The Elias Bureau, whose ratings are used to determine draft pick compensation for teams losing players to free agency, has released its official list of free agents. To recap, teams have the right to offer departing free agents arbitration. If accepted, the player would play on a one-year contract with a salary determined by a neutral panel. If a player declines arbitration, and then signs elsewhere, the team losing the player may receive draft pick composition depending on the player’s Elias ranking. Teams signing Type A free agents (generally the best players) must surrender their first-round draft pick to the player’s former team, and the former team also gets a supplemental pick after the first round. Type B free agents do not cost the signing team any draft picks, but the former team does receive the supplemental pick. There are some qualifications to Type A compensation, but those are the basics.
For the Brewers, three players qualified as Type A free agents: Prince Fielder, Francisco Rodriguez, and, in a bit of a surprise, Takashi Saito, who just barely made the cut. Fielder and Rodriguez are obvious arbitration offers, while Saito’s contract, signed last offseason, prohibits the team from making such an offer. That’s a shame, too. Saito made a modest $1.75M last year and was a bargain at that price, with a slightly positive WAR and 2.03 ERA. His FIP line looked a little worse (3.40), suggesting Saito may have actually been aided by the Brewers’ porous defense, and his FB% was the lowest it has been for years, so this wasn’t an absolute slam dunk case of arbitration. But Saito’s agent (Nez Balelo, same as Ryan Braun’s) was obviously concerned that Saito would pitch well enough to qualify for Type A status, and surrendering a first-round pick could scare potential suitors away.
Only Yuniesky Betancourt was rated Type B. Betancourt made $4.375M last year, and the Brewers just declined his $6M option and paid a $2M buyout, so it’s a good bet he will not be offered arbitration unless the Brewers really do not want to explore the free agent market.