• Centerfield Trade Bait

    [Originally published at Twins Fan From Afar]

    The Twins certainly don't have a surplus of major league ready talent at most positions, such as catcher, third base, middle infield, starting pitching, and the bullpen. -- just to name a few areas of concern. But if there is one position where there is a good amount of talent, both on the major league club and in the minor league system, it probably is centerfield.

    Is this a make-or-break year for Aaron Hicks?

    Denard Span
    is an above average defender, and has matured into a good leadoff hitter. He was having one of his best seasons in 2011 before a concussion deralied him, but we hope he'll bounce back in 2012. He just turned 28, and is under contract for $3 million in 2012, $4.75 million in 2013, $6.5 million in 2014, and there is a $9 million team option in 2015 (with a $500,000 buyout). If Span is healthy and continues to perform, it seems like a reasonable contract. If Span plays in 2012 like he did the first few months of 2011, and shows that he is completely recovered from the concussion, it's also a contract that the Twins could move.

    Ben Revere, who will turn 24 in May, is speedy and can track down almost anything hit to center field, but lacks an arm (not physically lacks an arm, but it's almost that bad); he is at best a good contact hitter who can wreak havoc on the basepaths, and at worst a player that will only get on base 30 percent of the time. Importantly, he is still under team control for the near future.

    Joe Benson, also 24 this season, has the most potential for power among the centerfield group. He also is reportedly just a shade slower than Revere, which is impressive. He didn't look quite ready for the big leagues in his September call-up last season, with a .239/.270/.352 slash line, but he is still a very good outfield prospect.

    Finally, there is Aaron Hicks, age 22, the Twins' first round (14th overall) draft pick from 2008. It's not an understatement to say that Hicks' star has fallen. Baseball America rated him the 19th best prospect pre-2010, the 45th best prospect pre-2011, and the 72nd best prospect pre-2012. That's not the direction Twins fans would like to see Hicks moving on the prospect charts. In 2012, he also vanished from Baseball America's top 10 outfield prospect list, which is not a good sign. All that being said, he is one of the Twins' top prospects, and he is expected to see a promotion to AA New Britain this year (at least according to Bill Smith).

    My point in outlining these players is that, even if none ever become stars, the center field position is perhaps the deepest in terms of talent for the Twins. And interestingly, three of the four players listed are within roughly two years of age. Aside from Span, the veteran, we're talking about 22-24 year old prospects. Finally, Hicks is the only one without a day of major league service time, so to an extent (a small extent for Benson), they have been MLB-tested.

    It's tough to imagine all four players being in the Twins organization two years from now. By that time, Benson will be 26 and will either be playing centerfield, which would be the best use of his speed and arm, or a corner outfield position. I have no doubt he's next in line for a promotion. Who knows where Revere will be? I still believe he can be a good (but not great) major league outfielder, but he will need to show major plate discipline this season, as well as the ability to bunt successfully. Hicks needs to have a solid and consistent season in order to regain his status as a Twins top prospect. And Span needs to stay healthy.

    There are two things that excite me about this group of players. First is the prospect of having Span and Benson in the same outfield. I think it could be great defensively and offensively. The second thing is the prospect of trading one of these guys for something the Twins desperately need, such as pitching. It would be great if the Twins could make a "sell high" trade, if they come the realization that there are not enough outfield positions for the number of established major league outfielders, and legitimate major league outfield prospects, currently in the organization. Of course, we'd have to avoid a Wilson Ramos-type trade, but given these 4 players, the odds of that kind of an error in judgment don't seem quite as high.

    I'm curious to hear your thoughts. If Benson is good at AAA Rochester this season, how long can we keep him there -- and whose place does he take in Minnesota? Could we get anything on the trade market for Revere? And if Hicks has a great season between A and AA in 2012, what do we do if he suddenly re-emerges as our #1 outfield prospect?
    This article was originally published in blog: Centerfield Trade Bait started by Twins Fan From Afar
    Comments 38 Comments
    1. Gernzy's Avatar
      Gernzy -
      I could see us trading either Revere or Benson for a solid SP. Might have to throw more then that on the table, but it really depends on the year they have.
    1. Wachsta's Avatar
      Wachsta -
      I can't imagine selling low on Hicks unless he completely falls out of favor with the team. I like his plate discipline and am not ready to give up on his raw talent. I think it would make the most sense to sit back and evaluate our OF depth. If Revere proves he can handle LF and Benson excels in AAA, it might be in our best interest to move Revere while his perceived ceiling is high. Then again, Gardy loves Revere's scrap (as do I), so if we're in contention I'm sure they'd move Benson for an overrated late inning arm. If Hicks does re-emerge as a top-3 prospect and we aren't winning, look for Span to be dealt.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      I could see us trading either Revere or Benson for a solid SP
      I see Span being traded before either Revere or Benson (especially Benson). If the Twins are out of it by midseason and Span, Morneau, Liriano, Baker and Pavano are healthy and performing they provide the highest trade value.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Quote Originally Posted by SweetOne69 View Post
      I see Span being traded before either Revere or Benson (especially Benson). If the Twins are out of it by midseason and Span, Morneau, Liriano, Baker and Pavano are healthy and performing they provide the highest trade value.
      Morneau would have to have some sort of amazing recovery to establish value (I'm hoping he is able to put everything behind him, for the record!).
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Do not trade Joe Benson.

      WHY? to keep some slappy hitting/weak-armed outfielders ? Bah.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      Benson will likely be the Twins centerfielder for a decade, beginning sometime in 2013. You don't trade future all-stars. On the other hand, I see the Twins moving one of the four. Just not Benson!
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      What team is going to trade a sold starting pitcher for Ben Revere? No chance that happens. If Hikck's production ever matches his hype, I'd keep him, because his hype is off the charts. I'm not sure why you'd deal him if he's a top, top prospect again. It's not like there are impact players all over the minors...
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Is Benson really a center fielder? I know he's played most of his time there in the minors, but it has been far from exclusive, even as recently as 2010. I can't imagine him playing center field if Span, Revere or Hicks is on the roster. and after a string of center fielders that include Torii, Gomez, Span and Revere, I have trouble seeing the Twins giving him that job.
    1. cr9617's Avatar
      cr9617 -
      Quote Originally Posted by roger View Post
      Benson will likely be the Twins centerfielder for a decade, beginning sometime in 2013. You don't trade future all-stars. On the other hand, I see the Twins moving one of the four. Just not Benson!
      An All-star? That's just a little bit of a stretch, wouldn't you say?


      I would like the Twins to make a forward-thinking trade.... for once. I have my doubts though..
    1. ben's Avatar
      ben -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      and after a string of center fielders that include Torii, Gomez, Span and Revere, I have trouble seeing the Twins giving him that job.
      The only thing I can think of that all those center fielders have in common is that they cover a lot of ground, but my understanding is that Benson also covers a lot of ground and is just a bit slower than Revere. Or were you making another point?
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by ben View Post
      The only thing I can think of that all those center fielders have in common is that they cover a lot of ground, but my understanding is that Benson also covers a lot of ground and is just a bit slower than Revere. Or were you making another point?
      From what I've read only a little 'slower' than Revere.

      MUCH stronger arm. Hicks has a strong arm as well.
      There is no way that long term, if they can hit, either of these guys is not the Twins CF, and some noddle-arm like Span/Revere is.

      Just watch the # of runners score from 2nd on Revere this year. I am expecting teams to be very aggressive on his weak arm. ANd while he makes hi-light catches, Revere should be run on due to the throwing inefficiencies.
    1. chaderic20's Avatar
      chaderic20 -
      Quote Originally Posted by SweetOne69 View Post
      If the Twins are out of it by midseason and Span, Morneau, Liriano, Baker and Pavano are healthy and performing they provide the highest trade value.
      I agree, if the Twins are out of the race, and any of those guys have "returned to form" we need to trade them for whatever prospects we can get. I think we're all in agreement that some of the Twins' best players (or maybe I should say potentially their best players) are a few years away, so if any of the guys above have value at the deadline, we might as well see if we can get another prospect, particularly a pitching prospect, or two that will be coming up at the same time.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Fan From Afar View Post
      Morneau would have to have some sort of amazing recovery to establish value (I'm hoping he is able to put everything behind him, for the record!).
      All Morneau would have to do is show that he is healthy and productive. If he can overcome his issues of the last 1.5 seasons, he would be a great addition to some team for $20M for the next 1.5 seasons. If Parmelee excels in AAA I think the Twins would really like to trade Morneau and start Parmelee (especially in 2013).

      Right now the players with the highest trade values are Span and Morneau because production is not the issue. If they can show that they are healthy they could bring the most return. Pavano, Baker and Liriano are next on the list as they would be 2nd half rentals so they won't bring back as much.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      If the Twins are out of contention, I could see Span fectching them something very nice at the trade deadline. 2 years from now, I think we will be looking at an OF of Benson/Hicks/Arcia with Revere hopefully being traded or acting as a 4th OF. I don't see a lot of room for Span on that one, but we should have a very good idea by the trade deadline as to whether or not they should be dealing Span. I think it makes sense if this team finds itself rebuilding again. A healthy and performing Span should be able to fetch a starting pitcher with a pretty decent ceiling that isn't thaaaaaaaaaat far out.

      If that's the case, the real question is when you start calling these guys up. I could see using Revere as a placeholder until Hicks is ready, but I really don't like him as a long term answer.
    1. 2wins87's Avatar
      2wins87 -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      Is Benson really a center fielder? I know he's played most of his time there in the minors, but it has been far from exclusive, even as recently as 2010. I can't imagine him playing center field if Span, Revere or Hicks is on the roster. and after a string of center fielders that include Torii, Gomez, Span and Revere, I have trouble seeing the Twins giving him that job.
      From everything I've heard, he has the tools to be a plus center-fielder, and has performed well there in the minors. Similar speed to Span, much better arm, good body control (whatever that means). So yeah, I think he really is a center-fielder, but that doesn't mean the Twins won't move him to keep Span in center or to make room for Hicks to come up behind him. His arm would play well in right field. An outfield of Revere-Span-Benson, or Revere-Hicks-Benson could swallow a lot of fly-balls.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Benson LF, Hicks CF, Span RF. Best outfield in baseball for half a dozen years.
    1. 2wins87's Avatar
      2wins87 -
      I doubt Revere has a lot of trade value. He'd be a 4th outfielder on most clubs, and may still end up there for the Twins. I think Span could get a very good return. Benson will also likely be able to generate a good return, but it's unlikely the FO is thinking of shipping him anytime soon and they probably shouldn't be.

      I'd be interested to see what kind of prospects Span could pry from a playoff contender looking for a table-setter near the trade deadline. I'd think a potential impact guy in the upper levels plus one or two interesting guys at the lower levels. Maybe the Twins could end up with a couple power pitching prospects.
    1. mediocre's Avatar
      mediocre -
      Does Angel Morales fit into this conversation at all? I know he's played with Hicks a bit meaning he hasn't played center an awful lot, but I've read he has the speed and arm to play there. Does seem to have contact issues which need to be rectified but all of these guys have flaws (they are minor leaguers). I've heard everything from "could be a Carlos Beltran-type" to "could be the next Carlos Gomez" on this guy but who knows.

      An outfield of Benson in left, Hicks in center, and Arcia/Morales in right has me salivating, but everyone needs to realize that a lot has to go right for all three/four of those guys. And I'm really hoping the organization doesn't fall too in love with Revere. I like the kid and he is fun to watch, I just don't see him as a great building block for the future.
    1. cr9617's Avatar
      cr9617 -
      Quote Originally Posted by SweetOne69 View Post
      All Morneau would have to do is show that he is healthy and productive. If he can overcome his issues of the last 1.5 seasons, he would be a great addition to some team for $20M for the next 1.5 seasons. If Parmelee excels in AAA I think the Twins would really like to trade Morneau and start Parmelee (especially in 2013).

      Right now the players with the highest trade values are Span and Morneau because production is not the issue. If they can show that they are healthy they could bring the most return. Pavano, Baker and Liriano are next on the list as they would be 2nd half rentals so they won't bring back as much.
      Ummmmm.....Morneau ISN'T healthy and/or productive. That's the whole point. Until those things are established(which is no sure thing), he has pretty much zero trade value.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Is Benson really a center fielder?
      Absolutely!

      Benson LF, Hicks CF, Span RF. Best outfield in baseball for half a dozen years.
      I like that OF, but I would go with Span in LF, Benson in CF and Hicks in RF. Span is just solid. Benson is the fastest of that group and has a rocket for an arm. Hicks is also fast but his arm is the strongest of the group. Honestly, you could flip-flop Benson and Hicks, but all three are CF, great athletes and that would, potentially, be a great defensive outfield!
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