Minnesota Twins: The 5 Players Most Likely to Be Dealt by Opening Day 2014

Chris SchadContributor IIIJanuary 2, 2013

Minnesota Twins: The 5 Players Most Likely to Be Dealt by Opening Day 2014

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    The Minnesota Twins need to make changes to a team that has floundered since winning the American League Central championship in 2010.

    With a pitching staff that could benefit from a local little leaguer getting a start, the Twins have to find a way to upgrade their thin major league roster and even thinner farm system.

    The fastest way to get relief is to make some unpopular moves that involve players such as Justin Morneau or Josh Willingham.

    Minnesota has already taken the proper steps dealing both Ben Revere and Denard Span for minor league prospects, but they're still a long way from becoming respectable. 

    With the Twins doing everything but admitting they're in rebuilding mode, it's fair to take a look at which players could be shown the door by the time Opening Day 2014 hits.

Jamey Carroll

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    The Twins will not get a major haul for the soon-to-be 39-year old utility man, but with his contract set to expire (although he has a team option for 2014), it could be the time to get a low-level prospect.

    Carroll won't light a contender's world on fire with anything, he's a solid defensive player that can play several positions.

    That makes Carroll attractive to a National League team, where he has spent eight of his 11 major league seasons.

    This wouldn't be a blockbuster trade by any means. If the Twins do their research, they could wind up with a surprise contributor like general manager Terry Ryan got with Joe Mays, David Ortiz and Alexi Casilla during his first stint with the club. 

Kevin Correia

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    Kevin Correia just got to Minnesota, but there are several hints that the latest bargain bin free-agent signing by Terry Ryan could be doomed.

    Like last year's signing of Jason Marquis, Ryan is taking the gamble that Correia can adjust to the American League.

    Correia, like Marquis did last year, has spent his entire career in the National League and has survived with a 4.54 earned run average.

    With Correia having to face an additional hitter, the chances are that number will go up along with his 1.41 career WHIP.

    It's likely the Twins are seeing what Nick Blackburn was supposed to develop into with Correia. However, the only similarity that Twins fans could be seeing is a high ERA and a ticket out the door by the end of May.

Jared Burton

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    The Twins needed bullpen help coming into the 2012 season and proceeded to throw several darts at the board by signing many relievers to minor league contracts.

    While some like Joel Zumaya didn't pan out, Jared Burton was a success.

    Coming off of major shoulder surgery, Burton produced a 2.18 earned run average and a 0.91 WHIP in 64 games for the Twins.

    For Burton's efforts, the Twins rewarded him with a two-year, $5.45 million contract, along with a third-year team option to become the set-up man for Glen Perkins.

    That makes it likely that Burton would stay, but his contract makes him very team friendly to a suitor looking for bullpen help.

    If Perkins can hold down the closer role in 2013, the Twins may decide that Burton is expendable.

Josh Willingham

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    Josh Willingham may be a surprising name on this list, but the free-agent steal from the past offseason could intrigue several teams looking for a big bat.

    Willingham will enter the second year of a three-year contract signed last winter worth $21 million in 2013.

    With Minnesota having control of the Silver Slugger winner for an additional year, the Twins can have a higher demand for a team looking for some offense.

    There always seems to be a team that needs a big bat come July, and somebody could come calling with a big offer for Willingham.

    If that happens, the Twins must pounce on it.

Justin Morneau

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    This would be the saddest of all the possible moves the Twins could make, but if the Twins want to really usher in a new era they will need to trade Justin Morneau.

    Morneau has been one of the best players in franchise history for the Twins. With 204 home runs and the 2006 American League Most Valuable Player award under his belt, Morneau helped fuel several of the Twins' American League Central championships in the 2000's.

    However, this is a time to throw nostalgia out the window.

    Over the past two seasons, Morneau has been able to play in 203 games due to several injuries. Of course, the most notable of these injuries came on July 7, 2010 when Morneau suffered a concussion trying to break up a double play against the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Morneau has stated that he's putting in a full offseason for the first time since 2010, but after a childhood career of hockey in Canada, how much more can his brain take if he suffers another hit to the head?

    That's where the Twins will need to be proactive if Morneau is close to his pre-concussion form come this July. With Morneau becoming a pending free-agent, the Twins may try to get something in return for his services.