15 December 2009

Jose Valverde and Type A Compensation

There has been some discussion about the merits of signing a pitcher like Jose Valverde. He is a very good relief pitcher though he did have some wrist issues last summer. When you get down to it, Valverde just does not seem to be important enough to sign in comparison to others out there. For a crude comparison, look at blown saves over the past two years for Valverde, Matt Capps, and Fernando Rodney. Respectively, they are 11, 10, and 7. None of these guys are true shut down closers. You can expect somewhere between 5-7 blown saves a season for any of them. Is Valverde the best pitcher? Sure, but the instances where he can actually deliever plus value is limited. Really, Valverde at his best against Rodney at his worst might be a difference of 15 runs. That sounds more important than it really is given the fact that save situations are often given with a two or three run lead.

A secondary line of consideration is that Valverde qualifies as a type A free agent. For a team that is not good, it is thought often that spending money on type A free agent compensation is questionable. It is thought particularly foolish to spend money on relief pitching that qualifies as type A compensation. Just that happened to the Orioles after the 2006 season when General Manager Mike Flannagan surveyed the previous year and determined that our greatest weakness was our relief pitching. He set out to spend heavily on Danys Baez (3/19MM), Chad Bradford (3/10MM), and Jaime Walker (3/12MM). Danys Baez proved to be wholly ineffective with one season lost on injury. Chad Bradford was serviceable for 1.75 seasons before being dealt to the Rays for cash and getting injured in his final season under contract with the Rays. Walker was very good for a season and them plummeted. None of these moves helped the Orioles much. Maybe shifting them a game or two in a positive direction. But what about the free agent compensation?

Both Danys Baez and Chad Bradford qualified as type A free agents. Walker did not. Danys Baez had a higher rating, so the Braves were awarded a sandwich pick and the Orioles pick in the second round (2:5, 69th overall). This left the Mets with compensation for Bradford in round three (3:5, 99th overall). Who was selected and how have they done . . . after the jump.

2007 Draft

2:5 (69th Overall) Braves
Type A compensation for Danys Baez

Joshua Fields (so.) RHRP University of Georgia
Advised by Scott Boras and thought to go in the supplemental round, Fields was disappointed to fall into the second round. Boras had been suggesting 1+MM signing bonus for the college closer, but several teams passed on that. The Braves selected him knowing that negotiations were going to be an issue, but were confidant they could acquire him for slightly above slot. That never happened. Fields went back to school and pitched his senior season. Reentering the draft, he was selected by the Seattle Mariners 20th overall and signed for 1.75MM. He is currently a C+ prospect in the Mariners system. Fields still has a live arm, but his control and command are issues.

Other players selected at 2:5
2009 Mychal Givens SS/RHRP Baltimore
2008 Anthony Gose OF Philadelphia LoA
2006 Chris Tillman RHSP Seattle (now with Baltimore) MLB
2005 Craig Italiano RHSP Oakland HiA
2004 Yovanni Gallardo RHSP Milwaukee MLB

3:5 (99th Overall) Mets
Type A compensation for Chad Bradford

Eric Neisen (sr.) LHSP Wake Forest
Neisen signed for slot and has been struggling to make his way through the minors. He was not considered much of a prospect coming in and has been ignored by the main trade journals. Four year college lefties usually progress through the minors quickly and get hung up on AA or AAA. Neisen had to go through HiA twice and showed some issues during his stint at AA this season. He profiles mostly as a middle reliever or LOOGY.

Other players selected at 3:5
2009 Tyler Townsend 1B Baltimore LoA
2008 Roger Kieschnick OF San Francisco HiA
2006 Tony Butler RHSP Seattle (now with Baltimore) LoA
2005 Wil Inman RHSP Milwaukee (now with San Diego) AAA
2004 Josh Wahpepah RHSP Milwaukee AA

The Orioles did not give anything of much worth away in these acquisitions. The problem is though that there was no upside. The draft picks will typically fail out. Few are actually worth much in comparison to a free agent acquisition. The issue is that there is some prospective worth to these picks, so you better receive good value in return. Baez and Bradford did not give the Orioles much in return. Their presence or absence on the 2007 team did not matter to much. It was irrelevant. Handing out lottery tickets for irrelevance is just not a smart move.

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