The Elias Ranking for 2010 free agents has been released. All players are ranked at their respective positions based on a formula using stats from the previous two seasons. Players that are ranked in the top 20% of their position are classified as Type A and players ranked in the next 20% are classified as Type B (all players are ranked, not just free agents).
Carl Crawford is on the list as a Type B free agent. This may seem like a moot point now that the Rays have picked up his 2010 option, but it could have a huge impact on what the team chooses to do with CC moving forward.
While the Rays will certainly listen to offers for Crawford this winter, most assume CC will be back with the Rays in 2010. Then the Rays will wait until the trade deadline to decide whether to trade Crawford or let him walk in the off-season, depending on whether the Rays are still in contention in July.
This thinking was based on the assumption that if the Rays lost Crawford to free agency, they would receive two first-round compensatory picks. If Crawford is a Type B free agent, the Rays may be more inclined to trade him this winter or prior to the trade deadline, no matter where the team is in the standings.
So, how will we know what Crawford’s free agent status will be after the 2010 season? We don’t have the Elias formula (nobody has cracked it), but we can look at Crawford’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) from the past two years.
In 2008, Crawford posted a 2.7 WAR and in 2009 that number was 5.5.
The good news is, when the Elias rankings are calculated next season, they will include Crawford’s strong 2009 campaign. The bad news is, if he posts another season like 2008, he will be Type B status again.
So can the Rays take a chance that Crawford will jump up to Type A status next season? At the very least, Crawford’s Elias ranking this season will be a wake-up call for the Rays and increases the chance that he is traded between now and next year’s trade deadline.
*If a team loses a Type A player in free agency they will receive the other team’s first-round pick the next year and a compensatory pick between the first and second-round. If a team loses a Type B player in free agency they will only receive the compensatory pick. If a team has one of the top 15 picks in the draft, it is protected. So if a team with a top-15 pick signs a Type A free agent, they would not lose their first-round selection. Rather, they would have to surrender their second-round selection. Also, things get a bit more complicated if a team signs more than one Type A free agent.