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 If a team signs a free agent considered to be among the top 20% at his position based on outdated methods, they’ll send their top pick to the team that lost him.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.