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Who's Going To Be Dealt First?

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Article originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan reportedly told a radio audience over the weekend that nobody is untouchable. Making that clear to every other GM (not to mention everyone in his own clubhouse) is the right thing. It's not about WHETHER this guy or that guy can be had in a deal, it's about HOW MUCH the trade partner is willing to offer.

Of course, some players have no-trade clauses in their contracts, such as Joe Mauer (full) and Justin Morneau (limited), but if you were playing for a team as bad as this one, wouldn't you pretty seriously consider waiving that clause? Yeah... me too.

I suspect other players, such as Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit, would at least be consulted before being traded. It would not be good for Ryan and the Twins to get a reputation for immediately trading away players that they've signed as free agents to reasonable multi-year contracts. You know other teams would use that against you in offseason negotiations with players the Twins might be interested in bringing in ("You can sign with the Twins, but you know they tend to use you as trade bait as soon as their season goes south.")

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement is going to play a bit of havoc with the trade market, too. Players like Francisco Liriano that are about to be free agents don't bring a compensation draft pick to the Twins after the year unless the Twins make a "qualifying" offer (about $12.5 million). And if they make that offer and still lose the player, they only get one "sandwich" pick between the first two rounds. Then again, if they trade Liriano, the team getting him can't even get that sandwich pick since a player has to be on a team's roster the whole year for that team to get compensation.

Still, you have to believe the Twins are going to deal some players either before the end of the non-waiver period at the end of July or the waiver trade period in August. I still believe most of Twinsville will be disappointed in what Ryan gets in return for his players, but he's going to make some trades anyway. But who?

With Matt Capps and Carl Pavano both laid up until after the non-waiver trade deadline, their chances of being traded are significantly reduced. That said, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see either or both change teams via the waiver wire in August.

Here's my "top 5" players I expect Ryan to be most likely to trade yet this summer:

  1. Francisco Liriano: Frankie's value will probably not be any higher than it is right now. There are a lot of teams looking for starting pitching help, but there are a lot of better pitchers than Liriano on the market, too. He's a free agent at the end of the year, so he's just a rental arm, but I think he's the most likely player to be traded of those currently on the Twins 40-man roster.
  2. Denard Span: Span would not be a rental player, as he's still under a reasonable multi-year contract. SI.com recently published an article listing all of the best centerfielders in the Big Leagues right now and Span's name wasn't even mentioned. It's true he isn't currently considered "elite," but he'd be an upgrade for a lot of teams and the Twins have current and future replacements in their system that make Span more expendable than any other position player that would be in similar demand.
  3. Danny Valencia: Remember him? Valencia was supposed to claim the Twins 3B job for a few years anyway. Then he stopped hitting. Then Trevor Plouffe started hitting. Then it became "Danny Who?" Valencia hasn't exactly lit up AAA this summer, but there's no room for him any more in Minnesota and I think the Twins will find a new home for him while he still has at least a little value.
  4. Alexi Casilla: There are bound to be teams that are looking for middle infield/utility infield help and I just suspect that Lexi is not part of the Twins' plans for 2013, making him likely to be dealt this summer.
  5. Josh Willingham: I don't expect Willingham to be traded, but I had to list someone "5th" on a Top 5 list. Maybe it would be a guy like Jared Burton, but I put Willingham here because there's no doubt he's going to be the first player that contenders ask about. Just the fact that there will be so much demand means his chances of getting dealt are higher than guys who most teams don't care about at all.

In reality, I expect three of the top four players listed above to be gone by the end of August.

But what say you? Who do you most expect to see wearing a different uniform before the end of the summer?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section or, if you like, pop on over to the article originally posted at Knuckleballs and participate in the poll imbedded at the bottom of the post there.

- JC
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  1. J-Dog Dungan's Avatar
    Not that I wouldn't be open to trading Danny V, but honestly, who is going to want to give up anything for him?
  2. Jim Crikket's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by J-Dog Dungan
    Not that I wouldn't be open to trading Danny V, but honestly, who is going to want to give up anything for him?
    It won't be much, of course, but I don't believe Valencia is totally void of value on the market. There are a number of factors that go in to establishing a player's trade value. Ability to excel at the game of baseball at the MLB level is certainly at the top of the list, but it's not the only factor. Valencia has MLB experience and has at least some history of moderate success at that level. He's also under team control for a number of years yet, so it isn't going to cost a team a ton of money to see if he can help them out.

    Valencia won't bring MLB ready pitching help. In fact, he won't bring much more than a moderate organization player in return if he's traded by himself. But one-for-one trades aren't the only trades made. It's probably more likely that he's included in a deal involving, say, Span or Liriano for example, that might induce a trade partner to give up a slightly higher level prospect than they would for one of those players alone.

    If the Twins believe Plouffe is going to stick at 3B (and why wouldn't they, at this point?), there's no future in the organization for Valencia at all. They aren't working him at other positions in Rochester and they have a couple other AAAA level 3Bs down there that can be called up in the event of injury.

    I think they'll include him in some kind of deal that gives him an opportunity to get back to the Bigs elsewhere. Valencia has made comments that he's trying to prove himself to 29 other teams in addition to the Twins. Ryan and Gardy have mentioned that they're getting good reports on Valencia from Rochester, but Ryan also said Plouffe is the full time 3B and they aren't going to have Valencia try other positions in Rochester.

    Add it all up and I get the feeling the Twins have possibly even told Valencia that they're going to try to trade him somewhere that he will have a better opportunity.
  3. John Bonnes's Avatar
    I can't see them trading Valencia. Better to hold onto him and see if anything happens next year. There is no reason to trade him while his value is down, and there is no reason they have to trade him. It's not like he's a free agent.

    I also can't see them trading Casilla, just because I don't think anyone give up anything for him. Even a team like Detroit, who is supposedly desperate for a second baseman, can't see Casillla as enough of an upgrade to be worth the move. Bottom line: there are just too many other better options.
  4. John Bonnes's Avatar
    One more question - are you sure about that CBA "only a sandwich pick" thing? I thought that the team would also get rewarded a pick immediately after (or before) the team that signed the free agent. I thought it was two picks that the team got.
  5. ScottyB's Avatar
    I was thinking a nice trade might be Span and Casilla to the Nats for Lombo Jr. and 2 of the following - Robbie Ray, Kylin Turnbull, and Daniel Rosenbaum. Lombo is currently starting in left field and backing up at 2B, 3B and SS. He would slot in nicely batting 2nd after Revere and starting @ 2B. Span takes his place in the OF with Casilla a utility guy. Ray, Turnbull and Rosenbaum are 3 lefty starters. They don't have huge upsides, but I believe they could slot into the rotation in the next couple of years. Turnbull would have to be a PTBNL, as he signed last August.
  6. John Bonnes's Avatar
    That's a good point. I can see one of those guys - Casilla or Valencia - being thrown in as a sweetener in a deal.
  7. Jim Crikket's Avatar
    MLB Trade Rumors has the information on the CBA compensation rules.

    So... for example... IF the Twins don't trade Liriano and they DO make him a qualifying offer, which he turns down, then the Twins get a sandwich pick. For the sake of simplicity, let's assume Liriano is the only FA that gets a qualifying offer, making it the 31st pick of the draft.

    If Liriano signs with the Angels, the Angels would forfeit their 1st round pick, but it wouldn't be awarded to anyone. So the Twins' sandwich pick moves up to pick #30.

    But if Liriano signs with the Astros (yeah, I know... but go with me here), the Astros' 1st round pick would be protected since it's in the top 10, but they would lose their 2nd rounder instead. Thus the Twins' sandwich pick remains the 31st overall.
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