Your sound track for this afternoon's read is more Noel Gallagher. Because we all need more Noel Gallagher in our lives.
Torii Hunter and Alex Rios
You know that guy in the office who has the crush on the cute girl? One day she says "I'm going to the skyway for lunch, does anybody want to co.." and the dude falls over her cubicle and lands on the desk awkwardly and falls on the floor then stands up and too loudly says "I'LL GO." That was the Twins with Hunter. Free agency started, and they were in there.
Nothing has come up since, but the Tigers have said that Hunter isn't fitting into their plans. Hunter will be 40 in 2015 and he's stated that he still wants to play, so you have to assume that priority 1A is finding a team that should compete for the post-season. The Twins aren't that team, but if we get past New Years and they still need a bat and Hunter still isn't signed, you never know.
Rios, meanwhile, is a name we were told to watch in the last week. He ticks a few boxes: right-handed, can play left field, would be a veteran presence on a young team. But if the Twins are going to bring in an over-the-hill outfielder whose value might be negative overall, wouldn't you rather it be Hunter than Rios?
MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger has twice mentioned McCarthy as a potential target for the Twins (most recently in his mailbag), who are looking for another starting pitcher. At FanGraphs earlier this month, Jeff Sullivan points out that McCarthy is a version of James Shields who is likely to command a fraction of Shields' cost. McCarthy's history plays against him (he hit 200 innings for the first time in 2014), and is the biggest factor to lend doubt to any interested party.
At his best, like he was this season, McCarthy can be a 3-win pitcher or better. He gets his strikeouts and couples it with command that he's now consistently shown since 2011. With plus peripherals, he should be the Twins' number one target in free agency. MLB Trade Rumors predicts he'll snag a three-year, $36 million dollar contract.
Hammel's name has come up a number of times in connection with the Twins, which isn't a surprise either since it's well known that they'll be trailing all second tier starters this winter. Since 2009 he's had four seasons with 170+ innings pitched but he's never reached 180. His peripherals have been up and down the last few years, both in terms of run prevention and in terms of his command and ability to miss bats.
None of Hammel's good seasons have come A) in the American League, while B) reaching that 170-inning plateau. But that, of course, doesn't mean he can't be an effective starter for the Twins. MLB Trade Rumors has him pegged for three years and $30 million. Personally, Hammel is a good step below McCarthy on the scale of preferred free agent starting pitchers.
This week's free agent flavor of the week, Masterson appeals as a buy-low candidate in a market flush with second tier starters. 2014 was injury-tampered, but three of his prior four seasons were very good; the fourth was just merely good. Masterson also has the best track record in terms of accumulating innings pitched, having hit the 180-inning plateau from 2010 through 2013 and topping 200 innings twice in that time frame.
Masterson has always been far more effective versus right-handed hitter than left-handed hitters. Smart managers will do their best to stack the odds against him, especially considering the violent splits in 2014: right-handed batters hit .237/.359/.370 against him, and lefties hit .312/.408/.502. But a healthy pitcher would see those drastic splits come down, and his ground ball tendencies would work well with what should be a good infield defense. MLB Trade Rumors expects a one-year, $12 million dollar offer.
It's not just Wolfson and Stohs who have been stumping for Bourjos. Former Twinkie Town author and current MLBTR staffer Steve Adams has seen it as a viable move for some time.
The Cardinals already had a glut of outfielders on their roster, but with today's acquisition of Jason Heyward that depth chart has gotten even more unwieldy. Bourjos, who will turn 28 just before Opening Day, is one of baseball's top outfield defenders at a premium position and would immediately become Minnesota's starting center fielder in spite of his lackluster offense. Perhaps nothing speaks better of his skills than the handful of outs he converts, every year, on plays that Inside Edge rates as having less than a 10% chance of being made.
With two years left of arbitration eligibility, Bourjos could be a perfect defensive bridge for this current Twins team. What would it cost them to attain him from St. Louis? It shouldn't be an impossible proposition, although bidding against other teams could drive the price up. Would you like to see the Twins get involved?