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  • What To Do With Mike Pelfrey?

    With six innings of one-run ball against the Angels on Wednesday, Mike Pelfrey lowered his ERA to 5.15 ERA, the lowest it has been since April 9. During the first couple months of the season, Pelfrey was pretty clearly the worst starting pitcher in baseball, at least among those to hold onto their jobs. Not surprising in light of the fact that May 1st marked his one-year anniversary from Tommy John surgery.

    Looking at historical timelines for recovery from the notorious procedure, Pelfrey's initial struggles were to be expected. But his improvement since the start of June has been stark. Don't take my word for it; check out the numbers side-by-side:

    April and May June and July
    Games Started 11 7
    Quality Starts 2 5
    ERA 6.66 3.35
    K/BB 26/19 29/9
    Opp AVG/OBP/SLG .332/.387/.521 .263/.308/.363

    The contrast is remarkable. In April and May, Pelfrey was a hittable mess, almost incapable of getting through six innings. Since then, however, he's been extremely solid, completing six or more innings in all but one start (in which he went 5 2/3) and consistently giving his team a good chance to win. It seems safe to say that he's gotten over the hump.

    Unfortunately, the turnaround may have come too late to help the Twins. My expectation from the beginning was that Pelfrey would start slow and improve in the latter part of the season, but as a player on a one-year contract with a non-competitive team (in other words, a trade candidate), that's a problem because potential trade partners will assess his value based on his performance in the first half.

    Pelfrey is almost certainly among the commodities Terry Ryan is shopping with the deadline rapidly approaching, but will other teams focus on his steady performance these past couple months or his numbers for the season as a whole, like an ERA that ranks as the sixth-worst in the majors, or a strikeout rate that is fourth-worst?

    Because he missed time with an injury in late June, Pelfrey hasn't had quite enough time to rebuild his value and now he'll have just one more start before next Wednesday's trade deadline. It would seem that the market for him might not be especially hot, and for his part, Pelf says he would be "crushed" if he were to be dealt.

    So what's the alternative? Let him continue taking the mound every fifth day in August and September and then use his improved second half as grounds to score a healthy contract in free agency?

    Or should the Twins take a proactive approach and look to lock the veteran up with a contract extension before season's end?

    Back in May, that notion would have been laughable, but Pelfrey has undeniably been a high-quality fixture over the past two months and, in light of his circumstances, it's not hard to believe his transformation has been legitimate. He's still only 29 years old, and while he was by no means a dominant pitcher in New York prior to the elbow injury, he was a workhorse who occasionally produced stellar seasons.

    The Twins are trying to rebuild around youth, but the disheartening developments this year for Scott Diamond and Vance Worley have cast serious doubt on Minnesota's ability to piece together a workable rotation configured with internal parts. We all know the likelihood of Ryan fishing for impact arms in free agency.

    Of course, Pelfrey might be eager to play out the rest of the year and test the market, since he's never really had a chance to do so (last year was his first foray into free agency and obviously he had much going against him). Then again, if his numerous quotes about enjoying his time in Minnesota and really wanting to stay are to be believed, the righty might be open to agreeable terms.

    With the way the free agent pitching market has spiraled out of control in recent years, and with the uncertainty surrounding young hurlers that the Twins hoped might figure into their 2013 rotation (Diamond, Worley, Alex Meyer, Trevor May), if Pelfrey can be signed for anything resembling a discount, Ryan would probably be crazy not to do it.
    This article was originally published in blog: What To Do With Mike Pelfrey? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 98 Comments
    1. Dman's Avatar
      Dman -
      If Pelfrey continues to pitch this well he would be a fool not to become a FA and see what the market is. If he does indeed like Minnesota then maybe he would give the Twins the opportunity to match his best offer in FA. The guy looks like a solid 4 or 5 starter to me right now.

      I guess the other question for the Twins might be if they want to clear roster space and go with the younger arms on the farm. Then maybe they are not interested in Pelfrey at all.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Hey, I just wrote the exact same article 2 days ago in the blog section.

      Trending up is Mike Pelfry - Blogs - Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum

      I think if they can't get a B-/ C+ prospect then they should resign him. I am thinking the 2 year 14-16million with option maybe.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      I agree Nick. I'm guessing Ryan will try to resign him before the end of the season.
    1. Smcginnity's Avatar
      Smcginnity -
      I hate to say it...but, unless they can get a great young High-A or AA starting pitching prospect, they should try to resign him. He's been a great leader (from what I've heard/read) and based on history, this is about the time that Tommy John pitchers start to turn it on. Strike while the irons hot. Trade Correia if at all possible though. We have better options in AAA and AA in my opinion.
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      I don't see Pelfrey taking a discount off of what he could get on the open market. Which is what he would have to do to get resigned in MN. I'm sure his desire to stay in MN is legit but I doubt he'll get a competitive deal from TR. Even if they got a liriano type deal I would have to trade him.
    1. Smcginnity's Avatar
      Smcginnity -
      I think if you can get a Baxendale, Taylor Rogers, Matt Summers type player for trading Pelfrey, then you do it. Otherwise, just sit on him and play out the year. If he does well, sign him to a 3-4 year deal.
    1. Thegrin's Avatar
      Thegrin -
      We have the $$ available. Lets re-sign Pelfrey now. Secure him through 2015. The worst that can happen is he becomes Nick Blackburn.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      Ewwww -- don't say the "NB" words around here. Pelfrey is back in business, and I hope Ryan gives him a 3-year deal. Pelfrey regained his value pitching for us; he owes us big time for all those bad starts in April and May when we coulda been a contenda. /jk
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Velocity is up, sharpness of the pitches is up, he seems to be able to get deeper into games. I think the Twins should try to re-sign Pelfrey to a reasonable extension.
    1. chuchadoro's Avatar
      chuchadoro -
      Trade Correia for anything (though I doubt anyone would want to pay his $5m salary next year) and extend Pelfrey with Correia's money plus a few million.

      Who am I kidding? Cut payroll another $30m and roll with Gibson and a herd of AAAA donkeys. I'm sure the savings will be reinvested when the Twins return to competitiveness, right? Right!?!??
    1. Smcginnity's Avatar
      Smcginnity -
      Quote Originally Posted by chuchadoro View Post
      Trade Correia for anything (though I doubt anyone would want to pay his $5m salary next year) and extend Pelfrey with Correia's money plus a few million.

      Who am I kidding? Cut payroll another $30m and roll with Gibson and a herd of AAAA donkeys. I'm sure the savings will be reinvested when the Twins return to competitiveness, right? Right!?!??
      If we can get rid of Correia's contract for next year, I'm totally about using it toward Pelfrey. Then just roll with Gibson, Pelfrey, Deduno, (a FA pitcher), and either Hendricks/Meyer/May/Albers/Darnell. That free agent pitcher I would hope would be a Hughes type (potential to be solid but more likely to be a 3.75-4.10 era guy).
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Boras clients tend to not sign extensions. I'd hold on to him, you know Boras wants him to hit the market. So if he keeps trending up, how about a qualifying offer? Just throwing it out there...
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thegrin View Post
      We have the $$ available. Lets re-sign Pelfrey now. Secure him through 2015. The worst that can happen is he becomes Nick Blackburn.
      Is this supposed to be reassuring? I'm moderately horrified personally.
    1. chuchadoro's Avatar
      chuchadoro -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      Boras clients tend to not sign extensions. I'd hold on to him, you know Boras wants him to hit the market. So if he keeps trending up, how about a qualifying offer? Just throwing it out there...
      Good point about Pelfrey's representation. $13m would be overpaying but the offer would keep payroll/roster flexibility for the team. I don't love the idea but it makes a lot more sense than qualifying the husk of Justin Morneau.
    1. James's Avatar
      James -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      Boras clients tend to not sign extensions. I'd hold on to him, you know Boras wants him to hit the market. So if he keeps trending up, how about a qualifying offer? Just throwing it out there...
      It's an intriguing idea. It would definitely be an overpay, but by how much? If he takes it, so what, it's not like they don't have some money to throw out there. If he doesn't take it, the absolute worst thing is the Twins are able to resign him or another teams signs him and we get the draft picks out of the deal. Would Pelfrey be worth a supplemental draft pick? I would say absolutely.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I have begun wondering about this myself.....is he actually turning into a good pitcher? It seems that way.....Certainly could do worse than to sign him. I bet he trends up, and becomes a FA. I would not make him a qualifying offer, I don't think. I need to think about that.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      It was a strange signing by the Twins, not including an option/buyout. So basically, they allowed him to use the team as a tryout for next year.

      Most Tommy John pitchers do start slow (they use almost a year to come back). Pelfry is showing some life. He may not be much more than a #4-5 starter, but could still easily command $6-7 million a season, or perhaps more. He will probably be looking for a 2-3 year contract.

      Of course, the Twins could trade him for something, or let him walk in August for something, or just let him walk. If he continues to pitch well, he becomes too expensve for Minnesota. If he falters a bit, he becomes less appetizing for anyone, including Minnesota, unless he goes for a bargain rate.

      This was a signing that did little for the Twins as a whole. It was a paid tryout for Pelfry.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      Boras clients tend to not sign extensions. I'd hold on to him, you know Boras wants him to hit the market. So if he keeps trending up, how about a qualifying offer? Just throwing it out there...
      Not a bad plan. If he doesn't keep trending up we lose the opportunity to get a C prospect or two. We look elsewhere for the future. If he does trend up, the qualifying offer may be overpaying but it is a one year contract to a player with an injury history. No one year contract will cripple the Twins next year.
    1. Jham's Avatar
      Jham -
      Do we know for sure that Pelfrey was offered only single-year contracts? Could he have turned down multiple years in order to go back on the market after proving he was healthy and effective? Seems like a Boras strategy. I am not entirely sure he can keep this up for the rest of this year, let alone another 2 or 3 after getting big money. That said, I like his stuff now that his control is getting there. I would not mind a qualifying offer in FA to get a compensatory pick. Do they still grade out FAs in order to receive picks? And I still think they should look at moving Perkins into the rotation.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      "Pelfrey is almost certainly among the commodities Terry Ryan is shopping with the deadline rapidly approaching, but will other teams focus on his steady performance these past couple months or his numbers for the season as a whole, like an ERA that ranks as the sixth-worst in the majors, or a strikeout rate that is fourth-worst?"


      You'd think most GM's would do their homework, so I'd imagine they will focus on what he has done lately while throwing his early season struggles in Ryan's face to drive down the price.

      But this is a bit of a pickle. Why do the Twins so often seem to be on the awkward side of player and contract predicaments?
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