Just a couple of days ago Tim Dierkes released lists of possible Type A and Type B free agents. Players receive these labels to help compensate a team that loses them through free agency (and to help drive down player salaries, but that's another story). The rankings are calculated using this formula, which groups players by position and then compares their statistics over the last two seasons with those of their peers. The top 20% of players at each position in the rankings receives type A status, and the players in the top 20-40% receive type B status. Teams do not get compensated for players who cannot reach Type B status.
If a Type A or Type B free agent gets offered him arbitration when he reaches free agency and he declines, then his old team will get compensation in the form of extra draft picks when he signs elsewhere. A team signing a Type A free agent must give up their first round pick to the players old team, plus the old team gets a supplemental first round pick. The exception is if the signing team has one of the top 15 picks in the draft, then that pick is protected and they surrender their second round pick instead. This is done to keep teams from having to give up extremely valuable picks for free agents. Also, if a team signs two Type A free agents, then the lower ranked free agent only nets his team a second round pick. This goes as far as needed, so if a team signs four Type A free agents the lowest ranked free agent would only net his old team a fourth round pick.
If a team signs a Type B free agent, they do not have to give up any draft picks. Instead the player's old team mjust receives a supplemental first rounder. Because teams don't have to give up any draft picksto sign them, Type B free agents are generally a much safer investment than Type A's. This was the reason Orlando Hudson's signing caused much debate among Dodger fans. People questioned whether it was worth surrending a first round pick (Hudson was a Type A free agent) to a division rival for just one year of Hudson's services.
Last year's group of Type A and Type B free agents included three Dodgers, Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe, and Casey Blake. Manny and Lowe were Type A free agents and Blake was a Type B free agent. While Manny and Blake re-signed, Lowe signed with the Braves. Therefore the Dodgers received a supplemental first round pick and the Braves' second round pick (the Braves first round pick was protected). Those extra picks were used to select Aaron Miller and Blake Smith in the recent draft.
After this year the Dodgers will have another sizeable group of free agents, although players like Mark Loretta and Brad Ausmus aren't good enough to be Type A or Type B free agents so they aren't relevant to the discussion. The important players are Orlando Hudson, Randy Wolf, Will Ohman, and Manny Ramirez. Here's the outlooks for each player right now:
Orlando Hudson: Hudson is currently ranked 2th in the NL in the 2nd base/Shortstop/3rd base category, behind only Miguel Tejada. This gives him Type A status for the time being. His status is determined by his ranking against other NL free agents at his position so players on his tail are Pedro Feliz, Freddy Sanchez, and Felipe Lopez, who are all Type B players. I think he'll stay ranked above them as long as he plays so his health should be the only thing keeping him from Type A status at the end of the year. This could be key for the Dodgers in a couple of ways. First, if they want to re-sign him then being a Type A player will help out because teams will be less likely to pursue him in free agency considering they have to surrender a first round pick. This same factor helped the Dodgers sign him to such a cheap contract this year, with less then $4 million in guaranteed money. Secondly, if they let him leave they would presumably get two draft picks in return, which would more then offset the pick they lost in this year's draft.
Randy Wolf: Wolf has Type B status right now, although he could reach Type A status if he plays well for the rest of the season. When I asked Tim Dierkes he said Wolf currently is at 66.927, and the lowest Type A is at 70.052, which isn't too much of a difference. The lowest Type A is Rich Harden, who hasn't been doing too well this year, so it's very possible that he could pass him. Wolf is also ranked behind Randy Johnson and ahead of Todd Wellemeyer, Doug Davis, and Braden Looper in the Type B grouping, so he'll be mostly competing with these players for Type A status. I think it's less likely Wolf will be re-signed than Hudson but the same benefits to reaching type-A status still apply. Wolf was a Type B free agent last offseason but the Astros didn't offer him arbitration.
Will Ohman: Ohman currently has Type B status after being not reaching it last offseason. However, Ohman hasn't been very effective this year and is currently on the DL so whether he can keep Type B status is questionable. The bottom Type A guys are Ryan Franklin, Doug Brocail, and Rafael Soriano, but given Ohman's condition I don't think we need to worry about them. The four Type B's ranked below Ohman are Scott Eyre, J.J. Putz, Joe Beimel, and Trever Miller. Some of the relievers just on the border of Type B status and no compensation are Ron Villone, Chan Ho Park, and Bobby Howry. Given the vast number of players clumped together fighting for the last Type B spots, who ends up Type B status will probably be a crapshoot even if Ohman pitches well. Eddie Bajek (the guy who reverse-engineered the Elias rankings) said that, "reliever rankings are ridiculously sensitive to wins" so hopefully we can get Ohman some vulture wins to get him Type B status. Of course, this could all be made moot if Ohman pitches poorly enough that we can't offer him arbitration or well enough that we pick up his option for 2010.
Manny Ramirez: Manny was a Type A free agent last offseason and would have netted the Dodgers two draft picks had he signed with someone else. Unfortunately, this won't be the case the next time Manny reaches free agency. There is a clause in Manny's contract that says the Dodgers cannot offer him arbitration when he reaches free agency, so know matter where Manny is ranked the Dodgers will not receive any compensation in return. This is really too bad, although now that Manny has had his reputation around the league further tarnished with his suspension he might not opt out of his contract when the season is over. The best case scenario is probably that Manny stays with the team through 2010 and then goes to an American League team where he can DH for the remainder of his career.