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2019/2020 Twins Minor League Signings

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Offseason Status Update: Final Grades

Whew. What a Hot Stove home stretch. You can't rule anything out, but the Twins appear to have completed their offseason, with a late surge of activity crystallizing the front office's championship resolve.

Let's get up to speed with a final rundown as spring training officially gets underway.
Image courtesy of Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
One month ago, when we last checked in, the winter was dragging in a ho-hum direction. A recent Miguel Sano contract extension and some roster additions around the fringes were encouraging enough developments, but the big splash wasn't materializing. No marquee addition. No deviation from the narrative that long-term flexibility and internal pipeline matter above all else.

Since then, the Twins have signed Josh Donaldson to a record-breaking contract and traded the organization's top pitching prospect for a veteran impact starter in Kenta Maeda. In doing so, the front office emphatically addressed multiple remaining areas of uncertainty, albeit at the cost of Brusdar Graterol, two top-100 picks in the coming draft, and around $100 million.

Here's the roster and payroll projection with new details added: Donaldson's $21M salary, Maeda's $3.125 M (packaged with the rehabbing Hill, for the purposes of this table), and Jose Berrios's now-finalized figure after losing his arbitration case.

Attached Image: roster29.png


A HEIGHTENED PAYROLL CEILING

The $138 million payroll projected above is already easily a new franchise record for the Twins. But the final tab for ownership could end up being significantly higher.

Maeda has many incentives and escalators built into his base salary (via Spotrac):
  • Innings Pitched Bonus: $250,000 each for 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, 180, 190, 200
  • Games Started Bonus: $1M each for 15, 20l; $1.5M each for 25, 30, 32
Hill, meanwhile, has plenty of kickers on top of his $3 million guarantee (also via Spotrac):
  • $1 million for 5 games started or 25 innings
  • $1M for 7 starts/35 innings
  • $1M for 9 starts/45 innings
  • $1.5M for 11 starts/55 innings
  • $2M for 13 starts/65 innings
  • $3M for 15 starts/75 innings
Toss in reachable incentives for other players (including Donaldson), as well as the $1.6 million guarantee that NRI Jhoulys Chacin will trigger if (when?) he makes the team, and payroll could very well soar beyond $150 million. Last year, that would've ranked 11th in baseball.

Even accounting for the $10 million they got back in the Maeda trade, the Twins are stepping up financially. It's officially time to kill the "Cheap Pohlads" narrative.

BERRIOS TAKES A RARE 'L'

As mentioned earlier, Berrios lost his arbitration case, so he'll make $4.025 million this year rather than the $4.4 million he sought. These hearings have been known to cause friction between players and teams in the past, but by all accounts Berrios was pushing for a higher number more out of precedent, as opposed to feeling offended by Minnesota's offer (which, according to an objective ruling, was fair).

The possibility of an extension before Opening Day remains on the table, and I'm not sure this turn of events really affects that much one way or another.

RELOADING THE SYSTEM

There haven't been any further changes to the MLB coaching staff, which was rounded out by the addition of bench coach Mike Bell, but here again is the final group:
  • Manager: Rocco Baldelli
  • Hitting Coach: Edgar Varela
  • Hitting Coach: Rudy Hernandez
  • Pitching Coach: Wes Johnson
  • Bullpen Coach: Bob McClure
  • Bench Coach: Mike Bell
  • MLB Coach: Bill Evers
The front office underwent some reconfiguration over the winter as well. Daniel Adler and Jeremy Zoll were both promoted to Assistant GM roles, Alex Hassan was named Director of Player Development (you can get to know him in Seth's profile), and Jeremy Raadt became Director of Baseball Systems. Several new minor-league instructors entered the fold – many plucked from forward-thinking college programs, much like Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson was a year ago.

The value of having a two-headed monster in Derek Falvey and Thad Levine came into full focus over the winter, as the club filled numerous important roles throughout the baseball ops department while also executing the most ambitious and active offseason roster supplementation in franchise history.

The infrastructure they continue to build together is nothing short of amazing. So it's a very good thing that both Falvey and Levine were extended through 2024 in November.

GRADING THE OFFSEASON

Honestly, how can you not mark them in the 'A' range? I might go with an A- because neither Donaldson nor Maeda is quite a slam-dunk fit, but in tandem the duo is arguably superior to signing Zack Wheeler, who offered the most plausible big-splash scenario for this team coming into the winter.

By re-signing Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda, the Twins retained two key pieces of a 101-win division champ, and by adding Donaldson and Maeda they built significantly upon that base. Meanwhile, the front office also made some nice additions at the fringes: Homer Bailey, Rich Hill and Jhoulys Chacin bring varying levels of low-stakes veteran intrigue to the rotation; Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard do the same in a well-stocked bullpen.

This was a balanced, measured, aggressive offseason in which the Twins rolled with the punches, pivoted when Plan A failed, and hung tough in negotiations to get the deals they wanted. The team sent a message to the fanbase, and the league, by rocketing to new payroll heights and trading their top pitching prospect.

Meanwhile, the Twins filled numerous openings throughout the coaching and baseball ops ranks, and established some long-term continuity both at the executive (Falvey and Levine) and player levels. Sano joins Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco with extensions; add in the four-year contracts for Donaldson and Maeda, and in the space of 12 months, the Twins have gone from zero multi-year commitments to having five players locked in through at least 2022.

The Twins followed one of the most successful seasons ever with one of their most successful offseasons ever. What's next?

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34 Comments

I have said this in other grading posts - you cannot grade until the end of the season.At this point we can look at effort and we can look at potential, but the grade comes next fall when we hopefully win the division and some games in the post season.Right now it is all bells and whistles, hopes and wishes.

    • adorduan likes this
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terrydactyls1947
Feb 13 2020 07:17 PM
I think you can grade this off season right now. The front office did what the could to improve the pitching and the hitting. They did two things that all TD posters complained that the Twins never do: they signed a high-dollar free agent and they traded a valued "prospect" for a proven starter. Maybe none of this works but it doesn't diminish what they accomplished. Good job!
    • SQUIRREL, Steve Lein, birdwatcher and 14 others like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Feb 13 2020 07:34 PM

Nick, Thanks for a concise summary of the most productive off season I have ever witnessed as a Twins' fan. I read that before one season, Dean Smith put up a picture of the incoming Tar Heel basketball team winning the national championship in the arena in which it was scheduled to be played in March at the end of the season, so the players could visualize that happening. And it did happen. It is my hope that the Twins will, from day one of spring training, visualize winning the World Series in 2020.  

    • birdwatcher likes this
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howieramone2
Feb 13 2020 07:37 PM
Great article Nick! Couldn't agree more.
    • birdwatcher likes this

 

I have said this in other grading posts - you cannot grade until the end of the season.At this point we can look at effort and we can look at potential, but the grade comes next fall when we hopefully win the division and some games in the post season.Right now it is all bells and whistles, hopes and wishes.

I take the exact opposite stance.They have no control over how the player performs..If the Twins had done absolutely nothing would you still hold off on grading them? If they had done absolutely nothing and got to the WS would you give them high grades for doing nothing. Hindsight will tell you whether a transaction worked out well but not whether it was a good transaction to start with.A couple years ago they signed Odo, Lynn and Morrison. I thought they were great moves. All three of them. They just didn't work out but the success Odo and Lynn had last year says they could just have easily worked out in 2018.Its kind of no different than in game management. You can walk Nick Punto to get to Mike Trout and if you get Trout out does that mean it was a good move? If you walk Mike Trout to get to Nick Punto and Punto gets a hit was that a bad move to walk Trout? I give the Twins a solid B. I think Maida was a decent move.Risky but worth taking. Donaldson improves the defense and the lineup and all it costs is money butthat money in year 3 and 4 might have alternative value.A little lower grade for Donaldson but still ok.A's for resigning Odorizzi and Pineda whether they have good seasons or not.C's for Bailey and Chacin because I wanted at least 1 spot for internal options. I would have given a B if they had just signed Bailey.B+ for signing Clippard especially since that mitigates the loss of Graterol.

    • birdwatcher, mikelink45, DocBauer and 5 others like this
91 might have been a better offseason with Chili Davis and Jack Morris, but I could be persuaded that Donaldson and Maeda are a better tandem as an offseason goes, and this was after setting the foundation with Pineda and Odo

So if this is in contention with the best offseason in my lifetime, it has to be an A....
    • IndianaTwin likes this

 

I have said this in other grading posts - you cannot grade until the end of the season.At this point we can look at effort and we can look at potential, but the grade comes next fall when we hopefully win the division and some games in the post season.Right now it is all bells and whistles, hopes and wishes.

While the outcome of the season is what counts the most, what we are grading would be the effort to make that a positive outcome. No matter who they signed or how much money was spent that would still be true.

    • mikelink45 and IndianaTwin like this

I would go with the A- .The move I do not like is Homer Bailey for 9 Million.At the time the money seemed OK but I am not sure he will help that much. The Clippard signing for 3 million is excellent.He is better against lefties than righties and we do not have a second lefty reliever. He can fill that role as a righty. Chacin is a good move because a minor league signing.If he is done he will not cost anything. Wisler worth a shot- low cost.I am a big fan of the Maeda trade. We usually hang on to our prospects too long. The thing I like best about the Donaldson signing is we finally made a decisive move for a big ticket free agent.Will the end of that contract be good for the Twins.Very few long term big money signings are good deals the last year or two,

 

The decision I am interested in following is it seems the FO decided to go for Donaldson instead of RYU. That seemed like a pitcher we could have signed but we opted for Donaldson. 

 

I am very excited about this upcoming season and the forseeable future. It must be about spring time.

    • mikelink45 likes this

 

91 might have been a better offseason with Chili Davis and Jack Morris, but I could be persuaded that Donaldson and Maeda are a better tandem as an offseason goes, and this was after setting the foundation with Pineda and Odo

So if this is in contention with the best offseason in my lifetime, it has to be an A....

I remember liking the Davis signing a lot. I liked the Morris signing but he was 35 coming off two mediocre seasons.Another case of getting an A because the players did way better than expected. Kind of the equivalent of signing Bumgarner 6 years from now after two years of 4.5 to 4.9 ERA.2003 was a great off season.Aj for Nathan, Liriano and Bonser and cleared space for Mauer.Matt Guerrier off waivers. Signed free agent Shannon Stewart. Got Punto and Silva for Milton who never pitched well again.I probably should have left Guerrier, Punto and Silva off the list because I had never heard of Guerrier and I don't remember how I felt about the Milton deal at the time.  

    • mikelink45 and Sconnie like this

I am drunk on free agent signings and high profile trades.Wake me up in July.I hope I don't have a hangover.

    • Steve Lein likes this
I had very low expectations regarding the Twins and this off-season. There has been so many years that the Twins made zero moves and did nothing to improve the team except fill holes with players well out of their prime.

It seems to me the Twins are finally turning the corner and realize if you indeed make your team competitive you will fill your coffers.

What is a huge deal about this off-season is the signing of Donaldson. This might be the corner we are turning when it comes to the lack of superstar free agency signings and the proof that the orginization finally wants to stay competitive.

The only reason on why I would not give them an A instead of a B is because they again are really rolling the dice with our starting pitching. We signed a bunch of pitchers who are on their downswing in their careers. This only is about free agency signings and not Twins who were on the current roster.

Saying that it doesn't mean they won't go after anyone in free agency in July but it is cause for concern.

What makes me optimistic is that this team made itself better when it comes to defense and power. Of we can keep that lineup healthy we should easily win at least 100 games this year and make a run in the playoffs hopefully breaking our playoff curse.

None of this will matter much when they face Cole or Verlander. True Aces. IMO they spent a lot of money for left-overs instead of going after the cream of the crop. Yeah, you'll make the argument that they didn't want to come here but the fact remains the best went elsewhere. I hope I'm wrong but I'll bet they'll make a quick exit in the 1st round again. 

    • mikelink45 likes this
"It's officially time to kill the "Cheap Pohlads" narrative."

 

I really like the rest of this article, but gotta go with a strong disagree on this one. According to Sportrac, this roster puts the Twins at 14th in MLB for payroll. One season of spending enough to have a middle-of-the-pack payroll does not make up for decades of penny-pinching.

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IndianaTwin
Feb 14 2020 08:00 AM

I'll give it an A, though I have to say that the vast majority (all?) of us don't have all the information to make an accurate assessment.

 

Most of us are like the student in the eighth row, trying to suggest that the teacher that e = cm^2, rather than the other way around.

 

 

    • mikelink45 and DocBauer like this

 

I think you can grade this off season right now. The front office did what the could to improve the pitching and the hitting. They did two things that all TD posters complained that the Twins never do: they signed a high-dollar free agent and they traded a valued "prospect" for a proven starter. Maybe none of this works but it doesn't diminish what they accomplished. Good job!

We can grade the effort, not the results - not yet.We can have great expectations and most of us do, but expectations are not the same as performance.

    • Sconnie likes this

 

While the outcome of the season is what counts the most, what we are grading would be the effort to make that a positive outcome. No matter who they signed or how much money was spent that would still be true.

I agree with your premise - grading the effort is worthwhile.

 

I take the exact opposite stance.They have no control over how the player performs..If the Twins had done absolutely nothing would you still hold off on grading them? If they had done absolutely nothing and got to the WS would you give them high grades for doing nothing. Hindsight will tell you whether a transaction worked out well but not whether it was a good transaction to start with.A couple years ago they signed Odo, Lynn and Morrison. I thought they were great moves. All three of them. They just didn't work out but the success Odo and Lynn had last year says they could just have easily worked out in 2018.Its kind of no different than in game management. You can walk Nick Punto to get to Mike Trout and if you get Trout out does that mean it was a good move? If you walk Mike Trout to get to Nick Punto and Punto gets a hit was that a bad move to walk Trout? I give the Twins a solid B. I think Maida was a decent move.Risky but worth taking. Donaldson improves the defense and the lineup and all it costs is money butthat money in year 3 and 4 might have alternative value.A little lower grade for Donaldson but still ok.A's for resigning Odorizzi and Pineda whether they have good seasons or not.C's for Bailey and Chacin because I wanted at least 1 spot for internal options. I would have given a B if they had just signed Bailey.B+ for signing Clippard especially since that mitigates the loss of Graterol.

I respect your perspective and I enjoyed your discussion.

    • Dantes929, Sconnie and Kummel like this

I'll give it an A, though I have to say that the vast majority (all?) of us don't have all the information to make an accurate assessment.
 
Most of us are like the student in the eighth row, trying to suggest that the teacher that e = cm^2, rather than the other way around.


Oh great! I was told there would be no math.
    • IndianaTwin likes this
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jorgenswest
Feb 14 2020 08:55 AM
The Twins payroll ranks will be above their revenue rank. I don’t expect more. They get high marks for raising payroll.

They chose to spend a large portion of that money on Donaldson. Instead they could have signed Ryu and found an inexpensive 1B on a one year deal using the money they spent on Bailey. I think that a start from Ryu helps more in the playoffs than Donaldson so overall I would give them a B.
    • ken and jkcarew like this
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howieramone2
Feb 14 2020 09:02 AM
I thought Ryu, who I refer to as The Titanic, was the worst free agency signing this offseason.
    • LA VIkes Fan likes this
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lukeduke1980
Feb 14 2020 09:34 AM

 

I would go with the A- .  

 

Same - I was hoping for one more bullpen option, especially seeing Rogers' vulnerability in back to back days.Hopefully May or Duffy continue to pitch well and end up being 9th inning options.

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jorgenswest
Feb 14 2020 09:36 AM

I thought Ryu, who I refer to as The Titanic, was the worst free agency signing this offseason.


Over four years I think Donaldson is a much better signing.

Given the Twins need for starting pitching particularly in the playoffs I don’t think there was a higher ranked pitcher that was truly available. Wheeler was going to the Phillies if they Gabe him a good offer. Bumgarner the DBacks. Cole the Yankees and Strasburg was staying. They all got good enough offers from the team they targeted. It is possible that it is both a bad signing of four years at his age and health and also the only real hope of signing a free agent that would start game 1 of a playoff series.

They didn’t acquire that top starter for 2020 and Ryu was the best starter truly available. They can’t get an A for the off-season without that top starter.
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IndianaTwin
Feb 14 2020 10:18 AM

 

I thought Ryu, who I refer to as The Titanic, was the worst free agency signing this offseason.

 

 

Speaking of The Titanic, my wife had her colonoscopy yesterday. (TMI, I know.)

 

While there, we were joking with the receptionist, who described having a friend who went to see "Titanic" in the theater. Before it started, he stood, faced the audience, and announced, "I don't want to spoil the movie for everyone, but the boat sinks." 

 

 

PS: It was clear by the way. I know -- WAAAAAAY TMI.

 

PPS: I will wait until Valentine's Day is past before revealing to my wife that I've shared the results of her colonoscopy on TD.

    • Sconnie likes this

 

I really like the rest of this article, but gotta go with a strong disagree on this one. According to Sportrac, this roster puts the Twins at 14th in MLB for payroll. One season of spending enough to have a middle-of-the-pack payroll does not make up for decades of penny-pinching.

Dude, seriously??

How much does the FO have to spend, and what does it have to do, when...

1) They re-upped Odorizzi for $18M for a flipping 1-year contract.

2) They signed Donaldson to the biggest FA contract in club history, filling a 1B gap that could easily have been filled with a cheap minor league replacement.

3) They currently have the biggest payroll in team history.

4) The payroll could end up in the league’s Top 10 for the first time in God knows how long.

5) Actually came through on their “open window” promise that so many of us were furious about a few weeks back.

6) Pivoted smartly after the “impact pitching” punt didn’t pan out.

7) They’re still in the same small market they’ve always been.

 

I’ve been watching these guys seriously for more than 30 years; this is definitely atypical Pohlad activity.

    • Sconnie, DocBauer and IndianaTwin like this
We can debate grading now vs grading after the season. But I am giving them a grade of A, though I could be talked in to A-.

I really hate going down the path, again, that all forms of offseason shopping are nothing like going to a store and selecting what you want off a shelf.

Donaldson affects defense and offense, and sets a different perspective and precedent for the club.

The Maeda trade was quality and aggressive. You can't knock them for trading good to get good.

The half season flier on Hill is smart and could pay huge dividends.

I really don't know how I feel about Bailey. Could be a quality move as his rebound and new approach looked legit last year. He was quite good before a string of injuries. The cost might be a little high, but it's only 1yr.

I like the Clippard signing and think it's being undervalued.

Just because Romo, Odorizzi and Pineda were with us last season doesn't make re-signing them any less impactful.

Honestly, my biggest concern right now is replacing the coaches we lost. The FO seems to have an eye for quality personnel and I'm trusting them in this area.

We have one of the best teams in MLB. Period.
    • IndianaTwin likes this

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