Baseball's compensation system for losing free agents is a pretty fair deal. It forces some teams to choose between keeping a first-round pick or signing a free agent. If it is a definite star free agent, then it is a no-brainer. But if it is someone borderline who would cost you that pick, it becomes trickier.
At the same time, draft picks cannot be traded, so you don't have a team trading away its future for a higher first-round pick or even included when acquiring another player.
Something baseball should look at is the deadline for teams to lose picks when signing a player. Currently, that is June 1, so it cements the draft order days before the selection process begins. I bring this up because the Brewers are in an unusual position.
Type A free agent Ben Sheets is still on the market due to an elbow injury. Had he signed with another team before Monday, he would have brought the Brewers potentially two first-round picks — the signing team's selection (provided it wasn't in the top 15,then it becomes a second-rounder) and a sandwich pick (between the first and second rounds).
Combined with losing C.C. Sabathia to the Yankees, the Crew was poised to make a haul in this week's draft. As it is, they still have five of the first 74 picks. And considering the Brewers' recent history of drafting, it could have been a windfall — even if this is a thin draft.
Maybe what disturbs me the most about this is that Sheets has been hanging around the Rangers and pitching coach Mike Maddux, who until this year had been the Crew's pitching coach. Sheets and the Rangers reportedly had a deal in place this spring, but it was put on hold because the right-hander's elbow was deemed to be not healthy. Which only works into the Rangers' favor when it comes to losing a draft pick.
The Brewers — who got screwed out of receiving the Yankees' pick for signing Sabathia when the pinstripers signed slugger Mark Teixiera because baseball's magical computer ranked the first baseman ahead of the left-hander (really?) and relegated the Crew to the Yanks' second-round pick — won't get a thing when the Rangers do end up signing Sheets.
When last season ended, they were counting on four first-round draft picks (two regular, two sandwich). Now, they only have one. Something needs to change.
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Written by Steve Drumwright