Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Non-Tender Surprises

UPDATE II: Well, that didn't take long - Luis Rodriguez is back in the fold, and Alejandro Machado's tenuous hold on a roster spot is once again in serious jeopardy. I'm going to try to find out how non-tendering a player, and then immediately re-signing him, benefits a team - the Twins did the same thing with Rodriguez last year. If anybody knows why this was done, please let me know! I'm completely in the dark.

The Twins website is suggesting that non-tendering Luis Rodriguez may have been nothing more than a "paper move" - one that will be rectified soon by re-signing Rodriguez to a contract. I guess this is what happened last year - Rodriguez was non-tendered and quickly re-signed. I'm not sure what the utility of this would be - if the plan is to bring him back, why not just offer him a contract? Time will tell whether or not this in fact happens - frankly, non-tendering Rodriguez made a good deal of sense to me, so if the Twins bring him back into the fold I'll scratch my head a little bit. Now on to the original post:

The Minnesota Twins offered contracts to all of their arbitration eligible players yesterday, but made the (sort-of) surprising decision not to offer contracts to IF Luis Rodriguez and RHP Willie Eyre, making them free agents.

Let me clarify something before I move on. The non-tender deadline is viewed as a deadline for arbitration eligible players, but of course it applies to everyone on the team who is not under contract. Players who have less than 3 years of service time at the Major League level, and so are not arbitration eligible, must also be offered contracts for the next season by the non-tender deadline. Typically, players are kept around until a team is forced to make a tough decision on them due to arbitration eligibility, because players have very little leverage before that point and the team could essentially offer them a weak contract and keep them around. However, there really is no point to keep players who take up roster spots without providing a significant benefit to the team. Incidentally, I was going to post something on who the Twins would take off the roster if they made any additions, because they were at 40 players on the 40-man roster; these moves have made that unnecessary, as the roster is once again sitting at 38.

So, were there good decisions? We'll start with Rodriguez. In 59 games last season, Rodriguez hit .235 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. He was mostly used as a 3B (29 appearances) and a 2B (14 appearances), and the signing of Jeff Cirillo obviously would have prevented him from getting much (really, any) playing time at 3B. As a result, Rodriguez became pretty superfluous. Alejandro Machado, who is primarily a 2B/SS, is a much better fit for the backup middle infielder position, and assuming he doesn't have a horrible spring training, it should be assumed that he'll make the team.

Then, there's Willie Eyre. He showed a lot of promise at AAA in 2004 and especially in 2005, but the results at the Major League level last season (5.31 ERA in 42 games; 26-22 K-BB) weren't impressive. He was already the 12th man on a staff that will usually sit at 11 men, and would have faced competition for the 12th man spot from Mike Venafro, J.D. Durbin, and others come spring training time. The Twins obviously felt that Eyre wouldn't have won that battle.

I can't say that I'm disappointed in either of these decisions; neither Rodriguez nor Eyre were going to be major contributors for the Twins in 2007, and the Twins need the roster spots more than they need the players. I just wish Lew Ford were joining them (sorry Lew!).


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