Over/Under: The Bullpen

28 Oct

Also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

If you pick up a copy of the TwinsCentric 2010-11 Offseason GM Handbook, you’ll note that one area with a lot of quality free agent options is in the bullpen. When the World Series comes to an end, several members of the Twins bullpen will file for free agency. They are Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, Brian Fuentes, Randy Flores, Ron Mahay and Clay Condrey. How many of them will be back? How many would you want back?  I am confident that Pat Neshek will come back with a vengeance in 2010. But what will Joe Nathan be capable of? How much will Matt Capps cost? Despite several ups and downs, I am a big believer in Jose Mijares. I believe in Alex Burnett and Anthony Slama, Kyle Waldrop and Rob Delaney. Where do Glen Perkins, Jeff Manship and other your arms fit into the equation? I’ve already spent a lot of words this offseason discussing the bullpen. It is going to be a lot of fun to watch it evolve over the offseason.

Today, I want to look at the Twins free agent bullpen arms and play a game of Over/Under. Hopefully many of your will head to the comments and put your guesses out there. I’ll put the name of the pitcher, a couple of thoughts, and then the contract I expect them to get this offseason, from someone… And what I’d like you to do is tell me if you think that the contract is too high or too low. That could be too many years, or too many dollars per year. Here we go:

Jesse Crain – 3 years, $11 million. He’s still young. He throws hard. That slider and curveball combination took off after a slow start. He could be a dominant set up guy and some team could see him as a closer.

Matt Guerrier – 1 year, $2.5 million – I think the fact that he’s a Type A Free Agent actually hurts him. I can’t imagine a team willing to give up a pick in the bottom half of the first round for a non-strikeout reliever. Maybe a team that is going to pick up a couple more Type A free agents could, and it would cost them a 2nd or 3rd round pick? So I think that the Twins have some room to work here.

Jon Rauch – 1 year, $3 million – He has more closing experience. Outside of the time from the All Star break until after the trade deadline, Rauch was pretty solid. But it’s hard for me to imagine any team’s GM thinking that Rauch should get a closer’s contract.

Brian Fuentes – 1 year, $6 million – Fuentes has a lot of closer experience and he absolutely dominates left-handers. He has a ton of value to a team either as a closer or as a set up man. He seems to be in some strange middle ground place now. At his age, he may not be paid quite like a closer, and yet, his closer experience could get him paid more than even the top free agent closers. He’s also already in his upper 30s.

Ron Mahay – Minor League Deal – $850,000 if in big leagues – This is basically what he got this year from the Twins when he signed in spring training. He is a veteran. He is left-handed. His numbers were significantly better than the level of confidence most Twins had in him.

Randy Flores – Minor League Deal – $800,000 if in big leagues – Yeah, he was pretty bad for the Twins, but his numbers in Colorado were solid when they put him on waivers. He’ll get a shot somewhere.

Clay Condrey – Minor League Deal – $800,000 if in big leagues – Condrey’s 2010 season was lost due to injury and set back and more injury. But I think that it could make sense to bring in a veteran ground ball machine on a minor league deal. There is almost no risk in such a deal, and they could keep him in the minor leagues early in the season if appropriate. I would have no problem if the Twins brought him into spring training.

So there you go. Obviously the primary discussion players would be Crain, Guerrier, Rauch and Fuentes. Would you go with the Over or the Under compared with my projections? What would you do with those players? Feel free to Discuss and Comment here.

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13 Responses to “Over/Under: The Bullpen”

  1. Eric B. B. October 28, 2010 at 8:22 am #

    Regarding Guerrier, I think you’re making a big assumption that he is both offered and declines arbitration. If the Twins do offer him arb (which I don’t think is guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination) he would do well to accept.

  2. Bill in Sarasota October 28, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    No way is Guerrier is offered arbitration.

    I say he gets $6 million for two years from somebody.

    Fuentes – one year 7 million.

    Rauch – two years 7 million

  3. Seth October 28, 2010 at 9:04 am #

    I 100% assume that Guerrier will NOT be offered arbitration. If he is offered arbitration by the Twins, he would accept it and make $4+ million easily. I can’t imagine the Twins doing that. But at the same time, he knows that in the free agent market, he’s not going to get a huge deal either. So, I think there is definitely some room for negotiation with the Twins on a lower dollar type of deal… IF the Twins even want that.

  4. Steven October 28, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    Crain’s contract is way too high. For a team in the Twins’ place, who will see raises all over the roster, it would be insane to give a middle reliever that much money/years. Especially a guy who was so/so in the past and had a solid four months. There are much better values to be had than Crain for 3/$11.

    • Cris E October 29, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

      That may look high for the Twins, but the exercise is to see what he will get from someone/anyone. $11m/3 for a 26yo with a decent track record seems totally within the reach of a team with some money and a big hole in the pen, say BOS, for example.

  5. gobbledy October 28, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    going from one of the best bullpens in the majors to a pen with a bunch of guys that pitched for one of the worst teams in the minor leagues should make the twins a much better team.

    • TT October 28, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

      Assuming that is sarcastic, I think it is right on the money. There are 30 teams all looking for pitching. The fact that there are “better deals” out there doesn’t mean the Twins are going to get them.

      The Twins have control over only three relievers, one coming back from arm surgery. They should try to keep control over as many others as possible. That means offering them all arbitration. Its unlikely they will all accept. If they did, there are a lot worse things to spend money on than a deep, solid bullpen.

      I think the big problem with some of the evaluations here is that people are comparing one year contracts to the annual dollar amount in multi-year contracts. They aren’t the same thing. If Guerrier has to choose between a $4 million one year arbitration award with the Twins and a three year $7 million deal with another team, he is going with the three year deal.

  6. JimCrikket October 28, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    Crain: I say under both in years and dollars. I’d say $4 million in one year deal with an option. He’d be smart to get an opportunity to prove he can close and then go back on the market as a closer next year.

    Guerrier: I’d say over. He’ll get at least $3 mil from someone… perhaps the Twins and maybe a second year option of some kind.

    Rauch: I’d say over. I think he’ll get a closer opportunity from a non-contender for somewhere in the $4-5 mil range.

    Fuentes: I’d say well over. If he can be had for $6 mil, the Twins should say good-bye to Capps and keep Fuentes (assuming he’d agree to stay without a guarantee of a closer role). But I suspect someone will pay him closer to $8 mil to close.

    I agree the other guys are going to get minor league contracts with something under $1 million if they stick.

  7. mbrian October 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    I think all the available free agent relievers will depress the market, and Crain will get something more like 2 years, $6 million. Your proposed one-year deals are reasonable, but some reliever is probably going to be left out in the cold and forced to sign a low-ball one year deal (as happened to 2B Hudson last year). Guerrier or Rauch could end up being that guy–they’re both 32 and have been used pretty heavily.

  8. roger October 28, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    I think the Twins will offer Guerrier arbitration. First, they will get two high picks if he goes elsewhere. Second, by owing the Twins a pick, Guerrier becomes less desirable elsewhere and more likely to return to the Twins for a reasonable contract. Gotta believe that the twins (Gardy/Andy) would very much like Guerrier back for a couple more years.

  9. Bill in Sarasota October 28, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    Roger – I’m sorry but arbitration will not make Guerrier’s contract reasonable. Just look at past arbitration results.

    I believe the Twins should approach him to try to make a deal before the arb deadline but I doubt Guerrier will take a low offer.

  10. Cris E October 29, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    The Twins should offer arb to Guerrier. But they should also try to get a 2 yr $5m deal in place for Guerrier before the hearing. For about three years I’ve been saying he’s due for a serious arm injury, but as long as he’s not pushed too hard it appears he can handle it. Unreal.

    I’m not sure I want Rauch around next year. He seemed kind of bummed when he was displaced from the closer role: even though a lot of the right things were said, it was often on his behalf rather than from his mouth. Anyway, he’ll get his money elsewhere, and $3m seems right, but it won’t be MN.

    Capps is already in the Nathan backup role that Fuentes would fill, so he’s going to go away. But determining what he’ll make is really hard until you know if he lucks into a primary closer gig or a closer in waiting role or becomes a setup guy. It could range from $7m down to $4m if the market collapses. He’s in a weird spot and could be an interesting case to follow through the winter.

    Quick question for Seth: why the confidence in Neshek? He’s had a lot of time to recover and didn’t get back command OR velocity.

  11. Matt in VA October 30, 2010 at 9:00 am #

    You seem to have more confidence in the young guys than I do. Of the group you mentioned, I think only Waldrop has the potential to be a decent major league reliever. Those other guys just don’t have good enough stuff.

    Also, the article didn’t mention the big elephant in the room….what to do with Matt Capps. He could get $6+ million in arbitration. I would rather the Twins let him walk and use that money to keep Fuentes, who has a much better track record as a closer, or could be used as a setup guy IF Nathan is ready.

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