Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Waiver Wire Thoughts

You've probably seen the Strib reporting throughout the day (culminating in this article) about the Twins efforts to secure Raul Ibanez and/or Jarrod Washburn from the Mariners. According to the article, the Twins placed a claim on both players, and actually won the claim on Washburn. In the end, though, the Mariners and Twins couldn't reach an agreement on the terms of a trade, and because the waiver placement was revocable, Washburn stays a Mariner.

Let me express here my extreme pleasure at this turn of events. I don't want the Twins to have anything to do with Washburn. He's been a serviceable big league starter for much of his career, and even with his numbers slipping a bit over the past few years (especially his WHIP, which has creeping upwards) he's better than a lot of starters in the league. Two things about Washburn made him incredibly undesirable in my mind, however:

1.) According to the article, the Twins intention had they landed Washburn was to move one of the current starters to the bullpen to provide depth. Certainly, the pitcher being moved wouldn't have been Francisco Liriano or Scott Baker. That means either Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn, or Glen Perkins would have been shifted into a relief role. Now, it's impossible to see the future, and maybe replacing Boof Bonser or Brian Bass with Slowey, Blackburn, or Perkins while slotting Washburn into the rotation would have made the Twins better overall. I doubt it, however. With only relatively rare exceptions (such as Blackburn's last start), the Twins starting pitching has actually been very good. Each of the starters in the current rotation has better numbers (and significantly higher upside) than Washburn. As a result, I feel pretty strongly that this would have made the Twins weaker overall. Unless Slowey, Blackburn, or Perkins would have immediately slotted into the setup role and been effective in it (I doubt both propositions), then I find it hard to see this move being beneficial.

2.) The Twins would have been on the hook for the remainder of this year and all of next year on Washburn's contract. Looking ahead just to next year, Washburn is due $10.35 million. The Twins don't need him in the first place, so spending over $10 million on him for next year would have been a tremendous mistake. Why waste the money when the current starters have proven that they can be better starters than Washburn is already? The Twins are better off taking that $10 million and finding a couple of decent bullpen arms in free agency this off-season.

Thankfully, the Mariners front office still has blinders on. They appear to have scuttled the deal because the Twins wouldn't give them a young starter in return. Trading for Washburn would have been bad -- giving up a legitimate prospect for him would have been laughable. Thankfully, Bill Smith recognized that such a deal didn't make sense, and left Washburn to the clueless Mariners.

Would bullpen help be nice? Obviously, the answer is yes. But the answer is not to break apart the current starting rotation, which has been a strength of this team. Find a real reliever or play with the hand you've got. Hopefully, today will mark the last of the insanity regarding waiver rumors.

PS: From reader Kris in the comments of the previous post, Twins 6th round pick B.J. Hermsen has signed with the Twins for a $650,000 signing bonus, plus some extras. The signing surprised me a bit because Hermsen was drafted a bit lower than he had hoped, and he seemed to be interested in going to Oregon State and giving the draft another go in a few years as a more developed player. Instead, the two sides came together and got a deal done. Good for those involved -- I'm glad to see Hermsen in the fold. We'll see if any other signings go down before tomorrow's deadline.

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