In analyzing possible targets for the Twins this offseason, I'm starting to realize that I've been perhaps overly positive. J.J. Hardy? Great acquisition! Carl Pavano? Bring him back! Adrian Beltre? Great fit! And don't forget about my sleeper free agent second baseman, Jamey Carroll!
Lest I start to look like anything other than a nay-saying curmudgeon, let's spend today's post talking about a player that I think the Twins should most definitely avoid. Ironically, it's a guy that I advocated very strongly for them to bring in just last offseason.
That's because last offseason presented the perfect opportunity to make a play for Mark DeRosa. A right-handed batter, he was coming off three consecutive strong seasons, had only one relatively cheap year left on his contract, was capable of playing multiple positions where the Twins were thin, and was being made available by the Cubs for -- as it would turn out -- a pretty darn low price.
The Indians ended up swooping in and acquiring DeRosa in return for three marginal pitching prospects. He hit quite well for the Indians over the first half of the season before being sent to St. Louis to finish up his campaign with the playoff-bound Cardinals. Now, DeRosa becomes a free agent and the Twins will once again have the chance to move on him.
Things are different, though. He'll turn 35 in February and he's starting to show marked signs of decline. DeRosa skidded after being traded to the Cards last year and finished the season with a 757 OPS -- his lowest figure since 2004. Perhaps more alarming is that DeRosa's defense seemed to drop off the charts; he'd posted excellent UZR numbers at third base in 2007 and 2008 but this year finished at -8.7 there, and he's never rated well at second base.
Another fact to keep in mind when contemplating DeRosa is that he needed wrist surgery at the end of the season. The injury was likely a significant factor in his late-season decline, but there's no guarantee that he'll bounce back even after surgery, considering his age.
DeRosa's right-handed stick and ability to play second, third and left field make him a desirable fit for the Twins at a quick glance, but a deeper look tells us that this is the wrong time to be signing him to a multi-year deal -- which he'll certainly be seeking this winter. Getting DeRosa a year ago would have been a wise move that would have made the Twins a better team in '09. But the Twins missed their window, and at this point the best idea is to simply pass.