The Ninth Man…. And beyond
This is an idea I would like to submit as a rule change proposal next year but am bringing up to you now for discussion.
The proposal concerns the status of minor leaguers selected as compensation picks for the loss of one or more of our top free agents. The basic idea is to give that selection more value than it has under the current rules.
As the rules stand now, a minor leaguer selected as a comp pick does not count towards our 8 minor leaguer quota. This means that a team in the relevant situation can carry nine or more mins for the whole year following the draft. However, at the end of that year (at the appropriate deadline), our min quota must once again come down to eight or below before the next draft.
I propose that the selection of a min as a comp pick allow us to carry more than eight minor leaguers for more than a year. Here’s how this would work.
Let’s say you pick minor leaguer Joe Blow as a comp pick. He would then be flagged as your Ninth Man (say he’d be highlighted in green, for hope …, on the draft and roster sheets). This player would remain flagged as long as you own him, provided (i) he’s not released; or (ii) his status does not change to MM or Y1. Basically, this means that you can carry nine or more minor leaguers as long as the Ninth Man remains a min on your roster (the number of years this can apply can be left open for discussion; I return to this below). Of course, the same would apply for the 10th, 11th, etc. minor league on one’s roster if they’re all drafted as compensation picks (so you can have a flagged Tenth Man, Eleventh Man, etc.).
Obviously, this would only apply if you have nine or more mins at the end of a given draft. If someone who has selected a min with his comp pick (a flagged pick) finishes up the draft with 8 or fewer mins, the flagging is voided, and we’re back to normal (i.e. the current situation). Granted this could, to some extent, reduce the available pool of minor leaguers that are available each year, but only marginally (there have been 23 compensation picks the last two years- I’m not counting this year-, all rounds included, only 8 in the first round), and the benefits would, in my opinion, override this minor “drawback”. Here’s how.
To begin with, the pool of available minor leaguers each year is practically endless. I know many owners, when they’re done with their eight minor leaguer selections, wish they had one or two more picks left so they could get another minor leaguer or two that they like. But I agree that this may not be the case for everyone.
But, the main point of this rule modification would be that it would give the selection of a min as comp pick a lot more, which could have a positive effect on two fronts: (i) it would make the loss of one (or more) of our top free agents a little more palatable, and, (ii) it would make the rebuilding process of a team a little easier by allowing a team to carry more young players on its roster for a longer period of time, thus giving that team more chances that one of them would pan out.
If we agree with the idea, we may discuss the details of how this Nine Man flagging applies exactly. Does it affect all comp picks or only first round comp picks, etc.? Would we want to impose a time limit on the flagging of a particular player (3 years? 4? Indefinitely), etc.?