Free agent compensation rule cost Brewers shot at Mike Trout

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The Milwaukee Brewers could have had Mike Trout, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

As you probably knew, Trout, an outfielder in the Los Angeles Angels minor league system, is widely regarded as a rising star. He was all anyone was talking about at the Futures Game in Anaheim last July and has a line of .344/.426/.489 with 69 steals in two minor league seasons. This winter he was rated the best prospect in baseball by both ESPN.com’s Keith Law and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo.

The Angels selected Trout with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2009 draft. What you might not have known is that the No. 25 pick originally belonged to the New York Yankees. That pick was awarded to the Brewers as compensation when the Yankees signed free agent pitcher CC Sabathia, who the Brewers had acquired in a mid-season deal with the Cleveland Indians.

This is where the plot thickens

The Brewers never got to use that draft pick, however.

Later that off-season, the Yankees signed free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira, who had played for the Angels. Because Teixeira was a higher-ranked Class A free agent – the only one rated above Sabathia that winter – the Angels inherited New York’s first-round pick and the Brewers were bumped back to fill the Yankees’ second-round slot, the 73rd pick overall.

“(The compensation rules) hurt us that particular year,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told Haudricourt. “The only player we could lose that (first-round) pick on was Teixeira, and the Yankees signed him. We thought that was an unfair part of the system.”

Understandably so. Dropping 48 spots in the draft because the Yankees decided to sign the top two free agents instead of just one is pretty brutal.

The Brewers used the No. 73 pick in that draft to take another high school outfielder, Maxwell Walla of Albuquerque, N.M. While it’s early to say Walla’s .223/.335/.364 line makes him a bust, the difference between he and Trout has to make Brewers fans cringe.

Of course there is no way of knowing if the Brewers would have used the No. 25 pick on Trout. “Whether he would have been the pick, I can’t say for sure, but there’s a good possibility,” Melvin told Haudricourt. “I know Trout was on the board for us.”

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Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.