As I discussed here yesterday, it has become blatantly clear over the first half of the season that the Twins could really use an additional bat or two. Obviously, the best way for Terry Ryan to go about acquiring such help would be to part with some pitching in a trade. But, which player would make the most sense to deal?
The answer, in my mind, is Carlos Silva. Silva has been a pleasant surprise this year, entering the break with a 4.58 ERA and 1.40 WHIP after finishing the 2006 season with those numbers registering at 5.94 and 1.54. He has cut down on his gopher-ball tendencies and is on pace to allow just 20 home runs, which would be 18 less than he surrendered last year and also his lowest total since becoming a starter in 2004. He's probably been the second-most reliable starter on the Twins' staff this season. And yet, I would argue that it would be silly not to trade him before the July 31 deadline.
Silva is in the final season of his contract with the Twins and will be eligible to hit the free agent market following this season. There is probably close to zero chance that the Twins will re-sign him, because his value on the open market will likely be much higher than the Twins can afford. Teams around the league showed during the past offseason that starting pitchers with the ability to deliver 180+ innings at an ERA around the league average are pretty valuable. How valuable?
Take a look at Jeff Suppan. The right-hander entered the past offseason as a 31-year-old with a 4.60 career ERA. He signed a four-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers worth $42 million. Jason Marquis, who holds a 4.46 career ERA, signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Cubs over the winter and he was coming off a season in which he'd posted a 6.02 ERA.
Then you have Silva. He's just 28, he currently holds a career ERA of 4.38, and he's been a workhorse with a proven ability to stay durable and healthy. He's pitched 180+ innings in each of his three seasons as a full-time starter, and is on pace for over 200 innings this season. Granted, he had the rough season in 2006, but that year appears to be an outlier when you compare it to the rest of his career; he posted earned run averages of 4.21 and 3.44 in his first two seasons as a starter, and if he stays the course in the second half this year he can finish with an ERA right around 4.50.
Considering his age and his career numbers, there is a good chance that Silva could be offered a contract worth an average of $10 million per year this offseason. With their budget restrictions and their glut of young pitching talent, it would be both unrealistic and unnecessary for the Twins to make a run at re-signing him.
Keeping in mind that Silva will almost certainly be gone after this season, it seems foolish not to explore the idea of trading him. While the Twins would get draft pick compensation by letting Silva walk, pulling the trigger on a trade would provide more immediate help and the right player(s) could help the Twins make a playoff push this season. There are plenty of contending teams out there that will be looking to add a pitcher to their rotation before the deadline -- the Mariners, Yankees and Mets come to mind as a few examples. Silva won't bring back a marquis player, but I'd have to believe that the Twins could get some useful hitters by trading him, especially if he was a part of a package that included a mid-level prospect.
Of course, it's important to note that losing Silva for the last couple months of the season would be a blow to the pitching staff. As I mentioned before, he's probably been the team's second-best starting pitcher this season and he is also the only member of the rotation outside of Johan Santana with a decent amount of major-league experience. Yet, with Matt Garza, Boof Bonser, Glen Perkins, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn all in the mix with Santana, you'd think the Twins could piece together a more-than-serviceable rotation for the rest of the season.
I like Silva and I'm glad that he's turned things around this season, but I just don't see anyway that he'll be back in a Twins uniform next season. With that being the case, the Twins have little to lose by trading him for some offensive help.