Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Can Terry Ryan Truly Change His Stripes?

    There’s a lot of chatter on this here interweb thingy lately concerning what Twins General Manager Terry Ryan’s next moves will be and should be. He came out of the gate fast this offseason, immediately setting out to shore up – if not completely rebuild – the Twins’ starting pitching rotation by signing free agents Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey.

    But there’s still more than a little doubt as to whether this is truly a new Terry Ryan, willing to spend Pohlad money to make the Twins more competitive (or at least more watchable) immediately. There seems to be two schools of thought concerning what Ryan is likely to do next.

    First, there’s still some smoke out there indicating Ryan is not done shopping for starting pitching. The top tier of free agent starters hasn't really fallen in to place yet while the world waits to hear whether Masahiro Tanaka will be posted by his Japanese team. Would Ryan make a play for Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo or even Tanaka, himself? There are at least a few people out there who think he might.

    The more prevalent thought, however, seems to be that Ryan is done shopping for starting pitching and is shifting his focus toward addressing what was a pretty anemic offense in 2013. He swung and missed at the top catching free agents, but signed catcher Kurt Suzuki to a one-year deal for $2.75 million.

    (Originally published at Knuckleballsblog.com, where you can find lots more.)

    Ryan has added a pair of former Twins, Jason Bartlett and Jason Kubel, on minor league contracts with invitations to the big club’s spring training. But, as people far smarter than I am have been pointing out, no combination of the Prodigal Jasons and a new backup catcher is going to result in significantly improved run production for the Twins.

    The good folks at MLBTradeRumors.com pointed out recently that, of their “Top 50 free agents” list going in to the offseason, only four position players remain unsigned. That list includes Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz, Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez.

    A while back, there was some buzz that the Twins were one of the teams that agent Scott Boras was talking to about Drew. I’m not sure which surprised me more, that the Twins were actually considering signing a player who would cost them a draft pick as compensation (Drew rejected the Red Sox’ qualifying offer) or that Terry Ryan apparently sat down in the same room with Scott Boras.

    Certainly, the Twins have had Boras' clients in their organization (and still do). But Boras has clients and then he has CLIENTS. Players like Drew are Boras CLIENTS – the kind that Boras uses every bit of leverage he can find to pull every last nickel and every last year out of a team to sign.

    From what I’ve read in the Twins blogosphere and twittersphere, it’s hard enough for most Twins fans to believe Ryan would allow a draft pick – even a second rounder – to be pried from his hands in order to sign a free agent, but to give up that pick for a free agent represented by Scott Boras is just not something fans can get their heads around.

    If you’re one of those fans, that’s okay. I understand. I do. But you might want to stop reading at this point, because if you can’t grasp that concept, what I’m going to propose next could make your head explode.

    If I were Terry Ryan, I wouldn’t sign one of those five remaining “Top 50” MLBTR prospects. I wouldn’t sign one of the free agents who would cost me a draft pick. I wouldn’t sign one of Scott Boras’ CLIENTS.

    I’d sign two.

    First, I would absolutely sign Stephen Drew. He’s okay defensively and he’d be an offensive upgrade at one of the very few positions that the Twins could logically expect to upgrade at this point, given that third base and centerfield will be getting upgraded with top prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton soon enough. It is likely impossible to attract strong free agents at those positions.

    If you or Terry Ryan have concerns over losing that second round draft pick, I suggest you glance over the list of recent second rounders that Andrew Bryz-Gornia assembled over at Twinkie Town earlier this week. Or you could just take my word for the fact that giving up a second round pick for multiple current years of Stephen Drew is a no-brainer.

    And, once I had a deal with Boras for Drew, I’d tell him I want Kendrys Morales, too.

    Morales makes sense for the Twins.

    Trust me, it feels as peculiar for me to say that as it does for you to hear it. But it’s true.

    Morales turned down Seattle’s qualifying offer, as Drew did Boston’s. But if Drew is worth coughing up a second round pick for, then the third round pick that Morales would cost the Twins is barely worth mentioning.

    Morales was the Mariners’ primary designated hitter, but also filled in at first base occasionally. He’s a switch hitter with better results from the right side, which is something the Twins could make use of.

    Certainly, you could make the argument that the Twins have a relatively crowded DH corps with Kubel, Chris Parmelee and Chris Colabello already on board. But, seriously, those are exactly the types of players the Twins should be looking to improve upon. Having their presence keep you from signing a Morales is even more absurd than letting the presence of Bartlett, Pedro Florimon and Eduardo Escobar keep you from adding Drew. A guy like Florimon at least has some defensive value to consider, which is more than you can say for Kubel, Parmelee and Colabello.

    But even if Ryan could be convinced that the two draft picks are worth giving up for Drew and Morales, could he find the money to pay what Scott Boras would extort from the Twins to sign them?

    Heck, that’s the easy part.

    After jettisoning Doumit’s salary commitment and picking up Suzuki, my back-of-the-napkin math estimates the Twins are on the hook for about $83 million for 2014 (and that assumes that Kubel makes the team and gets the roster bonus that’s part of his minor league agreement with the Twins). So, as things stand, even after adding multi-million dollar deals for Nolasco, Hughes and Pelfrey, the Twins are almost exactly at the 2013 opening day level.)

    The Twins, by pretty much any reasonable estimate, operated a year ago well below their often self-stated goal of spending just over 50% of revenues on major league payroll. They, like every other MLB team, are benefiting from new TV money that is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $25 million per team.

    Conservatively – VERY conservatively – the Twins should be able to absorb a $110 million payroll in 2014 without so much as breaking a sweat concerning whether they will end up spending more than 50% of their revenues on payroll. Remember, that new national TV money comes with zero additional expenses to offset it. If the Twins took in $200 million in revenue a year ago (again a conservative estimate), those revenue projections just went up to $225 million.

    That’s all a long way of saying that, yes, Terry Ryan can afford to add the $25-28 million in annual salary it may take to get Drew and Morales on board. From that point, you’re just talking about how many years and who has what options, etc.

    But, would Drew and Morales actually sign on to join one of the worst MLB teams to take the field in 2013?

    I grant that neither of them, nor Boras, certainly, had joining the Twins in mind when they rejected their old teams' qualifying offers. But times change.

    Who else will give enough money to either of these two players to make rejecting those qualifying offers a good decision? The list of teams with enough payroll flexibility to afford one of them is short. When you cross off those teams that have no need for a shortstop or a designated hitter (no matter what Boras claims, I can’t see any NL team paying Morales to actually field a defensive position every day), the list all but disappears.

    The Red Sox and Mariners, the players’ former teams which would not have to give up draft pick compensation to re-sign them, have recently added new talent at the players’ positions, quite possibly eliminating chances for return engagements.

    The Yankees could use Morales, if not for the fact that they already have a boatload of over-the-hill position players they’ll almost certainly need to rotate through the DH spot. The other free-spending clubs (the Dodgers, Rangers, Angels, Phillies, Tigers, Giants) look to me to be pretty set at Drew’s and Morales’ positions.

    From where I sit, Terry Ryan and Scott Boras need one another.

    Ryan’s Twins represent the kind of “surprise” team that Boras loves to pull out of his hat to prove how smart he is and that, when he tells a player he’s going to get paid, he gets paid.

    Boras and his clients can provide Terry Ryan with what are realistically perhaps the only two true offensive upgrades that match his needs and will prove, once and for all, that he and his bosses are done sitting and waiting for “someday” to come.

    Tell me this line up wouldn’t score runs:

    1. Presley CF
    2. Dozier 2B
    3. Mauer 1B
    4. Morales DH
    5. Drew SS
    6. Willingham LF
    7. Arcia/Kubel RF
    8. Pinto/Suzuki C
    9. Plouffe 3B

    And now, with just a couple adjustments later in the year or by 2015:

    1. Buxton CF
    2. Dozier 2B
    3. Mauer 1B
    4. Sano 3B
    5. Morales DH
    6. Drew SS
    7. Rosario LF
    8. Arcia/Kubel RF
    9. Pinto C

    If you like Hicks in there somewhere to provide more OF defense, OK. Certainly, we could debate who should hit where in that line up. But the point is, that is a line up that suddenly looks very different than what the Twins trotted out there every day in 2013.

    And it still wouldn’t project the Twins to be above the middle third of MLB team payroll on Opening Day (which is about where they rightfully should be), nor would it hamstring them from making future moves. In a worst case scenario, Drew and Morales are likely to be marketable assets, assuming Boras doesn’t talk the Twins in to full no-trade clauses.

    Of course, none of this is likely to happen.

    I expect Boras to let things play out for Drew and Morales, much like he did for Kyle Lohse a year ago before matching him up with the Brewers shortly before spring training camps opened up.

    In the meantime, maybe Terry Ryan will find creative ways to improve the Twins’ offense.

    But if February rolls around and it still looks like the Twins are counting on Jason Kubel to provide their improved offense and Scott Boras is still looking for face-saving options for these two CLIENTS, then Ryan and Boras need to get back in a room together.

    Of course, I’d prefer they do so right now.

    - JC
    This article was originally published in blog: Can Terry Ryan Truly Change His Stripes? started by Jim Crikket
    Comments 46 Comments
    1. BigTrane's Avatar
      BigTrane -
      Great post and analysis- especially the point about attracting free agents.
      It's a given that the Twins and TR need to lay the money down often enough in this off season to convince the FA market that there's a serious turnaround in the works. Heck, we fans need to be convinced, hence this article. We have to work our way up the ladder in a thin market.
      Those are the breaks for us right now.

      Hopefully, a larger force (JP) is behind this change in TR- it would make sense, at any rate. If the org. is committed from the top down, and TR is taking orders, then that would be a sea change. A change most fans have been dreaming for... but have been burned enough to be wary/suspicious/unbelieving. Call it conditioning.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Fllorimon was an above average shortstop last season (.6WAA) and he likely can repeat what he did. Drew is only a minor upgrade and for that reason it isn't worthwhile to give up a draft pick and overpay him. I'd rather have an elite defensive SS than a mixed one. With ground ball pitchers in the rotation, I think it's a must. You also eliminate the Dozier/Rosario idea up the middle.

      Morales, on the other hand, I can agree with a little bit. If he's available for a fair price, the Twins should probably pull the trigger. I like what he does at the plate a lot. He's been pretty good in the last two seasons since he broke his leg. However, if you use him exclusively as a DH, then you have to keep both Willingham and Arcia in the outfield.
    1. Tibs's Avatar
      Tibs -
      I like both of these ideas. Kendrys Morales has a career OPS+ of 120. Stephen Drew's is 98, which isn't great, but it's a heck of a lot better than Florimon's (67). I'm not completely sold on Drew for $10 million though.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      ground ball pitchers? Which staff is that?

      TR has, effectively, cut payroll again this year. Let's see what he does now. And, a 2nd rounder? Really? Ugh. The odds of a second rounder contributing to a MLB roster are very low.....
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      I'd like to see a stronger argument put forth for signing Drew at short. I see people saying he's available and statistically an offensive upgrade, but that's about it, and very little discussion of his red flags. For where the Twins are at this moment, I'd feel good about Florimon.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      And we had JJ Hardy. Stephen Drew would be a waste of future resources. But Florimon is not the answer either.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      ground ball pitchers? Which staff is that?

      TR has, effectively, cut payroll again this year. Let's see what he does now. And, a 2nd rounder? Really? Ugh. The odds of a second rounder contributing to a MLB roster are very low.....
      Mike, I'm pretty sure you can't effectively cut payroll again this year, until the year at least starts. What happened to your fascinating study about WAR's where you conclusively proved our favorite team was just a few moves away from capturing the Central?
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I'm not terribly excited about either one right now. I could get on board with Drew. I don't know if I buy Morales. I still think Parmelee and Plouffe deserve one more year to prove they belong. I still think both could, and one could earn that DH job for the next wave. A DH can be signed any time, so honestly I'd rather us roll the dice at the chance that the teasing both Parm and Plouffe have done represents some real sustainable MLB talent.
    1. alphanumeric's Avatar
      alphanumeric -
      Stephen Drew owns a career .264 average with unspectacular power numbers and hasn't played a full season since 2010. He will be 31 in March. I'm not a fan of signing him, but having Morales protecting Mauer would be a HUGE improvement (57 xbh's last year). I just don't know if it's worth the money Boras is gonna want.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
      Stephen Drew owns a career .264 average with unspectacular power numbers and hasn't played a full season since 2010. He will be 31 in March. I'm not a fan of signing him, but having Morales protecting Mauer would be a HUGE improvement (57 xbh's last year). I just don't know if it's worth the money Boras is gonna want.
      A case can be made for or against Drew, Morales and any other free agent, based on whether you feel the particular player would or would not improve the Twins' line up.

      However, given where the Twins payroll currently stands vs. the revenues they have coming in (including the additional national TV revenues from the league) there is absolutely no reason anyone should concern themselves with whether any player is "worth the money" they'd want. Nobody remaining on the FA market would command so much money that paying it would hamstring the Twins at any time in the near or distant future.
    1. minn55441's Avatar
      minn55441 -
      Nice article JC and nice argument. I'm not buying it, but nice logical approach. Terry still has money to spend, but I think he puts it down on an outfielder.

      Interesting couple of months to see if he spends some more money and if so, where he spends it.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Trade for JJ hardy , sign Garza and Scott Baker, and spend that 127.5 million we have avalible in 2014
    1. alphanumeric's Avatar
      alphanumeric -
      [/QUOTE]Nobody remaining on the FA market would command so much money that paying it would hamstring the Twins at any time in the near or distant future.[/QUOTE]

      Vaild point (with the exception of Tanaka). But I still don't see much value in signing (overpaying) Stephen Drew. That said, I don't know what the BoSox offer was to him.

      Btw how do upload a profile pic on here. cant seem to figure out how.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Btw how do upload a profile pic on here. cant seem to figure out how.
      Click the "Settings" link in the upper right-hand corner of the forum. There's a menu option there for profile pictures. You can either link to one, or upload one.
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      I'd rather sign Garza and develop our position players. When Meyer, May, Gibson, etc. are ready to contribute and the rotation becomes crowded, trade pitchers to fill positions of need.

      2015:
      1. CF Buxton
      2. LF Rosario
      3. 1B Mauer
      4. 3B Sano
      5. DH Arcia
      6. 2B Dozier
      7. RF Hicks
      8. C Pinto
      9. SS million dollar question

      Moving Dozier to SS would be foolish. He is a gold glove caliber 2nd baseman. Don't mess wirh that.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      I like the agressiveness but I just don't like the players. The money isn't an issue but the roster spots are. I don't want to commit three years to a SS who has never even had three healthy years in his career. I also don't want to lock up the DH spot for the next three years; I like that position being much more flexible.
    1. twinsguy14's Avatar
      twinsguy14 -
      Kendrys to me is the best pick up. Right handed power at Target Field. Fill DH spot with a capable hitter and a occasional backup at first. I just think in our best years, the DH spot had a regular solid hitter in place, not as a revolving door for marginal players. Even in the 2002-2010 run, the one piece I think we were missing was that big bat in the DH spot. Plus the money is there. Get it done!!!
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      I agreed with Drew before reading, but I was skeptical of the idea of Morales. I don't think that Morales provides a position of "need". However you have made a good point of its more important to improve the team than fill need at this point. In a year or two, the narrative should change to gap fullfillment...
    1. Otwins's Avatar
      Otwins -
      Not that entused about Drew. Injury history is a concern. I also think his offensive numbers would suffer at Target field. He has played in Arizona and Fenway. Two very good hitters parks. I do think money factors into these signings even though the Twins have plenty. There is always the next deal, next move to make. Injuries happen and you need flexibility.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsguy14 View Post
      Kendrys to me is the best pick up. Right handed power at Target Field. Fill DH spot with a capable hitter and a occasional backup at first. I just think in our best years, the DH spot had a regular solid hitter in place, not as a revolving door for marginal players. Even in the 2002-2010 run, the one piece I think we were missing was that big bat in the DH spot. Plus the money is there. Get it done!!!
      I agree with you. Pencil in a right-handed hitter with power in the 4 or 5 and be done with it.

      Christmas List
      1. Arroyo in, Correia traded
      2. Morales in, Hammer traded
      3. Drew in
      4. Justin Turner in, Florimon and/or Escobar out

      Christmas only comes once a year.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.