How Will the Twins Address the Bullpen This Offseason?
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY SportsTrevor May, Tyler Clippard and Sergio Romo are all free agents. Those three also happened to be the team’s leaders in appearances this season. And it’s not as if this bullpen unit was exactly in need of a refresh. The Twins ranked sixth in bullpen ERA and were tied with the Rays for the best bullpen WAR, per FanGraphs.
Top of the Relief Market
This year’s free agent relief pitcher class may not be especially flashy as far as top-end talent goes, but another topic we discussed on the live stream was its depth. If we combine the free agent rankings at FanGraphs and MLB Trade Rumors, here’s what we come up with for the top-10 relievers on this year’s market:
1. Liam Hendriks
2a. Trevor May
2b. Brad Hand
4. Blake Treinen
5. Trevor Rosenthal
6. Alex Colome
7. Mark Melancon
8. Kirby Yates
9. Joakim Soria
10. Greg Holland
Hendriks is definitely the No. 1 guy, but after that things aren’t so clear. In the second spot, FanGraphs preferred May (21 as opposed to Hand’s 23) while MLB TR had Hand higher (26 vs. May at 28). There are plenty of other rankings out there, but I wanted to stick with the ones that aren’t behind paywalls for the purpose of this discussion.
It’s also worth pointing out there may be many more intriguing names that become available. The non-tender deadline, which is Dec. 2. It seems likely that more names of intrigue will be added to the free agent bullpen picture between now and then.
The Twins’ front office already made a couple of moves to add to the bullpen when they claimed Ian Gibaut and Brandon Waddell off waivers, but those two seem to more fit the mold of guys you hope may be able to contribute rather than those you’re really counting on to produce.
Here’s a look at the deals the Twins have signed free agent relievers to since Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over the front office:
Feb. 3: Matt Belisle signed for one year, $2.05 million
Dec. 15: Fernando Rodney signed for one year, $4.5 million plus an option
Dec. 26: Zach Duke signed for one year, $2.15 million
Jan. 15: Addison Reed signed for two years, $16.75 million
Jan. 14: Blake Parker signed for one year, $1.8 million
Dec. 20: Sergio Romo signed for one year, $5 million plus an option
Dec. 20: Tyler Clippard signed for one year, $2.75 million
That’s seven relievers they’ve signed to major league deals for a combined $35 million. By far the biggest commitment went to Reed, who pitched to a 4.50 ERA over 55 games in 2018 and released in 2019.
Of those seven relievers signed, four were from mid to late December and the other three on into the new year. Reed was also the youngest of the bunch, as he was entering his age 29 season. The other six were all entering their ages 34 seasons or later.
What Will They Do This Offseason?
If the Twins end up non-tendering Taylor Rogers, that likely changes this conversation quite a bit, however, I am firmly of the belief Rogers will be back with the Twins in 2021. While his ERA jumped, Rogers actually had a (ever so) slightly better FIP this season than he did in 2019. He also served as the team’s MLBPA rep, which speaks to the respect Rogers commands in the clubhouse.
The potential loss of May, Clippard and Romo is a definite blow, but with Rogers back in the fold, the Twins would still have a nice bullpen foundation. Tyler Duffey backed up a breakout with another strong season while Matt Wisler, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Alcala and Cody Stashak will look to further establish themselves.
How will the front office supplement that group? I’d expect more of the same. I’m willing to speculate the front office is going to wait for the market to come to them. It also seems like a good bet the Twins’ biggest bullpen addition via free agency will probably be on a one-year deal that tops out at $5 million.
That may not sound very inspiring, but I do believe that will get you more in this offseason than it would in previous years.
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