Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Making A Twins Free Agent Wish List

In general, I've tried to keep a consistent level of content in each blog post. However, when considering the moves that the Minnesota Twins may make on the free agent market, it's hard not to want this post to be considerably shorter. Minnesota isn't very good, and the free agent market is even worse. Paying for mediocre talent isn't going to get the Twins out of the cellar, and that's likely what they'd have to be doing in free agency.

On the flip side, the Twins do have some needs, and if they aren't going to be addressed in trades, they'll need to find answers elsewhere. Given what the Twins have internally, and what the market is currently providing, here are a few names I'd be happy about Derek Falvey and Thad Levine getting in on.

Jason Castro C

Castro was once trending towards being a big name behind the plate for the Astros. At 26, he made his first All Star Game and posted an .835 OPS. Since, he's totaled just a .660 OPS across 343 games dating back to 2014. Still just 29 years old, he has plenty of catching days ahead, and it's the Twins that find themselves among the neediest teams in the majors.

He's above average defensively, grades out favorably with pitch framing, and has been around league average when it comes to catching would be base stealers. From Kurt Suzuki in 2016, an average defensive catcher would seem like a whole new world in Minnesota. the Twins could go with more of a stop gap option in Dioner Navarro, Geovany Soto, or even Chris Iannetta. Right now though, the Twins two best internal options are John Ryan Murphy and Mitch Garver. Both will take their lumps, and I'm not quite sure either is ready for an every day type role.

Neftali Feliz RP

In general, I'm more in favor of the Twins not signing a reliever to anything but a minor league deal this offseason. That being said, Feliz presents somewhat of an intriguing case. Having just made $3.9m on a one year deal with the Pirates in 2016, the 28 year-old Dominican had his best year since 2014. He posted a 10.2 K/9 for the first time since his 20 game debut in 2009, and his 62 games pitched were the second most in a single-season during his career.

You can wonder whether or not the turnaround was due to getting to work with pitching guru Ray Searage, and there's reason to caution his health. If Minnesota could get in at the right price though, he's a name I'd listen on. The 4.53 FIP isn't ideal, and that's where I'd start my negative sell. His fastball sat at 96.0 again in 2016 though, and that's the highest velocity since 2011. A pen void of hard throwers could do worse.

Jordan Walden RP

A 12th round pick by the Angels back in 2006, Walden spent his age 27 season with the Cardinals last year. Pitching in just 12 games after dealing with a shoulder injury, St. Louis declined his $5.25m option. With arm injuries being more common place for pitchers, it's hard not to look at the prospects of what a healthy Walden may present.

He's struck out at least 10.0/9 in each of his six big league seasons, and owns a career 10.8 K/9 acorss 222.0 IP. Walden has posted a sub 3.00 FIP in all but one big league season and has generally danced around walks by not allowing home runs. His velocity dipped down to 94 last season, but he could trend back up towards 95-96 with a clean bill of health. Negotiating against his injury, even a guaranteed big league deal, isn't something I'd shy away from at the right price.

At the end of the day, Minnesota needs to make more internal decisions than they do external ones. Deciding who to keep, and what assets to deal in order to advance the system as a whole is a practice that the Twins will need to get underway sooner rather than later.