Offseason Status Update: Final Grades
Image courtesy of Jason Getz-USA TODAY SportsOne 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.
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
- $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
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 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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