We’re closing in on the one-year anniversary of these memorable words from Twins GM Thad Levine: “The best moves are made not when you’re trying to open the window to contend, but when the window is wide open. We’re very eagerly waiting for this window to be opened, and when it is, we plan on striking.”
Last season, the Minnesota roster shattered the pane with 101 wins. A roster that front office characterized as possessing an “unusual abundance of variance and volatility” came up aces. Now, Levine and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey have no real choice but to believe in the talent on hand and take on the mentality of a clear contender. There are several areas to consider for improvement, but as MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained at the outset of the offseason, the rotation was the prime area of focus.
So, how to understand the club’s early maneuvering? Falvey and Levine opened the offseason by bringing back two preexisting players at much higher prices than they had played for in the prior two seasons. The added cost is understandable in each instance, as both pitchers boosted their value with quality seasons. Jake Odorizzi doesn’t seem likely to vastly outperform the $17.8MM he’s now promised after accepting the qualifying offer — he’ll be hard-pressed to replicate his excellent results from 2019 — but it’s an appealing contract for the team since it comes without any future obligations. And just-re-inked hurler Michael Pineda seemed like a plausible candidate to be pursued at a higher rate of pay, so his two-year, $20MM contract seems at worst to be a market-value move that comes with real upside.
The front office is pleased with these re-acquisitions, as it should be, but the rotation remains incomplete. “I do think we’ve stabilized the team and that was essential,” Levine explains to Dan Hayes of The Athletic (subscription link). “Now, we still have the ability to impact it significantly. But, first steps first, was to stabilize.”
Odorizzi and Pineda helped the Twins to a magical 2019 regular season and can undoubtedly be a big part of driving another winner. Doubling down on last year’s unit is mostly a fine strategy. But that roster variability that the Twins’ upper management cited this time last year? It cuts both ways. Mitch Garver might turn into a pumpkin. Nelson Cruz could show his age. Odorizzi and Pineda are hardly assured of repeating their ’19 efforts. Injuries and performance backslides are always possible. With the Indians facing uncertainty, the White Sox trying to figure out precisely how to vault into contention, and the remainder of the AL Central firmly in the rebuilding camp, now isn’t the time for the Twins to play it safe.
Retaining Odorizzi and Pineda was the prelude — but to what? Levine says that the team is “aspirational of getting the best players we can get.” He also suggested patience in making that happen. “What we’ve seen the last couple of years is that this process has skewed later and later each year,” says Levine of free agency. “Maybe we’re seeing it rebound a little bit this offseason and we’re going to be attentive to that. But we’re having a lot of meetings now to put ourselves in the best position to proceed.”
Just how it’ll all shake out remains to be seen. The Twins aren’t in the market for Gerrit Cole but do have eyes on the next tier of available arms. Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu have long been known to be targets. Fellow southpaw starter Dallas Keuchel is also of interest, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link).
Hayes also emphasizes the possibility of trades, even noting that the front office hasn’t ruled out dealing from among its very best prospects. Trouble is, the trade market isn’t exactly laden with obviously available, high-end hurlers. Robbie Ray is probably the best rental arm that could be had; otherwise, Chris Archer may be the next-best single-season target that seems to be available. Matthew Boyd and Caleb Smith are among the controllable pitchers that ought to be open for bids. It is difficult to imagine deals coming together with the Rockies (Jon Gray, German Marquez), Mets (Noah Syndergaard), or Red Sox (Eduardo Rodriguez, David Price), but the Twins have surely inquired. Unfortunately, some of the most intriguing wild-card targets (Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger) play for the division-rival Indians.
The Twins aren’t the only organization playing this high-stakes game at the moment. Intense and widespread demand explains why the Phillies spent big to land Zack Wheeler — beating the Twins and others to do so — while the Nationals went to such heights to retain Stephen Strasburg. If and when the Twins finally put the wraps on a major transaction to haul in a top-shelf starter, it’ll likely sting the wallet or the farm. But with that metaphorical window now wide open, it’s incumbent upon the organization to dedicate real resources to taking advantage.
Pirates need to deal Archer for a few mid level, lottery type prospects
Mid-level? Also no.
So what, a bunch of high-level prospects?
1 mid, 1 low…maybe. Archer is terrible.
That is probably more likely.
I doubt the Twins trade any of their top 4 prospects for Archer but they may move their #5 or #6 prospect as a key piece in a trade for Archer. I can see a trade with #5 OF Trevor Larnach & RHP Cole Sands or one with the #6 prospect SS Keoni Cavaco & OF Gilberto Celestino as possibilities.
Yeah that’s not happening. Maybe give up Acala/Jax/Sands and a lotto ticket for Archer. His value is at an all time low.
Good to know you’re a pirates fan though. Also, above is saying one of those 3 guys, not all 3.
You are not getting any of the twins top 10 prospects for Archer. The twins have a top ten farm system..
I doubt the Pirates trade Archer unless its for at least 1 mid tier and 1 low tier prospect given the Pirates also do not have to trade Archer. Archer is familiar with the AL Central batters and is better than his last years numbers. Archer is still provides 150 innings as a back end of the rotation pitcher which should improve with a better catcher and under new pitching coaches that allow him to pitch to his strengths. If the pitching market dries up and the Twins are still looking you might be surprised that they trade a prospect in the 5-10 range.
They could just sign Teheran
Think the Twins would look at a package of Archer/Bell though. Pirates could get some nice pieces for that.
Getting bell in the deal I’d consider making a package.
Archer for Bryan Mitchell ?
At this point, Ryu and MadBum shouldn’t sign until Cole is off the board.
Zach Wheeler disagrees.
Are you sure? The loser of the Cole sweepstakes would have been desperate. Had Wheeler waited, the Angels would have gotten involved.
Jeff, I hope you kept a file copy to re-post in a couple months.
don’t we all!
I feel like I read a variation of an article like this regarding the Twins’ rotation, and each year the outcome is the same.
And will continue to be the same. The Twins don’t like to spend money and all the good FA’s know this. Good luck convincing any of them to come to Minnesota.
After Stras contract & Coles Price….Madbum in line for 150mm+
No he’s not
No, teams are not that dumb. He’s aging and the metrics back that up. He’s not the elite arm he used to be. He will probably land in the $90 million to Zach Wheeler range depending upon year’s.
Still too rich for Minnesota’s blood
The Twins offseason goal should be simple. Sign at least one of those pitchers for the rotation (MadBum, Ryu or Kuechel) and then do anything possible that isn’t completely absurd to acquire Josh Hader from the Brewers. They have the prospects and potential major league pieces to get it done without giving up any of their top 3 prospects and for 4 years of control on the best RP in the game, it’s a no brainer. Middle infield and outfield depth are there. They make these two moves and they walk into another division crown and are positioned to maybe just maybe win a playoff game or two. Make it happen Falvine!
They’d be in line for a playoff win as long as they don’t play the Yankees again.
If you’re betting on that to happen, I’ve got an igloo in Key West to sell real cheap
Getting one of them and hader would be a nice get
At this point none of the Free Agent starters excite me as a Twins fan. Some team is going to over pay for Bumgarner. As you saw in the playoffs last year the Twins need an “Ace” to advance in the playoffs. Can Brusdar Graterol be that guy? Maybe in a couple years. Twins best option is to trade for a pitcher. Eddie Rosario has been great but his salary is getting high. Any thoughts what pitcher they could get for him?
Nothing too great. He’s ranges from above average to below average fielder depending on the value of his arm that given year. He’s a decent average/low OBP/good power corner outfielder who’s worth a couple wins every year. You can maybe package him and a decent prospect like Blayne Enlow for Robbie Ray but that’s also just depends on how Arizona values him.
I agree that none of the top FA Pitchers (other than Cole) are that impressive .. The Twins will need to go the trade route to improve their rotation . Which I think and believe is the way to proceed . !
What about Boyd? I read that Det was un need of corner outfielders and even though it is a division rival, the Tigers are rebuilding so maybe it’s not an issue.
Twins will never get past the Yankees unless they make a Cole/Bum type of sign.
Cole and Bum are two very different pitchers.
Cole meets your definition while Bum does not.
Im not comparing the two in terms of stuff. Im just trying to say that they need a big name pitcher.
Bum is still a big name pitcher that would do excellent on any team, even if he moved to the AL.
We all know they are not in on Cole, but I think they should make a big move for an ace. Id like to see them go far in the playoffs.
Nonsense. No one player puts any team over the top. It’s the players simply performing when the time comes. The Yankees are in the Twins’ heads.
Twins would be better off just continuing to add from their excellent farm system and making smaller impactful moves to supplement a solid roster than mortgaging its future on guys whose best days are behind them.
But hey, I’m just a dumb Tribe fan, what do I know?
You’re saying that Cole going game 1 against the Yanks is not going to make a difference?
Thats nonsense bro.
You must work for the baseball players’ agent association. Nothing raises salaries like the idea that someone is “indispensable” or is “guaranteed” to make your team a winner.
Eric Hosmer. Manny Machado. Bryce Harper.
Ever check Gerritt Cole’s lifetime record in the postseason, bro? Far from a slam dunk. This is baseball, after all, not the NBA.
There are a lot more slam dunks in the NBA, that’s true. More grand slams in baseball, though.
like you said, you’re a tribe fan so what do you know
Avory dropping wisdom in threads that have none. Thank goodness.
Of course the Twinkies aren’t in the market for Gerrit Cole or Rendon. Those two would give them a chance of getting by the Yankees.
Injuries can happen to the Yankees next year so why would the Twins not put them in the best possible condition to win a 5 game playoff series.
The Yankees were one of the most injured teams in MLB this year. The Twins did nothing to them. THAT is how being a big market team gives a greater advantage. It allows for plenty of depth. If Minnesota or Tampa or Oakland had half as many injuries as the Yankees, they would have been competing with the Tigers and Orioles for the #1 pick instead of in postseason contention.
So injuries to the Yanks wouldn’t really help Minnesota much.
That depth was made up of a lot of cheap guys like Urshela and Maybin, though, that any team could have had if they wanted. Issue was the Yankees were smarter at accumulating the depth, not that they way outspent other teams to do it.
BREAKING NEWS: The Twins Nor any other team is going to sign both Cole and Rendon !!
Dream On …
These two clowns don’t know how to judge pitching talent. Therefore no top of the rotation guy headed 1 Twins way. They will get fleece on any trade.
Clowns seriously? Do you even watch the Twins? If not that would make sense but they are not clowns.
Yeah clowns they over value their prospects, get fleeced in every trade. Didn’t or couldn’t make a deadline trade in July when they had the best home run team in history. Yes clowns
Remember the Stroman deal, Twins called and expected a call back. Well that never happened, maybe the clowns should have picked up the phone again then sit and wait for Jays to call. Clueless!
Looks like the twins will continue their “under-promise and under-deliver” method again. This poor fan base…
Why didn’t the Jays hire Thad Levine and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey? Sooo much better than Shapiro and Atkins who have turned in to the Keystone cops!
Jon Gray would look good in the twinkies rotation. Archer fits almost nowhere at this point, maybe Miami or Detroit, but they not trading prospects for him.
Archer is intriguing, he could go to the Astros, and I bet they would tell him to quit leaning so much on two-seam (if i’m not mistaken), and it would be another PIT to HOU transformation.
The rangers have said before that they aren’t apposed to trading Minor or Lynn if they get the right return. Maybe Lynn since he has a longer contract, and he isn’t just a rental?
We hear this every year, what are we actually gonna do? I mean we cant develop pitching at all and we never sign and high tier FAs. Its not really a mystery why we have 0 playoffs wins in the last 15 years.
Happ and a mid level prospect for salary relief sounds like a possibility.
The key for Falvey and Levine is “ who will become the next Cole” in the next year or two; not pay 300 million to compete on Cole. That’s what great management does is acquire the player before they have the great results. We’ll have to wait and see who is brilliant.
Exactly. Chasing past performance is ludicrous, inefficient, and counterproductive. Develop your own Cole., or trade for one well before one emerges. Why does everyone think it’s impossible to develop your own Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco, Shane Bieber, and Aaron Civale? Yes, Minnesota, that’s how you do it. You’ve got the great lineup, now go find some pitching.
But hey, if the Twins want to overpay for pitching and mortgage their future, I’m all for it.
Probably would have to overpay to get Archer or Boyd, so no thanks.
Assuming we lose Bumgarner, Keuchel and Ryu are fine additions, but not what I imagine when I hear the words “impact pitching.” I expect the Twins to be making serious calls on Ray, E-Rod, and Marquez.
If you look at the market, you are going to over pay for a FA or trade. Pick your poison
Kinda, although the way I see it is that there are some guys who are worth overpaying for and there some who’re not.
Archer and Boyd are simply not those guys.
Ray being a rental shouldn’t be a huge overpay. Will cost a bit but they are pretty flush in the farm. TOR type arm, Wes Johnson can try to improve his control and Twins can try to sell him on contract extension in the process while they’re winning.
Another idea: E Rosario and a prospect for AJ Puk. Oak SP very lefty-heavy, maybe they’d move one.
Like the idea but I suspect it will take more than that for Puk.
Would rather have Ryu than either of the other 2….
Boyd, Zimmerman and 15mil for Rooker, Cavaco, Jeffers.
Carlos Martinez for Rosario
Not gonna happen.
I think the FO has done better than the previous regime, but the problem is they have to use this moneyball approach because the Pohlads aren’t going to open up the check book. That and they talk too much about windows being open and adding impact pitchers, which creates an expectation from the fan base. Then it’s about trying and just not being able to get it done. They clearly need an ace to win a game in October and I just don’t see them doing what needs to be done to get one.
Love the Twins. Last year they’d have had to give up some prospect capital for MadBum. This year, a lottery ticket. Give him $100 million and let fans watch him take BP. He’ll probably DEMAND the right to hit BP. He’s a hell of a leader. I’m a SF fan admittedly. Minnesota has a better chance of competing. Let’s see a smaller market team win it all! Get Bum!
Wonder if Eovaldi/Bradley is a good trade piece for the Twins for a Rosario or Kepler which would clear the way for betts being traded for a SP to the White Sox who is looking or vs verus
Twins do not need an overpriced guy like JBJ on their roster. Although, Eovaldi does kind of make sense as a trade deadline candidate. However, not for Rosie or Kepler. Assuming he rebounds, I could see a package of Cave, Thorpe, and Enlow.
Kepler won’t be moved as a part of any trade. He just signed a team friendly deal and he’s coming off a breakout season.
The Twins are done. Nobody major unfortunately isn’t going to Minnesota. They need to grow their own players. They will always be a 2nd tier or even 3rd tier market club. Not a slam as they are great organization. Just how it is these days
I fear you are correct… which is why MLB needs to address competitive balance much more than it does. I think I’ll try the MiLB next season maybe the minors are competitive…
My guess is the Twins will pick up a middle of the road arm and that the White sox will Pick up a better one… that window is sliding shut and they don’t know it.. they had an opportunity last year and threw it out the window by refusing to bolster the staff with a true ACE.. we know how well that worked out> Don’t expect them to hit 307 HR this season and have middle of the pack pitching in the AL unless they sign a TOP ACE or trade for one.. which they will not..
I agree. They could have made a splash at the deadline last season but didn’t because they covet prospects instead of using them as trade chips. They could actually afford GC but there’s no way they’d ever offer that type of contract.
Yes, last deadline they were (and always have been) pretty protective of their prospects. They didn’t expect, or perhaps trust, that rapid improvement. They have to be financially smart, but they seem willing to make significant investments…spent plenty on J Mauer for instance. Front office, coaching and scouting have all been transitioning into modern era of analytics and I think second generation owner Jim Pohlad is onboard. Not gonna be Philly “stupid money”, but they see the window is open now. Farm is flush. I think they deal from it with maybe a Rosario included to get a high upside controllable pitcher (suggested Puk as an example earlier) and maybe sign a middle tier FA as well.
Twins won’t do anything. As usual, they’re all talk and no action.
I’d be surprised if they sign a big name. They haven’t in the past. They say “we tried”. Obviously not very hard. Low ball bargain binners
Names don’t get outs. Filthy talent does. Let’s see what the FO pursues before complaining about the past regime.
When is Pineda free to play? I assume it won’t be until May or June… right?
The pitcher the Twins need will not be found in free agency. He will have to be like a Johan Santana. An unknown that unfolds into a great pitcher. Twins either can not or will not compete financially. It is that type of player that surprises and brings home a pennant.
Could not agree more, great article! They have to improve this team. The time is NOW! I wouldn’t deal the blue-chippers unless you are getting a proven ace on a market value contract that is not a one season rental. Rental players are to be had mid-year at the trade deadline. Time to add some foundational pieces. Let’s get this done!