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Heyman: Francisco Liriano, Justin Morneau, Carl Pavano, Ryan Doumit, Matt Capps Possible Deadline Trade Candidates

Apr 12, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Minnesota Twins designated hitter Justin Morneau (33) hits a two run home run in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Target Field. The Twins won 10-9. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
Apr 12, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Minnesota Twins designated hitter Justin Morneau (33) hits a two run home run in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Target Field. The Twins won 10-9. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

This has been a conversation I've largely avoided to this point, because even though we didn't really expect the Twins to contend this season it did seem a bit premature to talk about which guys might be the most valuable or the most sought after trade chips. But today is June 1st, which is something of an unofficial beginning to the trade deadline speculation season, and we have to start talking about it sooner or later: who could the Twins move this year?

Last summer the front office failed to see the reality facing them, and kept the guys who could have been their most valuable commodities: Michael Cuddyer, Carl Pavano, Joe Nathan, Matt Capps, Jason Kubel. Of course they garnered draft picks in place of their departing free agents where applicable, but barring the risk of spending mega dollars there will be no such advantage for them this season. That change to the CBA more or less makes the Twins' decision for them: if they want to get any value for their departing free agents, they need to trade them.

Yesterday, Jon Heyman put together a list of players who could garner some interest in the coming weeks. Here's what Heyman has to say about a few of Twins.

We'll start with Liriano:

He showed his true talent in six shutout innings vs. the A's on Wednesday, and despite an ERA that's still at 7.20, one competing exec said he's worth a shot in a short-term situation. At his best, he could help many.

By saying "he could help many", I assume Heyman means Francisco Liriano could help many teams. The problem, at least from Minnesota's perspective, is that two things play strongly against any potential return:

  1. Liriano is a free agent at the end of the year, and
  2. His start to his 2012 season has done irreparable damage to his potential trade value.
At this point, every week the Twins give Liriano to increase his trade value is another week his new team won't have him. In the scenario where the team trades their enigmatic southpaw, I'd be surprised to see the return be anything more than a single mid-level prospect.

Four more Twins are discussed after the jump.
On Morneau:
Now that his concussion symptoms have subsided and he's showing power again (.535 slugging percentage), playing some first base and he's a candidate to help an AL contender. Negative: He is owed $23 million through next year.
Actually it's slightly more than $23 million if you prorate his $14 million over two thirds of the season, but I suppose when you're paying that much cash over such a short period then a few hundred grand won't make a difference to a potential buyer. It's the $23 million that'll be the stumbling block.

Yet I disagree with Heyman's assumption that Justin Morneau couldn't be moved. Granted his potential landing spots could only be in a limited set of cities, and it might even take an injury or two to make it happen, but if a team with resources has a need in July of course they'll look at Morneau. Maybe the Yankees want a better option than Eric Chavez or Andruw Jones to DH everyday. Maybe the Dodgers decide they want some extra power in their lineup, and they're ready to take a big step in having Justin supplant James Loney.

I still doubt that Morneau will be moved. But it's certainly more feasible than Heyman gives credit for.

On Pavano:
Tough personality, diminishing performance (.302 BAA) and high salary ($8.5 million) limit his market.

Well, he got the first part right. Carl Pavano wants the ball and he wants to win. I think it's an attitude that doesn't necessarily permeate the Twins clubhouse, certainly not to the level of intensity that Pavano brings to he mound. The second part, diminishing performance, is partially correct, but that .302 batting average against is a terrible example of it.

Parts of Pavano's game are actually better than last year. Strikeout and walk rates are a good example of that. But Pavano has struggled stranding base runners, and his batting average on balls in play is marginally higher than 2011.

But that performance, and his "high" salary, aren't going to repel anybody. By the time Pavano might be on the block his salary will be just over $4 million for the rest of the season, and no team is going to look at Carl as their number one or number two. If you can find a contending team that wants to shore up the back end of their rotation, that wants to bring in a number four with a number one mentality to make themselves just that much better, those are the teams that might look in Pavano's direction. Heyman's castoff in this case is just lazy.

Ryan Doumit was one of Terry Ryan's smart decisions last winter, and Heyman thinks this:
Professional hitter would do better away from Target Field.

Target Field, 2012: .269/.366/.448
Away, 2012: .241/.297/.424

Heyman apparently couldn't even be bothered to check the home/road splits, but whatever. He's right that Doumit might be attractive for somebody, but the Twins wouldn't be getting anything of value in return. The Twins will need a low cost professional hitter or two in the next few years, and Doumit is actually one guy I could see staying around for a couple of years.

Finally, Heyman's words on Matt Capps:
Considering the need for closers, maybe his $4.75 million salary doesn't look too horrible. He has saved 10 of 11, so he could help someone.
Forget the couple million. Heyman seems stuck on a couple of million dollars when we all know that any contending team looking for a short-term gain will have no problem taking on a little extra dough.

But yet again, lazy analysis doesn't mean the overall point is wrong. He's absolutely correct that Capps could help someone, and if that team has a good defense that'll make an impact on Matt's performance, too. Ideally he'd go to a team that already had a good closer and set-up man in place, and he'd be just one part of a very deep bullpen.