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Twins history of free agent starting pitcher acquisitions

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#1 spycake

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:23 PM

Due to a lack of Kevin Correia discussion on this site lately... :)

Here is a list of Twins free agent starting pitcher acquisitions, by season. This list only includes "true" major league free agents (so no Carl Pavano or other re-signees) who were signed with the expectation of being regular starters at the time (so no Terry Mulholland). All attributed to Terry Ryan unless otherwise noted.

2013 - Kevin Correia
2012 - Jason Marquis
2011 - none (Bill Smith)
2010 - none (Bill Smith)
2009 - none (Bill Smith)
2008 - Livan Hernandez (Bill Smith)
2007 - Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson
2006 - none
2005 - none
2004 - none
2003 - Kenny Rogers
2002 - none
2001 - none
2000 - Sean Bergman (waivers)
1999 - none
1998 - Mike Morgan
1997 - Bob Tewksbury
1996 - none (technically Rick Aguilera was re-signed to start this season, though)
1995 - Greg Harris
1994 - Jim Deshaies (MacPhail)
1993 - Jim Deshaies (MacPhail)
1992 - Bill Krueger (MacPhail)

(I stopped before reaching 1991, the Year of Jack Morris.)

Excepting the Aguilera experiment, all were paid at or below the league average salary except for Tewksbury, Ortiz (just above average), Hernandez, and now Correia. Interestingly, the Twins seem to be getting both progressively worse results AND worse value on each of these acquisitions. (Some might allege this is evidence that pitching is indeed harder to acquire these days, although that would require a much more thorough analysis -- it would be interesting to analyze what other teams have done over this same time.)

In any case, Terry Ryan and the Twins have a pretty clear pattern here in the free agent market: they value health and strictly adhere to a fairly low, short-term spending cap. They largely avoid guys with any recent injury history (Marquis was a rare exception), and they absolutely avoid paying any starting pitchers 50% or more above the league average salary (Tewksbury and Correia will be in the 40% bracket, and the current average salary is about $3.5 million). Prior to Correia, they also strictly avoided going beyond a one-year contract (Deshaies signed consecutive one-year deals, and Tewksbury signed a one-year deal with a club option year).

The Twins 2012 rotation was in as desperate condition as any in recent memory, certainly comparable to the 1995 club (after the Tapani/Erickson trades) or the 1996 club (after the Aguilera experiment). The Vance Worley acquisition was a novel approach to addressing the problem, but the Correia signing seems to be a step back -- at best, an over-commitment (two guaranteed years) with an outdated self-imposed salary limitation (~$5 million annually) to secure a pitcher who is clearly worse than what the market offered at those prices in the 1990s. The Twins might be better served by loosening those self-imposed limits, or just sitting out the free agent pitching market altogether if this is the result.

#2 Boom Boom

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:35 PM

Kenny Rogers wasn't great in 2003, but that signing looks brilliant when put into context.

#3 gunnarthor

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:44 PM

I don't think it's particularly fair to say that Pavano doesn't count but Desheis second season does. Both were straight up free agents. And you're missing a lot of guys - guys like Walters and Deduno last year were free agents that Ryan brought in. Not sexy, of course, but still straight up free agents. But yeah, Ryan doesn't like to go after pitchers in the FA market.

#4 notoriousgod71

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:03 PM

So Livan is arguably the third best SP FA this franchise has signed in the last 20 years? To quote StatFreak: "Pathetic."

#5 old nurse

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:07 PM

What year before the last few did the Twins have money to spend?
The list you provided is comparable to their free agent signings for position players.
The factor you choose to overlook is the spending capabilities during that time.

#6 LaBombo

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:13 PM

I don't think it's particularly fair to say that Pavano doesn't count but Desheis second season does. Both were straight up free agents. And you're missing a lot of guys - guys like Walters and Deduno last year were free agents that Ryan brought in. Not sexy, of course, but still straight up free agents. But yeah, Ryan doesn't like to go after pitchers in the FA market.


Pavano was re-signed without pitching elsewhere. Deshaies was brought back after being traded away, not re-signed. And he specified major league free agents intended to go straight into the rotation. Only a team as desperate as the Twins would consider guys with 4 starts (Walters) or 5 innings (Deduno) in the bigs to be "major league" starters intended to hold down a rotation spot.

This subset of the Twins front office history doesn't tell the whole story, but it gives a pretty good indication that when it comes to signing free agent starters from other teams, they've mostly managed to be both cheap and stupid. And with his age, declining K rate, and league switch, I really like Correia's odds of living up to the sterling reputation of Twins free agent starter signings.

Edited by LaBombo, 12 December 2012 - 02:40 PM.


#7 lecroy24fan

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:23 PM

Considering the Rogers signing came out of necessity due to Eric Milton being hurt, it was a steal.

Edited by lecroy24fan, 12 December 2012 - 02:25 PM.
forgot to quote the Kenny Rogers post


#8 greengoblinrulz

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:31 PM

Wasnt Rogers signed the wk the regular season started....so does that truly count

#9 mike wants wins

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:53 PM

Ugly list, not made better by adding more names. I had hoped with the money freed up the last two years, Blackburn and probably morneau coming off the books next year, and 25 million in new revenue next year, things would change.....still hoping....

#10 Boom Boom

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:55 PM

Wasnt Rogers signed the wk the regular season started....so does that truly count


I'll give TR credit for that one.

He's still batting below the Butera line in acquiring free agent pitchers.

#11 spycake

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 03:52 PM

Kenny Rogers was a very good signing. It frustrated some people at the time, because it pushed Johan Santana back to the bullpen temporarily, but it allowed Santana to "ramp up" from some partial/bullpen seasons to a full season starting in 2004.

#12 lecroy24fan

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 06:32 PM

Wasnt Rogers signed the wk the regular season started....so does that truly count

I think there was two weeks left in ST. I remember thinking as soon as I heard Milton was done, "Kenny Rogers is out there."

#13 ThePuck

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:06 PM

you mean we couldn't sign top pitchers in FA even when we were perennial contenders? Here I keep being told our problem signing top pitchers is because we're at the bottom of the division the last couple years so no one wants to come here. Where were all the great FA signings by the Twins when we were winning? How about the offseason before 2011 after we won 94 games in 2010?

#14 old nurse

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 11:54 PM

you mean we couldn't sign top pitchers in FA even when we were perennial contenders? Here I keep being told our problem signing top pitchers is because we're at the bottom of the division the last couple years so no one wants to come here. Where were all the great FA signings by the Twins when we were winning? How about the offseason before 2011 after we won 94 games in 2010?


What free agent pitchers did the Twins go after when they were contenders? Blowing more smoke? Kevin Slowey 13-6, Pavano 17-10, Baker 12-9. Liriano the potential ace, Blackburn under contract. I did not hear a whole lot of complaining about that rotation's end result. Nobody complained going into 2011 they were cheap with the payroll Puck the troll

#15 howeda7

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:36 AM

If we could get a 2012 version of Jim DeShaies, Bill Krueger or Bob Tewksbery, I'd be thrilled.

#16 ThePuck

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 10:33 AM

you mean we couldn't sign top pitchers in FA even when we were perennial contenders? Here I keep being told our problem signing top pitchers is because we're at the bottom of the division the last couple years so no one wants to come here. Where were all the great FA signings by the Twins when we were winning? How about the offseason before 2011 after we won 94 games in 2010?




What free agent pitchers did the Twins go after when they were contenders? Blowing more smoke? Kevin Slowey 13-6, Pavano 17-10, Baker 12-9. Liriano the potential ace, Blackburn under contract. I did not hear a whole lot of complaining about that rotation's end result. Nobody complained going into 2011 they were cheap with the payroll Puck the troll


Ah, now I'm a troll...awesome...

#17 ThePuck

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 02:16 PM

Dempster is off the board

#18 old nurse

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 02:32 PM

Ah, now I'm a troll...awesome...

Considering what pitchers were available that did not resign with their teams, what else would your comment be? Ignorant or trolling. Take your pick.

#19 ThePuck

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 02:38 PM

Considering what pitchers were available that did not resign with their teams, what else would your comment be? Ignorant or trolling. Take your pick.


I'll take option three...not giving a carp what you think.

#20 ashburyjohn

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 03:39 PM

Dempster is off the board


At 2 years, $26.5M per MLB Trade Rumors, this changes some assumptions about length of contract and a preference for an NL team and/or spring training in Arizona instead of Florida. Suppose the Twins would have had to offer more, since they are a cellar-dweller, and maybe offer $28M. Would that have changed anyone's view on signing Dempster? What if you had to further sweeten the deal with a vesting (player's) option for a third year at another $14M?

Me, I'd have given it a lot of consideration. I'm aiming for 2015 as the start of the full-contention window, needing to get through the next two years with fill-ins. If Dempster pitches well enough to vest that third year, maybe it's still all right. $14M isn't ace-money in this day and age. It was the presumption of a guaranteed third year that was the showstopper for me.

Maybe $14M still isn't enough to lure him to the Twin Cities though; Terry Ryan can't give away his money, right?

#21 ThePuck

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 03:55 PM

At 2 years, $26.5M per MLB Trade Rumors, this changes some assumptions about length of contract and a preference for an NL team and/or spring training in Arizona instead of Florida. Suppose the Twins would have had to offer more, since they are a cellar-dweller, and maybe offer $28M. Would that have changed anyone's view on signing Dempster? What if you had to further sweeten the deal with a vesting (player's) option for a third year at another $14M?

Me, I'd have given it a lot of consideration. I'm aiming for 2015 as the start of the full-contention window, needing to get through the next two years with fill-ins. If Dempster pitches well enough to vest that third year, maybe it's still all right. $14M isn't ace-money in this day and age. It was the presumption of a guaranteed third year that was the showstopper for me.

Maybe $14M still isn't enough to lure him to the Twin Cities though; Terry Ryan can't give away his money, right?


I'm not sure...I'm not a big Dempster fan...but it seems like some view him currently better than Marcum and Jackson. If that's the prevailing thought, we should have a chance to sign one of those two for cheaper than what Dempster just got.

#22 spycake

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 03:56 PM

Interesting. Dempster today is the same age (35) as Tewksbury when he signed with the Twins for 1997. They were both all-stars at age 31. They both were very durable from ages 31-35. Dempster is the better pitcher over that span (114 ERA+ to 103), of course, but Dempster will be making 4 times the league average salary (plus a guaranteed second year), versus 1.5 times for Tewksbury.

Maybe pitching is more expensive? Still doesn't excuse the Twins wasting money on Correia, but it is interesting.

#23 ashburyjohn

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:11 PM

I'm not sure...I'm not a big Dempster fan...but it seems like some view him currently better than Marcum and Jackson. If that's the prevailing thought, we should have a chance to sign one of those two for cheaper than what Dempster just got.


Nick started a full thread elsewhere, so probably further responses should be directed there.

#24 nicksaviking

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:17 PM

Boston is also a cellar-dweller, of course there is a league-wide perception that they will take the necessary steps to rectify that issue to reverse course asap.

#25 Riverbrian

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:39 PM

I'll take option three...not giving a carp what you think.


How long have you two been a married couple? (I now duck behind something).

#26 old nurse

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 01:53 AM

I'll take option three...not giving a carp what you think.


The usual kind of response when someone is pointed out to be lacking knowledge and the ability to think.

#27 ThePuck

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 07:40 AM

The usual kind of response when someone is pointed out to be lacking knowledge and the ability to think.


No, that's not really what happened. You just believe everyone who presents an opinion on a topic that differs from yours is wrong and then, like a child, you take shots at the poster himself. You haven't proven anything I've written during our recent 'debates' as false....except in your mind.

But if you wanna think that sure...whatever you say.

Edited by ThePuck, 14 December 2012 - 07:46 AM.


#28 old nurse

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 08:36 AM

No, that's not really what happened. You just believe everyone who presents an opinion on a topic that differs from yours is wrong and then, like a child, you take shots at the poster himself. You haven't proven anything I've written during our recent 'debates' as false....except in your mind.

But if you wanna think that sure...whatever you say.


You posted the Twins should have signed a FA pitcher before 2011. Gave you the 2010 records. You never responded who they should have signed who was rated better than Pavano at that time. Given the last thread where it appeared you posted bull, I called you on this piece of bull.. For that I get this post. Have a good day and quit before we are told to take a vacation.