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  • Shift In Free Agency Strategy Doesn't Favor The Minnesota Twins

    The Minnesota Twins might be looking back to the good old days wistfully for a reason other than wanting to relive their decade of glory. For instance, signing free agents used to be a relatively orderly business:

    1. Teams that needed a great pitcher would chase the best (or best remaining) pitcher, hoping to get him.
    2. One team would get him.
    3. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


    Thatís oversimplifying a little, but in general, free agents would sign from the top down. In fact, free agents might wait to sign until the guys above them signed, knowing the remaining teams would probably chase him, driving up his demand.

    But the market has matured. General managers seem to have a willingness to sign a slightly lower level or pitcher rather than be shut out of a better one. Meanwhile, free agents recognize their value a little better, are willing to take snap up a generous offer early (and probably like the lack of risk that comes with it.) It might also be that teams are recognizing the value that can come in from the second and third tier pitchers exceeds that which can come from the top guys.

    Whatever the reason, it sure isnít top down this year. Here is the starting pitching free agent list I used when I started making the list for the TwinsCentric Offseason Handbook. They are roughly sorted in order of desirability. The crossed out names are the guys that have signed with someone.


    1. Zack Greinke
    2. Anibal Sanchez
    3. Jake Peavy
    4. Edwin Jackson
    5. Ryan Dempster
    6. Hiroki Kuroda
    7. Kyle Lohse
    8. Brandon McCarthy



    1. Ervin Santana
    2. Dan Haren
    3. Shaun Marcum
    4. Joe Blanton
    5. Jeremy Guthrie
    6. Scott Baker
    7. Colby Lewis
    8. Joe Saunders



    1. Carl Pavano
    2. Francisco Liriano
    3. Scott Feldman
    4. Carlos Villanueva
    5. Chris Young
    6. Roy Oswalt
    7. Kevin Millwood
    8. Erik Bedard



    1. Bartolo Colon
    2. Kevin Correia
    3. Derek Lowe
    4. Jason Marquis
    5. Daisuke Matsuzaka
    6. Carlos Zambrano
    7. Freddy Garcia
    8. Jeff Francis



    1. Roberto Hernandez
    2. Chien-Ming Wang
    3. Aaron Cook
    4. Jamie Moyer
    5. Jonathan Sanchez
    6. Kip Wells
    7. Randy Wolf


    It isnít the top tier that has signed Ė only two of those guys have signed already. Itís the second-tier that has been snapped up so far. Another fell yesterday, when Joe Blanton, clearly a second/third tier guy signed with a team that was linked to a lot of top-tier talent, the Angels.

    Overall, this feels like bad news for the Twins. The Twins have never chased top-tier talent, as they are (probably justifiably) hesitant to commit to the long-term deals that talent demands. But now the second tier is almost completely spoken for. This leaves third-tier talent, or non-tendered pitchers, all of which are by definition third-tier guys.

    The hope might be that it goes the other way. Perhaps some of the guys at the top will find their demand slipping away somewhat as top-tier teams gravitate toward the middle of the list. But from the rumor coming out of the winter meetings, it doesnít sound like any of these guys are lacking for suitors right now.

    It seems more and more like the Twins choice is to overpay or to settle, and settling now means going to third and fourth tier pitchers. This further raises the question whether the Twins should place much hope in 2013 or look forward to 2014, and what that does to their offseason strategy.
    This article was originally published in blog: Shift In Free Agency Strategy Doesn't Favor The Minnesota Twins started by John Bonnes
    Comments 27 Comments
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Interesting to see the lists laid out and I think you are right. The Twins have often seemed to sit back and let the market come to them but other teams seem to be making preemptive strikes.

      I don't see pitchers in the top group "falling" in years or dollars into what the Twins would want to pay. There seems to be a lot of teams out there with a lot of money. It's pretty hard to ignore what some of the new TV deals are doing to the market.

      I never saw the Twins as being able to acquire enough pitching to be really competitive in 2013. The question for me is how they should play this to be really competitive down the road. Do they put their money into short term pitching deals that may only marginally improve the team for 2013 or should they be looking to use some of that money to upgrade positions with the idea of possibly flipping those players for pitching depth at the trade deadline or next offseason? Can they mine a few undervalued postion player prospects (like Willingham) and then capitalize on them as time goes on?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      It is not over paying if that is what the market gives every year. That is the market they choose to be a part of if they want to own a MLB team. Oh, and the price goes up every year....so their hesitancy is only going to get worse.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      I think the signings to this point reflect 2 things. Many teams aren't interested in long term committments. Too many of those don't work out that well, and unless you are the Yankees or a few other teams, it can be pretty hard to work around a lot of money tied up in useless talent. A 2nd part of that is that some of the perceived top talent might be asking for a lot more than most teams are willing to pay. Some of those talents might have to readjust their asking price. Or perhaps as you suggest, some team will decide to overpay.

      In any case, part of the Twins problem is that they need more than one free agent pitcher. If you only need one, you target a couple of guys, the one that comes closest to what you are willing to pay, go for it. When you need 3 or 4 guys, like the Twins do, it is a bit harder to follow that approach.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Or you could get even 1 for three years, then add another when Justins deal comes off the books next year....still hoping......
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      I buy Honeycrisp apples. They cost $2.39/lb. My second favorite species cost $1.69.
      Looking at your list, John, excluding Greinke and Sanibel, I only see about five Honeycrisp apples. Problem is, they're priced at $4.69/lb. I imagine Ryan goes with my second favorite species. That'll be dissappointing.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      It might actually force the Twins to go up. Given the organizational lack of pitching in the minors, I'd still likely target one of these big names, as they are going to need pitching now, and in 2014/15... I'd go after Sanchez whom I think has the best chance of all of them to deliver maximum value on that type of contract.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      I buy Honeycrisp apples too...bought some Sunday...totally worth the extra money needed to get them
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I agree with puck....
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Or, it's a realization that unless the Twins make a blow-away offer to the better talent
      all they can do is wait to see who nobody else wants and then make a deal. That's part of the problem of being a losing team, the better players won't play for you unless offered substantially more money.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      I buy Honeycrisp apples. They cost $2.39/lb. My second favorite species cost $1.69.
      Looking at your list, John, excluding Greinke and Sanibel, I only see about five Honeycrisp apples. Problem is, they're priced at $4.69/lb. I imagine Ryan goes with my second favorite species. That'll be dissappointing.
      Actually, John's point seems to be that your second favorite choice is already sold out so now it's go big or go home.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      I buy Honeycrisp apples. They cost $2.39/lb. My second favorite species cost $1.69.
      Looking at your list, John, excluding Greinke and Sanibel, I only see about five Honeycrisp apples. Problem is, they're priced at $4.69/lb. I imagine Ryan goes with my second favorite species. That'll be dissappointing.
      Actually, John's point seems to be that your second favorite choice is already sold out so now it's go big or go home.
      I think Birdwatcher's point, and mine too, is that Honeycrisp apples are delicious!
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      If you just bump Marcum up to the upper tier and drop Saunders to the 3rd tier, it gives a pretty clear picture of what the Twins are facing now. I'm not altogether sure that a couple of those remaining upper tier pitchers might not end up a bit disappointed in their contracts, though. Yes the rumors for all of those guys have multiple teams "interested," but they seem to be the same handful of teams. The Dodgers are reportedly considering going after both Greinke and Sanchez, but how many others will hand big bucks to more than one of these pitchers? The Angels for example appear to have a pretty full rotation already, yet they're still mentioned as suitors for some of those upper tier guys.

      But you're right, it's going to be interesting to see how this shakes out. The Twins may indeed find that their best path to legitimate pitching is the trade market and that could mean they have to face the possibility of coughing up prospects, which they've also been averse to doing in the past.
    1. jharaldson's Avatar
      jharaldson -
      Minor update: Please cross Feldman off, he signed with the Cubs.

      Given we know that pitchers are accepting reasonable/good offers already by the fact that so many have signed and given the fact that we know through the reporting of LEN3 that the Twins have many offers out I think we can conclude the Twins are not offering reasonable/good contracts and are throwing out lowball offers and seeing what, if anything, sticks. It is disappointing knowing we could have Haren ($13 million), Blanton ($6 Million) and a fringe guy like Francis ($1.5 million) all on 1 or 2 year deals and all within budget.
    1. AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS's Avatar
      AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      I buy Honeycrisp apples too...bought some Sunday...totally worth the extra money needed to get them
      Couldnt have said it better Puck. Sometimes spending that little bit of extra money is absolutely worth it.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Well, now I understand why so many of you are enamored with Joe Mauer and why I find him dull and boring.

      Regardless of the difference in price, I never buy honeycrisps. They are okay to eat but I'd rather have a nice tart Haralson any day although I usually have to settle for a Braeburn cuz Haralsons have limited availability.

      And honeycrisps are far too sweet to use IN anything. And one apple doesn't a dessert make.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Perhaps the tone of this thread will chnge when the next update is included?
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      I think Birdwatcher's point, and mine too, is that Honeycrisp apples are delicious!
      No. Delicious is a totally different variety, and vastly inferior.

      Oh, and Fuji, FTW!
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      Well, now I understand why so many of you are enamored with Joe Mauer and why I find him dull and boring.

      Regardless of the difference in price, I never buy honeycrisps. They are okay to eat but I'd rather have a nice tart Haralson any day although I usually have to settle for a Braeburn cuz Haralsons have limited availability.

      And honeycrisps are far too sweet to use IN anything. And one apple doesn't a dessert make.
      Many people think Braeburns are applesauce with a skin on them. I would think someone who likes Braeburns would like Mauer.
      When he plays poorly he is like a Braeburn. When he is good he is like a Honeycrisp.
      Best apple for baking is a Winesap.

      Are we going to discuss oranges next?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Fuji and honeycrisp for eating..all others for baking and sauces.....though I hear there some new varieties coming soon.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      While we're talking about apples, I discovered SweeTango apples awhile back. It changed my life.
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