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The Blanco Draft Pick
by alex ciepley
There's been much ado about whether or not the signing of Henry Blanco cost the Cubs a draft pick in next year's amateur draft. I still don't have a definitive answer, but I've done a bit of research on the matter, and here's what I've come up with.
Jim Callis, in his Ask BA column for Baseball America, included a list of the Type A, B, and C free agents in an article a while back. The article can be found here, though you need to scroll to the bottom of the page to find the relevant information. Baseball America lists Blanco as a Type C player.
MLB.com, on the other hand, lists Blanco as Type B. Seeing that they have the official-sounding name of "MLB.com", you'd think they would have to be correct, no?
However, you need to keep in mind that MLB.com is not MLB: they are completely separate entities, and MLB.com does not represent the official stances of baseball as an organization. This is why, at the bottom of virtually every single page on MLB.com, you can find the following caveat:
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
The difference between Blanco being a Type B and a Type C free agent couldn't be bigger for the Cubs and Twins. If Blanco is a Type C free agent, the Twins receive no compensation, either in the form of a Cubs draft pick or a supplementary pick.
If, on the other hand, Blanco is a Type B free agent, the Cubs would give the Twins their first-round draft pick. That would be a humiliating place for the Cubs to find themselves, as you simply do not give up high draft picks for a backup catcher.
Looking for some clarity, I asked Callis where he got his info. He kindly pointed me to this AP Report, which clearly ranks Blanco as a Type C player.
I think MLB.com simply messed up when writing and editing their report on the matter, forgetting or accidentally erasing the "Type C" header above the three catchers who qualify for that distinction. Their site lists no Type C catchers at all, which makes no sense given the methods Elias uses to come up with the rankings.
I'm not 100% on this, but that has more to do with my cautiousness than with doubts about Blanco's status. I don't think the Cubs are giving the Twins any picks for this signing.
[update] - 4:40 PM ET - I think I was both right and wrong. It seems that Blanco is a Type C free agent, but the Twins will receive a compensatory draft pick (though no picks are taken from the Cubs). I assumed that since Blanco has been signed as a free agent before, the Twins would receive no 2nd-round supplementary pick were he signed by another team. However, I think the means by which Blanco achieved free agency explain why the Twins would still get a pick for him.
Reader eljefe281 explains this in the comments much more clearly than I do:
Blanco is a Type C free agent.
Ordinarily, losing a Type C free agent garners the player's former team a compensatory amateur draft choice between the end of the second round and the beginning of the third round.
There are exceptions to this, however:
1) If the player has 12-plus years of service.
2) If the player has elected for free agency during his career.
3) If the player does not sign a major league contract before March 1.
#1 does not apply here. #3 does not apply here.
#2 seemingly applies, because Blanco has been signed as a free agent before.
However, I believe the key word here is "elected". Blanco has never "elected" free agency, until this year. He has had it "thrust upon him" by being non-tendered.
As such, none of those three conditions apply and the Twins get a "sandwich" pick between the 2nd and 3rd rounds and the Cubs do not relinquish a pick.