor Martinez, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, could very likely re-sign with their current teams. The other higher ranked potential free agents are Rafael Soriano and Jayson Werth. If no changes to the rankings occur and Pujols, Martinez, Rivera and Jeter sign with their current team, the Rangers would net the fourth pick in the supplemental round (37th pick overall) in the 2011 draft. Also, in the event a team, like the Yankees, signs two Type A free agents, say Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford, the Rangers would receive the highest pick from the signing team (the Yankees 1st round pick, in this case), so long as Lee doesn’t sign with the same team as Werth or Soriano.

Bottom line: The Rangers stand to receive two picks in the 2011 draft for Lee, Guerrero and Francisco. Bengie Molina could add additional supplemental round draft picks. Best case scenario, the Rangers could have 5 of the top 37 picks in the draft; 8 of the top 60 picks; and possibly 10 of the top 110 picks in the draft. By way of comparison, the Rangers had 7 of the top 110 picks in the 2007 draft, including Julio Borbon, Tommy Hunter, and two players traded this summer for Bengie Molina and Cliff Lee, respectively.

Seven of the eight potential free agents, all of whom presented some chance of garnering compensation picks, were acquired by the Rangers in the past 9 months. The Rangers front office has clearly made a priority of stockpiling potential picks in what is touted as a very deep 2011 draft.