November 11, 2008
Twins Notes: Neshek, Blake, Punto, Lugo, and Reyes
UPDATE: Neshek reportedly will undergo Tommy John surgery, knocking him out for all of 2009. Damn.
Atkins is 29 years old, will make at least $15 million over the next two seasons before becoming a free agent, and will cost several valuable players to get from the Rockies, which is why there was a case against trading for him in this space yesterday. Blake is 35 years old and will likely get a multi-year deal worth at least $5 million per season as a free agent, so even though the Twins would only have to part with money to get him Blake isn't really any more appealing than Atkins.
If the Twins' limited, typically unsuccessful forays into free agency have shown anything it's that paying a premium for veteran mediocrity is almost never a good idea. Blake is a valuable enough player, but he's 35 years old, will require a multi-year deal that figures to make him overpaid, and isn't significantly better than a Brian Buscher-Brendan Harris platoon that would cost around $700,000. Much like with Atkins, the Twins are probably better off devoting their limited resources elsewhere.
Naturally, Christensen reports that the Twins "have had discussions with" Punto, but "have yet to make an offer." Pursuing a mediocre veteran third baseman doesn't make a ton of sense when Buscher and Harris are available to form a decent platoon for $700,000, but pursuing a mediocre veteran shortstop makes more sense when the alternative is giving Punto a multi-year deal that would almost surely be worth at least $3 million per season. Re-signing him might not be horrible, but the Twins can do better.
Michael Cuddyer is the closest thing the Twins have to a "bad contract" and he's set to make $2 million less than Lugo over the next two seasons, so that's not really a good fit. Still, if the Red Sox are willing to eat, say, two-thirds of Lugo's remaining deal he might be worth considering as a stopgap. Over the past three years Lugo has hit .258/.323/.370 with a .794 Revised Zone Rating, which at shortstop puts him about three percent below average offensively and four percent below average defensively.
A number of clubs have holes at shortstop--including the St. Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants--but Lugo is a tough sell, coming off a season in which he didn't play after July 11 because of a severe quad strain. Beyond his value, there's the issue of his contract. The best bet would seem to be a deal in which the Sox absorb a bad contract in exchange for a team taking Lugo's remaining dollars.
Reyes is a very effective left-handed specialist and bringing him back via a one-year contract is hardly a disastrous scenario, but the Twins have probably moved on and may not want to risk being forced to devote a sizable chunk of payroll to an area they have covered with Craig Breslow and Jose Mijares. Offering arbitration to Reyes would be smart, because he's unlikely to accept and the payoff outweighs the risk, but if the Twins opt against doing so their reasoning will be easy to figure out.
Sabean remains likely to value Young higher than most general managers, but if the Twins are looking to get MLB-ready talent in return the Giants are lacking.
Clubs know that. That hasn't necessarily discouraged clubs from inquiring or making suggestions of offers. But we don't see anything out there that gives us a net gain by losing him. We have a list of very definitive untouchables for various reasons. After that, if someone wants to get creative and we could find a way to do something, even if it takes more than one prospect, we're willing to do it.
Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.