Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Revisiting The Twins Swaps In 16

During the 2016 season, it was apparent nearly from the get go that the Minnesota Twins would need to be sellers. Now sure, that's a bit unfair, but an 0-9 start never got better, and now sitting at over 100 losses, this team struggled in all facets of the game. The organization did make a couple of swaps that likely had the future in mind though, so how do they look now?

Remember, during the middle of the year, long time General Manager Terry Ryan was relieved of his duties. Assistant GM Rob Antony stepped in and was the head honcho in the front office through both the non-waiver and waiver trade deadlines. Whether new boss Derek Falvey would've approved of these moves or not is a moot point, and whether they were worth of praise for Antony is moot as well. At this point, we're far enough out from the moves themselves to see how things have gone since.

Move 1: Eduardo Nunez traded to San Francisco for Adalberto Mejia

If there's ever been a fraud of an All Star, it was Eduardo Nunez for the Twins in 2016. Owner of a career .696 OPS while being a glorified utility man/backup, Nunez broke out in 91 games with the Twins. He was still lackluster defensively, but his .764 OPS was a career best. He went to San Diego to represent Minnesota at the mid-summer classic, and then somehow was turned into a top 100 prospect. Since going to San Francisco, Nunez has cooled some, but still owns a .418 OPS. Nunez has helped to spell the Giants on the left side of the infield, and has gotten to be a part of a playoff race.

Minnesota received Adalberto Mejia in return, which seemed like a good haul for Nunez. Mejia made four starts for Triple-A Rochester posting a 3.76 ERA. He made his MLB debut for Minnesota as well, working 2.1 IP of relief. Mejia will likely compete for a spot in the starting rotation to begin 2017, but is probably destined to begin the year at Triple-A. He's 23 and not a top of the rotation arm, but in an organization starved for pitching, he should help at the big league level soon.

Move 2: Fernando Abad traded to Boston Red Sox for Pat Light

Over the course of his career, Terry Ryan had a solid record of non-roster guys that made an impact for the big league club. Blaine Boyer fits that bill in 2015, and it's absolutely what Abad was in 2016. In 34.0 IP for Minnesota, Abad posted a 2.65 ERA. He walked nearly four per nine, but that's been something he's struggled with for the past two seasons. The Twins believed he was tipping his pitches, worked it out, and got 39 games of production out of him. Since having gone to Boston, Abad has blown up to the tune of a 6.39 ERA and has been virtually untrustworthy in relief.

For the Twins, Pat Light has always been a guy that can throw hard. Light's biggest problem has always been his ability to throw strikes and have command in the zone. He pitched seven innings for Triple-A Rochester after the trade and posted a 2.57 ERA along with a 2.6 BB/9. In the 12.1 IP for Minnesota through, he owns a 10.22 ERA, 9.5 K/9, and a terrible 10.9 BB/9. At 25, Light needs to hone in his command sooner rather than later. He was acquired for nothing (being that Abad was a non-roster guy), but should factor into the Twins pen in 2017 if he can get out of his own way.

Move 3: Ricky Nolasco and Alex Meyer traded to Los Angeles Angels for Hector Santiago and Alan Busenitz

Rounding out the Twins trades this year was the one that was a surprise, and met with far more excitement than it should've been. I was immediately critical of Minnesota giving up on Meyer simply to shed Nolasco's salary, but that's absolutely what happened. Ryan failed big time in overextending himself with a big contract on a mediocre starter when he signed Nolasco. In his time with the Twins, Nolasco was significantly more bad than he was good. Since going to the Angels though, he's made 11 starts to the tune of a 3.21 ERA and a 1.8 BB/9. Between getting out of Minnesota and having a better defense behind him, Nolasco has found success.

If there's a silver lining in Meyer moving on, it's that he deserved it. A 26 year old that the Twins failed to develop, and Paul Molitor washed his hands of, Meyer needed a change of scenery. Since joining the Angels, they got him back on the mound (Minnesota had him not pitching for over a month due to a shoulder injury that was never given an MRI), and up to the big leagues. In four starts with Los Angeles, Meyer owns a 4.58 ERA and 9.7 K/9. His 6.1 BB/9 are still a problem, but one that the Angels seem they'll work through him with.

The Twins return in the whole thing, aside from the salary relief from Nolasco, comes in the form of Hector Santiago. Minnesota is still paying a portion of Nolasco's deal in 2017, but they'll have the option to tender Santiago. Arbitration eligible after making $5 million this season, Santiago has made 10 starts for the Twins. He owns a 6.22 ERA along with a 5.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. Since coming over from the Angels, Santiago has been worse across the board. He probably will be around, and in the 2017 starting rotation, but expecting him to be reliable is probably a fool's errand unless the coaching staff can get more out of him.

Busenitz gets lost in this deal as merely a throw in. He's a 25 year old that reached Triple-A this season. For the Twins, he pitched in 7.2 innings at Rochester while owning a 3.52 ERA. Busenitz has pumped strikeouts right around eight per nine thus far in his career, and he's a middle relief option if and when he makes it to the big leagues.

As a whole, the Twins can look back at their exchanges this season and see a slam dunk in the Nunez deal, a mediocre flip in the Abad swap, and a less than thrilling return with the Nolasco and Meyer move. When you're losing, the goal is to flip veterans to stockpile assets, but unfortunately the Twins didn't have anything to give up. In the few exchanges they did make, there was really only one that can be looked back upon as something of value going forward. It's unfortunate, but 2016's swaps could end up being evaluated upon how much move three blows up in Minnesota's face.

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