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Theo Epstein on why a second-round pick matters 01.04.13 at 9:55 am ET
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Theo Epstein (AP)

Cubs president of baseball operations and former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, in an interview on WEEI’s Red Sox Hot Stove Show on Thursday night, suggested that draft picks — even second-round picks — are more valuable than ever in the current baseball climate, helping to explain a reluctance for teams to pursue certain free agents. (To listen to the complete interview, click here.)

Like the Red Sox, the Cubs — who went 61-101 in 2012, the second-worst record in the game, thus entitling Chicago to the No. 2 overall pick in next year’s draft — have a protected first-round pick. Chicago thus could sign one of the players who received one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offers from their 2012 teams without forfeiting its top selection in next year’s draft. Still, like the Red Sox, the Cubs are extremely protective of the second-round pick that they would have to give up if they were to sign a free agent who received a qualifying offer (pitchers Kyle Lohse and Rafael Soriano, first baseman Adam LaRoche and outfielder Michael Bourn are the remaining free agents who would cost a draft pick).

In short order, the reasons for the Cubs’ protectiveness of the pick include:

– The second-round pick is higher than ever. In past years, under previous Collective Bargaining Agreements (when teams simply needed to offer free agents salary arbitration in order to secure one or two compensatory picks), there was a broader array of free agents whose departure would result in their former teams receiving one or even two compensation draft picks. The result was dozens of picks in the sandwich round that falls between the first and second rounds, on top of the 30 (or more) picks in the first round.

The result? In the last six drafts, the average top pick of the second round was the No. 56 overall pick in the draft.

This year, however, the number of compensation picks has been drastically reduced. In functional terms, the sandwich round has been almost eliminated. While there are six new picks at that stage of the draft (the result of a competitive balance lottery for small-revenue clubs), second-round picks now expose teams to a position in the draft where they should be able to make a more impactful selection. The top pick of the second round this year will be roughly the No. 38 overall pick in the draft. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adam LaRoche, draft pick compensation, Theo Epstein,
What the arbitration offers mean for the Red Sox and David Ortiz, Jason Varitek and Dan Wheeler 11.23.11 at 10:32 pm ET
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The likelihood of David Ortiz' return to the Red Sox went up with the team's offer of arbitration on Wednesday. (AP)

The Red Sox offered salary arbitration to free agents David Ortiz and Dan Wheeler, while declining to offer it to free agent catcher Jason Varitek prior to a midnight deadline to make such an offer to free agents. In doing so, the Sox guaranteed that should either Ortiz or Wheeler sign with other teams, they will receive draft picks as compensation for their departures.

In the case of Ortiz, a Type A free agent, the Sox will receive two draft picks should he sign with another team. The fact that a team would have to part with a draft pick in order to sign Ortiz might also dampen his free agent market, since other teams might be reluctant to give Ortiz a multi-year deal while also parting with a pick that would likely come from either the first or second round. The Sox are now the only team that can offer Ortiz a contract without losing a draft pick for signing him; added to the acknowledged mutual interest in continuing their relationship, the Sox’ offer now increases the likelihood that such an outcome will occur.

Of course, Ortiz (who turned 36 last week) could also accept salary arbitration, in which case he would likely be in line for an increase over the $12.5 million salary he received in 2011, coming off a year in which he hit .309 with a .398 OBP, .554 slugging mark, .953 OPS, 29 homers and 96 RBI in 146 games. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: dan wheeler, David Ortiz, draft pick compensation, Jason Varitek
Felipe Lopez’ reported minor league deal with Rays bad news for Sox 02.01.11 at 8:39 pm ET
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According to a report from Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (via twitter), veteran infielder Felipe Lopez is expected to sign a minor-league deal with the Rays in the coming days. If accurate, the report would represent a bit of bad news for the Red Sox, who signed Lopez during the penultimate weekend of the regular season (after he’d been released by the Cardinals and refused a waiver claim by the Padres) in part because of the possibility of netting a draft pick.

Lopez, who played on a one-year, $1 million deal last year, hit .233 with a .311 OBP, .345 slugging mark and .656 OPS for the Cardinals and Sox last year. He was a Type B free agent who turned down the Sox’ offer of salary arbitration, meaning that the Sox could have gotten a sandwich pick (around No. 55-60 in the coming draft) had he signed a major league deal with another club.

But, if Lopez signs a minor league deal, according to multiple major league sources, the Sox would not be entitled to any draft pick compensation.

In four games for the Sox, Lopez was 4-for-15. The Sox paid him approximately $50,000 (the balance of what he would have made on his 2010 deal had he not rejected the Padres’ waiver claim) during his brief time in Boston, and then declined an option on his services for the 2011 season, and instead paid him a $15,000 buyout.

Read More: Cardinals, draft pick compensation, felipe lopez, mlb draft
Picking a winner? A look at the draft picks gained and lost by the Red Sox 01.16.11 at 8:14 am ET
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Last time the Red Sox had the No. 19 overall draft pick, they took Roger Clemens. (AP)

It was not long ago that teams signed free agents without regard for the draft pick they would have to sacrifice to do so. Clearly, that has changed.

Indeed, the pick that a team must sacrifice to sign a Type A free agent who rejects salary arbitration from his former club has become so significant that it reportedly became the subject of significant contention in the Yankees organization. Earlier this month, New York GM Brian Cashman said the Yankees — after being spurned by Cliff Lee — wouldn’t sign a Type A free agent because they were unwilling to sacrifice their first-round pick. But he was reportedly overruled at the ownership level, resulting in the decision to give up the No. 31 overall selection and sign Rafael Soriano as the most expensive setup man in history.

Just how valuable is the No. 31 overall pick? The answer varies significantly by year.

In 46 June drafts, just 15 players taken at the No. 31 spot have reached the majors. (For the complete list, click here.) Only two of them emerged as above-average players. One was Jarrod Washburn, who won 107 games after being taken by the Angels in 1995. The other? Greg Maddux, whose 355 career wins are the most by a right-hander whose career started after the World War…World War I, that is.

The Red Sox’ free-agent activity resulted in their losing their own first-round pick (No. 24 overall) while gaining two (Nos. 19 and 26). Under GM Theo Epstein, the Sox have used compensation draft picks to acquire a number of their key prospects. (For details, click here.)

But historically, what kind of players have been selected with the first-round picks gained and sacrificed by the Sox this winter? Here is a look at the history of the three first-round draft picks that were affected by the Red Sox’ free agent activity this offseason:

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, Adrian Beltre, carl crawford, draft pick compensation
Reports: Adrian Beltre close to deal with Rangers 01.04.11 at 12:13 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, the Rangers are closing in on a long-term deal with free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre. Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports (via twitter) said that a six-year deal could be completed as soon as today, while Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com (via twitter) said that the deal “will effectively be for five years with a vesting option for a sixth.” Meanwhile, Jon Heyman of SI.com reported (via twitter) that a deal would be in the $90-100 million range.

UPDATE: MLB.com reports that the deal would be a six-year, $96 million agreement, with the Rangers having the ability to opt out of the sixth year if certain playing time thresholds are not reached.

Beltre spent 2010 with the Red Sox on a one-year contract, a partnership that worked out brilliantly for both sides when Beltre hit .321 with a .919 OPS, 28 homers and 102 RBI while playing excellent defense at third base. While the Sox explored the possibility of having him return to Boston, they instead elected to acquire Adrian Gonzalez via trade this offseason and to move Kevin Youkilis to third base, effectively ruling out a return by Beltre.

If Beltre signs with the Rangers, the Sox would receive a pair of draft picks (most likely Texas’ first-round pick, the No. 26 overall selection in the draft, along with a sandwich pick) as compensation for his departure.

That Beltre will yield two draft picks rather than one represents a sort of found-money for the Sox, as team officials thought there was little likelihood that he could become a Type A free agent when he signed as a free agent. One team official surmised that it would be “virtually impossible” for Beltre to achieve status as one of the top 20 percent of performers at his position over the 2009-10 seasons (based on an injury-marred 2009 campaign in which he hit .265/.304/.379/.683 with eight homers for the Mariners). But Beltre’s huge 2010 campaign vaulted him to Type A status, thus meaning that his departure as a free agent (after rejecting the team’s offer of salary arbitration) would net two picks rather than the one draft pick that a team receives in the sandwich round for a Type B free agent’s departure.

While the Sox gave up their own first round selection in the 2011 draft (No. 24 overall) in order to sign Carl Crawford, they have gained the Tigers’ first-round pick (No. 19 overall) for the signing of Victor Martinez, and now appear poised to claim a second first-rounder if Beltre signs with the Rangers. It would be the first time that the Sox have had two first-round picks since selecting Jason Place and Daniel Bard in the 2006 draft.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, draft pick compensation, Hot Stove, texas rangers
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