The Minnesota Triplets...err...Twins. - Hannah Foslien
The Twins may've lost 90+ games for the second straight year but they have a few interesting outfielders. Could they be a fit for the Mets?
Previous Trade Target Pieces:
With the Mets still short on outfielders, let's take a look at another team that could provide an avenue for trade fodder, should Sandy Alderson and his crew decide to pursue a deal. The Minnesota Twins lost over 95 games for the second year in a row in 2012 but despite the dismal season, they don't have an issue in the outfield. They have an abundance of productive outfielders not only at the big league level but throughout the entire organization. In particular, the Twins have a trio of big league outfielders who could be of interest to the Mets. You'll find them in the chart below:
|Name||Age||2012 BA/OBP/SLG||Career fWAR||2012 wOBA||2012 fWAR||Contract Situation|
|Josh Willingham||33||.260/.366/.524||18.7||.380||3.9||$7 million guaranteed in both 2013 & 2014|
|Denard Span||28||.283/.342/.395||15.9||.325||3.9||$4.75M in 2013, $6.5M in 2014, $9M team option in 2015|
|Ben Revere||24||.294/.333/.342||5.1||.300||3.4||Pre-arbitration, arb-eligible after 2014|
While Revere is interesting due to his youth and defensive prowess, it would be surprising to see him moved because of those same aspects. He seems to fit the mold of a player the rebuilding Twins would hold onto -- young, controllable, and cheap. I'd be interested if the Twins were willing to listen, though.
That brings us to Willingham and Span. Mets fans should be familiar with Josh Willingham, who spent his formative big league seasons in the National League East with the Marlins and the Nationals. Willingham is your prototypical righthanded power hitter (career .367 wOBA and .222 ISO) and he's coming off a fine 2012 season with the Twins, his first in Minnesota. In fact, with a .380 wOBA and a 143 wRC+ in cavernous Target Field, no less, it was easily a career year offensively for the veteran outfielder. Willingham knocked a career best 35 home runs and kept walking at his typically high rate (12.4% in 2012, 11.5% career). He's also signed to a very inexpensive deal at just $7 million in 2013 and 2014. It's also comforting to know that he put up a strong .293/.407/.610 line in Target Field's spacious confines. The Mets lack righthanded power and he'd fill that void easily and for a relatively small amount of cash.
Finally, there's Denard Span. Span has spent his entire career in the Twins' organization and he had a great year in what was his fifth big league season, hitting .283/.342/.395 with a .325 wOBA. The defensive metrics also liked him in center field, with DRS rating him at +20 and UZR at 8.5. The lefty hitting Span would make a fine leadoff hitter for the Mets, as he walked at a reasonable 8.3% rate last season (9.5% career mark) and makes a lot of hard contact (10.9% K rate, 21.3% LD rate). He can also add some stolen bases, though he only swiped 17 bags in 2012 and his career high is 26 in 2010. Outside of his package of tools, Span turns 29 years old in February and is signed to a very reasonable deal for two more seasons (along with a team option for a third). Michael Bourn has already gotten a lot of love as an impending free agent but some team will get a steal by saving the obscene amounts of money and just dealing players for Span instead.
So why would the Twins dangle one or both of them? Very simply, they are a team badly in need of starting pitching and despite some solid offensive pieces, they're not going to win with the pitching they have in place. In the case of Willingham, he's getting up there in age (he'll turn 34 in February) and he makes more sense for a team closer to contention. Also of note, he's a poor left fielder, as DRS had him at -13 and UZR had him at -7.9 in 2012. For Span, he's had some injury issues in recent seasons (he played 70 games in 2011, 128 in 2012). He's also a fine player but not a superstar level talent and at age 29, he may best be served as trade bait to acquire much needed pitching. As noted above, the Twins have plenty of near MLB-ready outfield talent in the minor leagues in the form of Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks, and even lesser prospects like Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee (not to mention Byron Buxton further down the pipeline).
Is there a fit here? The Mets do have some pitching depth, not only in the form of near big league ready guys but in lower level arms, too. Span seems like he would fit the Mets' needs/contention timetable better but Willingham is probably more obtainable due to his age. In a vacuum, Willingham looks like a good fit right now but will he still be in 2014 at age 35? That's a question the Mets would have to weigh. They may also be well served to look into a deal on the minor league side with the Twins. Prospect for prospect deals are quite rare but the Twins have a number of young outfielders, much like the Mets have a bunch of young arms with some upside at the A-ball level, so perhaps a deal could be looked at there.