Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan has a tear in his elbow, and could need Tommy John surgery, which would force him to miss the year.
So why am I posting this, when this is a Cleveland Indians blog? Well it just so happens that the Indians have an oh-so-available closer in Kerry Wood, who the Indians would be quite willing to get rid of, if another team were to pick up the tab.
Wood had an up and down year last year, his first with the Indians, and second as a closer. His stats were a 4.25 ERA, 20 saves (in 26 chances), 63 strikeouts and 28 walks in 55 innings over 58 appearances, and a purty 2.96 second half ERA. Much of his problems could have stemmed from a lack of consistent work as the Indians only got him the ball 26 times in save opportunites.
Wood would be attractive to the Twins because he’s most likely a better option then their in-house closers, which include Jon Rauch (26 saves in 44 career opportunities), primary setup man Matt Guerrier, or power arm Jessie Crain. If money were no object for the Twins, Wood is almost assuredly better than what the Twins have.
Unfortunately, money is an object for the Twinkies, who are already fielding a payroll of around $100 million. Wood is set to make $10.5 million this year, with a vesting option worth $11 million if he finishes 55 games. Naturally if the Twins acquired Wood, they’d ideally want him to hit that mark, because it would mean Wood is performing (or the Twins are really stupid, one or the other). So the Twins would be on the hook for $21.5 million over the next two years. Ouch.
This is the same reason why Indians fans shouldn’t get too giddy over the prospect of trading Wood, because quite honestly, all the Indians really want in return for him is for someone to pick up the tab. There won’t be any uber-prospects coming to Cleveland in almost any pre-season Wood deal, unless the Indians were going to pay for some of the contract, which they don’t want to do.
So in my not-so-expert analysis, I don’t think Kerry Wood is bound for Minnesota anytime soon. The AL Central is weak and the Twins can probably still win the division without making a trade. Financially, it doesn’t really make sense for them, although you know that the Indians two-headed hydra GM of Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti will definitely answer any call Minnesota makes about Wood. But for now, Cleveland is stuck with him and that horrific contract.