MLB Trade Rumors had a list of the official Elias Rankings today. The key takeaway from Detroit's point of view: Magglio Ordonez and Wilson Betemit were on the Type B list.
Now what's this mean? The grizzled offseason veterans already know and can just skip to the comments section.
For the rest of you, the Elias Rankings are essentially in place to compensate organizations when free agents leave. So basically, if the Pirates are too cheap to pay their best player what he's worth, they can potentially get draft picks in return when he signs with someone else.
However, to do this a team has to offer that player arbitration. If the player accepts arbitration, the two parties can either come to an agreement on a new contract, or submit how much they feel a one-year deal should be worth to an arbiter who chooses one side or the other. If the player turns down arbitration, the team is then potentially compensated in draft picks.
If a Type A player is involved, they get the other team's first round draft pick -- as long as it was not one of the first 15 picks -- as well as a compensation-round pick after the first round. (It gets messier if a team signs multiple Type A free agents. In that case, only the team with the highest rated player gets to keep the first-round pick. The rest can fight over scraps.
If a Type B player is involved, the team is simply given a compensation round pick.
So putting it all together, what does this team from a practical sense?
Well for one, Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski doesn't like going to arbitration and he doesn't offer arbitration to every player who is eligible. So it's not an automatic thing to begin with.
In the case of Magglio Ordonez, arbitration could potentially be expensive if Ordonez decided to continue with his playing career and accepted the offer.
In the case of Wilson Betemit, offering him arbitration would probably be a decent idea. After a good 2011 season, he's probably got his mind on a multi-year deal. Besides that, the Tigers don't have a good option at third base anyway. He'd cost them more in 2012 but that's not a real big issue. So I could see the Tigers offering him arbitration.
So in the end, the Tigers might be able to get a draft pick out of all of this.
Of course, take a look at that list of Type A free agents. Owner Mike Ilitch hopes to acquire a big name player this year, so Detroit might end up losing out on its own first round pick if that were to happen.