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  • Twins Starting Pitching Trade Targets?

    Yesterday, I started to delve into starting pitchers who I want the Twins to target in potential trades. I outlined five starters, three from the Cincinnati Reds. If you missed it, click here. Today, I have five more pitchers for you, free of charge! There is oneo legitimate ace on this list who is almost certainly a pipe dream. That being said, it's fun to aim high.

    Rick Porcello - Age 25 in 2014, arbitration eligible until 2016

    If the Twins trade for Porcello, we could officially start the tally on who says "Por-cello" and who says "Por-chello." Personally, I say "Por-ceyo" in honor of the Spanish language. Regardless of how you incorrectly say his name, Porcello might represent the best buying opportunity of the ten players I am outlining. Porcello reached the Majors at age 20 and he's more than held his own since then. His career 4.51 ERA isn't dynamic, but he's just 24. He's averaged 174 innings in those five seasons and given up a ton of hits, leading the league in that category in 2012.

    Why is Porcello worth buying? He's got a great curveball and an improving primary fastball. He's finally getting some strikeouts with the former pitch, almost doubling his strikeout rate using that pitch since 2009. His curve is dynamic and his control is outstanding. His career walk rate is 6%, compared with 2013's AL average of 8%. Porcello gets mad ground balls, posting a career rate of 52.8% and a career-high rate of 55.3% in 2013. The most compelling stat is Porcello's 19.3% strikeout rate in 2013, nearly six points higher than any other year in his career. Add up his sparkling walk rate, extreme ground ball tendencies and improving strikeout rate and you get a 3.19 xFIP in 2013. Outstanding!

    Porcello will be 25 in December. He won't be a free agent until 2016 and a trade followed by a long-term extension would be an excellent move by the Twins. He's good right now and I think he's going to get better. This is the lowest his value is going to be. Now is the time to buy.

    David Price - Age 28 in 2014, arbitration eligible until 2016

    David Price is really good. It's going to take a lot to get him though. I imagine the Rays don't budge unless Byron Buxton or Miguel Sano are included in a deal. Even if the Twins can talk them out of those stud prospects, the Rays would ask for Alex Meyer or Kohl Stewart and then what's the real point? Price is almost certainly worth those prospects (maybe not Buxton, but even that is worth arguing). He's one of the best pitchers in baseball. His strikeout rate dipped in 2013, but his walk rate plummeted. His ground ball rate in 2013 reverted to his pre-2012 levels and he also missed time with a triceps injury.

    I love the player, but I don't love him as a trade target. He's too expensive in all ways. He'd cost a blue chip prospect and then hundreds of millions of dollars in payroll-tightening money. Price is great, but I'd still pass.

    Jeff Samardzija - Age 29 in 2014, arbitration eligible until 2016

    Samardzija really harnessed his control in 2012 and transformed himself into a nice pitcher. If you watched him early in his career, you likely would have never seen him coming. In 61 2012-13 starts, Samardzija has a strikeout rate around 24% (20% is NL average), a walk rate around 8% (just about NL average) and an xFIP of about 3.40. His 2013 season wasn't as pretty as his 2012 season, but he did throw nearly 40 more innings and had a slight jump in BABIP to go with a slight decrease in his strand rate. He throws hard too. His fastball sits 94 and touches 98. Also, his slider is nasty. I like Samardzija as a trade target, especially because I think he would be cheaper than just about anyone else on this list.

    Jordan Zimmermann - Age 28 in 2014, arbitration eligible until 2016

    Zimmermann fits the Twins' profile a bit better than the other guys on this list. He really limits walks. His career rate is 5.4% and his 4.6% rate was 8th best in the NL in 2013. He doesn't rack up strikeouts, but he usually settles in right around league-average. His ground ball rate is trending upwards and his innings pitched have increased in each of the last three seasons, hitting 213.1 in 2013. Unlike most Twins pitchers, Zimmermann throws a baseball very hard. His fastball sits 93-94 and touches 97. He also has an effective slider, curve and change. His deep arsenal and great command are very enticing. I'm not sure Washington can keep Zimmermann if they have any interest in keeping Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. If that's true, the Twins could land a very good number 2 starter if the right trade is proposed.

    Speaking of the right trade, who would you give up to get these guys? I know I would prefer to keep all the Twins' consensus top four prospects - Buxton, Sano, Meyer and Stewart. If the Twins call around to these teams and find that they all want one of those guys, then I'd start pursuing potential free agents even more aggressively. If the Twins can add two quality starting pitchers this off-season, they can transform the team. If they can pull this massive feat off, look at the potential starting rotation in 2015:

    Homer Bailey
    Matt Garza
    Alex Meyer
    Kyle Gibson
    Kevin Slowey

    That last one might be a joke, but if your first four are as good as those four, then your fifth starter could be just about anyone. I honestly think that rotation could be acquired for about $30-35 million per season and a couple good prospects. Suddenly, the Twins have a ton of young starting pitching in the low minors. If the Reds wanted someone like Jose Berrios (plus more, Bailey is really good), you'd have to make that deal. Isn't the goal with prospects to grow a guy like Bailey? Bailey's grown. You can get him if you give up some of your depth. If the Reds wanted Berrios, Eddie Rosario and a young starter at rookie ball, I'd say "yes, please send me your awesome pitcher, I'd like to have him now."

    Note: Obviously, the Rosario suspension news throws a bit of a wrench into this plan. However, he's going to be suspended 50 games, not imprisoned for life.

    These names are all just examples, so please don't yell at me. I don't know if that would be a trade the Reds or Twins would make. I don't know how many of the teams who hold these pitchers are interested in what the Twins could sell. I do know that the rate of prospect success is pretty low. I also know that good MLB players typically remain good. The Twins have a surplus of prospects and a deficit of quality, MLB starting pitchers. It seems like a logical trade-off. Otherwise:

    "You always talk about future, future. ... But if you only worry about the future, then I guess a lot of us won't be part of it."

    That's right Johan, but in this case, the "us" would be Joe Mauer, Glen Perkins, and Kevin Correia (joking). If the Twins aren't really careful, the "us" could be Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. They have to address MLB starting pitching at some point. The time is now. Chant with me:

    BUY! BUY! BUY! BUY! BUY!

    Originally posted at Kevin Slowey was Framed!
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Starting Pitching Trade Targets? started by Brad Swanson
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      I'm not sure the Twins are at a point where they should be in 'win-now' trades. I love Zimmerman but I don't want to give up a lot for a guy who is a free agent in two seasons.
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      I would agree with that statement, but they would have two seasons to work out an extension or make another trade for different prospects. It just depends on how you view prospects. If you think that all prospects are worth keeping because they could pan out, then you don't trade any of them unless you have a massive surplus or get an offer that you can't refuse. If you view prospects as trade chips that can be used to acquire proven talent, then you make trades. I'm not sure one strategy is better than the other, but both have merit.
    1. nick5253's Avatar
      nick5253 -
      I think Samardzija will end up costing more in prospects than people realize right now. The Cubs have zero need to trade him as they still control him for 2 more years. He is their only high upside arm in or near the majors. That said, they would absolutely move him for a top 50 prospect. In a deal with the Twins I think it would have to start with Meyer and I just don't think that's a direction the Twins will go.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      I'm not sure the Twins have enough depth anywhere to make a deal. I mean, even if you can deal a collection of non-Buxton, non-Sano prospects, the Twins still have a lot of holes to fill, all over the diamond. You'd still need to make multiple significant free agent moves to get close to contention.

      And if that's the case, why not just make an extra free agent move in lieu of such a trade? Overpay for Ervin Santana if you must, but keep Arcia/Rosario/Berrios/Kepler and hope that one or two of them can be quality cheap contributors during Santana's contract.

      Or just wait a year or two to make that extra free agent move (when these trade target pitchers could hit free agency). I'm fine with that, as long as they are making moves in the interim and not just waiting forever.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      I would agree with that statement, but they would have two seasons to work out an extension or make another trade for different prospects.
      I doubt the Twins get a significant discount on any extension over what they'd have to pay a comparable FA anyway.

      And flipping the player during his walk season is less valuable now that they won't return a comp pick for the acquiring team.

      I think prospects can absolutely be used as trade chips. Doesn't mean a 5-for-1 blockbuster trade is a good idea when your MLB roster is so barren. I like the targeted 1-for-1 or 2-for-1 deals for more modest returns. Bill Smith was pretty good at this (Capps deal excepted) -- Pavano, Cabrera, Rausch, Fuentes. TR did it with Luis Castillo, arguably with Shannon Stewart, could have been more aggressive in other seasons.
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      My point would be that I don't know what Eddie Rosario or Jose Berrios will be as MLB players, but I have a pretty good idea of who Jordan Zimmermann is. Also, signing a free agent isn't as simple as just offering the most money. The player still has to want to come here. If you trade for a guy, you have time to expose them to the culture and let them see if they like it here. You can always trade them if it doesn't work out. The Cubs got a pretty good haul for Garza this past season.

      Personally, I'd prefer the Twins sign Garza and someone else in free agency this off-season too, but if they can't do that, I'd have no problem with trading some prospects for a veteran, proven starter.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      I just also don't think the Twins will be getting discounts on extensions for these guys, they'd need to trade for early arbitration or pre-arb guys to get discounts. So if you're paying the same as you will in free agency, you might as well just sign free agents and keep the prospects.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Good stuff. It would be great for the Twins to get Zimmerman but it would take a lot. At this point, I would not trade Meyer for any pitcher, he might be better than all of them in the list. If they could (and cannot until mid summer 2014) I'd rather see them trade Steward because he is a good 3+ years away (in this organization.) Would anyone be interested in Berrios? Can you build a dual head centerpieces with someone like Berrios & Rosario/Dozier? Toss in Kepler? Is that enough? Would Berrios, Rosario and Kepler bring back Zimmerman? I doubt it. Maybe adding Gibson would, which is an intriguing thought...
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Good stuff. It would be great for the Twins to get Zimmerman but it would take a lot. At this point, I would not trade Meyer for any pitcher, he might be better than all of them in the list. If they could (and cannot until mid summer 2014) I'd rather see them trade Steward because he is a good 3+ years away (in this organization.) Would anyone be interested in Berrios? Can you build a dual head centerpieces with someone like Berrios & Rosario/Dozier? Toss in Kepler? Is that enough? Would Berrios, Rosario and Kepler bring back Zimmerman? I doubt it. Maybe adding Gibson would, which is an intriguing thought...
      I'd center a package for Zimmermann around Gibson. The best-case scenario for Gibson is Zimmermann, in a lot of ways.

      By no means do I think the Twins would get a discount if they trade for these players. However, a guy like Porcello might be cheaper now that he would be in two years.

      Another point - 8 of the 10 guys I identified will be free agents at this time in 2015. That is, unless they are signed to extensions before then. More and more teams are signing their players to extensions before they hit free agency. I'd say the odds are good that at least half of those eight players are not free agents at this time in two years. Of the four potential names that remain, the Twins would be competing against 29 other teams for their services. They may not get a discount if they trade for them, but they do get exclusive negotiating rights.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      My point would be that I don't know what Eddie Rosario or Jose Berrios will be as MLB players, but I have a pretty good idea of who Jordan Zimmermann is.
      But you also know that Jordan Zimmermann is one guy. You're not one guy away from competing. (Actually not true: if we lost one guy -- Mauer -- we might be able to compete with Miami and Houston. ) And what's your best bet to add multiple quality players? Prospect depth.

      Zimmermann's also one guy you'd only control for 2 more years. Not an excuse to not improve the team, but realistically the Twins aren't 2 years away from anything either.

      The four prospects you give up to get him likely won't all pan out, but obviously if two of them do, that's multiple spots covered where Zimmermann was just one.

      And even if only one of your prospects succeeds, that guy's 6 years of cheap production could exceed Zimmermann's 2 not-so-cheap years. (Think about it: if Arcia or Rosario has an MLB breakout next year, not only do we still control them for 5+ more seasons, we can probably buy out their arb/early FA relatively cheaply too, but that ship has already sailed with Zimmermann.)
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      The Twins do not have enough assets, as an organization and because of the near complete lack of talent in MLB, to be in a position to make such trades. I am not interested in trading for anyone unless it comes from a package deal of the Willingham-Santana-Harrison-Sulbaran-Baxendale variety. This doesn't get any of these pitchers, but the next tier of pitchers, perhaps. Signing FA pitchers gives them more assets.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brad Swanson View Post
      I'd center a package for Zimmermann around Gibson. The best-case scenario for Gibson is Zimmermann, in a lot of ways.

      By no means do I think the Twins would get a discount if they trade for these players. However, a guy like Porcello might be cheaper now that he would be in two years.

      Another point - 8 of the 10 guys I identified will be free agents at this time in 2015. That is, unless they are signed to extensions before then. More and more teams are signing their players to extensions before they hit free agency. I'd say the odds are good that at least half of those eight players are not free agents at this time in two years. Of the four potential names that remain, the Twins would be competing against 29 other teams for their services. They may not get a discount if they trade for them, but they do get exclusive negotiating rights.
      Pretty sure Gibson's value is pretty low at this point. He's 26 years old, looked like a 7-8 K/9 control pitcher in the minors, and has yet to even translate those peripherals to MLB, much less any success. We can afford to give him some leeway due to the surgery and dead arm, but other teams wouldn't in trade.

      Zimmermann is only 17 months older than Gibson. Porcello is 14 months YOUNGER than Gibson.

      Good point though on these guys not necessarily lasting until free agency, though. I am very hesitant when folks suggest waiting for next year to go all-out for Bailey (or whomever). However, I'm not sure the best alternative is to trade for them. May be better to approach FA a bit more like the draft -- identify guys you really like every year and make serious efforts to sign them. You won't get them all, you will get skunked some years, but you will get some every so often. It won't break the bank, you won't get stuck needing to go after trades or less desirable free agents, and you won't be forced to seriously overbid much either.

      Pretty sure if the Twins operated like that, and bid competitively, there wouldn't be any serious issues about getting free agents to come to Minnesota.
    1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
      Brad Swanson -
      Completely agree with you spycake, I'd use free agency first too. I really agree with your idea for free agency too. Identify the guys you like and don't settle for those you don't. I'm obviously a little more willing to trade prospects for veterans, but I can understand why giving 3-4 players for 1 player isn't for everyone.

      I wouldn't give up on Gibson, but to get a quality pitcher in return, I'd be willing to listen.
    1. halfchest's Avatar
      halfchest -
      Can't really trade Gibson at this point. His upside is worth more than what he would bring in a trade at this point. He could be as good as a #2 and his floor (assuming health) is probably a #4 workhorse. With his solid GB rates he should be a guy that can give you 200 innings of around a 4.00 ERA. If his K rate translates pretty well to the majors he could be more around a 3.00 ERA and a nice top of the rotation arm.

      With his bad first MLB performance his value is low but he's a guy a pitching starved team needs to hold onto and hope for the best.
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