Monday, February 16, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

One of the biggest stories this offseason has been the woefully inadequate free agent compensation system. The Yankees sign AJ Burnett and give up a 3rd round pick? The Brewers only get a 2nd for losing CC Sabathia? And talented players like Juan Cruz, Orlando Cabrera, and Orlando Hudson are still looking for work in part because teams are unwilling to part with the first round pick to sign them? It's gotten so bad that the Royals are sniffing around Hudson, trying to take the Nationals' lead and get a good player in a bad market (and in their case, they'd give up a 2nd rounder). That's a major problem, especially for the players' union, who signed off on the arrangement (and is therefor responsponsible for the players twisting in the wind). And for Major League Baseball, who clearly wants its best players employed and doesn't want to have to endure a potential fight over right of employees to, you know, work.

And so there is good and strange news today (actually Sunday) from LaVelle E. Neal III, a beat writer for the Minnesota Star Tribune. According to Neal,
"There have been rumblings that Major League Baseball, which is aware that Type A free agents like Juan Cruz and infielders Orlando Hudson and Orlando Cabrera have been hindered by the compensation rules, are willing to make it easier for teams to sign then trade those free agents. For example, Arizona could sign Cruz to a contract that the Twins are willing to take on. The Twins and Diamondbacks would then work out a trade for Cruz. The Twins could land Cruz without losing a draft pick."
(h/t to MLB Trade Rumors) Normally, new signees can only be dealt after June 15 without their consent. The deal Neal is discussing would allow Cruz, Hudson, and Cabrera to be dealt in an NBA-style sign-and-trade because they would waive their right to veto the trade.

Unless there is some complicated legal language in the player contracts, this deal would have to be predicated on trust. Trust that the player will actually veto the trade, and trust that the team won't send the player to a team and situation he wouldn't otherwise want to go. But this represents a creative solution around the compensation system for the time being, until the league and union can institute a new system that makes more sense and is less easily exploited.

As for the move itself that Neal is discussing, Juan Cruz would prove an excellent acquisistion for the Twins, provided they do not give up any of their young hitting. The Twins have been active in the reliever market, talking to everyone of consequence but never pulling the trigger (no, Luis Ayala doesn't count). But Cruz was clearly the best non-closer available this offseason, and has had three consecutive excellent seasons, and four out of five (especially out of the bullpen). He strikes out well over a batter per inning, and gives up very few hits. Cruz would stabilize the 8th inning for the Twins, allowing Guerrier to return to the 7th and maybe even get a rest every few days (Gardy won't rest until he's run every Twins middle reliever into the ground. Meanwhile, Joe Nathan gets paid $6 million to throw 70 innings.). And when Neshek comes back at the tail end of this year, or even next year, the Twins have an extra arm to make their pen that much more awesome or to deal. However, The Common Man will disavow any knowledge of the previous paragraph if Delmon Young (if he hit better, wouldn't "Demon" be an appropriate nickname?) is included in any deal.

Finally, The Common Man would like to make a programming announcement. He's noticed, over the past few weeks, that when he talks about baseball his traffic has skyrocketed. Indeed, on Friday, he peaked at nearly 300 visitors. Much of this new traffic has been because of The Common Man's recent association with bloggers like Shysterball, wezen-ball, It Is About the Money Stupid, Way Back and Gone and a few other places. So, ever cognizant of the way the wind blows, The Common Man's going to give this baseball blogging a try. He'll continue to write about politics and film and TV and explosions and awesomeness, but he is committing himself to post at least once about baseball every damn day. That means more posts, and probably shorter ones (if The Common Man can contain his verbosity). Consider it an experiment designed to coincide with The Common Man's growing excitement over the coming season. He hopes you will approve. Here are some fireworks to celebrate:


lar said...

So, you're like Italy, huh, and your blog traffic is the tide of war? Nice.


In all honesty, I'm glad you're doing well and enjoying yourself. It's interesting how knowing that people are reading the blog actually makes you want to write more, huh? I'm lucky... ShysterBall linked to me really early on, and that greatly encouraged me to keep writing. If that hadn't happened, I'm not sure I'd be writing much right now. Anyway, congratulations, and keep the baseball (and science and Star Trek) stuff coming...

NotBeisbolMonkey said...

Aaauugghhhh! I HATE baseball. Srsly. The drug cheats are interesting though...