Over in Indian Wells, California baseball’s head honchos are engaged in debates regarding rule changes, safety regulations and Ken Rosenthal’s choice of bow ties. In between that and the golfing, teams have been aggressive in their pursuits for available talent.
“I’ve been in this business 21 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said pitcher Anibal Sanchez’s agent, Gene Mato of SFX. “This is moving really, really fast.”
Even the Twins appear fairly active – at least if you are basing that on their “interest” list.
So far, most of the reports emerging from the meetings demonstrated that the Twins are serious about fixing their starting rotation. Yesterday, John Bonnes discussed the potential starting pitching trade options for the Twins, highlighting the Rays and Braves in particular, andJoel Sherman of the NY Post reported that the Twins and Mariners were talking swap. Now, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson compiled an interesting list of players the Twins have had contact with:
Prior to catching on with the A’s, McCarthy was destined to be a flame-out prospect after several seasons with the White Sox and Rangers. If it were not for the early-career arm injuries, McCarthy may never have changed his mechanics which may never have led to the increase in ground balls. He does not miss a ton of bats, but he avoids heavy contact and has kept his home run rate subdued (part of that may have to do with pitching in Oakland). The downside is, with the extensive injury history and the recent blow to the head off the bat of the Erick Aybar, McCarthy has not thrown that many innings raising the question of whether or not he would be able to give a team 30-plus starts.
In addition to the Twins, the Cubs are courting the right-hander.
As Wolfson’s source indicated, Sanchez’s asking price may preclude the Twins from actually engaging in serious talks. It was reported last night that the 28-year-old right-hander is seeking a six-year, $90 million deal. Considering that Sanchez is likely the second-best free agent option on the market aside from Zack Greinke and that he is under 30-years-old, there is a strong probability that he could command that kind of cheddar.
Reported yesterday by Wolfson, the Twins “inquired” on this 35-year-old free agent. But so too have the Red Sox and now the Milwaukee Brewers. Dempster had success as both a closer and starter for some terrible Cubs teams, and had averaged 206 innings as a starter from 2008 to 2011. In fact, since 2008, he’s had the exact same expected fielding independent pitching number as Jake Peavy (3.73) and has been slightly better in that department than Anibal Sanchez (3.80). Of course, that doesn’t mean he will continue on that path. This past year, he struggled a bit in Texas and has had his velocity drop to sub-90 this year (not a good indicator in the mid-30s). On a one or possibly a two-year deal, Dempster could be an effective addition for Minnesota.
Working on a budget with numerous holes to plug, Terry Ryan will undoubtedly have to get creative in how to get the most out of their available payroll. With that in mind, targeting Brett Myers makes sense. After two consecutive years throwing over 200 innings with the Astros, Houston decided to convert him into a closer. Following a trade to the White Sox Myers, now a free agent, has interest in becoming either a starter or reliever.
In terms of performance, Myers has been the archetypical Twins starter: Gets strike one (career 61% first-pitch strike rate), limits walks (career 8% walk rate), is not a strikeout pitcher (at least as a starter). This probably isn’t sexy but he’s done well and, if capable of hitting the 200 innings milestone, he would be a decent number four option in the rotation.
This falls under the “leave no stone unturned” category. Webb has thrown only 12 real innings since 2009 and that was in the Texas League (AA) in 2011. His shoulder has simply not responded well since his 2009 rotator cuff surgery and that necessitated a second surgery in 2011. Since then, there has been no reports of Webb’s throwing status but considering the surgery was over a year ago, there should be some indication of where he is at velocity-wise. The odds are long but if this former Cy Young winner gets an spring invite and has rediscovered something, who knows.
The Twins may ultimately leave California without any new additions to the rotation but obviously the groundwork has been laid. And, as it is rumored, the moves could happen quickly. Stay tuned.