Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Trading with Tampa Bay makes sense

It would be nice to be in the position of the Rays during this offseason. They seem to be in the opposite boat of the Twins in the fact that they have seven potential starting pitchers and only five available rotation spots. The Twins have one starter penciled in for the spring, Scott Diamond, and a whole lot of question marks for spots two through five. This inequality in resources seems to make the Twins and the Rays likely trade partners before the offseason is complete.

There are three big names in the rotation for the Rays and it would take a lot to get one of those arms. Some of the other outlying men are still attractive for the Twins since they have so little when it comes to starting pitching. Plenty of other teams will be calling the Rays about their stockpile of arms so it's up to Terry Ryan and the Twins to make a deal that works out for both clubs.


Here is a look at the seven potential starters from Tampa Bay

James Shields: W-L (15-10), 3.52 ERA, 227.2 IP, 223 SO, 58 BB, 1.168 WHIP
His club options over the next two seasons will only call for him to make a total of $24 million. That's a steal considering how much he could make on the free agent market. He has been a workhorse over the last six seasons by tossing over 215 innings and he has averaged 238 innings pitched in the last two years. Shields has held up so far but he will be 31-years old for all of next season and it's tough not to wonder if he will break down at some point in the near future.

David Price: W-L (20-5), 2.56 ERA, 211 IP, 205 SO, 59 BB, 1.100 WHIP
He is entering his first year of arbitration so he is under team control for multiple seasons and that will be a bonus to potential trade partners. It also helps that Price has been one of the top pitchers in the American League since he broke into the league a few seasons ago. Since he is four years younger than Shields, there is less wear and tear on his arm but that means it will cost more to get him. He will most likely cost more than the Twins are willing to pay with all the holes they have to fill.

Matt Moore: W-L (11-11), 3.81 ERA, 177.1 IP, 175 SO, 81 BB, 1.348 WHIP
Moore was supposed to be lined up for an outstanding rookie season after the way he pitched in the 2011 postseason. He wasn't terrible but the numbers don't exactly jump off the page at a person. Moore signed a team friendly deal to buy out his arbitration years so he can be under team control until 2019. This makes Moore one of the more attractive arms for the Rays but there's a good chance they hold on to him this offseason. He will only cost the team a total of $5 million for the next three seasons and there is plenty of potential is his left arm.

Jeremy Hellickson: W-L (10-11), 3.10 ERA, 177 IP, 124 SO, 59 BB, 1.254 WHIP
The 2011 American League Rookie of the Year put together similar numbers in 2012. He hasn't been signed to a long-term deal like Moore but he hasn't even hit his arbitration years. The earliest he could reach free agency is 2017 and this is something other teams will take into consideration. Hellickson isn't going to blow people away but he saw an increase in his strikeouts and a decrease in his walks last season. He hasn't pitched over 200 innings in a season but he is only 25.

Alex Cobb: W-L (11-9), 4.03 ERA, 136.1 IP, 106 SO, 40 BB, 1.247 WHIP
Cobb didn't start the year in the big leagues but he made a surprise impact on a team pushing for a playoff spot. There were some rough outings along the way but he was a very good pitcher from the end of July to the beginning of October. He is still pre-arbitration eligible so this adds to his value on the trade market and he could be a target for multiple teams.

Jeff Niemann: W-L (2-3), 3.08 ERA, 38 IP, 34 SO, 12 BB, 1.105 WHIP
After Niemann took a line drive off of his leg, he missed most of last season recovering from the injury. The 29-year old pitcher is entering his first year of arbitration so the earliest he can be a free agent is in 2015. In the two seasons before last year, he had an ERA of over 4.00 with other lackluster numbers. He would be fine as a back of the rotation guy and the Twins will take almost anyone at this point.

Chris Archer: W-L (1-3), 4.60 ERA, 29.1 IP, 36 SO, 13 BB, 1.227 WHIP
He was one of the players received by the Rays in the deal that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs. Archer made his MLB debut last season after spending the last two seasons in the upper levels of the Rays minor league system. He is the youngest pitcher in this group besides Moore and he showed some positive signs in the lower levels of the minor leagues.

With BJ Upton most likely leaving in free agency, the Rays could be looking for add some depth in the outfield. This is one area the Twins have a surplus so it might make sense for the team's to swap a starting pitcher for a starting outfielder. Denard Span is under control for the next three seasons in a very team friendly deal and he could fit in nicely at the top of the order for the Rays.

There are also a couple of younger outfielders in the Twins system ready to breakout at the big league level. If the Twins feel like they have a big enough need in the pitching department, they could trade Aaron Hicks or Oswaldo Arcia to try and land one of the more prominent names on this list.

A deal between the Rays and the Twins seems like it would make sense but there is still plenty of offseason left for the right deal to get done.

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