Offseason Blueprint: Chasing Opportunities
So with future greatness as the goal and a couple of unique opportunities available right now, here are the major moves I would like to see the Twins make this offseason.
1. Sign Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario to long-term deals with team options on the back-end.
The first opportunity comes along only once in every player’s career – the offseason when a player has between two and three years of service time. For each one of these players, they’re guaranteed only around $550,000 next year, which isn’t “lifetime security” money. If the club waits even one more year, the player has millions guaranteed, and the Twins have far less leverage, costing them the chance to secure free agent years.
For instance, the Twins can propose a $32.5 million, five-year deal for Buxton, with team options in years six and seven. The Twins get seven years of Buxton (instead of four), and Buxton gets paid, plus he is still a free agent while he’s only 31 years old. Similar deals could be made for Sano and Rosario. This is a rare chance to sign three offensive cornerstones and extend the Twins championship window several extra years.
2. Shop Brian Dozier
I’m not saying “trade Dozier.” I’m saying the time to shop a player is when you don’t need to shop them. Also, when they are about to get old. Also, when they’re about to get expensive. And finally, the best time is just before they become a free agent. Our attachment to Dozier might blind us from these objective truths, but now is the time to explore trading him.
Dozier is very good, but he’s not irreplaceable. He’s also 30 years. He’s going to be expensive, probably costing whoever signs him in free agency upwards of $15M/year. It would be a mistake to extend him, especially because there are other options.
Jorge Polanco can move to second base, which upgrades the Twins defensively at both shortstop and at second base. Ehire Adrianza can play shortstop for the year, with Nick Gordon waiting in the wings.
And unlike last year, the Twins don’t need to receive soon-to-the-majors, high-upside pitching prospects in a trade. This year, they can trade him for prospects or high-upside relievers or international money. The return could be significant. And if it isn’t, then hang on to him.
3. Sign Masahiro Tanaka to six-year, $136 million contract with a 3-year opt out.
This was the original plan, but Tanaka decided on Friday NOT to opt out of his deal with the Yankees, which is a damn shame. So I’ll leave the original plan here and replace #3 with #3B below, since I now have a lot of money to spend….
Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are at the top of the free agency class and are both 31 years old. However, there is another ace-caliber pitcher who is only 28: Mashiro Tanaka, who appears likely to opt-out of a guaranteed 3-year deal with the Yankees for $67M. Tanaka has had health issues and may not be considered an “ace” yet, though his career ERA at this point last year was 3.12. His 4.74 ERA in 2018 might depress some interest in him, but he still struck out 9.8 batters per nine and walked only 2.1. His problem has been that he’s given up too many home runs.
Well, yeah. He pitches at Yankee Stadium. Try Target Field on for size, Masahiro.
If you dream of a Twins postseason team with an ace (in his prime) atop the rotation, this is your best chance of that for the next five years. Signing Tanaka raises payroll to $120 million and I didn’t do anything with the bullpen. Those incremental improvements will need to wait. Instead, I’m focusing on the opportunities that are here today. We can work out the smaller stuff next year.
#3B. Sign relievers Juan Nicasio($21M/3 years) and Mike Minor($28M/4 years)
Without Tanaka available, I don’t see a golden opportunity among the free agent pitchers, so instead I focus on either trying to fill a spot in the bullpen by signing CC Sabathia or stabilizing the bullpen. I like Sabathia because I liked the veteran presence that Bartolo Colon brought and Sabathia seems like he could play a similar role. But I chose the idea of bolstering the bullpen with a 1-2 punch from the left (Minor) and right (Nicasio).
That move give manager Paul Molitor a core he can trust and allows the rest of the bullpen to settle in with internal arms that are developing. Maybe Hildenberger continues his breakout season. Maybe some guys get healthy, like Tyler Jay or JT Chargois. Maybe the new pitching coach helps Ryan Pressly or Tyler Duffey take their next steps. Minor and Nicasio provide a little buffer while the rest gets sorted out.
- DelusionalTwinsFan likes this