Niemann is coming off an injury-plagued season, but could be worth the gamble. - J. Meric
Warne examines the available starting pitchers via trade and who it would make sense that the Twins would be interested in
Darren Wolfson of 1500 tweeted this morning that he felt like a move could be coming soon on the Twin front. And while the mega-deal between the Jays and Marlins contained pitchers I could see the Twins targeting -- Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and maybe even Henderson Alvarez -- there are still plenty of arms out there at varying prices.
To be clear, there are some names on the list that follows that will surprise people; they may in fact not even be an option for the Twins, but they are some names to chew on as I feel none of the guys on this list, with perhaps one exception, are untouchable.
Here are each of the potential guys I could see the Twins targeting, with a short opinion on each:
Randall Delgado: There's a fair amount to like about Delgado. For one, he'll only be 23 when spring training opens next season. He also held his own in limited duty with the Braves last season -- 1.0 WAR accumulated in just under 100 IP -- and has seen his strikeouts rise in each of the past three seasons. The ground ball rate was also a nice surprise, as Delgado slayed annelids at a rate of 50.2 percent in his limited time with the big club. That grounder rate combined with what would likely be at least a league-average whiff rate makes him an attractive option even without considering his age or contract status. I don't know if the Braves would deal him for Denard Span, but it's something the Twins should strongly consider.
Julio Teheran: Some of the luster has worn off Teheran following a disappointing season, but the tumble from one of the top 10 or so prospects in the game to where he is now would still likely leave him as a desireable target for the Twins. After all, the Twins don't have a pitcher with nearly the ceiling Teheran has now, let alone before he struggled in 2012. The whiff rate is on a four year tumble though, and that combined with decreased velocity raise too many red flags for Terry Ryan to take that shot. I'd probably tend to agree.
Mike Minor: I really don't think Minor is a trade candidate, but he is for sure an arm the Twins ought to target. He'll be 25 all next season, and he really finished 2012 splendidly. In fact, if it weren't for Kris Medlen, Minor might have gotten more merit for his exploits. From the midsummer classic on, Minor went 7-7 with a 2.16 ERA, a .560 OPS allowed, and induced a ton of grounders on his way to a 4.12 ERA on the season. That should also serve as a pretty good indication as to how bad he started, too. Again, however, I don't think Minor is available whatsoever, but he should be someone the Twins at least inquire about.
Tommy Hanson: Hanson is still a very good pitcher, but there are indications that he's certainly trending the wrong way. Last season, Hanson's ERA, FIP, HR/FB rate, K/9, K/BB, and HR/9 rate all took big tumbles. Still, Hanson would be a big upgrade, and is only entering his arbitration-eligible years, but his stock seems to be plummeting. Hopefully he won't be the next Jair Jurrjens, but at the very least teams ought to tread lightly upon attempting to acquire the righty.
Jeremy Hellickson: I don't really think the Rays will deal Hellickson -- he's still young, cheap, and good, which the Rays really dig -- but they have taken some calls on him. He doesn't really strike out as many as one might like, but he works very well out of the stretch, and it's still pretty hard to argue with his results that past two seasons.
James Shields: The Twins apparently have called on Shields, but it's hard to see a fit here. The Rays know exactly how good Shields is, and know that guys like Ervin Santana are making that sort of money as well. Friedman and company will extort and juice every last bit of value out of a deal, to the point that I think not only Span, but maybe Joe Benson would have to be dealt -- or any similar ceiling prospect -- for a deal to happen. I don't know that it's the best course of action, unless the Twins could still afford another two pitchers besides.
Wade Davis: Davis seems like the kind of guy the Rays would usher out the door with less fuss than Hellickson or Shields. I don't know a ton of background information, but he was a good soldier last year when the Rays rotation was bustling with talent, taking to the pen with aplomb by fanning 11-plus per nine and more or less being a shutdown reliever. Davis' contract is such that he's still locked down for five (!) more years at pretty reasonable rates (three team options for '15-'17 at $7, $8, and $10 million).
Jeff Niemann: Niemann is big, tall, and quite frankly seems to becoming a pretty darn good pitcher. His K rates were on a four year rise before he succumbed to injury after just eight starts in 2011. Also, as one of the older Rays pitchers (30 in February), there's a good chance he'll be available. Coming off an injury, and without a long-term contract, he may be the most affordable of the unit. He'd be a nice fit.
Homer Bailey: When I think about Span's global -- on an MLB level anyway -- value, I often think him for Bailey straight up is a fair deal. To be honest, we like Span probably a bit more than other MLB teams do, but Bailey would probably be a three in an AL rotation -- maybe a low-end three. He's 27, entering his second-year of arbitration eligibility (as a previous super-two, it sems), and had a pretty good year in a ballpark befitting of his first name. He wouldn't embarrass himself at all in Minnesota.
Mike Leake: Leake just sort of feels like a Twins pitcher: very few strikeouts, HR/FB issues (GABP after all), and pretty good ground ball rates. If the Twins were to settle for Leake as a return on Span, I'd probably be upset. I guess we'll just have to see if the Twins take a Leake and steal him from Cincinnati.
Ricky Nolasco: South Florida boutique is having a fire sale. Too bad Nolasco kind of stinks. If the Marlins picked up money owed to Ricky, I could see it.
Chris Capuano: The Dodgers are now looking to move some guys around to make more moves this offseason, especially after acquiring the rights to the foreign bird. Capuano is a solid pitcher on a nice contract, but he's only signed for one more season. There's an element of injury risk here, but Capuano is a solid vet at this point. It would be a good secondary move for the Twins, but wouldn't prevent the fans from setting Target Field on fire if he were the prize pickup.
Bud Norris: Norris is king of fly balls and strikeouts, which could play up at Target Field. He's also getting toward the days of his career where he'll start making real money. Will the Astros be motivated to move him? I can't be so sure, but he's the kind of guy the Twins ought to target.
Kyle Kendrick: I'd only say Kendrick because he's one of their back-end starters, and they may be looking for an outfielders if they strike out in free agency.
Jason Vargas: A twitter friend mentioned the Mariners might be interested in Ben Revere -- I have not seen nor read this rumor elsewhere -- but I can't imagine anyone would be more movable than Vargas in that Mariners rotation. Make no mistake, Vargas is pretty good, but the Twins should at least try to do better.
Justin Masterson: Masterson is just another Twins-type arm whom I could see them targeting.
Rick Porcello: I don't know that the Twins have anything the Tigers need/want, but Porcello seems like a guy that TR could target. As you see, the lower we go on this list, the less likely any of these would be.
Felix Doubront: Felix is a high-ish ceiling arm that may or may not have a long-term future in Boston. Walks a lot of guys, but also gets plenty of strikeouts. Was a bit mercurial performance-wise in 2012, but seems to have what it takes to get guys out in the big leagues.
J.A. Happ: Toronto is suddenly flush with capable and ostensibly healthy arms, so AA and company may look to deal some of the lower-tier arms. As an aside, how awesome is a rotation fronted by Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow, with Mark Buehrle mixed in?
Kyle Drabek: Here we have a fallen prospect who may not get another chance in Toronto's ultra-loaded rotation. He'd possible be worth taking a peek at.
Ricky Romero: Ricky suddenly looks like a potential odd-man out just a year after looking like he might be the most underrated pitcher in the entire AL. His cost is rising and his performance headed the other way; still, if there's no indication of injury, Romero might be worth picking up.
Luke Hochevar: Just say no.