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Twins MLB Draft review: Compensation picks

The free agent compensation system has changed over the years, but above all the noise are the players selected. Jesse looks at a few of the Twins' most successful compensation picks.

David Maxwell/Getty Images

The introduction of free agency to the game of baseball changed the course of the game dramatically. Even that might be an understatement. On the heels of the 1975 season, teams who would lose a player would be granted an extra pick in the following season's draft. That should sound familiar, even if it lacked the nuances of later free agent compensation plans.

For a few years there existed a free agent compensation draft, in which any team that lost a free agent would be allowed to take a player of roughly equal value from the signing club. As you might guess this meant that the impact of free agency was minimized; it was probably what ownership wanted, but it wasn't what the players wanted. This was one of the issues around which the strike in 1981 was based.

Baseball's solution was to categorize free agents into three tiers (Types A, B, and C). Type A's would activate a version of the compensation draft from other Major League teams; Type B's would be compensated with draft picks; Type C's were everyone else and garnered nothing when they signed elsewhere. But there were issues with this system as well (neither the Twins nor the Yankees were happy with the fallout from the Tim Belcher episode), and in the end the free agent compensation draft was done away with altogether.

From the mid 1980s through today, all compensation is done via the draft - even if that, too, has changed over the years. Here are the five best players the Twins have chosen as a compensation draft pick.

(Note: For the purposes of this exercise we have ommitted selections made due to failing to sign a pick the year prior - think Jason Varitek and Travis Lee)

#5 - Matt Fox

Year selected: 2004
Compensation for: Eddie Guardado
Twins fWAR: 0.1

This tells you just how difficult it is to land any draft pick, much less a compensatory one. In the last 30 years, the fifth-best pick is a guy who gave Minnesota a single start in 2010. It's unfortunate, because he did look like he might have something for a while - when he was finally healthy enough to start climbing the ladder.

He's out of baseball now, but he had a nice minor league career and made four Major League plate appearances. That's a pretty cool story to tell the grandkids.

#4 - Scott Stahoviak

Year selected: 1991
Compensation for: Gary Gaetti
Twins fWAR: 1.0

The Twins tried to turn Stahoviak into the club's post-Kent Hrbek first baseman. That was going to be a virtually impossible task by any stretch of the imagination, but he made a good run of it in 1996 when he logged 130 games and hit .284/.376/.469. In the steroid-logged era it was only worth a 111 wRC+ and 1.5fWAR, but for a 26-year old with his future ahead of him it wasn't a bad start.

Pitchers had Stahoviak pretty well figured out by 1997 however, and after struggling a great deal that year he was only back for nine games in 1998. He was around for those heavy late-90s collapses, but the truth is that he was a bit of a bright spot before the scouting reports caught up with him.

#3 - Jose Berrios

Year selected: 2012
Compensation for: Michael Cuddyer
Twins fWAR: n/a

Berrios has yet to appear for the Twins, but everything we've seen so far indicates he'll be a Major Leaguer. That's good enough to bump him up to third as far as I'm concerned. Also, he threw a complete-game shutout for Double-A Chattanooga yesterday. He walked two and gave up a pair of hits, but he also struck out eight. He now has the most strikeouts in the minor leagues (53), and owns a 2.60 ERA through 45 innings.

Can you hear that? It's Triple-A calling. And this kid is 20 years old (like Rick Porcello).

#2 - Glen Perkins

Year selected: 2004
Compensation for: Eddie Guardado
Twins fWAR: 7.5

Aaron Gleeman has a must-read on the greatness that is Glen Perkins. He might not be able to pass the top guy on this list, but considering the way he's pitching and the years still in front of him there's no reason to think that he won't be one of the best two closers in franchise history by the time he's done. The only question is whether he'll finish the list at number one or number two. There's a bit of poetry here too, since one of the guys that Perkins has to pass on his way up the ladder is the guy who left.

Also, Gleeman's quip on Perkins' neck beard: seconded.

#1 - Torii Hunter

Year selected: 1993
Compensation for: John Smiley
Twins fWAR: 22.7

198 home runs in the organization's history. A leader on four division winners. Seven-time Gold Glove winner. And a full-circle return to where he started, completing a narrative that doesn't happen nearly as often as we'd like it to happen in sports.

Hunter has been a great player for the Twins. There's a very real possibility that he has his number retired in Minnesota once he's done.

Finally, here's a full list of Minnesota's compensation picks through the years, along with the fWAR they generated while playing for the Twins.

Player Lost Player Drafted Year Twins fWAR
Dave Goltz Jim Weaver 1980 0
Jose Morales Craig Henderson 1981 0.2
Geoff Zahn John Marzano 1981 0
Mike Cubbage Curt Wardle 1981 -0.6
Jeff Reardon Midre Cummings 1990 -0.1
Gary Gaetti Scott Stahoviak 1991 1.0
Dan Gladden Tom Knauss 1992 0
John Smiley Torii Hunter 1993 22.7
John Smiley Marc Barcelo 1993 0
Greg Gagne Kelcey Mucker 1993 0
Greg Gagne Troy Carrasco 1993 0
Failure to sign Jason Varitek in 1993 Travis Miller 1994 2.4
Failure to sign Travis Lee in 1996 Matthew LeCroy 1997 0.3
Mike Trombley Aaron Heilman 2000 0
Mike Trombley J.D. Durbin 2000 0
Eddie Guardado Glen Perkins 2004 7.5
LaTroy Hawkins Kyle Waldrop 2004 -0.3
Eddie Guardado Matt Fox 2004 0.1
LaTroy Hawkins Jay Rainville 2004 0
Corey Koskie Hank Sanchez 2005 0
Corey Koskie Paul Kelly 2005 0
Henry Blanco Drew Thompson 2005 0
Torii Hunter Carlos Gutierrez 2008 0
Torii Hunter Shooter Hunt 2008 0
Dennys Reyes Matt Bashore 2009 0
Orlando Hudson Travis Harrison 2011 n/a
Jesse Crain Hudson Boyd 2011 n/a
Michael Cuddyer Jose Berrios 2012 n/a
Jason Kubel Luke Bard 2012 n/a