There are three winners in the Red Sox? signing of free agent Marco Scutaro.
For Boston, the 34-year-old should offer some semblance of stability for two years at a position that has long been in limbo. For Scutaro, the deal offers a guaranteed $12.5 million, his first significant reward after 14 years of professional baseball. And for the Toronto Blue Jays — Scutaro?s former employer — the Type A free agent?s decision to forgo their arbitration offer and sign with the Red Sox means compensation in the form of two high draft picks.
But the draft-pick shuffle that will transpire over the remainder of the offseason is currently as predictable as a game of musical chairs.
Prior to reaching an agreement with Scutaro, the Red Sox watched the Atlanta Braves snatch lefty reliever Billy Wagner — also a Type A free agent — off the free-agent market, netting GM Theo Epstein some additional draft picks of his own. Assuming the Braves do not sign a higher-ranked free agent this winter, Boston will own Atlanta?s No. 20 pick in the first round, as well as a compensatory selection in the sandwich round.
Once the Scutaro deal becomes official, rookie Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos will tentatively control the Red Sox? original first-round selection, the 29th pick overall, plus a compensatory pick. However, the key word in that last sentence is ?tentatively.?
That?s because Epstein and the Red Sox are expected to be one of the most active teams throughout the remainder of the offseason, and Scutaro ranks seventh on the list of eligible Type A free agents (he moved up a spot in the rankings, which are determined by the Elias Sports Bureau, after Johnny Damon wasn?t offered arbitration by the Yankees). If Boston signs someone who is above Scutaro on the list, the Blue Jays will receive the Red Sox? second-round pick (No. 61 overall), rather than their first-rounder.
The six players seeded above Scutaro include Matt Holliday and John Lackey, plus relievers Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez. All four are believed to be on Epstein?s wish list.
According to the National Post, the Jays are all too familiar with the aforementioned scenario. They were similarly victimized last winter, when the Yankees reeled in A.J. Burnett and also signed fellow Type A players CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, leaving then-GM J.P. Ricciardi with New York?s third-round pick as a consolation prize.
To make matters worse, Ricciardi and Co. failed to sign three of their top five picks (all within the first three rounds) from last June?s draft, effectively surrendering all of the spoils they had gained.
On the surface, it seems that Scutaro?s ability to maintain his production from 2009 is the biggest question mark involved in the deal. But the mystery regarding the compensation heading to the Blue Jays may have Toronto?s front office fretting more than Boston?s.