Well, Matt Capps is back at closer, a move the vast majority of fans are not okay with, and for good reason; draft picks matter. Matt Capps was worth a top 60 draft pick for the Twins in the Rule 4 draft. For free. And they instead passed and went back to Capps. They could have signed a similar, or better (ex; Jonathan Broxton) FA reliever for similar or less money AND received a top 60 draft pick. Again, they passed. And Terry Ryan's comments are concerning for the organization as whole:
Any team should value draft picks, but especially a team like the Twins. The Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays have both lapped the field over the last couple of years by wisely accumulating draft picks through the compensation system and their organizations are competing with the two toughest teams in baseball as a result. If anything, the Twins should learn a lesson.
I asked Terry how much #Twins consider draft compensation w/ FA decisions: “Not that much. We’ll take it. But we’d rather have the player.”
It's not a choice of a player vs. draft picks that may or may not pan out. It's often a choice between Player A vs. Player B (comparable to Player A, and similar money) AND draft picks:
- Jonathan Broxton just received $4 million on a 1-year deal from the Kansas City Royals. The Twins could have signed him AND received a top 60 pick for less money than they signed Capps for.
- Similarly, Josh Willingham and Michael Cuddyer are similar players. But if the Twins sign Josh Willingham and let Cuddyer walk, they gain 2 top 60 draft picks. It's not a choice of Cuddyer vs. draft picks. It's a choice of Cuddyer vs. Willingham AND draft picks.
Not all draft picks pan out, just like not all free agents pan out, but they still matter. Even if you hit on top 60 draft picks 25% of the time, that still matters. There is no more valuable commodity in baseball than a cheap, cost-controlled player for 6 years. Draft picks give you more chances at having those. If the Twins do re-sign Cuddyer at this point, as speculated, they will have wasted SEVEN top 60 draft picks in a 2 year span:
2011 draft: Matt Guerrier; Type A under old Collective Bargaining Agreement; signed 3 year deal with the LA Dodgers. Twins lost opportunity for 2 top 60 draft picks. Worst case would have retained Guerrier on a 1-year deal OR had the opportunity to trade him ala Rafael Soriano circa 2009.
2011 draft: Jon Rauch; Type B under old CBA; signed FA deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Twins lost opportunity for 1 top 60 draft pick. Again, worst case the Twins would have retained him on a 1-year deal or maintained a tradeable asset. And Rauch specifically stated his desire to have a chance to close games; he would not have that chance in Minnesota in 2011.
2011 draft: Brian Fuentes; Type B under old CBA; signed 3 year deal with the Oakland Athletics. Twins lost opportunity for 1 top 60 draft pick. Like Rauch, Fuentes wanted a chance to close and also wanted a multi-year deal, neither of which he would have obtained through accepting arbitration.
2012 draft; Matt Capps; modified Type A under new CBA. As discussed above, Twins lost opportunity for 1 top 60 draft pick.
2012 draft; Michael Cuddyer; Type A under new CBA. Again, as discussed above, if he re-signs with the Twins, rather than the Twins signing a guy like Josh Willingham or the like, the Twins will cost themselves the opportunity for 2 top 60 draft picks.
That's 7 top 60 draft picks. In 2 years. Made even more egregious by the fact that according to most scouts the 2011 draft was the best draft in over a decade, putting a premium on those prospects missed.
The Twins need to rethink the strategy of the draft and compensation for Free Agents, and soon. It has already cost them dearly in just two brief years.