Choose Your Own Path: Three Ways for the Minnesota Twins to Use Their Remaining $35MM
Image courtesy of © Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsFor this exercise I will be operating under the assumption that the Twins will enter 2020 with a $135MM payroll. This would be a $15MM raise from their 2019 payroll, which is a very conservative increase given their drastic leap in revenue after a team- best 101-win season. Additionally, each plan will feature the addition of two starting pitchers, one corner infielder and one bullpen arm, ensuring that each of the Twins’ needs are taken care of.
It should be noted that trades are certainly a possibility for filling out the roster for the Twins, but with so much uncertainty with projecting trades, this article will assume that all Twins’ moves will come via free agency.
Let’s get started:
*Dollar amount represents AAV as projected by MLB Trade Rumors and the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook*
Plan 1: The Elite Starter Plan
- Madison Bumgarner/Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP) - $21MM
- Homer Bailey (SP) - $5MM
- Travis Shaw (3B) - $6MM
- Sergio Romo (RP) - $3MM
In Bumgarner the Twins would get a true top of the rotation starter to go along with Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi. With some other savvy moves, though, the Twins can round out their offseason with good players. In this plan the Twins would sign Homer Bailey to be their No. 5 starter. After getting traded from KC to OAK last summer, Bailey put up a respectable 3.65 FIP in 73 innings. Additionally the Twins would sign Travis Shaw as their third baseman, moving Sanó to 1B. Shaw had a down year in 2019, but posted a >.800 OPS and 3.5 fWAR in each of 2017 and 2018. Finally, this plan rounds out with the Twins bringing back fan-favorite Sergio Romo.
Plan 2: The Elite Offensive Plan
- Josh Donaldson (3B) - $22MM
- Rich Hill (SP) - $6MM
- Drew Smyly (SP) - $3MM
- Brandon Kintzler (RP) - $4MM
Similar to Plan 1 with MadBum, choosing to pursue Josh Donaldson means going cheap with the rest of their FA acquisitions. Should the Twins do so though, they could still sign two quality starting pitchers while remaining at the $135MM payroll that has been budgeted. In this plan, those two starters would be Rich Hill and Drew Smyly. Hill hasn’t eclipsed 150 innings in a season since 2007, but when he is healthy he has been a consistently good pitcher, posting a sub-4.00 ERA in every year since 2013. Smyly has always had good stuff, as evidenced by his career 23.5% K%. Poor health, lack of consistency and poor control have held him back, though. If Wes Johnson can work to get Smyly’s pitches under control, he could be a solid number five starter for the Twins in 2020. Additionally with this plan, the Twins would bring Brandon Kintzler back to Minnesota coming off of his best season in the majors with a 2.68 ERA with the Cubs.
Plan 3: The Spread it Around Plan
- Dallas Keuchel (SP) - $13MM
- Julio Teherán (SP) - $9MM
- Eric Thames (1B) - $6MM
- Dellin Betances (RP) - $7MM
In the final free agency plan, the Twins would operate under the plan of spreading out their remaining $35MM in payroll and filling all of their positional hole with good, albeit not great, players. The headline under this plan would be signing Dallas Keuchel to be their No. 3 starter behind Berrios and Odorizzi. Keuchel is not the pitcher he was when he won the Cy Young, but is coming off of a season in Atlanta where he posted a solid 3.75 ERA and has pitched in no shortage of big games. Additionally the Twins would sign 28 year old, Julio Teherán and his 119 ERA + (100 is average, higher is better). The Twins would sign Eric Thames and his .851 OPS in 2019 to be their Cron replacement, and Dellin Betances and his career 40.1% career K% as the final arm in their 2020 bullpen.
According to 2020 Steamer fWAR projections, Plan 2 featuring Josh Donaldson would bring the Twins the most value in 2020, but which of these three plans excites you the most? Use the comments below to share!
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