Sox, Yanks already winter winners

Free-agent compensation still working more to the benefit of big-market clubs

Updated: November 16, 2013, 3:34 PM ET
By Mike Petriello | ESPN Insider

Hiroki Kuroda, Stephen DrewGetty ImagesYankees and Red Sox didn't have to worry about giving qualifying offers to Kuroda and Drew.
It's still early enough in the offseason that Marlon Byrd landing a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies is the biggest player movement we've seen so far, but that doesn't mean there aren't any clear winners yet. There are two, and they're the same two teams that always seem to fall into that category: the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

What could they possibly have won already, when no games are being played and they have not added any new players (yet)? They've won the ability to potentially pick up three additional draft picks apiece, more than any other teams in baseball, because of the "qualifying offer" system that went into place last year in the new collective bargaining agreement.

Rather than the old "Type A" and "Type B" arbitration system, teams may now offer eligible free agents a one-year deal for the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball, which this year comes out to $14.1 million.

If the idea of the draft serving to aid two of the wealthiest teams in the sport, especially when one is the defending champion, seems counterintuitive, it is. Yet that's exactly what the new CBA has brought, as the fears of many who worried that small-market teams would find themselves further handicapped are being realized.