OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 07: Josh Willingham #16 of the Oakland Athletics hits a sacrifice fly that scored Coco Crisp #4 of the Oakland Athletics in the first inning of their game against the Kansas City Royals at O.co Coliseum on September 7, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Because the Twins have been so competitive over the last ten years, it's been a while since they've been in the position they find themselves in this year. That position is a unique one, because they won't be penalized as harshly as some teams for signing a Type-A free agent. It's the one upside to being so terrible that you earn the second overall pick: your first round selection is protected from draft pick compensation.
With that in mind, the Twins would still need to surrender their second round pick if they signed a Type-A free agent. Even including sandwich picks, that's still a pretty high slot. After the jump, a quick spin through the list of those Type-As to see if any of them would be worth the gamble.
No, Michael Cuddyer will not be on our list. The Twins can't surrender a pick to themselves.
Ramon Hernandez - Hernandez is on my short list of favorites for backup catchers this season, and him being offered arbitration probably isn't a sure thing. But if he's offered it, and he declines, he's not worth the second pick in the second round of June's draft.
Fielder and Pujols would definitely be worth the pick, but the Twins won't go near either of those two players this winter. Reyes is likely to be worth the pick, too, but the other two middle infielders would be unlikely to give the Twins the long term production they'd need in order to make the gamble worth while. Rollins, going into his age-33 season, is more of a bottom-of-the-order hitter; Johnson is three years younger but has been all over the board offensively. He's the kind of player who's prospects are hurt because of his Type-A status.
Outfielders & Designated Hitters
Carlos Beltran and Cuddyer are both Type-A players, and while we don't need to discuss Cuddyer, Beltran can't be offered arbitration. Ortiz is an interesting case, because I'm not sure how many more years he has left in him, and he's likely to want a multi-year contract. Understanding that the Twins will be hard pressed to be legitimate contenders from opening day this season, I'd lean towards not signing Ortiz. Willingham, meanwhile, is a player who could still produce for the two or three years he'd be under contract. He's the same age as Cuddyer but displays more power and better plate discipline. And he's right handed. With that in mind, he strikes me as the kind of player who would probably be worth the second round selection.
What about you - for which of these Type-A free agents would you surrender a high second round pick?