Twins Unable to Separate From Jarrod Washburn Rumors

Why, oh WHY, does Washburn's name keep coming up?

Yesterday afternoon John Hickey, over at seattlepi.com, discussed in his Mariners blog the interest the Twins have had in Jarrod Washburn over the last few months.  It was confirmed late in the 2008 season that Minnesota had inquired on the veteran left-hander, and now over the winter it's been one of the few names-slash-rumors that's refused its rightful death.

While Seattle desperately attempts to clear money to bring in a legitimate free agent or two, their issues are two-fold:  not only moving dead weight veterans but convincing their takers to pay them as well.  Carlos Silva, Miguel Batista and Washburn are the big three, and suffice it to say there aren't many suitors.

Yet after the Twins made their attempt on Washburn last fall, it seems their interest wasn't suited to just an autumn push.  Hickey's report alleges a deal involving the Seattle hurler, 25-year old catcher Jeff Clement, and of all people Delmon Young, recently fell through.

After all this, I'm left thinking:  In what parrallel universe does picking up Jarrod Washburn and his $10.35 million contract make a lick of sense?  Because at face value, it doesn't make sense.  Let's run down a few reasons why.

  1. Jarrod Washburn doesn't pitch like a $10 million dollar pitcher.
  2. The Twins already having five young, inexpensive, and relatively effective starting pitchers...
  3. ...with a couple guys on the way.
  4. Jeff Clement and his .286/.377/.494 minor league line are great, but we have Joe Mauer.  Thanks.
  5. Delmon Young is still too talented to use as a chip in a deal netting Washburn and Clement.

If the reports of this failed deal are accurate, there has to be more to it than what we see at face value.  Joe Christensen suspects something similar, thinking that "perhaps the Twins had plans to spin Clement off as part of another deal."

Now that makes sense.

Clement has plenty of value as a good, young, offensive catcher, who would be under team control for the next handful of seasons.  Flip him and a good, young pitcher (say Nick Blackburn, Glen Perkins, Anthony Swarzak, even Kevin Slowey), and you're suddenly dealing from a situation that would draw interest from most teams in baseball.

With a spot unexpectedly open in the rotation, Washburn has an actual role to play with the Twins.  He becomes the token veteran, capable to eating some innings if nothing else.  While that massive contract isn't pretty, with team payroll far under what it could be there's no reason the Twins couldn't take the hit for one season until he becomes a free agent.  Particularly if the Mariners would pick up part of the tab, this whole scenario starts to become a bit more feasible.

Having assumed all of this, to make myself feel better I have to take it one final step and also assume that the Twins had a specific team in mind for flipping Clement (plus change).  There still seems little use in trading a young, talented hitter like Delmon for an overpriced pitcher and a redundant catcher, no matter how talented he might be.

Actions can be difficult to comprehend until you know the motive, and in this situation I have to believe the Twins' motive involved more than this one transaction.  For now it's dead in the water, which is perfectly fine with me, but don't be surprised if Washburn's name comes up again sometime soon.

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