How Would a Cancelled 2020 Season Impact the Twins?
Image courtesy of © Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY SportsThad Levine and Derek Falvey went out this offseason looking for “impact” players to add to a 101-win, division winning club from 2019. It began with courting free agent starting pitchers and finished with the signing of Josh Donaldson and trade for Kenta Maeda.
The general focus was on veterans that can help right now. Tyler Clippard, 35, was inked for one season. Sergio Romo, 37, is set to return on a one-year deal with a club option. Alex Avila, 33, replaced a slightly younger Jason Castro. Donaldson, 34, signed the largest contract in franchise history. Maeda, who turns 32 in April, has pitched in 24 postseason games. Homer Bailey could’ve just signed his last major league contract as he nears his 34th birthday.
The outstanding 40-year-old Rich Hill says he signed with the Twins because he believes he can help them win the World Series right now. Those pieces, added to a roster that contains soon-to-be fellow 40-year-old Nelson Cruz, suggest that the Twins have built themselves for this October.
MLB and the MLBPA have agreed that if there is any form of a season in 2020 that players will be granted a full year of service time. For example, if only, say, 60 games are played, Cruz, Clippard, Avila, Hill, Bailey, Jake Odorizzi, Marwin González, Trevor May, and Ehire Adrianza will still become free agents after the season.
But what happens if the season is cancelled? Well, the same thing. Ken Rosenthal reported that the agreement says players will receive the same amount of service time they gained in 2019 in the event of a cancelled 2020 season. So that list of Twins free agents will still hit the market next winter. The core will be mostly intact, but the supplementary pieces will have a chance to test the market.
You don’t have to look far to see how this hurts the Twins. This is perhaps the best lineup they’ve ever assembled. After hitting a major league record 307 home runs a season ago, they added another premier slugger and star in Donaldson. The 2019 bullpen ranked first in fWAR (4.8) after the All-Star break and brought aboard Clippard, who has pitched well against both righties and lefties for 13 years. The rotation, while still the weakness of this loaded roster, figures to be solid once again with All-Stars José Berríos and Odorizzi welcoming Maeda into the mix. The stars have aligned.
A cancelled season would be catastrophic to the economy, popularity and growth of baseball. It would also strip a peaking Twins team of their chance to bring the World Series trophy back to Minneapolis. The Twins are set up to have sustained success for hopefully many years, but the 2020 club is special right now. The window is open, and with the improving White Sox coming soon, now is the best time for that special run. Let’s hope the Twins get the opportunity to do it.
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