It was only a few days ago that we learned the Twins really were thinking about watching Rafael Soriano throw, but other than adding Blaine Boyer to the 40-man roster the club hasn't really done anything about the bullpen. As great as Boyer's flaming red hair is, I'm not sure he's really the answer the team needs.
The good news is that, with spring training coming to a close, there are options available. Some teams realize they have extra depth or not enough, and it also means that one or two possible options might hit the market. Here are a few options.
Valverde opted out of his deal with the Padres this morning. He had signed with San Diego on a minor league deal, but as is common there was an opt out date if he wasn't on the Major League roster - he took it.
From 2007 through 2011, Valverde was a very good relief pitcher and he closed out games for the Diamondbacks, Astros, and Tigers in that period. But his biggest issue has always been command, and when he couldn't spot the fastball and/or the splitter wasn't working he was a disaster waiting to happen. Being out of shape and being unable to have a regular Major League job the last couple of years don't help his case, either.
But on the other hand, Valverde's fastball still has a good deal of velocity and has even been throwing harder at times during spring training. If the Twins really feel like they need an upgrade, they could do worse than giving Valverde an audition.
#MNTwins had interest in Dustin McGowan in Nov. But not so much in Feb. But hear they again are kicking the tires. LAD just released him.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) April 2, 2015
After being released from the Dodgers, it looks like the Twins are rekindling their crush on McGowan. He and Valverde were both born on March 24, so that's your fun fact for the day. McGowan is four years younger, but at 33 the right-hander isn't exactly a guy who could stick around long-term either.
His failed run as a starter for Toronto meant the Blue Jays pushed him to the bullpen, but he's never been particularly successful there in more than a small sample size. He does throw hard, with a fastball sitting 93-95 and a slider in the upper 80s. Just to show that a birthday isn't the only thing McGowan has in common with Valverde, he also can rack up strikeouts while dishing out walks in bunches.
This list is off to a really promising start, right?
The Braves are looking for a starter
This one might be off the list by the time this story is published, but earlier this afternoon it was announced that Atlanta was in search of a starting pitcher. It's turned out that the Diamondbacks are close to flipping them Trevor Cahill, but if the Twins wanted to be late entrants into the sweepstakes they could offer any of four or five starters. Would you rather have Tommy Milone than Cahill? I might.
To be fair, in this case there isn't a bullpen target that makes a lot of sense for the Twins. They aren't getting Craig Kimbrel, so perhaps Atlanta isn't the best partner here. Carry on, Arizona.
Padres taking calls on relievers
San Diego’s bullpen currently projects to be anchored by closer Joaquin Benoit, who is earning $8MM in the second season of a two-year, $15.5MM pact. His contract comes with an $8MM club option ($1.5MM buyout). Beyond Benoit, Kevin Quackenbush, Brandon Maurer, Shawn Kelley, Nick Vincent, Dale Thayer, Frank Garces and Odrisamer Despaigne are all candidates for the bullpen, making for eight total relievers.
Thayer would be a name I'd consider. He's averaged 68 appearances over the last three years, posting a 3.02 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in the process. He gets a good number of strikeouts and, unlike McGowan and Valverde, doesn't suffer from command issues with regularity.
Some of those other names belong to younger players who are still under team control, but while that would make them a bit harder to attain it doesn't mean that the Twins wouldn't try. Considering how many relief prospects are in the system and knowing how quickly they could be ready, however, it does seem unlikely that the Twins would trade for any reliever who wasn't a veteran.
We can always go back to the well we started talking about last week, right? Why not. Other than Dale Thayer, is he anymore likely to be ineffective than Valverde or McGowan?
Of course, the roster is now full. The Twins have added Shane Robinson to the 40-man roster, so any other move that the Twins make will necessitate another move. That might be an entirely different conversation of its own.