As the trade deadline approaches in eight days, a lot of the attention surrounding the Minnesota Twins will likely center around Justin Morneau and closer Glen Perkins. Although the asking price is said to be steep for Perkins and the Twins appear content waiting for the right deal for Morneau, the Twins do have other players that teams have been calling about and it is possible the team may be more willing to move these players for a cheaper price.
The latest rumor that is gaining some traction around baseball rumor mills centers on Twins’ left-handed reliever Brian Duensing, whom a number of teams have expressed interest in. The Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves all reportedly had scouts in Minnesota to watch the Twins this weekend and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves would love to have Perkins, but Duensing may be more likely. The Braves are currently looking to upgrade their bullpen, specifically with a left-handed reliever, so it is not surprising that the team would approach the Twins with a possible deal due to the fact that the Twins do have a number of talented arms in their bullpen.
Duensing has pitched well enough out of the bullpen this season to merit interest from other teams, but Duensing’s contract may be his most attractive asset. Duensing has two years remaining on his deal that will pay him $1.3 million in 2013 and will be arbitration eligible for the second time in his career this off-season. The earliest Duensing could hit free-agency is 2016 and for a team looking for an effective reliever who is affordable, reliable and controllable for a few years, Duensing could be among the hottest commodities in all of baseball.
This season, Duensing is 2-1 with a 4.58 ERA in 46 appearances over 35.1 innings pitched. Duensing has also posted a 1.670 WHIP, a 7.6 SO/9 and currently owns a 1.76 strikeout to walk ratio. Teams likely will be interested in Duensing as a left-handed specialist, but Duensing has struggled this year against lefties who sport a .299 batting average against him. Duensing actually has pitched better against right-handed hitters, who are only hitting .292 against him, which still isn’t overly impressive. Although his stats may not reflect it, Duensing has had two good months this season during April and June where he posted a 2.16 and 2.25 ERA respectively while holding batters to a .250 and .226 batting average in those months; however it is the months of May and July that have hampered the lefty as he sports a combined 6.86 ERA and .350 batting average over those months.
Teams seem to be willing to take a chance on Duensing and they believe they will be getting the pitcher from April and June and not the one from May and July. While the overall haul that the Twins receive in the deal may not be overly impressive, it could net them a low to mid-level prospect that could one day develop into a very serviceable player. That may not seem appealing to fans that are operating in the present, but it is the type of return that Twins’ fans should expect based on the history of deadline deals for relievers of Duensing’s caliber.
For a team not set to contend in 2013, it’s time for the Twins to make moves and take chances for the future; trading Duensing would fit this strategy.