Five Players the Minnesota Twins Could Sever Ties With This Offseason

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Five Players the Minnesota Twins Could Part Ways With This Offseason

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With three straight 90-plus loss seasons now in the books, the Minnesota Twins obviously need to make some significant changes if they hope to return to playoff contention anytime in the near future. Adding capable starting pitching needs to be a top priority this offseason, and no position player outside of catcher Joe Mauer qualifies as untouchable at this point.

One place there will not be a change for Minnesota is in the dugout, as manager Ron Gardenhire was brought back on a two-year deal despite the team’s recent run of ineptitude. There will be one new coach next to Gardenhire on the bench though, as Hall of Famer Paul Molitor has been elevated after serving as a roving minor league instructor in recent years.

If the Twins’ 40-man roster is written out in pencil, any knowledgeable person armed with an eraser should find plenty of players who should not be back with the team in 2014. Whether general manager Terry Ryan pulls the trigger on that many moves and overhauls the roster is a big question, but if history is any indication we will not see any major moves. I fully expect to see too many players that have played a role in the losing of the last three seasons back in the mix next spring, which fits with the move to keep Gardenhire without a serious outside search and an apparent satisfaction with how things have been recently.

With all of that, here are five players I think the Twins could sever ties with this offseason.

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5. LF Josh Willingham

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Willingham had a disappointing second season with the Twins in 2013, as injuries limited him to 111 games and 471 plate appearances and he hit just .208 with 14 home runs and 48 RBI. The 34-year old (35 in February) is slated to make a fairly reasonable $7 million in the final year of his contract next year, so a contending team that needs a right-handed power hitter may have interest and Ryan would have to listen.

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4. OF Darin Mastroianni

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Mastroianni’s hopes to be Minnesota’s 2013 Opening Day center fielder were derailed by a spring training ankle issue, and he only played 30 games (73 plate appearances) for the Twins once he was healthy enough to play. Mastroianni would not be expensive to bring back after making $500,000 this past season, but at best he is a quintessential fourth outfielder who would provide good defense and speed on the bases (21 stolen bases in 2012).

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3. 3B Trevor Plouffe

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Plouffe’s defensive ineptitude at third base makes him a prime candidate for a position move, but the Twins may have a glut of options at the most likely spots for him to move to (first base, right field, left field) depending on their other offseason moves. Plouffe’s power potential (24 home runs in 2012) may interest other teams in a trade if the Twins can’t (or don’t want to) find another spot for him on the diamond.

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2. 1B/OF Chris Parmelee

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Parmelee was productive in his first taste of big league action in 2011 (.355, four home runs and 14 RBI in 21 games), but he has hit just .228 with 13 home runs and 44 RBI with the Twins over the past two seasons (165 games, 543 plate appearances) while striking out 133 times over that span. Parmelee is a candidate to replace Justin Morneau at first base next season and he could also be in the mix in the corner outfield spots, but if the Twins want to make Oswaldo Arcia their every-day right fielder and Mauer moves to first base Parmelee could be elsewhere.

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1. SS Pedro Florimon

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The fact Florimon played as much as he did this past season (127 starts) speaks to the lack of talent the Twins have in the pipeline at shortstop than his own ability, though I still think Eduardo Escobar should have been given more of a chance. Being a plus-defender according to advanced defensive metrics, even with 18 errors, only goes so far when you’re as inept offensively as Florimon is (.221 batting average, .281 on-base percentage over 446 plate appearances in 2013). So an upgrade needs to be found and he can take his rightful place as a utility infielder…on another team.

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  • Dan Bullard

    Plouffe actually was above replacement level defensively this year (0.3 WAR), makes near the league minimum and has a lot of power potential. Who would we replace him with? Sano is not ready yet. I don’t see any other better options available. Florimon was above replacement level both offensively (0.7 WAR) and defensively (2.2 WAR). He also makes near the league minimum and I don’t see any other strong options to replace him. Having a strong defensive shortstop is essential on a team with a rotation full of “pitch to contact” pitchers so he is probably more valuable than he appears. I also don’t think it would be logical to sell low on Willingham. If we are going to move him, we should wait and see if he has a great first half next year and can be moved at the deadline for a better haul. I agree that Parmelee has had his chance, failed, and should be cut loose. Mastroianni might be worth keeping around to see if he can perform more like he did in 2012 (1 WAR in less than 200 AB). If he can get his health back and perform like that, he is a great player to having coming off the bench for the league minimum. In my opinion, all of the top 5 to cut loose should be starting pitchers. That’s where they most need to clear room on the roster and bring in new faces. Sadly in 2012, every starter on the team performed below replacement level except Deduno, Correia, and Albers. If I were going to let 5 players go, it would be Hernandez, Hendriks, Walters, De Vries, and Roenicke. It would be nice if the team would pony up some cash to replace those guys with 2-3 quality free agent starting pitchers.