Trade Deadline Prep: Part 3
So, without further ado, here's part three of the Trade Deadline Prep series, focusing on the Twins free agents (and those with options), and what should happen in the next two weeks and beyond.
Brad Radke - $9 million in 2006
It sure doesn't sound like the Twins are going to have many options with Radke, even if they were interested in re-signing him. Radke is widely believed to be retiring at the end of the season, and it may be none-too-soon. As solid as he has been recently, just remember how bad he was at the beginning of the year. I have a feeling that we would be seeing more of that Radke as he loses even more speed from his fastball. The Twins are paying Radke $9 million this year, and it's unlikely he'd return for much less. The Twins will need that money to pay Mauer and Morneau, so even if Radke changes his mind and decides not to retire, it is time to let him go.
Savings: $9 million
Carlos Silva - $3.2 million in 2006; $4 million option for 2007
This is a tough decision, but in the end I think the Twins will have to pick up the option on Silva. Certainly he isn't going anywhere this year at the deadline. If the Twins weren't losing Radke, I would probably advocate for a change here, declining the option or making a deal to get rid of Silva. However, there will already be a couple of youngsters in the rotation next year, and keeping Silva around is probably the best option. Having three rookies in the rotation next year (or 2 rookies + Scott Baker) isn't the way you make the playoffs. I see the Twins picking up this option and banking on Silva overcoming the mechanics issues he's faced this year.
Dennys Reyes - unknown
Reyes has had a very solid year for the Twins as the only lefty out of the bullpen. I suspect the Twins will be interested in keeping him around, but he may be tempted to go on the market to see what he can make. The Twins won't pay him a lot, but I'd give even odds on his returning to the team. He definitely won't be traded, because the Twins need him in the bullpen. If the Twins did decide to move him, though, he'd probably be worth something.
Mike Redmond - $900,000 in 2006
The Twins will make every effort to re-sign Redmond, just like they made every effort to re-sign Henry Blanco a couple of years ago. That didn't work out, and it turned out to be a good thing for the Twins, because Redmond is a much better player than Blanco was. I suspect that Redmond will gladly re-sign with the Twins. Obviously he won't be traded at the deadline; there's no one to replace him within the organization.
Luis Castillo - $5 million in 2006; $5.75 million option for 2007
If the Twins had an up-and-coming player ready in the system to take over 2B, I would argue that Castillo is expendable, and that the team should decline the option in order to save the cash. However, the Twins don't have such a player at first glance, and so I expect them to pick up the option. Unless . . . the Twins do have Nick Punto, and I think most Twins fans want to see him stay in the lineup every day, but probably not at 3B. If the Twins make a move at the deadline to pick up a third baseman, then it would make sense to me to decline the Castillo option and give the job to Punto. It's even conceivable that Castillo could be part of a bigger deal that could net the Twins a more solid third baseman at the deadline. I don't EXPECT that to happen, but it's a possibility. If the Twins don't have anybody in the system at 3B by the end of the season, however, then they can't risk cutting Castillo loose and should pick up the option. I expect Castillo to still be a Twin next season.
Shannon Stewart - $6.5 million in 2006
Stewart will absolutely be gone at the end of the season, and the only unfortunate thing is that he was injured and so couldn't be traded away for value. Don't get me wrong, I like Shannon Stewart. I just don't think he's worth $6.5 million per season, and I don't think the Twins do either. The Twins will end up with draft pick compensation for Stewart when he signs with another team. They'll have to settle for that.
Savings: $6.5 million
Torii Hunter - $10.75 million in 2006; $12 million option for 2007
The big one. Lots of ink has been spilled over what the Twins should do with Hunter, but his injury took the option of trading him away from the Twins. I think that's fine; the Twins couldn't afford to trade him anyway while they are actually competitive and in a position to battle for a playoff spot. The question, then, becomes whether the Twins should pick up the option or let Torii walk, understanding that all they are getting is draft pick compensation. I've been an advocate of picking up the option for a long time, because I don't think the Twins should commit themselves to a long-term deal with Torii. If they fail to pick up the option, they will lose a valuable player for nothing in return; if they pick it up, they will have the option to trade him next year at the deadline and get significant value in return. I defer for now the question of whether the team should tear up the option and sign him to a 3 for 4 year deal. The option should be (and, I'll go on record as saying it will be) picked up.
Savings: -$1.25 million
Rondell White - $2.5 million in 2006; vesting option for 2007
Rondell needs to reach 400 plate appearances for his 2007 option to vest. He's currently sitting at 202 plate appearances, and two weeks ago I would have said there is no way that the option would vest. With 70 games to go, White would need to average just under 3 plate appearances per game to pick it up. Due to all the injuries, he'll probably get a lot of playing time, and if he starts to hit like he has in the last few games, he'll get even more. In other words, it's not out of the question. The Twins don't really have the option of trying to find a taker for White now, and so I expect him to remain a Twin for the rest of the season. I think he'll fall about 25 plate appearances short of what he needs for the option to vest, and I expect the Twins to let him walk away at the end of the season.
Savings: $2.5 million (based on this years salary, and not what the option would vest at)
If things shake out as I suggest they will above, the Twins will save a total of $15.2 million in salary to spend next year. That money will largely go to pay Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer after arbitration, but there should still be some money available to go after a mid-level free agent or two. The other result of this: don't expect the Twins to be moving many free agent eligible players at the deadline. Luis Castillo could potentially be involved in a major deal, but that probably isn't going to happen. Instead, if the Twins do anything at the deadline, look for it to include either arbitration eligible players like Lew Ford (who, if anybody wants him, will probably be dealt), or prospects.