Unlike my previous articles which focused on the Pioneer Press' Tom Powers' idea that the "Minnesota Twins need more useful players, not stars," this article looks at a different side to Minnesota's typical strict budget roster moves.
It is not normal for the Twins to rebuild by stacking their team full of proven stars. However, after two horrible seasons, is it time to break this mold? The following article reviews five free agents the Twins should consider splurging on for 2013 (to rebuild their rotation and jump start the offense).
Note: All players were listed as Free Agents when this article was written, via BaseballReference.com and MLBTradeRumors.com.
2012 Stats: 15-5, 3.48 ERA, .249 BAA, 34 GS through 212.1 IP
Career Stats: 91-78, 3.77 ERA, .258 BAA, 228 GS through 1492.0 IP
Overview: Zack Greinke is the obvious choice for anyone in need of an excellent starting pitcher and in possession of sufficient money. Right now, Greinke is in the prime of his career. If the Twins sign him, they can expect to get a pitcher who records about 15 wins, a 3.40 ERA, 200 SO, 32 GS, and 200 IP every season.
Despite winning the Cy Young in 2009, Greinke was considerably affordable at $13.5 million a year this past season, compared to other aces of similar caliber. However, this—combined with his expected increase in salary—would be splurging for the Twins, who have to pay Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau a combined $37 million in 2013.
2012 Stats: 9-13, 3.86 ERA, .273 BAA, 34 GS through 195.2 IP
Career Stats: 48-51, 3.75 ERA, .274 BAA, 144 GS through 869.0 IP
Overview: Once again, the Twins' biggest need is starting pitching. Anibal Sanchez is another higher-end candidate to add to the depleted starting rotation. At 28 years old, Sanchez is a seasoned veteran having played seven seasons at the major league level. In his first three years as a full-time starter, Sanchez logged 195+ IP, 150+ SO, and an ERA under 4.00.
Sanchez earned $8 million in 2012 from the Miami Marlins/Detroit Tigers. Since Sanchez is not an all out ace, he would be an ideal candidate for an offensively strong Twins roster.
2012 Stats: 12-13, 4.33 ERA, .275 BAA, 30 GS through 176.2 IP.
Career Stats: 119-97, 3.66 ERA, .252 BAA, 286 GS through 1876.2 IP
Overview: Dan Haren has spent the last eight seasons as a full time starting pitcher. During this time, Haren won at least 14 games each year, recorded an ERA under 3.95 six times, and totaled at least 190 strikeouts five times.
The Twins are in great need of a starter of Haren's caliber, especially one who records a lot of strikeouts. The 32 year-old Haren earned $12.75 million in 2012, after going 12-13. It reminds me of another highly paid 32 year-old who had an off season the season before being signed by the Twins: Carl Pavano.
Yet, Haren is more accomplished than Pavano was at 32.
2012 Stats: 10-11, 4.03 ERA, .245 BAA, 31 GS through 189.2 IP.
Career Stats: 70-71, 4.40 ERA, .271 BAA, 204 GS through 1268.2 IP
Overview: Perhaps slightly overpaid compared to others who made this list, Edwin Jackson still would improve the Twins starting rotation. At 29 years-old, Jackson has already played 12 seasons of Major League Baseball. Despite a 5-15 season his first full year as a starter (pitching for the 66-96 Tampa Bay Devil Rays), Jackson has bounced back. Since that season, he has amassed a 59-52 record with a 4.06 ERA, averaging over 199 IP and 32 GS per season.
Jackson is a definite step up for the Twins starting rotation of 2012. However, the Twins truthfully shouldn't shell out $11 million for him, as did the Nationals in 2012. They can find better talent for that price. As a last option, however, Jackson would suffice.
2012 Stats: 3-4, 35 SV, 3.78 ERA, .229 BAA, SV% 88% through 69.0
Career Stats: 26-31, 277 SV, 3.11 ERA, .207 BAA, SV% 89% through 590.1 IP
Overview: Since the Twins did not resign Matt Capps, they are without a proven closer. Glen Perkins certainly did a solid job as the Twins closer in 2012. However, the Twins need to consider a experienced closer.
Enter José Valverde. The 34 year-old has saved at least 25 games six times in six years as a full time closer—leading his respective league in three of those years (the NL in 2007 and 2008 and AL in 2011). His resume also includes two Relief Man of the Year awards and three All-Star Game selections.
However, he earned $9 million in 2012, which is a lot for the Twins.