The Minnesota Twins have chosen Scott Baker over Kevin Slowey as their No. 5 starter, and sources say they are willing to trade Slowey for a late-inning reliever.
But even with Slowey’s success last season — 13-6 with a 4.45 ERA — the Twins don’t appear to have an abundance of trade options.
The ideal trade partner would (a) need a right-handed starter and (b) be able to deal from a surplus of major league-caliber relievers. Right now, few (if any) teams match that description.
Two clubs that are looking for a starting pitcher — the Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners — are also short on relievers.
Teams that could or will be without starters on Opening Day — the Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), Dodgers (Jon Garland), Blue Jays (Brandon Morrow) and White Sox (Jake Peavy) — seem inclined to go with internal options.
Slowey, who has a career 4.41 ERA in the American League, should be an appealing target for National League teams with young rotations. But officials from the Arizona Diamondbacks and Pittsburgh Pirates say they aren’t actively looking for major-league starters via trade.
The Toronto Blue Jays have been mentioned this spring as a possible trade partner for the Twins, but the teams don’t have an easy fit right now. The Blue Jays aren’t in position to part with relievers, with Frank Francisco and Octavio Dotel possibly starting the season on the disabled list.
The Twins are looking to fortify their middle relief after a number of off-season departures, including Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes. Team officials have been impressed by Carlos Gutierrez and Kyle Waldrop in camp this spring, but neither has pitched in the majors.
Slowey became more expendable with the rapid rise of right-hander Kyle Gibson, who was ranked among the top 40 prospects in the game by Baseball America this spring.
When asked this week about the likelihood of using Gibson, 23, in the majors this year, Twins general manager Bill Smith said, “We’ll see how things go. He’s only pitched one year in the minor leagues. He was very successful. He was our minor-league pitcher of the year. He needs to get stretched out. He’s going to start in the minor leagues. When we need help, we try and go get the best guy.”
— Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal