Update by Joe, 11:52 a.m.: Interesting thought over at MLB Trade Rumors:
10:05am: One reader asks a question I can’t answer: if the quota is three Type A/Bs, how were the Giants able to sign Jeremy Affeldt (B), Bob Howry (A), Randy Johnson (B), Edgar Renteria (A), and Juan Uribe (B)? Does it only apply to Type A/Bs who were offered arbitration? Is the quota three of each type?
Uribe signed a minor league deal, and I’m not sure if that counts against the quota or not. Still, the Affeldt, Howry, Johnson, and Renteria point still stands. Plus, as he mentioned below in the comments, PeteAbe talked to Cashman, who said the Yankees are not at their limit.
Update 10:40 a.m.: After pouring over the CBA and a few of my older columns on this, the conclusion stands that Bloom is wrong. The Yanks can sign a free agent for every ranked free agent they’ve lost — Pudge and Abreu can still be replaced, and I’m pretty sure Mussina can be too — in addition to the number they allotted under the CBA’s quota.
However, it’s unclear what the quota is. Bloom’s analysis about the CBA, below, is still correct mostly correct. His conclusion is not. The relevant part says:
(a) Clubs shall be limited in the number of Type Aand B Play- ers, as defined below, they may subsequently sign to contracts. The number of signings permitted shall be related to the number of Players electing free agency under this Section B. If there are 14 or less such Players, no Club may sign more than one Type Aor B Player. If there are from 15 to 38 such Players, no Club may sign more than two Type Aor B Players. If there are from 39 to 62 such Players, no Club may sign more than three Type A or B Players. If there are more than 62 such Players, the Club quotas shall be increased accordingly. There shall be no restrictions on the number of
unranked Players that a Club may sign to contracts.
Unless the numbers have been “increased accordingly” through some other means, the Yanks may be stuck with three new, non-replacement free agents, but as I noted above, since three of their former free agents did not re-sign, I think the Yanks still could sign more Type A or Type B free agents under the non-increased quota. It’s tough to say if the lost free agents are added to the quota if the number — in this case, 3 — is the same as the quota.
* * *
While Yankee fans dream of Manny Ramirez or Adam Dunn patrolling the outfield with Ben Sheets on the mound, those are three pipe dreams that won’t — and, in fact, cannot — come true. The Yankees, you see, have reached their free agent limit.
There is some rather convoluted logic to this conclusion, and Barry Bloom sums it up in that MLB.com piece. I’ll summarize: The CBA says that when there are between 39 to 62 Type A or B free agents, a club may sign three of them, not counting their own players lost to free agency. So when the Yanks re-signed Andy Pettitte and Damaso Marte, they were not penalized. They did, however, land CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, three Type A free agents.
But what if there are more than 62 ranked players, as there were this year? “If there are more than 62 such players, the club quota shall be increased accordingly,” the CBA reads. As Bloom reports, however, no adjustments were made. The Yanks never asked, and the Union and Owners never had to confront the issue. I guess it’s not too late, but that ship has probably sailed.
So all of this convoluted administrative baseball mumbo-jumbo means that there is only one free agent left the Yankees could sign. His name? Bobby Abreu.
This also makes me reevaluate any efforts the Yanks are making to trade Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher. If they cannot sign Dunn as a potential replacement, the team is better served holding on to Nady and Swisher. Both players will be tradeable and in demand when June and July rolls around. What’s the rush anyway?