When the Washington Nationals signed Jayson Werth to a $126 million contract this past offseason, they plugged a hole in their outfield and brought in one of the few true five-tool players in baseball.

And because their first-round pick was protected thanks to their dismal 2010 record, all they had to give up was their second-round pick in this June’s MLB Amateur Draft.

And that’s not much, right? After all, over the past two seasons, Werth has averaged .282/.380/.519 with 32 home runs, 92 RBI and 19 stolen bases. A second-round pick might—or might not—make an impact at the major league level, but almost certainly won’t be another Jayson Werth.

Since their first season in Washington, the Nationals have received far more draft picks for lost free agents than they have given up.

2005 was an exception, however. Shortly after Jim Bowden took over as team general manager, he found himself without a left side of his infield. Tony Batista, who had batted .241-32-110 (but with a .272 on-base percent) signed with a team in Japan and Maicer Izturis was traded along with Juan Rivera to the Angels for Jose Guillen.

There was no one in the farm system ready to take over at either short or third and because Major League Baseball—then owner of the team—had gutted the minors in anticipation of contraction, there was not enough depth to trade prospects for established major leaguers.

And so Bowden entered the free agent market to fill the holes.

On November 16th, 2004, Bowden signed Twins’ shortstop Cristian Guzman to a four-year contract worth $16 million.  Three days later, the Rockies’ Vinny Castilla agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal.

The two signings cost the Nationals their second- and third-round picks in 2005.

Was it worth it?

Castilla played in 142 games in Washington, batting .253/.319/.403 with 12 homers and 66 RBI. When Ryan Zimmerman was called up from the minors on September 1st, Castilla moved to the bench. He was traded to San Diego that winter for Brian Lawrence, who never pitched for the Nationals.

Cristian Guzman’s first year in Washington was his worst of his career, batting .219/.260/.314, and he needed a hot September just to get over .200. He missed most of 2006 and all of 2007 due to injuries, but averaged .301/.327/.416 in 2008 and 2009. He hit .284 before being traded to the Texas Rangers last season.

Castilla’s one year with the Nationals was not worth a second-round pick and Guzman’s roller coaster ride in Washington was probably—barely—worth the lost draft choice.

Let’s see who the Nationals lost.

With the fifth pick in the second round, the Colorado Rockies chose outfielder Daniel Carte. His best year was in 2007 when he hit .283-14-71. Over his six-year minor-league career, Carte has averaged .257-16-75 over 550 at-bats.

If he makes it to the major leagues, it’s going to be as a reserve. The Nationals didn’t lose much by signing Castilla.

However, the signing of Guzman hurt.

With the Nationals’ third-round pick, the Minnesota Twins chose pitcher Brian Duensing, a left-handed pitcher who went 17-2, 3.66 in three years at the University of Nebraska. In five minor-league seasons, Duensing had a record of 33-36, 3.61, allowing 9.3 hits and 2.2 walks per nine innings while striking out 6.4. He joined the Twins in 2009.

Though he started in the bullpen, Duensing has joined the starting rotation and has excelled. He has a record of 15-5 with an ERA of 3.03. He has allowed just 8.5 hits and 2.8 walks per nine innings with a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Last season he went 10-3 with a 2.62 ERA.

He is described as having “moxie” and never giving up. More than once, he argued with coaches in the dugout to let him go back out and pitch another inning. About the only negative is his size. At 5’11” and 175 lbs, stamina is a concern. But thus far, anyway, he has outperformed his expectations.

Look, I realize that just because the Twins chose Brian Duensing it doesn’t mean that the Nationals would have. But conversely, the Nationals—had they retained their second-round pick—might have chosen instead of Carte Yunel Escobar, who in four major-league seasons has averaged .289-11-64.

When the Nationals signed Vinny Castilla and Cristian Guzman, they knew what they were getting. There weren’t going to be any surprises (though one can say that Guzman’s 2005 season was very much a surprise). But high-round draft picks can either become a bust or a plaque in the Hall of Fame.

You just never know.

But man, wouldn’t Brian Duensing look really good in the rotation right now?

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com