The latest Elias Sports Bureau rankings just came out with good news for the Brewers. With his hot bat since coming to Milwaukee, Felipe Lopez has now solidified himself as a type A free agent. Jason Kendall continues to struggle and is on the verge of losing his type B status. Here is the link to the MLB trade rumors column that has all the players if you're interested. So, what does this mean for the Brewers?
A type A free agent, if lost, allows the team losing him to gain compensation picks. With a type A, the team signing that players loses one of their top draft picks. If the team was in the bottom 15 in standings, they lose their second round pick. If a team is one of the best 15 in the league, they forfeit their first round pick. Also, the team losing his receives a sandwich pick between the first and second round. Needless to say, these draft picks are very valuable.
Lopez has played great all season long. He will be looked at by many different teams this offseason who need to fill a void at second base. The Brewers are surely going to offer Lopez arbitration in order to have a chance at these draft picks. In a perfect world, Lopez would be signed by a top team giving the Brewers two additional first round picks. Problem is things don't always go the way you would like.
Last season Juan Cruz and Mark Grudzielanek were type A free agents. Because of their type A status, they were completely ignored in the free agent market. Teams didn't want to part with a first round pick for a setup man and an aging second baseman. With the market for Cruz dwindling, he settled for a 2yr/$6 million deal with the Royals, which is well below market value for a reliever of his caliber. Grudzielanek wasn't quite so lucky. He had to wait until after the draft to be signed by the Twins. Because it was after the draft, the Twins didn't owe the Royals any compensation.
I'm not saying that either case will happen to Lopez. He is coming off an amazing season, but how willing would some teams be with losing a top pick? The Brewers might have to get creative with this one. A possibility might be to look at what the Diamondbacks almost did last offseason with Cruz.
The Diamondbacks were looking at a sign and trade option in order to assure teams that they would keep their picks. If this was done with Lopez, a decent package would be coming back in return. Sure the Brewers would lose their chance at draft picks, but they might be able to pry a young arm away from a team in desperate need of a second baseman. A player acquired via the trade market will be further developed than one gained via the draft. This team is in desperate need of arms in their system.
These options would not be available if not for the great play of Lopez since the trade. One can only think of the possibilities that were opened up when Lopez was acquired back in July.
The other Brewers name of note that I mentioned was Jason Kendall. Kendall has been listed as a solid type B free agent all season. Kendall is hitting just .194 in the month of September. Due to his lack of production, he has slipped in the rankings. He is the second to last ranked type B catcher. If he continues to struggle in the last games of the season, it is not inconceivable to think that he might lose his type B status.
Many would think that losing his status might hurt the Brewers, but I am not in that thinking. My main concern about next season is Kendall coming back. He is way past his prime and is one of the worst everyday players in major league baseball. If he stays a type B free agent, it worries me to think that the Brewers might offer him arbitration, thinking that another team will sign him, giving the Brewers a sandwich pick in next years draft. I highly doubt that Kendall's services are going to be in demand this offseason. If he is offered arbitration by the Brewers, he is likely the starting catcher in 2010. However, if he loses his type B status, the Brewers might just let him go. With no chance at compensation, the odds of Kendall returning diminish.