First Round Compensation (Part Two)

For background information on the purpose and methodology please check out part one.

Between the 2000 and 2010 drafts, 171 players netted teams a collective 219 first round compensatory picks; or roughly 15 players per offseason. The average percentage of plate appearances or innings pitched spent with the benefiting teams comes in at 37.9%. Meaning, simply, that fewer than 50% of the playing time is coming with the teams collecting those draft picks.

Now, this data is skewed a bit. As mentioned in part one, this focused only on first round picks. Including second round picks might raise that number towards 50%, but maybe not. This look also makes no effort to separate first time free agents (in the truest sense) from those veterans who qualified for free agency compensation multiple times through the timeline. I do not believe the latter to be a fatal mistake because the entire point is to show how flawed the first round compensation system is, and those free agent lifers play a big part in the proceedings.

I wanted to get a feel for what establishing a playing time threshold on these compensation picks would do to the supply of the picks and the number of players who would qualify. Starting with the nearly impossible number of 95% or higher returns 33 players and 47 picks; note that the picks/players average rises because most of the elite players spend their time with one team before leaving. These are the cases like Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez with the Indians, Alex Rodriguez with the Mariners, and Troy Percival with the Angels amongst many, many others.

Moving the bar down to 75% yields 35 players and 49 picks or about an identical sum to the 95% rate; meaning only two players fell in between 75-95%. Drop it to 50% and you arrive at 49 players and 70 picks. Go further down to 30% and we’re at 70 players and 95 picks. That’s still less than half the original player and pick totals. Flip this to players who recorded 20% or less and the totals are 81 players and 100 picks. That’s right, you get more players and picks from the 20% and under crowd than the 30% and over group.

Go even lower, to 10% or less, and you’ll find 41 players and 51 picks. Less than 5%? 20 players and 25 picks. Remember, we only had 35 players and 49 picks from 75% or more, and here, on the very end of the scale, the numbers match up fairly. Here’s a chart that should convey some of these numbers in a more digestible and comparable form (Note: players are counted in each appropriate group so the total sum of the 95%+ , 75%+, etc. will exceed the actual sum):

If the league required that players had to spend at least 25% of their career playing time up through the previous season with a team to receive first round compensation, we would’ve essentially halved the actual player and pick pool. That is incredible and signals that the system fails miserably if the goal is to assist with homegrown losses.

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The system gives the home grown team a choice: generous package by trading team or the draft picks. The generous package usually reflects the Type A status. The home grown team DOES get compensated for the Type A regardless. The question is just whether it is direct compensation through the draft or indirect compensation through the trade package.