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Updated: November 22nd, 2011 3:53pm
Mackey: New CBA will help Twins earn compensation for Matt Capps

Mackey: New CBA will help Twins earn compensation for Matt Capps

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by Phil Mackey

Sifting through Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement will make the average fan's head spin, so we'll cut right to the chase.

How will the new CBA immediately affect the Minnesota Twins' plans in free agency?

The Twins currently have three ranked free agents -- Michael Cuddyer (Type-A), Matt Capps (modified Type-B) and Jason Kubel (B). Teams will still operate under the old CBA rules for the current free-agency period, which means the Twins can receive draft pick compensation for Cuddyer, Capps and Kubel, but each of these three cases has different nuances.

The deadline to offer arbitration to free agents is 11 p.m. Wednesday.

If the Twins offer arbitration to Cuddyer -- and assuming he declines, because he'll likely get a multi-year deal somewhere -- they would be eligible to receive a "sandwich" pick between the first and second rounds. They would also receive a first-round pick slotted just ahead of where Cuddyer's new team will pick. Previously, the teams signing Type-A free agents were required to hand over their first-round pick to the old team as compensation, but that rule was altered temporarily to open the market up for more suitors.

If the Twins offer arbitration to Kubel, and if he signs elsewhere -- and he is also likely to decline arbitration, considering he could get two years from somebody -- they would be eligible to receive a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds.

With Capps, the Twins can still receive compensation even if they don't offer him arbitration. Capps was originally listed as a Type-A free agent under the (now defunct) Elias ranking system, but he was part of a collection of players modified to Type-B status.

As one baseball executive explained in an email, "There are certain B's that came from the A category that you don't have to offer arbitration (to) & still get a compensation pick."

Confusing? Yes.

But all you need to know is that the Twins will now get a sandwich pick for Capps if he signs elsewhere, even if they don't offer him arbitration -- which the Twins almost certainly won't considering Capps made $7.5 million in 2011.

Under the new rules, which won't kick in until next year, the Elias ranking system will be completely wiped out. All free agents -- as long as they remained on the same team all season -- will be eligible to earn compensation for their former team as long as that team offers a one-year contract worth the average of the top-125 highest-paid players in baseball.

That figure was approximately $12 million in 2011.

In other words, if the new rules were in place this season, the Twins would have to offer Cuddyer, Capps and Kubel one-year, $12 million deals in order to be eligible to receive a draft pick should those players choose to sign elsewhere. If the Twins elected not to offer those players $12 million, the team would receive no compensation when those players left.

In Capps' case, the Twins have still maintained a dialogue about bringing the right-hander back in 2012. And now that Joe Nathan has signed elsewhere, the Twins' bullpen is even more thin.

Of course, the Twins can rest assured knowing that if they don't re-sign Capps he won't walk for nothing.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd