Monday, December 04, 2006

Making Moves

With the annual GM winter meetings taking place this week, baseball's Hot Stove is getting ready to heat up. As we've discussed previously on this blog, it is unlikely that the Twins will be major players in the market this off-season, but that doesn't mean they won't do anything. I expect to see them take part in a relatively minor trade or two and I believe they'll sign a couple lower-level free agents.

I haven't seen the Twins pop up in a whole lot of trade rumors, but one player that Terry Ryan is reportedly shopping is Juan Rincon. Apparently the Astros and Rockies have interest in the right-handed reliever, and as Rotoworld.com notes, Morgan Ensberg would be a nice return. Ensberg, a 31-year-old third baseman, would be a good fit for the Twins, who could use a powerful right-handed bat in their lineup. Ensberg batted just .235 last year, but he walked 101 times in 495 plate appearances and still managed 23 home runs. In 2005, Ensberg was phenomenal, hitting .283/.388/.557 with 36 homers and 101 RBI. If he could return anywhere close to that form, he would be tremendously valuable addition to the Twins' lineup. I doubt the Astros would be willing to part with Ensberg for just Rincon, so Ryan would probably have to put together a package of some sort.

While they might dabble with some trades, Ryan and his staff will probably be spending most of their effort in the coming weeks on negotiating long-term contracts with Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer. All three are arbitration-eligible and all three are in line for big raises. For the short term and for the long term, it would be best if the Twins could lock all three players up with reasonable multi-year contracts, but that will depend on the players and their agents. Obviously the deals being signed around the league over the past month have not helped the Twins' chances of getting a good deal on any of these elite players.

It should be an interesting week, and here's hoping that Ryan and his staff can make some moves to help improve this team in 2007 and beyond.

7 comments:

the frenchman said...

Why do you think the twins aren't pursuing Piazza to DH with a one or two year contract?

Nick M. said...

Likely because Piazza is asking for a rate similar to the Frank Thomas contract. Piazza has plenty of reason to ask for the money, since he was relatively healthy last year, posses less of a health risk, can play a position if necessary (you would never consider putting Frank Thomas anywhere in the field right now), and outside of the confines of the hitter-killing Petco Park, he had a very good hitting year last year.

He probably wants around $8 million a year and its just not Ryan's style to go for that. I'm happy about that though. This is not a market to take part in and Ryan is smart to stay out of it. If he makes a good trade or two, a few minor signings, and focuses on keeping the marquee players the Twins have--like Mauer, Morneau, etc--the Twins will do much better than other teams this offseason.

brianS said...

so, if you don't think Ryan goes for Piazza at around $8 million per, how high does he go with RonLF/"The Insanity"??

it seems to me that Rondell's agent can credibly argue that he was playing hurt in the first half (182/209/215), so his second-half numbers (321/354/538) are the relevant ones, and those numbers were very, very good. I would counter that RonDL is still RonDL. Anyone who signs him has to take on substantial injury risk. And I do NOT want to see him playing in the field. The hitting better as an OFer rather than DH is just nonsense.

$5 million with an $8m-$9m team option?

Nick N. said...

White made $2.5 million last year and hit .246/.276/.365. I don't see how that makes him deserving of a raise. I understand that the market is inflated, but come on. If the Twins re-signed Rondell for twice as much as they did last year it would make them look VERY foolish for declining their 2007 option on him, which I believe was once again $2.5 mil.

brianS said...

just to be clear, I wasn't advocating that Ryan sign Rondell for those numbers. Just wondering what the market will look like.

I'm having a hard time imagining anything similar (in expectation) to second-half Rondell available at under $4m-$5m.

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