It now looks as if the White Sox director of amateur scouting won't have quite as many free minutes to talk with the media or for a coffee break during the early stages of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
The White Sox have no intention of bringing back Orlando Cabrera, but the organization should benefit in the Draft from its decision to offer salary arbitration to its free-agent shortstop. The team's starter during what amounted to be a one-year stopover in 2008, has been classified as a Type A free agent. That means if Cabrera rejects the White Sox arbitration offer, the team receives two Draft picks as compensation.
With Cabrera looking for a multi-year deal and not having been the best fit in Chicago, he would be almost certain to reject arbitration by the deadline of Dec. 7. The team faces an 11 p.m. CT deadline on Monday night to offer arbitration to all six of its free agents, with third baseman Joe Crede, infielder Juan Uribe, outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., catcher Toby Hall and reliever Horacio Ramirez joining Cabrera.
Both Uribe and Griffey, the future Hall of Famer who the White Sox declined a $16 million option on for 2009, have been set as Type B free agents. The White Sox would receive one pick under the same scenario playing out as Cabrera, but MLB.com has learned the White Sox will not offer arbitration to either player.
So Laumann and his staff should have four picks to research and plan for in the top 70 or 80, after having just one in the first 85 last year. It's the sort of Draft setup that could add depth to the White Sox Minor League system for years to come.
"You hate to say building depth with those kinds of picks," Laumann said. "But if you work under the assumption that there might be eight or 10 impact guys in each Draft, you at the very least put yourself in position where you can build up depth.
"Certainly, with one or two of those first four picks, you would like to pull an impact guy. You definitely have a better chance with those numbers."
If the team that signs Cabrera as a free agent has a pick falling in the bottom half of the first round, then the White Sox would receive that team's first-round pick and a sandwich pick between the first and second round. The White Sox also would retain their top pick, figuring to come in around 22nd overall.
But if that signing club has a first-round pick in the top half or allocated to a club that lost a higher-ranked free agent to that signing club, then the White Sox would receive the sandwich pick and the signing team's second-round pick. Crede, Ramirez and Hall would not produce any sort of compensation and will not be offered arbitration.
Teams holding that first-round pick in the top half are protected, with their past year's record theoretically indicating they need this sort of talented player more than the successful squads. Even without two first-round picks, the White Sox look ready to benefit from Cabrera's departure.
"I feel good about it," said Laumann of the possibility for significant added draft picks. "It just depends on how they fall."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.