Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Sunday, September 30, 2007

What's Next?

The Twins season is now over, and it's time to enjoy what's certain to be a very interesting post-season and dream about Spring Training 2008. The journey to next season will involve a great many decisions by the Twins and new GM Bill Smith, and this post will highlight the major choices that Smith has to make as relates to current Twins personnel. If you're interested in seeing a general post-season calendar, there's a good, comprehensive one (that actually covers all season) here. Also, while I give a few opinions in this post, it's mostly intended to be informational. In the next few days I'll be posting my thoughts on what I would do if I were the one confronted with these deadlines.

Option Decision - Deadline Unknown

Joe Nathan - Team Option - $6 million / $1 million buyout

Often, the player's contract dictates that an option decision has to be made within a certain number of days of the end of the regular season or the end of the World Series. I don't know when Nathan's option needs to be decided upon, but really this is a no-brainer; $6 million is an absolute steal for a closer with Nathan's abilities, and the Twins should (and will) snap this thing up quickly.

Just as an aside, the Twins also had another potential option situation this year, as Rondell White had a vesting option based on plate appearances. Of course, White's season was a disaster and he picked up just over 100 AB's on the season -- far below the number that he would have had to pick up in order for the option to vest.

Free Agent Filing Deadline - 16th Day after the World Series Ends
Salary Arbitration Offer Deadline - December 1
Deadline to Accept Arbitration Offer - December 7

Torii Hunter - $12 Million in 2007
Carlos Silva - $4 Million in 2007
Rondell White - $2.5 Million in 2007

Yes, believe it or not the Twins have whittled down the list of free agents on the team to just three. Rondell White has already said that he plans on retiring, and even if he changes his mind its extremely unlikely that the Twins would choose to bring him back. The big gun is, of course, Torii Hunter -- and I'll be saying a lot more about my opinion on that front in the coming days. As for Silva, the Twins have plenty of talented young arms and Silva is in line to get a pretty big contract on the free agent market, so don't expect him back next year.

Reserve List Deadline - November 20
Rule 5 Draft - December 6

It would be very difficult to list all of the potentially affected players in this post, so I'm going to explain this deadline and then focus more closely on it when the playoffs end and the Twins are more likely to make some moves in this area. Essentially, this is the deadline for players to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place during the Winter Meetings on December 6. By the way, it's "Rule 5 Draft," not "Rule V Draft" -- the name comes from Rule 5 of the Professional Baseball Agreement (or whatever they call it now).

The most well-known portion of the Rule 5 Draft is the "Major League Phase." Players who were 19 or older when signed are eligible to be drafted if they are not on the 40-man roster and the current year's draft is at least the fourth since they were signed (i.e. a player originally signed in 2004 who was 20 when signed would have been with his team while the '04, '05, and '06 drafts took place, so this year's draft would be the fourth since he signed and he would be eligible to be drafted if he was left off of the 40-man roster). Alternatively, players who were 18 or younger when originally signed are eligible to be drafted if they are not on the 40-man roster and the current year's draft is at least the fifth since they were signed.

Additionally, there are AAA and AA phases of the draft in which players on a lower level reserve list (basically the minor league equivalent of the 40-man roster, although the numbers of protected players vary at each level) are available to be drafted. The Twins took Brian Buscher from the Giants in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft last year, for instance.

So, why is November 20 the big date? By that point, all of the free agents will have filed and will no longer be taking up roster space. That means that teams will have room to place players on the 40-man roster to protect them from the draft. So, who will be eligible this year unless added to the 40-man? Here's a partial list (my thoughts on who the Twins should add to the roster will be coming in a later post):

Kyle Aselton - LHP
Korey Feiner - C
Jesse Floyd - RHP
Matthew Fox - RHP
Dave Gassner -LHP
Kyle Geiger - C
Garrett Guzman - OF
Adam Hawes - RHP
Danny Hernandez - RHP
Luke Hughes - IF
Bobby Korecky - RHP
Tim Lahey - RHP
Jose Leger - C/IF
Jose Lugo - LHP
William Luque - IF
J.P. Martinez - RHP
Frank Mata - RHP
Jason Miller - LHP
Felix Molina - 2B
Matt Moses - 3B
Trent Oeltjen - OF
Yancarlos Ortiz - SS
Edward Ovalle - OF
Rodolfo Palacios - C
Brock Peterson - 1B
Javi Sanchez - C
Danny Santiesteban - OF
Jay Sawatski - LHP
David Shinskie - RHP
Eli Tintor - OF
Matt Tolbert - IF
Luis Ugueto - IF
Danny Vais - RHP
Gil Velazquez - IF
Dwayne White - OF
Glenn Williams - IF
David Winfree - 1B/3B
Johnny Woodard - 1B

Deadline to Tender Contracts - December 12

The so-called non-tender deadline (by which all players not under contract must be "tendered" a contract -- players who are non-tendered become free agents) is always interesting. Teams have a chance to part ways with players that they don't have a place for. Usually, this deadline is important for players who are arbitration eligible the next year, because teams don't want to risk having to pay a marginal player a significant salary. The Twins once again have a pretty long list of arbitration eligibles for this year, but few of them are actually candidates to leave the team via a non-tender. Here's the list of arbitration eligibles:

Matt Guerrier - RP ($.4075 M in 2007)
Juan Rincon - RP ($2 M in 2007)
Matt LeCroy - C ($.5 M in 2007)
Justin Morneau - 1B ($4.5 M in 2007)
Michael Cuddyer - RF ($3.575 M in 2007)
Lew Ford - OF ($.985 M in 2007)
Jason Kubel - OF ($.3875 M in 2007)
Jason Tyner - OF ($.4 M in 2007)

What are the Twins likely to do with that group? I think it's safe to say that Matt LeCroy will be removed from the roster promptly, possibly well before the non-tender deadline. It's also pretty safe to say that Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Matt Guerrier, and Jason Kubel will be brought back. Juan Rincon and Jason Tyner are also likely returnees, although they're closer calls. The only candidate who I think is likely to be non-tendered this year, then, is Lew Ford -- who I thought should have been non-tendered last year.

One last thing on arbitration-eligibles -- Luis Rodriguez (2.128 days of service time) is likely to be on the borderline of so-called "super-2" eligibility. That could factor into the Twins decision on whether or not to bring him back next year. Jason Bartlett also has about 2 1/2 years of service time -- but that's probably too low to get him into super-2 range.

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  • At Mon Oct 01, 07:42:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    These players do not need to meet the eligibility requirements that those drafted in the Major League phase have to meet -- they just have to be left off of a reserve list.

    I don't believe that is correct. The same rules about the number of drafts apply. In the AAA phase players can be taken off the reserve lists for teams below AAA. And the AA phase allows teams to take players off the reserve lists below AA.

  • At Mon Oct 01, 09:16:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    Looking at the rules again, I think you're correct. I'll make the change in the main post.

  • At Mon Oct 01, 09:44:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    BTW, this was a very informative post. You do good work.


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