Evidently the Yanks have hit their limit. No, not with regards to their payroll ceiling. Not with the amount of tax breaks they can get. Not with the number of luxury boxes sold.
Free agents, baby.
Try to follow, it's rather confusing and esoteric, but interesting nonetheless:
Under the rules, "if there are from 39 to 62 [Type A and B] players [during a given offseason], no team can sign more than three."Teams own Type A's do not count against this quota, however.
According to an unofficial list compiled by the Sports City Sports News Service, this year there were 63 Type A and Type B free agents -- 29 Type As and 34 of the Type B variety. A Type A player is one who's ranked among the top 20 percent of his group -- pitcher or position player. A Type B player is among the top 40 percent. The Elias Sports Bureau does the annual independent rankings.
"If there are more than 62 such players, the club quota shall be increased accordingly," the Basic Agreement also says.
"If there were more than 62 this year, we should have agreed on an increased quota," [Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball's executive vice president of labor relations] said. "We did not. I think if [the Yankees] were contemplating signing another Type A player, they would've read the agreement and asked us what we wanted to do. They would've said they wanted to sign a fourth player and we would've had to do something with the union."
As far as the remaining Type A free agents and what their availability means:
"It's always been our position that if [a player] goes past the Draft, the compensation goes away," Manfred said, adding that it has never happened.If Cabrera and Cruz and Varitek (if he declines the Sox offer today) wait until June, they can join any team without that team having to offer a first round pick as compensation. We can all agree that it's preposterous that a middle reliever like Juan Cruz should never be saddled with a Type A designation. I can't see any team giving up their first round pick for a middle reliever, no matter how good he is.
Remaining Type A free agents: Bobby Abreu, Orlando Cabrera, Juan Cruz, Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, Mike Mussina (retired), Oliver Perez, Ben Sheets and Jason Varitek.
UPDATE (11:50am, 1/30/09): This is making me dizzy. Now it seems the Yanks haven't come close to the quota.
10:44am: Brian Cashman told Peter Abraham the Yankees could sign up to eight Type A free agents if they wanted to.
10:05am: One reader asks a question I can't answer: if the quota is three Type A/Bs, how were the Giants able to sign Jeremy Affeldt (B), Bob Howry (A), Randy Johnson (B), Edgar Renteria (A), and Juan Uribe (B)? Does it only apply to Type A/Bs who were offered arbitration? Is the quota three of each type?
7:45am: Just wanted to add the info from a January 6th Nick Cafardo article, where he stated that this year's quota is nine Type A or B free agents. Everyone I'd spoken previously to believed the Yankees have not approached any quota. I know the CBA allows for more Type A/Bs to be signed if you lose them, and the Yankees lost Bobby Abreu and Mike Mussina. We attempted to tackle this in October and came away confused.
Still, Bloom talked to MLB's executive VP of labor relations Rob Manfred for his article and it seems highly unlikely that Manfred would be wrong. - Tim Dierkes