What Happened To All Those Draft Picks? Part One


One of baseball’s weird little quirks is draft pick compensation. If a team signs a free agent considered to be among the top 20% at his position based on outdated methods, they’ll send their top pick to the team that lost him. Last year we saw free agent compensation limit the markets for Juan Cruz and Jason Varitek (among others), and already this year we’ve seen one high profile Type-A free agent accept arbitration (Rafael Soriano) in lieu of a potential multi-year deal for fear of having his market limited. As the game has shifted towards younger (and cheaper) players, draft pick compensation has become a major consideration when targeting free agents.

From what I’ve been able to find, MLB starting handing out draft picks as compensation for losing free agents back in 1979, fifteen years after it instituted the draft. The rules regarding draft pick compensation have changed over the years; there wasn’t always a supplemental first round, the first 15 picks weren’t always protected, and some other stuff as well. As you can imagine, the Yankees have surrendered a ton of draft picks as a result of their free spending ways, 38 picks in 30 years in fact. In the compensation pick era, the Bombers have kept their true first round pick just 12 times in those 30 years.

Surely some of these forfeited picks turned into decent players, right? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out. In part one of the series today, we’ll take a look at the players the Yankees signed as free agents from 1979 to 1985, as well as what happened to the draft picks the Yankees forfeited to sign those players. If there’s any missing/incorrect info in any of these posts, let me know. It was tough to research some of the older players.

Fun starts after the jump.

1979 First Round Pick
Free Agent: Tommy John, LHP
Forfeited Pick: Steve Perry, RHP (Dodgers)
The Yankees added John to their rotation five years after his breakthrough elbow surgery, and he went 62-36 with a 3.20 ERA in three-and-a-half years in pinstripes before being traded to the Angels in 1982 for a player to be named later. By signing TJ, the Yanks forfeited the 25th overall pick in the 1979 draft as compensation. LA used the pick to take Steve Perry, a righthander out of The University of Michigan. Perry spent six years in the Dodgers’ system, topping out at Triple-A. He made 74 starts and 77 relief appearances in his career, posting a 5.34 ERA with a 372-350 K/BB ratio in 573 IP. He never reached the big leagues, and was out of baseball by 1985.

1980 First Round Pick
Free Agent: Rudy May, LHP
Forfeited Pick: Terry Francona, OF (Expos)
May rejoined the Yankees as a free agent in 1980, more than three years after they traded him to Baltimore in a ten player deal that included Rick Dempsey and Doyle Alexander. In his second stint in the Bronx, May made 45 starts and 79 relief appearances, posting a 3.30 ERA with a 313-106 K/BB ratio in 447.1 IP. He remained with the Yankees until the 1983 season, after which he hung up the spikes.

As compensation for losing May, the Expos received the 22nd overall pick, taking University of Arizona outfielder Terry Francona. Francona reached the big leagues just a year later in 1981, and went on to hit .274-.300-.351 with 16 homers during a ten year career as a part-time player with the Expos, Cubs, Reds, Indians, and Brewers. Of course, Tito would really make his mark as a manager, going 285-363 in four years with the Phillies before going 565-407 with two World Championships in six years (and counting) with the Red Sox.

1980 Second Round Pick
Free Agent: Bob Watson, 1B
Forfeited Pick: Mike Brown, RHP (Red Sox)
Before he was the general manager, Watson wore the pinstripes for two-and-a-half seasons, hitting .282-.355-.438 with 19 homers in 196 games for the Yankees. The Yankees sent their second round pick to the Red Sox as compensation for signing Watson, and they used the 48th overall pick to take Clemson righty Mike Brown. Brown bounced back and forth between the majors and minors for eight years, finishing his career with a 5.75 ERA and a 115-102 K/BB ratio in 61 career big league appearances (42 starts, 19 relief appearances). He was done with baseball by 1989.

1981 First Round Pick
Free Agent: Dave Winfield, OF
Forfeited Pick: Frank Castro, C (Padres)
George Steinbrenner made Winfield the highest paid player in baseball history by giving him a ten year, $23M contract prior to the 1981 season. He went on to hit .290-.356-.495 with 205 homers in more than eight seasons with the Yankees before being traded to the Angels. In exchange for losing their best player, the Padres received the 26th overall pick from New York, using it on University of Miami catcher Frank Castro. Castro would go on to play just 456 games in the minors, topping out at Double-A. He was out of baseball by 1987, finishing with a .254-.264-.385 career batting line.

1982 First Round Pick
Free Agent: Dave Collins, IF/OF
Forfeited Pick:
Scott Jones, LHP (Reds)
Collins lasted just one season with the Yankees, playing four positions and hitting .253-.315-.330 with three homers in 393 plate appearances in 1982. The Bombers’ first round pick, 22nd overall, was surrendered to the Reds as compensation. Cincinnati used the pick on Illinois high school lefty Scott Jones, who didn’t make it out of A-ball. Jones’ career was over by 1985, during which he’d posted a 5.33 ERA and a 33-122 K/BB ratio (not a typo) in 147 minor league innings.

It’s also worth noting that the Reds received a supplemental first round pick as well, taking another Illinois high schooler – this time first baseman Robert Jones – 28th overall. He did not signing, instead opting to attend Southern Illinois University. He stock dropped considerably, as he fell to the 20th round of the 1986 draft. Jone hit .271-.338-.421 in five years with the Brewers organization, never making it out of A-ball.

1983 First Round Pick
Free Agent: Steve Kemp, OF
Forfeited Pick: Joel Davis, RHP (White Sox)
Kemp had had some big years (i.e. 100+ RBI, 130+ OPS+’s) with the Tigers and White Sox before coming to the Bronx, though he hit just .264-.341-.401 with a disappointing 19 homers in two years with the Yankees. To sign him, the Yankees forfeited their first round pick to Chicago, who took Florida high school righty Joel Davis 13th overall. Davis rode the bus back and forth between the big leagues and Triple-A for parts of four seasons, putting up a 4.91 ERA with a 126-111 K/BB ratio in 41 starts and eight relief appearances for the Pale Hose. He was out of the game by 1990.

1983 Second Round Pick
Free Agent: Bob Shirley, LHP
Forfeited Pick: Joe Oliver, C (Reds)
The Yankees brought in the versatile Shirley and watched him become a bullpen staple for more than four years in the Bronx. In 126 relief appearances and 39 starts for the Bombers, he posted a 4.05 ERA and a 232-156 K/BB ratio in 470.2 IP. As compensation for losing Shirley, the Reds received the Yanks’ second round pick in 1983, taking Florida high school catcher Joe Oliver 41st overall.

Even though he spent the first six seasons of his career in the minor leagues, Oliver went on to enjoy a 13 year big league career as a serviceable backstop, mostly with the Reds. A career .247-.299-.391 hitter, Oliver put up a .258-.319-.421 batting line with 37 homers during a three year span (age 29-31) for the Reds and and Brewers. He also appeared in 12 games for the Yankees in the first half of the 2001 season, hitting .250-.263-.361 in 40 plate appearances while wearing pinstripes.

1983 Third Round Pick
Free Agent: Don Baylor, 1B/OF/DH
Forfeited Pick: Wally Joyner, 1B (Angels)
One of baseball’s more accomplished hitters at the time he was signed, Baylor went on to hit .267-.345-.472 with 71 homers in three years with the Yanks. To get him, they forfeited their third round pick to the Angels, who selected first baseman Wally Joyner out of BYU 67th overall.

Joyner went on to have a long and distinguished big league career, mostly with the Angels. He broke into the big leagues with a .290-.348-.457 rookie campaign that garnered him an All Star Game berth and some MVP votes. A career .289-.362-.440 hitter with 204 homers and more walks (833) than strikeouts (825), Joyner played against the Yankees in the 1998 World Series with the Padres, reaching base just three times (all walks) in 11 plate appearances. He retired following the 2001 season with 2,060 hits and 2,931 times on base.

1985 First Round Pick
Free Agent: Ed Whitson, RHP
Forfeited Pick: Joey Cora, IF (Padres)
A former All Star, Whitson joined the Yankees rotation and posted a disappointing 5.38 ERA in 34 starts and 10 relief appearances in a year and a half in the Bronx. He was sent back to the Padres for reliever Tim Stoddard midway through the 1986 season. San Diego received the 23rd overall pick as compensation for losing Whitson, and took Vanderbilt shortstop Joey Cora. Never much of a hitter, Cora spent 11 years in the big leagues, mostly as a backup infielder. His best year came with Seattle in 1997, when he hit .300-.359-.441 with a career high 11 homers, making the All Star Game. Overall, Cora hit .277-.348-.369 with the Padres, White Sox, Mariners, and Indians.’s Amateur Draft Database was an invaluable reference tool for this series.

The Yankees added John to their rotation five years after his breakthrough elbow surgery, and he went 62-36 with a 3.20 ERA in three-and-a-half years in pinstripes before being traded to the Angels for a player to be named later in 1982. By signing TJ, the Yanks forfeited the 25th overall pick in the 1979 draft to the Dodgers as compensation. LA used the pick to take Steve Perry, a righthander out of The University of Michigan. Perry spent six years in the Dodgers’ system, topping out at Triple-A. He made 74 starts and 77 relief appearances, posting a 5.34 ERA with a 372-350 K/BB ratio in 573 IP.
Categories : Analysis
  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    1980 First Round Pick
    Free Agent: Rudy May, LHP
    Forfeited Pick: Terry Francona, OF (Expos)

    :: head explodes ::

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      The man drafted immediately after Terry Francona in the 1980 first round:

      Billy Beane, Mets

      :: head re-explodes ::

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        And, one pick after that:

        John Gibbons, Mets (the one who went on to manage the Jays and fight with his players)

        :: neck-stump where head used to be melts ::

        • Rose

          :: neck-stump where head used to be melts ::


        • Evil Empire

          1980: the front-officeiest draft ever

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            Taken in the second round of that draft: Former Reds manager and current SWB skipper Dave Miley.

            Also drafted in the second round of the 1980 MLB draft: former shortstop prospect and new Kansas head football coach Turner Gill.

            Your mind, it is blown.

            • Evil Empire

              Holy fucking shit.

              I don’t know what to make of this.

        • Thomas

          So the Mets drafted John Gibbons and later hired Tony Bernazard.

          Is part of the Mets personnel criteria the likelihood that a person will challenge his youths to a fight?

  • Carl

    I think i found Jones. He went to college and got redrafted

    • Mike Axisa

      Thanks, I’m going to update the post now.

  • Rose

    1983 Second Round Pick
    Free Agent: Bob Shirley, LHP
    Forfeited Pick: Joe Oliver, C (Reds)

    Bob Shirley, you can’t be serious?

    I am serious, and don’t call me Bob Shirley.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Steve Perry can sing really well though.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada
      • Thomas

        Since it ’tis the season: (safe)

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          (golf clap for creativity and execution)

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        I wonder if Steve Perry, the pitcher, was replaced by a young Asian player?

      • Jack

        This is a shot-by-shot remake of the classic music video “Separate Ways” by the band Journey. This video won second place at the 2008 BYU-Idaho film festival.

        Did someone say BYU?

        • Thomas

          I enjoyed that video.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    1983 First Round Pick
    Free Agent: Steve Kemp, OF
    Forfeited Pick: Joel Davis, RHP (White Sox)

    Taken 6 picks after Joel Davis: Ol’ Hot Liniment Balls himself, Roger Clemens.

  • prospects=suspects

    Basically from the small sample I am seeing in this post is that most prospects don’t pan out and us fans should not get caught up in our farm system (of course there are exceptions,Montero, Joba etc…)
    And it pays off to sign the sure bet already established players(if you have the resources of course).

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada
      • prospects=suspects

        “Golf clap”

        /After Tiger woods makes his long triumphant comeback and pulls off an Arod and re claims himself as the best of his sport after a hard crash back to reality

    • Richard Deegan

      True, true, but don’t count your Monteros until they hatch. I recall two guys really ripping up the minors for the Yanks in the late fifties, sweeping all AAA awards one year. While one (Norm Siebern)of them became a decent everyday player for some time, the other went on to everlasting fame with another team in NY as the ironically-named “Marvelous Marv”

      • whozat

        Nope, not true.

        From this we can assume that most of these picks did not generate value for the picking teams. We don’t know whether these teams could have drafted better, whether the Yankees would have drafted better, whether amateur evaluation systems were worse then than they are now (they certainly were different), how much of an upgrade the signed player was over the guy he displaced on the roster, whether any of these draftees were flipped in a useful trade (if Jackson never turns into anything at the big-league level, he still allowed the Yanks to get Granderson…)

        In short, this is a fun and interesting read, but allows us to draw no useful conclusion about draft picks in general.

  • Pat D

    What’s interesting about this, so far, is that the Yankees didn’t lose much based upon who the other teams drafted. Joyner was the best of them and he wasn’t going to supplant Mattingly, so he would have been traded in one of those typically awful ’80′s trades.

    Of course, what we don’t know, is who the Yankees would have actually selected if they still had those picks. Some of those signings were, after all, complete disasters (Collins, Kemp, Whitson).

    Can’t wait for part 2!

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      The other part of this is, we assume the teams who got the picks that we forfeited drafted well.

      Many of them drafted poorly, and the return could have been much, much better.

      • A.D.

        Yup, you can go and look at the historic drafts for guys who ended up having vastly better careers being taken a few years later.

        Randy Johnson > Joey Cora.

        Langston/Tony Gywnn/Cone > Castro

        • A.D.

          *taken a few picks later.

      • Thomas

        Another key portion of this evaluation is not only whether the other team drafted well, but whether the Yankees would have drafted well.

        For example, instead of Steve Kemp as FA, the Yankees may have had Clemens as the top player on the board at that time or they could have had Joel Davis or someone else completely.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Also a very good point.

          Variables, variables, variables.

          • ColoYank

            Oh, now you’re getting all mathy on me.

            /pointy-haired boss’d

  • AP

    Joey Cora killed the Yanks in the 1995 Division Series loss to the Mariners. He hit .316 and scored 7 runs in that series. They couldn’t keep him off the bases.

    • vin

      MLB Network was showing game 5 of that series yesterday. I didn’t have the stomach to finish watching the game.

      • Angelo

        I thought i was the only one

  • Richard Deegan

    Is it just me or was there more forethought in signing FAs in the Tallis/Michael years? That is, more forethought and less gotta-sign-somebody desperation. Nobody could argue against giving up draft picks for quality FAs, but seems like the cash-for-clunkers program started after Gene Michaels.

    • vin

      From Michael’s Wikipedia page:

      “In 2002, the Boston Red Sox tried to talk to Michael about their general manager position, but were not given permission by the Yankees.”

      I do not recall that happening. Pretty interesting.

      • jsbrendog

        it couldve been an inside sabotage job.

        george: stick, take em down, from the inside
        michael: george, we’re going down in history
        george: now let’s eat another calzone

      • vin

        Gene Michael did have many more hits than misses:

        He blew the McGee and Chambliss trades, but there were some good ones.

        He had a lot of very solid signings:
        Winfield, Farr, Pettitte, Mendoza, Tartabull, Mike Stanley, Jimmy Key, and Boggs.

        • jsbrendog

          wasnt his strength more on the scouting side?

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          December 14, 1994 traded Keith Heberling and Lyle Mouton to the Chicago White Sox for Jack McDowell

          The day a young tommiesmithjohncarlos died a little on the inside, and cried a lot on the outside.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            The only reedeming aspect of that trade:

            Jack McDowell liked to flip people off. Charm like that goes a long way in my book.

  • Jake H

    How many parts are there going to be?

    Very interesting stuff.

  • OldYanksFan

    Rather then talking about who was gotten for the say… 25th pick, my question would be, were there any studs who were picked 25th or lower, that were available if we kept the pick.

    • vin

      I didn’t want to do the research for you, but my curiosity got the best of me. Some notable names:

      1979 – meh

      1980 – meh

      1981 – Mark Gubicza 34th
      1981 – Mark Langston 35th
      1981 – Frank Viola 37th (3 pretty good pitchers in 4 picks)

      1982 – David Wells 30th
      1982 – Barry Bonds 39th (didn’t sign)
      1982 – Barry Larkin 51st (Yanks drafted Bo Jackson 50th)

      1983 – Roger Clemens 19th
      1983 – Dan Plesac 26th
      1983 – Chris Sabo 30th
      1983 – Dave Magadan 32nd
      1983 – Rick Aguilera 58th

      1985 – Randy Johnson 36th

  • 12

    The red sox getting lackey?

    • Will

      just saw that, pending a physical apparently. damn.

  • Sal

    Red Sox got Lackey

    • Will

      source or are you just saying that because thats what ken rosenthal thinks.

  • Sal

    We will probally sign Sheets and maybe Chapman. I doubt they will be able to get Halliday

    • Will

      halladay or holliday?

      • Steve H

        That is the question.

    • Reggie C.

      This probably means Theo is passing on Roy Halladay’s price tag, but it doesn’t affect the Matt Holliday sweepstakes. at all.

      • vin

        I think it does. As long as Bay didn’t re-sign with Boston, Matt Holliday was always a reasonable (somewhat under the radar) option.

        Now it seems like they’re best bet to get more offense is via a trade for a 3B, 1B, or LF. Or they can give in to Bay (which will still be cheaper than Holliday).

      • Bronx Cheer

        Not true. Sox maybe won’t have the cash for Holliday and might have to go for a cheaper option (Cameron?).

  • Rose

    Interesting tidbit regarding Toronto and Sox draft picks if Lackey signs with the Red Sox (which is what it looks like)…

    11:52am: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says Lackey had a physical today with the Red Sox, which is “an indication that he is close to an agreement with the team.” Rosenthal expects the deal to be in the range of A.J. Burnett’s five-year, $82.5MM contract, yet the FOX reporter is unsure the Sox would guarantee five years. If the Red Sox complete a deal with Lackey, the Angels would get Boston’s #29 draft pick and the Blue Jays would be bumped to #67 or worse for Marco Scutaro. – MLBTR

    • Reggie C.

      If this news is legit , Lackey made out as well as i thought he would. No way was getting a $100 million contract. Looks like this makes Dice-K the most expensive #4 starter in baseball.

      • Rose

        A 1-4 of Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Dice K is pretty good…

        But I don’t see them signing another big bat in addition to this…they’re so cheap. Their offense will be significantly reduced…and they’ll have to rely on their pitching to carry them the whole way.

        They certainly won’t leave LF empty…but I don’t think they’ll sign Holliday or Bay now.

        Although, this signing could mean that Buchholz is going somewhere for a big bat (A Gon?).

        • Evil Empire

          Oh come on now, I wouldn’t go so far as to call the BoSox cheap.

          They’re consistently in the top 5 or top 3 in payroll every year.

          They can’t commit to $400M+ in payroll over the course of 8 years like the Yankees did last year, but they’re still one of the Big Boys.

          Also, Buccholz > DiceK IMHO.

        • Bronx Cheer

          Short term rotation boost, but long term loss? With Buchholz traded and the odds of resigning Beckett decreasing (can only afford so much $ for the rotation, no?) this signing would only help them for 1 year.

        • Reggie C.

          If they’re not going to replace Bay’s production with Bay, himself, or Holliday, then Theo’s going to have to reverse course on his refusal to empty the farm in 1 trade.

          Jed Hoyer isn’t Kevin Towers, and maybe Hoyer is willing to trade Gonzalez at the steepest price imaginable. I dont know … i’d like to think Hoyer wouldn’t. But if Theo parts with Buchhlz, Reddick, Westmoreland, and Kelly … Hoyer has to consider it.

    • Bronx Cheer

      Second year in a row the Jays would be stiffed with a Type A loss netting a very low second rounder.

      Everyone expected the Sox to sign another type A, just not necessarily Lackey. It was evident when the Sox signed Scutaro – there was no way they were going give up their #1 pick for an average SS.

      Lackey makes the Sox better next season, but I would be happy if this signing causes them to pass on Halladay, Holliday, and (to a much lesser extent) Bay.

      • vin

        The Jays ended up with the Yanks 3rd round pick last year. The Brewers also got screwed (2nd rounder for CC).

        • Bronx Cheer

          Correct. Mea culpa.

      • Rose

        Signing Lackey will force them to extend Beckett long term as well. They already have Dice K for a long while and Lester isn’t going anywhere either.

        This probably means that Buchholz is 100% expendable now.

        I fear that they have something in the works for Adrian Gonzalez at the moment. There were hints towards the Padres asking for Buchholz and one of Casey Kelly or Westmoreland. But were told the Red Sox wouldn’t part with that much. Is that even a lot for Adrian Gonzalez though???

      • Evil Empire

        In all fairness, Scutaro is more worthy of giving up like the 60th pick for instead of the 25th or whatever.

  • Ray Fuego

    we need to pick up Sheets and keep him healthy

    but this pick-up gives the Red sox the old, brittle starting rotation we were afraid of. They are two injuries away from a mess. If DiceBB goes down again and Lackey or Beckett goes down their rotation would be in shambles.

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