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Why the Red Sox’ failure to sign a draft pick could push them toward top free agents

Jud Fabian, an outfielder from Florida, ended up not signing with the Red Sox after being picked 40th in this year's draft.Gary McCullough/Associated Press

CARLSBAD, Calif. – The Red Sox’ failure to sign second-round draft pick Jud Fabian could make it more attractive for them to sign an elite free agent this year.

Come again?

Teams that fail to sign one of their draft picks from the top three rounds are compensated with the next pick in the draft the following year. For instance, when the Astros failed to sign No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken in the 2014 draft, they received the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft as compensation — allowing them to select Alex Bregman.

This year, the Red Sox could not sign Fabian, the Florida outfielder they chose with the No. 40 pick. So, they’ll receive the No. 41 pick in the 2022 draft. But they not only receive the pick: According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it’s protected, meaning that a team can’t lose the pick for signing a free agent.

Under the current CBA (which is set to expire on Dec. 1), teams like the Sox that a) did not receive revenue-sharing money and b) did not spend past the luxury tax threshold ($210 million in 2021) have to give up their second-highest draft pick if they sign a free agent who receives a qualifying offer from another team.


In the case of the Sox, the Fabian pick is protected. That means Boston would instead have to part with another second-round pick (likely around No. 65 overall) if it signed a free-agent who received a qualifying offer, such as Carlos Correa or Corey Seager.

So, no matter what, the Sox will have both a first-round pick and, thanks to Fabian, an early second-round (No. 41 overall) pick in their draft — something that could make it more palatable to sign a top-tier free agent.

“Any transaction you make, we have to factor in all the costs and benefits of that transaction,” said Red Sox GM Brian O’Halloran. “We would do the same in this case.”


Alex Speier can be reached at Follow him @alexspeier.