Hindsight is 20/20: 4 Players the Twins Could've Avoided Facing by Signing
Image courtesy of © Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY SportsThe Twins had hoped for additional pitching help and a powerful bat in the lineup to replace the non-tendered C.J. Cron and muscle Minnesota into a deep playoff run. Although they had missed out on huge free agents, such as Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu, they made up for it in the end by trading for Kenta Maeda and signing Rich Hill and, of course, Josh Donaldson.
However, an abridged 60-game season means that each game holds 2.7 times its usual value. Each win, even against non-contending teams, will be that much more important. In addition, the Twins had not anticipated facing the majority of the NL Central, possibly the most competitive division in baseball, where numerous key free agents eventually landed. Although the Twins are still the favorites to once again take the division title, the road ahead of them is less predictable than it once seemed. Therefore, looking back, there are some players with team-friendly contracts that the Twins should’ve signed in the offseason, not only to supplement the team, but also to avoid facing in general this season. Here are four examples.
Contract: 1 year, $6.1M
Every win against the Tigers is critical. Last season, Cleveland was almost flawless against Detroit, losing only one game to the Tigers. This same dominance can be expected this season from the Twins’ biggest division rival. Therefore, the Twins have to be equally flawless in 2020 in games against the Tigers to not lose their footing against Cleveland. However, C.J. Cron can put a damper on that.
Although the Tigers have very few offensive pieces, Cron will be one of the most dangerous hitters in the lineup. In his six years in the majors, Cron has been consistently hitting roughly between .250 and .260, with his home run numbers ticking upwards every season. In addition, Cron’s familiarity with the Twins’ pitching will make him that much more of a difficult out. Even though he would’ve been a backup first baseman for the Twins, his numbers show that he would’ve been a highly effective one. Although the Tigers could potentially win single digit games this season, keep an eye on Cron, who could ensure that each single digit win is against Minnesota.
Contract: 3 year, $55.5M
It goes without saying that the Twins should’ve signed one of the biggest pitching free agents in the 2019-2020 market. Dallas Keuchel is now one of the key pieces in the White Sox’s rotation and is looking to help take Chicago to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. Last season, Minnesota took the division when Cleveland fumbled too many games against Chicago, losing 10 out of 19 games. With a stronger White Sox team, the momentum could shift, leading to a division title shift to Ohio, or even possibly Illinois.
Although the Twins have a good rotation with their offseason additions, they could’ve had a great rotation with this former Cy Young winner. His career 3.67 ERA and 1.260 WHIP on paper are nothing to scoff at, but his vast experience, especially in the postseason, are immeasurable.
Contract: 1 year, $1.5M
Cameron Maybin slipped under the radar in 2019 as a backup outfielder for the injury-riddled New York Yankees. However, he silently feasted off of AL Central teams, including the Twins. Maybin quietly batted a .293 with 9 runs and 2 home runs in 41 at bats. Maybin also infamously pinch hit the last home run for the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS in 2019. On top of this, Maybin stole nine bases, which is more than Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario, and Jonathan Schoop combined, despite playing less than half of the time.
Maybin signed with the Tigers in the offseason to a 1-year, $1.5M deal as their everyday outfielder. Not only will Cameron Maybin likely continue to produce offensively in his but he will take a few bases along with him. Like Cron, Maybin can place a damper on an expected win against the Tigers. In December’s The 12 FA’s of Christmas Part II, it was discussed how the Twins’ lack of depth in the outfield was exposed last season. Had the Twins taken Maybin’s team-friendly deal on, he would’ve been an excellent, experienced replacement outfielder or pinch runner for Nelson Cruz.
Contract: 1 year, $5.0M
In my December 2019 article, The 12 FA’s of Christmas Part I, I discussed how the Twins should sign Justin Smoak to a 1-year, $5M contract. The Brewers did just that, by signing the Canadian fan favorite to a 1-year, $5M contract. Although Miguel Sano is now the everyday first baseman with the offseason signing of Josh Donaldson, his defensive metrics are still a cause for concern. Although Smoak’s offensive production has not been potent since his 2017 All-Star selection, Smoak will still be a difficult out in the Brewers’ lineup, and his defensive metrics are a major asset to that team.
Is there another player under the radar who you wish that the Twins signed to a team-friendly contract to avoid facing? Comment below!
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