Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reliever Countdown - The Top Four

There has been a lot of talk about how the Twins need a right-handed reliever. There has also been a lot of talk about the number of right-handed relievers available for trade. However, I’d seen precious few specifics, so back on Thursday I started examining fourteen names that are supposedly available and ranking them from worst to first. Today we get to the names that might induce TC Bear to do cartwheels – and not just for their impact THIS YEAR.

(If you want to see some more realistic names, check out Part 1 and Part 2.)


These are the premier guys. They’re the names about whom lots of teams will be calling and asking. To get any of them, a team not only must make a great offer, it likely has to be better than other great offers.

#4. Leo Nunez
Nunez is the 27-year-old closer for the Marlins. He’s been good enough to already rack up 27 saves for Florida, but it’s the secondary statistics that really impress: nearly a strikeout per inning (42K in 45.2 IP) with good control (15 BB). The Marlins are ten games out of the wild card, so he could be available for the right package. The team that acquires him gets to hang onto him this year and next year as he’s still arbitration eligible. He’ll likely cost $6-7M next year and be a free agent in 2013.

It’s been reported that the Marlins have talked to the Red Sox and Phillies about him and the Marlins supposedly want young pitching in return. They could also certainly use an everyday third baseman.

#3. Mike Adams
There may not be a name more mentioned on the trade market than Adams – remarkable considering he isn’t a closer. Adams is the setup man for Heath Bell in San Diego, but his stats are (and have been) more impressive than Bell’s. His WHIP is an obscene .727, with just 23 hits and 9 walks in 44 innings. It’s also remarkable that he’s available considering Bell will be a free agent at the end of the season; one would think that the Padres would want to have Adams around if Bell leaves.

Like Nunez, Adams will be around through 2012 and becomes a free agent in 2013. Unlike Nunez, Adams will likely be quite a bit cheaper next year (because he isn’t collecting saves) and is already 32 years old. The Padres say they would need to be overwhelmed to consider trading him.

#2. Joakim Soria

For most of Soria’s career, it has been speculated that the Royals closer could be available in a trade, despite the Kansas City’s protests. The 27-year-old has been a top shelf reliever for several years – an eerie match for Joe Nathan. This year he struggled early, lost his closer job in May, but has gone back to living up to his “Mexecutioner” nickname; since June 1st he has 17 K and 2BB in 20 innings and his WHIP is just 0.750.

All of that would place him high on this list, but it’s his contract that elevates him to the top two. He’s making 4M this year, $6M in 2012, $8M in 2013 and $8.75M in 2014. But best of all, each of those years are team options. If he’s throwing like a top flight closer, he’s a bargain. If not, the team who has him can cut bait. And when that contract ends, he’ll still only be 30 years old.

#1. Tyler Clippard
The top guy on this list isn’t the closer for the Washington Nationals; he’s their setup man. But he’s 26 years old, has a WHIP this year of .828, and has struck out 64 guys while throwing a hefty 64 innings. He’s got closer stuff, but hasn’t been the closer yet, which makes him cheaper.

Similar to Soria, a team could bring back Clippard on a year-to-year basis for several years, but that control last four years, through 2015. Exactly how much that would cost depends on how much he would win in arbitration, but a rough guess of his salary the next four years would be something like $1.5M, $4M, $7M, and $9M.

What would it take to get him? According to Ken Rosenthal, any trade for Clippard would need to fill a specific long-term need, such as center field. One of the names that Rosenthal mentions is Denard Span. Nick Cafardo reported that the Rangers have made “a lot of inquiries” on Clippard and also mentions that the Braves, Yankees and Red Sox have also looked into acquiring him.


hoffrey said...

clippard for span. No. clippard for benson, slowey. yes.

jjswol said...

I would take any of these four guys but the price will be too high. Why would the Twins want to give up a lot when they are 7 games out with a slim chance of getting into the playoffs? The odds are that this team will not even finish above .500 this year. The only deal I see them making is a lower level reliever for Kevin Slowey. The deal I would like to see them make is Denard Span to the Cards for Colby Rasmus.

USAFChief said...

Don't trade Span or Benson. If, by any chance, Revere can form the basis of a trade for a good RH reliever, pull the trigger immediately, before the last few people in the world who think Ben Revere will ever be a productive every day major league outfielder change their mind.

TT said...

If they can make a deal for someone they control beyond this season it would make sense. With Capps and Nathan likely gone, the Twins are going to need bullpen help next year as well as this year.

Benson looks like he has stalled at AA New Britain. It would be nice if the Twins could do a Capps-Ramos deal with him, but I doubt they can get that much for him. He is the same age as Revere and is still struggling to make contact against AA pitchers.

I am not excited about the idea of trading Slowey. I think they would be better off moving Liriano. But they need to get more than a setup guy for Liriano. They may have to settle for that in exchange for Slowey. Either way, it shouldn't be a rental player or some aging pitcher who is having his last hurrah.

USAFChief said...

"Benson looks like he has stalled at AA New Britain."

Benson: .270/.370/.452 .822 OPS.

Revere at New Britain: .305/.371/.363 .733 OPS.

Given the difference in arm strength, Benson is probably the better defensive outfielder, has enough speed to have double digit steals in every minor league season, and unlike Revere can actually accumulate some XBH's.

TT said...

"Benson looks like he has stalled at AA New Britain."

Benson: .270/.370/.452 .822 OPS.

Revere at New Britain: .305/.371/.363 .733 OPS.

This is Benson's second year at AA. Last year he hit .251/.336/.527. But that is misleading, since he really struggled the first month and then got sent back to Fort Myers. His numbers the second half of the season were clearly better than this year. He has not really improved at all, fewer home runs, more doubles and still strikes out about a quarter of the time.

Just to put things in perspective Michael Cuddyer was a year younger in his second season at New Britain.

Cuddyer's line:

His first season at AA:

Torii Hunter at New Britain at the same age as Cuddyer:

The previous season:

That is the kind of improvement that gets you to the big leagues. Benson is stalled.

walter hanson said...


The Cards traded Rasmus today. Any other ideas?

Walter Hanson
Minneapolis, MN

Anonymous said...

Storen for Span would be a bad move for the Twins. At best Storen pitches 70IP a year and Span could play up to a 162 games. One plays a premium position the other does not. Starting Pitching is premium relief pitching is not. It's tough to find a 360+ OBP while having a +UZR in one of the most important defensive positions in the majors. Span is locked up for several more years at a low cost. Storen is locked up until 2016 but who cares? He might be a great reliever during that time but that doesn't = the value of a top position player. If you want to do Span for Soren, a high level prospect and Clippard then that's a fair trade.
Or you can add Span, Slowey and a High level prospect (Not Hicks, or Sano, Arcia) for Espinoza, Storen, Clippard and another solid prospect.