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Lending Type As a Helping Hand

You may have noticed that there's still a handful of top free agents on the market. That's not a complete shock, because some of the guys still sitting on the sidelines are Type A free agents who rejected an offer of arbitration. Given the current economic climate, teams are more insistent than ever before to hold on to their draft picks, aiming to build from within as a primary method of developing a playoff-quality team, so the idea of paying a premier free agent big bucks and losing a draft pick is particularly unpalatable.

That's where this interesting note from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's La Velle Neal comes in. According to Neal, Major League Baseball may be kicking around ideas about how to help teams avoid the draft pick compensation issue, primarily by tacitly encouraging sign-and-trade deals between the player's former team and whichever one has targeted him but continues to hold off.

Neal brings up the possibility in connection with the Twins' interest in former Diamondbacks reliever Juan Cruz, who Arizona has been in talks with about retaining. While the Diamondbacks have shown some interest, it's clear that Cruz wants -- and would get -- more money on the open market if a first-round draft pick wasn't connected to his name. That's where MLB would look the other way, allow the Diamondbacks to sign him to a deal the Twins found acceptable and then flip him to Minnesota, possibly for a player to be named later or a later round draft pick (I'd bet on the latter).

"I have heard the rumor,'' Twins GM Bill Smith told Neal about the sign-and-trade possibility. "I have not received anything official from Major League Baseball.''

This scenario could also have a sizable impact on determining future teams for a pair of Orlandos; Hudson and Cabrera. The A's have openly coveted Cabrera, and seemed to be relatively close to a deal as recently as last week. Now that this option is out there, one would assume that Oakland General Manager Billy Beane will hold off to save his top draft pick, or at least wait until MLB comes down with a definitive ruling on whether or not to condone the sign-and-trades.

As for Hudson, he's eventual destination is still one of the more intriguing mysteries of free agency. No one denies his talent, yet everyone seems to be denying they're willing to spend money to add him to their team. Obviously, a lot of fans over at Nationals Journal have pined for him, but last week General Manager Jim Bowden ruled out the idea. It seems inarguable that Hudson would provide a better second base option than Anderson Hernandez, whose relatively anemic career minor league numbers -- and his only other 20+-game major league spell, with the Mets in 2006 -- seem to indicate his performance with the bat during his September call up last year was an aberration.

So, will the Nats get involved with Hudson again if the Twins get the sign-and-trade ball rolling? What do people think? And what kind of precedent does this set for the future of the arbitration compensation system?

By Cameron Smith  |  February 16, 2009; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Athletics , Diamondbacks , Nationals , Twins  
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I wonder if MLB would be amenable to opening the door on trading draft picks. If teams can bypass the compensation rule and instead agree with the signing team on a non-first round pick in cases like this, how soon until teams consider changing the rule and allow the trade of any future draft pick?

Posted by: Brian_ | February 16, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Cameron, the D-Backs could resign Cruz and trade him to the Twins for a player - but not a draft pick. MLB does not permit the trading of draft picks. Furthermore, once a player is drafted, he can not be traded for 1 year after the draft.

"That's where MLB would look the other way, allow the Diamondbacks to sign him to a deal the Twins found acceptable and then flip him to Minnesota, possibly for a player to be named later or a later round draft pick (I'd bet on the latter)."

So, my money is on the former, not the latter.

Posted by: comish4lif | February 16, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

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