While David Ortiz decided to re-up with the Red Sox, the other eight -- Josh Hamilton of the Rangers, Michael Bourn of the Braves, Kyle Lohse of the Cardinals, Adam LaRoche of the Nationals, B.J. Upton of the Rays and Hiroki Kuroda, Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher of the Yankees -- will now see what the open market has to offer.
"This decision doesn't preclude us from continuing our dialogue with B.J.," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in an e-mail. "All it does is ensure that we receive something of value if B.J. signs elsewhere."
Under the old free-agency system, teams made the decision whether or not to offer their free agents arbitration. If a player refused, teams would get a bonus pick in the following year's First-Year Player Draft.
Under the new system, free agents had to be offered contracts, not just arbitration, worth at least the average of the top 125 player salaries from 2012 -- $13.3 million to be precise -- for teams to be eligible for one of those sandwich picks. With Ortiz staying put, that means that Compensation Round A, which had 29 picks in 2012, will have just eight selections.
Those compensation picks, like the first round of the Draft, come in reverse order of standings. So, assuming none of the eight players re-sign with their original clubs, after the Nationals take the No. 31 pick (as of now) to complete the first round (the Pirates have an extra pick at No. 9 for not signing Mark Appel this past summer), the Cardinals would kick off the sandwich round. The Rays, Rangers and Braves would come next, followed by the Yankees' three picks. The Nationals would close out the supplemental round with pick No. 39 before the Draft heads to the first Competitive Balance Lottery round.
The Red Sox also would have received a pick in the comp round, but they were able to come to terms with Ortiz after he technically declined the qualifying offer, signing him to a two-year, $26 million contract on Monday.
Teams still will have the opportunity to bring a player back, meaning they would not get the compensation pick. So, if the Rangers re-sign Hamilton, they would not get what is now pick No. 34.
"It was a formality for us," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said of the qualifying offer. "Josh wasn't taking a one-year paycut.
"We know all the possible ways it can play. Josh has intimated that we'd get an option. We'd talk before he does something. I'd expect we'll talk before he does something."
The Draft order above the sandwich round is still not set in stone. It will change depending on where the free agents who turned down the qualifying offers from their former clubs end up signing. When a team signs one of the aforementioned free agents, it will give up its first-round pick. Unlike in the old system, that pick will not be assigned to the free agent's old team.
Teams picking in the top 10 of the Draft would not have to forfeit a first rounder for signing a free agent. Assuming that some of the free agents do sign with teams that pick in the 11-31 range, the comp round picks have a good chance of moving into the top 30 by the time the final Draft order is set.
One thing won't change: The Houston Astros will select No. 1 overall for the second consecutive Draft. Last June, they took Puerto Rico high school shortstop Carlos Correa, saved some money by signing him well below the suggested pick value, and used that money to aggressively go after and sign later Draft picks like Lance McCullers and Rio Ruiz.