Offseason Blueprint: Cheat Off the Champs
Image courtesy of © Geoff Burke-USA TODAY SportsMore specifically, here are some facts for you regarding teams' starting pitchers accumulating fWAR in the regular season in 2019:
- The Nationals and Astros were first and fourth, respectively
- Five of the top 10 and seven of the top 12 were playoff teams
- The A’s finished 0.1 fWAR outside of the top 10
- The Yankees, ranked 17th, were without their best starter all season
- Realistically, the only outlier were the Brewers who ranked 20th.
Tender all arbitration-eligible players
This doesn’t include Dyson, but let's bring back the other nine players. Using the TD Offseason Handbook as my reference, bringing back Sano, Rosario, Cron, Buxton, Adrianza, Berrios, Rogers, May, and Duffey would cost about $39.3 million.
Sign Gerrit Cole to a seven-year, $245 million contract
Yep, he’s part of my picture. At just 29 years old, it’s not crazy to think that Gerrit Cole could be the best pitcher in baseball for the majority, maybe even the entirety, of his contract. If Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander can be two of the best pitchers in their mid- to late 30’s, then why can’t Gerrit Cole? This isn’t the $300+ million contract everyone was talking about, but this makes him the highest paid pitcher in MLB history in both total salary and AAV. That’s what it’s going to take to bring the Cali-kid to the frozen tundra.
Sign Zach Wheeler to a five-year, $100 million contract
Could Zach Wheeler be the next Gerrit Cole? Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but Wheeler’s peripherals suggest that he can be a lot better than he has been. In 2019, Wes Johnson got career years from Berrios and Odorizzi, while getting a very good bounce-back campaign from Pineda before his suspension. What’s to say that his next project can’t be Zach Wheeler and Zach Wheeler can’t become one of the best pitchers in baseball?
Re-sign Jake Odorizzi to a three-year, $45 million contract
Jake Odorizzi had a career year with the Twins in 2019 and is only 29-years-old. It makes sense to bring him back on more than just a one-year qualifying offer type of deal. As suggested by the Offseason Handbook, he has a draft pick tied to him which will drive his cost and market down a tad.
Sign Drew Smyly to a one-year, $3 million contract
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Drew Smyly who could be low-risk, high-reward number five starter for the Twins in 2020. The Twins have the starting depth to take a risk on a guy who can be great when healthy and throwing strikes. He was actually brought in to Philadelphia midseason in 2019 to help with their playoff push and was pretty solid outside of a crazy high HR/FB rate. If he gets hurt or isn’t performing, then you replace him with Dobnak/Stashak/Graterol/etc.
Re-sign Jason Castro to a one-year, $6 million contract
Consistency between pitchers and catchers is important and Castro was a big part of the Twins success in 2019, including helping keep Garver rested. If he’s not willing to come back then I’d offer the same contract to Stephen Vogt who has a profile similar to Castro's, but more positional versatility.
Outside of a possible change in the catcher platoon, I’m keeping the offense as-is. If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it, amirite? I’ve said before that I don’t think the Twins will extend any of their young guys this offseason, so we’ll get them on the cheap for another year. The 2020 cost of the offense is about $67.9 million.
My big moves were in the starting rotation. My blueprint gives us the best one through four in baseball with the low-risk upside of a very good number five. The 2020 cost of the starting rotation is about $77.5 million.
I am relying on our minor league depth to beef up the bottom of the bullpen. If 2019 was any indication Rogers, May, and Duffey will have no problem anchoring the 8th and 9th innings of most games. In 2020, we’ll be relying on the likes of Thorpe, Littell, Dobnak, Stashak, and Smeltzer. I kept Romero and Graterol in the minors to groom them as spot-starters as needed. The 2020 cost of the bullpen is about $10.8 million.
Including the Martin Perez $500,000 buyout, this brings our 2020 payroll to a franchise record of $156.7 million. If we were to lose some of our young, cheap players, since so much of our money would be invested in the starting rotation, the depth of our minor league system would allow the offense and bullpen to replenish internally.
What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long.
Check out these other Offseason Blueprints:
Building a Bullpenner
Hooking a Big Fish
Making Big Betts
The Window Just Opened
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