• Five Offseason Predictions

    1) The Twins will be one of the first teams to sign a pitcher, and it will be a relatively big name.

    This certainly wouldn't be business as usual, and I don't actually think it'll be Zack Greinke. But the front office has been frank in its dissatisfaction with the current starting pitching situation, and has expressed an urgency to address that unit during the offseason. In his recent interview with John Bonnes for the Offseason Handbook, Terry Ryan hinted that he'd be taking a hard look at some of the better pitchers in free agency, and when John asked whether the plan was to sit back and wait as opposed to aggressively pursuing targets, Ryan responded, "If I do that, we'll probably be holding the bag. You know pitching is going to go off the board."

    My guess it that the Twins have a list of high-end to mid-tier free agents that they especially like, and they'll get one of those guys signed pretty quickly, which will set the course for the rest of their offseason.

    2) Denard Span will be traded.

    And fans, including myself, will probably be disappointed in the return. Span's a very good player that just doesn't seem to be valued as highly around the league as he should be. It's no secret that the Twins have been open to dealing him multiple times in the past and have never gotten an offer that quite enticed them. This winter, they have more motivation to move him than ever before, with Ben Revere's emergence, Chris Parmelee's presence, rising outfield prospects and major pitching needs. Hopefully Span's best year since 2009 will help the Twins get the return they deserve.

    3) Payroll will increase.

    I'm going out on a limb here to some degree, because most people seem to think the team's spending will sink after another revenue-dropping ugly season. It's hard to blame them. Still, I think Ryan is going to want to do a lot of things this offseason in order to give Ron Gardenhire a fair shot at keeping his job next year, and I think the ownership will give the GM financial flexibility to make a lot of those things happen. It's in everyone's best interest. I'm not saying payroll will rise back to $100 million, as I've suggested it should, but I'd be awfully disappointed to see it drop. Again.

    4) Alexi Casilla will be non-tendered.

    As a guy who can't hit well enough to start and really only excels at one position defensively, Casilla is the definition of a futility infielder. He's entering his third year of arbitration, which means he'll be due for a raise (albeit slight) on his $1.38 million salary from this past year. There's always been a distinct trace of promise somewhere deep within the athletic Casilla, but he's coming off one of his worst seasons and is now 28. It's time to let go. With cheaper options like Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Florimon available, the Twins are likely to agree.

    5) The Twins will draft a Rule 5 player who will stick.

    When asked about how he intends to overhaul the pitching staff during the offseason, Ryan always responds by stating that he intends to pursue "all avenues," and he invariably mentions the Rule 5 draft as one of them. He doesn't mention how rarely impact players are acquired there.

    Nevertheless, by virtue of another horrible finish the Twins will once again be one of the first teams to pick, and hopefully they've learned a few things from last year's ill-fated Terry Doyle selection. I think they'll grab someone and find room to give him a shot, and I'm not even sure it will be a pitcher. There are other weaknesses on this club.
    This article was originally published in blog: Five Offseason Predictions started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 20 Comments
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I agree with 1,3, and 4 in the should category. In terms of "will" you are probably right. And I think that is unfortunate.

      By the way, where is Doyle. Is he in Japan? Um, can the Twins sign him?
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      I would predict that any pitcher looking for a one year contract to better themselves while earning a good payday will contact the Twins. There will be one pitcher out there not happy with the offers.
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      I hope you're right on all 5 predictions Nick. I'm also a big fan of Span, so I too will be dissapointed. I just hope they can identify a young cost controlled pitcher that can make me get over it. I hope this is how the starting pitching situation gets handled:

      1. They bring back Scott Baker. Terry Ryan stated that he wants to bring him back so that's good news.
      2. Your first prediction comes through and they're aggressive and sign a solid pitcher.
      3. They identify a young MLB ready arm for Span and we roll with him.
      4. Sign Carlos Villanueva for flexibility. He would start out the season as a starter but he's insurance for Scott Baker's recovery, Kyle Gibson's innings limit and if Hendriks or the young arm acquired fall flat on their face. If everything goes well, he's a solid reliever.

      Opening day:
      FA
      Scott Diamond
      Carlos Villanueva
      Pitcher from Span trade
      Liam Hendriks

      -Scott Baker hopefully ready by May.
      -Kyle Gibson starts in AAA with limited innings/pitch count per start until he's "ready for the majors" aka when he won't be eligible for super 2 status

      I think this is realistic and sticks within the assumed budget.
    1. sorney's Avatar
      sorney -
      I miss Span already
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      While I agree that Casilla will be non-tendered, I wish they wouldn't. I think Casilla would be their best option at second and would offer excellent speed and defense to the team.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      While I agree that Casilla will be non-tendered, I wish they wouldn't. I think Casilla would be their best option at second and would offer excellent speed and defense to the team.
      He's been given a starting job multiple times and hasn't done anything to keep it. I believe it's time to cut bait, though I do like his defense now.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Re #1 - that big name pitcher will be Scott Baker.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      While I agree that Casilla will be non-tendered, I wish they wouldn't. I think Casilla would be their best option at second and would offer excellent speed and defense to the team.
      He's been given a starting job multiple times and hasn't done anything to keep it. I believe it's time to cut bait, though I do like his defense now.
      Casilla has actually gotten worse with age. For a stretch, he put up pretty good numbers over half seasons of play. Now, he can't even do that. The guy had his opportunities and did nothing with them. It's time to move on.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      I hope that they sign one pretty good FA pitcher early as Nick suggests and that they then sign another later who agrees to a one-year contract because he can't get a better offer elsewhere. (If they get 2 in the latter category, that's even better). As for salary, I still think it will be $91-$94 million but $100 million isn't unthinkable.

      I really want to see them make a successful trade or two this winter. I feel like all they have done in recent years is make a few (and I mean few) off-season trades or deadline deals to rid themselves of their self-perceived problems (whether that they didn't like the person or they didn't want to offer arbitration or whatever).

      I'd like to see a trade or two that is genuinely focused on improving the ballclub - a realization that you have to be willing to give something decent to get a decent return. I suspect that Span will be part of that but I'll take Terry Ryan at his word that ANYONE except Mauer could be part of that. I don't think that Span alone would bring back a ML-ready starting pitcher (at least not one that most of us hope for). So we need to see if the Twins brass still have the skills, contacts and guts to put together a meaningful package deal.

      More than the free agent signings, I want to see if the Twins still have the ability to make a successful trade (realizing that we may not know how successful it was for several years).
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Quote Originally Posted by JP3700 View Post
      I hope you're right on all 5 predictions Nick. I'm also a big fan of Span, so I too will be dissapointed. I just hope they can identify a young cost controlled pitcher that can make me get over it. I hope this is how the starting pitching situation gets handled:

      1. They bring back Scott Baker. Terry Ryan stated that he wants to bring him back so that's good news.
      2. Your first prediction comes through and they're aggressive and sign a solid pitcher.
      3. They identify a young MLB ready arm for Span and we roll with him.
      4. Sign Carlos Villanueva for flexibility. He would start out the season as a starter but he's insurance for Scott Baker's recovery, Kyle Gibson's innings limit and if Hendriks or the young arm acquired fall flat on their face. If everything goes well, he's a solid reliever.

      Opening day:
      FA
      Scott Diamond
      Carlos Villanueva
      Pitcher from Span trade
      Liam Hendriks

      -Scott Baker hopefully ready by May.
      -Kyle Gibson starts in AAA with limited innings/pitch count per start until he's "ready for the majors" aka when he won't be eligible for super 2 status

      I think this is realistic and sticks within the assumed budget.
      Baker is on the Adam Wainright projection & will be ready (without any setbacks) to start opening day. He shouldnt have any innings limit either, like they'll give Gibson, as veterans generally don have em.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      I agree with all 5. I am hoping that Alexei is signed back at a lower salary after being non-tendered to work with Dozier/Florimon. I think he can be good in the 5th IF role.

      The key to your 5 to me is the rule 5 draft. Thats how we got Johan and I think thats how we got Diamond. Ryan seems to come up with gems there.

      I am not optimistic on the FA pitcher--none outside of Greinke look like aces to me. Most look like Pavano or worse.
    1. Cris E's Avatar
      Cris E -
      I think 1,2 and 3 will happen all at once, and the best pitcher they get will be via trade. It'll be Span + youth for an MLB player that carries a decent sized salary. We have a raft of good CF scattered across the organization and there are several pitching-rich teams that we line up with. If we're willing to take on salary, and we appear to have room, we won't have to give up full value in the trade. They'll also sign a good FA starter, but nothing from the top shelf.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      I am hoping that all 5 can happen.
    1. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
      Fire Dan Gladden -
      I highly doubt Casilla will be back. I would like to see him moved in a trade for some high risk A-ball pitcher at least, or just DFA him. He will be offered money by some team .
      As much as Span is the "big" trade candidate, I still have a tough time seeing him traded. Good defense, good offense, cheap... just the type of player we need around here.
      I think the Twins are more apt to sign pitchers than trade away any of their current position players. Doumit, Mauer, Willingham, Carroll produce more than their salary. Revere, Parmalee, Plouffe too young/cheap to move. Morneau could stay just as easily go, can't see them selling very low on him. Nobody else is a current core player, their leaving would be negligible.
      The only moves I can see would be in a situation where they would improve over their current player. I don't see many situations (other than 2B) where the Twins could do that and still keep costs relatively low.
      If the Twins are able to sign a few Marcum types, and stay healthy for once, I think you will see a quick and large rise in their win total.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      My biggest concerns are #1 and #2. i'm all for signing a good pitcher but usually if you sign a player early then you've agreed to the player's terms instead of using a month or two to negotiate. I also think the writing is on the wall for Span and they've made it obvious that they're dealing him and that they will take the any best offer.
    1. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
      one_eyed_jack -
      Hope you're right on all but Span. Trading Span for pitching seems to be the trendy idea, but I'm not sure I buy that's it's the right thing to do. I agree though both that it will happen and that whatever we get in return will probably be less than what most people are hoping/expecting.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by one_eyed_jack View Post
      Hope you're right on all but Span. Trading Span for pitching seems to be the trendy idea, but I'm not sure I buy that's it's the right thing to do. I agree though both that it will happen and that whatever we get in return will probably be less than what most people are hoping/expecting.
      I highly agree with this. I'd rather see a deal for Willingham being made. He's not as valuable, but teams may be willing to offer just as much as Span would fetch.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by one_eyed_jack View Post
      Hope you're right on all but Span. Trading Span for pitching seems to be the trendy idea, but I'm not sure I buy that's it's the right thing to do. I agree though both that it will happen and that whatever we get in return will probably be less than what most people are hoping/expecting.
      I highly agree with this. I'd rather see a deal for Willingham being made. He's not as valuable, but teams may be willing to offer just as much as Span would fetch.
      Willingham's not as valuable? Willingham's defense has certainly hurt him and Span's contract is better, but in terms of offense, I think some people would be surprised that Willingham had the better OBP (which is really Span's value as a bat), and of course, combine that with power and you've got a much more valuable offensive player. Overall, WAR is better for Span, but I'd bet that most teams would rather have Willingham.

      That said, while it's the popular notion to trade Span for pitching, my guess is he hasn't been worth that or we'd have seen a trade already.

      Don't get me wrong, I believe that if the Twins can get something valuable for either, they should make the move, but Span has a skillset where the Twins have some depth while that isn't true of Willingham. He's the only Twin to hit 35 HR since Killibrew). Considering that most of them (21) came at Target Field, a place where guys like Cuddyer and Kubel whined about the park, Willingham is much more valuable to the Twins than Span. No way should they consider trading Willingham over Span, but they should certainly entertain offers on both.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      I don't remember Cuddyer ever whining about the ability to hit HR at TF. If he did, that'd be interesting since the two years his home park was TF he hit exactly the same amount of HR at home as on the road...

      I remember Morneau speaking for the team about it...and getting ridiculed for daring to do so...even though, at the time, he was having an MVP type season that ended up getting derailed by the concussion
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Even with the absolute miserable spring, would've been interesting if the Twins had stuck with Doyle as the last man in the bullpen. He had a decent year between AAA and Japan. You just never know. Instead, we kept Maloney and Jeff Gray.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.