Twins view right-hander Alex Meyer as 'a potential frontline starter'
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On the surface, it appears as if the Minnesota Twins have sent in the punt team for the 2013 season by trading starting centerfielder Denard Span for a pitching prospect that spent last season at the High-A level for the Washington Nationals.
But in an interview with 1500 ESPN on Thursday, shortly after the trade was announced, Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony hinted strongly more moves were coming, and perhaps soon.
Antony said the Twins will turn their attention more toward free agent pitchers when the winter meetings commence in Nashville on Monday.
"We probably don't have a lot of pieces that we do have to trade for starting pitching (with Span now gone)," Antony said. "We'll probably be a little more aggressive and spend our time at the winter meetings talking to agents rather than clubs."
In Meyer, the Twins believe they have found something that is sorely missing from their organization -- a hard-throwing, strikeout generating, top-of-the-rotation-caliber starter.
According to MLB.com's rankings, Meyer enters next season as the 50th best prospect in baseball, and he was ranked as the No. 2 prospect in Washington's system. He posted a 2.86 ERA with 139 strikeouts, 45 walks and only six home runs allowed in 129 innings last season across Low-A and High-A.
"We like everything we've seen from him, and everything we've heard about him from our people," Antony said. "You never look to get rid of a guy who's a prototypical center fielder, a leadoff guy... But this was a chip was kind of had to use to get a potential frontline starter, and we believe Alex Meyer can develop into one of those guys."
Problem is, the Twins lost their starting centerfielder, who led the team in Wins Above Replacement last season, and still have only one starting pitcher penciled into next year's rotation -- Scott Diamond.
The Twins did discuss other deals prior to the Span-for-Meyer trade, including a potential deal with the Marlins for Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson.
They've had discussions with representatives for nearly every free agent starter on the market.
Business could heat up again next week in Nashville.
With Span's $4.75 million off the books, the Twins now have about $70 million tied up in guaranteed contracts for 2013. If the payroll sits between $90 million and $100 million next year, that leaves the with at least $20 million to spend in free agency.