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Article: Out With The Old


Veteran players can be the key to a winning team. Their experience can be valuable during a season's most imperative moments. However, the Twins are a long way away from being relevant in the American League. This might mean it is time to clean the house of veteran bats that are taking playing time away from younger players.

 

On Monday, Nick ran through some of his ideas about how to revamp the Twins pitching staff. One of the ways would be to jettison some veteran position players in favor of younger prospects. This might help shift Minnesota's culture of losing.Derek Falvey, Minnesota's new chief baseball officer, will be at the helm for plenty of changes in the years to come. The following names could be just a few of the players he might be looking to deal as he takes the reins this off-season.

 

Trevor Plouffe

Over the last couple of seasons, Miguel Sano's emergence has meant that Plouffe's name has swirled around the rumor mill. Plouffe is coming off one of his worst MLB seasons and he still has one more year of arbitration eligibility. He was limited to under 115 games for the first time since 2011 as he battled through a groin injury, a cracked rib, a strained intercostal muscle and a strained oblique. It might be best for Plouffe to prove he is healthy in the first half of 2017 and then he could be dealt closer to the trade deadline. This would mean Sano and Plouffe having to split time at third base and designated hitter.

 

Brian Dozier

Dozier is coming off a record-breaking season where he set the American League record for home runs by a second baseman. Likely, his trade value is the highest it will ever be. Dozier will turn 30 next May and the Twins have him under contract for an average of $7.5 million per season. With multiple years of team control and a team-friendly contract, there could be multiple suitors looking for a veteran bat. I've been critical of Dozier's defense in the past but other teams might be able to look past his flaws because of his monster power numbers from a middle infield position.

 

Joe Mauer

When Mauer signed his eight-year deal to stay in Minnesota, no one had any idea that he wouldn't play catcher after the 2013 season. There are now two years remaining on his contract and there have been few flashes of the Mauer of old. On August 16 of this season, Mauer was hitting .284/.384/.417 before injuring his right quadriceps in that game. While playing through the injury, he strained his other quad and ended up batting .146/.255/.244 the rest of the way. No team is going to willingly take Mauer unless the Twins eat most of the contract. He's not getting any younger as he turns 34 near the beginning of next season. Mauer probably can't be moved at this point but it might start coming to the point where he's taking at-bats away from younger players.

 

Ervin Santana

Twins Daily recently named Santana as the Twins' "Pitcher of the Year." When the team has the worst pitching staff in the American League, this isn't a huge honor, but there were flashes of brilliance from Santana in 2016. His best stretch of pitching was in the middle of the season and this led to plenty of trade rumors. From June 19 through August 21 (11 starts), he posted a 1.79 ERA with two complete games and one complete-game shutout. Minnesota's biggest weakness is starting pitching so it's tough to imagine the team dealing Santana unless they are getting some young pitching in return. He is signed through the 2018 season and it seems likely that he won't finish his current contract in a Twins uniform.

 

There's a very good chance that none of the players mentioned above will be on the next winning team in Minnesota. Dozier and Santana seem to be likely options to be traded while Plouffe's and Mauer's value might be too low this winter. Even if all of these players are on the Opening Day roster, it's time to start moving out with the old and in with the new.

 

Who will be on the roster when spring rolls around next year? Could any of these players bring back a decent prospect or two in return? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

 

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Dozier should be traded for the right offer(you should be able to find a right offer this offseason). Plouffe you need to move on from, even if that is a non-tender. Mauer still has value and dumping him would have issues with trying to sell homegrown talent to stay here for less money. Reducing his AB's can and should be done. He is more of a 4 to 5 days a week player now to get best value out of him.

Santana I would trade for the right offer(hopefully that comes later in the winter, when clubs really find out how bad the pitching market is). If you do not get the right offer, hopefully he pitches well and you move him at the trading deadline if you are out of contention.

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Not very complicated. The question isn't whether to trade Dozier or not, but rather what to do with Dozier until the Twins receive an offer worth consideration. I'd move Dozier to LF next spring, install Polanco and Escobar as the everday 2B and SS, respectively and prioritize Gordon's development. Dozier can't be worse than Grossman defensively and he should continue to hit wherever he plays thus increasing his trade value.

 

Why make an effort to trade Plouffe now when his value is down? A quick review of other MLB rosters yields a multitude of players the Twins traded prematurely, just to "move on." To move on where exactly? How'd that work out? It's easy to deceive oneself into thinking one is a master trader, but there's always someone on the other side who just might know more than you. Oftentimes, patience is underrated.

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That would cut his trade value in half...  

How would this cut his trade value?  I'm not attacking your post, I'd really like to know your thinking on this.  Not saying the Twins would do it, but, how would demonstrating the ability to play multiple positions at at least an average level diminish one's value?  I'm thinking Ian Desmond here.  Can now play OF as well as multiple IF positions in a pinch.  Another great example would be Zobrist.  

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How would this cut his trade value?  I'm not attacking your post, I'd really like to know your thinking on this.  Not saying the Twins would do it, but, how would demonstrating the ability to play multiple positions at at least an average level diminish one's value?  I'm thinking Ian Desmond here.  Can now play OF as well as multiple IF positions in a pinch.  Another great example would be Zobrist.  

as a general rule, teams pay a lot more for up the middle talent than they do OF talent.  40 HR hitting second basemen do not grow on trees.  They are much more common in the OF, and there's no guarantee that Dozier's defense is going to be any good.  He likely won't be Alex Gordon out there...  He likely won't even be Max Kepler out there. 

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How would this cut his trade value?  I'm not attacking your post, I'd really like to know your thinking on this.  Not saying the Twins would do it, but, how would demonstrating the ability to play multiple positions at at least an average level diminish one's value?  I'm thinking Ian Desmond here.  Can now play OF as well as multiple IF positions in a pinch.  Another great example would be Zobrist.  

A guy who plays a middle infield position at an acceptable clip while mashing the ball isn't going to see his trade value increase by moving him to an offense-first position where his numbers aren't as extraordinary in comparison to other players in the league.

 

Desmond's value didn't increase because he could play multiple positions, his value increased because he started hitting the ball again, something he hadn't done at a well-above average level in three years.

 

Besides, Desmond's value is very questionable right now. After moving to Texas (a hitting haven) and starting off the season in beast mode, he was several shades of terrible in the second half of the season. All in all, it's unlikely Desmond has moved the needle much on his value. Sure, he'll probably get a decent 2-3 year contract somewhere but it won't be for big money and he won't be highly sought-after this offseason.

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Well, it's not like they couldn't move him back to 2B......it would, imo, be obvious the TWins did it for Polanco, not because of Dozier. I don't agree it cuts his trade value (I also wouldn't do it).

Would it cut Dozier's trade value? Probably not, though it would be questioned why the Twins moved a stellar middle infielder to an offense-first position. It may or may not taint negotiations.

 

But mostly, such a move would be pointless. It has no upside and the downside can be argued, which means it's probably a bad idea.

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Mauer is '10 and 5' player (10 years of service time, at least last 5 with same team), meaning he automatically has a no-trade clause.  So any suggestion of trading him assumes that he would be willing to waive that and move away from his hometown team.  Usually, players that agree to this are compensated by one of the trading teams.  So the Twins would need to throw in more money or receive less of a return.  
Sooooo, not very likely he will ever be traded, unless he wants to go to a team heading for the playoffs IMO.

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Very much open to exploring the market for both Erv and Dozier. If the Twins can get an established MLB starter for Dozier, or near ready MLB prospect for Santana I'd say do it. 

I'm tired of Plouffe.... No longer want him taking at-bats away from other players, and don't believe in the dream that he could be traded at the deadline. 

The dream scenario is if Mauer decides enough is enough and retires. That dream will probably not come true, so his role is demoted to PT. 300-350 at-bats should be the target. 

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I'm trading Dozier and exploring a deal for Santana.  I'd prefer to trade him, but if they don't get a reasonable offer I'd just keep him.  Plouffe's time has come, he should be non-tendered and the team can move on.  Mauer should be sitting against lefties.  I like Vanimal's target of 300-350 AB's, that seems about right.  That allows a good mix of position/DH time for both Sano and Vargas.  That's still hoping that Sano can play adequate defense and regain his offensive stride, but it's a good place to start.

 

I'm not sure that I'd be all that active in free agency outside of pitching help.  I know it's a thin crop, so I'm going target a few guys and go after them hard.  Otherwise, I'm looking at trades of older and/or peripheral players that may not be in the future plans to acquire areas of need.  That's why I feel that they must trade Dozier and ideally Santana.  Remaining holes should be filled with young players that are at least close to ready and let them play as much as possible.  The season may start of pretty brutally again, but I'll take early season struggles for a surging finish to end the season.

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The dream scenario is if Mauer decides enough is enough and retires. That dream will probably not come true, so his role is demoted to PT. 300-350 at-bats should be the target. 

 

That's not the dream scenario. Mauer still has value (not $23 million value but you're paying that anyways). His OBP is still pretty close to elite and has value on a young Twins team that hits a lot of home runs and strikes out a lot.

 

The dream scenario is that the Twins work Vargas/Mauer/Park in a true platoon at 1B/DH. As Vargas is a switch-hitter, the Twins can play two righties against lefties and two lefties against righties and have a nice bench bat for late in games. There's no one coming up who Mauer would be blocking (unless you want Palka at 1B I guess) and you'd be using Mauer at his best. He'd still play 120 games and likely be fresher.

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Mauer is '10 and 5' player (10 years of service time, at least last 5 with same team), meaning he automatically has a no-trade clause.  So any suggestion of trading him assumes that he would be willing to waive that and move away from his hometown team.  Usually, players that agree to this are compensated by one of the trading teams.  So the Twins would need to throw in more money or receive less of a return.  
Sooooo, not very likely he will ever be traded, unless he wants to go to a team heading for the playoffs IMO.

Details of Joe's contract:

http://www.spotrac.com/mlb/minnesota-twins/joe-mauer-527/

 

Full NO-TRADE clause.  Contract thru 2018.

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I'm not too sure that Joe isn't able to be moved.  We really don't know how the organization feels about keeping him and we don't know how Joe feels about either moving on or retiring.  It is plain to see that the Twins are in total rebuild mode, and won't be in contention at any time during the final 2 years of Joe's contract.  Like many players facing the end of their playing days, perhaps Joe would welcome the opportunity to join a contending team that would provide him with a realistic opportunity to play in the World Series.  Now that he is a family man, perhaps he would prefer being able to play half of his games near his year round home.  There are options for both the Twins and for Joe to separate themselves and still enable both sides to hold their heads high.  1) Offer him $5 million a year for 10 years to retire and offer him a position as a roving minor league catching instructor.  2) Eat some of his contract and trade him to Boston (remember that Boston has spring training in Fort Myers where Mauer has a home) to take Papi's place as their DH.  3) Eat some of his contract and trade him to Tampa as a 1B/DH as Tampa is the team nearest Joe's Fort Myers home.  Start talking. 

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Mauer is the most athletic player on the team. Swap him and Sano across the diamond. This improves the defense (probably) and keeps Sano off the bench in NL parks.

 

Dozier- listen to offers but with an oversupply of good 2Bs and an undersupply of starting pitching the market doesn't look great. Unless something surprising / creative can be worked out, just hold him and keep the door open next deadline and next winter. Or depending on the new CBA rules, keep him through 2018 and take the comp pick (or equivalent) and p[ackage Polanco instead.

 

Plouffe- Just seems wasteful to non-tender him a year before FA. What options will the new CBA open up? But the health is a huge concern. I don't know, Mauer got over his oblique, can Plouffe too? It is a very close call IMO.

 

Santana- the pitching market is screaming "sell." Gotta at least see what his price is.

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It might be best for Plouffe to prove he is healthy in the first half of 2017 and then he could be dealt closer to the trade deadline.

 

Boy I do not get this.

 

1. The Twins have a ton -- TON -- of players best suited to DH. If they are going to occupy the DH spot full time by one of Sano or Plouffe, then they're basically giving up on players like Kennys Vargas, given the presence of the unmovable Joe Mauer. 

 

2. Sano needs to keep learning in the field. People have been awfully quick to write off his defense. And granted, it's not good. But you have to give this kid more time to play that position, given his recent injury history and the fact that the Twins had him DH in 2015. Sano needs to play third base full time next year.

 

3. Third base is an easy position to fill, relative to other positions. The Twins can make trades for or sign cheap free agent third basemen if it becomes abundantly clear that Sano is not going to make it at third.

 

4. Plouffe has no future on this team beyond next year. He BARELY had any trade value last offseason, when he was coming off a strong season. Even if the Twins keep him until the trade deadline and he performs well, he's still not going to fetch much in a trade scenario. 

 

AND, the team would have spent $4 million to $5 million while blocking younger players from more playing time.

 

For the love of all that is holy, stop it with this keep-Plouffe stuff. He needs to be non-tendered. If the team can find someone willing to throw a low-level prospect at us for him, all the better. But this team needs to play young players and shed itself of guys who have little or no chance of being here in 2018. Period.

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Moving Dozier to a different position at this point in his career seems pretty foolish.  Definitely trade him now before making a decision to lessen his skill level.

 

Trevor Plouffe has turned into an inconvenience to many. 

Is Plouffe a better defender that Sano at 3rd?  Absolutely no question. 

Can Sano develop into a better defender than he is now?  I never say no.  But, no, I highly doubt it.

Is Sano a better hitter than Plouffe?  Not really enough AB's to say for sure.  Overall, yeah, Sano could be.  Next season will be huge for Sano. 

 

Mauer:  See post #17.  The absolute best you can hope for is that Mauer's late season leg injury leads him to accept a contract buy-out.

 

Ervin:  The starting staff needs a veteran presence.  As does the position players.

 

Which leads to my final point:

 

Are Twins Daily readers really ready for a couple more seasons of large losses?  Dumping veterans for shiny, young plays seems like a great idea.  And maybe some of the younger veterans [Rosario, Escobar, Park ] can step up and become the new leaders. [ I think it might do Rosario a world of good]

 

IDK, but I'm more into seeing the development of Sano, Kepler, Buxton, Polanco, Berrios, Duffey, Rogers, Light, May, Chargios, Centeno, etc, etc., before lurching too far into a veteran dump.

 

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You don't improve pitching by trading your best pitcher. You try to get more like him. Doze stays unless an offer blows our skirt up. Sano gets installed at 3rd.  Mauer stays.  Trevor is traded for whatever you can get for him.

 

Polanco is the SS, Escobar the utility guy. Grossman goes, and we take long looks at Gordon and Walker in ST. 

 

The idea of moving Dozier to the outfield is beyond dumb. No offense. We all say stuff that is dumb occasionally.  Middle infielders with power are very rare. 

 

Edited by kellyvance
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Is Plouffe a better defender that Sano at 3rd?  Absolutely no question. 

Can Sano develop into a better defender than he is now?  I never say no.  But, no, I highly doubt it.

Is Sano a better hitter than Plouffe?  Not really enough AB's to say for sure.  Overall, yeah, Sano could be.  Next season will be huge for Sano. 

 

Data:

 

Sano:  830 PA, .249/.346/.489, 126 OPS+, .334 wOBA, 114 wRC+, 3.3 WAR (251.5 PA/1WAR)
(and he is 23, at an age when Plouffe was in the minors)

 

Plouffe: 2909 PA .247/.308/.420, 99 OPS+, .317 wOBA, 98 wRC+, 5.2 WAR (559.4 PA/1WAR

 

UZR/150, Plus/Minus, DRS
Plouffe:
Age 24: -14.9, -9, -8
25: -8.6, 1, 0
26: 7.7, 5, 6
27: 1.7, 3, -1
28: -17.1, -5, -4

 

Sano,
22: 11.2, -1, -1
23: 2.7, -2 , -2

 

Data shows that Plouffe has been an average hitter and overall a below average fielder who improved but took a turn for worse this season.  Sano is a better hitter by far (830 PAs is pretty significant) and his defense at age 23 is already better, based on objective metrics, that Plouffe's was both at age 24 and last season.

 

So, objective data shows that Sano last season was an improvement over Plouffe on both sizes of the ball.  And Plouffe is approaching his down years while Sano has not yet reached his prime.

 

Subjective opinions might differ.

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I'd probably add Santiago and Milone to the second category with the understanding that all 3 get non-tendered if no takers are found. 

I suppose there's nothing stopping them feeling around beforehand (except perhaps the absence of a VP), but the tender deadline is usually first week of December, before the winter meetings. I think they'll have to decide on tendering before they can really shop either of them.

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I'd probably add Santiago and Milone to the second category with the understanding that all 3 get non-tendered if no takers are found. 

Definitely no on Milone. What to do with Santiago is more up in the air for me. If you're confident you can pick up a decent pitcher in the offseason, you jettison Hector. If you're not confident in that happening, maybe you consider keeping him for one season.

 

$8m for one season isn't going to significantly hurt this team, particularly given the free agent pitching class. And the guy has "might not suck" upside.

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http://mlb.mlb.com/images/0/5/0/187004050/062916_sano_med_ok9rqg9t.gif

..............

 

http://nesncom.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/plouffe-goof.gif?w=400&h=225

 

giphy.gif

 

http://sports.cbsimg.net/images/visual/whatshot/TrevorPlouffeError.gif

 

Edited by Thrylos
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