December 8, 2008

Jekyll and Hyde Declines Arbitration

Dennys Reyes will be looking for a new bullpen to pitch in next season

At last nights 11:00 PM deadline for players to accept or decline arbitration, Dennys Reyes decided to part ways with the Twins after three very successful seasons. Reyes spent his time with the Twins as the go-to left-handed option out of the bullpen.

Reyes signed a minor league contract with Minnesota on February 21, 2006 after spending time in 8 different organizations before signing with the Twins. In his first season, he proved to be a reliable left-hander for the Twins who's bullpen ranked first in all of baseball with a 2.91 ERA, thanks in part to Reyes' 0.89 ERA in 50 2/3 innings. After starting the season in Rochester, Reyes ended up playing a role in the teams 2006 comeback to win the American League Central Division on the last day of the year.

In 2007, Reyes really struggled all season making people compare Reyes to Jekyll and Hyde due to his dominating 2006 campaign being followed up with a disappointing 2007 campaign. However the entire team struggled as a whole, which is why Reyes was given more slack from Twins Nation. He landed on the disabled list twice in 2007, once with a rotator-cuff injury and another time with a left-elbow inflammation which caused him to miss the last 37 games of the season.

Reyes rebounded nicely in 2008 posting a 2.33 ERA along with a 1.19 WHIP in 46 1/3 innings of work. He was proving the Jekyll and Hyde theory to be right at least to some extent being good and bad from month to month. In April, June and August, Reyes posted a combined ERA of 0.69 ERA with a 21/7 (3-1) K/BB ratio. In May, July and September however, Reyes posted a combined 4.43 ERA with an 18-9 (2-1) K/BB ratio. However the number that really was alarming (besides the ERA) was that in his good months, he never posted a WHIP above 0.91. However during his bad months, his lowest WHIP was 1.43. The other thing is that he had 3 wins all season, all three came in his good months.

Never has anyone paraded around that Reyes is the best reliever out there, and overall he was a solid left-handed option. However I am really excited to move on with Craig Breslow and Jose Mijares as our go-to left-handed specialists, both of whom I expect much more from than Reyes. It was good having "The Big Sweat" around the last couple of years, however I for one am glad to see his hot and cold play leave to sign with another team. He will definitely draw plenty of interest on the open market as teams are always looking to add left-handed relievers to their bullpens.

Adding a reliever shouldn't be a big problem, however the Twins need to act soon after missing out on a few guys at very affordable prices. We'd all love to see the Twins sign Kerry Wood or Juan Cruz, however knowing that both would like to close and both would cost quite a bit (in both money and in Cruz's case draft pick compensation), but those are just very unlikely options.

Jason Isringhausen, Brandon Lyon, and Russ Springer are three guys I can see the Twins having interest in. Springer and Isringhausen are probably just one-year guys which I believe could be a way the Twins are leaning, due to the fact that they have Pat Neshek (hopefully) returning in 2010 and by that time both Anthony Slama and Rob Delaney could be ready to be dependable major leaguer's. However I don't see any harm in signing a guy like Lyon to a 2 year deal with possibly a 3rd option year. After all, depending on prospects to fill a job a year later is not the greatest way to manage a roster.

After those guys, the Twins could look to Huston Street of the Rockies, Heath Bell of the Padres, or Dan Wheeler of the Rays for relief help. Street will likely cost the most, but the Twins could potentially be buying low on a guy that just a couple years ago was one of the most talented young closers in baseball. The Padres really have no reason to trade Bell other than to hopefully bring in a bat. Delmon Young's name has been linked to the Padres. Could the Padres package Bell and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff for a package headlined by Young? Seems possible, especially after La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune doesn't see Garrett Atkins being a fit for the Twins. And Wheeler probably will probably cost the least and could be a great fit in the setup role for the Twins.

There's no doubt that the free agent market is full of good relievers, however since many of them hold Type-A compensation, the Twins will not be adding any of them. So, if the Twins look to be adding a talented reliever and not just a short-term solution, they may need to go to the trade market to add. Just add that to the list of positions the Twins will look to add via trade at the winter meetings.