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After a surprising AL Wild Card berth in 2017, the Twins’ 2018 season ended with 78 wins and the dismissal of manager Paul Molitor. Veterans Ervin Santana, Lance Lynn, Logan Morrison and Jason Castro each had a nightmarish campaign, while the Twins saw even more troubling regression from Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. The AL Central is still the game’s weakest division, leaving some hope for chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine as they look to reload and try for better results in 2019.
- Addison Reed, RHP: $8.5MM through 2019
- Jason Castro, C: $8MM through 2019
- Michael Pineda, RHP: $8MM through 2019
Arbitration-Eligible Players (projected salary via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)
- Jake Odorizzi – $9.4MM
- Kyle Gibson – $7.9MM
- Eddie Rosario – $5.0MM
- Robbie Grossman – $4.0MM
- Max Kepler – $3.2MM
- Miguel Sano – $3.1MM
- Ehire Adrianza – $1.8MM
- Taylor Rogers – $1.6MM
- Byron Buxton – $1.2MM
- Trevor May – $1.1MM
- Non-tender candidates: Grossman, Adrianza
- Ervin Santana, RHP: $14.5MM club option — declined in favor of $1MM buyout
- Logan Morrison, 1B/DH: $8MM club option — declined in favor of $1MM buyout
- Logan Forsythe, Chris Gimenez, Matt Belisle, Santana, Morrison
[Minnesota Twins depth chart | Minnesota Twins payroll outlook]
The first order of business for the Twins has already been wrapped up, as the team named Rocco Baldelli its new manager. The 37-year-old Baldelli replaces Paul Molitor, who won 2017 AL Manager of the Year honors but was inherited by Falvey and Levine under an ownership mandate. The Twins’ unexpected Wild Card run in 2017 somewhat forced the front office’s hand in offering him an extension, and 2018’s disappointment gave them a natural avenue to appoint a new skipper who more closely shares their organizational vision and philosophy. Molitor, to his credit, was plenty open to newer lines of thinking in baseball, as the Twins experimented with “the opener” late in the season and have been far more aggressive in using defensive shifts under Molitor than under previous skipper Ron Gardenhire. He was offered a new role within the organization but is reportedly unlikely to accept as he instead pursues managerial and/or coaching opportunities with other clubs.
Molitor isn’t the only St. Paul native whose tenure with the hometown organization is up in the air. After spending 15 seasons in a Twins uniform, Joe Mauer wrapped up his eight-year contract in an emotional sendoff that saw him crouch behind the plate for one final pitch from close friend and teammate Matt Belisle before being removed from the game in the ninth inning. Twins fans showered Mauer with adulation in that possible farewell (video link), as play stopped for several minutes while St. Paul’s favorite son soaked in what may have been his final moments as a Major League player.
That Sunday proved to be an almost perfect parting note for Mauer — unbeknownst to him, he would be greeted by his twin daughters at first base to start the game, and he went on to double to left-center in his final plate appearance — but the potential Hall of Famer is still not certain about his future. Asked in an emotional press conference after the game whether he’d return for a 16th season, Mauer demurred, expressing his gratitude for that afternoon’s gestures from the organization before indicating that he’ll take some time to mull his future with his family. If he does return, he’s stated on multiple occasions that he can’t envision playing anywhere else. He may no longer be a superstar, but even at age 35, Mauer posted a league-average offensive season with positive defensive marks at first base (+3 DRS, +2.7 UZR) for the fifth straight season since moving there. He’d surely need to take a sizable pay cut, but if Mauer wants to come back, the organization could retain him on an affordable one-year deal.
First base, though, is one of but many areas in which the Twins are facing uncertainty. In last year’s outlook for the team, I wrote that a lot went right for the 2017 Twins, highlighting the progress made by presumptive building blocks Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario. Of that quartet, only Rosario doubled down on his 2017 breakout. Polanco was slapped with an 80-game PED suspension prior to the season, although he did hit well in his return (.288/.345/.427, seven homers, seven steals). Polanco still looks like a lock to hold down a middle-infield spot in the long run. Buxton and Sano, to put things mildly, are complete mysteries.
Baldelli and his coaching staff — the composition of which remains unclear — should consider restoring Buxton and Sano to their once-prominent status a top priority. The two combined for nearly eight wins above replacement in 2017; each clearly has enough talent to be a cornerstone piece for a perennially competitive Twins team. But neither has been able to tap into that upside on a regular basis, with Sano’s conditioning and penchant for strikeouts and Buxton’s inconsistency at the plate ranking among the most frustrating obstacles Minnesota has faced in recent years.
It seems likely that both will be back in the fold next season, as selling low on either player would be a difficult pill for the organization to swallow. Speaking more generally, the Twins appear set for a fair bit of roster turnover. Rosario and Max Kepler are likely to man the outfield corners next season, while Polanco has a middle-infield spot locked down. But the Twins could plausibly look for new additions at any of first base, third base or DH (depending on where Sano lines up), either shortstop or second base (depending on where Polanco plays) and potentially at catcher. Jason Castro is set to return from knee surgery, and Mitch Garver provided solid offense as a 27-year-old rookie, but there could still be room for an upgrade.
Looking to the pitching staff, Minnesota has a deceptive amount of depth in the rotation but is lacking in the way of top-end starting pitching. Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda (signed last winter to a backloaded two-year deal as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery) can all be penciled into the Opening Day rotation, and the team has a wealth of options in the fifth spot.
Adalberto Mejia, Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves, Tyler Duffey, Kohl Stewart, Zack Littell and Aaron Slegers have all pitched in the Majors, and each of the first three in that group has recently ranked among the game’s top 100 prospects. Most of the bunch is limited to fourth/fifth starter upside, but it’s rather hefty stock of back-end arms. Perhaps, then, Falvey, Levine & Co. would be best-suited looking to condense some of that quantity into a single, higher-quality option on the trade market. That stash of upper-level arms could also come in handy when looking for trades to solidify the lineup and a middle-of-the-pack defensive unit.
The bullpen, though, is a greater area of need. The Twins traded Fernando Rodney to the A’s in August and don’t have a set closer in place, though that’s perhaps less critical than ever in an age where longstanding conventional pitching roles are evolving. Fellow offseason pickup Addison Reed had a terrific start to the 2018 season before struggling badly for a month and then hitting the disabled list with an elbow impingement. He’s owed $8.25MM in 2019 and will be part of the bullpen — likely alongside Trevor May, Trevor Hildenberger and Taylor Rogers. Oliver Drake was excellent for the Twins after finally escaping the waiver carousel, so perhaps he’s pitched his way into the plan. Regardless, there should be multiple spots up for grabs, and the Twins have the means to pursue any high-end reliever they deem a worthy target.
Broadly speaking, in fact, the Twins should have the payroll capacity and the farm strength to pursue just about any possibility they wish. Minnesota has just over $30MM in guaranteed contracts on the books for 2019 (plus another $38MM in projected arbitration salaries) and, incredibly, has a completely blank payroll slate beyond 2019. The Twins have zero dollars in guaranteed money on the books for the 2020 season, so there’s no reason to think they can’t spend as aggressively as any club in the game.
That shouldn’t be read as an implication that the Twins will be a realistic landing spot for a premier free agent such as Bryce Harper or Manny Machado; swaying either player to sign in Minnesota would be a tall order for several reasons. Minneapolis has never been a highly coveted free-agent destination, the 2018 season was a noted disappointment, the Twins have never committed a $30MM+ salary to a single player, and they’d have less margin for error in doing so than larger-market clubs with better television contracts and greater revenue streams. But the Twins did put forth a $100MM+ offer to Yu Darvish last offseason, and it’s not unreasonable to think they could be in the market for free agents who could command annual salaries approaching or exceeding $20MM (e.g. Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel).
Where they’ll look to improve is a larger question than if they have the means to do so. Corbin or Keuchel would represent the most plausible rotation upgrades on the free-agent market, but competition for both figures to be steep. Craig Kimbrel sits atop the free-agent market for relievers, and the market has various top-tier options beyond him, including Jeurys Familia, Zach Britton and 2018 breakout Adam Ottavino. Given the uncertainty at the back of the ’pen and the wide-open payroll ledger, the Twins seem as good a bet as any club to add some high-end relief help this winter.
The lineup presents even more opportunities, as the Twins could target upgrades at any infield slot or conceivably add an impact designated hitter like Nelson Cruz. Minnesota was fine committing its DH spot to one player last season, and even if Logan Morrison’s faulty hip (which eventually required surgery to repair a torn labrum) torpedoed his ’18 season, the willingness to go with one regular option rather than rotate several players through that spot is notable. Marwin Gonzalez’s versatility could serve the Twins well, and they’re a plausible landing spot for a bounceback candidate like Josh Donaldson, who could slot into the middle of the lineup at third base and push Sano to first base/designated hitter himself. Even in the outfield, it’s not outlandish to think the Twins could look for at least one upgrade, with only Rosario having turned in consecutive impressive seasons.
Beyond their substantial payroll flexibility, the Twins possess a solid farm system in addition to the aforementioned back-of-the-rotation depth. They’re one of 10 or more viable candidates to make an earnest run at J.T. Realmuto on the trade market and will be opportunistic in seeking out additional scenarios. The D-backs, for instance, would surely love to clear a portion of Zack Greinke’s remaining salary in a trade and would be intrigued by Minnesota’s system. The Phillies and Cardinals both have their sights set on contending but are also both in line for active winters on the trade market and could make numerous intriguing players available (e.g. Cesar Hernandez, Jose Martinez).
Possibilities abound, but Minnesota has as much flexibility as just about any organization in baseball to make changes this winter, and the likelihood of doing so is strong. The 2017 Twins, frankly, weren’t as good as a playoff berth in a weak American League might indicate on the surface, and that sudden success likely created some unrealistic expectations about the 2018 campaign. But, conversely, the 2018 Twins shouldn’t have been as bad as they were. Fair or not, that 2017 season raised expectations in the Twin Cities, and now that Falvey and Levine are entering their third winter in charge and have their own manager in place, the pressure will be on to start putting forth a more consistently competitive team — one that can not only enter the Wild Card picture but one that can challenge the Indians in an otherwise still flimsy division.
I wonder what they could get for buxton on the trade market. I wouldn’t imagine a great haul but I if they could get an big league arm and an decent prospect I would take it he could be a huge change of scenery guy
Idk how you could not tender a contract to Robbie Grossman. He’s a solid player for only 4 mil. Good 4th OF/2nd DH.
He’s a terrible outfielder. His only value is DH, and he doesn’t have the power to justify that spot.
Agree Completely ..
He’s only good in a context where staying healthy and drawing a walk constitutes a Valuable Offensive Contribution. And he’s only a poor corner OF, so the bar should be higher than that. (But I probably wouldn’t cut him until I had someone better in hand.)
” so there’s no reason to think they can’t spend as aggressively as any club in the game.” Umm… I can think of MILLION$ of reasons.
The whole argument that the Twins won’t spend any money doesn’t carry much weight when they opened the 2018 season with a $129MM payroll and have averaged $113MM/year over the past four seasons.
They’re currently projected at $79MM before even factoring in the $5-6MM they’d save with non-tenders of Grossman and Adrianza. They could add $50MM in 2019 salary and still have a lower payroll than they had in 2018.
It’s not that the Twins won’t spend any money at all, it’s their aversion to risk. They refuse to sign top tier players because of the multi-year commitments. Instead, their spending gets padded by the old tried and true style which was attributed to Terry Ryan. Sign every bottom feeding free agent you can find and hope one or two of them turns in a career year.
Also, for the record, $113M isn’t much anymore. Spending juggernauts like the Colorado Rockies and Baltimore Orioles were in at over $140M last year.
2009 $65M (rank 24, median $82M)
2010 $98M (rank 11, median $84M)
2011 $113M (rank 9, median $87M)
2012 $94M (rank 13, median $88M)
2013 $76M (rank 22, median $91)
2014 $86M (rank 26, median $107M)
2015 $109M (rank 18, median $115M)
2016 $108M (rank 18, median $116M)
2017 $93M (rank 22, median $141M)
2018 $132M (rank 18, median $141M)
The new regime seems to be much less risk averse than Terry Ryan was though. Falvine signed Lynn, Morrison, and Reed, all of whom were among the top FA options at their positions. Plus they made a six figure offer to Darvish, which the old regime never would have done.
And each one of 4 players sucked in 2018. So spending money does not necessarily reap rewards.
Buyer beware, etc.
Lynn and Morrison signed on extremely team-friendly contracts, while Reed signed a low-risk/short-term contract as well. The reported offer to Darvish was a low-ball offer (I believe 5/$100MM is what was reported), representing a lower risk than any other team with interest in Darvish was willing to take – also an offer that Darvish wouldn’t have accepted unless he was still unsigned at the same time Lynn signed his contract.
Rodney was better than expected before he was traded. Duke was decent. Free agents are a crapshoot – you win some, you lose some.
Haha, yeah from a team perspective they currently have more to spend than they usually do because they have been financially responsible and their one awful contract just expired, but Minnesota is able to “spend as aggressively as any club in the game” just because the others have already spent their money. If they did add 50MM, they’re still a mid-small market team. They can’t recover from 50MM mistakes like NY can. Half of Minnesota’s chip stack is a quarter of a big market’s. Seems to me that CoL Taylor and Steve Adams are both right, one from a viewpoint of now, the franchise snapshot of an offseason, and another in wider terms.
I know this year was a combination of essentially everything going wrong for them, but does anyone else get the sense that this core is not actually that promising? I just don’t see much and besides Rosario a lot of the pieces that were supposed to be stars at this point have fallen flat
I completely agree. Berrios is nice and could develop into a solid no. 2, and Gibson is a good rotation piece as well. But i don’t see the two guys we thought would be the next wave of superstars become anything more than fringe players (like billy hamilton and Chris Carter). Kepler doesn’t make your lineup better, and the veterans they have just aren’t great. That’s why they are in such a tough spot; they have tons of money to spend but only like 8 players worthy of playing for a contender.
Great observation. I read that a lot of fans think Rosario is the center piece to build this team around, but I disagree completely. He’s an unpredictable player both as a hitter and fielder, and for all the praise he received in 2018 his OPS went from .836 to .803. Still good, but he’s a player I would actual considering trading now while his stock is relatively high. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of boos for this – after all, it’s Halloween.
I think they’ll get Cruz and Kuechel.
Nice article. In my mind the Twins main focus would be on getting Sano and Buxton to be serviceable players in 2019.
A lot rides on these two becoming everyday productive players until the next wave of prospects (Kirilloff & Lewis).
After that going after:
RP Jeurys Familia (1-2yr contract)
RP Kelvin Hererra (1-3yr contract)
To add veteran presence and impact players in a depleted bullpen
2B/SS a serviceable 1yr contract to fill in 2B (waiting for Gordon). Recent articles have pointed to Dozier as needing a 1yr “prove it” deal, but I would be happy to bring in a veteran with good club house presence along with playoff experience (Daniel Murphy for example even being a injury risk).
SP a 2 or 3 rotation piece to a 2-4yr deal. At the end of 2019 we lose Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi to free agency and will be left with many unproven pitchers to rely on. The 2020 class of free agent pitchers is looking similar to this year’s with only a few top tier impact pitchers.
I do not believe or expect the Twins to spend big this off-season. The main problem they face is getting their young core of players to produce. The Twins nearly made the playoffs in 2017 due in part because of solid defense (ranked 4th) and timely hitting (ranked 7th in Runs) but pitching was terrible (ranked 19th 4.59). This proves they can perform, but getting them to, is the biggest question.
I’d be pretty shocked if Familia signed for anything fewer than three years. We have him at four.
I also don’t think Falvey and Levine feel they can largely sit back and wait another season before really making an aggressive push. They understandably had a quiet first offseason, then were kind of forced into making some low-risk, short-term moves last winter by the fact that the Twins surprised with 85 games.
If they have a quiet offseason, the Twins aren’t all that likely to contend, and then it’s three years into Falvey and Levine’s tenure with no real improvement except a Wild Card run that looks like a fluke. That’s how execs wind up on the hot seat. If they go for it this winter and things don’t pan out, they may well be there anyway, but they’d be giving themselves multiple chances at a more legitimate contender than they had in 2017 by getting aggressive this offseason.
Beyond that, the rebuilds of the Royals, Tigers and White Sox won’t last forever. The AL Central is terrible right now outside of the Indians. There’s no real justification for not trying to win it unless you’re actively tanking.
Thanks for the insight. Agreed, the Twins should make a push at this time for the reasons you mentioned.
While researching what it takes to be an “average” playoff team this year in the AL the Twins came up short 93 R and 91 RBI. They also needed to reduce the team ERA nearly a whole run and minimize 15 errors.
Knowing this, the cheapest cost to improve in 2019 would be a focus on defense and getting everyone to hit again. This would obviously come from a new coaching staff. The only holes I see in the field would be 2B/DH.
Beyond this, dropping a whole run off the team ERA could potentially be answered via Free Agency. By the numbers, we need to reduce 135 runs, 108 walks, and strike out 155 more batters.
Knowing that Pitching is our biggest weakness (not new news) what are your thoughts on how the Twins could improve their pitching staff to accomplish this and put us in contention with the Indians for the Division title or a Wild Card?
Looking forward to your answer.
I hope Steve is right! With so little salary on the books and so many places for improvement (because the minors are deep, but not yet at AAA), I think this is the chance for this front office to really do something to improve the team.
If the Twins are gonna trade anyone it’s more likely to be any of Gibson, Odorizzi, Castro, and even Sano; NOT Buxton, Rosario, Berrios, or Kepler.
But if the Twins do go towards the FA market I really hope they target Jed Lowrie, Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, Cody Allen, Joe Kelly.
With or without Machado/Harper, if there’s any offseason to go crazy on FA signings, it’s this one.
Jones isn’t really an upgrade over any of the outfielders they have in house at this point. The others I can see being on Minnesota’s list, though I think Lowrie will remain in Oakland when all is said and done.
Agree on Jed Lowrie. I think he could get a 2-yr deal with the team. I do think they will trade Jake Odorizzi and Miguel Sano this offseason, maybe get some good prospects to add to that good prospect core. They need to find some room at SS for Nick Gordon. I think he is ready to become a big leaguer so I think they move Jorge Polanco to 3rd and have Nick Gordon at SS at the beginning of the season. They do have a really good chance at Jeurys Familia or Kelvin Herrera. Castro will probably remain the starting catcher. Or they might move him to 1st like they did like they did with Joe Mauer.
Gordon hit .212/.262/.283 in 99 Triple-A games last season. I can’t imagine him starting the year in the Majors, regardless of how he performs in Spring Training.
That’s not to say he’s a lost cause or anything — he’s not, and he started slow upon promotions to other levels as well — but the Twins will make him earn his way up from Triple-A rather than just hand him a promotion for which he showed no signs of being ready in 2018.
They could go after Wilson Ramos or another underrated cather or go after an underrated 1st baseman and keep Castro at catcher. Sorry, this is supposed to go with my other one. I couldn’t type it in time.
Why? Castro can’t hit and doesn’t play 1B (save for 3 games where he moved to 1B) I’d cut Castro before I had him man 1B.
Also, Garver is fine as a starting catcher. His pitch framing and blocking was much better down the stretch and just needs to work a little on his fundamentals to improve his pop and transition times. At the start of last year, Garver had less time behind the plate than a typical 22-23 year old catching prospect with no consistent playing time in years.
Dude, I forget about players sometimes. Yeah, Castro would be a good player to trade. If you don’t get any good offers, bring him in as a pinch-hitter or something. Mitch Garver is an underrated catcher so a lot of people forget about him. That’s probably why I forgot about him. But he did have a good statline: .262 ba with 7 hrs and 45 rbis and 302 abs. If anyone says they need another 1st baseman, you’re wrong. They have a good developing 1st baseman in Tyler Austin. He had 17 hrs last year and he spent a lot of time in the minor leagues with the Yankees. As a Yankees fan, I wish we still had him as a backup 1st baseman behind Luke Voit. He will erupt if he plays the whole season there, maybe 20-30 hrs with 85+rbis? He will become a star in Minnesota. And many fans will start to appreciate him there if he has that good of a season.
No way Castro is on this team as a first baseman or pinch hitter. He’s the team’s defensive catcher; he’ll play the same or a bit less than Garver. It’s a decent catching combination and far from Twins’ greatest need.
I’d trade Odorizzi for a Snickers bar. He’s a liability in the rotation.
Sano has absolute zero trade value after having to be demoted to A+ because he hit so poorly he couldn’t stay on the roster because of conditioning, having the sexual assault press and now the press about running over a cop in the Dominican. The Twins tried to move him last year as part of an Archer deal. TB wanted nothing to do with Sano and Miguel’s value only dropped from there.
Polanco’s arm is one of the biggest reasons he wasn’t expected to be able to play shortstop. He’s incapable of playing 3B (same issue Dozier had).
I really don’t understand the Castro to 1st base comments at all. It’s not going to happen. Garver will move to 1B long before Castro, but that will only happen if:
1) Mauer decides to retire
2) The Twins sign nobody to replace Mauer
3) Sano shows up in shape to play 3B (under 260lbs)
4) Austin flops miserably.
5) Astudillo doesn’t make the roster
6) The Twins can’t trade Castro
7) Garver gets hurt.
8) Castro plays 1B <— this is where it happens.
Maybe Gordon is up in majors by May to June. They have too many shortstops in their organization. They get Lowrie to hold a spot till Nick Gordon gets better. Then they trade Lowrie for a couple of minor league pitchers. They need Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff NOW! They would be a big difference maker for this team and make this team better in the future. Also they need some pitching. They might deal a couple underrated players for some minor league players and develop them.
‘If’ he doesn’t return to Oakland, Jed Lowrie’s bat and versatility ‘could’ be one the most sought after FA commodities this offseason and rightfully so as he gives me the impression of a Ben Zobrist-like player/teammate.
And with all the instability in the Twins infield (and the team in general), Lowrie could be the key, even if he never matches his 2018 form again. The Twins FO must make him their top priority (next to the bullpen), and the fact that Baldelli used to be a teammate of his in 2009 (Red Sox) only helps.
A buy-high on Lowrie isn’t sensible for Twins. Adrianza may be a decent stopgap at short/ do well if ever given an everyday role in the majors. They need to spend on pitching. If they are to close the gap with Cleveland, they must at least narrow the pitching gap with a minimum of one more Berrios-quality starter, a late inning guy with high K-rate and velocity, and another decent reliever/ lefty.
The Pohlads aren’t going to pony up for an ace and that has been made clear over the years. The Twins are severely averse to any pitcher contracts longer than 3-4 years and that will leave out any bonafide top end starter on the free agent market for the foreseeable future.
I’d trade for Darvish, sign Span and Cruz. The Twins should kick the tires on any short term serviceable SS/3B guy and there are a few who could be had for cheap on the market.
SR – Darvish, Berrios, Romero, Gibson, Pineda
BP – May, A. Reed, Drake, Rogers, Hildenberger, J. Reed, etc
C – Castro/Garver
DH – Cruz
1B – Mauer or Austin or Astudillo
2B – Polanco (has no business at SS)
SS – Sandoval or Kang or etc
3B – Sano
LF – Span
CF – Kepler or Buxton or Cave
RF – Rosario
UI – Adrianza or Gordon
UO – Kepler or Buxton or Cave
PH/U – Astudillo
These players are old and washed up, or are close to it.
The Twins need to focus on acquiring players who are on the cusp of quality, not those whose expiration dates have come and gone, or are coming soon.
You’re right. Span and Cruz are close to washed up… which is why you want them. They’re not washed up yet and you can get them on short contracts which allow you to figure out what you need in 2020+.
Span’s sprint speed was solid for a corner outfielder last year at 27.7 ft/sec. His bat produced a wRC+ of 112 and he’s a good base runner with great plate discipline. He makes for a solid veteran presence in the outfield who makes a great lead off hitter and he’ll be available on a short 1-2 year contract because the league undervalues him. Considering the Twins haven’t a clue about Buxton’s future, Kepler has hit a wall and Cave has a really short track record, it might be nice to solidify the outfield.
Cruz is another 1 year contract guy who rakes. He always rakes. Every year. wRC+ 134 last year and 2.5 fWAR from a DH. He’s been an above average hitter since 2007, and has produced better than 20% over average for 5 consecutive years.
Darvish had a misdiagnosed injury last year and has been sketchy for a couple seasons. Had his HR/FB% been closer to his career norm in 2017, he would have gotten 6/$180M in free agency last year. He’s a great buy low candidate for a team unwilling to pony up for the best available this year.
If you think Kang or Sandoval belong at SS, no one here can help you.
You’re right about Sandoval not being an appropriate fit at SS. Sandoval can hack it at 3B, 2B, 1B, but Iglacias is a better SS fit.
I’d take Kang over Polanco at SS. Shortstops over 500 innings last year, Polanco ranks 34th of 35. Just awful, and consistent with his previous play at the position into the minors. Polanco doesn’t have the arm and he doesn’t have the glove.
The Twins just need to find a SS with a glove who can hit enough to justify a roster spot while Gordon matures to figure out what they have.
You say the Twins don’t want to sign a SP for more than three to four years but then want them (or think they would) trade for a guy with 5/$101M left? That’s a contradiction.
The Cubs will eat a portion of salary on Darvish, guaranteed. The Twins will also be paying a premium vs. any other team out there so if the Twins were to explore FA (for no good reason considering they won’t pull the trigger) expect 5-7yrs and $150-210M for one of the aces available.
Patrick Corbin is a bit of the dark horse, but there’s no way the Twins pry him away from a bigger player as cheap as they can get Darvish, and Corbin’s track record is just as sketchy.
They would probably would eat some salary, but they can’t eat a year or two out of the contract without a time machine. That was my biggest point. If you think they should or would get Darvish, that goes against your 3-4 years claim as Darvish has five left.
Too many would’s…
I understand your point, but I don’t really see Darvish’s 5 years as a normal ace 5 years because you’re talking about what will probably be less than 3 years of actual ace salary. Yeah, the length is there, but at the salary the Twins should be able to negotiate, there just isn’t much risk.
Darvish’s contract is already front-loaded so the remaining contract is similar to what you’d pay for a #2 guy at an average of $20M/yr and only $18M in the final year, which will be #3 salary at that point.
The Twins can probably get $5M/yr of salary relief if they ship something decent in return, and now you’re talking about $13M in year 5… and that’s less than 1/2 of the annual salary the Twins would have to come up with for an ace in FA. So if Darvish can pitch at all, the Twins could trade him and get out from under the contract easy.
Hm, I think the Twins are over Span. Some Cruz-pop would be interesting at DH only, but not before pitching is addressed.
They ain’t getting Darvish. Better off getting a starting pitcher in FA.
I wouldn’t want Darvish anyway.
Yeah. Those starters with proven Ace stuff. Who needs ’em? The Twins can always count on overachievers like Kyle Gibson to shut down opposing playoff lineups.
You think the Cubs, with that rotation, are going to hang on to Darvish after they bring Hamels back? I’m sure the Cubs would eat some of Darvish’s salary and demand little in the way of returns. I think Darvish is a great buy low candidate. No better FA pitcher is going to sign under 5 years, and the Twins won’t do 5 years.
Off-topic: YANKEES GOT BRETT GARDNER FOR 1 MORE YR! Let’s go! 7.5 million
If the Twins wanna catch Cleveland this is what their roster should look like.
2nd- Jed Lowrie 3yr/$36M
SS- Jorge Polanco
DH- Nelson Cruz 2yr/$34M
LF- Eddie Rosario
1st- Miguel Sano
3rd- David Freese 2yr/$16M
CF- Byron Buxton
C- Mitch Garver
RF- Max Kepler
C- Jason Castro
UTL- Ehire Adrianza
SS/2nd- Nick Gordon
OF- Robbie Grossman
C/3rd- Willians Astudillo
1st/DH- Tyler Austin
OF- Lamonte Wade
OF- Jake Cave
CL- Joe Kelly 2yr/$18M
SU- Trevor May
SU- Cody Allen 1yr-$10M
Kelvin Herrera 2yr/$24M
Add a starting Pitcher or two and you might be able to catch the Indians. If you look at the numbers we need pitching help more than batters. This is based on the idea that our coaching staff can get these young guys back to what they produced in 2017
That’s like 36 players
My unrealistic dream (without including Machado/Harper) would be for them to go hard in FA. They have a ton of available money if they put the payroll where it was this year (and still a ton even if they don’t).
Lowrie for 2B, Donaldson for backup 3B/DH, Gonzalez for utility, Corbin as their SP get and Kimbrel and/or Familia for the BP. That would probably put the payroll at 140 plus (total guess).
I think they could easily handle a payroll in the 130s, but whether they do that and more….I’m doubtful of until it happens. Though I’m more hopeful of it happening with these guys than I was with TR. I think their payroll is probably going to end up being more like 115, which would still involve spending 50M or so in the offseason. Even that would be a big deal.
Like Steve, my assumption is that the A’s could get Lowrie to stay and if that happens, or some other team gets him, I’d want Iglesias at SS and Polanco at 2B.
If Corbin doesn’t happen, which I assume it wouldn’t then I’d consider Happ or Eovaldi though I’m not nearly as interested in them. There are several RP I’d be fine with, the above are just my favorite two.
And if no Donaldson, I’d be okay with Cruz, though I prefer a DH rotation for Sano etc than being stuck with a DH only. Cruz would be my exception.
The only other add would be Grandal or Ramos but that feels like a bonus. I feel fine with Castro/Garver/Austudillo, though Castro’s knee is still a concern for me.
I know Gonzalez, Donaldson, Kimbrel sound nice, but I doubt the Twins are even on their radar of teams to consider. Now I know they’re not superstars by any means, but please don’t underestimate proven veterans like David Freese and Jed Lowrie.
Lots of discussion here. Here is how I would proceed.
Free Agent Signings
1. Moustakis (3-4 yr deal 15 mil/yr) Like him for power and he bats LH (Balances lineup where other 1B/3B/DH options are all right handed
2. Dozier (3 yr deal 8-10 mil/yr – Fans love him and I think he is a great bounce back candidate and should be a Twin.
3. Couple of higher end RPs. (2-3 yr deals 7-10 mil per year – Would see how market goes and try to not overpay Target Familia/Robertson/Miller/Soria etc…
4. Would sign Mauer if he does not retire 7/Mil per year
Greinke (3yr 25 mil per year) (would do the deal if Arizona would pick up 8-10 mil a year of contract leaving us with 25-26 mil a year / Send a couple of decent prospects to them. Would not trade Lewis/Graterol/Krillof/Romero/Larnach/Rooker. I think a couple of Prospect pitchers or an OF and Pitcher should be enough as we are taking on 75 mil of the contract.
Sign Couple of minor league IFs (Ex: Petit/Motte etc)
1B Austin (Mauer would platoon here if signed and also play some DH)
Mauer / Astudillo / Grossman (Astudillo probably starts in minors, but with injuries/ineffectiveness I am assuming he gets 350-400 ABs playing a mix of DH/1B/3B/OF )
Starting Staff –
– Romero / Pineda (Stewart / Littel / Gonsalves / Meija / Slegers as other options) (For me Romero or Pineda could go to bullpen if not 5th starter)
Romero/Pineda (Vazquez/Curtiss/Magill/Duffy/J.Reed/Moya as other options)
To me this is a playoff team. Would add Mauer if he would sign. Only change is if Mauer signed I would trade Grossman. I like Grossmans bat but would prefer to have Mauer not retire and split 1B with Austin. Imagining DH spot getting a mix of ABs with Sano getting some time at 3b and 1B.
Would try to sign Rosario / Berrios / Gibson to longer term deals before season starts.