Saturday, January 16, 2016

Casey Fien and the Twins bullpen

Casey Fien's K/9
rate fell to 5.8 last
Friday was the deadline for teams and players to exchange their arbitration numbers. It's a process day, and as is the case with deadlines, it often serves to force a deal to conclusion.

The Twins reached contract agreements Thursday with Tommy Milone and on Friday with Eduardo Nunez, Eduardo Escobar and Casey Fien. They exchanged figures with Trevor Plouffe and Kevin Jepsen, and talks with them can (and will) continue right up to the actual arbitration hearing. (The Twins almost always settle before the confrontation.)

From my viewpoint, and probably from yours too, the amounts matter little. I'm less interested in the fact that Fien will be paid $2.25 million in 2016 as (presumably) the No. 4 man in the bullpen than in the fact that he's still part of the bullpen plan.

I view Fien as a high-floor, low-ceiling piece. He's been with the Twins for 3.5 seasons now with an ERA of 3.54 -- not awful, but not imposing either. He's also had a declining strikeout rate over his three full seasons.

The Twins have a number of low-floor, high-ceiling options (speaking of their current statuses) -- minor leaguers with big arms and limited track records, who might be better than Fien if they were given a major league job and might well be worse.

Keeping Fien around is risk avoidance. I'd rather the Twins go into camp telling the young studs: We have an opening, and we believe that at least one of you can do this job right now.

They don't have that obvious opening now. They have Glen Perkins, Jepsen, Trevor May, Fien, and two slots that are most likely ticketed for displaced starter Ricky Nolasco and veteran non-roster invitee Fernando Abad. To have a really good bullpen, the Twins need at least one more guy better than Fien.

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