As the 2011 season progressed, it became more or less clear from comments by Ron Gardenhire as well as reports by media members with access to the Twins’ clubhouse that several players were in the manager’s dog-house. How much that carried over to the front office then and now is less clear.
Because one has to presume the manager has at least some clout in the organization, now in the off-season it might be reasonable to suspect that some, if not all, of those players are on the trading block.
Who played their way into the dog-house last year?
Danny Valencia seemed to be number one on the list of position players as he was so often named by Gardenhire for some mistake in the field or running the bases. Trevor Plouffe wasn’t too far behind with his weak play at shortstop. Tsuyoshi Nishioka was cut a little more slack being his first year in a new environment, but he almost certainly has worked his way out of a starting spot barring injury to someone else.
Among the pitching corps, Kevin Slowey easily is number one. His apparent balking at pitching out of the bullpen followed by his winless record when he did pitch later in the season earned him the wrath of both Gardenhire and Rick Anderson. Jose Mijares came to training camp out of shape and never really got it going last year opening up speculation about his future with the Twins.
There may be others that are not so publicly discussed, but there is really no way of my knowing that.
In the past, dog-house dwellers have be dealt away or not re-signed. This year I would not be surprised if Valencia, Plouffe or Slowey are traded. Nishioka is too expensive and has not established any value. Mijares might be a throw-in part of a package, but my guess is his past success (and his left arm) will buy him one more year with the Twins.
Valencia would have to bring a decent enough return – a third baseman with some power potential – for him to be considered unless the package includes other pieces that allow for another trade to fill the vacant third base position. I’m not betting on it. One more year to prove himself or not is most probable.
Plouffe and Slowey are very unlikely to be anything but extra pieces in a larger deal as neither one has enough value to command much in return.
In fact, Slowey is the most likely Twins candidate to be non-tendered, but I do not really expect the Twins to do that. There is still enough up side in him to not give him away. He would have to be expendable due to a starting pitcher acquisition for him to be non-tendered.
Ultimately, if the Twins are to complete any trades this off-season, they are almost surely going to have to be multi-player deals because none of these players have enough individual value to produce what the Twins need.