If or when Texas Rangers' free-agent right fielder Nelson Cruz lands with another team in 2014, the organization will receive a first-round draft pick in compensation, but it essentially won't matter to the MLB club. To be more specific, first-round draft picks by the Rangers since 2000 have had almost no impact on the home turf in Arlington, but they are valued in trades.
Here's a quick refresher regarding Cruz's compensation according to MLB Trade Rumors' November 2013 article, "If a qualifying offer free agent signs elsewhere, the player's former team will receive a compensatory draft pick between the first and second rounds of the 2014 amateur draft."
For all picks combined in the first-round including the supplemental round, let's get more specific towards the Rangers.
The history is simple. A vast majority of the players drafted by the Rangers in the first round since 2000 are traded away. Another list of players end up getting hurt or don't sign with the club, and only a small fraction of Rangers' first-round draft picks have had consistent success for the team.
According to a Yahoo! Sports June 2013 article by Brian Honea, three of the Rangers' top five first-round draft busts came from the 2000s. Those players are Scott Heard from 2000, Drew Meyer from 2002 and Thomas Diamond from 2004.
Of the 27 players drafted in the first-round by the Rangers since 2000, only one player has made an All-Star game with the MLB team. That was first baseman Mark Teixeira. In fact, Teixeira is the only player to have long-term success with a Rangers' cap on from this specification.
Yet Teixeira was traded away in 2007 to the Atlanta Braves. And the Rangers got huge contributors in the trade that have helped them reach the postseason several times. The key acquisitions were Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz.
Players that have had some short-term success as home-grown products since 2000 are Julio Borbon, Tommy Hunter and Tanner Scheppers. Scheppers has made a name for himself in 2013 for the Rangers while Borbon and Hunter are both now with the Baltimore Orioles.
In 2010 the Rangers traded for catcher Bengie Molina. In doing so, the team gave up 2007 first-round selection Michael Main.
Nearly a week later when the Rangers acquired Cliff Lee in a trade with division foe Seattle Mariners, two former first-round picks were sent to Seattle—Blake Beavan (2007) and Justin Smoak (2008). Beavan has had no success in the majors and Smoak has a career batting average of .227.
Both Lee and Molina attributed to the Rangers success in 2010 by helping the club reach their first ever World Series.
Here's a look at the Rangers' first-round draft picks since 2000 to be traded away from the organization.
|Draft Year||Player||Team Traded To||Key Rangers' Acquisition|
|2001||Mark Teixeira||Atlanta Braves||Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz|
|2003||John Danks||Chicago White Sox||Brandon McCarthy|
|2005||John Mayberry, Jr.||Philadelphia Phillies||None|
|2007||Blake Beavan||Seattle Mariners||Cliff Lee|
|2007||Michael Main||San Fransisco Giants||Bengie Molina|
|2007||Neil Ramirez||Chicago Cubs||Matt Garza|
|2007||Tommy Hunter||Baltimore Orioles||Koji Uehara|
|2008||Justin Smoak||Seattle Mariners||Cliff Lee|
|2010||Mike Olt||Chicago Cubs||Matt Garza|
*Bold: played in a Rangers' postseason win
Going forward for the Rangers, the team appears to be letting Cruz go and will gain a first-round compensatory pick in doing so, per MLB Trade Rumors. They also had to sacrifice their first-round pick with the signing of Shin-Soo Choo, per Yahoo! Sports.
The top free agents not named Masahiro Tanaka have a draft pick compensation attached to their name. This list includes Stephen Drew (Boston), Ubaldo Jimenez (Cleveland), Kendrys Morales (Mariners) and Ervin Santana (Kansas City). This means that the Red Sox, Indians, Mariners and Royals will all receive a compensatory draft pick if the free agents sign elsewhere.
Considering the first-round draft pick history, do the Rangers pursue one of these free agents or do they save the pick for an impact trade in the near future?