Santana contractual details: 4/54 can become 5/68 with the vesting option. $1M buyout makes the guarantee $55M. #MNTwins— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) December 11, 2014
Our coverage so far: Twins interested in Ervin Santana | Santana would make the Twins better but looks like Nolasco | Twins to sign Ervin Santana to four-year contract | How much better does Santana make the Twins?
Even if you traditionally think of Santana and Phil Hughes as number three-type starters, which is how their profile plays, having two mid-rotation pitchers with some upside is a good change of pace for the Twins. A baseball team cannot be fixed with one player, but by making the rotation better the Twins have made this team one step closer to being a contender.
Told #MNTwins tried to get a meeting on Masterson yesterday, but it was too late. They never made him an offer.— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) December 11, 2014
This lends credence to my speculation yesterday that, if the Twins were waiting on someone before they focused fully on Santana, they were perhaps interested in landing Masterson in the first instance. Both pitchers would make Minnesota's rotation better, but no doubt a shorter term contract to Masterson would have been the preferred route. Instead, Masterson returns home his original organization in Boston.
Cardinals sign Mark Reynolds. Heard the Twins were sniffing around him this week.— LaVelle E. Neal III (@LaVelleNeal) December 11, 2014
I made note earlier this week of LEN III's comment that the Twins were "sniffing around a position player with pop." Turns out that man was Reynolds, who I was hoping would have come to Minnesota last winter when the team needed a backup corner infielder. He ended up heading to the Brewers, where he batted just .196/.287/.394 - although he did smash 22 homers. In spite of being a major risk considering his lack of contact (31.9% career strikeout rate and 65% contact rate since 2007), he still put up 1.6 fWAR in 2014.
And that effort earned him more interest this year. He'll back up first, third, and right field for St. Louis, and he'll probably get a look-in as their DH during interleague games. He's a nice bench bat, at the very least. It will be interesting to track whether the Twins continue to focus on a bench bat who can back up at a couple of different positions.
Colby Rasmus, Nyjer Morgan, Endy Chavez, Emilio Bonifacio, and Ezquiel Carrera lead the list of free agent center fielders still available; Rasmus is the only one that piques my interest at all. Nori Aoiki and Melky Cabrera are both still on the market, but they're corner outfielders and I doubt Minnesota would, at this point, want to offer any of them the multi-year offer they're no doubt expecting. (Nor should the Twins follow that train of thought, either.)
On the trade market, I'm still very much interested in Peter Bourjos and Jon Jay from the Cardinals.
Candidates for the 2015 rotation now include Ervin Santana, Phil Hughes, Ricky Nolasco, Mike Pelfrey, Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone, Trevor May, and Alex Meyer. Don't bother counting: that's three too many starting pitchers. While a team can never have too much pitching, A) you can only stash so many starter's arms in the bullpen, B) returning May and/or Meyer to Triple-A to start 2015 feels counter productive for the long-term, and C) having a surplus of starting pitchers who have years of team control remaining is a luxury. If teams come calling on Gibson or Milone with a tempting offer, it would be hard to say no if it's a move that makes sense.