MLB

MLB may amend Type A free agent rules

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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

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Relief could be on the way for right-hander Juan Cruz, a Type A free agent whose market failed to develop because teams were reluctant to part with a high draft pick for signing a middle-inning reliever. Major League Baseball, the players' union, the Diamondbacks and Cruz's agents are in discussions to facilitate a sign-and-trade involving Cruz while adhering to the collective-bargaining agreement. Free agents cannot be traded before June 15 without their consent, but the union will permit Cruz and other Type A players to waive that right in advance, according to Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice-president of labor relations. Such a waiver would enable the Diamondbacks to trade Cruz immediately after signing him. The D-backs would need to strike a deal within a set amount of time, probably 48 hours, major-league sources say. If no trade were completed, Cruz would remain a free agent. "Historically, the union has been reluctant to allow advance waivers on blocking trades," Manfred said. "They've expressed a willingness to allow it. We've given clubs advice on how to operate given the union's willingness." The increased flexibility in the procedure also could apply to second baseman Orlando Hudson and shortstop Orlando Cabrera, two other Type A free agents who face diminished markets because of draft-pick compensation. However, the Diamondbacks are not engaged in sign-and-trade discussions with Hudson's agents, and it is not known whether the White Sox are trying to work out such a deal with Cabrera, sources say. Middle infielders are more coveted than middle-inning relievers; Hudson, in particular, might generate enough late interest to sign with another club despite being attached to a draft pick. Teams backed off Cruz after the Diamondbacks offered him salary arbitration, ensuring their right to a top pick plus a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds if he signed with another club. Cruz rejected arbitration, but draft-pick compensation would disappear if he remained on the market after the June draft. Thus, the Diamondbacks are motivated to execute a sign-and-trade, though reaching a trade agreement might not be easy. While the D-Backs likely recognize that they could not get the value of two high picks for Cruz, they surely would want a meaningful return. They could not ask an interested team to sign off on Cruz's contract; that would be collusion. They also could not include more than $50,000 in the trade under the rules of the collective-bargaining agreement. The Dodgers and Brewers were among the teams that showed early interest in Cruz, but backed off in part because they did not want to lose a high draft pick. The Diamondbacks likely would not want to trade with the Dodgers, who play in the same division. But other teams are believed to be interested. The Twins are one of those clubs; La Velle E. Neal of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune was the first to suggest Monday that MLB might be willing to ease the rules of compensation for Type A free agents such as Cruz. Other clubs also could enter the mix once the draft pick became less of an obstacle.
Tagged: White Sox, Diamondbacks, Orlando Cabrera, Orlando Hudson, Juan Cruz

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