New CBA a problem for free agents

Updated: December 21, 2012, 1:30 PM ET
By Buster Olney

When the terms of the new labor agreement were negotiated a year ago, the rules about draft-pick compensation were changed in an effort to help free agents.

In the past, there had been instances of second- or third-tier players not getting offers because teams didn't want to surrender the required draft-pick compensation. Most famously, Juan Cruz -- a journeyman middle reliever who had some good numbers -- was once classified as a Type A free agent, and because signing Cruz meant sacrificing a top draft pick, nobody pursued him for months, and he eventually signed a modest, two-year, $6 million deal with the Kansas City Royals.

The new rules were designed to ensure that only elite free agents, who received $13.3 million qualifying offers from their former teams, were attached to draft-pick compensation. The hope was that the compensation wouldn't hinder the players at all this winter.

But that's not how it's playing out, in the eyes of some general managers and agents. It's not a coincidence, in their eyes, that some of the biggest free agents still on the board are players tied to draft-pick compensation -- most notably Rafael Soriano. "He's a good pitcher," said one GM, "but I don't think teams are wild about giving up a draft pick for a reliever."