Major League Baseball rules regarding compensation for free agent players are somewhat up in the air at the moment, because the terms of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) are expected to be announced any day now. The current agreement expires on December 11, 2011, and the players association is pushing to eliminate the rule that requires clubs to pay compensation when they sign a Type A free agent. Changes to the CBA may impact winter shopping plans, although it is not known whether any changes would be effective for the 2012 draft, or whether they would go into effect in 2013.
Many observers believe that uncertainty about the rules has had a chilling effect on the early off season action this year. The Tigers have no Type A free agents this off season, but they have two Type B free agents in Magglio Ordonez and Wilson Betemit. Under current rules, Detroit would receive a supplemental first round draft choice next June, should a Type B free agent player decline arbitration and sign with another club.
The Tigers may opt to offer arbitration to Betemit, although Dave Dombrowski has said that he would not be looking to sign Betemit at least early on during the off season. The Tigers do not have a history of offering arbitration just to get the compensation if they don’t truly want the player back for the next season. On the contrary, the Tigers have recently left draft picks laying on the table as free agent players left for multi year deals with other clubs, as Placido Polanco did..
The General Managers meeting begins today. Agents and club owners are also having separate meetings this week. The major league award winners will be announced during the week. We’re awaiting word on the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement, and decisions will be announced next week as to which players will be offered arbitration. The Tigers might be interested to know whether Blue Jays second baseman Kelly Johnson, for example, is offered arbitration, and if he is, whether the rules would require the Tigers to give up their first round pick should they sign him. Feel free to speculate about what the Tigers might do.