Over the past couple years, the Twins rotation has been awful. Dreadful. Go ahead, find some other creative adjectives you can put into this Mad Lib to describe how bad they were. Fortunately, GM Terry Ryan was quick in addressing that problem this offseason, quickly signing Ricky Nolasco to a 4-year deal and Phil Hughes to a 3-year contract.
While not turning the rotation into a strength for next year, these moves certainly shored up the pitching staff and gave Twins fans some optimism going into the 2014 season. No, not just because the normally thrifty Twins were spending once more, but also because the team was finally looking like an improvement over past incarnations.
And yet, the team doesn't appear to be finished. According to La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune, the Twins are still interested in one more starting pitcher. According to Neal, the Twins are still inquiring on Matt Garza, Mike Pelfrey, and - wait for it - Masahiro Tanaka.
Yeah, supposedly the Twins are willing to not only place a bid on the top Japanese starting pitcher this offseason, but they're apparently serious about signing him as well. Granted, the new posting process in place between MLB and the Japanese NPB which limits an MLB team's post to $20 million might be why the Twins are possibly showing real interest in Tanaka, but that would still be huge for a team that was hurting for even 6 innings a night from their starters.
Regardless of the pitcher that is signed, it's going to create a logjam in the starting rotation for the Twins next year, if there wasn't one already. As of right now, the Twins are likely guaranteed to have Nolasco, Hughes, and Kevin Correia in the rotation. Players that are out of options include Vance Worley, Sam Deduno, and Scott Diamond. Oh, and that doesn't include those that still can be optioned to the minor leagues in Kyle Gibson, Alex Meyer, and Andrew Albers.
Altogether, that's nine players for five spots, and supposedly the Twins want to bring in a tenth option. Yeah, this is going to get messy, but frankly, that's okay.
First, while the Twins have plenty of options here, they're not necessarily great options. Worley and Diamond struggled last year. If Deduno starts walking the entire stadium, he's going to be awful. Second, you've likely heard the phrase "You can never have too much pitching." Deduno is coming off a shoulder surgery, and if you throw in Worley and Meyer having some injuries from last season as well, one-third of this list already has some question marks on if they'll even be healthy for the start of the season. Plus, as pitchers inevitably break down, that depth will come in handy instead of plucking P.J. Walters out of Rochester for the third consecutive year.
Unless the Twins choose to get creative and move one of them to the bullpen, I think that any one of Worley, Deduno, or Diamond will be designated for assignment at the end of spring training, if they are not traded beforehand. Each player has his own reason for why he might be able to stick - Worley for being half of the return in the Ben Revere trade, Deduno because he's shown the most consistent success as a Twin in this group, and Diamond because of his 2012 year and because he's lefthanded - making the upcoming roster decisions very interesting.
Barring an injury bug, this rotation certainly looks to be much better than the 2012 and 2013 staffs. Now it's just time to see if there's any more improvement in the future.
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