In continuation of our analysis on the Twins, here is the next installment of what I think Minnesota Twins GM Terry Ryan should do to continue the rebuilding process. While the trade deadline is in the rear view, the Twins can still move players this month and of course during this offseason in an attempt to strengthen their long-term future.
As we have discussed the Twins have several solid assets all over the diamond and should be able to kick things into high gear over the next few days. If you recall we have already traded Josh Willingham to the Giants for Tommy Joseph, Clayton Blackburn, and Seth Rosin. We then moved right along and traded Francisco Liriano to the Angels for Ariel Pena and Kole Calhoun. Lastly we banished 38 year old Jamey Carroll to Detroit for big lefty Brian Flynn. A pretty nice hypothetical haul if I do say so myself.
Of course none of that actually happened. Willingham is still the biggest fish in the shrinking Twins pond. Liriano was traded, but it was to the White Sox who have arguably the least to offer from a prospect standpoint. Carroll is still a proud member of the Twins and the AARP. But all is not lost. There is still time. And there are still players to be traded even though the deadline has come and gone.
So here we go with the next player that needs to be dealt: Denard Span.
It seems like around this time every year there is always a club in need of a boost at the top of the order, this year is no different. Span, 28, is a highly coveted left-handed hitting center fielder who profiles as a solid top-of-the-order hitter. Not only is he a physically talented player who pairs a solid batting average with strong defense, he is also signed to a very team friendly contract through 2015.
Despite the fact that Span has never been able to duplicate the success he had in 2009, his trade value has never been higher. To Span’s credit (and Minnesota’s benefit) his 2012 season has been one of his best. He has accumulated a triple slash line of .290/.356/.396 with 32 extra base hits and 11 stolen bases in 420 plate appearances. Furthermore Span is also on the right side of 30 and with the addition of another Wild Card spot more teams than ever are looking to buy. It will certainly be a blow to the Minnesota Twins to lose a home grown player like Span but luckily for Minnesota they have a player in Ben Revere who can take over center field duties while the team cashes in on Span’s present tremendous value. If I were Terry Ryan I would be looking to turn my 28 year old center fielder into some much needed pitching and some high upside prospects.
But who to target? Look no further than the Nation’s Capital.
Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has long coveted two things. A lead off hitter and a true center fielder. By acquiring Span he gets both at a very reasonable price and for a good amount of time. With the addition of Span the Nationals would finally be able to permanently shift Bryce Harper to a corner outfield spot and have their new acquisition patrol center. Once Jayson Werth fully recovers from wrist surgery the Nationals will have one of the strongest outfields in the Majors until at least 2015.
But what is it going to cost them?
Rumors are circulating that the Twins want a Major League ready pitcher. That’s not a real shock considering their rotation consists of such stalwarts like Cole De Vries, Scott Diamond, and Nick Blackburn. Good news here is that the Nationals have one of the best rotations in the Major Leagues and have some pieces to spare. I doubt a player like John Lannan would be the kind of piece the Twins would consider Major League ready but I’d be willing to bet Ross Detwiler would perk up some ears.
Detwiler, 26, is finally getting an extended look at the ML level and he has been impressive. Through 21 appearances (15 starts) he has a 3.24 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP as well as a 6.2 SO/9 and respectable 2.6 BB/9. The 6’5 190 lb lefty works with a sinking fastball that he keeps in the low-90′s and a straight fastball that sits anywhere from 91-95 mph. He also mixes in a curveball and change-up – both off-speed pitches are very effective at keeping hitters off balance. As good as Detwiler is, he alone will not be enough to lure Terry Ryan into parting with his valuable lead-off man.
Accompanying Detwiler to Minnesota should be toolsy outfielder Brian Goodwin. It is always difficult to part with a potential 20/20 prospect, but when you are the Washington Nationals and you have Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and the newly acquired Denard Span it’s not so bad. Goodwin, 21, is a right-handed hitting center fielder who has recently been promoted to Double-A and who possesses excellent raw potential by combining above average speed and power. He has accumulated a triple slash line of 0.299/.415/.510 and 11 HR and 15 SB so far this season.
More than likely the Twins will require more than Detwiler and Goodwin to part with the reasonably priced Span especially considering he is slated to earn just $12.8 million combined through 2014 (plus a 2015 option). That’s where a player like Dan Rosenbaum could factor in.
Rosenbaum, 24, is a solid lefty starter who has performed quite well at Double-A this season despite not having overwhelming stuff. He was originally a 22nd round selection of Washington’s in the 2009 draft. Through 127.2 innings he has compiled a 3.27 ERA with a 5.9 K/9 and very strong 1.9 BB/9. His ceiling looks like that of a back of the rotation type with potential to be used out of the bullpen.
In total, this would be a tremendous haul for Terry Ryan & Co. The infusion of young, talented, and cheap pitching is something the Twins desperately need and the addition of a high ceiling player like Goodwin to add to the Twins collection of outfielders would more than offset the loss of Span while setting them up nicely for the futute. Getting a solid but unspectacular arm in Rosenbaum would be the necessary icing on the cake to make it easier for Terry Ryan to part with the homegrown Span.
The next player to go needs to be Jared Burton.
Burton, 31, is a 6’5 210 lb right handed reliever who has excellent value as he has compiled a 2.40 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 41.1 innings for the Twins this year. One of the more appealing aspects to Burton is the fact that he is only earning $750K and will go to arbitration this coming off-season before being eligible for free agency after the 2013 season.
There will be quite a few teams interested in bullpen help at this time, but rumors have been circulating that the Texas Rangers are sniffing around on Burton. This makes sense from both perspectives as the Rangers have a plethora of minor league talent and the Twins have several in house replacements for Burton.
Telis, 21, is a catcher the Rangers signed out of Venezuela in 2008. He has been performing well at Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach of the Carolina League and has a triple slash line of 0.256/.290/.349 with 24 extra base hits and 8 stolen bases. He has also shown solid defense behind the plate and has caught 34% of would be basestealers. Catching prospects have become few and far between in today’s game so the addition of Telis would provide the Twins with another option behind the dish with solid upside.
Tepesch, 23, is a big right-hander who was drafted in the 14th round of the 2010 draft out of Missouri. Tepesch has split the 2012 season between Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco and has accumulated a 3.41 ERA over 21 appearances (19 starts). He has a 6.8 K/9 ratio and a solid 2.2 BB/9 ratio. It remains to be seen if he will stay in the rotation as he progresses through the minors but he has the potential to be a solid back end starter or at the very least a strong middle relief option.
Both Telis and Tepesch represent a solid return on investment for Jared Burton as both players could help fill in at spots where the Twins depth is lacking. Additionally the payroll flexibility allows the Twins the opportunity to reallocate their funds to other areas considering that Burton was arbitration eligible and due a substantial raise from his $750K 2012 salary.
All in all the Twins have several movable and coveted pieces that they can use to build for the future. It remains to be seen if anything will get done between now and the end of the season, but for a team struggling to compete and stay out of the AL Central basement with aging veterans, it just makes sense to start over.
Personally I think the Twins have hit rock bottom and I think it is in their best interest to fully commit to the rebuilding process. Whether they decide to make a move or not is obviously up to them but I think they owe it to the fans and to the current roster to make a change. The time for inaction has expired. So Carpe Diem Terry Ryan and make us all proud!
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