• Braves Signing Upton Hurts Twins' Trade Options

    Minnesota Twins fans finally have a mildly good reason to push the panic button.

    It wasnít that Scott Baker was leaving the team Ė without an option year, his value the year after Tommy John isnít particularly meaningful. It certainly isnít that (gasp) other free agent starting pitchers are signing elsewhere Ė especially when only a handful have changed teams and there are an inordinate number of good starting pitchers on the market. And MOST OF ALL it isnít that the Twins have dared to sign minor leaguers, which is business as usual for this time of year.

    But if you want to push it, go ahead. Because yesterday, the Atlanta Braves agreed to terms for center fielder BJ Upton. For Twins fans hoping for long-term upgrades to the Twins starting pitching staff, this is the worst news this offseason.

    The Braves have plenty of young (and affordable) pitching like that, and were in the market for 1) a center fielder and 2) right-handed power. Whatís more, they had to be affordable, since the Braves are working on a corporate (inflexible) budget. Both Denard Span AND Josh Willingham had been floated in rumors from the Braves media entities, and it wasnít out of the question that they could be attempting a blockbuster deal for both.

    Upton IS both. Heís a centerfielder, who hits right-handed and has hit 51 home runs over the last two years. And they got him for about $14M/year, which is just a couple of million more than Span and Willingham would have cost. Upton was the linchpin of the offseason for the Braves; he was the one player available to fill both needs at a reasonable price without trading away their starting pitching.

    The Twins and their fans will need to take solace in the clichť of the other broken-hearted: there are lots of other fish in the sea. There are. The Rays will need to replace Upton, the Phillies are actively courting center fielders and the Reds have been mentioned as a possible landing place for months.

    But the Braves represented the big one that got away. They were the single best option this offseason when trading for major-league-ready, affordable, young, top-half-of-the-rotation starting pitching. If the Braves had missed out on Upton, the Twins and Braves would have made stunningly good fits for each other. Without them interested, the Twins didnít just lose one name from the ďdemandĒ side of the equation, they also lost their best trading partner.

    But at least Twins fans have found a reason to push the panic button in 3 Ö. 2 .... 1 Ö.

    This article was originally published in blog: Braves Signing Upton Hurts Twins' Trade Options started by John Bonnes
    Comments 53 Comments
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      My top 3 picks for the Twins are Grienke, Liriano, and Myers. I would be happy with that. Yes Haren, Marcum,Dempster,Jackson, and Sanchez are ok also, but they are injury phrone and pricey too. Look for a trade to happen to but after most of the FA sign.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      If we don't sign a true ace now we will lose 90 games for the next 2 years and maybe more, we can't not afford that and where would you find a younger and better one that now?
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I laugh at the idea that trading Span is some kind of necessity. For what? If this is about contending in 2013, I guarantee you that the Twins in 2013 are going to be better with Span than without him. If it is about 2014 and beyond, then I guarantee you that A: either there will be other trade options like Revere and Parmelee that make sense, or B: a deadline trade is going to be much more beneficial for Span.

      I will vomit if the opening day lineup is Revere-Carroll at the top.
    1. Fanatic Jack's Avatar
      Fanatic Jack -
      Shane,

      This is just typical Twins stuff that has been going on for years. The Twins front office clearly overvalues the players on their roster and have no clue when the time is right to make a deal. Just look at the evidence in the last 5 years. They refused to trade Torii Hunter at the trade deadline in July 2007 and he left as a free agent. They waited way too long to trade Johan Santana and ended up getting nothing significant for him when they were offered players like Lester, Masterson, Lowrie, Cabrera, and Phil Hughes. They refused to trade Delmon Young and Francisco Liriano after great 2010 seasons and basically traded them as part of a salary dump. They also refused to unload Cuddyer, Nathan, and Kubel at the trade deadline in 2011. Why would anybody expect to receive more than a B prospect for Span or Morneau. I really for the first time in my life have lost complete confidence in GM Terry Ryan. He was once considered the best GM in MLB but not anymore.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I agree with Fanatic Jack, generally, here! The bizarre marginal roster decisions indicate total weirdness to me. Jeff Gray and now Tim Wood. Thielbar on the 40-man? Really? Anyway, I think Doumit, Burton, and Carroll are good enough additions to warrant some good respect for TR in his first year back. It is unfortunate that this manager chose to remove Carroll from SS, even though the numbers are on Carroll's side. If TR can just now focus on TWO FA additions (Marcum and somebody else), that would be more than good enough for me.
    1. sorney's Avatar
      sorney -
      I think it's moves like this that get the impatient crowd going....
      Knowing all along Atlanta would be a great fit for a trading partner, then seeing Atlanta sign a CF....it just feels like a lost opportunity.
    1. Twins Twerp's Avatar
      Twins Twerp -
      This is just 1 team off the market for a CF. We still have trade partners in the Phillies, Reds, Rangers, Rays, and any other team that would like a cheap upgrade in center. Its the middle of the second inning of the offseason...chill
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Terry wants 10 dollars... Frank offers 6 dollars... The blue book probably says 8.

      Span is a Banana... Upton is a peach. Atlanta still wants a Banana because you don't want a peach that hasn't hit above .250 the last 4 seasons hitting leadoff.

      Frank is offering 6 dollars because there are other Bananas around but Span is one of the top leadoff Bananas available. Terry is asking for 10 because he wants 10 and other have expressed interest in his Banana.

      Terry will either keep his Banana or trade him for 8 dollars or maybe get the full 10 dollars. I doubt that Terry will trade for 6 dollars because the Banana market will fluctuate.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Dang you BJ... for working next year someplace!
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Twerp View Post
      This is just 1 team off the market for a CF. We still have trade partners in the Phillies, Reds, Rangers, Rays, and any other team that would like a cheap upgrade in center. Its the middle of the second inning of the offseason...chill
      I'd just like to go through the teams you mentioned....
      Phillies - Have lots of money. So much that the speculation is that they're chasing Hamilton and could drop back to Bourn. Span being cheap isn't unvaluable, but it also isn't necessary like it was for the Braves.
      Texas - ditto
      Rays - Lots of pitching and they need a CFer, and they need him to be cheap. But here's the thing - they were never going to be "in" on any of these bigger free agent center fielders. If a trade was going to get done with them, it could have been done weeks ago. And losing Upton and the Braves off the market doesn't hurt their bargaining position, just the Twins. The Twins and Rays might yet come together, but at this point we can assume they have talked and didn't find a deal. And at the very least, this hurts the Twins leverage.
      Reds - I just don't see the major-league ready pitching that Ryan is looking for in this organization. I think they can work out a trade, and that trade might net them some future arms, but that is looking further to the future than I think Ryan wants to look.

      So, yes, there are still fish in the sea, but I don't find them nearly as appealing.
    1. powrwrap's Avatar
      powrwrap -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      Did Ryan wait too long here?

      Seems like he did.
      With the change to cold weather in the Twin Cities Ryan's hands got cold so he is sitting on them to keep warm. Expect this to happen until next spring's thaw.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      I think the expectations about the trade returns for Span are way overblown. Even on the G & G podcast, there was straightfaced talk of Span-for-Mike Minor, or Span/Willingham for Billy Hamilton. Really? The Reds have the best athlete in all of baseball in their system, and they're just going to dump him off for Willingham (who overacheived last year and will kill them defensively in the NL) and Span (who is a nice player, but has injury/concussion concerns). Hamilton may only be "elite" in one category, but he's as elite as you could possibly be in that one category. Plus, you have to figure his range will at least be good whatever position he ends up at.

      I think you can get something for Span, but it's probably more along the lines of a back-of-the-rotation starter.

      This is a built-in phenomenon with Twins fans and even many of their smart bloggers - we were so accustomed to having garbage position players for years who never should have been major league starters, that as soon as we get somebody decent (Willingham's power, Span's average and plate approach), we fail to understand just how average those guys really are from the perspective of all the other teams in baseball.

      Also, I wouldn't limit the returns to just "major league ready pitching". Just because we have a dire need for ML starters doesn't mean we couldn't also use some "B" level prospects in the 21-25 age range either (AA or AAA). We really don't have coming down the pipeline either. However, as I said above, I'm not sure Span could fetch that type of player, given the other FA or trade options available to teams that need a CF or LF.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      As your options shrink, your return usually shrinks. It's simple economics.....so ya, this is another bump in the offseason.
      It works both ways. Now if you are a team who needs a CF there is now one less good/legit one on the market.

      It's supply/demmand. Simple economics
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Twerp View Post
      This is just 1 team off the market for a CF. We still have trade partners in the Phillies, Reds, Rangers, Rays, and any other team that would like a cheap upgrade in center. Its the middle of the second inning of the offseason...chill
      I'd just like to go through the teams you mentioned....
      Phillies - Have lots of money. So much that the speculation is that they're chasing Hamilton and could drop back to Bourn. Span being cheap isn't unvaluable, but it also isn't necessary like it was for the Braves.
      Texas - ditto
      Rays - Lots of pitching and they need a CFer, and they need him to be cheap. But here's the thing - they were never going to be "in" on any of these bigger free agent center fielders. If a trade was going to get done with them, it could have been done weeks ago. And losing Upton and the Braves off the market doesn't hurt their bargaining position, just the Twins. The Twins and Rays might yet come together, but at this point we can assume they have talked and didn't find a deal. And at the very least, this hurts the Twins leverage.
      Reds - I just don't see the major-league ready pitching that Ryan is looking for in this organization. I think they can work out a trade, and that trade might net them some future arms, but that is looking further to the future than I think Ryan wants to look.

      So, yes, there are still fish in the sea, but I don't find them nearly as appealing.
      Does Texas really have that much money to spend? I don't think they have as much as some people believe.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Dave, agreed, but only the Rays have the kind of pitching "excess" the Twins really need of those team, I think. I expect the Phillies to sign a free agent. The Atlanta team has a ton of pitching in their minors, and to lose them, probably, as a trade partner is a disappointment.
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      Quote Originally Posted by Cris E View Post
      It's also been mentioned that ATL may still be in the market for Span even though Upton was signed. It sounds unlikely, but given Span's team friendly deal, he could be attractive enough to make it a Span for middle IF deal instead. ATL has some stellar young SS.
      Who? They have Pastornicky and Ahmed, both of whom project as utility guys. We're not getting Andrelton Simmons for Span. Dozier is absolutely just as good and maybe better than Pastornicky.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Hey, the Twins lost one of their 40-man additions on a waiver claim. Looks like they are doing a Rule 5 or a trade, maybe.

      Being a general manager is a tough job. You want 10, as someone says, and are offered 6...and you keep hoping for that 8. You have fans complain when you trade Eddie Morlan as that extra player rather than Juan Rincon. You move out a Hardy because you sign some guy from Japan. I can complain that you basically let Manship and Bromberg walk rather than doing something with them.

      Do you pull the plug on vets (Morneau and Span) or do you try and get something cor currently nothing (Benson) or to you dangle basic replacement parts (Revere and Parmelee) or actually ship off talent (Sano, Hicks, Arcia, Kepler, Hermsen et al). I always like the thoughts of moving prospects rather than losing them, especially if they are somewhat blocked in the system, have a decent minor league season, et al. Otherwise, you end up with a Benson...who will take him, today...and as he ages he is passed by others. Has his time come and gone. Will he luckily be the next Mike Restovich, or Trent Oeltjen or Doug Deeds?

      One of the funner parts of this board is the trade talk, and 90% of the time it is favorable for the hometown team. WE all overvalu our players, so why get mad when the hometown management do the same. We all want what someone doesn't have to give because they basically want to get riod of spare parts, or players that they fel may be blocked in their system.

      Being a general manager is tough. Hey, I would love to see an inter
      rview in which a general manager is asked about the evaluation process of prospects that have left the organization. Take Gutierrez or Bromberg, for example. When did they see them as legit prospects. When did they fall off the radar. When could the plug have been pulled for a trade and why wasn't it. Sometimes you wonder at the amount of money spent on prospects that never pans out...how can you keep doing that over and over again. Better to not draft and just buy?
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinstalker View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Cris E View Post
      It's also been mentioned that ATL may still be in the market for Span even though Upton was signed. It sounds unlikely, but given Span's team friendly deal, he could be attractive enough to make it a Span for middle IF deal instead. ATL has some stellar young SS.
      Who? They have Pastornicky and Ahmed, both of whom project as utility guys. We're not getting Andrelton Simmons for Span. Dozier is absolutely just as good and maybe better than Pastornicky.
      Ahmed has a lot of variety in opinions. He could be anywhere from a low-end utility guy to a lower-first division shortstop based on different prospectors. He's a guy who could be a solid hitter (.270-.290 with some pop and a little speed) and his defensive value has drawn a wide variety of opinions, depending on the day you saw him.

      You are correct on Simmons. You wouldn't get Simmons for Span and Sano, let alone Span.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Dave, agreed, but only the Rays have the kind of pitching "excess" the Twins really need of those team, I think. I expect the Phillies to sign a free agent. The Atlanta team has a ton of pitching in their minors, and to lose them, probably, as a trade partner is a disappointment.
      I would gladly trade Span for a good young 2B/SS as well. We need pitching, but lets not forget we have plenty of other holes in the majors/minors as well.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Span represents an upgrade in center for about 15 teams in the MLB, given his WAR/$$$ ratio. One other CF moving from one of those teams to another doesn't change anything. Now the Rays rather than the Braves are on the list of potential trading partners. Why the panic button?
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