Twins Gchat: Do bullpen struggles make you look up Craig Kimbrel’s number?

@DerekWetmore: OK. This Craig Kimbrel thing. I totally get why we’re talking about it — and I think that the Twins should be, too. So here’s a contrarian angle for you. What are your reasons right now, if you’re the front office, for NOT signing Kimbrel?

@PhilMackey: We talked about this on Mackey & Judd with Ramie on Tuesday. So, just go listen to my answer there. Just kidding! Here are the potential negatives: He was terrible in the postseason last year and hasn’t faced live hitting in over 6 months. Plus, 30 teams have passed to this point, which makes me wonder if they have information or injury red flags that fans aren’t privy to. Also, Kimbrel is among MLB’s all-time saves leaders. He likely wants to keep climbing that list. If I’m going to pay him $15-20 million per year, I want him pitching in for highest-leverage situations, and that often means non-save appearances. If he isn’t willing to adapt, it makes signing him at a premium price a more difficult decision.

DW: Sure. I have some questions. How much do we look at October? Is 30 actually old? Does he have any demands on his role for a new team?

And you know I should preface this by saying that I try not to change my mind on ANYTHING in two weeks of baseball. With that said, two thing that look fairly promising right now: Cleveland sure doesn’t look like a super team and this Twins lineup looks like a legitimate threat. And Byron Buxton has arrived. So it’s go time.

I’m also wondering about the actual talent level of the bullpen… Trevor May looks to me like he should be better. Adalberto Mejía had a bunch of guys 0-2 and then lost him when he blew it the other day. Still, I mean, you add Craig Kimbrel and this bullpen is better on paper. Maybe a lot better! What’s that worth to you?

PM: Is 30 old? I mean, if you’re a tree, 30 isn’t very old. If you’re an athlete? It depends on the position. Pitchers, at any age, are at risk of season-ending arm injuries, and I would think a guy who has gone a decade without significant elbow or shoulder issues could be on the clock. That said, I can name several elite relievers over the past 15 years or so that were mostly lights-out between ages 31-33: Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera, K-Rod, Billy Wagner, Jonathan Papelbon, Troy Percival… This conversation really revolves around Kimbrel’s contractual demands, which we simply do not know. Apparently three years and $45 million (reportedly) wasn’t enough for him in spring training, and I have a hard time criticizing front offices that aren’t offering more. What about three years, $60 million? I was all for this in February. It gives me pause now, because I worry you’re wasting the first season. But honestly, if Kimbrel was ready to rock at $60 million over three years and the pen was sitting in front of me, I’d sign it as GM.

DW: At this point it’s either fire a big bullet like that or hope for internal development to improve your bullpen. You’d like to see more from Blake Parker and Trevor May. Mejía is, for me, the most frustrating pitcher on the staff. Where’s Fernando Romero? Weren’t you counting on him in a big way this year? Does Matt Magill get healthy and back in the mix at some point soon? I’m not expecting any of those guys to match the expected performance of a Craig daggum Kimbrel. I guess the argument would be that at the cost of next to nothing you can get some % of the return of a Kimbrel investment?

Hey, if the Twins don’t win the American League Central at least they could be contenders for the Fiscal Responsibility trophy 🙂

PM: Major League Baseball should totally give out a Fiscal Responsibility trophy! The Twins would have won it multiple times during the Target Field era. You, sir, are an innovator.

Zulgad: Window of opportunity: It’s time for Twins to close deal with Craig Kimbrel