The Twins’ season may be over, but for transactions geeks like myself that just means that the silly season has begun. This is the first in a series of posts about what to look for over the next few weeks:
The filing period for free agents begins the day after the World Series ends and runs for 15 days. I’ve never understood why they needed 15 days to get this done — most players file immediately after the window opens. The Twins have five players eligible for free agency. Here are some thoughts on each:
Orlando Cabrera (SS)
Cabrera, who will be a Type A Free Agent, is probably the most likely free agent to be targeted by the Twins to be brought back. Cabrera filled a need in the organization very effectively, and seems to be interested in at least talking about a return. While Cabrera will be a Type A, his contract specifies that he can’t be offered arbitration by the Twins, so they won’t receive any compensation in the draft if he departs.
Joe Crede (3B)
While there has been some speculation that Crede could be brought back, I rather doubt it. Crede had so many injuries this year that it would probably be lunacy to give him another contract for next season. The thing is, those injuries may make Crede affordable (just as happened this year), and if that’s the case it just might be worth taking another chance on him. I don’t think so, though, and if I were Bill Smith I’d be looking elsewhere.
Ron Mahay (LHP)
Mahay was excellent after being added by the Twins in early August, pitching in 16 regular season games spanning 9 innings and allowing just 3 runs (2 earned). With Jose Mijares and possibly Francisco Liriano already battling for spots in the bullpen, Mahay might seem to be surplus to requirements — but he was a far better situational lefty down the stretch than Mijares was. I’d like to see him back, but I don’t think the odds are better than 50/50.
Pavano had some big starts for the Twins after his August acquisition, but his 4.64 ERA indicates that he was far from great (his 59-16 K-BB ratio was nice, though). Normally, I would just expect the Twins to let Pavano go — but there are a few complications. For one thing, Pavano is the kind of veteran starter that the Twins arguably need in the rotation. I’ve never been a big believer in the argument that a team has to have a veteran just for the sake of having a veteran, but the Twins were inarguably better after Pavano showed up, and I can’t totally discount the possibility that his leadership played a part in that. Further, Pavano will probably be a Type B free agent (meaning the Twins would get a first sandwich round draft pick if he were signed away after being offered arbitration). That means the real decision on Pavano will probably be on December 1, which is the last day to offer salary arbitration. If the Twins would like to have Pavano back, then that is an easy decision — you offer it to him and get either him or the draft pick. If they would rather part with him, though, offering arbitration could be risky if the free agent market is weak, as Pavano could just accept the offer.
Mike Redmond (C)
This is the easiest call of all. Redmond has been an extremely capable backup catcher for the past several years, but with Jose Morales seemingly ready to slide into that spot, I would be extremely surprised if Redmond were brought back. Morales’ backsliding late this season doesn’t outweigh the fact that he hit as well as he did during the regular season. He would also be backing up Joe Mauer, who — as we’ve seen this season — rarely needs a rest. Morales is not the defensive catcher that Redmond is, and undoubtedly still has a lot to learn about managing a pitching staff. Nonetheless, the time has come to move on from Redmond, and I would guess the Twins will do just that.