Offseason Blueprint: Bargain Bin Shopping (Part 2)
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Philosophy - This is the hardest area to predict for the Twins. On the one hand, it makes sense to not commit too many years or too much money, because they have (in theory) only one available spot in the rotation and several young candidates as backup options.
On the other hand, at this point next year they could have three more openings as Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda are all scheduled to be free agents. Finding a top-flight starter that can be the core of the 2020 team with Jose Berrios (and perhaps Fernando Romero and Brusdar Graterol) could be valuable this year and necessary next year.
Targets - The free agent market is also interesting. There is no longer the anticipated star power at the top, but this is a deep class in the middle, with a number of intriguing comeback candidates and veterans. My favorite candidates are:
- Yusei Kikuchi - A 27-year-old left-hander coming over from Japan, he’s the one name that satisfies both concerns: he’ll likely sign a multi-year deal, but his price could be reasonable due to some injury concerns.
- Charlie Morton (35yo), Gio Gonzalez (32yo), Anibal Sanchez (35yo) - The free agent market is replete with mid or late 30-year-old pitchers who have had success recently. If you have a favorite, offer them a second year and they’re likely yours at a reasonable price.
- Derek Holland (32yo) - Riskier is someone like Holland, who has had a roller coaster career and bounced back last year in spacious Pac Bell field. He’s still young, appears healthy again, Target Field limits long balls, and Holland could fall into a bullpen role if the rotation doesn’t work out.
Philosophy - The Twins failures last year are mostly blamed on the Addison Reed deal, which was a disappointment. But that stumble was exacerbated by the real problem: the Twins haven’t developed reliable bullpen difference-makers internally. When veterans are hurt or overused, there has been no reliable backup plan.
Free agency can't fix that, just paper it over a bit. The big change this year will be the changes to the coaching staff and player development. In the meantime, the approach in free agency will likely look similar to last year, making some of the cheaper options real possibilities.
Targets - Last year’s market was deep, but the market for relievers didn’t have the bargains that were available for other positions. Expect the same this year. Here are few options that might be overlooked.
- Kelvin Herrera - He’s an elite (and young, 29yo) bullpen arm that struggled after a midseason trade, and then went down with a ligament injury in his left foot. There’s a lot of inherent risk there, but if he’s expected to be out a significant time, a Michael Pineda-type deal might make sense. And if he isn’t, he could provide good value as he rebuilds his market on a one-year deal.
- Greg Holland - A reliever who dominated in Kansas City with Herrera, he had a terrible beginning of the year in St. Louis, even getting released. But then he bounced back strong with the Nationals so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
- Joe Kelly - Historically he has matched the template that failed the Twins old regime - high velocity that somehow doesn’t translate into strikeouts. Last year, the strikeouts went way up, but didn’t translate into a low ERA. The 31-year-old might well be a half step from becoming something special, if the Twins think they can get him over the finish line. (But a lot of teams have thought that.)
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