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  • The Road to Rebuild: Trading Away Assets


    Yesterday was the first part of a series that will look at the road that lies ahead for the Minnesota Twins as they try to rebuild after back-to-back 90 loss seasons. The team has already started the rebuilding process by trading away two of their most valuable major league assets in Denard Span and Ben Revere. Today, “The Road to Rebuild” looks at trading away some of the team’s other assets - and fan favorites - to get players for the next time the team will be competitive.

    Denard Span and Ben Revere were two fan favorites over the last couple of years but the team jumped at the opportunity to trade these two players for young pitchers with upside. The Twins turned two former first round picks into three pitchers that should figure into the team’s equation over the next handful of seasons.


    It can be tough to trade away players that have been with the organization since they were teenagers. At TwinsFest, Terry Ryan made it clear that trading away Revere was one of the toughest decisions of his professional career when he said "Ben Revere is like a son to me." These are decisions that the front office has to make with their head and not with their heart.

    It seems that there will be plenty of other tough decisions for Mr. Ryan to make along the road to rebuild. There are a couple of other valuable pieces that the Twins could potentially trade in the next two years that could help add more depth to a farm system that is already considered one of the best in all of baseball.

    Two of the team's best players' contracts will expire before the end of 2014. The way the Twins are shaping their roster doesn't make it seem like the team will be competitive before the end of those deals. This could leave Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham on the trading block.

    Trading Morneau could be another tough decision for Ryan. Twins fans have cheered for Morneau through thick and through thin. The former MVP has had a couple of rough years in a row but the end of 2012 was a step in the right direction, when he hit .289/.354/.439 over the second half. If Morneau could get the 2013 season off on the right foot, he trade value could rise rapidly.

    Morneau is in the last year of a six-year, $80 million deal. With Chris Parmelee on the roster, the Twins have a possible replacement for Morneau waiting in the wings. Parmelee will be a much cheaper option since he has yet to reach arbitration. A team looking to add a powerful left-handed bat for the stretch run might be willing to give up some pieces to acquire Morneau.

    Last offseason, the Twins signed Willingham to a very reasonable three-year, $21 million contract. He more than lived up to the deal during his first season in a Twins uniform. MLB honored him with a Silver Slugger Award after he knocked 35 home runs, the most by a Twins player not named Harmon Killebrew since 1963. This tremendous season helped to add value to a player the Twins got for a good deal.

    Willingham's contract will run through the end of the 2014 season but he will be 36 years old by that point. He is closer to the end of his career than he is to the beginning, so it is hard to imagine him gaining any more value on the field. If the right deal is on the table from another club, the Twins might have to pull the trigger.

    For fans, it can be tough to watch their favorite players leave for another team. This is especially true when the players the Twins get back are still a couple years away from making an impact at the big league level. But trading away veteran players is part of the rebuilding process.

    And hey, fans can be rest-assured that Joe Mauer will be around for this rebuild...

    ...and maybe even the next one too.
    This article was originally published in blog: The Road to Rebuild: Trading Away Assets started by Cody Christie
    Comments 21 Comments
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Morneau will be age 30 this June and there are reports that he is finally healthy. Would it make sense to offer him a new contract?
    1. LoganJones's Avatar
      LoganJones -
      Quote Originally Posted by glunn View Post
      Morneau will be age 30 this June and there are reports that he is finally healthy. Would it make sense to offer him a new contract?
      Absolutely. It looks like Miguel Sano will be the next great Twins first baseman, but that's still probably 3 years away. Give Morneau a 2-3 year extension this summer if he's hitting. Justin provides the team a lot more potential for value by being on their roster and healthy than he does in a potential trade.

      Willingham makes a lot more sense to be traded, as the team picking him up will be getting a cost controlled slugger for a year and a half. I could see Baltimore being very interested if their season breaks good again this year. Or perhaps Texas, who will likely be in the need for some RH bats once Nellie Cruz gets suspended and or hurt like he does. Heck, they could probably use him already.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by glunn View Post
      Morneau will be age 30 this June and there are reports that he is finally healthy. Would it make sense to offer him a new contract?
      California math?
    1. Dance with Disco Dan's Avatar
      Dance with Disco Dan -
      Quote Originally Posted by LoganJones View Post
      Absolutely. It looks like Miguel Sano will be the next great Twins first baseman, but that's still probably 3 years away. Give Morneau a 2-3 year extension this summer if he's hitting. Justin provides the team a lot more potential for value by being on their roster and healthy than he does in a potential trade.

      Willingham makes a lot more sense to be traded, as the team picking him up will be getting a cost controlled slugger for a year and a half. I could see Baltimore being very interested if their season breaks good again this year. Or perhaps Texas, who will likely be in the need for some RH bats once Nellie Cruz gets suspended and or hurt like he does. Heck, they could probably use him already.
      I agree about Willingham. I think this off-season represented his highest trade value. Two years of a power bat at $7 million/year is a screaming value given the contracts given other over-30 OFs like Cody Ross and Shane Victorino. Unfortunately, it appears the off-season dealing is all but over. There are very few obvious trades for Willingham at this stage. So, I am hopeful Willingham is healthy and productive in the first half and brings back a prospect mid-summer.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      California math?
      Nope...if it was California math, he'd have written 'Morneau will be age 32'...and he would have gotten the birth month right as well... :-)
    1. B Richard's Avatar
      B Richard -
      Running a shrewd business demands staying as emotionally neutral as possible. Everyone has their price.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by glunn View Post
      Morneau will be age 30 this June and there are reports that he is finally healthy. Would it make sense to offer him a new contract?
      It might depend on Parmelee. Specifically, whether he hits and can take over for Morneau at 1B without much of a dropoff, and/or whether he's a wreck in the outfield making him necessarily a 1B. I think there are some moving parts here.

      On the other hand, if the Twins aren't willing to commit years to a healthy and productive Morneau, they can always given him a qualifying offer at roughly the same amount they're paying him now. If he comes back, one more year of Morneau; if not, draft pick.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      A decision on Morneau is the major move still this offseason. If he looks like he really wants to test the free-agent marketplace, jettison him. You'll get something more now than later, giving another team the opportunity to extend him or make him a qualifying offer. I'm for resigning Morneau to a team friendly 203 year extension with a 4th year option. He can stay a part of the Twins and clearly move into the DH role down-the-line. You don;t develop minor league prospects to DH. Once the season starts, his price becomes $13+ million or nothing.
    1. chuchadoro's Avatar
      chuchadoro -
      Quote Originally Posted by glunn View Post
      Morneau will be age 30 this June and there are reports that he is finally healthy. Would it make sense to offer him a new contract?
      Maybe if the Twins org made any effort at fielding a competitive team in the near future. The fact that the Twins did nothing to address the disasters that are their rotation and middle infield leads any reasonable person to conclude that the Twins don't concern themselves with such things.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      What is the upper limit for a Morneau extension that we would be willing to live with? LaRouche's recent deal provides some context (LaRoche obtains $10MM in 2013, $12MM in 2014 and a $2MM buyout for a 2015 mutual option).
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Every offseason there are cheap 1B and DH bats, so I don't like an extension. Also we have paid for enough downtime with the concussions already. If Morneau has a good year, maybe the Twins make a qualifying offer but if he declines then you take the comp pick and let Mauer/Parmelee/Doumit/Plouffe/cheap FA play 1B. This team has enough DH stiffs already. Save the money for skill players who can hit. Or pitching.
    1. LoganJones's Avatar
      LoganJones -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      A decision on Morneau is the major move still this offseason. If he looks like he really wants to test the free-agent marketplace, jettison him. You'll get something more now than later, giving another team the opportunity to extend him or make him a qualifying offer. I'm for resigning Morneau to a team friendly 203 year extension with a 4th year option. He can stay a part of the Twins and clearly move into the DH role down-the-line. You don;t develop minor league prospects to DH. Once the season starts, his price becomes $13+ million or nothing.
      Important to note: you can't do the qualifying offer thing to players you acquired mid season.
    1. LoganJones's Avatar
      LoganJones -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      Every offseason there are cheap 1B and DH bats, so I don't like an extension. Also we have paid for enough downtime with the concussions already. If Morneau has a good year, maybe the Twins make a qualifying offer but if he declines then you take the comp pick and let Mauer/Parmelee/Doumit/Plouffe/cheap FA play 1B. This team has enough DH stiffs already. Save the money for skill players who can hit. Or pitching.
      Probably a good route to take, really.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dance with Disco Dan View Post
      I agree about Willingham. I think this off-season represented his highest trade value. Two years of a power bat at $7 million/year is a screaming value given the contracts given other over-30 OFs like Cody Ross and Shane Victorino. Unfortunately, it appears the off-season dealing is all but over. There are very few obvious trades for Willingham at this stage. So, I am hopeful Willingham is healthy and productive in the first half and brings back a prospect mid-summer.
      I disagree a little on the value of Willingham being highest in the offseason. Corner bats were available only for money. Teams would prefee that over giving up prospects.

      He should have the same or even more value at the deadline as teams need a final piece. Obviously health is a risk but that is also why his value might be lower right now than we think. Plus he has good value to the Twins right now.
    1. mcrow's Avatar
      mcrow -
      I think the answer in both cases is they would like to keep them if the price and years are right. Less so with Willingham given the depth in the system in the OF.

      Justin's performance after the AS break last year is encouraging by posting numbers close to his career averages before the health issues. However, he is going to be 32 early in the season. If he has a big year this year it won't be the yearly salary that's a problem as much as the number of years he might command. at 32 do you want to commit to more than 2-3 years?

      Same goes for Willingham. He's getting to an age where you debate wether it is best for the team to have the caliber of hitter he is now for maybe a year or two more or if you are better trading for some prospects.

      The problem with both of these guys could be that they would demand longer term contracts than make sense for a young, up and coming team. I suppose a lot of this will depend on if the Twins are competitive or not this year as well.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      If pitchers and other free agents supposedly will mot sign here, why would Morneau? At some point, he might feel like Torii and Johan did, that Ryan never plays for the present.
    1. UCLA_YANKEE_COLA's Avatar
      UCLA_YANKEE_COLA -
      Quote Originally Posted by chuchadoro View Post
      Maybe if the Twins org made any effort at fielding a competitive team in the near future. The fact that the Twins did nothing to address the disasters that are their rotation and middle infield leads any reasonable person to conclude that the Twins don't concern themselves with such things.
      The best option in the MI this offseason? Maicer Izturis? Marco Scutaro? Scutaro is 37 and Izturis has 1.5 WAR over the last 2 years. The rest of the FA list looks like crap. If there were great, young options that would fit with the org's timeline of expected comepetitiveness - good, great, grand - EVERYONE ON THE BUS. But there weren't. And this is what a re-build feels like.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      If pitchers and other free agents supposedly will mot sign here,
      Supposedly is the key word. If the Twins offer enough money players will sign (and have signed) here.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by UCLA_YANKEE_COLA View Post
      The best option in the MI this offseason? Maicer Izturis? Marco Scutaro? Scutaro is 37 and Izturis has 1.5 WAR over the last 2 years. The rest of the FA list looks like crap. If there were great, young options that would fit with the org's timeline of expected comepetitiveness - good, great, grand - EVERYONE ON THE BUS. But there weren't. And this is what a re-build feels like.
      gee i would be happy with a 0 war, it better then what we had ...average is what we strive for here..at shortstop, why ? because it an improvment...
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      What is the upper limit for a Morneau extension that we would be willing to live with? LaRouche's recent deal provides some context (LaRoche obtains $10MM in 2013, $12MM in 2014 and a $2MM buyout for a 2015 mutual option).
      No offer. Anything the Twins offer amounts to an insult--either to Morneau or the fans who are forced to endure the lost seasons. Some stepped-up for '09 and '10 but the loss of the MVP Morneau from the lineup was part of the disaster. Many have posted, "What if...?" That question was sadly answered starting in late '09. The Twins are clearly in rebuild mode. I definately support having Morneau in the '13 lineup to provide some offense, for a team that will struggle to score, anything more than a 1-year contract of average MLB salary is way too risky. But that offer would be considered by Morneau as insulting, anything more is insulting to everyone else--Morneau's time has passed (sadly). Morneau can no longer be considered a cornerstone but rather only a complimentary cog in the machine. He needs to move on to his next team who will likely welcome him.
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