The necessity to give Kevin Correia a two-year deal is still a bit mysterious in my mind, but if you'd told me what his numbers would look like as of July 1 at the time of the deal it would've saved me (and quite a few others) a good deal of heartburn and banging my head against a wall. You'd have to be beyond stubborn not to concede that he's been a competent rotation piece thus far. I will never be upset about being wrong when I doubt a player and he completely proves me wrong.
We're at the point in the season where speculation begins to run rampant, however, and a starter with respectable ERA, elite command and a league average ground-ball rate that's owed about $2.5MM more in 2013 and $5MM in 2014 might be something that doesn't look too bad to other teams, even if the attached name isn't all that sexy.
Jon Heyman recently listed Correia as one of five "starters who will go" (not "may" go -- he had a separate section for that in his column) prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Some of that may be Heyman's own speculation, but for someone who talks to as many baseball people as he does, there's probably at least a little bit of traction behind it.
Correia's been a solid, albeit unspectacular pitcher all around. He's averaging nearly 6.1 innings per start, while the average AL starter is averaging just over 5.2 innings. He does so by missing virtually no bats (his 4.8 K/9 is the third lowest mark among qualified starters) but also by issuing virtually no walks (his 1.63 BB/9 is tied for 10th-best in baseball). His 45 percent ground-ball rate is exactly the MLB average for starting pitchers.
Correia is essentially an average back-end starting pitcher, which doesn't do much for a team that's treading water somewhere between buying and selling in a weak division, but could be useful to a team that has a top-heavy rotation but can't seem to find a fifth starter no matter where they look (hello, Nationals). Correia won't kill a rotation, nor will he save it. He will likely save the bullpen a few innings of work over the course of a season, which isn't insignificant either.
There's also the fact that opposing teams simply don't try to run on him. So far in 2013, opposing teams have attempted just 41 steals against the Twins, and only four of those attempts have come against Correia despite the fact that he's pitched more than 14 percent of the Twins' innings.
Given the number of teams on the lookout for starting pitching -- the Giants, Padres, Rockies, Dodgers, Orioles, Nationals, Pirates and Indians, to name a few -- there should be varying degrees of interest in Correia's services. He's more than a rental, though he lacks the talent that teams typically pay a premium for. He makes up for some of that with relative consistency and a low price tag, and that seems like enough to persuade a suitor to part with more than just a warm body.
At the same time, that price tag and consistency will be attractive assets for Terry Ryan and his staff as they look toward 2014. The Twins haven't made it a secret that they're not interested in a lengthy rebuilding process, so perhaps keeping a solid No. 5 starter around is of more value to Ryan than trading him for a good but not elite prospect.
With an advanced apology for the yes-or-no nature (obviously there are some gray areas), let's all play GM with a poll!