Friday, October 22, 2010

The Fuentes Option

We know this about Brian Fuentes contract for next year - the team at least HAD an option.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about this, and when TwinsCentric checked with the Twins, someone within the organization told us the Twins did not have a $9 million club option on next year. But this is from the Angels press release about his contract.

"The Angels Wednesday agreed to terms on a two-year contract with free agent left-handed pitcher Brian Fuentes. The contract includes a club option for the 2011 season."

Again, this isn't reported - it's the press release from the Angels. You can still see it online here.

Now, maybe that doesn't still exist. Maybe it was written into the contract that it went away if he was traded. Maybe they needed to exercise it a year early for it to be valid, ala Cuddyer's. Or maybe it was dropped out for some other reason. But it is very strange for a player to have a vesting option and not have it already be a team option.

I'm also pretty sure it doesn't matter. Even if it existed, the Twins wouldn't exercise a $9 million option on Fuentes given their tight payroll constraints. I certainly wouldn't. But I would rather do that than get stuck paying an arbitration award of $7.5M+ for Matt Capps.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Free Agents

This weekend I got together with the TwinsCentric guys and we walked through each and every free agent for the upcoming year. (I know, I know – we know how to have a good time.) The purpose was to estimate what kind of contract each would get this offseason for our new ebook, the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook. It turned into a long meeting, but an interesting one as it really gave me a reality check on various players.

It also made it very clear which free agent shelves are stocked this winter and which aren’t. So rather than go through every player, I thought I might run through an overview of a few positions.

First Base – Absolutely stocked. I’ve never seen a first baseman market so stocked. I had thought the White Sox might really have an issue if they lost Paul Konerko this winter, but they can fall back on Derrek Lee, Lance Berkman, Carlos Pena or Aubrey Huff, let alone chase Adam Dunn. The next tier of agents is stocked, too. It’s a very good year to be looking for a first baseman (or a DH, hint, hint.)

Second Base – Bad. Last year there were a lot of great second basemen – so many that the Twins could let Orlando Hudson fall into their laps. This year, he is easily the top name out there. The only other guys I’d even consider starters are Mark Ellis and (drumroll please) Cristian Guzman.

Shortstop – Terrible, but it always is. Sure, there are names like Jose Reyes and Derek Jeter who might end up being free agents, but they likely won’t be. The top name is likely Juan Uribe, who plays very well for a bowling ball. If JJ Hardy is not offered arbitration by the Twins, he’s the top name in the market, and will certainly get a multi-year deal.

Third Base – Maybe a little better than average, depending on if the Tigers re-sign one of their two guys (Brandon Inge and Jhonny Peralta). I count five guys that are generally considered starters at the hot corner, and that’s a lot for a free agent class. Update: Inge signed with the Tigers today for $11.5M. That's $1.5M per year more than we predicted. It appears Detroit isn't afraid to keep spending like a wasted celebrity.

Catcher – It’s highlighted by Victor Martinez, and then you have John Buck (20 HR this year), Bengie Molina (starting for ALCS Rangers) and AJ Pierzynski. There arent’ a lot of complete guys there, but there never are at catcher.

Center Field – Ouch. Once Carl Crawford is gone the next best option is …. Melky Cabrera? Rick Ankiel? Jim Edmonds? You’ll hear the name Coco Crisp, but given how desolate the market is, I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up having his option picked up by the A’s, if only to trade him. (BTW, you can find excerpts from the Handbook about the center fielder market here.)

Corner Outfield – There are some MONSTER names in the outfield this year, like Vlad, Magglio and Manny. But there are also lots of questions about whether they are really outfielders or designated hitters. If you want a outfielder that can actually play in the outfield, the choices drop off quick. This might be good news for the Twins if they decide to shake up their roster a bit. They could move any of their three guys in this market.

Rotation – Beyond Cliff Lee, there are a couple guys who profile a lot like Pavano – veteran, good, but not great, inning-eating guys. It falls off the deep end pretty quick after that.

Bullpen – Wow – there are so many great arms out there I wonder if I’m making a mistake. The Twins are losing almost their whole bullpen to free agency, and looking at the list of what is available, I almost don’t care. There are some great power arms that likely won’t be too expensive because they don’t have all those pesky saves on their record. It’s impressive.


Want more? How about 30 more pages of smart alec profiles on each of the free agents along with 70 pages about everything else you would ever want to know regarding the Twins upcoming offseason? You can get it all right here. The offseason deserves its own Twins annual, and you deserve a chance to try your hand as GM of the Twins. Here’s your chance.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Offseason Preview: The Center Fielder Market

There was a lot of talk immediately after a couple of Yankee hits found their way into Target Field's gaps about upgrading center field this year. The most common suggestion I heard was to trade away a corner outfielder, jostle around the outfield so Denard Span ended up in left field, and get a true center fielder.

But one of the things we've discovered while writing up the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook is how thin the center fielder free agent market is. Actually "non-existant" might be a better description. We rushed in a late change yesterday when Melky Cabrera was non-tendered by the Braves - because he might be the best free agent center fielder available (non-Crawford category). In our list of free agent outfielders, there aren't many that qualify as center fielders. Here they are; read 'em and weep.

Carl Crawford
Age: 29 (08/05/81) | 2010 Salary: $10.00M
Stats: .307/.356/.495, 19 HR, 90 RBI

A lot of Crawford’s value is based on the perception that he can play center field. He can, and has in the past, but he played mostly in left field this year. Still, expect some big market team, looking to fill center field with an impact player, to focus in on him like a laser. If I was the Yankees, I sure would.
Estimated Contract: 6 years, $96M

Coco Crisp*
Age: 30 (11/01/79) | 2010 Salary: $4.75M
Stats: .279/.342/.438, 8 HR, 38 RBI

Here’s the runner-up prize in the Crawford sweepstakes, and that’s not a bad thing. Unlike last year, he doesn’t need to prove he is healthy. He’s also a plus defender, put up solid offensive stats (albeit in limited time) and is only 30 years old. If the A’s decline his $5.75M option, he may get more in this market than people would think. On second thought, why would they not pick it up?
Estimated Contract: Not available - Athletics pick up the $5.75M option

Melky Cabrera
Age: 26 (8/11/84) | 2010 Salary: $3.1M
Stats: .255/.317/.354, 11 HR, 59 RBI

Is he a starting center fielder or a fourth outfielder, overhyped by the Yankee publicity machine? The Braves apparently voted the latter, as they non-tendered him this offseason rather than pay him once he got expensive. His offensive numbers, which are pretty close to what you would expect from his career numbers, are respectable enough for a good center fielder. Unfortunately, Cabrera was not a good center fielder. He was poor defensively in center and spent a good chunk of the season in the corners – where he was also poor defensively. Still, after Crawford is signed (and assuming Crisp stays in Oakland) this might be the top center fielder on the market. (Which is worth remembering when someone talks about moving Denard Span to a corner spot.)
Estimated Contract: 2 year, $6M

Rick Ankiel
Age: 31 (07/19/79) | 2010 Salary: $3.25M
Stats: .232/.321/.389, 6 HR, 24 RBI

He was a great story, but is looking less and less like a diamond in the rough and more and more like a high-end fourth outfielder.
Estimated Contract: 1 year, $1.5M

Jim Edmonds
Age: 40 (06/27/70) | 2010 Salary: $1.20M
Stats: .276/.342/.504, 11 HR, 23 RBI

Seriously? Edmonds is on this list again? Are we absolutely sure it’s the same guy from fifteen years ago, and not a clone or something?

He defied his age in Milwaukee and was eventually traded to the playoff contending Reds. He ended up fighting various injuries during his time there, because, you know, he’s ancient.
Estimated Contract: I’d like to predict retirement, but at this point, why would you bet against him? 1 year, $1M

Jody Gerut
Age: 33 (09/18/77) | 2010 Salary: $2.00M
Stats: .197/.23/.366, 2 HR, 8 RBI

He’s a centerfielder and the list this year is shallow. That’s the only reason he’s here. He’s 33 years old and was released in July by the Brewers and signed a minor-league deal with the Padres. That sounds about right.
Estimated Contract: Minor league contract


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Monday, October 18, 2010

Offseason Preview: ODog Gets His Bone

The following is from the upcoming TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook.


The O-Dog should finally get his bone this offseason. That’s good and bad news for Twins fans.

For two offseasons in a row, Twins second baseman (and impending free agent) Orlando Hudson has been screwed by the free agent process. Two years ago he was a Type A free agent offered arbitration by the Diamondbacks. He turned down arbitration because he was the premier second baseman on the market – and nobody would touch him because signing him would require teams to give up a first round draft pick. He signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers.

Last year he was a Type A free agent again, but this time he made it very clear he would accept arbitration if it was offered. The Dodgers (wisely) listened. That meant that teams didn't need to give up a draft pick to sign him, but Hudson again got stuck. Due in part to some strange decisions down the stretch in LA to bench him, he was positioned towards the bottom of a fantastic group of free agent second baseman. When the music stopped, all of the other second basemen had a seat, and just about the only one left for Hudson had a big “TC” on it.

But this year, it’s a different story. The 32-year-old is again one of the top names available at second base. He can be offered arbitration, but since he’s a Type B free agent this year, that won’t slow down any suitors. Finally, he’s also young enough that teams can risk a multi-year deal.

The Twins won’t (and probably shouldn't) match that. But they can safely offer him arbitration and not worry about him taking it. He won’t be back with the Twins, but his loss will generate a bonus draft pick.


Right about now, you might be wondering who else is available at second base this offseason. In this year’s TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook e-book we detail the others: Mark Ellis (probably), Cristian Guzman, Felipe Lopez, Adam Kennedy, David Eckstein, Akinori Iwamura, Julio Lugo, and Aaron Miles.

It also will include the story above and about 30,000 other words on the Twins offseason strategies. If you would like to check out last year’s version for free, or order this year’s version for $9.95, just click on over to We’re so confident you will like it – and so appreciate you trying out an e-book – that we’ll completely refund your purchase price if you aren't satisfied.