Offseason Blueprint: Run It Back
Image courtesy of © Denny Medley-USA TODAY SportsWhen I say bring the band back together, I mean everyone but Sam Dyson. Michael Pineda, Martín Pérez and Kyle Gibson are set to exit the rotation along with position players Jonathan Schoop and Jason Castro. The veteran ball of energy reliever Sergio Romo is also contract free. There are three prominent reasons why the Twins should bring them all back:
1.) These guys not only contributed on the field (some more than others), but there is serious chemistry and comradery among this group. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine carefully constructed the roster with both talent and charisma, and the team really seemed to gel on many fronts.
2.) The stars were limping in October. Mitch Garver was hampered by a hip impingement, Max Kepler was hardly healthy with a shoulder issue, Luis Arraez was hobbling, C.J. Cron battled a faulty thumb and Nelson Cruz played without a tendon in his wrist. Perhaps worst of all, both Byron Buxton and Michael Pineda were unavailable. When healthy and active, the 2019 team can win in October.
3.) There seems to be an assumption that because of the postseason, the Twins rotation was a mess in 2019. This is far from the truth. The starting rotation posted the fourth best fWAR in the American League, and the seventh best in the league. The bullpen was phenomenal, posting the third best fWAR in MLB. There are also ways for the Twins to improve pitching internally.
The Twins are off to a phenomenal start as All-Star Jake Odorizzi accepted his qualifying offer and will return to the rotation in 2020. This was step one, here are the rest:
Sign RHP Michael Pineda for 2-years, $22 million
Pineda was great in the second half with a 5-1 record and 3.04 ERA. Pineda struck out 56 batters and walked just 12 in 53 ⅓ innings after the break. He is unavailable for the first 39 games, but the Twins would prefer an innings limit anyway.
Sign RHP Kyle Gibson for 1-year, $9 million with $12 million club option for 2021
Gibson was a huge part of the Twins’ heartbeat. He leads with a great winning attitude and radiates positivity on and off the field. Jon Heyman reported Monday that Gibson is garnering interest from at least 1/3 of the league at the GM meetings in Scottsdale:
Sign LHP Martín Pérez for 1-year, $5 million
Pérez looked the part of a masterful pickup before the league figured him out and forced him off the playoff roster. There is legitimate reason to believe that Pérez can succeed in a bullpen platoon role. He has held lefties to a .639 OPS in his career.
Sign RHP Sergio Romo for 1-year, $5 million
Romo almost made up for the Dyson debacle by himself. The 36-year-old can still be a vital part of the bullpen because of his elite slider. Romo’s slider generated a 33% whiff rate and .184 batting average in 2019. He also held righties to a .205/.248/.394 line. He is a great clubhouse presence and the team seems to really admire him.
Sign C Jason Castro for 2-years, $12 million
Castro and Garver combined to form a lethal catcher platoon combo last year. Castro hit .254/.354/.497 against righties and Garver hit .321/.434/.736 against lefties. Castro is familiar with the split role and has repore with the pitchers above.
Sign 2B Jonathan Schoop for 2-years, $16 million
Luis Arraez is returning as the primary second baseman, but Schoop had a .917 OPS against lefties compared to a .696 OPS for Arraez in 2019. Schoop can slot into a defensive platoon role and Baldelli praised him as a phenomenal teammate in 2019.
Many will understandably point to the ALDS landslide when abolishing this plan. The Yankees were better than the Twins last year, but the gap is closing. Buxton was arguably an MVP candidate before shoulder surgery, and there is no reason to believe that he and the others can not continue to develop.
According to MLB Pipeline, the Twins have the 3rd best farm system in the American League. The phenom flamethrower Brusdar Graterol should find himself in the rotation soon enough, and 21-year-old Jordan Balazovic is moving quickly. Additionally, top prospects Royce Lewis and Alex Kiriloff are chomping at the bit to reach the bigs.
This roster won the AL Central by eight games and finished with the second best record in franchise history. This is hardly a failed offseason, and running it back may be the best option. Adversity will happen, but hopefully the Twins can avoid serious injuries down the stretch. Here is the 26-man look:
Spending $10-20 million more is not worth breaking up team companionship and community.
What do you think?
More blueprints from our writers:
Building a Bullpenner | Nick Nelson
Making Big Betts | Nate Palmer
Hooking a Big Fish | Ted Schwerzler
The Window Just Opened | Jeremy Nygaard
Cheat Off the Champs | Matthew Lenz
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