After what I would call a successful first day of the SB Nation Mock Winter Meetings, Tuesday involved more work on the trade front and fewer results. Here's yesterday's roundup.
Twins Sign A.J. Pierzynski
The Twins may have answered the question today of how they plan to manage Joe Mauer in the future. Signing A.J. Pierzynski to a two-year, $14 million dollar contract leaves Minnesota with a glut of potential catchers (including Josmil Pinto and Ryan Doumit), unless the plan is to move Mauer out from behind the plate.
"I don't necessarily think Joe's catching days are over," said Mock GM Jesse Lund, "but there are a lot of factors that played into this decision. Ultimately our primary goal is to keep Joe healthy and on the field, and to do that we want to mitigate some risks by making sure we have other options behind the plate."
Lund goes on to say that he expects Mauer, Pierzynski, Pinto, and Doumit to all be on the roster, so it will be interesting to see how he plans on rotating these players to make sure they all get the playing time they deserve.
Twins Acquire Conor Gillaspie
Mock Twins GM Jesse Lund hasn't been shy about his desire to maximize player strengths, and that seems to be the impetus behind today's trade for White Sox infielder Conor Gillaspie in exchange for reliever Ryan Pressly.
"Gardy has always said that if the numbers make sense, he'll pay attention," said Lund when asked if he thought his manager would be willing to play a platoon. "I wanted to give him an alternative for Trevor Plouffe against right-handed pitching. He's a good option for us this year."
Gillaspie, 26, was a first-round selection by the Giants in 2008. After hitting .289/.368/.447 in Triple-A over 2011 and 2012, he was traded to Chicago. With the White Sox in 2013, Gillaspie hit .261/.324/.414 versus right-handed pitching.
Twins Sign Dan Haren
Making the biggest free agent move in franchise history, the Twins signed Dan Haren to a four-year, $48 million dollar contract on Tuesday afternoon. The contract more than doubles the total given to Josh Willingham before the 2011 season.
"Our primary goal during these Mock Winter Meetings has been to improve our rotation," said Mock GM Jesse Lund at a press conference announcing the signing. "We've made a nice start. There's certainly some risk involved in signing a pitcher in his 30s to a long-term deal, but I said we'd explore every avenue to make sure we got better and we've done just that. We expect Dan to bridge the gap in our rotation until some of our young pitchers are ready to do the heavy lifting."
While Haren has still made 30 starts each of the last two seasons, he has dealt with assorted mild aches and pains with his back. "We've looked him over and we're confident in his bill of health," Lund said about Haren's reliability. "The peripherals are all strong. Walk and strikeout rates are good. And we think he's better than his ERA over the last two years. Dan is certainly capable of being our best pitcher over the next couple of years."
Twins Sign Mark Ellis
The Twins didn't take long to fill their hole at second base, signing 36-year old veteran Mark Ellis to a two-year, $12 million dollar contract with an option for a third year.
"As much confidence as we have in the future of our middle infield, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco aren't ready for Major League jobs just yet. We needed to find someone to step in and do the job well over the next year or two, and Ellis fit the bill."
Ellis has graded out well at second base according to defensive metrics, and according to FanGraphs has averaged just under 2 WAR per season over his last three years.
- The Twins were in on Corey Hart and Nelson Cruz, who each signed for two years and $30 million. Hart went to Houston, and Cruz went back to the Rangers.
- There was a lot of smoke surrounding a deal with the Braves that included Glen Perkins, Evan Gattis, and others, but nothing was completed on Tuesday.
- It looked like the Twins were close on a deal for another starting pitcher early on Tuesday, but it fell apart when the asking price increased. There's an open dialogue between both sides, but nothing is imminent.
- Including the $5 million that Minnesota sent to Tampa Bay in the Willingham trade yesterday, the 25-man roster payroll currently stands at $79.4 million.