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Maybe the Twins Should Go All in On Anthony Rendon

Over the offseason Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have suggested that the Minnesota Twins will be focused on impact pitching. That’s a great place to start. Their rotation needs significant additions to compete in a sport that just had two elite staffs square off in the World Series. What if they can’t assemble something that rivals an elite top three though? Does it make sense for them to further bolster an already strong lineup? How about doing so with superstar World Series champion Anthony Rendon.
Image courtesy of © Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Obviously, this all hinges on how the organization views the immediate future of Miguel Sano. He’s the current starter at the hot corner and is coming off a .923 OPS during his age-26 season. The Dominican native is under team control for each of the next two seasons, and the expectation would be that his salary remains under $10 million before hitting the open market. Rocco Baldelli has an opening at first base if the club decides to non-tender C.J. Cron, and it’s always been assumed that Sano would be better off switching sides on the diamond.

Assume Miguel moves and vacates the hot corner, the timing may never be better. Rendon will play 2020 as a 30-year-old and is coming off an MVP caliber season. He posted a 1.010 OPS and launched a career high 34 home runs. Even with some regression, Rendon hasn’t posted an OPS below .900 since 2016. He’s consistently been a 6 WAR player and generates production through both offensive and defensive excellence.

In his final year of arbitration Rendon made $18.8 million for the Nationals. Fangraphs has valued his production as being worth roughly $50 million annually since 2016, and he hasn’t been worth less than $34 million since 2015. The open market isn’t going to pay him that handsomely but expecting a 5-7 year deal that checks in between $25-30 million on a yearly basis seems more than doable. Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado would be the only third basemen paid above Rendon, and that seems like a pretty fair place for him to slot into the leaderboard.

The downside to this argument is that Minnesota should be throwing a good deal of their cash at arms. If we assume they have something like $70 million to spend, chopping that almost in half by inking a position player isn’t a great use of funds. However, there’re only so many pitchers on the open market worthy of the big-time payday. Should Minnesota miss on Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, I’d expect only Zack Wheeler to surpass the $20 million mark. That means the Twins could sign a very good arm and still accommodate a contract enticing to Rendon.

By no means should the assumption or expectation be that the front office prioritizes a third basemen. Even if there’s a desire to move Sano defensively, other more economical options exist. If the goal is to raise the overall talent level to the highest possible extent though, adding a superstar like Rendon certainly bridges the gap between a superstar pitcher and just a middle of the rotation arm.

It’s hard to project the Twins as a serious player any time we’re talking about the best player on the market types, but we’ve entered the territory where the organization is ready to compete and do so at a World Series worthy level.

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64 Comments

IF the Twins decided to go all in, this is a great move to make. Adding Rendon to the lineup could make the Twins the best lineup in baseball. Not only that, but filling a positional need through free agency allows the team to trade away some of their top prospects to acquire pitching talent. 

 

On the flip side of this, If the Twins are not going to upgrade their pitching through trade, don't make this move. 

 

If that's the price to pay to get a WS title I do that 10 times out of 10.

It seems people want the Twins to be the next Royals, Astros, Nats, until they realize all of those teams did more than call up their prospects. The price to get great players isn't cheap (either with prospects or Cash), thus winning the world series comes with a cost.

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birdwatcher
Nov 01 2019 01:28 PM

 

If that's the price to pay to get a WS title I do that 10 times out of 10.

 

 

Well, sure you would, if you knew you'd get that WS title X out of 10 times.

 

The question is, what's your X number? You're rolling dice, not buying a pennant, right?

    • ashbury, 70charger and gagu like this

 

So you want to spend over 25-30% of the payroll on just 1 player?

 

That's also why Rosario is on the trading block. Poor defense and with the juiced ball we should have expected more output as well.Fan favorite for sure, but not worth 9M+ a year.

 

Pay 5 players 15M a year and that account to 75M. Then with payroll usually around 130M that doesn't leave much for the other 21 players.

 

Twins need to hold onto a few of these players but it also would not hurt to pull a Tampa and trade some off and reload.

 

Tampa doesn't have three holes in its starting pitching, nor does it have obvious defensive holes. The Twins also have around 60-70 million in payroll space, just to get back to last year's total. 

    • Tomj14 likes this

 

Tampa doesn't have three holes in its starting pitching, nor does it have obvious defensive holes. The Twins also have around 60-70 million in payroll space, just to get back to last year's total. 

Exactly, Tampa seems to be a very well ran organization. They bring them up early, get their use out of them and flip them for prospects to keep the cycle going. Imagine if Tampa had even a 100M payroll to work with.

 

I know not every trade works out, the Twins need a trade like what Tampa got for Chris Archer. If Jose Berrios is not interested in a long term deal flip him when he has 2 years left of control for a haul.

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birdwatcher
Nov 01 2019 01:54 PM

 

It seems people want the Twins to be the next Royals, Astros, Nats, until they realize all of those teams did more than call up their prospects. The price to get great players isn't cheap (either with prospects or Cash), thus winning the world series comes with a cost.

 

 

And sometimes teams pay the cost and don't win it, right? Greinke almost, but didn't, push the Astro's over the top. Most of us would still call that acquisition both smart and risk-savvy, but it was still a risk. I'm constantly rather entertained with how many people argue for the big move with pretty much no acknowledgement whatsoever of the possibility that there may not be a victory parade resulting from it.

 

And I totally reject the notion that Falvey is relying exclusively on home grown talent. The facts dispute this. But it's also important to note that HOU and WSN got great production from a lot of players for whom they did not pay a price in prospects and cash in FA and trades.

 

The Twins were #4 in SI's Power Rankings most of the year. Personally, that felt generous, but the fact of the matter is they are a top 6 or 7 MLB team, a top 6 or 7 prospect pipeline team, and have more dry powder than all but the half-dozen perpetually wealthy and cash-rich franchises at the moment.

 

Most readers here don't really give a whit about farm system rankings, and I get that. I just disagree, in large part because I believe the landscape has been drastically altered in a way that favors teams that can avoid straining themselves financially or bumping up against their league-imposed salary threshhold while simultaneously maintaining trade value in both their major and minor league systems.

 

The teams you mentioned? FanGraphs ranks their farms systems this way: KCR 26, HOU 24, WSN 27. Oh, and BOS 30 out of 30. Some of these teams have financial issues related either to major contracts, poor revenues (KCR). WSN is the oldest team in the majors, I think. They have two Top 100 prospects, but that's one more than HOU, BOS, or KCR, and three less than the 101 win Twins.

    • DocBauer likes this

 

And sometimes teams pay the cost and don't win it, right? Greinke almost, but didn't, push the Astro's over the top. Most of us would still call that acquisition both smart and risk-savvy, but it was still a risk. I'm constantly rather entertained with how many people argue for the big move with pretty much no acknowledgement whatsoever of the possibility that there may not be a victory parade resulting from it.

 

And I totally reject the notion that Falvey is relying exclusively on home grown talent. The facts dispute this. 

 

The Twins were #4 in SI's Power Rankings most of the year. Personally, that felt generous, but the fact of the matter is they are a top 6 or 7 MLB team, a top 6 or 7 prospect pipeline team, and have more dry powder than all but the half-dozen perpetually wealthy and cash-rich franchises at the moment.

 

Most readers here don't really give a whit about farm system rankings, and I get that. I just disagree, in large part because I believe the landscape has been drastically altered in a way that favors teams that can avoid straining themselves financially or bumping up against their league-imposed salary threshhold while simultaneously maintaining trade value in both their major and minor league systems.

 

The teams you mentioned? FanGraphs ranks their farms systems this way: KCR 26, HOU 24, WSN 27. Oh, and BOS 30 out of 30. Some of these teams have financial issues related either to major contracts, poor revenues (KCR). WSN is the oldest team in the majors, I think. They have two Top 100 prospects, but that's one more than HOU, BOS, or KCR, and three less than the 101 win Twins.

 

How well is not making a big move working out? that also carries risk.....

 

I'd 100% rather see the Twins make moves like Cole, Verlander, Greinke, than Perez. Odo was a good trade, but good luck repeating that.

 

Are we supposed to acknowledge that in every post we make? 

    • USAFChief and Tomj14 like this

 

And sometimes teams pay the cost and don't win it, right? Greinke almost, but didn't, push the Astro's over the top. Most of us would still call that acquisition both smart and risk-savvy, but it was still a risk. I'm constantly rather entertained with how many people argue for the big move with pretty much no acknowledgement whatsoever of the possibility that there may not be a victory parade resulting from it.

 

And I totally reject the notion that Falvey is relying exclusively on home grown talent. The facts dispute this. But it's also important to note that HOU and WSN got great production from a lot of players for whom they did not pay a price in prospects and cash in FA and trades.

 

The Twins were #4 in SI's Power Rankings most of the year. Personally, that felt generous, but the fact of the matter is they are a top 6 or 7 MLB team, a top 6 or 7 prospect pipeline team, and have more dry powder than all but the half-dozen perpetually wealthy and cash-rich franchises at the moment.

 

Most readers here don't really give a whit about farm system rankings, and I get that. I just disagree, in large part because I believe the landscape has been drastically altered in a way that favors teams that can avoid straining themselves financially or bumping up against their league-imposed salary threshhold while simultaneously maintaining trade value in both their major and minor league systems.

 

The teams you mentioned? FanGraphs ranks their farms systems this way: KCR 26, HOU 24, WSN 27. Oh, and BOS 30 out of 30. Some of these teams have financial issues related either to major contracts, poor revenues (KCR). WSN is the oldest team in the majors, I think. They have two Top 100 prospects, but that's one more than HOU, BOS, or KCR, and three less than the 101 win Twins.

Dry powder don't explode though.

 

At some point, you need to put that powder into the chamber and pull the trigger.

    • DocBauer and Tomj14 like this

 


The teams you mentioned? FanGraphs ranks their farms systems this way: KCR 26, HOU 24, WSN 27. Oh, and BOS 30 out of 30. Some of these teams have financial issues related either to major contracts, poor revenues (KCR). WSN is the oldest team in the majors, I think. They have two Top 100 prospects, but that's one more than HOU, BOS, or KCR, and three less than the 101 win Twins.

and yet, those teams have won 5 of the last 7 world series. And correct me if I am wrong, but the Twins have lost 15 playoff games in a row dating back to at least 2006.

You are 100% correct not all trades work and neither do all free agent signings, but looking at the history of who wins world series there does seem to be a theme in trading and signing great players.

Some people are happy with a good team that has a few decent years and a good power ranking with a highly ranked farm system. And some hope for more.

(I do understand what you are saying, I am just ready for the Twins to actually push some of their chips in a play with the big boys)

 

    • DocBauer and Vanimal46 like this

Well, sure you would, if you knew you'd get that WS title X out of 10 times.

The question is, what's your X number? You're rolling dice, not buying a pennant, right?


I think for mid-level revenue teams you gotta take your chance when you can. 2019 IMO would have been a good season to bite the bullet and take that chance. The core is young and cheap, almost everyone was healthy and producing beyond their typical norm.

I think it's really difficult, maybe even impossible now, for a team like the Twins to sustain 7-8 years of competitive play. That's why I prefer going for it when there's a window open and stars are aligned like it was in 2019.

I hope 2020 brings the same feelings... But you know that health and production are far from givens in baseball.
    • Tomj14 likes this

 

I think for mid-level revenue teams you gotta take your chance when you can. 2019 IMO would have been a good season to bite the bullet and take that chance. The core is young and cheap, almost everyone was healthy and producing beyond their typical norm.

I think it's really difficult, maybe even impossible now, for a team like the Twins to sustain 7-8 years of competitive play. That's why I prefer going for it when there's a window open and stars are aligned like it was in 2019.

I hope 2020 brings the same feelings... But you know that health and production are far from givens in baseball.

http://www.startribu...pect/564227002/

 

The gambling wise-guys think the window is already closed, apparently.

 

No....we need not over complicate things....

 

The priorities are:

1. Playoff worthy starting pitching

2. Playoff worthy starting pitching

 

...and wait...what am I forgetting....oh yeah!

 

3. Playoff worthy starting pitching

Add to that someone who can teach Twins players how to hit during the post season

 

7 runs in 3 games 

Can he pitch?  

 

They have given up a ton of future pitching value, that's for sure. Doolittle cost them Jesus Luzardo, ranked #23 in all of baseball as a prospect and now in MLB, and Blake Treinen, an all-star relief pitcher last year. Adam Eaton cost them ace pitcher Lucas Giolito plus Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning, a 29th overall pick who the Twins would probably swap in a heartbeat for Balazovic. All three of these guys might be in the White Sox' rotation together in 2020 and be better than average.

 

They won because of Scherzer, Corbin, and Strasburg, no doubt, and Eaton and Doolittle were contributors. Good for them, but you can't say the price wasn't steep.

It was a steep price, but the alternative would have been steep in a way too -- Luzardo, Giolito, Lopez, and Dunning have all missed seasons / had awful seasons since leaving Washington. Their forecasts were a lot more variable / speculative than the players Washington took back, and perhaps most importantly, the players Washington already assembled.

 

Keeping those prospects may have offered more long-term individual player upside, but it also would have increased the risk of jeopardizing the investments Washington already made in Scherzer, Strasburg, Rendon, etc. Teams can't and shouldn't always prioritize 4 years from now ahead of the present.

    • Mike Sixel, DocBauer, Vanimal46 and 1 other like this

 

Most readers here don't really give a whit about farm system rankings, and I get that. I just disagree, in large part because I believe the landscape has been drastically altered in a way that favors teams that can avoid straining themselves financially or bumping up against their league-imposed salary threshhold while simultaneously maintaining trade value in both their major and minor league systems.

What's the evidence of that drastic landscape alteration, at this point? It doesn't seem apparent in playoff results so far...

    • Mike Sixel likes this
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FlauerPauer
Nov 01 2019 04:31 PM

In terms of contract, it's probably a safer bet to put a 7 year contract out to a position player rather than a pitcher, but it just doesn't seem like many of those long term contracts work out favorably. I'd rather go high dollar, less years. Offer both 5 yrs/200 mil and see who says yes first. Hey, it's not my money.

    • Tomj14 likes this
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FlauerPauer
Nov 01 2019 04:37 PM

 

 you can't say the price wasn't steep.

 

I'd give up all the top prospects the Twins have for a World Series Championship.

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birdwatcher
Nov 01 2019 05:18 PM

 

How well is not making a big move working out? that also carries risk.....

 

I'd 100% rather see the Twins make moves like Cole, Verlander, Greinke, than Perez. Odo was a good trade, but good luck repeating that.

 

Are we supposed to acknowledge that in every post we make? 

 

 

 

I know this is redundant as all get out, but our FO believes in windows, remember? While I have some skepticism about thinking this way, I can't say they're wrong in assessing that last season was prying it open and now they feel the breeze (their own description, which was followed by the first promise we've heard from them to go after a spendy target. 

 

I don't expect you to acknowledge THIS in every post you make, but perhaps it would help not to ignore it?

 

They just went from 78 to 101 wins. I'm going to wait to complaint about what they don't do until AFTER they don't do it, not before.;)

    • Major League Ready, DocBauer and gagu like this

 

I know this is redundant as all get out, but our FO believes in windows, remember? While I have some skepticism about thinking this way, I can't say they're wrong in assessing that last season was prying it open and now they feel the breeze (their own description, which was followed by the first promise we've heard from them to go after a spendy target. 

 

I don't expect you to acknowledge THIS in every post you make, but perhaps it would help not to ignore it?

 

They just went from 78 to 101 wins. I'm going to wait to complaint about what they don't do until AFTER they don't do it, not before.;)

 

Of course, none of that has a whit to do with my post.......You said that signing players has risk and no one ever mentions that. Not signing players also has risk, and that is rarely mentioned. 

 

Now is the time, we'll see what happens. 

    • DocBauer and Tomj14 like this
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birdwatcher
Nov 01 2019 08:51 PM

 

What's the evidence of that drastic landscape alteration, at this point? It doesn't seem apparent in playoff results so far...

 

 

You more than most are familiar with what I regard as the main events which are drastically changing the competitive landscape, because you're a student of the game.

 

The things I think are profoundly changing the landscape mostly relate to two things. The first is the ongoing and desperate efforts by the industry to create some sort of competitive and financial parity. Examples include revenue-sharing, penalties, taxes and imposed limits on spending such as bonus pools, industry lobbying for public assistance in building stadiums, etc. This struggle has been going on for three decades now.

 

The second is the widespread information now available and the explosion of observation technologies and opportunities. No future superstar is a surprise these days. Think of all the changes that turned Terry Ryan into a dinosaur and converted guys like Shapiro into front office superstars.

 

The playing field has been leveled when it comes to the evaluation of new talent and its acquisition. No one's kicking anyone else's butts in the draft room these days, and, since the IFA cheating was stopped, no one is outspending to gain an advantage. Even the new observation technologies are pretty much a requirement now. That's why guys like Falvey are so focused on trying to gain some sort of edge in coaching and development areas like nutrition, preventive health, and injury prevention. 

 

I may be wrong, but my intuition is that things are slowly circling around to where teams that are opportunistic, active, and adroit traders will create an advantage for themselves. You either do that, or you tank for awhile to take advantage of those past parity initiatives such as draft order and larger bonus allottments.

    • Riverbrian likes this
There is risk in ANY move you make, whether it be a FA signing, a trade, or even a draft selection. You try to mitigate said risk by simply being smarter...sometimes lucky...and attempting to balance risk/reward in all situations. Back to the original OP. I get it. But I don't get it. This a GOOD team. There are holes to be filled. There are ways to fill those holes. Rendon is a really good baseball player. But you are trying to say he would be a difference maker to push the Twins over the top with a big contract if they swing and miss on pitching? Sorry, I want the defense to improve as much as anyone. But I would put my chips all in on pitching, re-signs, FA, trades vs continued improvement/development from Sano, Polanco and Arraez before I'd sign a position player, no matter how good, who's offense might be replicated by the guy you want to replace him with. Isn't Moose also a FA, or am I mistaken? If the Twins really want to move Sano to 1B, which it doesn't appear they want to do at this time, does he suddenly become a more elite talent There? No to Rendon. Let's focus on what we have, make some smart moves in the pitching area and rock and roll! It almost feels, at times, that some feel we are coming off a 101 loss season vs a 101 win season.
    • birdwatcher, brvama and Major League Ready like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Nov 01 2019 09:30 PM

I may be wrong, but my intuition is that things are slowly circling around to where teams that are opportunistic, active, and adroit traders will create an advantage for themselves.

As always I appreciate your opinion, but if true, then the Twins will have a very brief window to capitalize on their advantage before other teams catch up. Maybe the Twins will then be enjoying their next innovation ahead of the other teams, and stay one step ahead, but maybe not.
    • birdwatcher and Riverbrian like this
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birdwatcher
Nov 01 2019 09:36 PM

 

Of course, none of that has a whit to do with my post.......You said that signing players has risk and no one ever mentions that. Not signing players also has risk, and that is rarely mentioned. 

 

Now is the time, we'll see what happens. 

To clarify, I'm entertained with how often people ignore the possibility that a major signing they want may not result in that WS banner. The whole "if we sign Cole, then we will win the WS" simplicity.

 

I'll grant that little gets said here on TD about the risk to the organization of not doing enough. Ryan got fired because he didn't do enough. Even Jim Pohlad implied that Ryan didn't spend enough. It wasn't lost on Falvey or Jim Pohlad that going from 78 to 101 made turnstiles spin faster. But you're right we don't talk much about not signing players from the standpoint of the organizational risk of lost revenues. That's a harder calculation for us to make and discuss.

 

 

    • Riverbrian and Hosken Bombo Disco like this
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birdwatcher
Nov 01 2019 09:52 PM

 

As always I appreciate your opinion, but if true, then the Twins will have a very brief window to capitalize on their advantage before other teams catch up. Maybe the Twins will then be enjoying their next innovation ahead of the other teams, and stay one step ahead, but maybe not.

 

Yeah, I think they'll struggle to stay a step ahead, because draft order changes things quickly. For example, if FanGraphs is right, after the last two draft classes, Detroit vaulted to #8 from about #23.

 

We'll see, but my hunch is that the better organizations will become aggressive and active traders in an attempt to capitalize on what they've learned about investor psychology and about negotiating from a position of greater psychological leverage. Things like selling into the trade deadline to take advantage of a trading partner's urgency. It's maybe one of the few opportunities left to gain an advantage if you're winning on a regular basis.

 

But again, being active and opportunistic is a lot easier if you have some free cash and have built up surplus player assets at both levels rather than doing the whole boom and bust of good MLB, bad farm system or the opposite.

    • Riverbrian likes this
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Brock Beauchamp
Nov 01 2019 11:47 PM

 

I may be wrong, but my intuition is that things are slowly circling around to where teams that are opportunistic, active, and adroit traders will create an advantage for themselves.

You're not wrong.


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