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A Tale of Two Paths for Twins

Coming off a 78-win season, the Minnesota Twins took a step backward from their postseason berth in 2017. With the same core intact, and significant added talent throughout the offseason, it was a relatively unexpected result. With the AL Central remaining down, and an opportunity for the core to put up a more expected result in 2019, winning shouldn’t be far off for this collection. Given the circumstances, this offseason is a big one for the hometown nine, but how do they go about executing on that?
Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will be tasked with landing the replacement for Paul Molitor. Once their manager is in place, reconstructing the 25-man roster will shift towards being the focus. Now having MLB Trade Rumors put out their projected arbitration salaries, we being to see a clearer picture for what the in-house options may round into. As is always the case, Minnesota can either explore the open market or make deals with the competition in hopes of raising the overall water level. This offseason, each avenue presents some interesting opportunities.

Open Market

Looking at MLBTR’s salary projections, the Twins would be on the hook for something like $38.3MM spread across 10 players. $4MM seems a bit rich for Robbie Grossman if he’s going to slot into a 5th outfielder spot, and Ehire Adrianza could be expendable depending on how the middle infield is addressed. From there, the Twins have $33.5MM committed to four players under contract (and including $1MM for the buyout of Ervin Santana). That total comes to $71.8MM.

Pre-arbitration players still exist on the Twins roster, and there’s a group of roughly seven guys that could or should be on the Opening Day roster. With their salaries checking in at something like $600k, the organization would be looking at roughly $50MM in payroll compared to the franchise-record $128.4MM mark that opened this past season.

With that much money to spend, the front office should have plenty of leverage on the open market. A guy like Manny Machado would easily fit within the constructs of the budget, pair well with the current group, and fill a need in the lineup. On the flip side, all the money in the world may not be enough to convince top end talent that Minnesota is the place they want to be.

Beyond having money to spend however, there needs to be players worthy of spending it on. Certainly, the class is headlined by Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and there’s a bit of depth to it, but things fall off rather quickly. Yasmani Grandal is maybe the only premiere name behind the dish, Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel headline the pitchers, while the up-the-middle talent is sparse at best. There’s a good deal of names in this class but looking past their warts is something any bidding team must do. Can Josh Donaldson still be an impact player? Is D.J. LeMahieu any good away from Coors? Do you want an aging Gio Gonzalez?

Having money to spend is certainly a good problem for the Twins to have, but this market could dictate aiming high or settling, and that’s not necessarily the position you want to be in.

Making Deals

On the flip side of spending dollars, the payroll flexibility also allows Minnesota’s front office the opportunity to take on contracts. With so much space left in the budget, acquiring a big splash from a team not yet ready to compete, or going through a full-on rebuild, is an enticing option as well. Venturing down this road would cost the Twins prospect capital, but the goal would obviously be to see meaningful returns in the majors.

Players like Paul Goldschmidt, Carlos Santana, and Justin Bour could all fill Minnesota’s presumed hole at first base. J.T. Realmuto is likely still available from the Marlins, and Justin Smoak or Wil Myers could be on the block as well. Maybe the Royals would move Whit Merrifield, and there’s a list of names yet to be unearthed.

Before panicking, the Twins would certainly leave both Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff on the untouchables list. Brusdar Graterol may not be far behind them either. However, with a top 5-8 farm system, there’s depth and top-end talent that would be enticing for many an organization to jump at. Should the front office be more inclined to operate in this manner, their human assets are almost as appealing as the dollars themselves.

I’d be relatively surprised to see the market move as slowly as it did this past offseason. There was a bit of a market correction it seemed, in shying away from long term commitments to players reaching a tipping point in age. Machado and Harper will still get theirs this winter, but the rest of the group should have a more realistic stance on what the message from organizations was. With that in mind, I’d also imagine we’ll see more action earlier, and fewer guys showing up to new homes once spring training has started.

It will be interesting to see if Minnesota leans one way or the other when adding talent this winter, or if the go with a healthy mix of both routes. Being well positioned financially is half of the battle, and now it’s on the front office to identify the right talent and entice them to the belief that the Twins are who they want to play for.

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89 Comments

Several big spenders didn't last year, so they could this year. They'll pay top dollar for the best players. Will the rest of the players settle, will the rest of the clubs try to go low? That's the league wide intrigue, imo.
    • Twins33, dgwills, ChrisKnutson and 1 other like this
You left off commit to the rebuild as a path.... By trading Gibson and Castro and, um, the other veteran on the roster
    • Mike Frasier Law, ChrisKnutson and lukeduke1980 like this
I would like to see what the young uns talent is. Play the farm for a year to see who can play. Fill in the holes with vets after that.

I would like to see what the young uns talent is. Play the farm for a year to see who can play. Fill in the holes with vets after that.

Who is "the young talent" you speak of? The only players in the system who figure to be upgrades are several seasons away.

Similarly, rebuild to what end? Our last young core is arb eligible and figures to be down right expensive in a couple years. The pressure to trade or sign will be real in just a year. When you get young you have everyone coming up at the same time, they all get expensive at the same time which limits your ability to add. Rinse repeat.

Also, how is anyone untouchable? Lewis and kiriloff are nice players but each have questions still. If Lewis can't stick at short his stock falls quite a bit. Alex may never develope mlb corner position power. Graterol has a short high effort delivery and prior ucl.
    • Minny505 likes this
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TheLeviathan
Oct 11 2018 08:35 PM

Is the 33.5M including Logan Morrison?

The Twins could also take on other teams' big-salary players in exchange for also getting some additional talent from those teams along with the costly veterans.  When you have money and there's not a lot of choices to spend it on, this can be an intriguing option.

Mainly, I hope the Twins package up several of their AAA and AAAA players and "trade up" for a better younger player or two from teams who are struggling more than we are.  (You know, in the same way that we have traded off our players in the past.). Keep our best prospects and get someone like Whit Merrifield from KC.  Trade bulk for quality.  Get Whit and Byron in a stolen base contest and good things will happen.

Glad I don't have to make these decisions. I'd say that a of the Twin's chances to be a contender depended on Sano and Buxton being allstars or close to it. That hasn't happened, but it still seems too early to start rebuilding again.

I'd expect a similar off season to last year, since we don't really know where we're at with this team.

 

    • LA VIkes Fan and rdehring like this

Cleveland is far from untouchable and has issues of their own to fix (bullpen, a couple of position issues, what to do with expensive aging players).White Sox could be 2 or more years away (they have money and starting pitching, but earliest is probably 2020).Twins need to strike now, this is our window and to not try could leave us a perpetual second place team.One reason I suggested Danny Duffy as a trade possibility was that we could send 2 - 3 of our AAAA types and KC would hope one or two played up.Duffy will be of little use to them by 2021 - 2022 when they are ready to contend.Kipnis would be another buy low candidate, but unlikely Cleveland would send him here.  

Twins need to get into the pitching market early (may not work as the Yankees also need several starters, have more money, and could blow by the penalty dollar point for a few years without thinking about it, as long as they are not way over).Severino has Big Don Newcome written all over him at this time. To get piching I feel the Twins are going to have move early and offer reasonable contracts to slight overpays.Do not forget the Twins have another estimated $31 million coming off the books at the end of 2019(Gibson, Oderizzi, Pineda, Addison Reed).core will not be that expensive in 2020 and you may find a couple of them do not make it.This should be sustainable for a few years.Let's go for it.

    • Minny505 likes this

Also Dodgers have multiple starting pitching options, unlikely they will get into a bidding war for Ryu. They also have extra outfielders and may need or want to clear payroll space for a Kershaw extension and Manny.In the current marketplace making and executing a game play is important. Many teams are just starting or in the middle of rebuilds, Twins should be able to acquire nice assets without breaking the bank. Only about 8 - 10 teams in the AL are even planning to compete next year,National league is about the same, with the upper end reachable only if every inbetween team decides to try.(this is clubs like Arizona, LAA, Seattle, SF).  

Do not know if the Twins will do this, but I feel it is doable, Twins can afford to take on an expensive contract if a club like Arizona decides to retool on the fly and looks for salary relief (Greinke)Angels with the number of bad contracts they have on the books may have to do the unthinkable and put Trout on the market in the next two years to avoid having him walk for nothing to a team that is able to win.This is about being able to indentify opportunities and going after them.Twins need a big splash to help sell tickets in the next two years.Hope they FO is given the goahead to do it.

 

Also Dodgers have multiple starting pitching options, unlikely they will get into a bidding war for Ryu. They also have extra outfielders and may need or want to clear payroll space for a Kershaw extension and Manny.In the current marketplace making and executing a game play is important. Many teams are just starting or in the middle of rebuilds, Twins should be able to acquire nice assets without breaking the bank. Only about 8 - 10 teams in the AL are even planning to compete next year,National league is about the same, with the upper end reachable only if every inbetween team decides to try.(this is clubs like Arizona, LAA, Seattle, SF).  

Do not know if the Twins will do this, but I feel it is doable, Twins can afford to take on an expensive contract if a club like Arizona decides to retool on the fly and looks for salary relief (Greinke)Angels with the number of bad contracts they have on the books may have to do the unthinkable and put Trout on the market in the next two years to avoid having him walk for nothing to a team that is able to win.This is about being able to indentify opportunities and going after them.Twins need a big splash to help sell tickets in the next two years.Hope they FO is given the goahead to do it.

The Angels have one contract that is bad, not several, They have Justin Upton, not Melvin.Calhoun is on the final year of his contract. That is nothing to worry about.

I for one don't see the Twins as having as much money to spend as you figure for the coming year i betting they will have salary figure of total 75 million to spend not what we spent last year it will fall back closer to year before spending.. The construction of this team salary has some big questions to be answered. First 3 of the 5 projected starters are in there last year of arbortation for the coming year so what are Twins plan for the future on pitching. This group of Gibson, Ordorizzi, and Pineda all have big questions on their future as big league starters but if they are not signed by opening day very likely all three would go FA at the end of next year. That leaves the Twins with only option is to trade them an next year trade dead line unless were really contending and then very likely we loose them to Free Agency. The Twins have glaring needs at ss or second base for next year which I believe will cost them at least 4million. Then we will need to have either a 3rd baseman or first baseman which could cost at least between 5 to 8 million if were talking quality players. Then it comes to our bull pen if they truly want to improve this team some money is going to be needed to be spent here. They should being looking for shut down closer in my mind that would be first thing to fix to gaining most wins for this club. Look at how many losses we had in walk off losses last year. If we had a bull pen that would have shut down other teams and we had won 75% of those games this team would have exceeded last years wins. But also with closer they could use at least another arm to fill in with our existing bull pen. Lastly this all based on assumption that Buxton and Sano can turn into all stars they were two years ago. If this doesn't happen were looking at a team again that will be 78 wins at best plus we will again have traded away a lot of the core of this team again especially starting pitching. I think this window on this group of players will be determined by next year performance and if they can't turn the corner I believe like I have thought all along were in reset again waiting for the next wave of players to arrive. This front office has never believed what was in place here and its why they haven't invested in these players or added to this team even when they have been contending or close enough to make a run. Also thinking were going to sign one of the top free agents next year isn't going to happen there not going to come to team that has this many questions and is in this state of flux. Were going to have hard time to even sign quality free agent to come here and for sure the Twins will never over pay to get a player I believe ownership has demonstrated that over years on there signing of Free Agents.  

I like paragraphs.

 

I have no idea what path to take this time around.  I thought the front office did a good job of trying to maximize the window they had last year--the last year for key vets like Dozier, Santana, and Mauer, timed with Sano and Buxton becoming All-Stars, and Berrios, Rosario, Polanco, and Kepler becoming solid/above average regulars.

 

Some of that happened, most of it didn't.

 

Barring an unexpected major free agent signing, I suspect we'll see some creative trades that remake the roster and culture a bit.  This is just me, but I'd say everybody on the 40 man roster is in play to get traded, except Berrios.  And Astudillo.  They better not mess El Tortugo.

    • Jerr, LA VIkes Fan, Sconnie and 5 others like this

Some of those dollars will be used in extensions, hopefully, at least three to Berrios, Gibson and Rosario.  

 

I also don't expect them to be at, or near, last year's total.If any of Sano, Kepler, Buxton, and Polanco do take that next step, the Twins will be looking at big increases in 2020.Would be prudent to keep some of their powder dry for those extensions.

 

    • LA VIkes Fan and DannySD like this

Whatever they do it will be none of the above. They will make a few patchwork moves and pray like they always do and then decide where to go for lunch depending on when the tee time is. What they can do is hire a manger who throws objects when they don't win, kicks dirt on umpires and gets tossed from at least a half dozen games per season. That, in itself is worth about 10 wins (and 10 fewer losses).

    • Dave The Dastardly likes this

 

The Angels have one contract that is bad, not several, They have Justin Upton, not Melvin.Calhoun is on the final year of his contract. That is nothing to worry about.

Issue with the Angels is not the bad contract, it is the lack of starting pitching.They will be in the same market as the Twins and Yankees, and much closer to the luxury threshold.

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nicksaviking
Oct 12 2018 08:19 AM

 

I for one don't see the Twins as having as much money to spend as you figure for the coming year i betting they will have salary figure of total 75 million to spend not what we spent last year it will fall back closer to year before spending.. 

 

the Twins will never over pay to get a player I believe ownership has demonstrated that over years on there signing of Free Agents.  

 

Only two teams had payrolls under 75M last year. The Twins won't find themselves that low.

 

And Ricky Nolasco, Jason Castro and Ervin Santana laughed all the way to the bank when they signed their deals with the Twins.

 

Of all the players listed as free agents, I'm only interested in premium prices for Machado and Corbin. I don't think we will get either, but either would make our team better.

 

What I don't want out of free agency is bargain shopping for guys with no real top end. So maybe you bargain hunt with Josh Donaldson because if he's healthy, maybe he has something left. But LeMahieu has had exactly one elite year (2016). Hard pass on him. Maybe Keuchel is worth looking at, but he's going to look to get paid big cash, and he's on the wrong side of 30 for me to want to pay a premium.

 

On the trade side, I'd call the Mets about their pitchers to see what the prospect asking price is. If Thor or DeGrom are available, I think you have to at least consider it.

    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, nicksaviking and 1 other like this

 

Only two teams had payrolls under 75M last year. The Twins won't find themselves that low.

 

And Ricky Nolasco, Jason Castro and Ervin Santana laughed all the way to the bank when they signed their deals with the Twins.

 

The Nolasco deal was a bad one, and I think most of Twins Daily disliked it at the time. The Castro signing was fine; bad luck he got hurt last year, but he was a nice player for us in year 1 (bWAR 2.5). Ervin Santana had a decent first season (where he missed a a ton of time due to suspension, not Twins fault), was terrific the next 2 years and then fell off the cliff. But it was a reasonable contract that worked out ok, just ended badly.

 

I mean if you consider that 1 WAR is frequently listed as being worth $8-9M...Castro's still on pace to outplay his contract and Ervin was more than worth the deal he signed. Nolasco was the bad one and that regime is gone.

 

I don't think the Twins are going to spend to this year's payroll, but they'll clear $100M, and probably end up closer to $110-$120M, unless a fairly significant FA wants to come here. That's still plenty of payroll space to fill in the holes on the roster.

    • Twins33 likes this

So, in other words, this is a big offseason for Falvine.First, they need to get the manager right.I love Mollie, but in this age of "bullpenning" and needing to be able to manipulate your 'pen, I felt that was his biggest flaw.And, since I'm 51 I hate to say this, I think his age made it difficult to relate to today's player.Whether that's a knock on him or "today's player" I don't know....

    • Mike Sixel, Twins33 and LA VIkes Fan like this
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nicksaviking
Oct 12 2018 09:35 AM

 

Of all the players listed as free agents, I'm only interested in premium prices for Machado and Corbin. I don't think we will get either, but either would make our team better.

 

What I don't want out of free agency is bargain shopping for guys with no real top end. So maybe you bargain hunt with Josh Donaldson because if he's healthy, maybe he has something left. But LeMahieu has had exactly one elite year (2016). Hard pass on him. Maybe Keuchel is worth looking at, but he's going to look to get paid big cash, and he's on the wrong side of 30 for me to want to pay a premium.

 

On the trade side, I'd call the Mets about their pitchers to see what the prospect asking price is. If Thor or DeGrom are available, I think you have to at least consider it.

 

I agree, no nickle and diming the free agents. I'd rather have quality over quantity and if they can't get that in free agency then they need to get it via trade.

 

I don't like Keuchel and his sinker and low strikeout rates, I don't trust those guys' skill sets when they age nor do I trust it translating to a new team. This team shouldn't be looking at sinkerballers with this infield defense anyway.

 

Speaking of sinkers, I was interested in Corbin despite fairly high sinker use but looking at him more I also have concerns about his low velocity and the fact that he threw a slider on 40% of his pitches last year. That was always supposed to be the pitch that would ruin your arm. If that's been debunked I could be talked into him, if an extreme slider use is still a concern I would leave him alone.

 

I'm still all about spending most of the FA money on relievers. Cream of the crop guys, there are lots available.

    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel and scottz like this
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TheLeviathan
Oct 12 2018 10:00 AM

If you're looking for a contract you can take on cheaply....Zach Grienke continues to be number one on my list.And now it's being reported in AZ that they are likely looking to dump that salary.

    • USAFChief, glunn, diehardtwinsfan and 3 others like this

 

Who is "the young talent" you speak of? The only players in the system who figure to be upgrades are several seasons away.

Similarly, rebuild to what end? Our last young core is arb eligible and figures to be down right expensive in a couple years. The pressure to trade or sign will be real in just a year. When you get young you have everyone coming up at the same time, they all get expensive at the same time which limits your ability to add. Rinse repeat.

Also, how is anyone untouchable? Lewis and kiriloff are nice players but each have questions still. If Lewis can't stick at short his stock falls quite a bit. Alex may never develope mlb corner position power. Graterol has a short high effort delivery and prior ucl.

 

I'd like to see the Twins really push Lewis, Kiriloff and Thorpe next season.And see how Gordon does with a fresh start.

I thought the FO did a terrific job last offseason filling gaps.Most "experts" agreed.Read their offseason referred to as a "home run".Things didn't work out, but that's baseball.It's going to very interesting, and telling, who they pursue.It will say a lot about what they think of younger players like Buxton, Sano, Kepler, etc..

 

I for one don't see the Twins as having as much money to spend as you figure for the coming year i betting they will have salary figure of total 75 million to spend not what we spent last year it will fall back closer to year before spending.. The construction of this team salary has some big questions to be answered. First 3 of the 5 projected starters are in there last year of arbortation for the coming year so what are Twins plan for the future on pitching. This group of Gibson, Ordorizzi, and Pineda all have big questions on their future as big league starters but if they are not signed by opening day very likely all three would go FA at the end of next year. That leaves the Twins with only option is to trade them an next year trade dead line unless were really contending and then very likely we loose them to Free Agency. The Twins have glaring needs at ss or second base for next year which I believe will cost them at least 4million. Then we will need to have either a 3rd baseman or first baseman which could cost at least between 5 to 8 million if were talking quality players. Then it comes to our bull pen if they truly want to improve this team some money is going to be needed to be spent here. They should being looking for shut down closer in my mind that would be first thing to fix to gaining most wins for this club. Look at how many losses we had in walk off losses last year. If we had a bull pen that would have shut down other teams and we had won 75% of those games this team would have exceeded last years wins. But also with closer they could use at least another arm to fill in with our existing bull pen. Lastly this all based on assumption that Buxton and Sano can turn into all stars they were two years ago. If this doesn't happen were looking at a team again that will be 78 wins at best plus we will again have traded away a lot of the core of this team again especially starting pitching. I think this window on this group of players will be determined by next year performance and if they can't turn the corner I believe like I have thought all along were in reset again waiting for the next wave of players to arrive. This front office has never believed what was in place here and its why they haven't invested in these players or added to this team even when they have been contending or close enough to make a run. Also thinking were going to sign one of the top free agents next year isn't going to happen there not going to come to team that has this many questions and is in this state of flux. Were going to have hard time to even sign quality free agent to come here and for sure the Twins will never over pay to get a player I believe ownership has demonstrated that over years on there signing of Free Agents.  

If the FO doesn't feel Polanco is the SS going forward, I'm 99% sure he'll be the 2B.

Photo
LA VIkes Fan
Oct 12 2018 10:05 AM

 

Also Dodgers have multiple starting pitching options, unlikely they will get into a bidding war for Ryu. They also have extra outfielders and may need or want to clear payroll space for a Kershaw extension and Manny.In the current marketplace making and executing a game play is important. Many teams are just starting or in the middle of rebuilds, Twins should be able to acquire nice assets without breaking the bank. Only about 8 - 10 teams in the AL are even planning to compete next year,National league is about the same, with the upper end reachable only if every inbetween team decides to try.(this is clubs like Arizona, LAA, Seattle, SF).  

Do not know if the Twins will do this, but I feel it is doable, Twins can afford to take on an expensive contract if a club like Arizona decides to retool on the fly and looks for salary relief (Greinke)Angels with the number of bad contracts they have on the books may have to do the unthinkable and put Trout on the market in the next two years to avoid having him walk for nothing to a team that is able to win.This is about being able to indentify opportunities and going after them.Twins need a big splash to help sell tickets in the next two years.Hope they FO is given the goahead to do it.

I live in LA and I don't know that Ryu will become available. Not only is he pitching well for the Dodgers, they like to have Japanese or Korean players on the roster to draw fans from the huge Japanese and Korean communities here, largest in the world outside of their native countries. I live in LA and the mid season crowds for Ryu and Maeda (and for Nomo before them) include 10,000-20,000 fans who sepiocifically come out to root for them. I think Ryu has a greater economic value to the Dodgers than just as a pitcher and that will be reflected in the team's desire to keep him.  

    • DannySD likes this

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