The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 16, 2012

Thoma: Twins have a surplus of left-handed hitters from which to deal

By Edward Thoma
Free Press Staff Writer

— Joe Mauer. Justin Morneau. Josh Willingham. Ryan Doumit. Denard Span. Ben Revere. Chris Parmelee.

Seven hitters for six lineup slots  — three in the outfield, plus catcher, first base and designated hitter. If everybody’s healthy — which, to be sure, hasn’t been the case the past week or so — there isn’t room for all of them.

Plus the Twins have Darin Mastroianni as a fourth outfielder and prospects Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks and Chris Herrmann preparing to push their way into those same positions.

Managing this surplus — and coping with other problems on the roster — probably means trading one or more of the names atop this column.

The question is: Who?

Making a trade, of course, is more than deciding who to give up. There’s also the issue of who you can get, and that’s no small consideration.

But there are three names there we can be sure aren’t going anywhere this winter: Mauer, Willingham and Doumit.

Mauer stays put because he’s Joe Mauer. He’s a 29-year-old with his Hall of Fame ticket punched, a monster contract and a full no-trade clause. The Twins shouldn’t want to trade him, and couldn’t if they wanted to.

Willingham stays put because he’s the one legitimate right-handed hitter in the bunch. (Doumit switch-hits, but he has always been far better left-handed than right.) Doumit stays because of his position flexibility — he makes it easy to player Mauer at DH or first base a couple times a week or more.

(By this time next year, Herrmann may be poised to take that role, and Doumit could be trade bait then — but our concern today is the coming winter’s moves, not what might transpire after 2013.)

The other four are more readily tradable, and pack differing types of appeal. We have two leadoff-type center fielders in Span and Revere; we have two middle-of-the-order first basemen in Morneau and Parmelee.

They all come with drawbacks, real or perceived, and with genuine selling points.

Revere is missing two major tools. Morneau has one pricey year left on his contract, and the concussion history will always cast a shadow over him. Parmelee’s breakout year in Triple A may not have convinced everybody that he’s more than a platoon player.

My guess is that the most likely to be traded is Span. He’s established; he’s a more complete player than Revere; he’s signed to a team-friendly contract.

If the Twins deal Span, Revere moves to center (a better fit than right) and Parmelee can take right field in 2013 and remains Morneau insurance. Should Morneau leave after 2013, Parmelee can then shift to his natural position at first and open right field for Arcia or Hicks.

But as said, it takes two to make a deal. It’s possible that somebody will put a higher value on Revere’s youth and lower contract cost, or on Morneau’s proven power, or on Parmelee’s power and low cost.

For the Twins, it shouldn’t matter. Whichever of the four brings the best pitcher is the one to trade.

 

Edward Thoma (344-6377; ethoma@mankatofreepress.com) maintains his Baseball Outsider blog at fpbaseballoutsider.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter @bboutsider.