Report: Ryan Madson, Heath Bell won’t cost draft picks

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The story is still developing, but according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the top relievers left on the market will not require draft-pick compensation once the new CBA goes into effect next week.

Ryan Madson, Heath Bell and Francisco Rodriguez are among the relievers to be affected by the change.

Rosenthal says the Phillies will still have to surrender their first-round pick for signing Jonathan Papelbon. Also, top free agents like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins and David Ortiz will continue to cost a first-round pick to sign. However, lesser former Type A free agents will no longer cost a pick. Instead, new draft picks will be created to provide compensation for the teams losing free agents.

This would seem to rate as very good news for the Red Sox, Blue Jays and anyone else who might be looking to pick up a closer. Certainly Madson and Bell are going to be more attractive to Boston and Toronto now that neither will cost a first-round pick.

It’s also good news for those players, as well as fellow Type A free agents Francisco Cordero, Matt Capps and Octavio Dotel. Now, neither Capps nor Dotel was likely to be offered arbitration anyway, so they weren’t really going to cost their signing teams a free agent. But at least this means they have the opportunity to sign with teams now rather than waiting until the arbitration deadline.

According to Rosenthal, this winter’s effort is primarily a stopgap measure. For 2012 and beyond, the Elias Rankings will be abolished and teams will have to make qualifying offers (reportedly north of $12 million per year) in order to receive compensation for free agents who leave.

Reds having Michael Lorenzen prepare as a two-way player

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For decades, a legitimate “two-way player” — a player who functions as both a pitcher and as a position player — was nothing but a fantasy. The skill sets required for both are too distinct and require too much prep work, it was thought. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shattered that illusion in 2018, posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances as a hitter while posting a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings as a pitcher.

Since then, several more players have been considered in two-way roles. The Rangers signed Matt Davidson earlier this month and could potentially use him as a corner infielder as well as a reliever. Also earlier this month, James Loney signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, who plan to use him as both a first baseman and as a pitcher.

You can add Michael Lorenzen of the Reds to that list. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will have Lorenzen prepare this spring as a two-way player. He could both start and relieve while occasionally playing in the outfield. Lorenzen, in fact, took batting practice with the outfielders on Thursday. Previously, he had taken batting practice as extra work following a workout with fellow pitchers.

Lorenzen said, “It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in. A lot of the excuses were, ‘You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”

New manager David Bell said, “We’ve put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time. We didn’t want to go into each day not knowing what he’s going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”

Lorenzen, 27, pitched 81 innings last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 54/34 K/BB ratio. He’s one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers as well. Last year, he swatted four homers and knocked in 10 runs in 34 trips to the plate. The last pitcher to hit at least four homers in a season was the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who did it in both 2014 (four) and 2015 (five). Lorenzen also posted a 1.043 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, there have been only 11 pitchers to OPS over 1.000 (min. 30 PA). The only ones to do it in the 2000’s are Lorenzen last year, Micah Owings in 2007 (1.033) and Dontrelle Willis in 2011 (1.032).