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The Twins talk at the end of last week, and through the weekend, was their reported discussions with Scott Boras about free agent relief pitcher Eric Gagne. This isn’t a call. Don’t report it as fact yet. But I just have a strong feeling, an intuition, a gut feeling (and I have a big gut, so how can it be wrong?) that this is legit. I believe that there is a very good chance that the Twins will sign Eric Gagne. I’m not completely certain about how I feel about that, if it were to happen. I mean, like most Twins fans, I have spent all offseason waiting for something to happen. Anything! But at the same time, I don’t want the team to sign just anyone. It has to make sense.
Eric Gagne is a big name, no question. He was the most dominant reliever in baseball… from 2002 until his arm blew up after 14 games into his 2005 season. That forced him to miss the rest of that season and most of the 2006 season. He wasn’t particularly good in 2007, and 2008 was a struggle as well. He missed about six weeks (mid-May through June) on the Disabled List.
But that isn’t to say that signing Eric Gagne would be a bad thing. Reality is that Gagne just turned 33 years old. He hasn’t had arm problems since his elbow surgery. His velocity will never get to what it was earlier this decade, but his ability to throw a big time changeup is what made him so great anyway. In September for the Brewers last year, he gave up three runs in an inning on September 1st, and his ERA rose to 6.81. He then gave up just one more run over his final 11 outings of the season, and then added two scoreless innings against the Phillies in the playoffs.
Can Eric Gagne help the Twins? Well, after signing for $10 million a year ago to close for the Brewers, he quickly lost his closer’s role. I’m sure he would love to go to a team to close, but I don’t think it will happen (of course, the Tigers still are in need of a closer). So, his best shot would be an 8th inning gig, setting up for another team’s closer and being there in case of injury. Joe Nathan is the Twins closer. No question there. Gagne would compete to pitch in 8th innings. Along with a group including Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares and even Boof Bonser, he would add depth to a bullpen with question marks.
So the real question mark becomes the contract demands. Since Scott Boras is involved, the assumption is that he will try to get Gagne as much money as he can. I mean, that is his job, right? But Boras also has a history of putting his clients that have something to prove into good situations, situations where they can succeed and reclaim their status. Then one year later, they can get big money again. Look no further than the Twins signing Kenny Rogers in 2003 to a one year contract. It appears that teams are not willing to give Gagne more than one year. The question becomes; how much will that one year cost? What would you be willing to pay if the risk is only for one year?
I would be comfortable with the Twins offering a base salary of up to $2.0 million. I would then offer a couple of incentives based on appearances and games finished. I would offer an extra $200,000 for appearing in 35 games, and another $200,000 for every ten games beyond that. (So, if he pitched in 65 games, he would earn an extra $800,000. On top of that, I would offer an extra $500,000 for every ten games finished, starting at 25 games finished. If he finished 35 games, he would earn an extra $1,000,000. That would be feasible only if Joe Nathan were to miss time and Gagne would become the team’s closer. So again, if Gagne were to stay healthy all year, and pitch in 65 games, and complete 35 of them, he would make $3.8 million which would be more than fair.
Oh, and at least it would be better than signing Brandon Lyon, right?
So, hear comes the pronunciation question that I mentioned in the title, a question in which I obviously spent way too much time thinking about, even if it was just a few seconds… would the Twins signing him have you pronouncing his name:
Eric Gagne (Gone-YAY!!!!)
Eric Gagne (Gag-Me!)
I’m curious about what you think about the Twins potentially signing Eric Gagne. Would you like the signing, or would you see it as another attempt to bring in a veteran several years past his prime, rather than just going with their own developed players like Rob Delaney, Zach Ward, or even Boof Bonser of Phil Humber? Leave your comments here.