Kyle Lohse And The Unforeseen Consequences of New Draft Compensation
Kyle Lohse is still a free agent. Granted, he wasn’t the best pitcher on the market (though he certainly wants to be paid like one). And he doesn’t have the high-end success that most people covet out of their big free agent expenditures. But Lohse is still a good, quality arm that most contending teams would slot in at #3 or #4. Is part of the reason that Lohse is still a free agent concern over his less-than-stellar peripherals coupled with a Scott Boras mindset on asking price? Sure. That plays a part. But what clearly is driving away interest is the baggage that he carries with him; namely, in the form of draft compensation.
Draft picks are a valuable commodity, particularly in the first few rounds. Given the failure rates of prospects and the economic markets of several major league clubs, first round picks become much more meaningful. If memory serves, the Royals currently have five of their own first round picks on their 25-man roster (Gordon, Butler, Moustakas, Hosmer, and Crow). Could you imagine a roster without any of those players, let alone two or more?
The new CBA regarding free agency and draft pick compensation is set up to do just that. Teams that have a top 10 pick in the draft have some cover, but teams from 11-30 forfeit their pick by signing a free agent that had received a qualifying offer from their previous club. That is to say, any team that would viably be in a position to contend from year to year have a very powerful disincentive not to improve their team to get them “over the hump”.
The reason Michael Bourn lasted as long as he did in free agency was a result of the new rules. Rafael Soriano saw similar disinterest due to it. And Kyle Lohse, who has basically been what 2012 Jeremy Guthrie was post-Colorado; the only difference being that Lohse has done it for two seasons, while Guthrie did it for about three months. And yet the latter is gainfully employed while the former continues to look for work.
This off-season has highlighted the unintended consequences of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and the Players Association. Certainly, an organization that looks out for the interests of the players, as the MLBPA does, can’t be happy about the way the new CBA is affecting several of its members. And teams in general have expressed dissatisfaction with how the new rules are affecting their ability to field the rosters they desire. Would it be unlikely for the two oft-foes to get together before next season to see if they can work out some changes that more accurately perform what these rules were intended to do? It’s not out of the question. But given the nature of their often times tenuous working association, it is much more realistic that these problems won’t be revisited until it is time to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.
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