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These teams lost a FA, but gained a star in the Draft

June 2, 2020

Signing a free agent is a quick way for a team to add talent to its roster. But losing a free agent? Turns out, that can be helpful, too. The supplemental rounds of the MLB Draft provide extra picks to teams that have lost certain types of free agents. Since

Signing a free agent is a quick way for a team to add talent to its roster. But losing a free agent? Turns out, that can be helpful, too.

The supplemental rounds of the MLB Draft provide extra picks to teams that have lost certain types of free agents. Since the 2013 Draft, supplemental selections have been awarded to clubs that lost a free agent who rejected a qualifying offer. Supplemental picks are made either after the conclusion of Round 1, after Competitive Balance Round B or between the fourth and fifth rounds, depending on the value of the player’s new contract and the financial status of the team receiving the pick.

Previously, supplemental picks were doled out to teams that lost a player who was classified as a Type A or Type B free agent. Under the old system, clubs that signed a Type A free agent also had to surrender their highest Draft pick (or second highest, if their pick fell in the top half of the first round) to that player’s former team, which is how the Angels got the pick that became Mike Trout after losing Mark Teixeira to the Yankees.

The 10 stars below all landed with their current teams via supplemental picks. Players are listed in order by Draft year, starting with the most recent.

Mike Soroka, RHP, Braves (2015 Draft)
Shortly before the start of the 2014 season, Atlanta brought in veteran right-hander Ervin Santana on a one-year deal. Santana ended up posting a 3.95 ERA over 196 innings for the Braves, then left to sign a four-year, $54 million contract with the Twins. As a result, the Braves received a supplemental pick in the 2015 Draft, which they used on Soroka. After a solid but brief debut in 2018, Soroka emerged as Atlanta’s ace as a 21-year-old in ‘19, recording a 2.68 ERA over 29 starts and finishing sixth in the National League Cy Young Award race.

Jack Flaherty, RHP, Cardinals (2014)
Flaherty, like Soroka, was one of the top pitchers in the NL last season, earning a fourth-place finish in the Cy Young Award voting after registering a 2.75 ERA with 231 strikeouts in 196 1/3 innings. Five years prior, the Cardinals selected him 34th overall in the 2014 Draft. They got that pick after outfielder Carlos Beltrán left St. Louis to join the Yankees as a free agent. Beltrán had a successful two-year stint with the Cardinals, making the All-Star team in both seasons and helping St. Louis reach the World Series in 2013. But delivering Flaherty to the Redbirds may turn out to be more important than anything Beltrán accomplished in their uniform.

Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees (2013)
While the signing of Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett stole the headlines during the 2008-09 offseason, the Yankees also made an under-the-radar trade to pick up Nick Swisher from the White Sox shortly after the ‘08 campaign ended. The effervescent right fielder spent four years in the Bronx, becoming a fan favorite and producing 20-plus homers, 30-plus doubles and 80-plus RBIs in each season. He also left the Yanks with a wonderful parting gift when he departed to sign with the Indians: the 32nd pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. New York used that pick to select Judge, who has become the face of the franchise in his three-plus seasons in the Majors.

Matt Olson, 1B, Athletics (2012)
In November 2011, the A’s made a minor trade to acquire outfielder David DeJesus from the Royals. After posting a .698 OPS in 131 games for Oakland the following season, DeJesus signed with the Cubs, leaving the A’s with the 47th pick in the 2012 Draft. That’s how Oakland landed Olson, who has become a stud on both sides of the ball for the club, pairing Gold Glove defense at first base with impressive power. The 26-year-old was worth 5.4 Wins Above Replacement in 2019, per Baseball-Reference, despite missing 34 games with a fractured hamate bone in his right hand.

Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Astros (2012)
The Astros landed a pair of future All-Stars with their first two picks in the 2012 Draft, grabbing shortstop Carlos Correa at No. 1 overall and selecting McCullers at No. 41. The latter pick came via the departure of shortstop Clint Barmes, who signed with the Pirates after one season in Houston. Although McCullers has battled injuries and inconsistency during his MLB career, he has shown flashes of excellence, posting a 3.24 FIP and a 26.6% strikeout rate in four seasons before missing all of 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Joey Gallo, OF, Rangers (2012)
C.J. Wilson made a successful transition from the bullpen to the rotation in 2010, recording a 3.35 ERA over 204 innings for Texas. He was even better the next year (2.94 ERA, 223 1/3 IP), positioning himself to land a five-year, $77.5 million contract with the Angels. The loss of Wilson brought the Rangers the 39th pick in the 2012 Draft, and they used the pick to land Gallo. On the heels of back-to-back 40-homer seasons, Gallo recorded a career-high .986 OPS with 22 home runs over his first 70 games last year, before suffering a fractured right hamate bone in July. Still just 26 years old, the slugger appears to be a cornerstone piece for the Rangers.

José Berríos, RHP, Twins (2012)
In 1997, the Twins selected Michael Cuddyer with the No. 9 pick in the Draft. The right-handed slugger debuted in 2001 and spent 11 years with Minnesota, hitting .272 with 141 homers and a .794 OPS. The pick is still paying off for the Twins, who received the 32nd choice in the 2012 Draft after Cuddyer left to sign with the Rockies. Minnesota used the pick to draft Berríos, their best pitcher over the past three seasons. A two-time All-Star, Berríos has recorded a 3.80 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP and 536 strikeouts in 538 1/3 innings during that span, helping the Twins make the playoffs twice.

Trevor Story, SS, Rockies (2011)
Story has been one of the top shortstops in baseball from the moment he arrived in the Majors, becoming the first player to homer in each of his first four career games. He has produced 11.7 bWAR over the past two years, a span in which he has hit .293/.355/.561 with 72 home runs, 80 doubles and 50 stolen bases. The Rockies initially brought Story into the organization with the 45th selection in the 2011 Draft, a pick they got after reliever Octavio Dotel signed with the Blue Jays. Dotel, a 15-year veteran who played for 13 teams, spent less than a month with Colorado late in the 2010 campaign, making eight appearances and yielding three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Blake Snell, LHP, Rays (2011)
The Rays’ decision to pick up Brad Hawpe on Aug. 27, 2010 -- one day after the outfielder was released by the Rockies -- is still paying dividends a decade later. While Hawpe appeared in only 15 games with Tampa Bay and hit .179 with a .638 OPS, his departure to join the Padres as a free agent gave the Rays the 52nd pick in the 2011 Draft. Their choice with that pick? Snell, who debuted in 2016 and went on to win the American League Cy Young Award in ’18.

Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, Red Sox (2011)
Bradley has never developed into a consistent offensive threat, but his strong defense has kept him in Boston’s starting lineup since 2015. Bradley was also named MVP of the 2018 AL Championship Series after delivering a go-ahead three-run double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3 and a go-ahead two-run homer in Game 4. The Red Sox selected Bradley in 2011 with the 40th overall pick, which they received after Adrián Beltré left Boston to sign with the Rangers. Beltré spent only one year with the Red Sox, but it was one of the best seasons of his career, as he hit .321 with 28 homers, 49 doubles and a .919 OPS.

Up next

In addition to the star players above, a number of current MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects were taken with supplemental picks, including right-hander Nate Pearson (MLB’s No. 8 prospect), outfielder Dylan Carlson (No. 17) and infielders Carter Kieboom (No. 21) and Ke’Bryan Hayes (No. 41).

The Blue Jays selected the flamethrowing Pearson in the 2017 Draft with the 28th pick, which they received after Edwin Encarnación signed with the Indians.

The year before, the Cardinals had multiple supplemental picks after the Cubs signed both John Lackey and Jason Heyward away from St. Louis. The Cards took Carlson with the first of those picks, and used the second to grab righty Dakota Hudson, who finished fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2019.

Also in 2016, Washington got the 28th pick after losing free agent Jordan Zimmermann to the Tigers and used it to grab Kieboom. Four picks later, catcher Will Smith, a recent graduate from the Top 100 prospects list, was taken by the Dodgers. Los Angeles was awarded that selection after Zack Greinke departed to sign with the D-backs.

As for Hayes, he joined the Pirates via the 32nd pick in 2015. Pittsburgh received that supplemental selection when Russell Martin left to join the Jays.

Thomas Harrigan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @HarriganMLB.