Twins Offseason Status Update: Things Are Happening
Here's how the projected roster and payroll currently shape up with Happ in the mix:
Accounting for Kenta Maeda's very achievable incentives ($7-9 million), the Twins are currently slated to spend a little north of $100 million, providing ample flexibility for further additions.
With this in mind, let's get up to speed on the latest happenings and rumors.
HOPPING ON HAPP
The Twins addressed a critical need in their rotation by adding the seasoned southpaw on a one-year contract. He offers plenty of experience and a consistent track record of production, bringing more certainty to the rotation by pushing Randy Dobnak into the fifth spot and unseating Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, or whatever rookie was lined up for it previously.
At this point Minnesota has a credible rotation to move forward with, technically speaking, but I very much suspect they'll add one more starting pitcher on a major-league deal (or trade). Top remaining free agent prizes within the Twins' potential range include Masahiro Tanaka (said to be seeking up to $20 million in salary), Jake Odorizzi (said to be seeking a three-year deal), and James Paxton. Plenty of trade possibilities also remain on the table, although one compelling name came off the board in recent days when the Yankees acquired Jameson Taillon from Pittsburgh.
Learn more about Happ and the impact of his signing:
- Report: Twins to Sign LHP J.A. Happ: Seth Stohs and Tom Froemming tag-teamed on this quick reaction piece after Happ signed, sharing some info about the contract, his recent history, and his Statcast data.
- How the Twins Might Tweak J.A. Happ: Matthew Trueblood dug into trends around pitch usage and effectiveness to analyze how the notoriously tinker-y Twins might help the left-hander optimize his repertoire.
- 5 Things for Twins Fans to Know About J.A. Happ: I explored five different facts about Happ and his intriguing qualities. The notes about his performance trend coming out of 2020, and Minnesota's track record of reducing HR rates, show there's more than meets the eye.
How quickly has the Hot Stove fired up? One week ago I shared my personal top 10 favorite remaining free agent targets for the Twins. At that point, all were available in a stagnating market. In seven days since, four of those options have been signed away, including my No. 1 choice.
1. Jurickson Profar, UTIL
2. Jake Odorizzi, SP
3. James Paxton, SP
4. Andrelton Simmons, SS
5. Nelson Cruz, DH
6. Trevor Rosenthal, RP
7. Kirby Yates, RP 8. José Quintana, SP 9. Kiké Hernández, UTIL
10. Tyler Clippard, RP
Both Profar and Hernández got the exact AAV projected in the article ($7 million) although Profar's came on a weirdly player-friendly three-year contract with two opt-outs, and Hernández's two-year deal apparently came with the promise of a regular starting role at one position. So I'm not sure the Twins realistically could or should have won either of those biddings.
The pool of standout utility options to replace Marwin González in the requisite super utility role is shrinking fast, although there are other free agents out there – Tommy La Stella, Jonathan Villar, Asdrubal Cabrera, etc. – who could still viably fill it.
At this point my strong preference is to add a starting shortstop and move Jorge Polanco into the utility role. So if I'm reconfiguring the above list, I now have Simmons at the top.
Meanwhile, the bullpen remains an area of need. Hansel Robles is hardly enough to replace all the quality production that's been lost to free agency. I get the sense the Twins were finalists for Kirby Yates, who ended up signing with Toronto for $5.5 million, but were never going to go anywhere near as high as Washington did to get Brad Hand ($10.5 million). Trevor Rosenthal feels unlikely at this point. At that part it's hard to find anything constituting an upgrade in free agency. Maybe Alex Colomé?
MORE ON THE FORMER UTILITY MEN
A couple of recent rumblings regarding the Twins' previous stable of versatile backups:
A report last week via MLB.com's Mark Feinsand and Doh Young Park suggests that the Twins have "expressed interest in a reunion" with González:
I'm dubious of how serious this interest is (and wonder if the tip came from agent Scott Boras, in an effort to enliven his client's market). That is in large part because I have enough respect for Minnesota's front office to trust that they know better. González was not especially impressive during his time with the Twins and looked flat-out cooked by the end of it, with his production and athleticism rapidly waning.
Even in the lesser secondary utility gig previously filled by Ehire Adrianza, I don't see González as a fit. I'd rather just have Adrianza reprise the role. However, it doesn't sound as though that's going to happen, as Adrianza issued an official farewell to Twins fans on Instagram over the weekend:
UPPING THE ANTE FOR CRUZ
The Twins continue to engage with Nelson Cruz, and there's evidence they have heightened their pursuit. Jon Heyman reported on Friday that the Twins have "upgraded the dollars in their 1-year offer," but adds that Cruz remains intent on seeing through the universal DH decision.
It's almost February. Still no clarity from MLB on whether DH will be in place for NL teams. (I would assume no, but can't blame Cruz and his agent for waiting on finality.)
TWINS OUT ON BAUER?
In an interesting series of events, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic published an article on the Mets' pursuit of top free agent Trevor Bauer indicating that the Twins were in his mix, but he updated the piece soon after with a correction:
"The Mets are not the only club talking about signing him," Rosenthal wrote. "The Dodgers and Blue Jays are among the other clubs believed to be in the mix. The Twins are not, sources said, in response to an earlier version of this story."
Some fans are surely disappointed to hear that Minnesota is likely out on the free agent market's top prize. Not me. Bauer seems like the ultimate buy-high trap, coming off of what technically qualifies as a career year and Cy Young Award. Prior to 2020, his track record was much more good than great. Add in the problematic personality and surely exorbitant price, and Bauer is simply more trouble than he's worth, in my opinion.
Do you agree or disagree? What would you like to see the Twins do here in the final weeks of the offseason? Is your confidence wavering or are you keeping the faith? Sound off in the comments.
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