Twins 2014 Rotation
by, 10-19-2013 at 02:49 AM (445 Views)
It seems a bit early for this, but I think the Twins need to be aggressive early in free agency this year. Jim Pohlad has made it clear that the bank is open if Terry Ryan decides to spend money in free agency this offseason. As John Bonnes recently wrote, the Twins could easily have $25-$30M to spend on payroll this season.
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I would like to expand upon this and propose what I would like the Twins to do this offseason. I am working under the assumption that Terry Ryan will actually spend money in free agency this offseason. While this is clearly debatable, I will attempt to work within the parameters of spending less than $30M.
First off, lets discuss what the Twins have currently signed for the rotation. Samuel Deduno, while finishing the season on the DL, looks to be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter. Kevin Correia was certainly not a world-beater this season, but I would argue he was worth the contract he signed. I have no problem with him being our #4 or #5 starter. Kyle Gibson struggled in his first stint with the Twins but still holds promise of being a #3 or maybe even a #2. Other pitchers who started this season who could pitch in the rotation, in order of likelihood, are Scott Diamond, Vance Worley and Andrew Albers.
The Twins should open the 2014 season with the following rotation:
#1) FA pitcher TBNL
#2) FA pitcher TBNL
If Deduno is not healthy, Gibson and Correia slide up and Diamond takes the #5 slot. Meyer and May could also be in the discussion, but I would rather see them start in AAA this season.
As for the TBNL (to be named later) FA acquisitions, lets start by weeding out the pitchers who Terry Ryan won't sign.
Matt Garza - He will most likely bring in the highest per year salary this offseason. Let's get serious here. Do we really think after last season that Ryan is going after the top of the market guy.
Masahiro Tananka - While his average yearly salary might be lower than Garza's, there is this little issue of a $40-$60M posting fee. Despite what he has said publicly, I'm not sure Pohlad could stomach that.
Ervin Santana - He likely gets a qualifying offer, so I doubt the Twins will want to sacrifice their 2nd rounder in a supposed deep draft.
Hiroki Kuroda - At his age, I doubt he would want to sign with a rebuilding team.
AJ Burnett - It sounds like he is considering retirement if he can't pitch in Pittsburgh.
Tim Lincecum - He continues to regress and I can't see his body holding out much longer for a pitcher who has so much effort in his delivery. He just scares me.
So, who should the Twins sign? For the #1 spot in the rotation, I have two options. My top choice would be Dan Haren and the second would be Ubaldo Jimenez. Both should be available for $10-$15M per season.
At first glance, Haren had a poor season. He finished 10-14 with a 4.67 ERA. However, his FIP and xFIP were 4.09 and 3.67 and he finished with his highest K% in three years. His numbers were horrible in June, but he had an ERA of 3.52 and WHIP of 1.017 after the All-Star break. I would like to see them sign him for three years at $39-45M.
While Jimenez continues to walk batters at a scary rate, he clearly figured something out this season. Like Haren, Jimenez would give us a pitcher who can actually strike batters out. Signing Jimenez would have the added impact of taking a top pitcher from AL Central rival, the Cleveland Indians. Since he is younger, I would consider giving him a four year deal maybe in the $52-$56M range.
For the #2 spot in the rotation, I would go after the following pitchers in this order: Nolasco, Kazmir, Arroyo, Josh Johnson, Phil Hughes, Scott Feldman, and Jason Vargas. Nolasco and Kazmir appear at the top of this list due to production and K rate. Nolasco is likely to receive the largest payday of this group and might approach Haren and Jimenez. I think he is likely to resign with the Dodgers. I have Arroyo ahead of Johnson due to his higher floor. I like the upside of Johson, but his injury history scares me. I would be more willing to gamble on Johnson if I knew Deduno was healthy or Meyer was nearly ready for the bigs. Phil Hughes' numbers away from Yankee Stadium give me reason to believe he needs a change in scenery. Feldman and Vargas would be acceptable fall back positions, but seem a bit similar to Correia.
So idealy, the Twin start 2014 season with a rotation of:
Haren, Nolasco, Deduno, Gibson and Correia.
If they were to sign both Haren and Nolasco, I doubt they would have much money left to spend elsewhere on the roster. I would be fine with that. Cleary the rotation is problems 1,2 and possibly 3 for the Twins. If they don't figure it out, nothing else much matters. Hopefully Ryan learns from last years inactivity and doesn't get caught without a chair when the music stops