Thursday, March 19, 2015

What Do The Twins Do With Mike Pelfrey?

Minnesota Twins' starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey (37) delivers against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning during an exhibition spring training baseball game, Wednesday, March 18, 2015, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
There's no question that the 2015 season presents a completely renewed hope in pitching for the Minnesota Twins. After an abysmal season on the mound in 2014, one in which even the bullpen regressed, the Twins entered camp with depth on the starting pitching front. With only the fifth starter spot open, there's a handful of guys battling it out. Among them is Mike Pelfrey, and the Twins will be forced to make a decision on him soon.

Thus far Pelfrey has thrown in three spring training games. Compiling nine full innings of work, he has given up eight hits, one earned run, and struck out five while walking none. It's led to a 1.00 ERA and allowed batters to hit just .250 against him. By all indications, that's an impressive start for a guy who was nothing short of an injured trainwreck a season ago. The problem is that no matter how well Pelfrey pitches for the Twins this spring, they probably don't have room for him.

At this point, it's probably safe to operate under the belief that Tommy Milone is going to end up being the Twins fifth starter. If he gets beat out, it's likely by either Trevor May or Alex Meyer, simply on upside alone. This all adds up to leave Pelfrey the odd man out. Considering that both Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor still seem opposed to having Pelfrey added to the bullpen, his role on the team couldn't be foggier.

It's probably fair to assume that out of the bullpen, Pelfrey would be an even bigger asset to the Twins. Sliding into a Wade Davis type role, the Twins no doubt would see an uptick in velocity from Pelfrey. Being opposed to that however, and not sliding him into the rotation, Pelfrey still does have an option left on his contract. The Twins could try and send him to Triple-A Rochester, however you would have to assume he would decline the assignment. With $5.5 million for a salary this year, being DFA'd probably isn't something he would find ideal either however. So, as arms go down left and right throughout the spring, do the Twins have a trade market for Pelfrey?

The New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays have been significantly bitten by the injury bug when it comes to their pitching staff. With Zack Wheeler undergoing Tommy John surgery and Marcus Stroman tearing his ACL, both teams are left searching for answers. While the initial response was to fill the vacancy from within the organization, Pelfrey could be an option for both clubs. The Twins pitcher has a former history with the Mets, and there's no doubt the Blue Jays are in a position to compete. The tricky part of dealing Pelfrey is his contract. That $5.5 million number is significantly more than he's worth, and likely higher than any other team wants to pay. If the Twins are willing to eat some of it, a door could open.

Over the last few weeks, we have heard that the Twins are all but a lock to sign stud international prospect, Wander Javier. The shortstop is going to run them nearly $4 million of their international bonus pool. Allowing another team to deal in some of their bonus pool could be another option to unload Pelfrey going forward.

It's still relatively early in the spring, and discussing this may be getting ahead of ourselves. That said, as recent as yesterday, Pelfrey mentioned the possibility of a trade to reporters. If the thought is in his mind at this point, you know he's aware of the situation, and that management is as well. Mike Pelfrey isn't someone that should block the incoming youth, and if there isn't a spot for him on this team, the Twins may be best to utilize him by making him an asset in another way.