Type A positive

Updated: October 2, 2009, 12:07 PM ET
By Buster Olney
Jason Varitek and Juan Cruz found themselves boxed into a maze of baseball rules and regulations last winter, walled in by circumstance. But they probably won't be the last players to face this kind of quandary if the predictions of some executives and player representatives hold true.

To review, here's what happened with Varitek and Cruz: Both were classified as Type A free agents and both were offered arbitration by their teams, the Red Sox and Diamondbacks respectively. This meant that if either signed with another team, that team would have to forfeit a top draft pick as compensation.

The fact that they had draft picks tied to them dragged down their market value like a 100-pound cement block, sabotaging a lot of interest that other teams might have had in both of them. In short, each was good enough to be classified as a Type A player, but not so good that a team was ready to part with a draft pick to sign him. From the perspective of the player, it's far, far better to be classified as a Type B free agent, because the team that signs you doesn't have to give up its draft pick in compensation.

As of today, there are a little more than two dozen prospective free agents projected to be a Type A. An informal panel of six executives and player representatives was polled and asked to predict who among those likely Type A free agents would be offered arbitration, and who will be affected as Varitek and Cruz were last winter; the consensus is that Mark DeRosa, Billy Wagner and Mike Gonzalez might be the players hurt by their Type A status. Here are all the players currently projected to be Type A free agents, and the future that the panel forecast for them; the list includes Orlando Cabrera, Mark DeRosa, Mike Gonzalez, Vladimir Guerrero, Rich Harden, Matt Holliday, John Lackey, Bengie Molina, Placido Polanco, Marco Scutaro, Miguel Tejada, Randy Wolf, and many more:

  • Bobby Abreu, Angels -- About $6 million in base salary and incentives. It's unanimous: All asked expect that the Angels will offer arbitration, and probably work out a multi-year deal. "He's transformed their offense, and [Mike Scioscia] loves him," said one AL executive. "They'll look at him as a bargain."
  • Jason Bay, Red Sox -- $7.5 million salary. He is expected to be among the most sought-after free agents, along with Matt Holliday, and it was unanimous that the Red Sox will offer him arbitration.
  • Rafael Betancourt, Rockies -- Earning $3.35 million this season with a $5.4 million club option for 2010. Five of six expect that Betancourt won't be offered arbitration. Said the executive who guessed that the Rockies would offer arbitration: "If they do, it would definitely affect his market value."
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