Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What to Trade

Yesterday I wrote up a post entitled "What Not to Trade," in which I noted my opposition to any trade that would force the Twins to part with one of their five young rotation members unless the return was significant. Today I'll talk a little bit about some pieces that I could see the Twins reasonably parting with this offseason if they wish to bring in some outside talent via trade.

As most are aware, the Twins have a bit of an outfield glut. In Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, the Twins have five players who probably should be starting regularly but can only fill four spots (unless Cuddyer were to move back to third base, which seems highly unlikely). Each of these players is expendable in his own way, but at the same time, now seems like a poor time to move any of them.

I explained on Monday why this is the wrong time to give up on Kubel. Gomez is a fan favorite and trading him could cause the team to take a huge PR hit, which makes such a move unlikely. Some might argue that Span's value will never be higher, but his solid plate approach makes me believe that he can continue to have success, and he profiles as the only legitimate leadoff option on the roster right now. Trading Young at this point might be selling low, since he failed to show any progress from 2007 to 2008 but figures to (perhaps drastically) improve within the next couple seasons. Cuddyer appears to be the odd man out, but with his hefty new contract and the poor injury-riddled season he just finished up, he's hardly a hot commodity around the league.

One area where the Twins do have some depth is in the low minors, and this actually may play to their benefit in negotiating with a team like the Mariners. Seattle will no doubt covet the Twins' major-league ready pitching, but quite frankly the M's are deluding themselves if they think they'll be competing any time soon, so it might be in the organization's best interest to bring in some promising prospects that may be able to help out three or four years down the line.

Ben Revere is one name I would consider giving up in a Beltre trade. That's likely not a popular idea, since Revere flirted with .400 for much of the season while playing for Low-A Beloit and has some impressive physical tools. But there's a decent chance Revere will take a step back in the higher levels of the minors if he can't add some power and patience, so his value might be at an all-time high right now. More importantly, the Twins have a younger player in Aaron Hicks who performed extremely well in the Gulf Coast League this season after being drafted in the first round of June's amateur entry draft, and there's a fairly good chance he could supplant Revere as the organization's top outfield prospect within a year. With three players under the age of 25 currently populating their outfield and another talented young player in Jason Pridie standing by in Triple-A, the Twins are in no hurry to usher in new outfield help, so dealing Revere and patiently waiting for Hicks would make some sense.

Catcher Wilson Ramos is another talented player who had a strong season in the low minors, hitting .288/.346/.434 with 13 home runs and 78 RBI as a 20-year-old in High-A ball, and the Twins might be willing to consider parting with him since they've got that Joe Mauer guy locked in at the catcher position. However, scouts rave about Ramos and he is quietly rising to the top of this organization's prospect list, so he might be moving into that "untouchable" territory unless another club could offer up something truly tantalizing.

Tyler Robertson, Alex Burnett, Deolis Guerra and Mike McCardell are all quality arms in the low minors who the Twins should consider putting on the table in trade talks. Furthermore, any of the team's hurlers in the high minors (Anthony Swarzak, Kevin Mulvey, Jeff Manship, Zach Ward) would be attractive pieces in a package offer to any team looking to rebuild and add quality pitching depth. As much as I'm against trading any member of The Fab 5, the Twins do have a number of solid (if unspectacular) pitching prospects throughout the organization who are pretty much all expendable at the right price.

My personal feeling is that the Twins would be best served trying to address their problems via free agency rather than through trades this offseason. That's an area where I'm in stark opposition to some other bloggers, such as Aaron Gleeman. But, as much as I make note of this organization's past failures in free agency in past years, they are significantly under budget. I don't think the climate is right for the team to make a major trade. Pulling a starter out of their rotation would only create another hole to fill, and despite the fact that they feature something of an outfield glut, no member of that corps seems like an obvious trade candidate.

With all that being said, if the Twins do decide to make a trade to upgrade their big-league roster during the offseason, they have plenty of pieces littered throughout their minor-league system that could be used toward that end.

12 comments:

MVB said...

I agree that free agency needs to be considered given the fairly large (for the twins) amount of cap space.

However, Bill Smith and his staff need to better consider durability and age of free agent signings. Enough hoping guys will turn around their careers with no sign of hope.

If the right trade comes along I do think they need to pull the trigger. Like you I'm high on our pitchers, especially Blackburn, but I do think Perkins is expendable.

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SethSpeaks said...

I agree on Revere... he's never probably going to be a power guy, so it makes a lot of sense to consider dealing him if it is what it takes to bring in an impact player.

I probably would put Ramos in the Untouchable category. Catcher is just such a position with little quality, so I'd sit on him. If ever he develops as many think he will, he and Mauer can switch between Catcher and DH, Mauer catching 100 or so and Ramos catching the other 62+. They would both be every day players in such a scenario and you'd have a backup catcher without 'wasting a spot on a 3rd catcher."

And yes, they have a lot of talent at the lower levels that should be enticing.

ca said...

They would both be every day players in such a scenario and you'd have a backup catcher without 'wasting a spot on a 3rd catcher.

Unfortunately, such an arrangement would mean running the risk of losing the DH on a regular basis. Can't see the management finding that acceptable.

Given that the Twins probably want to be contenders when the new stadium opens up, I'd agree that the front office would be fine with trading some younger assets like Revere/Ramos for some infield help over the next couple years.

thrylos98 said...

There are a lot of young outfielders and several of them can be traded. Joe Benson and Dustin Martin top the list. I could deal with parting with Revere for the right return.

Also, I do not think that Perkins should be untouchable for several reasons. I am not sure that he is starting pitching material, and if you exclude ERA and W-L record and focus on things like %of 123 innings, % of fastballs and BAA his different pitches, he was the 6th best starter for the Twins last season (yes, he ranks lower than Bonser.) He does have trade value and if he brings in a quality bat, let it be... otherwise he would/should probably be the long reliever next year. Clearly the Twins need a new #4 type starter next year.

Ramos should be untouchable. The Twins have no pipeline of catchers in AAA or AA and given that Redmond is done after next season, a bench catcher would be needed at the majors. Ramos is the only player in the organization (unless Morales comes back from his second season ending injury in 2 years) who can make that jump...

lookatthosetwins said...

I don't really understand what their fastball percentage and 123 innings has to do with anything, but I do think that Boof had a pretty unlucky year and could probably fill the hole as a five starter. Perkins did have quite a few really good games and some really awful ones, which to me is a sign that he's an inconsistent young starter, not a career long reliever. Either way, I think he's probably the only one I'd be willing to trade. On the other side, I think we really should consider trading span if something could be worked out. His value to a team that needs a CF (think how much CWS would have been better with him) would be much larger than to ours. Plus while his speed looks attractive, he doesn't look like he's going to be a huge base stealer, and we have plenty of speed. Anyway, it all depends on what we get in return, but I think they should at least see what they can get for him.

Nick N. said...

I'd agree with the sentiment that Perkins did not pitch as well this year as his numbers for much of the season might have indicated, but it's extremely important to remember that this was his first year starting in the major leagues, and he missed almost all of the prior season with a shoulder injury. It's hardly likely we've seen the best of him already. Aggressive left-handed starters like him with a history of missing bats (though that hasn't really shown in the big leagues yet) are widely considered invaluable for a reason.

I'd be more willing to deal Perkins than any of his rotation-mates, and I'd hardly deem him "untouchable," but the idea of giving him up for one year of an expensive Adrian Beltre seems pretty short-sighted to me. If the Twins are going to part with Perkins, they'll need to bring back some long-term value -- like a J.J. Hardy.

Regarding Bonser... Those who read this blog all year are probably aware that I was a big advocate of Bonser and I was constantly arguing that he was pitching a lot better than his numbers showed. Thrylos, I don't even think your assertion that -- strictly from a pure performance standpoint -- Bonser was a better pitcher than Perkins this year is much of a stretch. But the results for Bonser were undeniably ugly and I think this team has pretty much given up on him as a starter for the time being. I don't think it would be the worst thing in the world if the Twins traded Perkins for a big offensive addition and then subbed Bonser back into the rotation, but I'm not sure that's realistic. Considering this organization's M.O., I think it's far more likely they'd plug in some washed up vet.

Topper said...

Amen Nick. I'm not sold on barring Bonser from the rotation yet. But I agree that it's a long shot for the front office to consider it.

Though I do like the idea of Boof in the bullpen if he would ever be content there. I thought for a long time that he might be the closer should Nathan ever leave -- but I don't know if his psyche would lend him towards a role like that.

I'd say Humber/Blackburn/Perkins in that order are the people I'd most likely use for trades (and again, only Blackburn and Perkins for that long-term asset).

However, the near major league ready talent like Duensing/Swarzak is something I'd rather ship in a trade. And Revere can go. We have a Revere+ in Aaron Hicks, agreed.

Ed said...

I am amazed that everyone seems so anxious (or at least willing) to trade one of our starters... these guys are the ticket to the playoffs for the next few years. The Twins lineup isn't that bad if they just stand pat... let them pitch another year and IF we have some young guns coming up maybe we let one go for some upgrades when the new park opens.

If they can avoid the injury bug like the MOSTLY did in '08.. '09 should be great. The injury bug killed the Indians... that part is a crapshoot every year.

Anonymous said...

You can say the same thing about Span as you do about Revere. Span's value is pretty high right know and he is probably going to come back to earth since he has shown so sign of the production he had this year. To me trading Revere would not be a good idea. So he won't hit HR's, who cares. Thats not the determining factor if a player is a good prospect. Revere has shown great OBP, very good BA, he is getting better at SB%, low K rate and the about the same BB rate. Plus, speed kills.

I think Span would net more than Revere would right now and I wouldn't mind trading him in the right package. Yes our OF range would be less, but we still have Gomez roaming the field.

Nick N. said...

I wasn't trying to belittle Revere as a prospect. He is a great prospect and I think he has a very good chance of becoming an above-average major-league player one day. But you have to give up something to get something, and given their high volume of young outfield talent at the major-league level and the presence of Aaron Hicks, Revere is a great prospect that the Twins can afford to lose right now at the right price.

I'm pretty well sold on Span, which is saying a lot considering how little I thought of him prior to this season. His plate approach is perfect for a leadoff hitter, which makes me think the high on-base percentage will stick, and he has developed some legitimate power after showing almost none throughout the minors. I don't think that's necessarily a fluke; it's important to keep in mind that these are just kids who are still growing and filling out. It's hardly uncommon for a guy to develop the power tool around Span's age.

Of all the Twins' outfielders, Span is the only one who possesses that high-OBP ability, and I think that's an important thing to hold on to.

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