Examining Minnesota’s Bullpen

It’s not easy to imagine a bullpen with more question marks than Minnesota’s. That's not to say the Twins don’t have quality relievers, it’s just hard to predict which ones will return in 2011. Kelly Thesier of MLB.com breaks down the team’s bullpen, which includes six free agents and a non-tender candidate.

Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Jon Rauch, Brian Fuentes, Ron Mahay and Randy Flores all hit free agency but they won’t all return. Thesier says the Twins are not likely to keep Mahay or Flores and seem most likely to target Crain and Guerrier.

Crain, who ranks as a Type B free agent, says he loves Minnesota but would like the chance to close. That won’t happen if he stays put, since Joe Nathan should return from Tommy John surgery next year. Matt Capps, who saved 42 games in 2010, figures to be next in line for saves.

The Nathan-Capps duo promises to be effective, but it will definitely be expensive. Nathan earns $11.25MM next year and Capps will get a raise from his $3.5MM salary through arbitration.

If the Twins lose certain pitchers after offering arbitration, they could gain picks in next year’s draft. Crain, Rauch and Fuentes rank as Type B free agents and could each bring the Twins a supplementary first round pick. Guerrier is a Type A free agent, so the Twins would get two top picks if he leaves after declining arbitration.

Clay Condrey, who didn’t pitch in 2010 due to elbow problems, is a non-tender candidate. Despite all the uncertainty in the 'pen, Bill Smith & Co. head into the offseason with a more stable rotation.

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6 Comments on "Examining Minnesota’s Bullpen"

4 years 10 months ago

Guerrier likely would accept arbitration though. Can’t see him attempting to go to free agency as a Type A non-closer with the troubles players have had the past few years.

Especially when you consider that this is one of the deepest draft classes we’ve seen in the last few years. Teams won’t want to give up a 1st (or even a 2nd if it’s protected) round pick for a setup guy when they could get a top prospect in the 2011 draft instead.

Rausch likely will leave. Some team may take a flyer on him as their closer since he handled the job pretty well in the 1st half of the seaon. Twins can’t afford to match that with Capps and Nathan around. Take the sandwich pick and move on.

4 years 10 months ago

Crain is the only one who NEEDS to be brought back. Fuentes will get a closer job somewhere and will cost too much and Rauch really isn’t too great for the $3 M or so he’ll get.
With Guerrier, offer him arb. If he accepts, great, we’ll have him for another year and he’ll be somewhat affrodable. If he declines, great, we’ll get two picks for him or he’ll possibly re-sign with us because he won’t be getting much, if any offers unless a team like the Royals or the D-Backs really want to overpay (2nd round pick) for relief help. It’s a win-win.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if they offer Condrey a minor league deal and he accepts.

4 years 10 months ago

I say the Twins bullpen in ’11 is Mijares, Guerrier, Crain, Beniot, Slame, Capps, Nathan.

4 years 10 months ago

There’s a fair chance Guerrier will back if we offer him arb. He’s got over 300 appearances over the past four years and he’s getting older, so he may not fare too well in free agency. Crain, on the other hand, will be snapped up if he hits the open market. But I bet they offer arb to both and really make an effort to bring in Crain. Rausch and Fuentes and the rest will be gone.

Not that anyone is asking, but Neshek is a goner too. He never got his velocity back after the surgery, and while he’s got a funky delivery, it not so funky that it’ll play at 85mph.

There are a bunch of pretty decent looking kids in Roch that have been waiting for a turn, so Delaney and Slama might join the Swazcak Manship Burnett crew in the middle innings, and we could even see the end of Gutierrez’s minor league career as a starter by late summer. This won’t be nearly as expensive a group in 2011 as 2010.

4 years 10 months ago

A very messy bullpen situation. I think only the Rays are in worse shape bullpen wise. The Twins have never gone out an bought bullpen arms before, so I doubt they’ll do anything in free agency other than possibly keeping their own guys.

Crain will get a big deal somewhere else that the Twins won’t want to match. They’ll probably keep Guerrer and go with minor leaguers. I think its a mistake. But if they are going to hold budget, they’ll need to go cheaper in the pen.

4 years 10 months ago

Benoit will make a lot of money somewhere other than Minnesota. He had a tremendous season and Minny won’t offer the kind of cash other teams will offer.

Guerrier could come back for the reasons stated in the first comment by Hermie. The rest of the bullpen will be major league minimum types because there isn’t enough money after Nathan and Capps for the bullpen.