MLB Free Agency: Should Teams be Compensated?

Mike Stobe

Is Free Agent Compensation Fair?

With Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse, Rafael Soriano and Jose Valverde still unsigned, one has to ask, is it time for the MLB to have completely unrestricted free agency? After abolishing the old compensation system of Type A and Type B free agents, Major League Baseball came to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement just over a year ago which reformed the free agent compensation process.

The previous system had many flaws, mostly overvaluing relievers and making it very easy for teams to obtain draft picks. Teams would offer arbitration to their free agents and if the players rejected the offer, the team would receive draft picks as compensation. Now, teams have to offer their exiting free agents a one year contract with a salary equal to the average salary of the 125 highest paid players in order to receive draft pick compensation. Also, draft picks can no longer be attained for players traded mid-season like Zack Greinke this past season.

While the MLB has clearly limited the restrictions on signing free agents, I don't understand why it's so important for teams to be compensated at all. First of all, free agency, at least in my book, should have absolutely no strings attached and when a player cannot sign because no team wants to give up their first round draft pick for him, he isn't really free. Second, if we look at the top free agents from this offseason you should notice that all of them come from the best teams in baseball. Greinke, Josh Hamilton, Anibal Sanchez and Nick Swisher are just a few examples of free agents being more likely to come from better and wealthier franchises than small market ones.

So why is there free agent compensation? It helps the big market teams more often than it helps the small market teams and it definitely does not help the players. So what do you guys think? Is free agent compensation good for the game of baseball or should it be done away with completely? And most importantly, why?

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