Thursday, July 31, 2014

Trade Deadline Notes

Deadline Day is finally here for MLB teams, as all non-waiver trades must be made by 3 PM Central today.  The Twins are terrible again this year (breaking news) and should be sellers, although their actions have been more of the stand-pat variety, although there has been a lot of interesting Twins news already today.  First off, the Twins shipped Outfielder Sam Fuld back to Oakland in exchange for Starting Pitcher Tommy Milone.  They also called up First Base prospect and recent Futures Game participant Kennys Vargas from AA New Britain to the majors.  Finally, it has been rumored today that the Twins are trying to work out a contract extension with Kurt Suzuki.


The Twins claimed Sam Fuld off waivers from Oakland back in April, and he’s played nearly every day (and pretty well to boot) in CF or LF.  Fuld has played surprisingly well in 60 games this season (53 with the Twins), putting up a triple slash of .263/.356/.366 while accumulating 2.3 WAR, which is third on the Twins behind Phil Hughes and Brian Dozier.  That being said, he’s on the wrong side of 30 and has been a journeyman backup outfielder for most of his career, so it’s incredibly likely that his great numbers are the result of random distribution of outcomes rather than it having any other explanation.  Other teams know that, so a huge return for Fuld wasn’t to be expected.  In Oakland, I imagine he profiles as a 4th outfielder, defensive replacement type on the World Series contender.


Coming to Minnesota in exchange for Fuld is right-handed starter Tommy Milone.  At first glance, Milone seems like your typical Twins get, as he doesn’t throw very hard (fastball average this season is only 86.5), and doesn’t strike anyone out at a level higher than league average (5.7 K/9  this year, 6.51 K/9 career). However, Milone is a fly ball pitcher, and has thrived in his career at the Oakland McAfee Alameda County Flint Michigan Megabowl Coliseum, which is decidedly a pitcher’s paradise, as he’s posted a career fly ball rate of around 41%.  Also, it should be mentioned that Milone is just 27 years old, posted 2.8 fWAR 2 years ago in Oakland, and isn’t a free agent until after the 2017 season.  That kind of batted ball profile on a pitcher could work in another (albeit milder) pitchers’ paradise in Target Field, and coupling that with 3 years of a fairly cheap and possibly serviceable mid-rotation arm at the low price of Sam Fuld who is a 4th outfielder who they got for nothing 3 months ago seems like a wonderful move by the Twins and Terry Ryan.


It was also announced that bopping 23-year-old first baseman Kennys Vargas has been called up the big leagues.  I’m excited to see him play because he has true light tower power and has had success at every level of the minors so far, albeit not necessarily at an advanced pace.  Because he is friends with David Ortiz and bears a resemblance to the should-be future Hall of Famer, people love to make that comparison in regards to Vargas.  It should be noted that as a 23-year-old, Vargas is sporting an .832 OPS at AA and hasn’t yet played at a level higher than that.  When Big Papi was 22 (read: younger than Vargas is today), he posted a 111 OPS+ (that year equated to .817 OPS) in the majors, while blasting 9 home runs in about a half season’s worth of work.  That’s not to say Vargas is going to bust, but people thinking the next David Ortiz is being called up should cool their jets a bit.  He could become a useful DH-type in the future for the Twins, but expectations should be tempered as he has never appeared on a top 100 prospects list and has always been considered a project.


It was also rumored today that the Twins are interested in extending first-time All Star Kurt Suzuki after his success this year in Minnesota.  A Suzuki extension if kept at a reasonable price and length could be an ok move for the Twins, but if it gets to be much more than one year with a club option for a second year for $10-12 million, it gets dicey.  Suzuki has had a career year this year, and there are signs that a changed approach and renewed health may have some causation effect on his season thus far.  He’s walked exactly as many times as he struck out so far this season (that’s good), and after spending a few years as a part time player, it could be posited that he’s refreshed and healthy enough to catch every day while producing at the plate.  However, there is a whole career’s worth of data that says he won’t keep this up, and it doesn’t seem like good business to buy low, and then double down on a surprisingly successful free agent signing, especially when the alternative is to sell Suzuki as his value is highest and get prospects into an organization that has a stacked farm system but won’t compete for at least another season.  The risk of him turning back into a pumpkin in my mind is far greater than the risk of cashing in on him at his current value and regretting it.  I hope he’s in another uniform at the end of the day, but I won’t hold my breath.


  1. What's your forecast on Vargas' playing time? Do they slot him immediately at 1B or DH, or do they throw him into a platoon at either one?

  2. He's not in the lineup and it would be very Twinsy to let him rot on the bench for a week and half before sending him down. And I'm pretty sure Gardy starts puking as a reflex after even hearing the word "platoon" like in A Clockwork Orange so I would rule out Kennys in a platoon any time soon.