Lotsa little things to talk about, but nothing major. Let's start reporting and see where this goes...
Joe Nathan Signing is Imminent
ESPN, TwinsBaseball.com and Star-Tribune are all reporting that the Twins and Joe Nathan are very close to a deal, and that deal is a four year contract for $11-12M per year. Beyond that we don't know any details.
There is really only one I care about: is there a no-trade clause? I outlined the parameters of a possible deal about a month ago, and this looks like it's going to exceed that by a million or so per year. That's fine - that's what a team should do for a premier player - but the deal cannot include a no-trade clause.
Why? Because if it doesn't have a no-trade clause, it's a movable contract if one assume Nathan stays effective and healthy. That means it's an asset to the organization.
You can argue that the Twins shouldn't be paying much over $42M. Nathan was going to hit the market next year and get either a three-year deal for $14M per year or a four-year deal at slightly less. A three year deal for $14 million is $42 million. If you add the $6M the Twins are paying this year, that's $48 million. So the Twins could have essentially let him walk as a free agent (or traded him at the deadline) and still been suitors for him next year at that kind of money. To give him that guarantee a year early requires a discount.
Contract talks have traditionally not been one of this organiztions strengths. There have been signs lately that has changed, and that there is some more creativity in place under Bill Smith than there had been under Terry Ryan. This contract is the first realy test Smith faces on that front. If there isn't a no-trade clause, it will be interesting to see the details. If there is, it might well be sickening to see the details.
Center Field Decision Today
Speaking of interesting decisions, Monday is the day we'll supposedly see Carlos Gomez or Denard Span win the center field job for Opening Day. On his radio show today, Ron Gardenhire indicated as much, and the Pioneer Press reported the same thing.
I'm not sure I have a dog in this fight, but from a distance of 1500 miles, I'd probaby choose Denard Span. Gomez seems like a potential superstar, but also doesn't seem ripe yet. Span might not be either, but there's more downside if he's mishandled, and he seems to a little more ready than Gomez. If he has the newfound plate discipline he seems to have shown, he also might be a better fit for the leadoff spot, a lineup spot the Twins are struggling to fill.
Note that I'm not saying the Twins will keep Denard Span. Ron Gardenhire tries so hard not to tip his hand today that I wondered if he really knew himself. He gushed about Gomez's game on Saturday, and Sunday Span again went 0 for 4, though he again added to his walk total. And the whole staff seems to go a little gaga when they talk about Gomez, in a way that makes me a little uncomfortable. I'd probably give slightly better odds that Span is the odd man out tomorrow.