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

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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.
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  1. Rosterman's Avatar
    It boils down to make me an offer, and if the numbers sound right, you grab it (either way). An agent may say....Dempster turned down 2 for $26 and wants three. You can believe him or not, but you have to offer a number with three then. Like last year, The Twins were thinking low for Nathan. The Range
    rs said $9...Joe liked that number and said an immediate yes. Could he get more, we'll never know. It's called gambling.
  2. rogrulz30's Avatar
    I really feel free agency should only be used to set yourself up to position yourself to win a title soon, there is no sense to overpay these players if u aren't setting yourself up to win a title in the years u are signing the free agents for, if I were tr I would not go after a top tier guy right now, I wouldn't take the middle guys, I do think there is one guy I would get because he is young, and I would go for 3/30 and that is McCarthy. Developing the farm should be #1 priority and so far so good.
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