Sunday, March 23, 2008

Weekend Notes

Lotsa little things to talk about, but nothing major. Let's start reporting and see where this goes...

Joe Nathan Signing is Imminent
ESPN, 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.


neckrolls said...

The Cardinals' broadcasters made an interesting point about their phenom CF prospect, 21-year-old Colby Rasmus. They were happy he was being sent to AAA, despite his terrific spring, because he was inexperienced and they didn't want him to turn into a yo-yo between the Majors and AAA. I think if the Twins start the season with Gomez, there's a good chance he'll be sent down after 6-8 weeks when he's struggling to reach base 30% of the time.

Most of us were upset to see Garza start last season in Rochester, but it wasn't a bad thing for him. Gomez' speed makes up for a lot, but Span has shown himself to be the more major-league ready player. I'd say the best thing for the team and both players is to give the job to Span, and let Gomez have a few months at AAA to work on his OBP.

Anonymous said...

"if it doesn't have a no-trade clause, it's a movable contract if one assume Nathan stays effective and healthy."

Isn't it just as "movable" regardless? It gives Nathan some leverage in where he goes and for how much. But if the Twins are trying to move Nathan that is not going to be a big issue. Nathan is going to want out to a contender as much as the Twins want to dump his contract. The problem with moving him is more likely to be that his performance doesn't warrant his salary. That has nothing to do with no-trade agreements.

Paul said...

Why would a player of his stature sign a contract without some guarantee over the course his future? Bloggers always assume the GM holds all the cards.

Jack Ungerleider said...

On no trade clauses: A limited no trade clause would be okay. One that allows him to say "I won't go to these 8 teams." (Using 8 as an example.) He gets some say and the Twins have the flexibility to negotiate a deal that is good for Nathan and for the team.

On CF: I think Span. The Gomez talk is to make sure people realize we got "something" for Santana. Also if Span falters then they flip-flop. If he doesn't, maybe he becomes trade bait.

Nick N. said...

Looks like Gomez is the winner in center.

Won't Nathan have the right to veto a trade no matter what, since he'll be a 10-5 guy? I'm not seeing the NTC as such a large stumbling block as you are.

ubelmann said...

Won't Nathan have the right to veto a trade no matter what, since he'll be a 10-5 guy? I'm not seeing the NTC as such a large stumbling block as you are.

That's an interesting point. He doesn't get 10-5 rights until he has 10 years of major league service time. As far as I can tell, he's got about 6-7 years of service time so far. (Cot's lists 6.12, my rough guesstimate looking at his game logs was 6.7.) So he should pass the 10-year threshold sometime during the 4th year of this contract, which would be during the 2011 season.

Also, it sounds like a player can waive his 10-5 rights if he signs a multi-year contract and agrees to a limited NTC, so it's possible that happened but wasn't reported.

Craig said...

I just spent the last week down in Ft. Myers and I have to say that while I understand the hesitancy about Gomez's inexperience, he is far and away the best choice the Twins could have made for their starting center fielder. Span is a little more polished, but Gomez has amazing tools and, perhaps more importantly, plays with an amazing level of intensity and hustle. He was diving around tags to beat out bunt singles and crashing into the wall to make a catch. I really don't think the guy has anything to learn by going back down to AAA. He's going to make a few boneheaded decisions throughout the year, but he's going to more than make up for that with his speed and grit.