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Updated: February 12th, 2014 4:33pm
Why would the Twins hesitate to sign free agents like Stephen Drew?

Why would the Twins hesitate to sign free agents like Stephen Drew?

by Derek Wetmore
1500ESPN.com
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Twins pitchers and catchers report to spring training Sunday, meaning baseball is right around the corner. Yet there still are several desirable free agents looking for work, notably Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz, Kendrys Morales, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana.

The primary reason those four have not landed with a club is because of compensation picks. Any team that signs one of those players would need to give up a draft pick, since their former employer made a qualifying offer at season's end and each player turned down the offer to become a free agent.

In the Twins' case, it would be a second round pick, since their first rounder is a top-10 pick and thus is protected. That will be pick No. 45 overall. (It likely will drop to No. 50 if all five of the aforementioned players sign.)

If the Twins had surrendered their second round selection in 2007, it would have meant parting ways with the No. 92 overall pick. In 2014? It would be among the top-50 selections of this June's draft.

That helps explain the Twins' reluctance to sign a play like Drew, who might otherwise be intriguing.

Since 2000, only three of the Twins' second round selections have been No. 45 overall or better. When the compensation picks procedure changed, it meant fewer "sandwich picks," which are draft selections between rounds.

Twins second round draft choices since the 2000 MLB Amateur Draft

Year

Player

Overall Pick No.

2013

Ryan Eades

43

2012

Mason Melotakis

63

2012

J.T. Chargois

72

2011

Madison Boer

87

2010

Niko Goodrum

71

2009

Billy Bullock

70

2008

Tyler Ladendorf

60

2007

Danny Rams

92

2006

Joe Benson

64

2005

Paul Kelly

54

2005

Kevin Slowey

73

2005

Drew Thompson

80

2004

Anthony Swarzak

61

2003

Scott Baker

58

2002

Jesse Crain

61

2001

Scott Tyler

45

2000

Tagg Bozied

42

2000

J.D. Durbin

54

On one hand, the top-50 draft pick is valuable and it makes sense that the Twins would not want to part with that to sign one of these free agents.

On the other hand, take a look at the list of players Minnesota has selected in the second round over the past 14 years. I'm willing to start judging a draft as recently as 2008. There are more misses than hits on the list.

There's still a dart-throwing nature of selecting and grooming prospects into Major Leaguers. With higher selections, however, the dartboard targets are larger than they once were.

Derek Wetmore is the senior editor for 1500ESPN.com. His previous stops include MLB.com and the Minnesota Daily.
Email Derek | @DerekWetmore
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