Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Monday, July 16, 2007

Twins Trade Primer

With two weeks left to the trade deadline, and teams just starting to make some interesting moves (see Jason Kendell to the Cubs), its time to run through the Twins organization to see which players are at key check points in their career, and therefore more likely to be involved in a trade. The checkpoints I'm particularly interested in looking at shouldn't be too surprising -- guys who will be free agents at the end of the year (or who could be if an option is declined), arbitration eligible players, guys who will be out of options going into the 2008 season, and guys who must be added to the 40-man roster or be exposed to the rule 5 draft. I won't be covering absolutely everybody who fits into one of those categories in this post -- but I aim to get close. Here goes nothing:

1.) Free Agents to Be

Ramon Ortiz - SP - $3.1 million
Luis Castillo - 2B - $5.75 million
Jeff Cirillo - IF - $1.5 million
Torii Hunter - OF - $12 million

Options for 2008
Joe Nathan - RP - $5.25 million ($6M option/$1M buyout)
Rondell White - OF - $2.5 million ($2.5 vesting option/.25M buyout)

Let's start with the obvious on the options -- Rondell White is not going to get anywhere near the plate appearances that would be necessary for his option to vest, and the Twins aren't going to be bringing him back any other way. He's a free agent-to-be if ever there was one. It's equally obvious that he isn't going anywhere in a trade; even if he were to get healthy, why would anyone swing a deal for him at this point? As for the other option player, Joe Nathan will have his option picked up the second the season is over. I wouldn't be completely opposed to some creative GM'ing that involved Nathan in a trade (if the return was perfect), but that's extremely unlikely -- and I'm very, very content to know that unless a great deal comes TR's way, Nathan will be closing again for the Twins next year.

As for the pure free agents, if you read this blog at all you know that I think Torii Hunter should be re-signed -- but if the Twins aren't going to get that done in the next two weeks, they need to either try like the dickens to trade him, or find a way to add pieces and make a legitimate run at a playoff spot with Torii. Losing Hunter at the end of the season as a free agent is an acceptable result only if the Twins do so because they make the decision that they are good enough to compete for a World Series title this year and so need Hunter's bat. Speaking for most fans who have watched this team over the course of the first half of the year, I think it's safe to say that this team as presently constituted is not there yet. Keeping Hunter after the deadline while picking no one up would be silly. But let's also be realistic here -- who is going to overpay for Hunter now knowing that he's just going to turn around and test the market in the off-season? If your answer was "no one," then you win. Looking through the contenders, there are few (if any) teams that even need a player like Hunter right now. Maybe Milwaukee. Theoretically Boston. Beyond that, things get rough. The market is just not there for Hunter at the deadline, so I don't expect him to be traded.

Elsewhere, the Twins should make a run at trading Luis Castillo, but as with Hunter I don't think the market for him is going to be very substantial. Alexi Casilla is going to be taking over at 2B next season barring something very unforeseen -- the Twins may as well make that move now if they find a taker for Castillo. Jeff Cirillo and Ramon Ortiz have no trade value -- they'll finish the season as Twins and disappear into the baseball free agent ether.

2.) Arbitration Eligible Players

Matt Guerrier - RP - $.4075 M
Juan Rincon - RP - $2 M
Carlos Silva - SP - $4 M
Justin Morneau - 1B - $4.5 M
Michael Cuddyer - OF - $3.575 M
Lew Ford - OF - $.985 M
Jason Tyner - OF - $.4 M
Jason Kubel (Super 2) - OF - $.3875 M

Luis Rodriguez (Super 2) - IF - $.392 M

That's quite the list. The Twins aren't going to be parting ways with Morneau or Cuddyer at the deadline, or with new "it" boy Matt Guerrier, who is having a breakthrough season. It's also extremely unlikely that Jason Kubel is going anywhere, as the Twins are still hopeful that he's going to develop into a useful piece (of course, his time is quickly running out). The rest of these guys are expendable, and could find themselves involved in a package deal if someone were willing to take them. The Twins should have parted ways with Lew Ford last winter, and if the Twins are smart would be this winter. Juan Rincon and Carlos Silva are perhaps the most interesting guys on the list -- I think that if the Twins move Silva, it would get them a long way toward being able to afford Torii Hunter next year (when the expiring free agent contracts are taken into account). Rincon has lost his job as the setup man, and you have to wonder what his role with the team would be next year. Finally, Luis Rodriguez is borderline for two reasons -- one, if he spent the rest of the season with the Twins, he'd be right on the cut-point to get super-2 eligibility; second, he simply should not be with the team for the rest of the season, and if he's sent to the minors, he can kiss arbitration eligibility good bye. I can't imagine that anyone would want him in a deal, but it wouldn't hurt to try to throw him in as an extra part and see the team blinks.

3.) Out of Options

Scott Baker - SP
Carmen Cali - RP
Garrett Jones - 1B/OF

Boof Bonser - SP
Jason Kubel - OF

First things first -- the "potentials" on this list have both already been optioned in two seasons, so if either Bonser or Kubel were sent down this season, they would be out of options and would have to make the roster after Spring Training 2008. Of course, that's not going to happen with either of them -- both should easily stay on the roster for the remainder of this season, and should make the team next spring.

How about the other guys? It's unlikely that any of them will be traded, but with decisions on these players looming, its a possibility. Scott Baker is probably the most likely to be traded simply because the Twins have so many starters in the system for next year, and something has to give.

4.) Rule 5 Eligible

* I'm not certain on all of these players, but this is my best guess. Both players who are eligible for the first time in 2007 and who are already eligible but are not yet on the 40-man roster will be included on this list*

Matt Allegra - OF - New Britain
Kyle Aselton - RP - Ft. Myers
Brad Baker - RP - Rochester
Brian Bass - RP - Rochester
Daniel Berg - 1B - Beloit
Nick Blackburn - SP - Rochester
Brian Buscher - 3B - Rochester
Tristan Crawford - RP - New Britain
Doug Deeds - 1B/OF - Rochester
Korey Feiner - C - New Britain
Jesse Floyd - SP - New Britain
Matthew Fox - RP - Beloit
Angel Garcia - RP - New Britain
Dave Gassner - SP - Rochester
Kyle Geiger - C - New Britain
Garrett Guzman - OF - New Britain
Adam Hawes - RP - Ft. Myers
Danny Hernandez - RP - Beloit
Luke Hughes - IF - New Britain
Bobby Korecky - RP - Rochester
Tim Lahey - RP - New Britain
Jose Leger - C/IF - Beloit
Jose Lugo - RP - Beloit
William Luque - IF - Beloit
J.P. Martinez - RP - New Britain
Frank Mata - RP - New Britain
Darnell McDonald - OF - Rochester
Felix Molina - 2B - New Britain
Jose Morales - C - Rochester
Matt Moses - 3B - New Britain
Trent Oeltjen - OF - Rochester
Yancarlos Ortiz - IF - Beloit
Edward Ovalle - OF - Ft. Myers
Rodolfo Palacios - C - Elizabethton
Brock Peterson - 1B - New Britain
Javi Sanchez - C - Ft. Myers
Danny Santiesteban - OF - Beloit
Jay Sawatski - RP - New Britain
David Shinskie - RP - Ft. Myers
Eli Tintor - OF - Beloit
Matt Tolbert - IF - Rochester
Luis Ugueto - IF - Ft. Myers
Danny Vais - RP - Beloit
Gil Velazquez - IF - Rochester
Tommy Watkins - IF - Rochester
Dwayne White - OF - Ft. Myers
Glenn Williams - 1B/3B - Rochester
David Winfree - 1B/3B - New Britain
Johnny Woodard - 1B - Ft. Myers

I'm not going to say much about this list, other than to say that I would expect Matt Tolbert and Nick Blackburn to be added to the roster at some point. Matt Moses is going to be an interesting call, as will Brian Buscher.

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  • At Tue Jul 17, 08:01:00 AM , Blogger Curveball said...

    Rather than just Rule 5 eligible, you have to look at guys that will be minor league free agents (Dave Gassner, for example) vs. Rule 5 eligible. You can also eliminate from Rule 5 competition those guys that PROBABLY couldn't make the jump from, say, A ball to the major leagues for a season. That's a big gamble for most major league clubs.

    Good analysis.

  • At Tue Jul 17, 08:24:00 AM , Blogger JST said...


    thanks for the comment. Certainly it would have been more thorough to point out minor league free agents, etc. -- but that world is even more confusing than just rule 5 eligibility, and I didn't want to venture into it just yet. I will make my best attempt at that when the season is over. I don't expect the Twins to make trade decisions based on rule 5 eligibility anyway, but I wanted to at least get some of the information out there. Glad you read the post!


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