For the final article in my series on Twins offseason moves:
In the spirit of the Pioneer Press' Tom Powers' idea that the "Minnesota Twins need more useful players, not stars" if the Twins want to make substantial improvement next year, I present an article addressing one of the Twins' biggest needs this offseason: relief pitching.
Without a true closer and without too many reliable relievers, the Twins need to consider the following players if they want to have a solid bullpen in 2013.
Note: All players were listed as Free Agents when this article was written, via BaseballReference.com and MLBTradeRumors.com.
2012 Stats: 3-4, 35 SV, 3.78 ERA, .229 BAA, SV% 88% through 69.0 IP
Career Stats: 26-31, 277 SV, 3.11 ERA, .207 BAA, SV% 89% through 590.1 IP
Overview: With the departure of Matt Capps, the Twins are without a closer who has saved at least 30 games in a season. Glen Perkins did a great job filling in as the Twins closer when Capps was on the DL. However, the Twins need to consider picking up a proven closer.
Enter José Valverde. The 34 year-old has saved at least 25 games six times in six years as a full time closer, three of those years leading his respective leagues (the NL in 2007 and 2008 and AL in 2011 in saves). Adding to his accolades, Valverde has been named Relief Man of the Year twice, and is a three-time All-Star.
Now might be the Twins' opportune time to sign Valverde. As mlive.com's Chris Lott said, "The Detroit Tigers are not expected to re-sign him." Though he earned $9 million in 2012, the Twins can afford him.
2012 Stats: 3-7, 4 SV, 3.59 ERA, .209 BAA, through 57.2 IP
Career Stats: 42-38, 62 SV, 3.80 ERA, .245 BAA, through 578.1 IP
Overview: Yes. The 6'11" Jon Rauch played for the Twins for two season before heading to Toronto. However, Rauch's experience as a middle reliever and closer would prove useful to the Twins bullpen.
Rauch spent two seasons in Minnesota. In his first year with the Twins, Rauch served as a middle reliever posting a 4-1 record, 1.98 ERA, and 8.6 K/9 through 13.2 IP. In his second year, Rauch switched roles, becoming the Twins' closer with the absence of Joe Nathan. In Nathan's absence, Rauch pitched a 3-1 record, 21-for-25 in save opportunities, with a 3.12 ERA through 57.2 IP.
Why is this relevant? Rauch is versatile. If they chose not to pick up a true closer, Rauch could split the duties with Glen Perkins.
2012 Stats: 4-5, 27 SV, 2.48 ERA, .260 BAA, through 58.0 IP
Career Stats: 29-25, 111 SV, 3.10 ERA, .226 BAA, through 450.0 IP
Overview: At just 28 years old, Jonathon has recorded more saves than Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman each had at 28. Needless to say, Broxton could bring youth and proven reliability to the Twins bullpen. And, without a proven closer to their name, the Twins could return Glen Perkins to set-up man and bring Broxton in as the closer.
The fireball-throwing, 6'4", 295-pound Broxton earned $4 million dollars in 2012. Why not try to get him?
2012 Stats: 1-2, 2 SV, 2.38 ERA, .269 BAA, through 56.2 IP
Career Stats: 15-23, 10 SV, 3.58 ERA, .207 BAA, through 362.1 IP
Overview: Sean Burnett could be a welcome addition to the Twins bullpen. At 30 years old, Burnett has spent six full seasons as a middle reliever in MLB. In his previous three seasons, Burnett recorded two seasons of ERAs under 2.50 and SO/9 around 9.
Burnett and the Nationals mutually declined on his $3.5 million extension for 2013, while he earned $2.3 million in 2012. Logically, the Twins could sign him in the $2 million to $3 million range. We'll see.
2012 Stats: 5-3, 1 SV, 3.27 ERA, .269 BAA, through 52.1 IP
Career Stats: 18-15, 4 SV, 2.28 ERA, .207 BAA, through 363.2 IP
Overview: As one of the lesser individuals on this list, Mike Adams proves to be a worthy mid-reliever. Despite limited time in the majors during his mid-twenties, Adams joined the Padres at age 29, making 54 relief appearances and maintaining a 2.48 ERA through 65.1 IP. Ever since that 2008 return from the minors, Adams has been incredibly consistent as a reliever keeping his ERA below 2.00 and BAA below .200 in three of five seasons.
The Twins really can use another consistent relief man like Adams in their bullpen. Plus Adams earned $4.4 million in 2012. The Twins have room on their payroll.