The Twins have made quite a big splash - by their standards, at least - in free agency this offseason, quickly signing Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and re-signing Mike Pelfrey to fill out the rotation. However, it sounds like they are not finished, as they have maintained dialogue with Bronson Arroyo, shown interest in A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and now are entertaining the thought of signing shortstop Stephen Drew.
This is a move that I highly approve, as I am not satisfied with Pedro Florimon. Yes, he should be a solid defender, but his bat is atrocious and I don't think he'll ever hit over .240, meaning that his value will come entirely from his glove. This is why I am so drawn to Drew, even though he'll likely command three years and perhaps $10 million per year. The cost will be significantly more, but the Twins have been throwing around money this offseason, and shortstop has been such a black hole since the days of Jason Bartlett that it would be nice to have some stability in a player that actually has the potential to be even just an average regular.
However, Drew has one additional piece of baggage attached to him, which is that the Red Sox gave him a qualifying offer at the beginning of the offseason - which he declined, meaning that any team that signs him would surrender a draft pick. For most teams this would mean a 1st round pick, but since the Twins received a top-10 pick in the 2014 draft, they would instead forfeit their 2nd rounder instead. That pick doesn't go to Boston, it would just disappear, with every other team sliding up a spot in their stead.
If the Twins had to give up a 1st round pick, I think I'd be more turned off at the idea of signing Drew, but I feel that the gap between the first two rounds is so large that making the pick-for-Drew swap would be worth it. The entire draft is a crapshoot, but it is especially so after the first round. To prove my point, let's take a look at the second rounders the Twins have selected over their past ten drafts.
2004 - Anthony Swarzak, RHP
Swarzak was originally a starting pitcher for the Twins but has settled into a long relief role over the past two seasons. Last season was easily his best year of his career, but again, it was all done as a low-leverage reliever.
2005 - Drew Thompson, SS
The furthest Thompson made it was to High-A in two separate stints, making a 4-game appearance the same year he was drafted. However, he took a two year hiatus from 2007-2008, returning in 2009 with another chance at High-A. He last appeared in the minor leagues in 2011 with the White Sox.
2005 - Kevin Slowey, RHP
We all know Slowey quite well. An oft-injured starting pitcher, he never broke 161 innings in a season. His calling card was no walks, but a lot of fly balls and home runs. He left Minnesota on a sour note but returned to the majors last season with the Marlins, going 3-6 with a 4.11 ERA in 20 appearances (14 starts), falling one-one hundredth of a point from matching his career best strikeout rate.
2005 - Paul Kelly, SS
Yes, the Twins had three 2nd round picks in 2005, but Kelly was another bust. He started out well in 2005 and 2006, making it up to Single-A, but then appeared in only 24 games from 2007 to 2011, never making it past High-A.
2006 - Joe Benson, OF
Benson was a low-average, high-strikeout, toolsy outfielder that briefly was considered as a dark horse candidate for the center field job for the Twins this past season. Instead, his hitting fell off a cliff and he was claimed off waivers by the Rangers midseason, and he achieved an OPS of .687 at Double-A. So far, a September call-up in 2011 is his only major league experience.
2007 - Danny Rams, C
Rams has fought the strikeout his entire minor league career, and he didn't even play in 2013. The highest level he reached was Double-A in 2010, where he played in four games.
2008 - Tyler Ladendorf, SS
Ladendorf stayed in the Twins organization for only about a year before he was shipped to Oakland for Orlando Cabrera in 2009. He's been promoted to Triple-A for a few cups of coffee over the past couple years, but right now he projects as a very light-hitting infielder.
2009 - Billy Bullock, RHP
Bullock was a hard throwing reliever that was traded to Atlanta in order for the Twins to send Scott Diamond to the minor leagues despite being a Rule 5 pick. He's always had control problems, but they've gotten worse since joining the Braves. Bullock has spent 15 games at the Triple-A level in 2011 and 2012.
2010 - Niko Goodrum, SS
Goodrum is looking like a decent shortstop prospect for the Twins after having a disastrous debut in rookie ball. He draws plenty of walks but also strikes out a ton, and he may be moved off of shortstop as he fills out.
2011 - Madison Boer, RHP
Boer has struggled with missing bats and his future isn't looking too good right now. He made it up to High-A in both 2012 and 2013.
2012 - Mason Melotakis, LHP
Melotakis pitched at Single-A last season and fared pretty well with a 3.16 ERA. He didn't strike out many hitters however (6.81 K/9) so he will need to improve that if he wants to continue moving up the ladder.
2012 - J.T. Chargois, RHP
Chargois made 12 appearances in rookie ball in 2012, but had elbow problems in extended spring training and eventually underwent Tommy John surgery. He was reaching the mid-90s with his fastball in college so hopefully he will retain his velocity when he returns.
2013 - Ryan Eades, RHP
Eades was able to make 10 appearances in rookie ball last season, but he put up a 4.60 ERA and walked over 6 batters per 9 innings. It's pretty clear he'll need to show improvement with his control next year.
If we look at these 13 second rounders from the past decade, we see only two established major leaguers (Slowey, Swarzak), four that are still too early in their careers to fully judge (Eades, Chargois, Melotakis, Goodrum), five that don't appear as though they'll amount to much (Boer, Bullock, Rams, Ladendorf, Benson), and two that were definite busts (Kelly, Thompson).
Even though Eades, Chargois, Melotakis, and Goodrum could still amount to something, they currently don't look like future stars in the major leagues. All in all, this means that the Twins have pretty much drawn only two players of value from a decade's worth of second round picks, and even those two were a long reliever and an inconsistent starting pitcher.
Simply put, this exercise should have demonstrated that even in a round as high as the second, it's pretty damn tough to draft a future star. Therefore, I feel that while the loss of the 2014 second rounder would hurt if the Twins were to sign Stephen Drew, I'd argue that the risk would be worth it in exchange for solidifying the shortstop position for the next generation of Twins playoff squads.
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