Twin Closers: Minnesota's Missing Link

Jeremiah Graves@cheapseatchronAnalyst IAugust 7, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 24:  Billy Wagner #13 of the New York Mets pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies on July 24, 2008 at Shea Stadium in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Phillies 3-1.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Twins have made two moves to prepare for a postseason push, but are still missing one key piece.

Last week, the club acquired Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera from the Oakland Athletics to shore up the middle infield and add another productive bat to the lineup.

Today the team received right-handed starter Carl Pavano from the Cleveland Indians in an attempt to bolster a depleted rotation.

The team’s next move should be to add another reliever to the bullpen.

The bullpen has struggled mightily this season and is in dire need of one more dominant arm to help close out games.

Billy Wagner could be that arm.

Wagner, 38, is working his way back to the majors following Tommy John surgery and is comfortably ahead of the typical 12-month recovery time; Wagner underwent the ligament replacement surgery on Sept. 10, 2008.

With a salary of $10.5 million this season, Wagner would figure to clear waivers easily and he is expendable as the Mets are not expected to retain Wagner after signing Francisco Rodriguez to a three-year, $37 million deal last winter.

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With the Mets currently six games under .500 and fading fast in both the National League East and the Wild Card race, it would make sense to move Wagner to an interested contender before the August 31 deadline for trades with waivers.

If the Twins were to claim the six-time All-Star, they would be responsible for this year's remaining salary in addition to an $8 million team option for next year that carries a $1 million buyout.

Wagner still has about 10 days left of rehabbing in the minors.

He is slated to pitch today in a Single-A game and then take a day off, pitch another Single-A game, and then pitch on back-to-back days next week.

In three one-inning appearances split between the Gulf Coast and Florida State Leagues, Wagner has given up just one hit while striking out four and walking none.

Even more impressive, the southpaw’s fastball is said to be clocking in at 94 mph, less than one year removed from the surgery.

A healthy Billy Wagner would have an immediate impact on the Twins faltering bullpen and could be the legitimate stopper the club so desperately needs.

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