Minnesota Twins Fire Sale Should Start Now
Usually you wait until at least Memorial Day to start moving expensive players that are breaking down.
Heck, in the Wild Card era, most teams aren't even sure in July whether they are buyers or sellers.
At 8-25, the Twins are fortunate they are not in that position. They can shop their high-priced veterans effective immediately -- and begin the slow and painful rebuilding process with the bulk of their 2016 schedule still in the foreground.
So who's on the chopping block? It's simple -- if your last name looks and sounds like an American, we'll take whatever bag of balls we can get for you.
You would like to start with Joe Mauer, who is batting .301 and has two hits and two walks since becoming the new leadoff hitter on Tuesday night. But Mauer has that vaunted no-trade clause and has three years left on his team-record $186 million deal, so even if he were to agree to a trade, finding a partner might be difficult.
Starting pitchers Phil Hughes and Rickie Nolasco are Trade Exhibits A and B, respectively. They are making a combined $21.2 million this season and are a combined 2-7 with a combined 5.58 ERA. Hughes apologized for his rough outing over the weekend and pitching coach Neil Allen assured us that they went back and looked at the video and Hughes put in the extra time to get things back on track.
Then Hughes served up three long balls to the Orioles on Wednesday -- two by Mark Trumbo -- and ended with five earned runs allowed in just four innings pitched. Nolasco hasn't been much better. He's averaged under 5.5 innings per start and has an ERA of 4.70. I say if any team wants to rid the Twins of either or both of these contracts, I would take 10th round pick or even a hot dog vendor-to-be-named-later.
Then there's Trevor Plouffe. He's making $4.8 million this season and is by far the Twins' most inconsistent hitter. He went from about a .100 average to .300 in one series vs. the Angels in April and then went on the DL. Since returning from the DL on May 3, he's 6-for-27 (.222) with three RBI. Trading Plouffe would achieve the added benefit of being able to put Miguel Sano back where he belongs at third base.
Brian Dozier is a fan favorite and the voice of this team in many ways. But since last year's All-Star Game, Dozier has an on-base percentage that's worthy of being No. 7 hitter, even with his power numbers. This season he's hitting .222 (.704 OPS) with just 14 RBI. As much as I love Dozier, the Twins should see what they can get for him on the open market. His $2 million salary means he's underpaid, so there should be plenty of buyers.
That leaves us with Glen Perkins, who is working to come back from a long stint on the DL. Perkins, like Dozier, has been a huge disappointment since mid-summer 2015. He's signed through 2017 and is scheduled to make about $6.5 million the next two seasons. He's also a fun guy to have around, but the fact is, the last thing the Twins need right now is a closer. That's like giving your hot rod a new paint job before you rebuild the engine.
So, to recap, Hughes / Nolasco / Plouffe / Dozier / Perkins -- $34.5 million worth of All-American Twins payroll in 2016. Five veterans who are leading this franchise on a path to nowhere. A separation should do everyone involved a lot of good. I wouldn't be surprised if any or all of them flourish with another organization. They still have some good baseball left, I'm sure.
Just not here. Not at these prices, not all at once.
Terry Ryan's last hope to save his job should be to unload these guys and make Miguel Sano the personality of the team. The harder the Twins roster is to pronounce for broadcasters, writers and fans, the better it will be for the future.
Jason Iacovino can be heard Tuesdays and Fridays on KRFO-AM 1390 at 3:50 p.m. Leave a comment below or follow him on Twitter @JasonIacovino.