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2019/2020 Twins Minor League Signings

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 09:55 AM
This is a forum to update Twins minor league signings (and can be where we post Twins minor league free agents that signed elsewhere)....
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Montreal Rays?

Other Baseball Today, 09:48 AM
http://www.startribu...real/511580082/ This piece with an AP byline was posted on the Strib website today. Maybe it's not significant, bu...
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Astros Being Investigated for Using Tech to Steal Pitchin...

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Reports: Romero to Miss Most or All of Spring Training

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Pensacola Blue Wahoos: Photo-A-Day

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Did the Twins Pivot to a Superior Plan B?

The Minnesota Twins seemingly entered the offseason intent on signing Zack Wheeler. The right-hander possessed the kind of premium ability and upside the front office sought, motivating them to make an historic bid for his services.

It wasn't to be. And now, as the dust settles on a thrilling late-winter surge, maybe that's just as well.
Image courtesy of Jeff Curry and Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
According to reports, the Twins offered somewhere around $100 million to open their bidding for Wheeler, but were informed early on that Minnesota wasn't a strong consideration. Wheeler ended up signing with the Phillies for five years and $118 million, spurning the White Sox and their bigger offer (rumor has it Chicago was upwards of $120 million).
So, to even have a chance, the Twins would've needed to commit to Wheeler – who's never been an All-Star, never thrown 200 innings, never had an ERA+ better than 112 – at least $25 million annually, over at least five years.

They missed on Wheeler, and as every top free agent starter came off the board, it became apparent this wasn't going to be Minnesota's avenue for making a splash. In fact, as the inaction dragged into mid-January, with Homer Bailey and Rich Hill slotted in as rotation solutions, it appeared the team might make not make any splash at all.

A few weeks later, they have turned the $25 million they would've spent on Wheeler (if he'd have even taken it) into Josh Donaldson and Kenta Maeda, who are both locked in as long-term fixtures for a franchise steamrolling into its window of championship contention.

That's an top-tier hitter and defender, along with a starting pitcher who – in a lot of ways – is pretty similar to Wheeler.



Their career ERAs are nearly identical, their career FIPs are identical, and Maeda has an (often substantial) advantage in several other categories: WHIP, K/9, K/BB, opponents' batting average and OPS, to name a few.

Statistical profiles paint a similar picture, but stylistically, the two are wildly different. Wheeler is a 6-foot-4 athletic specimen who leans heavily on a 95 MPH fastball, while Maeda stands several inches shorter and tops out in the low 90s, craftily relying on a spin-heavy offspeed mix to induce tons of whiffs. Matthew Trueblood wrote a great piece here Tuesday explaining the righty's recipe for success.

Although the numbers make a case for it, I'm not going to say Maeda is the better pitcher. Wheeler is two years younger, trending better, and capable of pitching deeper into games. (He's thrown 100 more innings over the past two seasons than Maeda, who served in a swingman role for Los Angeles.) If all things were equal and I had my choice, I'd easily opt for Wheeler.

But, all things are not equal. Maeda costs about $100 million less, which allows the Twins to pair him with a borderline MVP-caliber third baseman. And Maeda does bring something Wheeler doesn't: experience in the heat of high stakes.

The Mets have been mostly terrible during his career, and Wheeler's never appeared in the postseason. Maeda, since coming to the States in 2016, has been – according to fWAR – the fourth-best, third-best, sixth-best, and third-best pitcher on Dodgers teams that have averaged 98 wins, won the NL West four times, and gone to the World Series twice. He has pitched 24 times in the playoffs and he has pitched WELL, with a 3.31 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 10.7 K/9 rate.

Like Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, and Rich Hill before him, Maeda brings October seasoning to an emerging young group that showed its greenness against the Yankees last year. And his arrival causes a big ripple effect. The Twins are no longer totally desperate for both Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi to repeat their All-Star campaigns, having added a roughly equivalent pitcher. Bailey and Hill become backup plans and back-of-rotation parts. Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer are conveniently distant depth. Lewis Thorpe is a true wild-card, with opportunity but no major pressure.

The Twins didn't need to make this move. They did it because, as Thad Levine once assertively declared, they wanted to put their foot on someone's throat. While some fans will bemoan the enduring lack of an "ace," Maeda is an impact pitcher whose arrival alongside Donaldson dramatically improves an almost fully intact team, fresh off 101 wins and a home run title.

It does cost the Twins a very good prospect in Brusdar Graterol (editor's note: we think?), which is the unspoken pitfall in this discussion. He's an exciting, nerve-racking, high-upside, risk-addled rarity of a talent whose departure the team could very well come to rue. But these are the bold gambits a team takes when aiming high. It's the all-in type move that never came during the 2000s, while Terry Ryan's clubs continually fell short.

Yeah, signing Zack Wheeler back in November and calling it a day would've been cool. But instead, Twins fans have been treated to a spectacular, narrative-crushing turn of events in the offseason's home stretch that leaves no doubt as to the resolve of this front office and ownership.

It's go time. Can spring training get here already?

  • Steve Lein, Carneal&Gordon, mikelink45 and 9 others like this

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14 Comments

"He's an exciting, nerve-racking, high-upside, risk-addled rarity of a talent whose departure the team could very well come rue."

 

 

A lovely sentence (except for the presumably missing "to" before "rue"). My compliments!

    • Nick Nelson and David HK like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Feb 05 2020 09:13 PM
Obviously, everyone wants Wheeler more than Maeda but it’s pretty hard to complain about Donaldson + Maeda instead of Wheeler + Graterol.
    • Nick Nelson, Twins33, gbg and 10 others like this
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I Never Bet On Sports
Feb 05 2020 09:55 PM

Great perspective -agree I would take Wheeler over Maeda but really like this move the more I read and hear. Here are my thoughts last night when I heard the news:

 

2019 stats:

 

Maeda/Wheeler

WHIP 1.07 / 1.26

Avg.202/.258

ERA4.04 /3.96

2020

Salary$3-10MM/ $21.5MM

 

I like the trade and even more what it says about our front office balancing win now with sustainable roster. Seems like great value for the money over the next four years.

    • howieramone2 and Lasorda_This_Out like this
An admirable pivot from failure, to be sure.
    • David HK likes this

After reading that other article about his pitch mix, heavy slider to righties, and change up to lefties, I hereby dub Him: Super-ROMO.

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Thebigalguy
Feb 06 2020 08:56 AM
Great analysis. Of course, we’re waiting to hear if Mardi is a Twin or not.
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Thebigalguy
Feb 06 2020 08:57 AM
Maeda.

 

He has pitched 24 times in the playoffs and he has pitched WELL, with a 3.31 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 10.7 K/9 rate.

This is highly misleading without noting *all* of Maeda's postseason effectiveness has been in relief (and almost entirely in a ~1 inning relief role).

 

Maeda's postseason career

 

SP: 3 GS, 10.2 IP, 12 H, 8 R, 7 BB, 2 HBP, 12 K, 6.75 ERA -- the Dodgers lost all 3 games

 

RP: 21 G, 22 IP, 15 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 27 K, 1.64 ERA -- the Dodgers are 11-10 in his relief appearances

 

Assuming the Twins use Maeda as a starter, we have no idea what kind of postseason pitcher we are getting.

 

And if the Twins opt to use him in relief instead, he's probably only as useful as the guys pitching before him, like Taylor Rogers in the 2019 postseason.

    • Jeff_M likes this
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howieramone2
Feb 06 2020 10:00 AM

 

This is highly misleading without noting *all* of Maeda's postseason effectiveness has been in relief (and almost entirely in a ~1 inning relief role).

 

Maeda's postseason career

 

SP: 3 GS, 10.2 IP, 12 H, 8 R, 7 BB, 2 HBP, 12 K, 6.75 ERA -- the Dodgers lost all 3 games

 

RP: 21 G, 22 IP, 15 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 27 K, 1.64 ERA -- the Dodgers are 11-10 in his relief appearances

 

Assuming the Twins use Maeda as a starter, we have no idea what kind of postseason pitcher we are getting.

 

And if the Twins opt to use him in relief instead, he's probably only as useful as the guys pitching before him, like Taylor Rogers in the 2019 postseason.

Whatever, it's our 10th solid move this offseason. For those keeping score at home, this is the greatest offseason in the history of our favorite team.

 

Maeda, since coming to the States in 2016, has been – according to fWAR – the fourth-best, third-best, sixth-best, and third-best pitcher on Dodgers teams that have averaged 98 wins, won the NL West four times, and gone to the World Series twice.

WAR is a counting stat. Maeda has also ranked 1st, 4th, 5th and 4th for the Dodgers in innings pitched over those seasons too. That doesn't mean he has ever been their 1st or even 4th best starter (at least not entering the postseason since 2016).

 

If you want to cite fWAR, Maeda has 9.6 the past 4 seasons, 8.9 as a SP. Here are some other guys in that range, over that same time period, all of whom have pitched in 2-4 pennant races during that time:

 

Roark 10.3

Gio Gonzalez 10.0

Happ 9.8

Gausman 9.2

 

Maeda is decent pitcher, but let's not suggest his fWAR ranks on the Dodgers somehow elevate him.

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howieramone2
Feb 06 2020 10:30 AM

 

WAR is a counting stat. Maeda has also ranked 1st, 4th, 5th and 4th for the Dodgers in innings pitched over those seasons too. That doesn't mean he has ever been their 1st or even 4th best starter (at least not entering the postseason since 2016).

 

If you want to cite fWAR, Maeda has 9.6 the past 4 seasons, 8.9 as a SP. Here are some other guys in that range, over that same time period, all of whom have pitched in 2-4 pennant races during that time:

 

Roark 10.3

Gio Gonzalez 10.0

Happ 9.8

Gausman 9.2

 

Maeda is decent pitcher, but let's not suggest his fWAR ranks on the Dodgers somehow elevate him.

To me, just being a valued member of one of the best run teams in baseball elevates him.

 

To me, just being a valued member of one of the best run teams in baseball elevates him.

So valued, they kept him out of their playoff rotation the past 3 years. And traded him rather than promise him a starting spot going forward.

 

Does this principle extend to someone like, say, JA Happ on the Yankees? Should we elevate our opinion of Happ beyond his on-field performance if the Yankees simply offer him to us in trade?

    • SQUIRREL likes this

I wanted Wheeler bad and was extremely disappointed when it didn’t happen, but I like Maeda as a consolation prize (if it happens). Especially considering the price so far is only Graterol who I thought was just a reliever for two years now. I’d trade a reliever for a number three starter every time. 

    • SQUIRREL likes this
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howieramone2
Feb 06 2020 12:39 PM

 

So valued, they kept him out of their playoff rotation the past 3 years. And traded him rather than promise him a starting spot going forward.

 

Does this principle extend to someone like, say, JA Happ on the Yankees? Should we elevate our opinion of Happ beyond his on-field performance if the Yankees simply offer him to us in trade?

I think I made why position perfectly clear, but feel free to spin away.

    • RaymondLuxuryYacht likes this

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