Offseason Blueprint: Making Big Betts
Image courtesy of © Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY SportsThis blueprint looks at capitalizing on one team's need to cut salary to avoid the luxury tax threshold and enter into the free agent market themselves. Before going too much further, lets lay out the big move and then explain why it may make any sense for the Twins to attempt to put together an offseason centered around such a move.
1. Trade Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Jordan Balazovic and Nick Gordon to the Boston Red Sox for OF Mookie Betts and LHP David Price
Un-Minnesota right? The Twins get a top-10 MLB player in Betts who can hit, field and has an MVP on his resume. The major downside for anyone trading for Betts this offseason is that they will only get him for one season.
Price may not be the dominant David Price we remember, but if he is healthy, he still has the ability to contribute to a major league starting staff. While his ERA was 4.28 in 2019 his FIP was 3.62 and still has a swinging strike rate above 11%. The concern with Price is his contract and a decrease in velocity.
The biggest return the Red Sox get is nearly $60 million in contracts off the books in 2020 and and additional $32 million per season owed to Price the next two seasons.
Boston also gets two major league ready pieces in Rosario, who steps into Betts' role, and Sano, who fills their need at first base. With a vacancy at second, Gordon becomes a candidate there, and Balazovic gives the Red Sox a talented and controllable young arm that they covet. It would be great if the Twins didn’t have to give up both Sano and Rosario, but it sounds like the Red Sox are going to want a good haul for Betts to move him.
Now for the rest of the moves that help fit those big contracts into the Twins payroll. A payroll that will obviously need to increase but will try and do so within reason.
2. Tender all arbitration-eligible players
This becomes necessary to fill roster spots in a relatively affordable way with the extra salary being brought on board.
3. Sign RHP Jake Odorizzi for three years, $36 million
Odorizzi will never be an ace but has proven that he can still be a very valuable part to a playoff rotation. The Twins staff also clearly knows how to get that out of him and to continue to allow them to work with Odorizzi will hopefully help maintain if not improve on those results.
4. Sign RHP Sergio Romo for one year, $3 million
At $3 million Romo comes in relatively affordably when it comes to quality playoff caliber arms. His personality and experience is also always welcome and with the bulk of the Twins payroll going elsewhere, Romo can continue to mentor and lead the bullpen.
5. Sign Kyle Barraclough for one year, $1 million
I personally highlighted Barraclough last week but didn’t expect to actually use him anywhere in a blueprint. Here I am trying to find a bargain bin arm that could bounce back and have an impact for the Twins in the bullpen. The hope here is that Barraclough would be able to reduce his hard hit rate and continue to create swing and misses but with much better results than he had in 2019.
6. Trade OF Akil Baddoo and 2B/3B/OF Travis Blankenhorn to the Rockies for RHP Jon Gray
This trade has the potential to be similar to what the Twins did with Odorizzi. Gray had a better season in 2019 than Odorizzi did before the Twins acquired him which is the reason for two prospects in this deal vs. the one when Odorizzi was acquired.
Gray pitches with good velocity (96.1 mph) and induces ground balls at a high rate. He certainly can be a back end of the rotation starter, but hopefully the Twins could find the front-line starter the Rockies once thought they had in the right-hander. Gray has team control through 2021 and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $5.6 million this coming season.
The lineup does look to lose a bit in the way of depth in comparison to the 2019 version of the Twins. There is no doubt that Betts makes the top end of the lineup much better. A healthy Cron hopefully contributes more to this lineup than he did down the stretch this past season. If not, there are the likes of Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach that the Twins could figure out how to get in the lineup in his place.
The starting rotation may still be lacking the true ace that is being sought. Berrios, Price, Odorizzi, and Gray each represent pitchers who have the potential to carry a team. Brusdar Graterol is also a possibility to figure in here. Graterol and Berrios likely represent the best chance for an emerging and dominant ace.
The hope here is that the bullpen was much better than what we saw of it in the playoffs, whether it was misuse or just bad execution. The 2020 Twins according to this blueprint will mostly need to see continued growth from many of these arms since it is mostly the same group returning.
Including the $0.5 million buyout for Martin Perez this puts the Twins payroll at $144.8 million. What would make this approach soar is if the front office got permission from ownership to spend even more to make the most of the one year of Betts. Maybe winning baseball for a second season would at least allow for payroll to be added at the trade deadline mid-summer.
This approach would admittedly be a gamble. There is a lot going into 2020 and an added contract in Price’s that has the potential to soak up a large chunk of the payroll for the next three seasons. Betts is the type of player that may just be worth the gamble.
Check out these other Offseason Blueprints:
Building a Bullpenner
What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long.