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Off Season BluePrint: Money Laundering

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:26 AM
Seeings how it's not my money and I'd just as soon see a major shakeup of any of our Pro Sports teams, rather than be stuck in the middle...
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I'm Bored of the Offseason

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:08 AM
Why is it in baseball we have to wait for weeks on end for anything to happen in free agency? In other sports like football and basketbal...
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Article: Offseason Blueprint: Bargain Bin Shopping (Part 2)

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:28 PM
As of 8 AM on Thursday, yesterday's story about bargain bin free agent hitters had eight comments, and none of them were "the Twins/Pohla...
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Article: Rundown: Target Field Security, Offseason Expect...

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:54 PM
Target Field is undergoing yet another fairly major update this offseason, the focus being around Gate 34. Rochelle Olson of the Star Tri...
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2019 Twins Minor League Signings

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 08:44 PM
The Rochester Red Wings today announced five Twins minor league signings. RHP Zach Harper and C Wynston Sawyer returned. Also,, they have...
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Twins Tales Up the Middle

With the Minnesota Twins fully focused on the 2019 Major League Baseball season at this point, their goal currently is to construct the best roster to challenge the reigning AL Central Champion Cleveland Indians. Having a literal boatload of cap space there’s plenty of money to be spent this offseason. Needing to address the infield, specifically up the middle, it’s a tale of two types for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Do they love the glove, or not?
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Jorge Polanco is currently the acting Minnesota shortstop. In 664 innings at shortstop in 2018 he was worth -1 DRS with a -3.9 UZR and a 1.4 RngR. Those numbers are all far better than the abomination he was during just 406 innings at short in 2016, but they are a step backward from the 2017 version of Polanco. Whether one understands defensive metrics or not, Minnesota’s current shortstop has a poor arm and limited range. Playing deep in the hole is hardly an option, and it leaves the infield's most important position significantly exposed.

The good news is that Polanco profiles as an average to above-average second basemen. His arm would play just fine there, and range factor is less demanding on the right side of the diamond. It’s a role he had essentially been pushed into during the latter part of his minor league career, and only moved back to short as the Twins already had Brian Dozier manning second.

When addressing their needs this offseason, I’d imagine the Twins would prefer not to punt on middle-infield defense entirely. Whether at second base or at shortstop, some sort of glove-first player makes sense. The only other option would be to choose some sort of middle-ground type player, with a bat-first emphasis, keeping Polanco where he is and banking on Royce Lewis being adept defensively for that role beginning in 2020.

Obviously when considering which path to choose the market factors come into play as well. There are only something like eight available shortstops while there is nearly double that number at second base. In trying to put some pegs into holes, here’s how I see some of those names categorized.

Gloves-
Manny Machado (SS)
Jose Iglesias (SS)
Freddy Galvis (SS)
D.J. LeMahieu (2B)
Ian Kinsler (2B)
Logan Forsythe (2B)

Bats-
Jordy Mercer (SS)
Asdrubal Cabrera (2B)
Brian Dozier (2B)
Daniel Murphy (2B)
Daniel Descalso (2B)
Josh Harrison (2B)

Of the 12 names above, it’s worth immediately ruling a handful out. Manny Machado is a pipe dream, and while the Twins have the money to sign him, there will be no shortage of suitors and plenty more sexy landing spots. Brian Dozier’s time has probably come and gone with the organization, and Daniel Murphy should be both expensive and a significant fielding liability. Each of the remaining nine names presents some intrigue though, so individually they’re worth a look.

Jose Iglesias- The former Detroit Tigers shortstop is probably the cream of this crop in the field. While his DRS numbers don’t jump off the charts, he has a strong arm, solid range, and plays a well above-average shortstop. At just 28 years old he would give Minnesota the ability to sign a multi-year deal and feel pretty good about it.

Freddy Galvis- A relatively similar player to Iglesias, Galvis separates himself a bit with his stick. He’s hit at least 12 homers each of the past three years and there’s plenty of gap power here. He’s a strong defender as well and will be just 29 next season. He’s also a strong bet to land a multi-year deal.

D.J. LeMahieu- Coming off a second straight Gold Glove, the former Rockies second baseman is as sure as it gets in the field. He led MLB second basemen in DRS last season and locks down the right side of an infield. Obviously, his numbers are going to tumble away from Coors, but the question is to what extent. He’ll probably be looking for a bit more than he ends up being worth, but at 30 years old, more quality play should be ahead.

Ian Kinsler- Divisional familiarity is at play here after Kinsler spent four seasons with the Tigers. He’ll turn 37 during the 2019 season, and obviously isn’t the player he once was. Struggling to hit much at all last season, he still earned a Gold Glove with his exceptional defense. There’s still some power at the plate and it comes with some on-base ability.

Logan Forsythe- Minnesota is obviously familiar with this name, as he was swapped for Brian Dozier down the stretch. Forsythe can play an above average second base, and the defensive upgrade over Dozier was more than apparent. He hasn’t hit for two years, but he could be a decent buy-low target in his age 32 season.

Jordy Mercer- Stuck in the middle ground of average on both sides of the game, Mercer has an OK bat and a mediocre glove. He’s not someone you really want to employ at short but isn’t going to hit to the extent of moving positions. There’re on-base skills here too, and he has shown some pop in previous seasons, but this signing would come with plenty of uncertainty.

Asdrubal Cabrera- Nothing short of terrible in the field last year, Cabrera has become all bat at this point of his career. He’ll be 33 for his next team and is coming off a .774 OPS in 2018. He wasn’t good for the Phillies down the stretch but posted an exception .817 OPS with the Mets in 98 games to start the year. You’re asking a lot from Polanco in going this route, but maybe the offense makes up for it?

Daniel Descalso- Splitting between second and short last season for the Diamondbacks, Descalso was better on the right side. He’s a good contact hitter who doesn’t strike out a ton. While walks haven’t been his game either, Descalso may be a late-developing prime player. The .762 OPS since 2016 far surpasses the .648 OPS in six big league seasons prior.

Josh Harrison- Leaving the Pirates for the first time in his big-league career J-Hay is headed for untested waters. He’s been a jack of all trades most seasons but played solely second base last season. He’s average at worst in the field, and hovering around a .700 OPS is a fair expectation. You do worry about him never having played more than 143 games in a season, and there’s nothing he does exceptionally well.

In trying to figure out where the Twins might turn it’s not an either-or proposition. Certainly, they could bring in some middle infield depth, but there’s only one starting spot open. Polanco is going to be placed aside of whomever is inserted into the lineup and that makes it critical to get this right.

As a long-term play Jose Iglesias seems the best fit to me. He won’t be cheap, but you can’t expect him to break the bank either. Galvis strikes out a bit too much for a lineup filled with them, and Iglesias brings a slightly better form of defense. He can be inserted at shortstop for the next three years, and there then is no pressure for Royce Lewis needing to stick in that spot. Shoot for three years at $25 million and call it a day.

Should Minnesota be looking for just a short-term answer to this equation I think the bat-first mentality comes into play a bit more. On a one-year deal, age goes out the window and you’re staring at a trio of Kinsler, Forsythe, and Cabrera. I don’t think you can realistically employ Polanco and Cabrera up the middle without very negative results, and you probably should aim a bit higher than what Forsythe projects as. Welcome Ian Kinsler back to the division. Even at his worst offensively there’s both power and on-base skills to utilize. He’s just two years removed from an .831 OPS and he should be available at less than $10 million for a single season.

We’re still a way out from seeing how the Twins plan to address this situation, but it’s one of the most interesting and critical of the entire offseason.

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26 Comments

Would love to know when the Twins 'expect' Lewis to be here, full time?It is possible, however not realistic, to expect him to take the job in 2019.But sometime in 2020 is likely.Anything after that will be disappointing.So any of the above options for someone on a 2 year contract (or 1 year + an option) makes the most sense. 

 

If it is a shortstop, Polanco moves to second next year.If it is a second baseman, he stays at short until Lewis arrives.And lets all pray that this next superstar arrives with a bigger bang than the last two.

    • dgwills, DocBauer, tarheeltwinsfan and 3 others like this

 

 

Jorge Polanco is currently the acting Minnesota shortstop. In 664 innings at shortstop in 2018 he was worth -1 DRS with a -3.9 UZR and a 1.4 RngR.

[...]

Whether one understands defensive metrics or not, Minnesota’s current shortstop has a poor arm and limited range. Playing deep in the hole is hardly an option, and it leaves the infield's most important position significantly exposed.

 

Polanco's numbers do not indicate that the Twins are "exposed" at SS.-1 DRS means that Polanco in his 600+ innings at SS cost the Twins one run more than the average shortstop. 

 

Not. Exposed.

 

Do you want "exposed"?   

 

Manny Machado had a -13 DRS in 1260 or so innings at shortstop.Carlos Correa had -4 in 960 or so innings.Both worse with the glove than Polanco. You do not hear much about moving Correa to second base, do you?

 

That RngR of 1.4 is the 11th best among 32 shortstops who played in the position for more than 600 innings and above 0, which means that he has better range than most shortstops out there, so it really does not help your argument.

 

He is fine at shortstop and is getting better...

    • gil4, bluechipper, TNTwinsFan and 3 others like this
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Ted Schwerzler
Nov 08 2018 06:36 PM

Polanco's numbers do not indicate that the Twins are "exposed" at SS.-1 DRS means that Polanco in his 600+ innings at SS cost the Twins one run more than the average shortstop. 
 
Not. Exposed.
 
Do you want "exposed"?   
 
Manny Machado had a -13 DRS in 1260 or so innings at shortstop.Carlos Correa had -4 in 960 or so innings.Both worse with the glove than Polanco. You do not hear much about moving Correa to second base, do you?


You must have missed multitude of reports indicating Machado’s DRS numbers were due to positioning with the Orioles, one of the least analytically inclined franchises in baseball. He’s a Gold Glover at 3B, and while he’s not that at SS, he was above average with the Dodgers.

You won’t find anyone worth their salt not ready to point out Polanco is overmatched at SS. While his DRS isn’t in the terrible spot it was two years ago, his range factor and arm strength continue to be a significant problem.
    • birdwatcher, Minny505, caninatl04 and 1 other like this

Looking over the numbers for these guys, I can see why many would like the Twins to nab Iglesias. He should be able to back up his glove with a decent bat.

 

I thought I would like Freddy Galvis as a sneaky candidate for SS/2B, but yikes, not that great of a bat and comes with lots of strikeouts.

 

But I did find my "sneaky" candidate, and that's Daniel Descalso. His numbers are trending the right way and he's one of those guys who should be able to keep playing well through his early 30s. He'd make for a fine super utility guy, too.

    • Twins33 and Minny505 like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Nov 08 2018 08:08 PM

I wonder when Wander will be ready to stake his claim to SS? Who was the minor leagerreported to have the best glove in the Twins system several years ago and was traded? How is he doing? 

 

I wonder when Wander will be ready to stake his claim to SS? Who was the minor leagerreported to have the best glove in the Twins system several years ago and was traded? How is he doing? 

 

I think it is Engelb Vielma you are referring too, and it took me a while to remember, even though I saw him make an amazing play in the one minor league game I have been able to attend. He was waived and selected by 5 teams last winter, finally traded to Baltimore for PTBNL, and had 7 AB.

 

If Hinch's statement that Marwin G was Houston's best defensive shortstop is not hyperbole, I would offer him the starting SS job and overpay him.

    • Minny505 likes this

I think it is Engelb Vielma you are referring too, and it took me a while to remember, even though I saw him make an amazing play in the one minor league game I have been able to attend. He was waived and selected by 5 teams last winter, finally traded to Baltimore for PTBNL, and had 7 AB.

If Hinch's statement that Marwin G was Houston's best defensive shortstop is not hyperbole, I would offer him the starting SS job and overpay him.


I'm guessing he's referring to Wander Javier.
But to answer his question, not any time soon.
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nicksaviking
Nov 08 2018 09:43 PM
I’d take any of those guys on a short term deal, but none of them are long term answers. SS and 2B are no longer league-wide offensive black holes. If the Twins don’t have the long term answer in house (fingers crossed that they do) then they need to pry one away from another team. Outside of Machado, these free agents are either way too poor with the bat or way too poor with the glove to commit a leash or money for them to start beyond 2019.
    • USAFChief and DannySD like this
Did I miss something, or is Lowrie no longer available? I love defense and believe in it, despite the current state of high HR, high SO, launch angle approach of MLB. I am also a big believer in Polanco with the bat, and a semi reverent believer in a decent glove at SS until Lewis arrives. The options at 2B to improve the club, overall, are more inclined at 2B. That being said, I'd have no problem with Iglesius at SS with Polanco moving to 2B now. Escobar re-signing kind of blew up my 2019 hopes. At this point, I still have to look at the best roster for 2019 and 2020 and beyond. Whether it be one of many 2B available, or Iglesius, we need the right choice. Full time or super-utility, I'm still on board with bringing in Gonzalez from Houston. He's right at the top of my "to do" list.
    • ChrisKnutson and rdehring like this

 

I'm guessing he's referring to Wander Javier.
But to answer his question, not any time soon.

Javier certainly has had his timeline extended with all the injuries.But if he is as good as expected, we should see a Lewis-Javier middle infield at some point in the future.Will be then that Polanco either moves to a backup middle infielder/DH role or a valuable trade piece to move elsewhere.

 

You must have missed multitude of reports indicating Machado’s DRS numbers were due to positioning with the Orioles, one of the least analytically inclined franchises in baseball. He’s a Gold Glover at 3B, and while he’s not that at SS, he was above average with the Dodgers. You won’t find anyone worth their salt not ready to point out Polanco is overmatched at SS. While his DRS isn’t in the terrible spot it was two years ago, his range factor and arm strength continue to be a significant problem.

From Fangraphs' DRS description:

 

In general, DRS isn’t perfect because it doesn’t factor in shifts, positioning....

 

https://www.fangraph...ry/defense/drs/

 

Also, for the record, Machado was a combined -13 DRS at SS in 2018.

 

https://www.fangraph...ion=3B#fielding

 

Personally, I'd be fine with Machado playing SS for the Twins. But his defense there is below average, and it has nothing to do with positioning.

 

Also, have we officially written off Gordon?

 

 

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ashburyjohn
Nov 09 2018 07:22 AM

Also, have we officially written off Gordon?

For early 2019? I have.

    • Twins33, howieramone2, lukeduke1980 and 3 others like this

Ted, kudos on delving into an important issue the Twins face this offseason.Up the middle defense is important and the Twins need to improve there.Castro should improve the catching position, Buxton the CF position, and moving Polanco to 2B would likewise be an upgrade.

 

But signing a good field, no-hit guy like Iglesias does little to address one of the main weaknesses on this team: a dearth of hitters!In my book, if we are going to contend in 2019(and that should be the intent of the wonder boys) bringing in more offense is a priority, especially if Castro and Buxton are regulars, Mauer retires, and Sano is traded(more on that later).So, Marwin and yes, Addison Russell(because his value is lowered with his 40 game suspension) are the most offensive-oriented SS available at a reasonable cost.The twins can ill afford another black hole in their lineup!Gordon cannot be depended on(and probably should be traded as part of a starting pitcher package), Lewis is 2 -3 years away and no one else in the system looks like a bona fide major leaguer.

 

I believe Sano must be dangled, with some minor leaguers, to rebuilding teams who need prospects and a potential starter at 3B.The Mets and Giants both come to mind here.Matz, Wheeler or better yet, Snydergaard, could be pried loose, as could maybe Baumgartner.This type of trade would address the clear need for a #1 starter.Yes, losing Sano is a risk but one that should be taken, especially if the Twins go all out after Donaldson.Signing Cruz as the full-time DH would add to a much revitalized Twins lineup.

 

Guys like Corbin, Machado, etc., are pipe dreams for the Twins franchise but some smart trades and FA signings could put the disappointing 2018 in the rear view mirror and help fill the gap until the next wave comes up.  

 

You must have missed multitude of reports indicating Machado’s DRS numbers were due to positioning with the Orioles, one of the least analytically inclined franchises in baseball. He’s a Gold Glover at 3B, and while he’s not that at SS, he was above average with the Dodgers. You won’t find anyone worth their salt not ready to point out Polanco is overmatched at SS. While his DRS isn’t in the terrible spot it was two years ago, his range factor and arm strength continue to be a significant problem.

To pass off Machado's defense with the Orioles as bad analytic is to ignore the previous three years where the shortsop play for the Orioles was above average in terms of DRS and UZR. Perhapsthe better exuce for the numbers for Machado was that he was not terribly motivated to play in losing causes with a historically bad team despite it being a contract year.

    • birdwatcher likes this
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Ted Schwerzler
Nov 09 2018 08:28 AM
From my Twitter discussion on this piece: Jed Lowrie was a name I did omit but could be considered.

Fits in the bat group as an avg defender at 2B, with a solid .804 OPS the last 2 yrs.

He has hit better/for more power with age, and could be a decent stopgap at 35.

Not sure average at 2B cuts it with Polanco at SS though.
    • ChrisKnutson and Minny505 like this

To me, this is so simple.Iglesias at SS on a 2-year deal.Polanco to 2B where he is better suited.No one has given up on Gordon, he's still young.In 2 years, by 2021, the situation should have figured itself out btw Gordon, Polanco, Lewis and hopefully 2 of the 3 are ready to be a rock-steady keystone combo for years to come.

D.J. LeMahieu

Sign him for a 4 year 50mil with a opt out after two/three.Trade Gordon, Gonsalves, Kepler/Cave for Paxton from Seattle.Move Polanco when necessary for Royce. 

"Should Minnesota be looking for just a short-term answer to this equation"

 

Great question. And I think one the most important questions going forward.I've posted often about top prospects staling out in the Twins system, but I invite you to guess-- when / if a current minor leaguer could start at SS.

 

And this ties in with whether the Twins FO decides to "go for it" in 2019, or, as I guess, 2020.

 

As I've posted before, signing Iglesias to a three year deal makes a lot of sense (to me) to improve defensive stats at both SS and 2B.

Jose Iglesias finished the 2018 season with a wRC+ of 90, two points better than the entirety of Twins 2B for the season. He's averaged a fWAR of 2.1 and bWAR of 1.7 over the past three seasons. 

 

I'm more on the Iglesias bandwagon than anyone else on this list. If the Twins lose out on him (the only reason they would is he is not the top option on their board), Lowrie seems the next best option, as he brings a far better glove to the party than any of the bats guys listed above at 2B.

 

This would give the Twins two average-ish defenders up the middle that each flash a wRC+ roughly 15% above average. Either solution seems workable.

 

The Twins finished 6th in runs scored in the AL in 2018 and 9th in wOBA. The success of the offense will hinge on Sano, Rosario, Polanco and Buxton, not so much on the production of a new middle infielder...unless that middle infielder is Manny Machado of course.

    • Twins33, ChrisKnutson and Platoon like this
The guy I'd prefer to any of these didnt even make your list.

Give me Marwin Gonzalez.
    • birdwatcher and Riverbrian like this

Don't we already have an Iglasias carbon copy with Adrianaza?

 

The hitting stats seem to suggest this. 

 

 

    • ashburyjohn likes this

 

Don't we already have an Iglasias carbon copy with Adrianaza?

 

The hitting stats seem to suggest this. 

Yeah, bat-wise they're similar. It's the defense that seems to lean Iglesias. Adrianza hasn't been given full playing time, but I don't think his D would be as good as Jose's.

 

Yeah, bat-wise they're similar. It's the defense that seems to lean Iglesias. Adrianza hasn't been given full playing time, but I don't think his D would be as good as Jose's.

 

Iglasias is pretty awesome with the glove. I've seen him make some plays that make me wonder just what humans are capable of but... 

 

9 Million? Multiple Years? Adrianaza would be more cost effective IMO. 

    • ChrisKnutson likes this
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specialiststeve
Nov 11 2018 09:06 PM

Would love for us to trade for Segura depending on what the cost. Move Polanco to second. Lewis is only 19 and was in A ball so would allow him to climb the ladder instead of rushing. 

    • caninatl04 likes this

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