Ask Seth (Thanksgiving Edition)
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins DailyLeave a question or two in the comments below and I will answer them in the article itself. Ask me about the Twins, the offseason, minor leaguers, Rule 5, or whatever you want, within reason. I'll answer them first-come, first-serve. (and obviously, within reason and rules and such.)
Let's get the Questions started...
From ChiefsKid: What's a realistic expectation of opening day 2020 payroll?
Seth: I think putting the expectation at $130 million is more than fair... I also think it's a fairly good over-under as Twins Geek wrote a couple of weeks ago. If you subscribe to the payroll being 48-50% of revenues number that the Players Union has encouraged, they should probably be closer to $140-145 million.
From mikelink: My request for you is a rating question:Please give me a top ten prospect list for potential 2020 positions on the 26 man squad, considering the normal number of injuries.
Seth: That's a tough question... but I'll try...
1.) Alex Kirilloff
2.) Brusdar Graterol
3.) Jhoan Duran
4.) Brent Rooker
5.) Edwar Colina
6.) Travis Blankenhorn
7.) Lewis Thorpe
8.) Nick Gordon
9.) Devin Smeltzer
10.) Jorge Alcala
Those are guys I think could be called up in 2019, ranked by how they are currently in my prospect rankings... But if anyone wants to say that we will see Royce Lewis, I won't argue with you. Same with Trevor Larnach. Next on my list would have been Sean Poppen who I had one place below Alcala.
From beckmt: Do you see the twins signing one of the top 6 FA pitchers?
Do you see C.J. Cron coming back?
Seth: Yes, I see the Twins signing one of the big 5 (not sure who the #6 might be). No, I don't expect them to sign Cole or Strasburg, but I think Wheeler and Bumgarner are definitely in play. I think they'll get one of them.
And, I don't think they'll bring Cron back, at least not by tendering him an arbitration deal. Had he been healthy all year, it would have been an easy decision. Now, I'm not so sure.
Personally, I probably would bring him back, now that he's had the thumb surgery because he was really good until the initial June injury. He's good, and even if he's not great, he could spend the second half as a platoon guy with Kirilloff.
From MN_ExPat: Happy Thanksgiving Seth. Ok, of the remaining FA pitchers, who do you think/believe will ultimately sign and help bring our boys to the promised land? Also, who is your favorite Dark Horse rookie/prospect to this year's Arraez?
Seth: Well, first, I think the Twins could sign Cole or Strasburg and it wouldn't guarantee them anything... I personally am starting to think that Wheeler is most realistic, though Bumgarner makes some sense too.
Man, that Arraez question is tough. However, the things about Arraez were that he was a solid prospect who produced at every level, had some time in AA, added to the 40 but probably not in the 2019 plans.
So, I'll go with Jhoan Duran. I think Blankenhorn might be more similar but there are infielders, so I wanted to go with another position. Kirilloff, Rooker and Larnach are higher-ranked prospects so wouldn't be surprising. Duran only has a handful of AA starts, and while he's a talent, he's not a Top 100 guy and I don't think he''s necessarily in any 2020 plans. But, given a shot, he could take off.
From AZ Twins: I see a lot of people with “grass is greener” mindset. Which Twins player would Twins fans be most excited about joining the Twins if he came from another team? Is this player the same person you think has the most potential on the Twins?
Seth: So many possible answers. Could say Polanco or Kepler because they were most productive. Nelson Cruz was incredible. I would say Jose Berrios would be the Twins player that the Twins fans would be most excited about if he came to the Twins from another team this offseason. He's obviously younger, but he's been better than Wheeler, who will get huge money. Has upside.
As for the player with the most potential, that clearly continues to be Byron Buxton.
From Rochester Dave: Do you have any sense if the front office is happy with the AAA affiliation being in Rochester? There is only One direct flight (Delta) between the cities daily and across baseball there seems to be a trend towards the affiliates being closer to the major league city. I should add that I believe that the Red Wings are quite happy with the Twins. I know, I am looking forward to Graterol, Larnach, Kiriloff and Lewis in the not so distant future! Also, have you ever visited Frontier Field?
Seth: I have not been to Frontier Field. I would love to. I flew in to Syracuse once for work 15+ years ago, drove south to Cortland and then flew out of Binghamton. That's probably as close as I've been.
I don't have any sense of that, but I would think the Twins are happy to be with the Red Wings. I'm sure there are little things here and there, but I don't think that the flight situation is a negative. Only negative is how early it is. I don't necessarily see it as a trend yet for AAA affiliates to be closer, there are a few, but maybe any potential rework of the minor league systems with any "contraction" might facilitate some of that.
And, the Red Wings should be happy with the Twins. They have a pipeline of prospects that will show up more in 2020 and beyond, and they do a nice job bringing in good minor league veterans too, allowing them to be more competitive.
From tarheeltwinsfan: Do the Twins have a binding contract with Elizabethton, which will be breached if the Elizabethton team is eliminated by MLB? Who pays for the extensive renovations which the city of Elizabethton has done recently?
Seth: I am not certain the specifics of the Twins deal with Elizabethton. Most Player Development Agreements are signed for two years. The Twins have done a couple of four year deals over the years.
The Twins contributed some, but I believe the majority of the ballpark renovations were (and may continue to be) paid for my the taxpayers of Elizabethton. NOTE: This article indicates that Elizabethton will pay $1.5 million and the Twins will pay $800,000 toward the ballpark renovations.
From mike link: I was surprised, but not disappointed that Raley was not in the top 10 of prospects to make it on the Twins Roster in 2020.I suspect he is more of a trade prospect.
Seth: He probably should be in the Top 10 of that ranking. I truly think that we underrate him, myself included. As I've pointed out, when he was hurt in late-April, early-May, he was making a great impression on the Red Wings and people were taking notice. He is a really good hitter. Maybe not quite the power of Rooker, but much less swing-and-miss, more speed, better defense and will likely hit for more average. He definitely wasn't added to the 40-man roster just to be a trade chip. Now, he could be traded but that isn't the reason ever to add a player.
From SteelDodo: Do you have your favorite mlb draft strategies that you prefer? (HS pitcher, HS batter, college pitcher, college batter, etc.) From what I've read, generally, college position players have a higher success rate than pitchers, so I tend to agree with our current FO on spending early draft picks and most of the international money on position players. Having said that, do you think the strategy is TOO batter heavy? What would you do differently if you were in charge of Twins drafting?
Seth: That could be a series of articles on its own. My overall theme would simply be to take whichever player you believe has the best chance of being the best player overall. Honestly, outside of a few #1 or #2 overall college pitchers, there aren't a lot of givens in the draft. There are examples of high school and college, hitters and pitchers taken in the Top 5 picks who bust or become stars, in most every organization. I do think that generally pitchers are more risky, but I also think that you have to take those risks sometimes and then hope.
In recent years, they've mixed it up pretty well. They've taken college pitchers and high school hitters and pitchers high. They've taken some college bats high the last few years. And then they seen to just add a ton of college arms late, which is hard to argue against as a strategy.
From Richard Swerdlick: I am thinking of getting a subscription to MILB TV in 2020 so I can watch some of our prospects. Any thoughts about MILB TV as a service?
Seth: I have had MiLB.tv for several years. It's great but fully dependent upon the work done by the affiliates. Rochester does a good job. Pensacola does a really good job. Cedar Rapids has a great production. Ft. Myers and Elizabethton don't have feeds. The nice thing too is that you can go back to games and find highlights. I probably don't use it to its fully potential.
From goulik: Raley, Rooker, Larnach... can you rate these three in comparison to each other offensively, defensively, greatest potential, and highest floor?
Seth: Larnach is the top prospect of the group. He could hit for average, should add power over time too. Probably the best of the three on defense. Greatest overall potential.
Rooker has the most power potential but it will come with the most swing-and-miss.
Raley may have the highest floor, though Larnach might too. Raley's just solid all-around. Could hit for some average, some power, and play solid defense.
From Rosterman: People don't get excited about the signing of minor league free agents, and in the past it was reported as Big News, but now seems to gets hedlines at MLBtraderumors. You would think that with around 150 players in your organization, one wouldn't need to sign players to mostly play at AAA ball (with a few starting their next turn at AA ball). Can you explain to all of us the reasoning behind minor league free agents, the reason an organization will spend extra money to bring in players looking for a comeback or stalled then jettisoned by a team, or reflect on some gem moments you might remember of such signings in, prhaps, the past decade?
Seth: I think the biggest reason is that baseball is hard. Playing AAA ball is really hard, and only a select number get there and succeed there. Teams need to fill AAA rosters. However, it's also important to have depth so that you don't put your prospects in a bad place.
First and foremost, teams are going to do what is best for their prospects, at least the top prospects and probably even the secondary prospects. Could the Twins have called up Alex Kirilloff or even Trevor Larnach in September instead of adding Ian Miller (veteran but came in a trade) or Ryan LaMarre? Sure. Would that have been good for the Twins or the player? Who knows? So it's about protecting prospects and filling out a AAA roster.
It's also just about having depth. Blaine Hardy is a big-league pitcher, and he can help the 2020 Twins in a role. If they keep adding more players, maybe that role is to start the season at AAA and when the Twins have a need, he gets called up.
The Twins have had a lot of successes with minor league free agent signings. I'm not going to look too far back, but Willians Astudillo proved to be a good minor league signing. Ryne Harper was a good minor league signing. LaMarre was a good minor league signing. By their nature, you're not going to find any stars as minor league free agents. That's very rare. But you can find complementary parts that help a team win games.
- mikelink45, tarheeltwinsfan, nclahammer and 3 others like this