To ‘Stache Or Not To ‘Stache: The Carl Pavano Issue

I’ve noticed something curious about the various “predictions” concerning the Twins offseason roster decisions. There’s a real disconnect somewhere on the topic of what the Twins should do about Carl Pavano.

When I posted my proposed “Twins blueprint” for 2011, the ‘Stache was not among the starting pitchers I projected for the Twins. Instead, I proposed trading for the Royals’ Zack Greinke and in that scenario, Greinke’s salary would almost certainly preclude the Twins from being able to afford to also bring back Pavano.

But among the various “blueprints” posted by the Twins bloggers I’ve read, I’m certainly not the only one who has proposed letting Pavano take his talents elsewhere. I probably haven’t read all of the blogs that have posted “blueprints” in response to the Twinscentric guys’ suggestion, but I can think of at least 10 I’ve read through just off the top of my head and, of those, only one proposed re-signing Pavano. In fact, for most of us, it seems the question most often discussed is whether the Twins should offer Pavano arbitration or not. He’s a Type A free agent, meaning if the Twins offer him arbitration and he rejects it, the Twins stand to get two high compensatory draft picks in return.

That’s a fair topic for debate that reasonable minds can agree to disagree on. If the Twins don’t offer arbitration, they get nothing for Pavano if he signs elsewhere. If they do offer arbitration, he MAY decide to accept the offer, leaving the Twins locked in to paying him possibly somewhere close to $10 million for 2011 and significantly limiting the front office’s other offseason options.

But that’s not the “disconnect” I’m talking about. Almost all of us seem to agree that we’ve seen the last days of ‘Stache as a Twin. Almost uniformly, we agree that the Twins have upgrade needs and there simply isn’t room for the upgrades we want to see while also retaining Pavano for the price he’s earned the right to command on the open market.

And yet…

Has anyone else noticed that the predominant “outside” opinion about where Carl Pavano will be pitching next season seems to be that he’s going to remain a Twin?

I can’t say I religiously check all of the national online writers, but I do check in on pretty much every day (probably because I go to for my daily news fix). Both Jon Heyman and Ben Reiter at think the Twins will/should re-sign Pavano. In addition, Tim Dierkes over at feels the same way. In fact, three out of the five MLBTR writers are on board with ‘Stache staying a Twin. 

That’s got me asking myself, “Are we missing something here?”

On the surface, reports that the Twins made a competitive posting bid for the rights to Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma would seem to indicate that the Twins certainly aren’t counting on Pavano returning. But having been unsuccessful with that bid, would Bill Smith re-think the situation?

I’m not backing off from my stated desire to land Greinke, but based on what we’re starting to hear about Kansas City’s trade demands*, I’m beginning to accept that there’s not likely going to be a deal made to get Zack in a Twins uniform during the offseason. My best hope might be that nobody meets the Royals’ price and that perhaps once KC is realistically eliminated from the AL Central race next season (that should be what… mid May?), their front office becomes a bit more anxious to relieve themselves of Greinke’s contract.

But if Greinke isn’t an option, then I think perhaps the Twins do need to think harder about keeping Pavano around. I just don’t see a lot of opportunities for significant upgrades out there and if you can’t improve the top of your rotation, at least you’d better make sure you keep what you’ve got.

If the Twins offer arbitration, I really don’t see Pavano and his agent accepting it as they did last season. The free agent market for starting pitchers, after Cliff Lee, is pretty thin. Pavano will get two-year offers and perhaps the Twins should be one of the teams willing to go that route. I suppose it’s possible that some team may be desperate enough to offer three guaranteed years, but if it also means they cough up a draft choice? I’m not so sure.

Keeping ‘Stache around likely means starting the season with a rotation of Liriano, Pavano, Baker, Duensing and Blackburn/Slowey.  If Kyle Gibson is everything people seem to think he’s going to be, maybe by mid-year he’ll be wowing us all the same way Liriano and Santana did once they finally forced their ways in to the rotation.

If not, I’m sure Bill Smith still will have the Royals’ phone number… they aren’t going anywhere. – JC

*This from ESPN’s Jayson Stark regarding the Royals’ demands for Greinke:

…according to clubs that have spoken with them, they’re telling bidders up front that (A) they would need to “win” the deal, (B) they would have to get the kind of four-for-one haul the Rangers got for Mark Teixeira to pull the trigger, (C) they need a bunch of “front-line, winning, quality players” in return, and (D) at least one of those players has to be a pitcher capable of turning into the next Zack Greinke in a couple of years.