Yesterday, the course of the Twins’ offseason was set. The worst kept secret in the Twins organization (to the point that I don’t believe it was even a secret) was that Denard Span was going to be traded. It was also apparent that the Twins needed to improve their rotation. Terry Ryan and the rest of the of the front office had stated that they would seek to add three starting pitchers to fill out the rotation in 2013.
Naturally, most Twins fans felt that this meat that the Twins would be using Span for a starter when they decided to make their trade. Instead, they went after Alex Meyer, 2011 first round pick and highly regarded pitching prospect. Talent for talent, the trade isn’t a bad deal, but it sent a message that I don’t think many Twins fans were expecting to hear. It sent the message that the team is looking even further into the future than next season, perhaps at the expense of the 2013 season.
The rumors ahead of this trade had all involved a pitcher coming back in return that was closer to major league ready, like Randall Delgado from the Braves, or someone that already has experience, like James Shields from the Rays. Meyer, by all accounts has a great deal of talent, and has done well in his brief professional career, is a move for the long term. It made it feel like the Twins were short changed in the trade, initially, because they didn’t receive the major league ready front line starter they expected.
The new plan, or perhaps the same plan as it’s been all along, is to build for the future. Truthfully, Ryan and the Twins could have had this in mind all along (rather than being forced into something when BJ Upton was signed, which was a common theory, and one I had entertained) and never truly misled the fans. Misdirected, perhaps, but not misled. They can add their three free agents to go along with Scott Diamond and Kyle Gibson to smaller deals, lasting one or two years (or perhaps longer for one or two of them) and wait for Meyer and Jose Berrios to join the roster. If players develop as expected, that could be a pretty strong rotation in 2014 or 2015. And there will be spots for all of those guys. The added free agents this year might be moved to add more young talent, or would otherwise be gone when their contracts expire.
They will patch their holes and the team won’t be as embarrassing this year, but the plan was likely never to contend in any meaningful way in 2013. Sure, just being competent puts you in the picture in the AL Central, but Terry Ryan, as he often does, had a long view. We will probably get a look at what is to come this season when some guys, like Oswaldo Arcia or Aaron Hicks make their debuts in September. As the Twins have indicated, that will be more important than what we will see from the team in April.