Maybe the Nats Don’t Want a Type A Right Now

Has Mike Rizzo made a conscious decision to not sign a Type A free agent? Maybe the Nationals don’t want to sign Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder. The cost, being the first round pick, not the money, may be too high. What about their pursuit of Roy Oswalt, you say? Well, according to CSNPhilly, the Phillies aren’t going to offer him arbitration. So no draft pick will be taken from the team who signs him. And if they sign any Type A that’s been offered arbitration, be it one of those first 3 guys, or Jimmy Rollins, CJ Wilson, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Madsen, Josh Willingham (ok here’s the list), they’ll have to give up their first round pick.

We all knew that, the Nats were TOO GOOD this year, and if they had finished behind one more team, they would have only had to give up a second round pick instead of a first round pick. But they’re always going to be in this situation now, since they’re getting better, right? No. Buster Olney is reporting that the new labor agreement is being negotiated right now, and it was expected to be announced around the World Series.

It hasn’t yet, and the longer it takes, he surmises, the less chance of certain rules being put in effect next season. The big one I’m getting at? Buster writes, “It’s expected that the new labor agreement may well abolish first-round draft pick compensation, which is tied to Type A free agents.”

So there it is. There is no guarantee that any of this will happen ever. But it seems fairly likely that by the 2013 season, the top 15 teams won’t have to give up their first round picks for signing a Type A free agent. And maybe 2012 will get those rules, maybe it won’t. But if you sign Pujols today, you can’t count on having your first round pick this summer.

Mike Rizzo is a scout at heart. He is a build up from the minor leagues kind of guy. So I could see him being very hesistant about signing a big name free agent this year. Especially if the rules aren’t clear for 2012, but he thinks he’ll probably be able to sign anyone he wants without major penalties next year.

Unless the rules go into effect for 2012, I don’t think Rizzo will go after a Type A guy that’s been offered arbitration. He’d rather wait and see who’s left when the deal gets signed. And if it doesn’t happen in time for 2012, he’ll pass, thank you very much. Because in 2013 if you want a pitcher, you could go after Danks, Cain, Sanchez, Grienke, Marcum or Hamels, guilt free. In CF how about Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn or BJ Upton? Just looking for a hitter to play corner outfield or 1B? You could do worse than Mike Napoli, Nick Swisher or Andre Ethier. If there is a need in MI, Howie Kendrick or Brandon Phillips might fit in nicely.

So no, I don’t expect Rizzo to make a big splash in free agency this year, because it makes sense to wait. At least until we know what the rules for 2012 are going to be. And if they change, then by all means sign Prince Fielder. If not, wait til next year, and sign 3 Type A guys to complete the roster and contend for a title, without sacrificing any of the future.

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