Today is the July trade deadline. At 3:00 this afternoon (central time), the non-waiver trade deadline will come and go. The Twins have already traded Francisco Liriano. That was a given. The Twins needed to deal him before July 31 regardless of the 10 (or more) things that we hate about the actual deal itself.
What would your reaction be if the Twins did not make another trade before the 3:00 deadline? What if Terry Ryan does not get an offer for Denard Span, Josh Willingham or Glen Perkins that he deems worthy of accepting? What if the Twins have to eat $10 million or more from the Blue Jays in a deal for Justin Morneau?
The Twins need to do something to acquire pitching, and with a weakened minor league system, they also just need to gain as much talent as they can regardless of position.
So, is there a case for the Twins to do nothing at the trade deadline?
The Twins are said to be looking for a lot in return for Denard Span. The same is true of Josh Willingham, if he is even available at all. This is smart, and the Twins are the team in control on these guys. Because both are signed for a couple more years at very reasonable dollar values, there is no hurry to trade them. In both cases, GM Terry Ryan should not accept anything less than a great return.
First, both play pretty important roles on a team and are very valuable. Span is a terrific leadoff hitter and a solid centerfielder. Willingham may not be much defensively, but having his kind of power in the middle of the lineup is an asset.
Second, because they are signed for at least two more seasons, the Twins could find that they could acquire more during the offseason, or even at next year’s trade deadline.
Although the Twins would likely love to get out from under the $14 million they owe Justin Morneau, they should be smart about it as well. If they have to eat any of the contract, they need to make sure that they get enough return to make it worthwhile. Otherwise, they might as well just keep Morneau and hope that he can continue to improve, maybe even getting back to his MVP form. If so, he is a great middle-of-the-lineup threat, and as is seemingly a theme here, he could have even more value next July, or in the offseason.
The same can be said for relief pitchers Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing and Jared Burton. Perkins is signed long term. Duensing has at least three years of arbitration-eligibility before he can become a free agent, and Burton has one more arbitration season. Relief pitching is something that seems to get traded at the trade deadline for more than they should. So, the Twins should explore deals for these three in hopes that they are offered a package they can’t refuse. But the other side is that these are three strong building blocks that can provide stability in the Twins bullpen that they can hold on to for a couple of years. Again, all three could be traded in the offseason or at the deadline next July.
Of course, other players could sneak through waivers and be traded in August. Players like Carl Pavano and Matt Capps would need to come off of the Disabled List and prove themselves to be healthy enough to get through the rest of the season first, but that could happen. Someone like Alexi Casilla could provide a bench bat or pinch-running capabilities for the right team for a playoff run as well.
According to Twins mlb.com writer Rhett Bollinger, the Twins are 34-32 since May 16th
. If not for a horrendous first six weeks of the season, the Twins could be in contention for a playoff spot. Maybe this team isn’t as far away from contending for a playoff berth as we think?
Maintaining status quo would mean that the Twins could have a 2013 lineup with Denard Span, Ben Revere, Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, Trevor Plouffe and Ryan Doumit in it. Although Brian Dozier has struggled mightily in his rookie season, as most players do, there is still hope that he can be a league average middle infielder in time. They will need to figure out how the middle infield will play out, but with those first seven in the lineup, the middle infield can go back to being defense-first types.
The question, as it always is, is in the pitching staff. Scott Diamond would appear to be the only sure-thing for a rotation spot coming into the season. It is unlikely that anyone that te Twins would acquire in a trade today would be able to step in to a rotation spot in 2013 and become a top starter, but the hope would be that the return on a great player would be some pitchers with great upside.
But if the Twins decide not to make July trades or big offseason trades, that means that they have ever intention of competing right away in 2013. If that is the case, the Twins will have to spend on pitching in the offseason. I am fine with them “counting on” Liam Hendriks to step up in 2013. I even understand their need to continue giving Nick Blackburn opportunities because of his horrible contract (although I think once we get into the 2013 season, the Twins should feel like they can DFA him and just eat what is remaining). Kyle Gibson may be ready by June.
That means that, at a minimum, the Twins need to bring in two quality starters. I would never advocate giving a $100 million contract to any pitcher, so I would not sign Zach Greinke, but I’m sure many of you might think differently. For me, I would much rather see the Twins sign two (or three?) $8-10 million types. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Twins offer Edwin Jackson a three year, $27 million deal. I would like to see them offer Anibal Sanchez a four year, $36-40 million deal. Aces? Probably not. Quality starters who are still young enough to continue to improve and provide some stability to the staff? Certainly. I would not overpay for either of them, or any of the other free agent pitchers, and there is no way to know what other teams will offer them contracts or if the players would even be interested in coming to the Twins, but the Twins do need to reach out to them.
And yes, if this is the direction, it will also require a commitment from the ownership because it will require that the payroll not go down any further, and likely go up a little bit.
I would also bring back Scott Baker. He may not be able to pitch until midseason, so I would keep the year one contract low. However, I would offer a contract with a series of team options. Baker has always shown that, when healthy, he is a very good pitcher. If think it would be wise to bring him back at the right price.
Regarding the need to bring more talent into the Twins farm system, the team will need to find ways. Again, trades could come in the offseason. The Twins should use their high waiver claim to pick up talent. They should look at the Rule 5 draft as a means to bring in players. They also should feel good about several of their prospects. Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia have both taken big strides forward this year. Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario remain top prospects. The Twins used the draft to acquire high-ceiling young talent like Byron Buxton and J.O. Berrios, along with some very hard throwers. It isn't like the Twins minor leagues are completely void of talent.
So, if the trade deadline passes at 3:00 today, and we learn that the Twins did not make another trade (or more), it will likely feel somewhat disappointing. However, we will never know for sure what offers Terry Ryan received for these various players. I do know that I would be far more disappointed if the Twins traded one of their valuable pieces who are not free agents at the end of the season for a package that we deem less than appropriate.
photo from Twins Now