I don't remember the last time the Twins had been tied to so many players on the free agent market, much less when they were all pitchers. That sounds like it will be modus operandi this winter. Here's the latest from the last few days.
- The Twins are one of a few teams with interest in right-hander Bronson Arroyo. This comes from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, whose speculation doesn't always make as much sense as his source material, and this is of the latter. Arroyo is a right-hander who will be entering his age-37 season, and coming out of a year where the Reds paid him more than $16 million thanks to a three-year, $35 million dollar extension he signed after the 2010 season.
- At this stage of his career Arroyo appears to be a durable arm still capable of giving someone 200 innings of fairly predictable effectiveness; he has a strong command of his arsenal and, although he has a penchant for giving up the longball, could find a reprieve in Target Field.
- Strikeouts continue to be a concern though, because although Arroyo has struck out 15.3% of batters in the last two seasons (still on the low end but not completely terrible), that rate drops to 13.5% after you take pitchers out of the equation. That would still have placed him third among Twins starters in 2012, behind Mike Pelfrey and Sam Deduno and right in front of Kevin Correia.
- Over at the Strib, LEN III lists four pitchers with whom the Twins have already been in contact. He covers Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco (Myjah touched on both of these pitchers when she recounted free agent rumblings last week), but he also brings up Scott Feldman and Dan Haren.
- Haren, in spite of some minor issues over the last two seasons, has still turned in 30 starts in each of the last two seasons. The ERA in that period (4.50) is ungainly, but ERA doesn't seem to be a good metric concerning how well Haren did or didn't pitch last season. He enters 2014 four years younger than Arroyo, but health will play a larger role than age in determining whether the Twins may or may not offer a pitcher a contract.
- In spite of the nagging injuries, Haren's peripherals continue to be strong. He has struck out approximately 20% of batters over the last two seasons while maintaining his signature strong command and walking about one of every twenty batters. He also relies on his cut fastball more at this point of his career than he did in the past, as his fastball velocity has come down, but a good sinking fastball and a decent curve have helped him stay effective.
- Feldman, who will be entering his age-31 season in 2014, is the youngest of this starter trio and, quite possibly, the biggest wild card. He doesn't have the name recognition or the track record of Arroyo or Haren, but he's still been a 2-win pitcher each of the last two seasons.
- Of the three pitchers, Feldman's performance would also be the most difficult to predict. He doesn't consistently do a good job of keeping base runners from scoring, and his already average velocity looks less impressive when you see him solely as a starter - when his fastball drops from 93-94 to 89-90.
- With ground balls accounting for roughly half of his balls-in-play last season, another strong year from the Twins middle infield would help Minnesota get the most out of Feldman. His strikeout and walk rates are both nothing special, which means he'd probably fit seamlessly into the Twins' rotation.
- Finally, it looks like the Nationals are willing to listen to trade offers for Denard Span. Span finished the season strong but still hit just .279/.327/.380. That's not far off the National League average for leadoff hitters last season (.267/.333/.388), but it's certainly not what Washington was looking for when they traded away Alex Meyer. If it hasn't helped you feel a bit better about that whole Wilson Ramos/Matt Capps ordeal, feel free to let it help you now.
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