Offseason Outlook: Cody’s 2021 Twins Blueprint
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY SportsFilling Out the Line-Up
Alex Kirilloff is going to be a big part of the 2021 Twins even if he isn’t in the line-up on Opening Day. The Twins thought highly enough of him to put him into the playoff line-up in a do-or-die situation and there have been other glowing reports out of the Twin Cities. He slides in nicely to the spot vacated after the Twins non-tender Eddie Rosario. Kirilloff is cheaper and has the potential to produce at a similar level for a fraction of the cost.
Nelson Cruz has been amazing in a Twins uniform, but there are no certainties surrounding a player over the age of 40. Marcell Ozuna seems like a better option to fill the designated hitter role. He is a decade younger than Cruz and he is coming off a season where he hit .338/.431/.636 while leading the NL in home runs, RBI, and total bases.
With Ozuna’s big contract, money is saved with the reserve players. Jake Cave can come back as a starting outfielder to begin the year before Kirilloff becomes the regular player. Travis Blankenhorn takes over the role vacated by Marwin Gonzalez as the super utility player. Ehire Adrianza steps back in as the back up player at multiple positions and Ryan Jeffers starts the season as the backup catcher with a good chance to be used more regularly than Garver.
Three out of the five rotation spots for the Twins are decided with Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, and Michael Pineda penciled in. This leaves decisions to make in the back half of the rotation. One strategy would be to sign someone big for the fourth spot in their rotation and leave the fifth spot to someone else already in the organization.
The Texas Rangers already announced they would decline the option on Corey Kluber and it seems like a no-brainer for the Twins front office to be interested. Derek Falvey, Minnesota’s President of Baseball Operations, worked with the Kluber when he was a member of the Cleveland Indians. Kluber was a three-time All-Star with Cleveland and won two Cy Young awards.
The back of Minnesota’s rotation can easily be filled with a cornucopia of players from within the organization. Randy Dobnak seems like the logical first choice, but there are plenty of other options including Cody Stashak, Lewis Thorpe, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic. Teams don’t need a lot out of the fifth spot in the rotation and these players can more than fill that role.
Completing the Bullpen
Bullpens have become so important in the modern game especially with starters pitching fewer innings. This year’s playoffs were a prime example with the Dodgers and the Rays riding their bullpens to a thrilling World Series. While these teams relied on a variety of arms, the Twins strategy might need to change if they spend on the players mentioned above.
The bullpen outlined above might be worse than last year’s conglomeration with Sergio Romo’s option declined and other players pushed into different roles. Tyler Duffey and Jorge Alcala will be absolute weapons in late innings. The Twins can hope for a bounce back year from Taylor Rogers. The front office might also be able to find another Matt Wisler type player from another organization.
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