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TwinsCentric: Relief help available?

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: January 3, 2012 - 1:11 AM
It is generally believed that the Twins have about $1-2 million available to sign another player. With the addition of some bats and Jason Marquis, most believe that if the Twins add another relief pitcher to the mix. So, what’s available, and what’s available for $1-2 million?
 
Let’s start by saying that there are a lot of relief pitchers remaining on the free agent market, and that’s without considering a few starting pitchers who may have to sign deals and try to make a bullpen.
 
There are still a few big dollar relievers out there. Ryan Madsen is clearly the top remaining bullpen option. Remember when the rumors spread that he and the Phillies had agreed to a four year, $44 million deal, yet only a week later, the Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon? Now it will be very interesting to see who signs him and who would be willing to pay anywhere near that? Francisco Cordero lost his ability to get strikeouts last year, but he will also likely make more than $3 million in 2012. Brad Lidge is an interesting case as he is an injury risk yet came back with a lot of strikeouts late last season. He also will likely make more than $3 million.
 
There is a second tier of reliever that is still available as well. I believe that this group fits more into the $1-2.5 million range. Todd Coffey, Scott Linebrink, Fernando Rodney, Rich Harden, Kerry Wood and Dan Wheeler fit into that category, with Wheeler and Wood likely at the top of that range.
 
After that, there are a lot of guys who should be less than a million dollars. Many of these guys may wind up with minor league contracts with big league invites. Would you have any interest in these guys?
  • David Aardsma, Jeremy Accardo, Luis Ayala (I’m sure Gardy would love to get him back!), Danys Baez, Miguel Batista, Shawn Camp, Juan Cruz, Chad Durbin, Mike Gonzalez, Aaron Heilman, Clay Hensley, Jason Isringhausen, Hong-Chih Kuo, Mike MacDougal, Damaso Marte, Trever Miller, Peter Moylan (Australian connection!), Pat Neshek (bring him back!!), Micah Owings (right-handed DH too?), Vicente Padilla, Tony Pena, Chad Qualls, Doug Slaten, Brian Tallet, Jamey Wright, Michael Wuertz (Austin native), Joel Zumaya.
I’d like to see the Twins go after Dan Wheeler or Kerry Wood on a $2-2.5 million offer. Either of them would have to know that they could very well be closing for the Twins by May. The same is true with Harden. If he’s willing to commit to a bullpen role, he could be dominant as a late-inning guy.
 
Beyond that, I think the Twins should wait until late January or the first week of February and sign a couple more relievers to minor league contracts. It’s really hard to go wrong with minor league contracts. There is little (or maybe No) risk.
 
I also believe that a great way to help a team’s bullpen is to find starters that eat a bunch of innings. That will require the Twins to get innings from Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Jason Marquis and Nick Blackburn. Edwin Jackson would sure look nice in the Twins rotation, but not at the 5 year, $60 million that his agent, Scott Boras, is asking for. At 3 years, and $27 million, he’d be worth adding payroll to acquire, but that’s probably not happening.
 
There are still some starters out there. Sure, if they can be counted on for 200 (or ever 175) innings, they won’t be available for less than $3 million. But if you can find a guy who you can almost count on 150 innings from, they could be worth the money. Guys like Joel Pineiro and Paul Maholm are two guys who fit into that category. If one of them can give you 140-150 innings, that means that Liam Hendriks can stay in Rochester and develop and when he’s needed in July or August, he will be more ready. Who knows? Maybe Alex Wimmers or Tom Stuifbergen will be ready by then?
 
Even though the Twins may be down to their final $2-3 million, it doesn’t mean that they are done and can’t be really active over the next month. There are plenty of names out there yet, and I hope that the Twins can bring in a couple of them.
 
Who would you want the Twins to add at this point?

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