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Offseason Blueprint: Changing the Course

Take a look at the American League -- not just the Central -- and ask yourself if the Twins could realistically build a World Series contender for 2019. Is the next real competitive window now, or sometime in the future?

I’m of the mind that there’s no place worse to be than in the middle of the road. I also believe the foundation of a World Series team is in this Twins organization right now, but to realize that potential the front office and developmental departments are going to have to play their cards just right.
Image courtesy of © Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
The way I see it, the Twins have two options: 1) Try and go for it again in 2019 and build around the current roster, or 2) work to set things up better for 2020 and beyond.

Sure, there are some moves that would accomplish both of those things, but I don’t envision the Twins signing a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.

Instead, I believe the best way to realize that eventual World Series potential is to continue to stockpile depth for 2020 and beyond while at the same time creating more opportunities for the young players who either debuted in 2018 or were in the high minors showing signs that they were close.

I can already hear the groans as I’m typing this. I understand why a lot of Twins fans won’t take kindly to this blueprint. When the rebuilding will ever stop? I’m more curious if it ever truly started in the first place.

The most frustrating thing about the Twins under Derek Falvey so far has been all the half measures taken. The first offseason, the team’s biggest need was addressed in the signing of a catcher, but there were no other efforts to upgrade the club. Then there was the buy/sell move at the trade deadline later that season, one of the biggest examples of indecisiveness I can ever recall by any front office.

Last winter (and even into spring), there was another honest effort to upgrade the team, but primarily in the short term. Given that was the case, it was all too easy to tear down the roster at the deadline.

Even how they’ve treated the manager situation has been very half-hearted up to this point. Falvey had no choice but to accept Paul Molitor as manager, but the three-year deal he signed after the 2017 season appeared to have been a commitment to stability in that spot. We all know how that turned out.

I’m not saying I disagreed with all those moves, but taking a look at the big picture, you’re certainly left with an image of a leadership group that’s done a very poor job at committing to anything. Flexibility can be a valuable attribute, but at some point this front office is going to need to pick a lane and stay in it.

The next big wave of Twins talent is topped by Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis and Brusdar Graterol. It’s conceivable all three could be September callups this coming season, but it is more reasonable to expect all three arrive in 2020. But those are just the headliners. There will be plenty of other prospects who will blossom between now and then.

There will be a ton of seeds all continuing to germinate in the high minors next season. Not all of them are going to maturate, but It seems likely the foundation of the next great Twins team will come from that crop of players. As we’ve seen with the current wave of homegrown Twins, there will be some who surprise and some who experience more growing pains than we expect.

But where does that leave the current team?

The great news is several of the players on the team right now will still be under team control long enough for there to be some overlap with the next wave. Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano will be around through 2021. Jose Berrios, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, Byron Buxton and Taylor Rogers will be around through 2022.

Before we get going, this blueprint is in some ways a companion piece to the article I wrote for the Offseason Handbook. You may understand where I’m coming from a little better if you read that piece. OK, let’s get into my moves. Brace yourself, this might hurt.

Love me tender.
Everybody gets tendered a contract! I'm going to be both removing some outfield depth and some veteran leadership, so Robbie Grossman still makes plenty of sense on a one-year deal projected to be around $4 million. With Ehire Adrianza, the Twins are so shallow in the infield right now that I think he’s worth hanging on to for the projected $2 million.

Free agency? No thank you.
I’m going thrift shopping, and not for the Lance Lynn/Logan Morrison types. We’re talking bottom of the barrel. There have been some real valuable pieces acquired over the past several offseasons among the players who were non-tendered or became minor league free agents.

The Twins saw both sides on the coin in terms of minor league free agents last year. They lost Dereck Rodriguez to the Giants, but added Willians Astudillo. You’re really mining for diamonds in the rough in this universe of players, but when you hit it’s an incredible value. You get multiple years of team control on a player who’s going to be affordable. You’re probably not going to find stars among the guys in this market (though it does happen), but a multi-year role player or bullpen piece would be a really savvy pickup.

We don't know who will be non-tendered yet and I haven't scoured the list of minor league free agents to be, so I don't have specific names, but this is definitely an area in which the Twins should be aggressive.

Trade away Max Kepler, Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi.
Here’s the knockout blow. This would hurt. Gibson was a rare bright spot from the 2018 season and one of the most likable guys on the team. That level of attachment isn’t there with Odorizzi, but he had a very nice season and turning over two-thirds of the established rotation would be very tough. On the other hand, Gibson, Odorizzi and Michael Pineda (more on him in a minute) are all set to become free agents after this upcoming season.

Dealing away Kepler has the kind of disaster potential that could get somebody fired. It could end up being Aaron Hicks all over again. So why deal him? Well there’s already an argument to be made that Jake Cave deserves regular playing time over Kepler in 2019, but this has as much to do with making room for Alex Kirilloff than anything. It seems highly likely Kepler will be passed up one way or another.

Why Max? Eddie Rosario is already what I think we all believe Kepler could be at his peak and trading Byron Buxton has even more disaster potential, mainly because his value is so low right now. Cave showed promise, but his track record is too short to garner any real trade value at this point. Trading Kepler has the best balance of potential risk vs. potential reward among the current crop of outfielders.

The Twins have invested more than 1,600 plate appearances in Kepler and have seen very little progress at the plate. Being a strong and versatile defensive outfielder who is affordable and has upside, Kepler still figures to have plenty of trade value despite his lack of progress to this point.

Make sure you grab a copy of the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, which features an excellent article on Kepler written by Aaron Gleeman.

The primary reason for listing these guys as trade bait is because they’re valuable. This isn’t a knock against them, if anything it’s quite the opposite. I think they could be flipped for additional pieces that help usher in a glory run in Twins Territory.

So what would I be looking to acquire in these deals? Primarily infielders and high-velocity pitchers. The closer to the majors the better. The Twins don't really have a second baseman right now and I'm not sure anybody believes that Miguel Sano is going to stay at third base long term.

On the pitching need, velocity isn’t everything but it sure helps. Plenty of pitchers are effective in the low 90s, but if you watched the postseason you know the Twins are seriously lacking in high-velocity options.

Throughout the entire year, only a grand total of four pitches were thrown 98.5 mph or harder by the Twins staff, three of which came from guys who are no longer in the organization (two from Pressly and one each from Fernando Rodney). In the five World Series games there was a grand total of 97 pitches thrown at least 98.5 mph.

Alright, let’s get into specifics. It’s nearly impossible for me to sit here and try come up with actual trades that make sense. The trade market is a mysterious beast. I did my best. My general theory was to take what I think the Twins could get, then lower that expectation a bit.

Max Kepler to the Angels for Jahmai Jones, Keynan Middleton and Jake Jewell
A consensus top 100 prospect last offseason, Jones hit .239/.337/.380 (.717) between High A and Double A. He was primarily a center fielder prior to being converted to second base last season. He still has some things to iron out at the keystone, but I love the fact that he has some flexibility. Jones doesn’t have a single tool that projects to be below average. He’s currently turning heads in the Arizona Fall League.

Middleton, a right-handed reliever, has the ability to sit 96 mph and topped out at 99 for the Angels last year. He has a 3.43 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and has even racked up nine saves in 76 major league innings over the past two seasons. He's a guy that could finish off games for years to come. The catch? He had Tommy John surgery in May.

Another right-handed reliever, Jewell is also coming off an injury. He suffered a fractured fibula while covering home plate, but should be recovered sometime in December. He made his MLB debut for the Angels this year and topped out at 97 mph. He hasn’t posted big strikeout rates in the minors despite the velo, but Jewell gets a ton of ground balls with his hard sinker.

Every year you have a Mike Trout in your organization is a year you need to be going for it, so the Angels have that incentive to improve. Shohei Ohtani had Tommy John surgery, but for now they’re expecting him to be available to DH next season. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes. The Angels do have Jo Adell, one of the top outfield prospects in baseball, but Kepler is a guy they can bank on to at the very least deliver similar production to what he’s given the Twins the past three seasons. There’s a lot of value in that to a team like the Angels who have question marks.

Kyle Gibson to Milwaukee for Lucas Erceg
Erceg, a left-handed hitting third baseman, is coming off a disappointing 2018 season in which he had a .688 OPS for the Brewers Double-A affiliate. He dealt with back issues in spring training, then was hit in the head by a pitch in April. Not sure if those things caused a slow start but they certainly couldn’t have had a positive impact. He played much better over his final 57 games of the season, posting a .761 OPS while slugging eight of his 13 homers on the season. In more than 500 plate appearances, Erceg had just 82 strikeouts, and there are no questions about his defense or especially his arm strength at third base. I think he’s also going to hit for power.

Milwaukee had an incredible run this past season, but they need starting pitching help. Erceg is among their better prospects, but even with Mike Moustakas hitting free agency they still have Travis Shaw to play third base. Again, Gibby's only under contract for one more season.

Jake Odorizzi to Oakland for Eli White
White posted an .838 OPS in Double A last year while playing second base, shortstop, third base and even a little bit of center field. He has an advanced approach at the plate, but his tools aren't loud. Seems like the type of guy who, if he develops, could be a nice utility player. He's putting together a strong run in the AFL right now.

Oakland’s already pretty stacked on the infield, but they could really use some more starting pitching. Billy Bean has indicated that payroll room won’t be an issue for the A’s in 2019, so they should have no trouble finding room for Odorizzi’s salary. This would be the fourth time Odorizzi would be traded.

Trade Jason Castro, Michael Pineda and Addison Reed at the deadline.
Unlike the names I mentioned above, this trio needs to build up value before teams are going to give up anything of significance to acquire them. All three need to prove that they’re healthy.

Castro needs to show his knee is fully repaired and ready for the rigors of catching. Pineda’s arm should be recovered, but he’s now coming off knee surgery. Reed ended last season on the active roster, but his velocity dip is a huge red flag. All those question marks may dissolve with a few good months, and if that happens these guys could be hot commodities at the 2019 trade deadline.

Depending on how things are progressing, at some point it would probably also make a lot of sense to trade away Trevor May, who’s only under team control through 2020. Ouch. That hurt to say too.

What about all that money coming off the books? The big concern with implementing a plan like this is the message you’re sending to the guys you want to keep around. The best way to ease their minds would be to engage in extension talks with virtually every player you see fitting into the big picture, long term.

You’re not going to work out a deal with all of them in one winter, but if you sign a couple extensions and at least show the other players you’re willing to invest in them further, I think the tear down becomes an easier pill to swallow. With this blueprint, it would definitely be possible to front load some extensions, providing guys with significant raises right away. I'd have to think that would be a nice motivational tool. I'm going to avoid throwing out any specifics here. If the trade market is a mysterious beast then projecting extensions is a mythical creature.

With that said, let’s take a look at my projected 2019 Opening Day roster:

Rotation: Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, Adalberto Mejia, Fernando Romero and the winner of the fifth starter spring training battle royale.
Bullpen: Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, Trevor Hildenberger, Addison Reed, Oliver Drake, Gabriel Moya and Jake Jewell.
C: Jason Castro
1B: Tyler Austin
2B: Nick Gordon
3B: Miguel Sano
SS: Jorge Polanco
LF: Eddie Rosario
CF: Byron Buxton
RF: Jake Cave
DH: Robbie Grossman
Bench: Mitch Garver, Ehire Adrianza, Willians Astudillo

Among the candidates for the fifth starter would be Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, Zack Littell, Chase De Jong, Aaron Slegers, Lewis Thorpe and any of the bargain free agents. Out in the bullpen, Tyler Duffey, Alan Busenitz, John Curtiss, Matt Magill and Andrew Vasquez would all also be in the mix plus any of the thrift shop additions.

This team might honestly get the Twins into hot water with the MLB because the payroll would be so ridiculously low. At the same time, I also think this team could probably still finish second in the AL Central in 2019. If Cleveland collapses and this team somehow finds itself in first place at the deadline, the front office would have both the payroll room and prospect capital to make some massive moves if they saw fit.

Yes, I'm basically going to dare Nick Gordon to take over as the everyday second baseman. I know he had a terrible end to 2018, but that seems to be a bit of a trend for him. Adrianza is there and in this scenario you'd also go out and acquire another bargain bin insurance option a la Gregrio Petit.

New additions Jahmai Jones and Eli White would be back in the high minors to start the year, but could pushing for promotions in the second half. If Gordon falters, one of those guys is next up. If nobody sticks come July ... Royce Lewis time?!?! Lucas Erceg would also be knocking at the door and would push Miguel Sano to a 1B/DH role upon his arrival. Out in the bullpen, Keynan Middleton would join that unit sometime in the second half once he was recovered from TJ. Even with trading away Kepler, there's still enough outfield depth that allows LaMonte Wade to start the year back in the minors. Brent Rooker would also be waiting in the wings for a shot at 1B/DH.

This team would look a heck of a lot different after the trade deadline.

There’s no way the Twins would do anything similar to what I’m suggesting here, right? Well, two moves made later this past season indicate to me that this front office already has 2020 vision. If they thought this team was going to be a legit contender next season, I don’t think they would have traded away Ryan Pressly and they would have prioritized getting Buxton more plate appearances in September over gaining another year of team control.

Throughout the coming days there will be more blueprints offered up by others here at Twins Daily. I bargain that most of them will focus on how to build this team up to compete in 2019.

I’m looking forward to seeing what everybody comes up with, and it’s possible that I’ll fall in love with someone else’s blueprint even above my own. Again, the one thing I want to see from the Twins going forward more than anything else is decisiveness. If they’re going to go for it, dive in head first. No more half measures.

Please let me know what you think of this blueprint. If you’d like to take a crack at building a blueprint of your own, I think I speak for the entire Twins Daily community in saying we would love to read it. The best place to do that would be in the blog section or in the forum thread Nick started.

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89 Comments

Good, aggressive article, Tom. I think you're right about FO intentions. The Twins could be under $30M in annual salaries by September 2019.

 

My issue with your trade suggestions is the lack of SP coming in return. My idea is Kepler to the Braves for Touki Toussaint and a RP. I'd also extend Gibson through 2021.

 

Twins have plenty of position players coming through the system, except for the noticeable hole at 3B. Odorizzi or one of the deadline trades could fill that gap in the system.

    • caninatl04 likes this
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theBOMisthebomb
Oct 31 2018 06:22 AM
I like the tear it down and rebuild it approach. I just wish the front office had started this type of effort two years ago instead of being so wishy washy.
    • Jerr and Tom Froemming like this

Interesting article, Tom.And I sure am glad you are not the Twins GM.

 

The core of this team right now is Rosario, Gibson and Berrios.Sign all three to extensions and build a team around them.....for 2019 and beyond.

 

As for next year, success or lack thereof is in the hands of Sano and Buxton.They perform at levels near their ceilings and you are in the playoffs and maybe the Series.Perform like last year and the Twins are screwed.One of two performs and they are in the hunt.

 

Yes, the Twins have a few holes that need to be filled to go beyond round one if Sano/Buxton deliver.I see those as a left handed first baseman/DH (maybe Mauer), a second baseman and a top relief pitcher.And they will only need the second baseman for a year or two.

    • howieramone2 and Minny505 like this
I feel this is the wrong approach. Cleveland is far from a super team. There is no fall back plan if Buxton struggles or fails. A couple of upper level bullpen pieces and a short term FA at 2nd base or maybe Arraenz should be close without breaking the bank for the future.
    • bluechipper and IaFan1 like this
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lukeduke1980
Oct 31 2018 07:18 AM

I was envisioning something similar, so thank you for giving it some real thought and color.

    • Jerr, Tom Froemming and caninatl04 like this
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Tom Froemming
Oct 31 2018 07:53 AM

 

I'd also extend Gibson through 2021.

All solid points in your comment, but I could especially get behind this. Along with having a great season, Gibby also evolved into one of the clubhouse leaders by the end of the year and embraced that role. He even became the team's union rep after the Dozier trade.

 

That extension would take you through his age 33 season, which would be perfect. I just don't see why Kyle signs that deal unless you really make it worth his while. So I didn't really consider this as an option at the onset, but if it's expected to be another ice cold free agent market this year I think guys like Gibson will be much more willing to sign extensions.

 

My main worry, which is also why I ultimately decided not to include a Patrick Corbin signing, is that Gibson backslides and you end up with a guy clogging up a spot in your rotation. I'd love to see things work their way out organically -- spots are fought for and earned in the rotation. 

 

Then again, maybe by 2021 there's no such thing as a rotation anymore. Who knows?

    • dbminn likes this

Glad you are addressing the preeminent issue of this offseason: should the Twins retrench as you suggest, go for it all in 2019 or is there some middle way?

 

The difficulty with deciding now what should be done is we don't know how strong the "current core" really is. Without Sano and Buxton rebounding, there is not much of a core - Rosario, Berrios and maybe, Polanco.That's pretty slim pickings for a team with playoff aspirations.  

 

Your solution is to start over and wait for the new wave.The fallacy in this approach is that it ignores the vast amount of money available to spend as well as a pretty strong minor league system of our own.Pohlad doesn't need to bank the savings and if a few things bounce right for 2019, like either Sano or Buxton rebounding to near all-star performance(unlikely for both, but at least a 50:50 probability that one reemerges), then some sound FA investments, like two late inning BP arms, a genuine cleanup hitter(DH/!B) and a middle infielder with some pop might be enough to at least elevate this team back into contention.With the current FA market and lots of cash, this is all eminently doable with some shrewd FO maneuvering.

 

No, free agency alone is not enough to get this team into the elite level but a couple of shrewd trades that could return a badly needed ace or #2 starter by giving up some of the quality in our minor league system and/or trading one of Sano/Buxton (yes, the choice of which one is a hard one but this managment team has seen these two for two seasons now and so should be able to predict which one is more likely to be a keeper.Yes, there is risk, but slotting at least one starter above Berrios is a must if this team is serious about contending in 2019.

 

Trading, Kepler, Gibson and Odorizzi robs us of depth and pushes off the rebuild for at least two more years.I, too, have my reservations about the wonder boys but the fact they are unafraid to strike quickly is a positive trait.Yes, there have been some missteps along the way, but now they have cleared a lot of deadwood, there is ample room for maneuvering.This is their time to strike boldly, not to equivocate.

    • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel, gagu and 3 others like this
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Tom Froemming
Oct 31 2018 07:58 AM

 

As for next year, success or lack thereof is in the hands of Sano and Buxton.They perform at levels near their ceilings and you are in the playoffs and maybe the Series.Perform like last year and the Twins are screwed.One of two performs and they are in the hunt.

Agreed, this is why I'd be a little gun shy about pushing all the chips in on 2019. I actually started out this exercise by pondering what Buxton and Sano trades might look like, but unfortunately those two have buried their stocks so low that it's really difficult to come up with any ideas that make sense for the Twins and would be realistic. 

    • Jerr and caninatl04 like this
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Tom Froemming
Oct 31 2018 08:24 AM

 

I feel this is the wrong approach. Cleveland is far from a super team. There is no fall back plan if Buxton struggles or fails. A couple of upper level bullpen pieces and a short term FA at 2nd base or maybe Arraenz should be close without breaking the bank for the future.

In this scenario, you're rolling with Buxton sink or swim. Things could go very poorly, but by the end of the season you're going to have a better feel for who he is. Still very annoyed they didn't do this in September this past season. But along with Cave, forgotten man Zack Granite's still around too. Arraez would definitely be in the mix for second base. That guy can hit for contact but I'm not sold on the other tools.

 

Do you remember the catching carousel on the 2000 Twins team? They had five different guys make at least 10 starts back there, but by the end of the auditions A.J. had emerged as the guy. That's kind of what I envision with second base in this scenario.

    • Mike Sixel and MN_ExPat like this

Enjoyable reading.I cringe when I think of Sano at 1st base. The little I saw of him over there he looked clumsy and awkward. I'd leave him at 3rd base for as long as it can be tolerated and then he'd become 100 game a year DH for me. Spot starts at 1B & 3rd till he shows me he can stay in shape and be an average defensive player at either or both. 

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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 31 2018 08:47 AM

Not sure I can get behind you here Tom. I think you can still target some 1 year options that are tradeable if things go south and some multi-year options at areas of weakness that make sense. If Buxton and Sano do something similar to 2017, we would have been a playoff contender this year, and finding an upgrade at DH and 2B this offseason shouldnt' be too hard to do.

 

I'm only trading those guys if I'm convinced they will regress. I think this is more a reload scenario, and you can reload with an eye on 2020 if needed.

    • birdwatcher, howieramone2 and SF Twins Fan like this

I honestly do not think that the team as it is currently constructed is that far away.* They lost 15 via walkoff, so I think shoring up the bullpen could go a long way in getting even closer.** I'd start with Joe Kelly, Andrew Miller on the cheap, and Familia/Herrera.*** I'd also shoot for Pearce as a placeholder at 1st, and LeMahieu/Jed Lowrie to plug in at 2nd.

 

 

*This is entirely dependent on Buxton and Sano coming back as the 2017 version of themselves, not the 2018.

 

**I don't know what is giving me this rosy outlook. I should probably get my head checked.

 

***This is video game wishing/spending

 

****Is it March 28th yet?

    • birdwatcher, dgwills, howieramone2 and 3 others like this

The timing is just not right for this right now.A couple seasons ago, after the 102 L team, was the proper time.Right now 3 of the division teams are very weak and Cleveland is worsening.The Twins have opportunity to win the Division and about $70 million to spend to do so.

 

That said, I do not disagree with trading Kepler, Odorizzi, and Gibson, along with prospects like Gordon, Gonsalves etc to net (in combination with FA signings) a younger top of the rotation arm that will slot ahead of Berrios, a closer, a left hand set up man, and a couple of power bats that can play 1B/OF/DH, and maybe a second baseman for a season keeping the seat warm for Arraez (who is hitting close to .400 in Venezuela right now btw)

 

Unlike many, I still have not given up on Sano (esp) and Buxton.Injuries happen and that's what happened in 2018 to both.

    • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel, Twins33 and 8 others like this
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Tom Froemming
Oct 31 2018 09:06 AM

 

Your solution is to start over and wait for the new wave.The fallacy in this approach is that it ignores the vast amount of money available to spend as well as a pretty strong minor league system of our own.Pohlad doesn't need to bank the savings ...

Lots of great points in your comment, but on this topic, Derek Falvey has mentioned before that the Twins don't have the ability to outspend teams in terms of the payroll but they may be able to invest more in the margins than the average club instead.

 

I'd imagine slashing the payroll to this extent would give Falvey carte blanche to go nuts on the team's infrastructure and staff from the top down. Hopefully the majority of the money not invested in additions would be funneled to extensions and beefing up the staff/technology/facilities.

    • Platoon likes this

I believe in Falvey and >evine.Year One, they came in late. They worked with what they had as they started to evaluate the fellow front office staffers and look at the team they inherited.

 

Year Two, the made changes in some coaching and throughout the minors. They had their second real draft. They did some things with international money and grabbing prospects. They suddenly got a push to be competitive in a weak division, and althopugh the play for Yu might've been more lip-service than actual (and thankfully didn't pan out), they did spend monies available to fill the roster with some strong veteran bullpen signings, a temporary fix in the rotation and a bat. Plus they traded excess for Odorizzi who, if he pitched well, could be resigned for a longer term.

 

They managed to flip the under=performing free agents for some system rich prospects.

 

Overall, these guys are looking ahead, trying to invision what the Twins of 2020 and 2021 and beyond will look like.

 

This season they have to AGAIN evaluate the failures of 2018, from Sano and Buxton to even Kepler. They need to make decisions on promising arms like Vurtis and Moya and Gonsalves and Stewart and Littell and even more from their pitching rich system. They have to make some hard decisions because not all of these guys will be here in 2020 and beyond, as there are other arms pushing from the low minors that could break into the team as long lasting prospects.

 

They do have a solid system of "prospects" and need to look at what is out there that will benefit the Twins in trade and be resignable for 3-4 years. They do need to see what free agents they could sign longterm that would be viable for the pay for a 4-7 year term, in truly plausible. They will be in a position to sign some guys, like they did in 2018, for a one-year deal and maybe an option who, no matter how they perform, could still bring back bodies.

 

Of course, they and their staff have to think hard about what prospects have the best chance of being major league material, who will work into the lineups of 2019 and 202 for sure. 

 

I do believe they have a plan. That they are pushing for the freedom to make the Twins a dynasty of their own choosing and have been chipping away at the Twins Way and the promote from within and the lifetime employee structure of the organization...all of which can remain but shouldn't be the main priority of putting a winning dynasty on the field.

 

Most of all, I do believe they have monies. 2018 wasn't a total bust and they should still have $115-120 million in payroll.

 

I want them to win, so just saying "remain competitive in the division" isn't enough anymore. Yes, a second place finish in the Central looks good on paper, but it really isn't as glorious as at was the year before, and that wasn't the best of seasons, either.

 

The Big Picture is that these guys have signed and traded for some good hungry players. They will have another off-season to add even more to the mix, and many many of these guys will never ever see daylight in a Twins uniform, but that doesn't mean they don't have value to get someone who can play for the Twins. You only have so many seasons to play with prospects before you lose them.

 

I would love to see the boards in the office, with the names written in for 2020, the possibilites for 2021, the ones even highly rated for the year/s beyond that. Then the names they might be after to fill the holes in each season, and the dollars they feel are worth spending.

 

Right now, the Twins should've been hard-pressed to long sign Buxton, Sano and Kepler. But now there has to be a wait and see. Yes, they should long sign Rosario and Berrios fer sure, maybe look at a couple of bullpen arms, make a decision on Polanco for a lowend 3-year deal (he can always be the super sub).

 

And look at what is available, not just as free agents but also in trade. The evils of free agents is that they do bump prospects, so those prospects need to be moved while they still have supposed value in the eyes of others.

    • scottz, howieramone2, gagu and 2 others like this
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ToddlerHarmon
Oct 31 2018 09:32 AM

I agree with many of the commenters that any near-term success depends on Buxton and Sano turning things around.  However, it is not a reasonable expectation for that to happen in 2019.  That situation will be better understood at the end of this year, so I endorse planning around 2020 and beyond.

 

As to trading Kepler, the other thing we hope to see this year is better instruction and coaching at the major league level.  That is essential for ever getting Sano and Buxton right, but it might also salvage Kepler, whose only flaw is that his contact is too soft.

 

    • birdwatcher likes this

 

All solid points in your comment, but I could especially get behind this. Along with having a great season, Gibby also evolved into one of the clubhouse leaders by the end of the year and embraced that role. He even became the team's union rep after the Dozier trade.

 

That extension would take you through his age 33 season, which would be perfect. I just don't see why Kyle signs that deal unless you really make it worth his while. So I didn't really consider this as an option at the onset, but if it's expected to be another ice cold free agent market this year I think guys like Gibson will be much more willing to sign extensions.

 

My main worry, which is also why I ultimately decided not to include a Patrick Corbin signing, is that Gibson backslides and you end up with a guy clogging up a spot in your rotation. I'd love to see things work their way out organically -- spots are fought for and earned in the rotation. 

 

Then again, maybe by 2021 there's no such thing as a rotation anymore. Who knows?

 

Thanks for the response. I should have added that I think the team can compete in 2020 and be very good in 2021. Without Gibson, the Twins will have only Berrios as an established SP. The upside of any SP in the Twins system that could pitch in 2020 is no greater than what Gibson is right now (including Romero). I'd give him 3/$40M for 2019-21, maybe adding a team option w/buyout for 2022. That's a lot of guaranteed money to turn down. If he doesn't want it, I'd trade him this offseason too.  

    • Jerr, gagu, Tom Froemming and 2 others like this

 

The timing is just not right for this right now.A couple seasons ago, after the 102 L team, was the proper time.Right now 3 of the division teams are very weak and Cleveland is worsening.The Twins have opportunity to win the Division and about $70 million to spend to do so.

 

That said, I do not disagree with trading Kepler, Odorizzi, and Gibson, along with prospects like Gordon, Gonsalves etc to net (in combination with FA signings) a younger top of the rotation arm that will slot ahead of Berrios, a closer, a left hand set up man, and a couple of power bats that can play 1B/OF/DH, and maybe a second baseman for a season keeping the seat warm for Arraez (who is hitting close to .400 in Venezuela right now btw)

 

Unlike many, I still have not given up on Sano (esp) and Buxton.Injuries happen and that's what happened in 2018 to both.

 

I think there's a good point here: it's a lot easier to tear a team down to the studs after a brutal season like the 103 loss one. But they didn't and the team bounced back with an over-achieving 85 win season that put them in the playoffs. This season they got smacked around by injuries and so we dumped a bunch of guys unlikely to be part of the future/FAs. I think it gets to be a hard sell (especially in this community where ownership is perceived as cheap and not committed to winning) to start dealing younger players off the MLB roster for even more prospects, especially when the most heralded prospects in recent vintage haven't consistently graduated to become what we thought/hoped they would be. While Tom's strategy might end up being a smart one to set things up for 2021 or beyond (I'm sorry, but I think with all the moves proposed here, you're setting the MLB club back far enough that expecting them to be ready in 2020 is...unlikely) it probably gets the front office fired before it comes to fruition, unless guys like Royce Lewis & Alex Kirilloff stay on their fastest of tracks and have zero setbacks.

 

I dunno.

 

Of course, the bigger problem is Tom's lineup has 4 guys whose last name ends in "O", with a potential 5th in Astudillo and that's just going to wreak havoc with the announcing team. :P

 

    • birdwatcher, howieramone2, gagu and 1 other like this

Good article, Tom.

 

After nearly two years of inconsistency and half-measures, the FO has been indicating the type of approach you describe for a number of months now. It's been pretty consistent since the all-star break. And the hiring of a very young manager with zero managing experience at any professional level, and whose outstanding trait is that he's highly "relatable"...fits right in with this approach.

 

In lieu of my club annually operating at the top of the FA market (which isn't going to happen, not consistently over time)...I like this approach better than year after year of 'patch-and-hope'.

    • Han Joelo and Jerr like this
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howieramone2
Oct 31 2018 10:55 AM

If I'm not mistaken the team was .500 after May 1. We need to move some pieces around, but contending in 2019 is more than likely. Talk of rebuilding again makes no sense to me, nor does pointing toward 2020 and beyond. 

 

We have players to trade, a top 5 farm system, and as much money available as we have every had. There's nothing to wait for. Let's not forget, our last off season was the busiest ever and we followed that up with our busiest ever trade deadline.

    • birdwatcher, Twins33, Puckett34 and 5 others like this

I understand your thinking/reasoning, and on the surface it makes sense.Unfortunately I feel this just leads us down a path of being in permanent rebuild mode.We were expecting prospects to come in a few years ago and turn us around.Your strategy is basically saying the same thing with a new core of prospects.Not saying you are wrong and I'm not sure of the exact right thing to do.If we get lucky all the prospects will gel and hit their potential and be superstars.Reality says not likely.

 

Bottom line is that is is a very tough juggling act!

    • Hosken Bombo Disco, SF Twins Fan and caninatl04 like this
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Aerodeliria
Oct 31 2018 11:11 AM

I'm in favor of trading Kepler and one of either Odorizzi or Gibson but not both. I think dumping half of the 'named' starting pitchers would have a longer term negative influence on the players we are keeping. There would be reasonable intrepidation that one of the other starters might go down for a week, a month or for the entire season. This would look bad regardless of the envisioned outcomes--to players and fans.

As for Kepler, he's attractive for other teams. As Tom pointed out, Buxton has such low trade value that it would represent a give-away and Sano might be even worse--you have the hitting problems and the potential attitude problems.

You're right, Tom...I'm groaning.

I have zero interest in yet another "wait till 3 yrs from now" approach.
    • Jerr, Twins33, beckmt and 2 others like this

The money quote (referring to rebuilding): "I’m more curious if it ever truly started in the first place."

 

In my opinion, it never truly did. Always doing things down the middle hoping things all broke right at the same time to be a contender.

    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, caninatl04 and 1 other like this

Tom you said "I’m more curious if it ever truly started in the first place"

I have to say, Kepler, Roasario, Polanco, Buxton, Sano, Berrios, and a bunch of relief pitchers was the rebuild.

That is the whole outfield,half the infield, and at top end rotation starter.

All under the age of 25, they brought in FA veterans to fill the other spots and had a couple of guys ready to go in the minors.

Sano, Buxton, Gordon,Morrison and Romero (not grabbing hold of a rotation spot) sucking is the reason the Twins were terrible last year.

If the Twins FO think Sano, Buxton and Gordon are never going to get it, I am for what tearing it down, but really tearing it down, getting rid of everybody,

But if they have faith in those 3, I say go out and get some veteran Free agents and letting these guys have a shot. If they fail again, they aren't hurting 2020.

    • LA VIkes Fan and Original Whizzinator like this

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