Former Reds #1 draft pick Dan Wilson has announced his plans to retire at the end of the season.
Wilson, who played nearly all his career with the Mariners, was originally drafted by the Reds in the 1990 amateur draft. The Reds took Wilson out of the University of Minnesota with the seventh overall pick. Some people drafted after Wilson: Carl Everett, Donovan Osborne, Todd Van Poppel, Jeromy Burnitz, Aaron Holbert, Mike Mussina, Steve Karsay, and Rondell White.
The news of Wilson’s retirement prompted a discussion over on the Reds Listserv. Someone said that Wilson was a wasted first round (#7 overall) pick. I disagreed, saying that any time a pick, let alone a catcher, plays for 14 years in the big leagues, it was a good draft pick.
The response was “Sure, he played a long time and was a good defensive catcher and wasn’t awful. But I’d hope to get a LOT more out of 1st round pick.”
So I did some research. And the Reds got A LOT out of Dan Wilson. Probably more than they got out of any first round pick, besides Barry Larkin, in the last 20 years.
First, Dan Wilson had 118 career win shares. Not great, but 5 more than Sandy Alomar, Jr. has collected, by way of comparison. And 18 more than Jason Varitek, another catcher who was drafted in the 1st round.
Wilson only earned 2 of these Win Shares as a Red.
But check this out: Wilson was traded (with Bobby Ayala – also 2 Reds career WS) for Bret Boone and Eric Hanson.
Hanson earned 5 WS in his one Reds season. Boone earned 66 in 5 seasons. That’s 71 WS in exchange for Wilson and Ayala, so far.
Hanson left as a free agent, but Boone was traded (with Mike Remlinger – 14 WS as a Red) to Atlanta for Denny Neagle, Michael Tucker, and Rob Bell.
Neagle earned 17 WS as a Red (and helped with the 1999 pennant drive). Tucker earned 21 in his 3 partial seasons. Bell earned 6. That’s 115 WS in return for Wilson and two fringe-y relievers. (And 117 WS from the pick).
Tucker was sent to Chicago for Chris Booker, who could still conceivably contribute.
Bell was sent to Texas for Ruben Mateo (4 WS as a Red) and Edwin Encarnacion (2 WS, plus many to come) .
Neagle, along with the immortal Mike Frank, was sent to NY for Ed Yarnall, Drew Henson, Jackson Melian, and Brian Reith.
Reith earned 3 WS. Now we’re up to 126 WS for Wilson (plus Remlinger, Ayala, and Frank.
Yarnall, Henson, and Melian didn’t contribute at the big league level, but Henson was sent (with minor league OF Michael Coleman) back to the Yankees in exchange for Wily Mo Pena (24 career WS, through Sept. 6).
The grand total:
Given Up: Dan Wilson, plus two servicable relievers (Remlinger and Ayala) and two non-prospect OFs (Frank & Coleman).
Received: 150 WS, a fringe reliever (Booker), and two of the most promising young hitters in the league (Encarnacion and WMP). Plus Wilson’s 2 WS.
I’ll take that from a first-round draft pick, even if it took a good bit of effort and luck to get there. (By the way, I don’t think you could do this sort of thing with just anyone – this is a REALLY rare string of events).