How Much is a Sandwich Pick Worth?

The MLB trade deadline is quickly approaching. That means that General Managers all over the game will be weighing the present value of their free agents-to-be against the potential value they can obtain via trade. One consideration is the potential extra draft pick teams will receive if their free agent-to-be signs with another team at the end of the season. Teams in this scenario are awarded a sandwich pick- a draft choice between the conclusion of the first round and the beginning of the second round. These picks typically fall between overall picks #31 and #40. But how much value is typically available in that range? I’ve taken a closer look and created and infographic.

I have to once again thank Baseball-Reference for their amazing draft database.

SandwichPicksThe answer is that these picks usually provide very little value, though a decent percentage will reach MLB (48.5%). Players selected in this range accumulate a WAR of 10.0 or more over their careers about 6% of the time.

David Wright and his 49.9 career WAR is the star of the range. Other notables include Jarrod Washburn (28.5), Adam Jones (27.3), Aaron Rowand (20.8), Gio Gonzalez (17.7), Todd Frazier (14.9), and Lance Lynn (10.0).

Teams holding on to their free agents-to-be should expect to see a return on their compensatory draft pick most likely in year 3 or 4 after their selection (47.4% chance one of these draft picks debuts in those years). The average WAR for a compensatory draft pick during years 3 and 4 is 0.25 and 0.51, respectively. 7% of draftees achieved a 0.25 WAR or higher in year 3, and 9.5% reached 0.51 in year 4.



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