Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • 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. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      There are some problems with this analysis. The context of the discussion here is the viability of free agency and trades to turn around a team immediately.

      2013 – Boston traded for Peavy mid season for a playoff run which is a very different set of circumstances. He had little to do with their post season success. He got pounded in his league championship series start. Dempster had a poor a year. The fact that he was on the roster when they won is hardly indicative of that acquisition contributing to their WS run. He was 8-9 for a dominant club with a 4.57 ERA. He pitched 3 innings in the post season with an ERA of 9.

      2012 – Barry Zito had a WAR of .8. and an ERA of 4.15. He really sucked in 2013. He is actually a very good example of why you don’t want to sign long contract with free agent SPs. His cumulative WAR was 5.9 in 7 seasons for $126M. Yuk! Yet you use him as an example of success.

      2011 - Carpenter was reclamation project after being out in 2003. Good move on the cardinals part but it does nothing to support the argument of signing the 5+ year guys to huge contracts. Westbrook pitched 116 innings with a K/9 of 5.11 with an ERA of 4.66. Jackson was a rental for a contending team.

      2010 – Wellmeyer was a complete non-factor. It is silly to even include him. He was 3-5 with an ERA of 5.68 and WAR of -.8. He only pitched 58.2 innings. Zito has already been discussed.

      2009 – Well, the Yankees can afford to buy a SP staff. They literally could buy an entire starting 5 and still have the Twins budget remaining to pay the remainder of the team.

      You also fail to consider that these teams are 1st, 3rd, 7th, and 9th in terms of revenue. That is going to allow them to approach free agency in a very different way as compared to the Twins or other mid market clubs.
      Great analysis.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34 View Post
      How could this be a successful offseason in terms of results EOY 2014 and EOY 2015?
      I think the problem is that the benefit tends to be measured on what these players can do for us in the next couple years. Personally, I think we are asking the wrong questions.

      Here is why. IMO, there is no way this team contends even within our division unless and until the prospects have proven themselves and are making this club a winner. By this I mean that among the current group of Arcia/Dozier/Pinto/Hicks/Florimon/Pamelee/Plouffe and the future group headed by Buxton/Sano/Meyer/Rosario/May, and others who might surprise us along with the 2013#5 enough of them have to pan out to make us a contender or very close.

      Very best case scenario these prospects lift us to contention in 2016 but more likely 2017. So, free agent additions now make us respectable but not contenders. Therefore, I am not trading prospects right now. Buy 2-3 year FAs instead. I would much rather trade in 2016 or 2017 when we are in a much better position to determine the necessary pieces that put us in contention for several years. I am also not giving up draft picks that could provide a piece that would help toward the goal of contention. I recognize the 42-45th pick is not real likely to provide that type of player but it does not make sense to give it up for a slightly better team now. 5 year deals right now, especially with the SPs available this year put 2017 & 2018 at risk.

      No, we don’t need the money today but it is not a simple as putting incremental profit in the Pohlad's pockets. What some people appear to ignore is that if the player does not work out, we are stuck with that players (IE Blackburn) for the duration of the contract. The odds of that player not performing or being lost to injury go up significantly with more years, especially with SPs past 30. The difference is that these contracts are big enough to severely limit our ability to add a final piece when we actually have a team that could contend. I would much rather sign the best 2-3 year players I can get now and not risk that the players available today are performing at a level that brings us to contention in the final 2 years of their contracts. Far too many fail to jeopardize 2017 & 2018 for the sake of a few more wins for a roughly 500 team.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      I think the problem is that the benefit tends to be measured on what these players can do for us in the next couple years. Personally, I think we are asking the wrong questions.

      Here is why. IMO, there is no way this team contends even within our division unless and until the prospects have proven themselves and are making this club a winner. By this I mean that among the current group of Arcia/Dozier/Pinto/Hicks/Florimon/Pamelee/Plouffe and the future group headed by Buxton/Sano/Meyer/Rosario/May, and others who might surprise us along with the 2013#5 enough of them have to pan out to make us a contender or very close.

      Very best case scenario these prospects lift us to contention in 2016 but more likely 2017. So, free agent additions now make us respectable but not contenders. Therefore, I am not trading prospects right now. Buy 2-3 year FAs instead. I would much rather trade in 2016 or 2017 when we are in a much better position to determine the necessary pieces that put us in contention for several years. I am also not giving up draft picks that could provide a piece that would help toward the goal of contention. I recognize the 42-45th pick is not real likely to provide that type of player but it does not make sense to give it up for a slightly better team now. 5 year deals right now, especially with the SPs available this year put 2017 & 2018 at risk.

      No, we don’t need the money today but it is not a simple as putting incremental profit in the Pohlad's pockets. What some people appear to ignore is that if the player does not work out, we are stuck with that players (IE Blackburn) for the duration of the contract. The odds of that player not performing or being lost to injury go up significantly with more years, especially with SPs past 30. The difference is that these contracts are big enough to severely limit our ability to add a final piece when we actually have a team that could contend. I would much rather sign the best 2-3 year players I can get now and not risk that the players available today are performing at a level that brings us to contention in the final 2 years of their contracts. Far too many fail to jeopardize 2017 & 2018 for the sake of a few more wins for a roughly 500 team.
      I'm on board with this. I see this as similar to the Pittsburgh Pirates scenario.

      The meat of their offense is populated by Pirates prospects. McCutchen, Marte, Walker, Alvarez, Tabata, Mercer.

      The pitching staff is starting to be populated from young guys from their minor league system. Locke, Cole, Watson, Wilson. (there's a ton of pitching help on the way in their farm system for the next 1-2 years)

      Then they start to take fliers on free agent pitching as the team isn't far away.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      to major league ready:

      Who said signing a FA this year has to fix the team for only the next year? Or that it has to fix all of their problems? Why can't they add a good FA pitcher for 3-5 year deal, and have him around in 2 years when hopefully they have more talent around him?

      And, I don't get the argument. Since a FA can't fix the team completely right now, they should not sign one at all?
      There is nothing wrong with signing a good free agent pitcher. The problem is finding one. There is the cream at the top of pitcher list. After those few, how many have worked out? Of those that worked out, other than Colon, how many are number 1 or two starters except by default?
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      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.
      This could lead to some more interesting possibilities than the current FA crop of SPs.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      I can see us spending in the neighborhood of up to 15/16 million per season on a 3/4 year contract for 1 player. I do not see us going much, if any higher than that. I have our ceiling pegged at Nolasco and more likely Arroyo and or Kazmir. All 3 of those pitchers get the job done. So one of those 3 probably Arroyo at this point is likely to be signed by us. Kazmir is who I think we should go after on a 2 year deal. I can also see us signing a project player or trade (if we can match up with someone).
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      "Put 2017 & 2018 at risk."

      The Twins deemed 2008 "a rebuilding year" and consider what might have happened had the Twins not slashed the payroll so much from 2007 and acquired a bit more talent.

      Are we fans expected to "just shell-out" for sub-standard talent because the GM is afraid he might jeopardize the team four years from now? Maybe he should acquire players who will actually be useful four years in the future rather than the detritus he has been signing?
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      There is a need to spend money to put butts in the seats. You need to sell season tickets. You need to offer hope. When you have bad starters and are losing games in the first inning, people DO stop coming to the games. On the flipside of spending 52% of income on players...when attendance and TV.radio and concessions and other stuff fall, then you might not have 52% to spend because of overall overhead (heaven forbid you open only half the concession stands...wait...that did happen at times). You have money to spend on players. You spend it. It doesn't carry over. You don't know if you are going to win or lose (see Toronto in 2013, even the Angels). You have to be prepared to eat salary. The Twins ate Mauer for x-amount of games last year even. But you have to do your best effort to put a sellable product on the field. Build it, and they will come...it helps if they win!
    1. #24 Sano's Avatar
      #24 Sano -
      I have to say, we should contact Milwaukee on Aoki. Aoki is a lead off hitter something the twins need, he's got a good arm and good defense, He has a good amount of speed (20-30 sb guy) and not to mention his team friendly contract as he only makes like 1/23rd of Mauers contract. His flaw is three things: He's getting older up in age (32), doesn't have good RBI or hr numbers, and he's on his finally year of his contract (which means we should get him if we think we can contend in 2014). Who to trade for him... Hmmm...
      I guess we could give Deduno to them as Deduno is not really a proven starter but has some success in the bigs, or we could give up a relief pitcher maybe Burton as we have some depth in our bullpen. If we were to trade Deduno we could give Gibson, Worley, Diamond, or Hendriks. The thing i like about this trade is that if we did sign ellsbury(doubtful)we could put him in right and move Arcia to left. If I was to make a blueprint this would be on it but my blueprint is crazy I have a very creative imagination. (Note: this trade will not work if we don't plan to try to contend so pretty much 1/75 chance)
    1. jharaldson's Avatar
      jharaldson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      There are some problems with this analysis. The context of the discussion here is the viability of free agency and trades to turn around a team immediately.
      I agree that I could have provided addition context. I was responding to the following posts:

      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
      We should be able to take care of our starting pitching needs internally.
      Both comments implied that the Twins only need a FA pitcher for a couple of years because all spots in our rotation would eventually be filled up by guys produced in our minor league system. I think that is wrong and free agent starting pitching will always be a part of winning teams.


      I also never stated that all free agents would be aces signed to 5+ year contacts, just that they would fill a role on a winning team. Some may be top of the rotation guys, others might bring stability to the back of the rotation during the regular season. Some might be signed to short term contracts to prove they have value, some may be long term 9 figure contracts.


      Do you believe that any team that wins the World Series over the next 5 years will do so without any contribution from a free agent starting pitcher?
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      The worst thing for most organization's not named the Yankees or Dodgers is to be strapped with bad contracts.

      I would rather see the Twins go after multiple reclamation projects this season instead of the guys like Santana, Jimenez or Nolasco. Kazmir could be had on a 2 year but instead add 2-3 million on the top of annual salary. Same with Josh Johnson. Worst case we overspend on them and they bust, but its over in two years. Blackburn's deal was only $4.5-5.5M, but that thing lasted like 19 years! Going back to the Cardinals and its philosophy; drafting, signing & developing young talent is the foundation of an organization. Supplement through free agency talent on high upside, but short-term deals (see Beltran, Berkman and even Furcal). All of these deals worked. Furcal was very injury prone, but worst case, they only "ate" the bad salary like one year. He was serviceable to good the others. Spend more on less years.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jharaldson View Post

      Do you believe that any team that wins the World Series over the next 5 years will do so without any contribution from a free agent starting pitcher?
      The Cardinals would qualify and you'll likely see them in the World Series contention for the next 5 years.

      The 2010 & 2012 SF Giants had Barry Zito, but he didn't pitch much in the playoffs and world series. It was on Cain, Lincecum, & Bumgarner - all system guys.

      I don't see the Twins signing a FA pitcher this year that would be 'the guy' who puts us over the top and is still contributing in 2016 or 2017.

      If it's 2017 and Meyer just won 15, Stewart 14, Thorpe 14, and Romero, Berrios, and Eades showed promise...I'd be trading for David Price to trying to sign Tanaka to Arroyo.

      But, we're at very different circumstances.

      I'd be curious to know this stat, how many FA pitchers, signed 4-5 years earlier from another team, contributed to a playoff run, two, to a world series?
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34 View Post

      I'd be curious to know this stat, how many FA pitchers, signed 4-5 years earlier from another team, contributed to a playoff run, two, to a world series?
      I can name one off the top of my head...John Lackey.
    1. Halsey Hall's Avatar
      Halsey Hall -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      River and Brian should not be blocked? I agree...

      Yes... I'd bring in a 3B and it doesn't have to be a ton of money to do so. I just don't know who that guy is... Someone has to play the position if Plouffe... Plouffes it up in 2014 again. I'll take a D guy with no bat if Plouffe... Plouffes it up again. Anything is better than penciling him into the lineup everyday while he disappoints nearly every single day. Give me some competition for all positions.
      Amen. Not expecting much next season, the first thing I do this off season is get someone to replace Plouffe. He MUST be gone! Yes, he does disappoint nearly every single day. I've been infracted, or scolded on here for stating so before, obviously not stating it in a way that wasn't polite enough. But, IMO, Plouffe isn't a ML player, and I'd much rather watch anyone else, even if they did disappoint nearly everyday, just for the change.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      I agree that spending on FA pitching on 1-3 year contracts is best. 2 would be the number and I also would add dollars to get the 1-2 year reclaimation projects to come here. Kazmir I would risk 3 only if I had to, Johnson 1 year with an option hopefully, Johan if it comes to that 1 year with an option. Twins need to put people in seats and give the fans hope, some signings will take care of that. And as stated above signings of no greater than 3 years do not block any pitchers.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      There is a need to spend money to put butts in the seats. You need to sell season tickets. !
      This is a good point that isn't being emphasized enough. The Twins need to invest in their own product if they want fans to do the same.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34 View Post

      I'd be curious to know this stat, how many FA pitchers, signed 4-5 years earlier from another team, contributed to a playoff run, two, to a world series?
      I'm assuming that by "contributed to" you define it as "actually played in" but at this point, and with the condition of the Twins staff, there is another contribution that could be far more valuable.

      That is mentoring young pitchers. When you read stories about playoff teams -- particularly thinking of specific comments from Tigers and Rays pitchers but there were others as well -- they often talk about how important it was to learn from a teammate (or former teammate). That's clearly true in terms of the way Scherzer and Fister and Porcello talk about Verlander. I also remember reading it about David Price and James Shields and Edwin Jackson.

      There is something to be learned from a good, veteran pitcher that can't be learned from a pitching coach. It seems to be primarily in how the player conducts himself. To me, that type of mentoring (even if you don't call it that) can have long-lasting effects that DO "contribute" to a playoff run or world series -- even if the player is no longer on the team.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.