- The Amateur Draft
Since 1996, the Twins have 194 player-seasons from players acquired via the Draft, most of any AL team. They have paid these players a combined $389,248,998, 2nd only to the Yankees. These players have put up an average of 1.26 WAR, good for 6th in the AL.
2. Amateur Free Agency
This includes signing international prospects. Sixteen player-seasons have been worth an average of just .26 WAR. Bobby Kielty, Luis Rodriguez, and Luis Rivas own most of those seasons. Josmil Pinto and Oswaldo Arcia own one apiece.
3. Rule 5 Draft
Brian Buscher and Jason Pridie are the two Rule 5 position players to stick on the 40 man roster during Ryan's and Smith's tenures. Combined, they provided 0.3 WAR over 5 player-seasons at a cost of just under 2 million. The most active Rule 5 team during this time was the Baltimore Orioles, who kept Jay Gibbons on as DH/outfielder for the 2001-2007 seasons.
The Twins have given 70 player-seasons to players acquired by trade since 1996. Jason Bartlett, Lew Ford, and Christian Guzman accumulated 9.1, 8.4, and 7.4 WARs over 15 player seasons. On the other end, Ron Coomer, David Ortiz, and Alexi Casilla accumulated between 2 and 4 WARs over 6+ seasons each. Overall, the average player-season was worth .54 WAR, last among AL teams (excluding Houston and Milwaukee.)
The Twins have played 7 Waiver claims in positions 2-9 since 1996. They are (WAR in Parenthesis): Augie Ojeda (1.2), Casey Blake (-0.2), Clete Thomas (0.2), Corky Miller (-0.2), Darin Mastroianni (0.3), Erik Komatsu (-0.2), and Pedro Florimon (3.8). The average waiver claim-season has been worth 0.42 WAR, boosted largely by Florimon's 2013 season which has so far been worth 2.2 WAR.
6. Free Agency
Since 1996, the Twins have 84 Free Agent position player-seasons. WAR likes Paul Molitor (5.2), Josh Willingham (3.9) and Jamey Carroll the most (3.5). On the other end are Rondell White (-1.5), Butch Huskey (-1.0), and Kevin Maas (-0.8). Overall, the Twins average a 0.38 WAR season from Free Agent position players. This is the worst average in the AL (excluding Houston and Milwaukee). Interestingly, they also pay their Free Agents the least of any AL team.
So, in order of average WAR, the Twins' most successful means of positional talent acquisition under Terry Ryan (and 4 seasons of Bill Smith):
1. Amateur Draft (1.26 WAR)
2. Trades (0.54)
3. Waivers (0.42)
4. Free Agency (0.37)
5. Amateur Free Agency (0.26)
6. Rule 5 Draft (0.06)
*Note about the Salary figures - rather than look up days spent on the active roster for all the minimum wagers, I assumed they were paid a full season's worth. Therefore salary figures are a little inflated, specially for waivers, rule 5, and amateur draft guys.