Off-season Rumor-Mongering from Speculation City
By Brad Swanson
Ben looks sad; sad from the trade block. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
Once the playoffs end, rumors begin. Right now, all teams have the same record. Twins fans are in a place where rumors are more exciting than reality. The reality is that the Twins have had two consecutive terrible seasons. The reality is that the Twins rarely make a splash in free agency. The reality is that the Twins are typically a very conservative team with trades. Rumors have been cycling around stating that the Twins are looking at various starting pitchers and also looking to trade their excess outfielders to improve their rotation and middle infield. Some of these rumors seem crazy, while others fit the Twins’ mold more closely. Let’s investigate a few of the rumors that I have seen over the past few weeks.
The Twins and the Cincinnati Reds
I have seen some speculation that the Twins and Reds would be good trading partners. The Reds seemingly need an outfielder. They got a surprisingly good season from Ryan Ludwick, but he is a free agent. They also got a surprisingly awful season from Drew Stubbs. Stubbs’ poor play creates a need in the outfield and in the lead-off spot of the lineup. Denard Span would be a nice fit and Ben Revere could work as well. The Reds have a young shortstop named Zack Cozart and a younger shortstop prospect named Didi Gregorius. The Twins need a shortstop, as has been true since the early 90s.
There is some logic here. I’d like to think the Twins can do better than Cozart or Gregorius for Span, but if this is the best offer, it might be worth taking. It would surprise me if the Reds could find a better player than Span, but they probably can find someone better than Revere. If the Reds would take Revere for either of these players, I’d do it. If they demand Span, I’d look for something better. If nothing better is out there, I’d come crawling back and sheepishly accept Gregorius. He is nothing special with the bat, but the glove is outstanding. He is a real shortstop, but one who will never have stats that reflect is true value. He’d likely be a player that fans don’t embrace, but one who really helps the team win games.
Julio Teheran is a hoss. Don’t forget that. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
The Twins and the Atlanta Braves
I have read that the Braves are interested in Denard Span and/or Josh Willingham. I can’t find the Willingham rumor, but it doesn’t make sense to me anyway. Willingham is barely an outfielder at this point, so going to an NL team seems unlikely. Span makes a lot of sense for many teams, and the Braves are one of them. Michael Bourn is a free agent, so they, like the Reds, need a leadoff hitter and center fielder In addition, the Braves have a lot of starting pitching. If the Braves want to make a deal, the Twins should listen and listen good. I’ll put the likely available Braves arms in reverse order, based on my preference.
Paul Maholm. No way. Not for Span anyway. He is 30 years old and a free agent after 2013. If the Twins can’t get a young player for Span, they need someone a lot more established than Maholm. I know some feel that Maholm isn’t that bad, but come on fans, let’s start aiming higher than “isn’t that bad.”
Jair Jurrjens. No way. Not for Span either. Jurrjens is younger and has had some really great statistical seasons. His 2009 and 2011 look great, unless you at any stat that indicates future success. He has a low K/9 without a low BB/9. When he doesn’t give up home runs, he has success. When he gives up home runs, he is sent to AAA. The Twins can do better than Jurrjens for Denard Span.
Brandon Beachy. 6 months ago, this would have been ideal. Now, there are too many questions with Beachy’s Tommy John surgery. If for some reason both teams are in this same situation next off-season, Beachy could be a good target.
Kris Medlen. Probably off limits after his crazy second half in 2012, but I’d pass anyway. He’s legit, but I’d want to see it over a longer period of time before I’d trade Span for him. It would be unwise to overpay based on recent returns rather than long term potential or success.
Randall Delgado / Julio Teheran. I’d trade Span for either of these guys. Going into 2012, these were the two top prospects in the Braves system. Both had disappointing and confusing seasons, but both are extremely talented and super young. Both of these players have a higher ceiling than Kyle Gibson, a player most Twins fans are really excited about. Delgado is not a prospect anymore, but Teheran, disappointing season notwithstanding, would likely be right there with Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton at the top of Twins prospect lists.
Tommy Hanson / Mike Minor. I’d trade Span for either of these guys too. It just depends on whether the Twins would want a young player (Hanson or Minor) or a super young player (Teheran or Delgado). Minor was better than Hanson last year, but Hanson is more established. Hanson had a bad 2012, but if he can get his walks down, he should return to the performance he showed from 2009 to 2011. Both players are young enough to still be promising for the distant future and established enough to help in 2013.
For the record, I’d trade Revere for anyone on this list. I doubt the Braves would trade any of these players for Revere (maybe Jurrjens). I’m not convinced the Braves would take Span for anyone but Maholm or Jurrjens either. Sadly, as I pointed out last week, trades are really hard.
The Twins and the Seattle Mariners
Speaking of Ben Revere, I read that the Mariners might have some interest. They definitely have starting pitching to spare. The Mariners have 3 really great starting pitching prospects: Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton. There is no way the Mariners are desperate enough for an outfielder to trade any of those three for Revere. A lesser pitching prospect might be possible, but I’d be shocked if the Twins could pry Walker, Hutlzen or Paxton for Revere.
For Span? Perhaps. I don’t think Seattle would trade Walker for anyone in the Twins system. Hultzen had a rough 2012, but pretty much had a floor as a number 3 starter when drafted. Paxton has a ton of promise too. I’d like to think Span could net the Twins Paxton and/or Hultzen, but I’m not so sure on Hultzen. I’d probably make those moves too.
The Twins and the Starting Pitching Free Agent Market
The Twins have been rumored to be anywhere from “interested” to “kicking the tires” on all of the following pitchers: Brandon McCarthy, Joe Saunders, Joe Blanton, Ryan Dempster, Brandon Webb, Brett Myers, Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, and Edwin Jackson. Whew! I outlined what I think of many of these arms a few weeks ago.
Of those names, I feel Saunders and Blanton are the most likely to pitch in Minnesota in 2013. I could see Myers and Webb as well, if the Twins either miss on bigger names, or actually sign someone like Greinke, Sanchez or Jackson (unlikely as it may seem). Over the coming weeks and months, these players will start to sign. Honestly, the Twins need so much pitching, that two or three of these names could be possible. Is that likely? Based on the Twins’ history, probably not. If the Twins want to start changing their future, they should probably try to sign a big name and buck the trends of their free agent history.
BIONIC ELBOW!!! Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
The Twins and the Arizona Diamondbacks?
Apparently Trevor Bauer is available. There isn’t a player on the Twins roster who Arizona would take for Bauer. Bauer is one of the five best pitching prospects in baseball. The Twins have some great prospects, but no one on Bauer’s level. The Diamondbacks are openly looking to trade Justin Upton, so something tells me they aren’t in the market for Josh Willingham or Denard Span. Even Joe Mauer is out of the question, at his salary and with Miguel Montero in Arizona.
Bauer is a pipe dream, but that is part of the fun. In the off-season, every team has a chance at Trevor Bauer. Rumors are fun. Even if there is no realistic possibility that Trevor Bauer pitches for the Twins next year, we can dream. Everyone dreams in the off-season.
What rumors are you hearing that entice you? Share with me on Twitter – @bridman77 or in the comments below. For the record, speculation city is Shoreview, Minnesota.