Minus the minuscule Francisco Liriano deal, in which Minnesota acquired two fringe prospects, the Twins said hello to the trade deadline and quickly waved goodbye without making a follow-up move.
In some respects, this should be taken as a positive. The Twins could have made a move merely for the sake of making a move and done something foolish.
What they should have done was find a way to deal Justin Morneau or Denard Span. In both cases the Twins have a younger player waiting in the wing to take that spot.
Morneau will cost Minnesota $14 million to play first base next season. That’s a large sum of cash to pay to an injury-prone, aging player.
Yes, Morneau has shown signs of life over the previous month batting .326 with three homers and 12 RBI. Over that same stretch, he posted a .370 on base and .500 slugging percentage.
For the year he’s hit a disappointing 13 homers with 46 RBI and a .263 batting average. He also boasts a .324 on base and .458 slugging percentage.
But given his reoccurring problems with concussions, they still affected him early this season, as likely did his his age (31, he’ll turn 32 in May). His value may have peaked, given his recent performance.
He could finish the year playing the way he has and prove the Twins smart for holding onto the 2006 AL MVP. He could find his former self and become an All-Star caliber first baseman once again.
Or he could collide with a wall, a teammate or smack his head on the ground while sliding into second base and be done with baseball forever.
Don’t forget that prior to this season, Morneau said if his concussion problems continued that he would hang up his cleats and call it a career, according to the Star Tribune. One more setback and that state of mind could return.
Span is a Twin I’ve called for the club to trade as early as last season. The rumor last season was that Minnesota could have obtained Drew Storen, Washington’s closer, for Span (at the very least Tyler Clippard), according to NBC Sports. That would have given Minnesota its closer of the future and allowed the club to let Matt Capps walk in free agency.
Fast forward one year and that looks like a smart move. Storen missed the first half of the season with an elbow injury.
But the fact remains that Span does exactly what Ben Revere could do but at a higher cost. Span’s contract is reasonable ($4.75 million in 2013, $6.5 million in 2014 and $9 million club option in 2015 with $500,000 buyout) but still more expensive than Revere.
Moving either Span or Morneau would have opened up a lineup spot for Chris Parmelee.
Parmelee was Minnesota’s first-round pick, 20th overall, in 2006. The Twins drafted Parmelee out of high school, so he’s only 24 years old with six years of professional baseball experience.
In 35 games with the Rochester Red Wings this year, Parmelee hit .341 (42-for-123) with seven homers and 27 RBI. He posted a .577 slugging percentage and .467 on base percentage.
He has little left to prove in the minors and needs time to adjust to the big leagues. With the Twins in 2012, he’s hitting a lowly .204 with two homers and six RBI. He’s posted a .283 on base and .323 slugging percentage.
Those numbers don’t warrant handing Parmelee a starting spot, but his draft status does. The only way to find out if he belongs in the big leagues is to open up a spot for him.
Span’s departure could have put Parmelee in left or right field (wherever Josh Willingham wasn’t) and Morneau’s would have given him first base.
The Twins aren’t in a position to win in 2012 and they won’t be in a position to win in 2013. Now should be about finding out who can help the club down the road, like Parmelee, while building the farm system for the future.
We don’t know exactly what Minnesota was offered for Span or Morneau, but the club missed out on an opportunity to build for the future while shedding 2013 salaries.