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Lower Return Than Expected?

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Now that CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett are off the free agent market, Derek Lowe can reasonably claim the title of "best free agent pitcher on the market," albeit with some competition from Ben Sheets.  It doesn't seem as though Derek Lowe will return to the Dodgers, but since Lowe is a Type A free agent and was offered arbitration the club will receive two draft picks as compensation for Lowe signing with a new team.


One thing we know for sure is that the Dodgers will receive a supplemental draft pick, in between the first and second rounds, often referred to as a "sandwich" pick.  This pick is created out of thin air, as it costs the signing team nothing.  The type of the other draft pick the Dodgers will receive -- the one coming from the signing team -- will depend on a couple of factors:

1) The record of the signing team.  If the club has one of the top 15 draft picks, their first round pick is protected, meaning they would give up their second round pick instead should they sign a Type A free agent like Derek Lowe

2) Other Type A free agents signed by the signing team.  If a club signs more than one Type A free agent, the signed players are ranked using the same numbers from the Elias Sports Bureau used to define Type A or Type B status.  If a club signs multiple Type A's, they give up draft picks in multiple rounds.

Let's look at the Elias rankings for all the Type A free agents that declined arbitration (the players that will require compensation):

Mark Teixeira - 98.889 already signed with Yankees

CC Sabathia - 98.110 already signed with Yankees

Manny Ramirez - 93.438

A.J. Burnett - 89.729 already signed with Yankees

Francisco Rodriguez - 87.196 already signed with Mets

Brian Fuentes - 86.694

Orlando Cabrera - 86.000

Raul Ibanez - 83.684 already signed with Phillies

Orlando Hudson - 79.911

Ben Sheets - 79.038

Oliver Perez - 78.694

Juan Cruz - 76.627

Jason Varitek - 76.037

Derek Lowe - 75.430

Lowe is the lowest ranked free agent whom will require compensation, which could impair the Dodgers' chances to get a first round draft pick should he sign elsewhere.  If Lowe signs with a team, like the Yankees, that signs another Type A, the first round pick will go to the previous team of the other free agent signed.  In this case, the Dodgers would be stuck with a second or possibly third round draft pick.  Because of all the potential sandwich picks in between the first and second round (compensation for Type A & Type B free agents, plus a few more extra picks for unsigned 2008 draft picks), the difference could be as many as 50-55 draft slots, effectively almost a two-round difference.

Let's look at the bottom half of the first round of the 2009 draft, to see which clubs Lowe can go to for the Dodgers to receive a first round pick, starting with pick 18 (the worst 15 teams are protected, the Nationals get an extra pick -- #10 overall -- for failing to sign Aaron Crow in 2008, and the Dodgers pick #17):

18) Marlins

19) Cardinals

20) Blue Jays

21) Mariners (failure to sign Joshua Fields)

22) Astros

23) Twins

24) White Sox

25) Mets (since they signed K-Rod, the best the Dodgers would receive from the Mets is a 2nd round pick)

26) Yankees (since they already signed Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett, the best the Dodgers would receive from the Yanks is a 4th round pick)

27) Brewers

28) Phillies (since they signed Ibanez, the best the Dodgers would receive from the Phillies is a 2nd round pick)

29) Yankees (failure to sign Gerritt Cole in 2008)

30) Red Sox

31) Rays

32) Cubs

33) Angels

So that leaves 11 teams that can sign Lowe -- and only Lowe among Type A free agents -- for the Dodgers to receive a first round pick.  Ever the optimist, I'm rooting for Larry Beinfest to open up the checkbook for the sinkerballer and double the Marlins' overall payroll.

UPDATE (Dec 23 @ 6:30pm): I updated the list above with the Tex signing.  Also, here are the sandwich picks if every free agent eligible for compensation signs with a new club:

34) Mariners (Ibañez – A)
35) Rockies (Fuentes – A)
36) D-Backs (Hudson – A)
37) Dodgers (Manny – A)
38) Blue Jays (Burnett – A)
39) White Sox (Cabrera – A)
40) Mets (O.Perez – A)
41) Brewers (CC – A)
42) Red Sox (Varitek – A)
43) Angels (Tex – A)
44) D-Backs (Cruz – A)
45) Dodgers (Lowe – A)
46) Brewers (Sheets – A)
47) Angels (K-Rod – A)
48) Reds (Affeldt – B)
49) Royals (Grudzielanek – B)
50) Rangers (Bradley – B)
51) D-Backs (Lyon – B)
52) Twins (Reyes – B)
53) Brewers (Shouse – B)
54) Red Sox (Byrd – B)
55) Angels (Garland – B)

Unless the Mets sign Manny, the Angels will have two additional first round picks (#25 from the Mets and #26 from the Yankees) in addition to their sandwich picks.