Last week, the MLB Players Association and team owners came to agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. The old one expired December 1and before expiring, the two sides came together, continuing baseball's historic lack of work stoppage.
One large point of contention between owners and the MLBPA was draft pick compensation. Under the old system, teams could lose first round picks for signing players who declined a Qualifying Offer (set at an average of the top 125 salaries in baseball, a $17.6M one-year deal this year). This served as a drag on those free agent salaries for those players as teams did not want to penalized for signing those players. The system also compensated he team that lost the free agent with a draft pick directly after the first round (usually somewhere in the 28-34 range depending on the number of eligible free agents).
[I]f a team extends to a player a qualifying offer, only to see him sign with another club, then the former team will receive a compensatory draft pick only if the player then signs a contract valued at $50 million or more. The specific pick received by the former team will reportedly depend on the size of the market in which it plays.
Meanwhile, also beginning next year, any team signing a free agent who received a qualifying offer will no longer be at risk of losing their first-round draft pick. Instead, under the terms of the new deal, teams whose payrolls are in excess of the luxury-tax threshold will be required to forfeit a second- and fifth-round draft pick, along with $1 million of their international-signing-bonus allotment (as discussed further below); teams under the luxury-tax threshold will be docked a third-round pick.
If a revenue-sharing payee loses a player it gave a qualifying offer to a contract for $50 million-plus, that team receives a pick right after the first round and for under $50 million after the second.
The Royals are a team that benefits (bigly) from revenue sharing, getting some $30M+ a year from it at times. Under the new system, their free agents will qualify for either a first- or second-round pick, depending upon the contract value as stated above. The only way Kansas City will be in danger of losing first/second round compensation is somehow if they jump ahead of Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, etc... in market size by next winter. So unless there is some great migration coming to the Midwest (hey it could happen!) then KC is probably going to receive revenue sharing for the foreseeable future.
So the real question is if the Royals impending free agents are going to get deals greater than or equal to $50M. The answer is almost undoubtedly yes.
If you aren't familiar with their upcoming free agents, the list includes:
One problem perhaps with a team that comes up together is that they all generally leave at the same time too. Four of the six names above are locks to receive $50M or more right now.
Though he may not be worth what his name value presents, young players usually make out quite well in free agency. The closest deal to Hosmer is Brandon Belt who signed for 5/$73M with the Giants before hitting free agency.
Moose is coming off a torn ACL but assuming he rebounds normally he could see something of Chase Headley-esque deal (good defender at 3B who is an above average hitter) of 4/$52M. I'd imagine he gets a bit more given that Moustakas will be a few years younger than Headley was in free agency.
Last winter I think I we all would have laughed at Duffman getting $50M guaranteed (I actually wrote about this two years ago) but now it isn't so crazy. Assuming he puts up a similar season as he did in 2016, someone is going to give him $50M+. Ivan Nova (a pitcher not quite as good as Duffy was last year) is projected for ~$50M.
The only thing that can keep Cain from a large payday would be a season plagued by injuries. Cain is well known for his defense (even if he has to move to right field) and he's a good hitter to boot. Over the past three years, Cain is among the 15 best position players in baseball:
Only a few of those guys made it to free agency, and those who did got paid very well. Those who didn't still got paid pretty well anyways.
Davis is questionable on what he'll receive. His injury scare in 2016 lowers his value a lot but his dominance of the past few years is a tall mountain to fall from. Mark Melancon is rumored to get 4/$50M and Davis has been better. The only thing that can keep Wade from eclipsing half-a-hundred-million would be another injury scare or injury...or typical reliever attrition.
I'm not going to dedicate much text to this one. Escobar can't hit, and he isn't as good of a fielder as he used to be. He isn't getting $50M or an $18M+ Qualifying Offer.
Everyone above except for Escobar would likely turn down their qualifying offer in a normal year, thus netting the Royals a draft pick. The Royals will get some compensation, the question will be if it's a first or second rounder.
The real question for the Royals though is if they should trade these players now (where the return will be greater) or at the trade deadline potentially (if they find themselves sellers).