Free agents fall into three different categories, there are type-A free agents (the best players), type-B free agents (not quite the elite), and everybody else.
If a team has a type-A or B free agent and they offer them arbitration (a one-year deal at no less than 80 percent of their current salary) and the player declines, their original team gets draft pick compensation for losing that player.
The reason they do this is to even the playing field so when the Yankees sign a free agent from a team who can’t afford to retain that player the team losing the player is compensated. It keeps teams like the Rays and Athletics on an even playing field.
Type-A free agents fetch two draft picks, a first round pick and a sandwich round pick (between the first and second rounds). Type-B free agents fetch a second round draft pick only.
Not every free agent is offered arbitration though for two reasons. The first is that the team definitely doesn’t want that player back. The second is when the team doesn’t want to get stuck paying a player more money than they think he’s worth or can afford. Sometimes teams will not offer a player arbitration, but try to re-sign him anyway.
Here is a list of the Yankees type-A free agents:
Here is a list of the Yankees type-B free agents:
The next question is, will the Yankees get draft pick compensation for any of these? The answer to this is probably not. The Yankees want all of their type-A free agents back so there will be no draft picks there.
The type-B free agents are slightly different. The Yankees do not want Vazquez back under any circumstances. So he will not be offered arbitration and they will not get compensation picks for him.
They probably would like Wood back, but because he earned $10.5 million that means he can’t make less than slightly over $8 million through arbitration. That’s a lot to pay for a middle reliever no matter how good they are. It is possible the Yankees could still offer him arbitration, but highly unlikely.
Finally there is Berkman. Berkman earned $14.5 million in 2010 and could not earn less than $11.6 million through arbitration. However there is a catch here.
When Berkman was with the Houston Astros before he became a Yankee he had a full no trade clause and a $15 million option for 2011. Now typically in this situation the player getting traded with a NTC will ask the team trading for him to pick up his option in exchange for not vetoing the deal. In Berkman’s case he actually asked the Yankees not to pick up his option signaling that he does not want to stay in the Bronx past 2010.
Because of this scenario the Yankees may see this as a clear sign that he would not accept arbitration and offer it to him so they can get a second round draft pick. That’s still a gamble though so we’ll have to see what happens.
In the end the Yankees are likely to get no compensation picks this offseason, but it is possible that they get at least one. It is doubtful that there is a scenario that they get two, but I suppose it’s possible.
For a full list of type-A and B free agents, click here.