• Rumors and Expectations

    The baseball offseason can be a lot of fun for rumor mongers. It is always interesting to hear what rumors are going around, particularly about the Minnesota Twins. Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I have to take everything I read in the offseason with a little grain of salt, at least until things have gone a little further.

    For instance, we heard last week that the Twins have already talked to agents about several pitchers including Bronson Arroyo and Phil Hughes. I read that and immediately think, “Yeah, no surprise on either of those.” But what does it mean? Terry Ryan likely has talked to most agents (or at least agencies) already this offseason. In doing so, he probably is getting a feel for what they're thinking about all their clients. This is likely something that every GM in baseball has already done.

    Then we read that the Twins have asked to review the medical reports of Johan Santana. Guess what? It’s likely most teams in baseball have requested that paperwork. It doesn’t necessarily indicate that the Twins and Santana are close to any deals. My assumption is no fewer than 28 teams will at least have a conversation about the former Twins Cy Young recipient.

    The day the Twins and Joe Mauer announce he is going to move to first base, they are linked to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. I love reading stuff like that. I mean, it’s fun to read the hometown nine linked to such a big (and long) name. “Salty” has been very good. But, when the Twins have a guy like Josmil Pinto very nearly ready to post a .750 OPS in Target Field, does it make sense to give a catcher a four year deal worth 8 figures each year? I can see them adding a veteran to a one year deal to split time with Pinto, or even give Pinto another half-season in Rochester. I’d be perfectly fine with giving a one year deal to someone like AJ Pierzynski or John Buck, or any of several veteran catchers.

    I find all of it fascinating, and I enjoy dissecting each rumor, putting it to a test in my mind to see if there is anything worthy of excitement. With the General Manager’s meetings going on this week, a lot of those rumors will start up. Little, if anything of note, will happen during the week, but it may set the table for the annual Winter Meetings in early December.

    My favorite rumors may be those where we hear what a player is expecting or asking for as a free agent. In the last week, it came out that Ervin Santana was looking for five years and at least $100 million. Ricky Nolasco was looking for five years and $80 million. Sure, those are the numbers the agents and players want, but will they get them? I guess it’s like when you were younger and walking through the toy section at the store with your parents. It doesn’t hurt to ask for the really cool, spendy toys, but generally speaking, the parents will say no. Except this offseason, will 30 GMs all balk at this crazy types of numbers? Well, I guess we will find out.

    We know that each team is expected to get $25 million in additional revenue from the television deals. 52% of that is about $13 million. So, there are extra funds, but will teams just give that money to one player or will it be spread over a few players, or will it just be used to pay arbitration-eligible players? I guess we will find out.

    I do think a little sanity check is needed when it comes to a few of these top starting pitching free agents.

    ERVIN SANTANA


    After a horrible 2012 with the Angels, Santana was traded (given away) to the Royals. He put together a very solid season in 2013. He will be 31 years old in December.

    Stats since 2006:


    • ERA – 4.28, 5.76, 3.49, 5.03, 3.92, 3.38, 5.16, 3.24
    • ERA+ - 106, 79, 127, 87, 102, 111, 74, 127
    • IP – 204, 150, 219, 139.2, 222.2, 228.2, 178, 211
    • WHIP – 1.23, 1.55, 1.12, 1.48, 1.32, 1.22, 1.27, 1.14
    • K/9 – 6.2, 7.6, 8.8, 6.9, 6.8, 7.0, 6.7, 6.9


    Santana certainly put himself in a good position for a new contract, but if we’re being honest, he’s no Anibal Sanchez. A year ago, Sanchez signed with the Tigers for 5 years and $85 million. Sanchez was also about three years younger when he signed his deal. Santana has been healthy for the most part. He has value. I know a lot of Twins fans want to see a guy who can miss bats. Though Santana’s strikeout rate would be higher than most Twins pitchers, he is far from a strikeout pitcher. He has eaten a lot of innings for most of his career and has really been good in two of his last three years.

    I think that the Twins (and any other team) would be crazy to give him more than four years, but he will likely get a fifth year. There’s no way he should make more than $16 million per season, but I would expect he will get at least $18 million. He will probably get five years and $90 million. The team that signs him will likely be looking to get rid of the contract by year three.

    UBALDO JIMENEZ


    I have not yet read any rumors on what Jimenez’s side is requesting. I’m certain he’ll be looking for at least $16 million a year for four years. Hey, it’s understandable for him to ask for those kind of dollars. He was very good in 2013, in his contract year. He even struck out more than a batter an inning. Jimenez will turn 30 in January.

    Stats since 2008:


    • ERA – 3.99, 3.47, 2.88, 4.68, 5.40, 3.30
    • ERA+ - 118, 136, 161, 93, 72, 114
    • IP – 198.2, 218, 221.2, 188.1, 176.2, 182.2
    • WHIP – 1.44, 1.23, 1.16, 1.40, 1.61, 1.33
    • K/9 – 7.8, 8.2, 8.7, 8.6, 7.3, 9.6
    • FB Velocity – 94.9, 96.1, 96.1, 93.5, 91.7


    Again, Jimenez was pretty good in 2013, but even then, he gave up a bunch of base runners thanks to walking 3.9 batters per nine innings (4.0 BB/9 career rate). The drop in fastball velocity has to lead to concern for injury going forward. Frankly, he has not been a great pitcher since the All-Star game in 2010.

    I can see him getting a four year contract at $16 million per year. That would scare me as a Twins fan to no end. Three years, maybe up to $36 million is where I would feel comfortable with the risk-reward and even then I would be immensely nervous.

    RICKY NOLASCO


    Nolasco spent a lot of time in relative anonymity with the Marlins. He has been a guy that people have thought would take the next step for several years. He really just hasn’t, and yet, some of his peripherals look very good. He will turn 31 in December.

    Stats since 2008:


    • ERA – 3.52, 5.06, 4.51, 4.67, 4.48, 3.70
    • ERA+ - 124, 85, 92, 84, 91, 101
    • xFIP – 3.69, 3.23, 3.37, 3.55, 4.17, 3.58
    • IP – 212.1, 185, 157.2, 206, 191, 199.1
    • WHIP – 1.10, 1.25, 1.28, 1.40, 1.37, 1.21
    • K/9 – 7.9, 9.5, 8.4, 6.5, 5.9, 7.4
    • FB – 91.2, 91.5, 91.2, 90.5, 90.0, 90.3


    Although his ERAs haven’t looked great, his xFIP has consistently been around a full run less than his ERA. He walks just 2.1 per nine inning. His fastball velocity has dropped, but minimally. Again, if you look at his strikeout rate and his velocity, he is not the kind of guy many visualize when they think of a $15 million pitcher.



    I think Nolasco is a guy I would feel comfortable going to four years with, but maybe at $13 or $14 million year, not the $16 million he is looking for. I’d feel OK about a four year deal between $52 and $56 million. At that price, he would likely have a few suitors, which means he may get that fifth year and the average annual rate may move up a bit.

    MASAHIRO TANAKA


    Some may have various opinions based on what MLB and Japan work out in a new posting system, but rumors earlier indicated his posting fee would be upwards of $75 million, maybe more. Let me remind you, under the current system, that means a team would pay $75 million just to negotiate a contract with Tanaka. That’s in addition to the 6 years and $75 million he might get in a contract. Yes, he was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP this season. Yes, he just turned 25. Yes, in his last three seasons he has BB/9 rates of 1.1, 1.0 and 1.4. Yes, he’s got talent and he most likely will be good. Yes, there’s no guarantee at all.

    I’m certainly comfortable with the 6 years and $75 million or so. But, those numbers guarantee nothing. Yu Darvish was certainly good in his second season in the States after coming from Japan. In 2013, he went 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA. Through two seasons, he has a 3.34 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. For comparison’s sake, in Daisuke Matsuzaka’s second season in the States, he went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA. Like any pitcher, there is no certainty Darvish won’t follow the Dice-K path. Tanaka could be great, but the change to starting every fifth day instead of every sixth day is always an adjustment.

    Tanaka may be very good, but would he be worth 6 years and a total of $150 million? Maybe. I guess I would rather take my chances and sign Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes (or another starter who could get $20-30 million packages), and you could still sign a Saltalamacchia or another hitter as well.

    -------------------------------------------

    I have no problem with the concept of the Twins spending. I just think fans need to understand these guys that are likely to get 4-5 year contracts worth $60 to $100 million are not the sure-fire aces their contracts will imply. If the Twins sign one of them to crazy money, I’ll hope like crazy he stays healthy and pitches consistently well. I just don’t see an arm in this free agent class that is worth breaking the bank for.

    Thankfully we have this comment section so in the years to come we can all go back and remember what we said, what we would have offered and stand by those comments over the life of these contracts.
    Comments 57 Comments
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I would pay Santana more than you want, Jimenez less than you want, and certainly Nolasco WAY less than you want. 4 years and $50+ million for Nolasco is insanity! He is Correia+.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      By 2017, we will be able to provide our starting pitchers from our farm system. I wouldn't go over 3 years. Also, I would make prospects 5-15 available for the right starting pitcher.
    1. Sleestax's Avatar
      Sleestax -
      So is the $75 mill to negotiate have any drawbacks besides the cost? Heck go all-in and sign this kid. Twins wont sign A.J. to catch...he is productive but has that terrible personality which is something we try to avoid. I cross my fingers on Pinto but dont expect the same numbers. Tanaka and Hughes would be good, a trade for Price better yet. I dont even know why I'm commenting...just keep giving us the goods!
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      By 2017, we will be able to provide our starting pitchers from our farm system. I wouldn't go over 3 years. Also, I would make prospects 5-15 available for the right starting pitcher.
      Other than Meyer who will arrive before 2017 (hopefully in 2014), the starting pitchers in the Twins system are a. not even close to being a "sure thing" that they will make it to the majors and perform and b. are those 5-15 prospects...
    1. drivlikejehu's Avatar
      drivlikejehu -
      The numbers you throw around aren't ace money anymore- that's #2 starter money.

      I wouldn't be real 'nervous' about the Twins spending on someone like Ubaldo because they have no other use for the money, besides enriching the Pohlads further. The Twins payroll has plenty of space over the next 3-4 years, even if several prospects do well in 2014 and start their service time clocks.

      They could sign one of the top FA pitchers, still be active in FA in future years, and still keep their own guys (few of whom are currently worth keeping), all while staying well under their alleged budget. Just go to Cot's and plug the numbers... it's actually quite hard to bust their budget.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      I'm not sure I'd go all in on Pinto based on less than 100 at bats. Salty would be nice but I can't see them spending that kind of money when they can save it by bringing Drew back.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I'm not aware of anyone that thinks any of those guys are ace types. You can either sign one of these risky guys, or go with the staff they have now. Which one is more likely to product good pitching?
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I'm not aware of anyone that thinks any of those guys are ace types. You can either sign one of these risky guys, or go with the staff they have now. Which one is more likely to product good pitching?
      I think going dumpster diving and/or making a trade is the prudent course. I understand we have more than enough money to make a bad deal, but I would save the bad deal money for the unknown.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      I think going dumpster diving and/or making a trade is the prudent course. I understand we have more than enough money to make a bad deal, but I would save the bad deal money for the unknown.
      I don't understand....are you suggesting that every FA signing is bad money? You don't trust TR and the scouts to find the right guy? I also have no idea what your last sentence means.

      Are you talking about trading prospects for proven pitchers? Or something else?
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Almost any of the FA pitchers, by year 3, teams will be giving up good players/prospects to try to get rid of them. None of them have had more than 2 'average' seasons in a row.

      If the Twins have any players performing well, they need to continue to parlay those players for prospects.

      e.g. I'd give quite a few of them 1-2 year deals. Higher salary. Like a Josh Johnson, give him $14M for 1 year. He's 10-2 at the All-Star break, trade him to a contender at the July deadline for a AA top 100 pitching prospect (e.g. Alex Meyer) and another stud A prospect.

      These guys available are not good free agent pitchers. I'd big high for 1-2 year deals on these guys. Parlay them for picks if they're doing well. If they have a 2 year deal the team trading for the pitcher would get pick(s) the following year if that player leaves which would then replenish the prospects they gave up to get him while getting them in/through the playoffs.

      Also, I don't agree that 2017 is when our pitching prospects will arrive. The 'average' is just over 4 years for a high school pitcher. Many of these guys have already been in the minors 1-3 years.

      These are my timelines for when the Twins pitching prospects will arrive in the big leagues. If they don't make it by the year given or the following year - they won't be anything more than average to just not cutting it. It's the years listed (+1) or break.

      2014: Alex Meyer, Michael Tonkin, Trevor May (late)
      2015: Mason Melotakis, Luke Bard, Zack Jones, DJ Baxendale
      2016: Jose Berrios, Tyler Jones, Brett Lee, Felix Jorge, Kohl Stewart, Ryan Eades, Stephen Gonslaves, Corey Williams, Michael Sulbaran
      2017: Yorman Landa, Randy Rosario, Fernando Romero
    1. halfchest's Avatar
      halfchest -
      I know some have cited next year as a better crop of free agents. Sure there are a few more guys who you might consider aces like scherzer or bailey but that's a long ways away, it seems like some of those guys always sign extensions before they're let go.

      I would push for a 1-1-1 model to take a measured approach, to free agency, the farm system and the pitching staff.

      1. Sign one decent starting pitcher, don't break the bank. Really any of the above guys makes sense. I'm thinking a 3-4 year deal getting around 10-12 million per year. Hughes, Kazmir, Arroyo. whoever, I suppose you could delve a little higher if they feel they can risk it cashwise. But do a deal like this that will add a little stability. I'd be hoping for a guy with a #3 floor (barring injury).

      2. Take a flier - Go after a Josh Johnson or Johan on a 1-2 year deal maybe w/ an option. Gives you a high upside guy that could sit on IR or possibly be the Ace you are looking for for a year or two while our other guys develop.

      3. Make a trade. We've got a rich farm system and while I don't want to be giving Tampa their next Rookie of the year for David Price maybe giving Detroit a call on Scherzer, or the Reds on Bailey is a smart move. Gives you a top of the rotation guy and even if we give up 2-3 good prospects we're still sitting w/ a nice farm system and a top 5 pick coming into the system next year. An extension is a must though if you're giving up valuable pieces to get a guy like this.

      2014 rotation
      Kazmir 8-10 million 2-3 years
      Johnson/Johan 1-2 years
      Bailey/Scherzer 4-5 year extension at 15-20 per

      That's a decent 123 and you've then got Gibson/Correia/Deduno/Worley/Diamond/Meyer fighting for the other 2-3 spots. We've got money sunk into the rotation sure cuz
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Twinsfan34, I think we are pretty much in agreement. I use a 3 to 1 ratio. 3 top prospects will yield 1 solid major league starter. We have Gibson and Meyer, so we need 9 more top pitching prospects. I like your years 2016 and 2017. I would add our first pick in 2014, and Wimmers as a darkhorse. By 2017 we should be able to take care of our starting pitching needs internally.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      I'm not sure I'd go all in on Pinto based on less than 100 at bats. Salty would be nice but I can't see them spending that kind of money when they can save it by bringing Drew back.
      I hope that the last sentence is pure sarcasm
    1. halfchest's Avatar
      halfchest -
      Sorry didn't finish that last comment.
      Basically this sinks around 30 million into the rotation for a couple years. That still gives us 10 million to play with this year to add apposition player. Plus you've got the hammer, Correia, and Doumit all coming off the books in 2015 to give us 16 million more to play with that year. No major players are in arb or will be in arb by 2015 so that's not a major concern there.

      The Twins are in a nice spot payroll and farm system wise. They can risk a little and overpay for a mid rotation arm, trade for a top of the rotation arm and sign an upside guy without hamstringing the franchise financially or selling the farm.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by halfchest View Post
      Sorry didn't finish that last comment.
      Basically this sinks around 30 million into the rotation for a couple years. That still gives us 10 million to play with this year to add apposition player. Plus you've got the hammer, Correia, and Doumit all coming off the books in 2015 to give us 16 million more to play with that year. No major players are in arb or will be in arb by 2015 so that's not a major concern there.

      The Twins are in a nice spot payroll and farm system wise. They can risk a little and overpay for a mid rotation arm, trade for a top of the rotation arm and sign an upside guy without hamstringing the franchise financially or selling the farm.
      Well reasoned statement here.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Okay, the Twins get $25 million in TV monies. 52% of that is like $13 million that they didn't have last year and will have for future years. You can buy a nice front-line starter for that money. My question is, where does that other $12 million go. You can buy a lot of draft choices (above and beyond the money you already have budgeted), hire additional ushers for each empty section of the stadium, give bigger glasses of beer or larger hot dogs now for the same price, let everyone park for free every season to see a Twins game, remodel the executive washrooms at Target Field, pay down Stadium debt sooner...or spend ALSO that money on additional talent on the field, which will increase revenue in most areas like concessions and such that would probably more than compensate holding onto that media payoff for stiockholders and more comfortable chairs in the Legends Club.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34 View Post
      Almost any of the FA pitchers, by year 3, teams will be giving up good players/prospects to try to get rid of them. None of them have had more than 2 'average' seasons in a row.

      If the Twins have any players performing well, they need to continue to parlay those players for prospects.

      e.g. I'd give quite a few of them 1-2 year deals. Higher salary. Like a Josh Johnson, give him $14M for 1 year. He's 10-2 at the All-Star break, trade him to a contender at the July deadline for a AA top 100 pitching prospect (e.g. Alex Meyer) and another stud A prospect.

      These guys available are not good free agent pitchers. I'd big high for 1-2 year deals on these guys. Parlay them for picks if they're doing well. If they have a 2 year deal the team trading for the pitcher would get pick(s) the following year if that player leaves which would then replenish the prospects they gave up to get him while getting them in/through the playoffs.

      Also, I don't agree that 2017 is when our pitching prospects will arrive. The 'average' is just over 4 years for a high school pitcher. Many of these guys have already been in the minors 1-3 years.

      These are my timelines for when the Twins pitching prospects will arrive in the big leagues. If they don't make it by the year given or the following year - they won't be anything more than average to just not cutting it. It's the years listed (+1) or break.

      2014: Alex Meyer, Michael Tonkin, Trevor May (late)
      2015: Mason Melotakis, Luke Bard, Zack Jones, DJ Baxendale
      2016: Jose Berrios, Tyler Jones, Brett Lee, Felix Jorge, Kohl Stewart, Ryan Eades, Stephen Gonslaves, Corey Williams, Michael Sulbaran
      2017: Yorman Landa, Randy Rosario, Fernando Romero
      Not to mention back of the rotation guys like:

      Logan, Wimmers, Dean in 2014 for example.

      Plus the Twins will still have names like Hendriks, Albers, Diamond, Worley, Pressly hanging around.

      Maybe Hermsen will rebound.

      You would hope hat by 2016 the Twins would have a Rays caliber rotation of homegrown tlent with bodies to trade.
    1. jharaldson's Avatar
      jharaldson -
      There are a number of posts in this thread that imply in the next couple of years we will have enough guys from the minors graduate to the majors that we won't have spots available for any free agents and that free agent pitchers may actually inhibit good pitchers from coming up. I did a quick analysis of the past 5 World Series winners and looked for guys that met the following criteria:

      - Started 10 or more games for team that year
      - Signed to a major league free agent contract or traded as a major league player.

      I found the following:

      Boston 2013
      Lackey
      Dempster
      Peavy


      San Fransisco 2012
      Zito


      St. Louis 2011
      Lohse
      Carpenter
      Jackson
      Westbrook


      San Fransisco 2010
      Zito
      Wellemeyer


      New York 2009
      Sabathia
      Burnett
      Pettitte

      On average the teams that win the World Series have about half of their staff made of Free Agent pitchers or big trade acquisitions. I don't think it is realistic to think that we will have a staff full of minor league developed talent (+Correia for 1 year) and actually win anything.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      Okay, the Twins get $25 million in TV monies. 52% of that is like $13 million that they didn't have last year and will have for future years. You can buy a nice front-line starter for that money. My question is, where does that other $12 million go. You can buy a lot of draft choices (above and beyond the money you already have budgeted), hire additional ushers for each empty section of the stadium, give bigger glasses of beer or larger hot dogs now for the same price, let everyone park for free every season to see a Twins game, remodel the executive washrooms at Target Field, pay down Stadium debt sooner...or spend ALSO that money on additional talent on the field, which will increase revenue in most areas like concessions and such that would probably more than compensate holding onto that media payoff for stiockholders and more comfortable chairs in the Legends Club.
      Great model that if no matter how much your revenue goes up, you pocket 48% of it....there is only so much of that $12MM you can spend on non-salary stuff. At some point, they already have a lot of new revenue, that has gone to non-salary expenses. Not sure what else it is being spent on.
    1. Chance's Avatar
      Chance -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      Not to mention back of the rotation guys like:

      Logan, Wimmers, Dean in 2014 for example.

      Plus the Twins will still have names like Hendriks, Albers, Diamond, Worley, Pressly hanging around.

      Maybe Hermsen will rebound.

      You would hope hat by 2016 the Twins would have a Rays caliber rotation of homegrown tlent with bodies to trade.
      Another name missing is Lewis Thorpe. He should be showing up in the 2016/2017 crop.
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