Relief Help Available?

3 Jan

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It is generally believed that the Twins have about $1-2 million available to sign another player. With the addition of some bats and Jason Marquis, most believe that if the Twins add another relief pitcher to the mix. So, what’s available, and what’s available for $1-2 million?

Let’s start by saying that there are a lot of relief pitchers remaining on the free agent market, and that’s without considering a few starting pitchers who may have to sign deals and try to make a bullpen.

There are still a few big dollar relievers out there. Ryan Madsen is clearly the top remaining bullpen option. Remember when the rumors spread that he and the Phillies had agreed to a four year, $44 million deal, yet only a week later, the Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon? Now it will be very interesting to see who signs him and who would be willing to pay anywhere near that? Francisco Cordero lost his ability to get strikeouts last year, but he will also likely make more than $3 million in 2012. Brad Lidge is an interesting case as he is an injury risk yet came back with a lot of strikeouts late last season. He also will likely make more than $3 million.

There is a second tier of reliever that is still available as well. I believe that this group fits more into the $1-2.5 million range. Todd Coffey, Scott Linebrink, Fernando Rodney, Rich Harden, Kerry Wood and Dan Wheeler fit into that category, with Wheeler and Wood likely at the top of that range.

After that, there are a lot of guys who should be less than a million dollars. Many of these guys may wind up with minor league contracts with big league invites. Would you have any interest in these guys?

  • David Aardsma, Jeremy Accardo, Luis Ayala (I’m sure Gardy would love to get him back!), Danys Baez, Miguel Batista, Shawn Camp, Juan Cruz, Chad Durbin, Mike Gonzalez, Aaron Heilman, Clay Hensley, Jason Isringhausen, Hong-Chih Kuo, Mike MacDougal, Damaso Marte, Trever Miller, Peter Moylan (Australian connection!), Pat Neshek (bring him back!!), Micah Owings (right-handed DH too?), Vicente Padilla, Tony Pena, Chad Qualls, Doug Slaten, Brian Tallet, Jamey Wright, Michael Wuertz (Austin native), Joel Zumaya.

I’d like to see the Twins go after Dan Wheeler or Kerry Wood on a $2-2.5 million offer. Either of them would have to know that they could very well be closing for the Twins by May. The same is true with Harden. If he’s willing to commit to a bullpen role, he could be dominant as a late-inning guy.

Beyond that, I think the Twins should wait until late January or the first week of February and sign a couple more relievers to minor league contracts. It’s really hard to go wrong with minor league contracts. There is little (or maybe No) risk.

I also believe that a great way to help a team’s bullpen is to find starters that eat a bunch of innings. That will require the Twins to get innings from Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Jason Marquis and Nick Blackburn. Edwin Jackson would sure look nice in the Twins rotation, but not at the 5 year, $60 million that his agent, Scott Boras, is asking for. At 3 years, and $27 million, he’d be worth adding payroll to acquire, but that’s probably not happening.

There are still some starters out there. Sure, if they can be counted on for 200 (or ever 175) innings, they won’t be available for less than $3 million. But if you can find a guy who you can almost count on 150 innings from, they could be worth the money. Guys like Joel Pineiro and Paul Maholm are two guys who fit into that category. If one of them can give you 140-150 innings, that means that Liam Hendriks can stay in Rochester and develop and when he’s needed in July or August, he will be more ready. Who knows? Maybe Alex Wimmers or Tom Stuifbergen will be ready by then?

Even though the Twins may be down to their final $2-3 million, it doesn’t mean that they are done and can’t be really active over the next month. There are plenty of names out there yet, and I hope that the Twins can bring in a couple of them.

Who would you want the Twins to add at this point? Feel free to leave comments in the Comments section.


30 Responses to “Relief Help Available?”

  1. Mr. Ed January 3, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    Ask Lavelle: They’re not adding anyone. How can they be “out of money”? Here’s what he blogged:

    From talks with Twins officials over the last week or so, it doesn’t look like they will sign any more free agents this offseason. The Twins’ projected payroll is around $99 million for 2012. They have 24 non-roster invites. They are out of money and out of spots.

    A trade is always possible if the right deal came along. But, again, the Twins can’t take on payroll unless they move payroll. And that seems unlikely. So those e-mails I’ve been getting about Matt Garza? Looks doubtful. Besides, the Cubs want a lot for Garza and the Twins might lack the prospect firepower Chicago wants, especially in pitching prospects.

    I learned all this last week while investigating a rumor about the Twins and reliever Dan Wheeler. I was told a move for him wasn’t possible, then learned the reasons why.

    • Seth January 3, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

      Now today there was a new rumor about the Twins having a discussion with Wheeler’s reps today, so who knows/

      Garza was never coming to the Twins. And that’s fine.

  2. Mpkennedy3 January 3, 2012 at 8:36 am #

    I don’t think woods is a real option. He is going to resign with Chicago. He loves it there and I believe was quoted saying he wants to stay in Chicago as long as they would have him.

  3. mike wants wins January 3, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    There is a very good article on Fangraphs about the value of relievers and starters that were signed to 1 year deals last offseason. Short summary: the vast majority of guys that teams took fliers on last year with 1 year deals returned more value than their salary.

    • Shane Wahl January 3, 2012 at 10:17 am #

      Thanks for actually providing evidence for my last assertion below!

    • TT January 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      Is this the article you are talking about?


      Like a lot of Dave Cameron’s stuff, his numbers don’t back his narrative. Essentially he looked at 19 free agent pitchers who signed one year contracts. Frankly, they are not representative of anything. He included three guys who resigned with their previous team. A lot of players signed to minor league contracts who failed are not on his list, but the guys like Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, who were, are included.

      Moreover paying somebody $7 million, as Florida did Javier Vasquez, is not really “taking a flier”. There are certainly pitchers out there that teams may think still have something left in the tank. And some of them will. But that is an individual evaluation of each player, not a statistical one.

      I will not be surprised if the Twins add another bullpen arm, but it will likely be a guy they are willing to gamble on and will accept a minor league contract.

  4. Shane Wahl January 3, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    I don’t understand the payroll crunch, especially when next year and the year after a BUNCH of money is coming off the books (Pavano, Morneau, Capps, Doumit, Carroll, Blackburn, and who knows about Casilla, Baker and Liriano) to be replaced with the minimums for some number of prospects like Parmelee, Benson, Hendriks, and Tosoni. Jackson at 5/60 is probably foolish for the vast majority of teams, but 3/39 wouldn’t be bad.

    I think at this point the minor league signing route is best, possibly with Wuertz, Aardsma, Camp, and Qualls. Fliers on these kinds of guys are going to be worth it.

    • Seth January 3, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

      Maybe. There are no guarantees with any low-dollar deal, or any high-dollar deal.

  5. thrylos98 January 3, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    I think that Peter Moylan (former Twin, btw) should be ready late June, might be a good addition on a 1+1 year contract. They Twins have brought several arms to compete for both the rotation and the pen in ST and I suspect that both the rotation picture (I do not buy that Blackburn will not/should not start the season in the pen) and the bullpen picture will clear up then. Oliveros and Perdomo are having good winter league performances and Doyle might surprise a bit and might actually win that 4th rotation spot (right now I think that Baker, Liriano, Pavano are safe and Marquis penciled in at the 5th spot.) Still plenty of time to get another reliever if they so desire, because it is a buyer’s market out there. Also, for some reason I have the feeling (maybe hope? 🙂 ) that they are not done trading and Pavano might be out. This would free a good chunk for the Twins to play.

  6. adjacent January 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    I don’t know how people are not more incensed about this “we are out of money” argument. They are coming from 2 years of a shiny new publicly financed stadium, that it has been always full. With this kind of fan and city support, they really have to have ” chutzpah” as they say.

    • Seth January 3, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

      Cuz Twins fans are generally knowledgeable enough to know that payroll doesn’t guarantee anything… see 2011, and see Twins when they have $50-60 million payrolls. Also, Twins won’t have as many fans or as many merchandise, food, beverage sales in 2012, so it’s pretty obvious there will be less revenue. Also very obvious that the ownership/management went well above the 49% amount in 2011 and got burned.

  7. R Hobbs January 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    I actually endorse what the Twins are doing. I think “out of money” is code for ” they know they can’t compete” in 2012 so why waste millions to turn a 70 win season into a 75 win season? I would rather they stockpile money and go for it in regard to the payroll when a window is open to advance meaningfully in the play-offs. They have so many holes (virtually every position is unsettled) that a big free agent signing does nothing but raise beer prices. People want quick fixes, but sadly, there ain’t one here.

    • gobbledy January 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      have you ever seen any indication that saving money one year means they’ll use that money the next? i haven’t!

      • TT January 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

        Yes. Its pretty obvious they went over budget last year. Its pretty clear the Twins budget is not built annually. They have consistently let it go up temporarily to keep players when they were competitive. Just as they were apparently willing to do this year with Cuddyer or Kubel.

        I don’t think the Twins have given up on next season. They aren’t certain of what to expect. There are potential holes all over the place. If they are competitive, they will need to have some payroll flexibility to deal with whatever holes are still there.

        “I don’t know how people are not more incensed about this “we are out of money” argument.”

        Because their budget last year was the highest in team history and there was little reason to think that was sustainable forever.

    • Seth January 3, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

      Adding someone like Wheeler or even Harden would be worth 1-2 wins. With Mauer, Morneau and Span’s health and Pavano, Baker and Liriano’s health/pitching, it’s understandable, to me, not to throw too much more.

  8. Matt January 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    I would like to take a flier on Joel Zumaya. He has an explosive arm (literally and figuritively). If his elbow and arm hold out, he could be a nice power arm addition to the bullpen. Anything above 93 mph would be a huge improvement to our bullpen. Also, taking a flier on Rich Harden would not be the worst thing either. As either a bullpen arm or 5/6 starter when someone goes down. Both guys are injury risks, but if we can get them cheap enough, who knows.

    • bdhenders January 3, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

      That’s the guy I was thinking about as well. Joel Zumaya has been dominant whenever he pitches. There’s an injury risk, but it’s worth-it for how many strikeouts he accumulates. I don’t think this is likely, since he walks a lot of people and the Twins don’t like that, but hey, we can dream.

  9. Gary January 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    I’d like to see them kick the tires on: Scott Linebrink, Fernando Rodney, David Aardsma, Jeremy Accardo, Aaron Heilman, Michael Wuertz, Peter Moylan and Pat Neshek.

  10. darin January 3, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    Doesn’t it make you shake your head when they have only 1-3 million to spend? So what does that leave a $125-150+ million dollar profit? Nobody expects them to be reckless like New York and Boston with the payroll, but really cutting payroll after 2 years in Target Field? What a scam they should have kept it closer to 115 million. Looks like the honeymoon will be over sooner than expected for one of the nicest parks in the game.

    • Seth January 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

      Again, teams spend about 48-49% of revenues on payroll. Another 48-50% goes to pay for overhead, paying staff, all the day-to-day things. So, no, I don’t think they make that much profit. I’m not saying they’re losing money, but not that kind of money.

  11. mike wants wins January 3, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

    They’ve pretty much done what I would have expected this offseason. It doesn’t offer a ton of likelihood of success, but there is some hope here. It all rests on Mauer and Morneau and Span being healthy, and the SP being slightly better and healthier. That’s an awful lot of hoping though, and the downside is another 90 loss season if things don’t go well.

    And, if they don’t go well, I’m not sure what trade chips they have to make things better in 2013.

    Am I happy about the payroll reduction? No, no I’m not. But I’m also not incensed about it. The public decided to subsidize a bunch of millionaires and ticket prices and billionaires. I don’t know what people expected, but this is what I expected.

  12. Greg January 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Seth, hope your feeling better..

    Always like the articles here. Seems like more insight than the Star Tribune page…

    Some good options mentioned, Zumaya or Wuertze, looks like the japanese starter is going to Seattle..

    maybe another OF from the left overs?

  13. TT January 3, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    The Twins are going to have 32 pitchers (22 on the roster and 10 invites) in camp from the looks of it. The 5 starters are pretty well set. So there are 27 pitchers in the competition for the bullpen. Capps, Perkins, Swarzak and Duensing are probably set. So that means 23 pitchers are competing for 3, or possibly 4 ,remaining spots. A handful of those 23 are probably not really in the competition for the bullpen spots. But, barring injuries, there are a lot of candidates for the bullpen already.

    • Seth January 3, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

      So, they need 3 guys out of 23 to step up… I agreed with that strategy a year ago, and it didn’t work up as Glen Perkins was the only guy who stepped up (and according to most fans, he should ahve been released). Waldrop and Gutierrez are ground ball machines. Lots of hard throwers. Manship will be healthy. The minor league signings have all pitched in the big leagues and have upside still. I’m good with the strategy.

  14. Mike January 3, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    Say no to Rich Harden. He was referred to as the club douche when he pitched for Texas.

  15. peterb18 January 3, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    I agree with Darin. It is a shame that this ownership is cutting payroll after a new stadium
    was financed for them The team could remain competitive by signing the right free agents until the lower minor players are ready. The Pohlad family is able to do this. Yes, the same people who tried to contract the team and also sell it to a buyer from North Carolina. By all indications, the Twins will be one of the weakest teams in all of baseball this year. Fans are going to be real restless with the attitude of cutting payroll. Also, heard a baseball commentator on Baseball America(XM Radio) state the other day that he believes that Morneau will not play baseball again–hope he is wrong In conclusion this problem with the Twins is Philosophical–they can have a productive team if they wish to use the proper resources. I would like to see the main stream media more critical of the ownership

  16. Greg January 3, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    well, if they cut back slightly for one year, then 2013 we spring up, no the ownership is OK..

    $ in the bank to add the “deal”.. I hiope with the extra pitchers somebody steps up. The Twins are due for some dumb luck….

    I still personally like a Wuertze or Harden as add on candidates.

  17. Shane Wahl January 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    On the number of relief pitchers: I remember commenting on Nick Nelson’s blog last offseason that he was being way too pessimistic about the bullpen because out of the 12-15 guys vying for 3 spots (1 setup and two middle relief), surely at least 3 would step up. Well only Perkins did step up and Mijares went south. The odds have improved this year, surely, but adding a couple AAAA arms would still help, especially for 1-2 million each.

    On the payroll: A). Of course increases in payroll don’t necessarily mean increases in team performance, but when Mauer, Morneau, Baker, and Pavano combine for $50 million+, it seems silly to refer to the old days of excellent Twins teams on $50-60 million. B. It’s the third season of a new stadium and revenue is fantastic. To downgrade by $12-15 million when spending that money clearly would field a more competitive team seems rather insulting to the public, don’t you think? C. This is all in the context of a supposed youth movement over the next several years and significant veteran contracts coming off the books. Cutting payroll by replacing veterans with young players is one thing, but that is not happening in 2012.


  1. Thursday Links - Puckett's Pond - A Minnesota Twins Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More - January 5, 2012

    […] options to fill the remaining spots in the pen.  Seth Stoh’s took his turn looking at available relievers as well, rounding up a large group of players that could be available for the remaining $2-$3 […]

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