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  • Shift In Free Agency Strategy Doesn't Favor The Minnesota Twins

    The Minnesota Twins might be looking back to the good old days wistfully for a reason other than wanting to relive their decade of glory. For instance, signing free agents used to be a relatively orderly business:

    1. Teams that needed a great pitcher would chase the best (or best remaining) pitcher, hoping to get him.
    2. One team would get him.
    3. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

    That’s oversimplifying a little, but in general, free agents would sign from the top down. In fact, free agents might wait to sign until the guys above them signed, knowing the remaining teams would probably chase him, driving up his demand.

    But the market has matured. General managers seem to have a willingness to sign a slightly lower level or pitcher rather than be shut out of a better one. Meanwhile, free agents recognize their value a little better, are willing to take snap up a generous offer early (and probably like the lack of risk that comes with it.) It might also be that teams are recognizing the value that can come in from the second and third tier pitchers exceeds that which can come from the top guys.

    Whatever the reason, it sure isn’t top down this year. Here is the starting pitching free agent list I used when I started making the list for the TwinsCentric Offseason Handbook. They are roughly sorted in order of desirability. The crossed out names are the guys that have signed with someone.

    1. Zack Greinke
    2. Anibal Sanchez
    3. Jake Peavy
    4. Edwin Jackson
    5. Ryan Dempster
    6. Hiroki Kuroda
    7. Kyle Lohse
    8. Brandon McCarthy

    1. Ervin Santana
    2. Dan Haren
    3. Shaun Marcum
    4. Joe Blanton
    5. Jeremy Guthrie
    6. Scott Baker
    7. Colby Lewis
    8. Joe Saunders

    1. Carl Pavano
    2. Francisco Liriano
    3. Scott Feldman
    4. Carlos Villanueva
    5. Chris Young
    6. Roy Oswalt
    7. Kevin Millwood
    8. Erik Bedard

    1. Bartolo Colon
    2. Kevin Correia
    3. Derek Lowe
    4. Jason Marquis
    5. Daisuke Matsuzaka
    6. Carlos Zambrano
    7. Freddy Garcia
    8. Jeff Francis

    1. Roberto Hernandez
    2. Chien-Ming Wang
    3. Aaron Cook
    4. Jamie Moyer
    5. Jonathan Sanchez
    6. Kip Wells
    7. Randy Wolf

    It isn’t the top tier that has signed – only two of those guys have signed already. It’s the second-tier that has been snapped up so far. Another fell yesterday, when Joe Blanton, clearly a second/third tier guy signed with a team that was linked to a lot of top-tier talent, the Angels.

    Overall, this feels like bad news for the Twins. The Twins have never chased top-tier talent, as they are (probably justifiably) hesitant to commit to the long-term deals that talent demands. But now the second tier is almost completely spoken for. This leaves third-tier talent, or non-tendered pitchers, all of which are by definition third-tier guys.

    The hope might be that it goes the other way. Perhaps some of the guys at the top will find their demand slipping away somewhat as top-tier teams gravitate toward the middle of the list. But from the rumor coming out of the winter meetings, it doesn’t sound like any of these guys are lacking for suitors right now.

    It seems more and more like the Twins choice is to overpay or to settle, and settling now means going to third and fourth tier pitchers. This further raises the question whether the Twins should place much hope in 2013 or look forward to 2014, and what that does to their offseason strategy.
    This article was originally published in blog: Shift In Free Agency Strategy Doesn't Favor The Minnesota Twins started by John Bonnes
    Comments 27 Comments
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Are we going to discuss oranges next?
      Maybe in some other thread. Certainly not here. That would be like... I don't know... two totally different things.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      I would sign Zack 8 years 25 m go with the best. In 3 years he worth 30m, in 6 he is worth 40m, you can flip him any time for a boat load of prospects. CC, Pettitte, Doc, lee, ect. all did fine. Even Clemens still wants to pitch, What is not to like, you can buy insurance too.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Laugh, did I.

      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Are we going to discuss oranges next?
      Maybe in some other thread. Certainly not here. That would be like... I don't know... two totally different things.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      I'd like Bedard and Marcum.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      I buy Honeycrisp apples too...bought some Sunday...totally worth the extra money needed to get them
      Nice. I bet they really taste good in October, too.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      I buy Honeycrisp apples. They cost $2.39/lb. My second favorite species cost $1.69.
      Looking at your list, John, excluding Greinke and Sanibel, I only see about five Honeycrisp apples. Problem is, they're priced at $4.69/lb. I imagine Ryan goes with my second favorite species. That'll be dissappointing.
      On this we have found common ground, bw. I vastly prefer a Honeycrisp (or a Sweetango!) to a Granny Smith any day. Unfortunately, I get the distinct impression that Ryan will end up with the shriveled Granny at the bottom of the barrel.
    1. jharaldson's Avatar
      jharaldson -
      One of the more underrated blog posts recently was this one by John and I think it got overlooked due to the great trade Ryan made with Revere but after Ryan’s interview with Reusse and Mackey on Friday (12/7) I am more convinced that John hit this on the head. Reusse started the section on Free Agency this way:

      Reusse: “It seems like Jackson is waiting for Anibal, and the guys after Anibel are waiting for him to sign. It seems like the boys at the top have to sign before we know what the price of poker is.”

      Ryan has a couple of ways to go here. He can acknowledge that 13 of the top 32 guys have already signed, roughly %40 of the market, and that free agency is working differently this year as John pointed out in this article. Or he can do this:

      Ryan: “You’re right, this is the way it works in Free Agency. Before those guys at the tops sign it is amazing about that logjam. Everyone is waiting to see where Greinke goes, or Lohse goes. Until that frees up everyone is at a standstill.

      Emphasis is mine above. When something is %40 complete and still moving forward there is not a reasonable person in the world that can say it is at a standstill. Terry Ryan has still not adjusted to the reality of this market and we may find out at the end of the offseason that many of the good deals on guys with some potential upside were actually signed before Greinke.
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