Commentary

System failure

When it comes to free agency, playing too well could cost you

Updated: November 16, 2011, 2:21 PM ET
By Molly Knight | ESPN The Magazine
Octavio DotelDennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireDotel's Type A status could really hurt his leverage this winter.

A version of this story appears in the Oct. 28 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

If only Octavio Dotel had pitched a bit worse in 2011, his job prospects would be brighter.

Following a season in which the righthanded reliever had a 3.50 ERA, MLB classified him as a Type A free agent -- putting him in the same top tier as Albert Pujols. That means that if the champs offer either player arbitration, technically guaranteeing a contract, any team that signs him away would have to give the Cards a first- or second-round draft pick as compensation. That's a small price for Pujols but a huge one for a 37-year-old ex-closer. As a result, there won't be much demand for Dotel, despite his 14 K's in 101/3 playoff innings.

"Guys deemed Type A's shouldn't be hurt by their performance," says Dotel's agent, Dan Horwits. "I expect to see some change in the next collective bargaining agreement."