Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Road to Rebuild: Trading Away Assets

Yesterday was the first part of a series that will look at the road that lies ahead for the Minnesota Twins as they try to rebuild after back-to-back 90 loss seasons. The team has already started the rebuilding process by trading away two of their most valuable major league assets in Denard Span and Ben Revere.

In the first part of the series, Kyle Gibson was looked at as one of the key pieces to helping the rebuild get off to a good start. He might not end up being an ace for the Twins but he could end up being a solid starter for the better part of the next decade. The Twins might be relying on him to form the first part of the rotation of the future.

There are plenty of things that will be part of the rebuilding process but many fans are only going to notice some of the big changes. Today, “The Road to Rebuild” looks at trading away some of the team’s assets to get players for the next time the team will be competitive.
Denard Span and Ben Revere were two fan favorites over the last couple of years but the team jumped at the opportunity to trade these two players for young pitchers with upside. The Twins turned two former first round picks into three pitchers that should figure into the team’s equation over the next handful of seasons.

It can be tough to trade away players that have been with the organization since they were teenagers. At TwinsFest, Terry Ryan made it clear that trading away Revere was one of the toughest decisions of his professional career. He said, "Ben Revere is like a son to me." These are decisions that the front office has to make with their head and not with their heart.

There are a couple of other valuable pieces that the Twins could potentially trade in the next two years. This could help add more depth to a farm system that is already considered one of the best in all of baseball. Trades are one of the best ways to help rebuild a team. It seems that there will be plenty of other tough decisions for Mr. Ryan to make along the road to rebuild.

Two of the team's best players will have their contracts with the club expire before the end of the 2014. The way the Twins are shaping their roster doesn't make it seem like the team will be competitive before the end of those deals. This could leave Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham on the trading block.

Trading Morneau could be another tough decision for Ryan. Twins fans have cheered for Morneau through thick and through thin. The former MVP has had a couple of rough years in a row but the end of 2012 was a step in the right direction. He hit .289/.354/.439 in the second half of the year. If Morneau could get the 2013 season off on the right foot, he could increase his trade value.

Morneau is in the last year of a six-year, $80 million deal. With Chris Parmelee on the roster, the Twins have a replacement for Morneau waiting in the wings. Parmelee will be a much cheaper option since he has yet to reach arbitration. A team looking to add a powerful left-handed bat for the stretch run might be willing to give up some pieces to acquire Morneau.

Last offseason, the Twins signed Willingham to a very reasonable three-year, $21 million contract. He more than lived up to the deal during his first season in a Twins uniform. MLB honored him with a Silver Slugger Award after he knocked 35 home runs, the most by a Twins player not named Harmon Killebrew since 1963. This tremendous season helped to add value to a player the Twins got for a good deal.

Willingham's contract will run through the end of the 2014 season but he will be 36-years old by that point. He is closer to the end of his career than he is to the beginning so it is hard to imagine him gaining any more value on the field. If the right deal is on the table from another club, the Twins might have to pull the trigger.

For fans, it can be tough to watch their favorite players leave for another team. Especially when the players the Twins get back are still a couple years away from making an impact at the big league level. Trading away veteran players is part of the rebuilding process.

And hey, fans can be rest-assured that Joe Mauer will be around for this rebuild...

...and maybe even the next one too.

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