Whether fans want to admit it or not, and despite the team’s success during the past couple weeks, the Twins are clearly in rebuilding mode. Contenders will be looking for solid veterans to add to their team as the trade deadline approaches on July 31st, while the Twins will be looking for some bright young talent to add to their system and provide hope for the future. This means some veterans and very well-liked players could be on their way out this summer. Below are some of the names that could be thrown around in trade discussions in the coming weeks.
Most Twins fans won’t be disappointed if the team were to send Capps packing but like him or not he’s actually solid in the closer role. His 3.55 ERA is nearly right on par with his career numbers, his WHIP is only 1.03 and he is 14/15 in saves this season. His downfall this season has been pitching during non-save opportunities and allowing home runs. He has four losses on the year, three of them he received after giving up a home run. Contenders are always interested in added bullpen help for the playoff push and Capps could be one of those guys. It remains to be seen if the Twins are able to get anything close to the prospect they gave up to get him, Wilson Ramos.
Liriano had an above average year in 2010 going 14-10 with a 3.63 ERA but since the end of that season he has not been the same pitcher. In 2011 he went 9-10 with a 5.09 ERA and so far this year it is even worse than that. He has only one win this season to go along with his 7 losses and an ERA of 6.24. In his last four starts however, three of them have been quality starts by going 6 innings and allowing 3 runs or less. He also averaged over one strikeout per inning in each of those four starts but has still had problems with his control and allowing walks. At the end of the season Liriano will be a free agent. If the Twins keep him around til the end of the season they will be able to offer him a one year qualifying offer but that is expected to be around $12M. It seems very unlikely they would offer that barring a complete turnaround. I also don’t see the team locking him into a long term deal this winter either. At this point it might be time to cut ties with Liriano and give him a fresh start with a new club while receiving some prospects in return. It is still unclear what the trade market could be like for a player like Liriano.
Morneau is having a decent year after battling injuries the past couple seasons. His batting average is less than impressive at around .240 but he has showed that his power is still there by hitting 10 home runs so far this season. He has battled wrist injuries all season but it has not knocked him out of the line-up for a long period of time. Morneau is earning $15M this season and is due the same next season. He will be a free agent after the 2013 season. It is unclear if the Twins would have to pay a portion of his salary to move him or if they even have any interest in doing so. Many teams will be looking for a good power bat for their playoff push and Morneau fits that role. The Blue Jays are one team that have already been rumored to be interested in him.
Willingham was signed to a 3 year $21M contract this past winter, the largest free agent signing in Twins history, and he has not disappointed. This season he has a line of .278/.388/.547 with 14 home runs and 46 RBI. He will likely be the team’s only All-Star representative. The Twins are in a rebuilding stage and they will need to decide if a 33 year old slugger will help bridge the gap to success or if the prospects they could get in return for him are more valuable. Willingham has clearly become a fan favorite and a backlash in the box office would be a major consequence of trading away the team’s best hitter.
Doumit is on a very team friendly 1 year $3M deal. He has been a great hitter in the middle of the Twins order with a line of .255/.316/.410 with 6 home runs and 31 RBI as the team’s DH and backup catcher. Doumit has stated he enjoys playing in Minnesota and would be willing to return next season but there have been no talks of a contract extension. Like Willingham they will need to decide if they see Doumit in the long term plans of the club or if they are willing to get some value in return for him. UPDATE: Doumit has agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Twins.
Pavano has been battling injuries and is currently on the disabled list. His velocity has been down and he has been a below average starter this season going 2-5 with a 6.00 ERA. The Twins would probably unload him in the right deal especially if the team will pick up the rest of his $8.5M salary for this season. Contenders are always looking for veteran starters at the deadline but the question is whether or not Pavano can rebound from his injury and stay healthy afterward.
Span has been an ideal leadoff hitter for the Twins and is in the prime of his career. This season at age 28 he his hitting .285/.351/.395. Last season he was surrounded by many trade rumors and was close to being dealt but the team never pulled the trigger, however that was also under the reign of Bill Smith. He may have the most value of any player on this list and the Twins could possibly get a haul in return if they decide to trade him. Last season Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn were both traded for 4 prospects each before the trade deadline and the Twins might hope to find similar value this summer for Span. In a post coming soon I will go more into detail on whether or not the Twins should trade Span.