Right now, Nashville, Tennessee is not just the heart of country music but also the heart of Major League Baseball. Baseball’s winter meetings are going on right now, the annual MLB getaway where teams talk to other teams, agents, free agents and everyone in-between.
Here is where the deals typically start rolling, but they have been a little sluggish thus far. Once those first dominoes fall, they do what dominoes do—they fall quickly on the free-agent end of things.
The winter meetings are where good ground work on a lot of trades gets set too.
Which brings up the question: Who is the Minnesota Twins' most tradable asset?
This question was a lot easier to answer just a week ago when Denard Span was still a member of the Minnesota Twins. His team-friendly contract and his defensive skills were an easy skill set to sell to anyone. Throw in the fact he’s a leadoff hitter, and that’s how the Twins got one of the best pitching prospects in Alex Meyer.
Now that the obvious answer is gone, what chips do the Twins still have? More importantly, what chips do the Twins hold that will actually allow for something in return?
If you look at the Twins' past couple seasons, it would seem that the Twins don’t have a lot of chips to trade. In fact, they have a couple to play around with.
The Twins have two former MVPs that someone will always be willing to give up a little something for. Joe Mauer is one of the best players in the game, but between his huge contract and the huge PR hit the Twins would take if they traded a hometown boy, the chances of him being moved are little to none.
The other MVP, Justin Morneau, has a much better shot at being moved. Morneau is a first baseman, and the Twins have three viable options in Mauer, Chris Parmelee and Ryan Doumit to replace him if he is moved. Morneau’s injury history makes him less desirable, therefore teams will not offer as much for him—making him not the Twins' most-tradable asset.
With the two MVPs off the board, we come to the runner-up—who also happens to be a native Minnesotan. The presumed Twins closer Glen Perkins is the Twins' second-most tradable asset. He’s a left-handed reliever, a position that is always desirable.
The reasons to keep Perkins outweigh what he’d bring back in a trade though. Perkins is a very good pitcher, and the Twins don’t have a lot of those at the moment. Even though the bullpen looks pretty stable, it’s nice to have a face, and that face should be Glen Perkins.
Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…The Twins' most tradable asset is Josh Willingham. The biggest All-Star snub and 2012 Silver Slugger is the guy every other team is blowing up Terry Ryan’s phone about.
There’s good reason too. Willingham finished in the American League Top 10 in the following categories: walks, slugging percentage, on base plus slugging, home runs (finished seventh with 35), and RBIs (finished third with 110).
Josh Willingham is a very good player, and he is the type of player that is thought of as the one piece a championship caliber team is missing. Willingham brings a big bat to any lineup. He’s somewhat of a defensive liability, but after the Twins had Delmon Young in left field, Willingham looks like a Golden Glove winner.
Willingham is the Twins' most tradable asset, but don’t confuse that with the most likely to be traded or with the fact that he should be traded. Willingham is a very big piece to the Twins' success, but he does have the ability to bring a lot in return if he is dealt.
The winter meetings end on Thursday, but by no means does that mean the end of the wheeling and dealing around the league. Just because the Twins leave Nashville without making moves, doesn’t mean they’re standpatters. Just because they leave Music City without trading your favorite player doesn’t mean they won’t before spring training.
Stay tuned. This offseason will be a very interesting one.