Another series of rumors took the Internet by storm last night. According to a Detroit radio station's Twitter account, the Twins and Mariners agreed to a deal that would send Cliff Lee to the Minnesota in exchange for Wilson Ramos and Aaron Hicks.
Eventually, various beat writers and reporters shot down the rumors but did confirm that the two teams were in serious discussions. At this point, I think it's time we draw some conclusions, in order of confidence:
The Twins are interested in trading for Lee.
The Twins will not be able to re-sign Lee after the 2010 season.
Ramos will be included in any package coming from Minnesota.
An outfield prospect will be included in any package coming from Minnesota.
The Twins will not include both Ramos and Hicks in a deal for Lee.
I certainly wish I could move that fifth bullet point higher on the list. Giving up both Ramos and Hicks would be a costly mistake, even though it would bring two (hopefully three) months of Lee's pitching to Minnesota's rotation.
According to ERA, the Twins have a slightly below-average starting rotation. According to the stat xFIP, Minnesota's combination of starting pitchers are the third best group in MLB. The Twins have a high BABIP (batting average on balls in play), which should help decrease the team's ERA over the second half of the season.
Despite the great sabermetric reviews, the Twins remain without an ace. In a short series, few teams would want to face Lee, Francisco Liriano, and Carl Pavano on consecutive days. I don't blame them.
Before Minnesota can even get to the postseason though, they will have to win the AL Central, which remains as competitive as ever. The Twins are in the thick of the race and should be willing to pay top dollar for every extra win they can log. Minnesota will pay a lot more for Lee than, for example the Houston Astros, simply because every added win greatly contributes to their postseason chances.
While the Twins would be willing to pay more for Lee than most teams—is a Ramos/Hicks package too much?
As much as I would love to see Mauer, Morneau, and Ramos combine to form one of the best C/1B/DH trios in the league. It's clear that Ramos is expendable. In fact, Ramos is perhaps the most blocked and tradable prospects in baseball. As for Hicks, he is the most talented of the several athletic outfield prospects the Twins have in their farm system. There will be a log jam of outfielders in the future if the Twins don't deal some away, though Hicks is the 9th-best prospect in the minor leagues, according to ESPN's Keith Law.
I'd be more than willing to deal Ramos and Hicks together in a deal for Roy Oswalt or Dan Haren, both of whom are under contract for more than just a few months. But for a rental, I'd have to think Ramos and Hicks would be too much.
“Don't understand why people would be up in arms about Hicks & Ramos for Lee. #Twins have farmed players for 19 years w/ 0 titles.”
This is true. At some point, giving up young talent in order to win now is the best course of action. But the line between going for broke and reckless spending is often times a tricky one to maneuver.
What do you think? Should the Twins deal Ramos and Hicks for Lee, or hold out for a better deal?