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What the Washburn talks said about the Twins’ financial situation

Frequent reader rghrbek posted a comment on yesterday’s Washburn post that I think is worth quoting and discussing in a new post:

I have this impending doomed feeling that the Twins will “get their man” and sign washburn right before spring training for 5 mil.

The twins could offer Lopez 10 mil over 2 years with a 5.5 mil option on the 3rd year, with a mil buyout. That is money well spent.

Bill Smith said that the reason the Washburn talks broke down was that Boras wants a multi-year deal, but — and this is important — the Twins feel they can’t commit any new money beyond 2010 in anticipation of the Mauer contract.

If that’s true, that would explain* why they’d consider themselves unable to offer such a contract to Felipe Lopez. If they can’t commit money beyond 2010, then they certainly can’t offer him a 2 year contract with an option for year 3.

* Which is to say that it would “explain it in such a way that it’s much more satisfying to me than the idea that the Twins don’t consider Lopez a viable 2B candidate for performance reasons.” Thought I should clarify that.

And if that’s really the case, it’s a disaster. Do they think Mauer isn’t tapped into the news surrounding his contract negotiatons? Mauer’s repeatedly said he wants to be in position to win, and he doesn’t want to sign a long contract with a team that’s not going to build a championship-caliber team around him. This offseason, I’d thought it looked like the Twins were doing everything they could in 2010 to show Mauer that they’re committed to winning.

But if they start sending signals that if they have Mauer’s big contract on the books then they can’t spend any money, all that work is thrown out the window. If Mauer even thinks the Twins aren’t willing to pull out all the stops to win a championship, it just got a whole lot more difficult to sign him. He won’t have such reservations about the Yankees and Red Sox, which will work in concert with their presumably much larger contract offers to convince him to leave the Twins.

I see this as another reason to try to get Lopez on a contract like the one proposed by rghrbek, beyond the simple fact that it’d be a good deal for both sides in a vacuum. I’m not at all confident in the Twins’ front office, though.

8 comments

8 Comments so far

  1. FunBobby January 9th, 2010 3:15 pm

    Maybe it means the team finally wised up and said “we can no longer afford to be paying BAD players money if we want to sign Mauer”. Which would mean prior to this offseason the Twins had no problem wasting money. Hell, we are paying the last 100 grand of Mike Lamb’s contract this year.

  2. Josh January 9th, 2010 4:37 pm

    I am fine with them not wanting to commit decent money and years to a player in his mid-thirties, but they also should realize that their biggest hole is in the infield. Unless they know for sure that Hudson or Lopez or Tejada will accept nothing less than 2-3 guaranteed years, they really need to be in on these guys with that $5 million they have to work with. Heck, I think you could probably secure both Crede and Cabrera for $5-7 million and that would be a better investment than Washburn.

  3. sirsean January 9th, 2010 4:42 pm

    Assuming you mean Orlando Cabrera, I’d hope the Twins pass on both him and Crede.

    But yes, they absolutely should be in on Hudson and especially Lopez. And I don’t want to see another Beltre-like case, where Bill Smith says “Oh he wants $10M+ for 3-4 years, and we think that’s too much!” and then he goes and signs a 1 year, $10M contract* with someone else, which wouldn’t have been even close to too much for the Twins.

    * It’s 1 year, $9M, with an option for the second year at $5M or a $1M buyout, which means he’s guaranteed year and $10M.

    At this point, I cringe when I think about what the Twins might actually do. Even after the favorable Hardy trade, I still have no confidence in them. (And I wish I could trust that they’d know the difference between a bad player and a good player. I don’t, at all.)

  4. Josh January 10th, 2010 2:09 am

    By no means would I really advocate that the Twins sign Cabrera and Crede, either. I’m just making the point that by using the same money as they would on Washburn, they’d actually fill two meaningful holes and improve on their projected wins above replacement level.

    I’d be much happier seeing the Twins give shots to Liriano and Duensing before an overpaid Washburn.

  5. TT January 10th, 2010 7:21 pm

    The Twins do not have a hole at second. Punto is a very good defensive second baseman who gets on base a decent amount of the time. And their offense is unlikely to be the problem next year in any case. Which is why focusing on stabilizing the pitching staff makes some sense.

    They have Harris and Tolbert competing for the third base spot. Neither one really gives you the offense you would like at that position. Defensively Tolbert is likely adequate and Harris may be adequate. Crede is an improvement all round, if he can stay healthy.

  6. sirsean January 10th, 2010 7:26 pm

    An OBP of .322 is not a decent amount.

    And “stabilizing” the rotation isn’t that great if it stabilizes it at a lower level. I’d rather spend money on a high risk/reward pitcher like Sheets or Duchererererer.

  7. Ragstoriches January 11th, 2010 9:10 am

    The Twins have a GIANT hole at second base. Punto is average to slightly above average defensively and he does not by any means get on base a decent amount. These skills are very common in minor league players or utility players. He does the little things wrong and his baseball intelligence is astoundingly low. Not only is he bad, he fails to realize how bad he is, and continues to try to do things he is not able to do (swinging for the fences when contact is needed, bunting for a hit in a sac situation, making a baserunning decision based on crowd noise and intuition rather than his base coach, etc.) He’s awful as a starter, and the Twins need to fix the problem.

  8. FunBobby January 11th, 2010 11:05 am

    He might realize how bad he is, but what is more important is that Gardy and Smith do not.

    I agree his defense, while adequate, is very overrated. Most of his value comes from his ability to play 3 positions at an average level. Making him the starter at one of those positions eliminates that value.

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