TwinsCentric was formed by Twins super-bloggers Seth Stohs, Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman and John Bonnes. Together they publish at TwinsDaily.com and have authored books, e-books and magazines that provide independent and in-depth coverage of the Minnesota Twins from a fan's perspective. You can contact them at TwinsCentric@gmail.com.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Minnesota Twins (and all Major League teams) will need to submit their 40 man rosters. The Twins current 40 man roster consists of 36 players, 19 pitchers and 17 position players. Since the season’s end, we have seen several players removed from the 40 man roster, such as Clete Thomas (Phillies) and Pedro Hernandez (Rockies) who have signed with other teams and Doug Bernier who remained with the Twins.
The Twins have also added RHP Duke Welker (via trade) and LHP Edgar Ibarra before he could become a minor league free agent.
There are several players on the current 40 man roster who you or I may believe could come off, but they may be there for a reason. You see, the players who get added to the 40 man roster on Wednesday can’t be removed from the 40 man roster until at least spring training. If the Twins were to sign a couple of free agents, they need to be able to make room for them on the roster. So there are players on the 40 man roster who may not feel real comfortable until they get to spring training.
Of course, the Twins may also choose to make a Rule 5 selection as they have the last three seasons. Last year, they added Ryan Pressly and three years ago, it was Scott Diamond. Both have already exceeded the results of most Rule 5 picks. If the Twins want to make a Rule 5 pick, they can only have 39 (or less) on the roster.
So, who is eligible for the Rule 5 draft? Players who signed at age 18 or younger during the 2009 season or players who signed at age 19 or older in 2010. Jorge Polanco signed with the Twins as a 16 year old in July of 2009, so he is eligible. Miguel Sano signed as a 16 year old in October of 2009 (after the season), so he is not eligible. (The Twins could add him, but it would make no sense.)
Here are some more players who could be added to the 40 man roster on Wednesday. Most likely no more than two of three will be added.
There are others who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft if not protected that are interesting. Here is a list of all eligible players, courtesy of the Twins Daily Rosters & Payroll page.
So there you have a look at the players that the Twins will need to protect on their 40 man roster by Wednesday afternoon or risk losing in the Rule 5 draft.
Which do you think will be added? Which do you think could be lost if not protected?
Tonight at 8:30, Hangout with Jeremy Nygaard and myself on YouTube for our weekend Twins Talk. You can interact by asking questions. Tonight, we’ll be discussing the 40 man roster as well as any Twins rumors of the day and week. Join us here. We'll also take your questions.
Aaron and John talk about Joe Mauer moving from catcher to first base, being sponsored by another Twins podcast, the Twins' odds of actually signing Ricky Nolasco or another big-money free agent pitcher, recapping Dave Chappelle's marathon show at First Avenue, Jason Bartlett rejoining the Twins, Hebrew school reunions, Pedro Hernandez' 2014 ERA, Twitter beefs, John breaking his toe, and Aaron getting married. You can listen by clicking below, download us from iTunes or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com.
If you're trying to dissect the latest Twins offseason rumors - well, so are we. Like the Twins being linked to Matt Garza. Or making a strong push for Ricky Nolasco. Or even losing Pedro Hernandez to the Rockies. And of course, we're also still on top of the latest minor league news, including Seth analyzing the timetable for top pitching prospect Kohl Stewart.
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Employment is not difficult to find if you are a moderately successfully and young starting pitcher in major league baseball. As an example, Ricky Nolasco has several four-year offers in discussion and, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal pointed out this morning, the Twins are making a strong push for his services.
In conversation with his agent Matt Sosnick last week, Nolasco is seeking a five-year deal. While multiple teams are levying the four-year offers, it may be the team who submits a fifth year options that lands the free agent.
“I look at options more about breaking a stalemate at the end of negotiation,” Sosnick said. “We’re talking to a lot of teams and we’re hoping to get five years on Nolasco. We’re talking with a lot of teams about deal in the four-year range and what ends up happening is that if no one is willing to go to five year, people will use a club option for a fifth year.”
The option year, Sosnick said, basically gives the pitcher some extra money in the form of a buyout but also provides the team an option to retain that pitcher’s services if they so desire. Based on the reports that the Twins are making the “strong push” for Nolasco, it would be reasonable to assume the two sides are looking at the four-year plus option deal.
Nolasco, who will be 31 in 2014, has been decisively average over his career but is coming off perhaps his best season since his age-25 season in 2008.
Over his career, Nolasco’s actual numbers have performed worse than his projected numbers. His career ERA of 4.37 is significantly higher than what his 3.75 expected Fielding Independent rates would suggest. While his peripherals have been strong, his ability to strand runners once they reach base has been sub-par: His 69.2% left-on-base rate has been the sixth-lowest among starters since 2010 (minimum 500 innings pitched). Part of the reason behind this is that, with runners on, Nolasco has a .288 average against (10th highest) in that time.
To his credit, Nolasco’s seen a steady decline in his home run rate in each of the past three years, resulting in a career-low of 0.77 HR/9 this last season. One of his biggest changes in 2013 that may have played a role in this decrease was going inside with his fastball more.
In general Nolasco eschews the fastball (just 47% vs 50% league average frequency) for his secondary offerings, namely his slider. The slider has been a very good pitch for him despite somescouts suggesting it has not been as sharp as it had been earlier in his career. This past season, he was able to incite more swing-and-misses on it but, judging by the drop in chases out of the zone, does not have the same bite it once did.
Durability-wise, he is almost as stalwart as they come. Dating back to 2008, Nolasco has accumulated 1,151.1 innings – the 24th most in baseball over that time – and placing him alongside other workhorses. In that stretch, he has no arms issues whatsoever, but a tear in his meniscus took him out from 46 days in 2010.
Naturally, the argument could be made that all of that was before he turned thirty and the mileage compiled early in his career could eventually catch up on the wrong side of 30. As Twins general manager Terry Ryan said of signing thirty-year-old pitchers last month “I’d be very careful. I’d be careful,” he said reflecting on the free agent market, “Because you know what happens with 30-year-olds.”
Ryan’s concern is merited, both because of injury and increasing ineffectiveness. Nolasco’s contract would extend him in Minnesota from his age-31 to age-35 season and while he has not shown any signs of arm problems, there are plenty of examples of breakdown from even the biggest workhorses in the stable. The Twins recently requested Johan Santana’s medical records but Santana, who had been a perennial 200-inning hurler, started to suffer a multitude of ailments which have kept his innings total from his age-32 to age-34 seasons to just 117 innings.
Likewise, effectiveness wanes noticeably too as well as starting pitchers begin approach their mid-life crisis. According to the research produced by Fangraph.com’s Bill Petti and Jeff Zimmerman, a starting pitcher’s skills begin diminishing after the age of thirty and continue to regress from that point forward:
To be clear, this not meant as an indictment of a potential Nolasco signing, simply a warning of the price of doing business in the free agent market. As Ryan mentioned before, his ideal process of team building would be to avoid the aging talent for the younger arms.
“In our position I’d rather go after an Alex Meyer, because we are more than one ace away,” Ryan said recently. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. You give me a No. 1 starting pitcher I’ll take him, but we finished 27 games behind the Tigers.”
Obviously Nolasco does not project as an ‘ace’ or a number one starter (well, outside of the Twins rotation anyways) but he does provide the team with a valuable upgrade that can be filled in around him moving forward. Alex Meyer, who has impressed during his time in Arizona this fall, could develop into the front-of-the-rotation type. With progress, Kyle Gibson has the potential of being a two or three in the rotation. A rotation of Meyer-Gibson-Nolasco plus others in 2015 does not sound too bad.
Like Ryan said, the Twins have work to do and beginning with Nolasco is a decent start.
I'm not a doctor. I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Nonetheless, it's been clear to me for some time that Joe Mauer was destined for a permanent move away from catcher after concussion issues cost him a quarter of his 2013 season. There was simply no way that continuing to expose the organization's most valuable asset to the heightened risk of head trauma behind the plate was going to be palatable, no matter how well his offseason recovery went.
On Monday, the Twins made official what has been apparent for months: Mauer is now a first baseman.
Already at Twins Daily, Parker has shared manager Ron Gardenhire's thoughts on the announcement and Cody has examined some of the ripple effects that will stem from Mauer's relocation. Both articles are well worth checking out.
Here I'm going to break down the challenge that the Twins now face, one that at this time last year they likely felt was nowhere near. For the first time in 12 seasons, they need to find an answer at the catcher position.
When the Twins signed Mauer to a $184 million contract in 2010, the hope was that they would be covered behind the plate for the next eight years. Of course, that was never a particularly realistic hope, considering the history of full-time catchers aging into their 30s. Looking back, when you account for the numerous lower-body ailments faced by Mauer over the course of a career that started with a severe knee injury, it may be that he was lucky to last as long as he did.
Now, the organization sets upon the task of finding his successor -- an unwelcome distraction with the rotation in need of much attention. Josmil Pinto is the obvious choice following a hugely impressive audition in September, but I wouldn't assume that he'll enter spring training as a lock -- or even a favorite -- to be the starter.
During his interview for the Offseason Handbook a few weeks back, Terry Ryan was guarded in his comments about Pinto. When Parker started a question about the rookie backstop with "Pinto had a great first month of his big-league career," Ryan interjected: "Not great." The two eventually settled on "solid."
There wasn't much not to like about Pinto's offensive performance; in 83 plate appearances, he hit .342/.398/.566 while showing decent plate discipline, driving the ball to all fields and repeatedly coming up with huge hits.
Plainly, Ryan isn't convinced that the 24-year-old is fully developed in the many vital aspects of catching: calling games, framing pitches, controlling the run game, and the like. It's understandable given that Pinto essentially skipped Triple-A on his way to the big leagues. The GM showed little long-term concern, stating that Pinto's flaws are "gonna be workable" and adding that he is "very coachable."
In the meantime, the Twins will surely seek a contingency plan for the event that Pinto demonstrates in March he still needs work. No strong candidates exist within the system, as Ryan Doumit is no one's idea of a regular catcher, Chris Herrmann is a replacement level talent and 2013 third-round pick Stuart Turner -- who may be on the fast track as a college draftee with an advanced skill set -- is still at least a couple years away.
There is little doubt that the Twins will venture into the free agent market to find an established player who can serve as at least a short-term solution. Already the club has been connected to multiple names. Later this week at Twins Daily, I'll take a look at some of the likely candidates, each of whom could fit in a different way.
The baseball offseason can be a lot of fun for rumor mongers. It is always interesting to hear what rumors are going around, particularly about the Minnesota Twins. Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I have to take everything I read in the offseason with a little grain of salt, at least until things get going a little further.
For instance, we heard last week that the Twins have already talked to some agents about several pitchers including Bronson Arroyo and Phil Hughes. I read that and immediately think, “Yeah, no surprise on either of those.” But what does it mean? Terry Ryan likely has talked to most agents (or at least agencies) already this offseason. In doing so, he probably is getting a feel for what they are thinking about all of their clients. This is likely something that every GM in baseball has already done.
Then we read that the Twins have asked to review the medical reports of Johan Santana. Guess what? It’s likely most teams in baseball have requested that paperwork. It doesn’t necessarily indicate that the Twins and Santana are close to any deals. My assumption is no less than 28 teams will at least have a conversation about the former Twins Cy Young recipient.
The day that the Twins and Joe Mauer announce that he is going to move to first base, they are linked to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. I love reading stuff like that. I mean, it’s fun to read the hometown nine linked to such a big (and long) name. “Salty” has been very good. But, when the Twins have a guy like Josmil Pinto very nearly ready to post .750 OPS in Target Field, does it make sense to give a catcher a four year deal worth 8 figures each year? I can see them adding a veteran to a one year deal to split time with Pinto, or even give Pinto another half-season in Rochester. I’d be perfectly fine with giving a one year deal to someone like AJ Pierzynski or John Buck, or any of those veteran catchers.
I find all of it fascinating, and I enjoy dissecting each rumor, putting it to a test in my mind to see if there is anything worthy of excitement. With the General Manager’s meetings going on this week, a lot of those rumors will start up. Little, if anything of not, will happen during the week, but it may set the table for the annual Winter Meetings in early December.
My favorite rumors may be those rumors where we hear what a player is expecting or asking for as a free agent. In the last week, it came out that Ervin Santana was looking for five years and at least $100 million. Ricky Nolasco was looking for five years and $80 million. Sure, those are the numbers their agents and the players want, but will they get them? I guess it’s like when you were younger and walking through the toy section at the store with your parents. It doesn’t hurt to ask for the really cool, spendy toys, but generally speaking, the parents will say no. Except this offseason, will 30 GMs all balk at this crazy types of numbers? Well, I guess we will find out.
We know that each team is expected to get $25 million in additional revenues from the television deals. 52% of that is about $13 million. So, there are extra funds, but will teams just give that money to one player or will it be spread over a few players, or will it just be used to pay arbitration-eligible players? I guess we will find out.
I do think a little sanity check is needed when it comes to a few of these top starting pitching free agents.
After a horrible 2012 with the Angels, Santana was traded (given away) to the Royals. He put together a very solid season in 2013. He will be 31 years old in December.
Stats since 2006:
Santana certainly put himself in a good position for a new contract, but if we’re being honest, he’s no Anibal Sanchez. A year ago, Sanchez signed back with the Tigers for 5 years and $85 million. Sanchez was also about three years younger when he signed his deal. Santana has been healthy for the most part. He has value. I know a lot of Twins fans want to see a guy who can miss bats. Though Santana’s strikeout rate would be higher than most Twins pitchers, he is far from a strikeout pitcher. He has eaten a lot of innings for most of his career, and has really been good in two of his last three years.
I think that the Twins (and any team) would be crazy to give him more than four years, but he will likely get a fifth year. There’s no way he should make more than $16 million per season, but I would expect he will get at least $18 million. He will probably get five years and $90 million. The team that signed him will likely be looking to get rid of the contract by year three.
I have not yet read any rumors on what Jimenez’s side is requesting. I’m certain he’ll be looking for at least $16 million a year for four years. Hey, it’s understandable for him to ask for those kind of dollars. He was very good in 2013, in his contract year. He even struck out more than a batter an inning. Jimenez will turn 30 in January.
Stats since 2008:
Again, Jimenez was pretty good in 2013, but even then, he gave up a bunch of base runners thanks to walking 3.9 batters per nine innings (4.0 BB/9 career rate). The drop in fastball velocity has to be a concern for injury going forward. Frankly, he has not been a great pitcher since the All Star game in 2010.
I can see him getting a four year contract at $16 million per year. That would scary me as a Twins fan to no end. Three years, maybe up to $36 million is where I would feel comfortable with the risk-reward, and even then, I would be immensely nervous.
Nolasco spent a lot of time in relative anonymity with the Marlins. He has been a guy that people have thought would take the next step for several years. He really just hasn’t, and yet, some of his peripherals look very good. He will turn 31 in December.
Stats since 2008:
Although his ERAs haven’t looked great, his xFIP has consistently been around a full run less than his ERA. He walks just 2.1 per nine inning. His fastball velocity has dropped, but minimally. Again, if you look at his strikeout rate and his velocity, he is not the kind of guy that I think many visualize when they think of a $15 million pitcher.
I think that Nolasco is a guy I would feel comfortable going to four years with, but maybe at $13 or $14 million year, not the $16 million that he is looking for. I’d feel OK about a four year deal between $52 and $56 million. At that price, he would likely have a few suitors, which means he may get that fifth year, and the average annual rate may move up a bit.
Some may vary based on what MLB and Japan work through on a new posting system, but rumors earlier indicated that his posting fee would be upwards of $75 million, maybe more. Let me remind you, under the current system, that means that a team would pay $75 million just to negotiate a contract with Tanaka. That’s not even counting the 6 years and $75 million that he might get. Yes, he was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP this season. He’s he’s just turned 25 and in his last three seasons has BB/9 rates of 1.1, 1.0 and 1.4. He’s got talent, and he most likely will be good. But there’s no guarantee at all.
I’m certainly comfortable with the 6 years and $75 million or so. But, those numbers guarantee nothing. Yu Darvish was certainly good in his second season in the States after coming from Japan. In 2013, he went 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA. Through two seasons, he has a 3.34 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. For comparison’s sake, in Daisuke Matsuzaka’s second season in the States, he went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA. Like any pitcher, there is no certainty that Darvish won’t follow the Dice-K path. Tanaka could be great, but the adjustment to starting every fifth day instead of every sixth day is always significant.
Tanaka may be very good, but would he be worth 6 years and a total of $150 million? Maybe. I guess I would rather take my chances and sign Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes (or another starter who could get $20-30 million packages), and you could still sign a Saltalamacchia or another hitter as well.
I have no problem with the concept of the Twins spending. I just think that fans need to understand that these guys that are likely to get 4-5 year contracts worth $60 to $100 million are not the sure-fire aces that their contract will say. If the Twins sign one of them to crazy money, I’ll hope like crazy that they stay healthy and pitch consistently well. I just don’t see an arm in this free agent class that is worth breaking the bank on.
Thankfully we have this comment section so we can all go back and remember what we said, what we would have offered, and stand by those same comments over the life of these contracts.
Head on over to Twins Daily for much more Twins related content, articles, blogs, forums and much more.
Aaron and John talk about the Twins' interest in Johan Santana, Alex Meyer's impressive Arizona Fall League, the $4,700 exploding tire, injuries to Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, redoing or undoing Denard Span and Ben Revere, beer-soaked iPads, tailgating at Gophers games, weddings in Dallas, mailbag questions from listeners, and going to see Dave Chappelle. You can listen by clicking below, download us from iTunes or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com.
LOTS of stuff at TwinsDaily over the weekend:
Plus, a ton more. Swing by and get a taste of summer.
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