Offseason Blueprint: Status Quo
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel, USA TodayIn today’s installment, I will consider what the 2019 Twins roster might look like by continuing on the path of investing innings and at-bats with their young core and other young players who deserve an opportunity. The theory might be that if the front office still believes in the talent, the tools and the upside of the younger players, and you believe in Rocco Baldelli and the coaching staff and the research and development, maybe you give these young players another year to see if they can reach their perceived ceilings.
Catchers: Jason Castro ($8.0M), Mitch Garver ($0.6M) - (Total - $9.2M)
Castro returns for the final season of his three-year contract in 2019. While he missed most of the 2018 season, he could provide valuable information to the other catchers but also to the young pitchers. Mitch Garver made big strides offensively and defensively and proved that he is a big leaguer who is capable of providing right-handed power. His bat should allow him time at first base and also at DH. To allow for Garver to get more at-bats, I can see a scenario in which the Twins carry three catchers. Like Garver, Castro and Astudillo.
Yes, I would keep Willians Astudillo on the 40-man roster. He is capable of playing third base and can DH or pinch hit as well and can be summoned at any time as needed. The Twins may consider a couple of minor league free agent catchers like Chris Gimenez or Bobby Wilson.
INFIELDERS: Tyler Austin ($0.6M), Matt Adams ($7.0M),Daniel Descalso ($6.0M), Miguel Sano ($3.0M), Jorge Polanco ($0.6M), Ehire Adrianza ($2.0M)
Acquired from the Yankees at the deadline in the Lance Lynn deal, Austin showed the kind of power that made him a prospect in New York. In 2018, he had 17 homers in 268 plate appearances. What can he do with 500 or 600 plate appearances? Could he take a step and become a better all-around hitter, or would it expose his swing-and-miss tendencies even more? I’d be curious to find out. Signing a one year flyer on a left-handed power bat like Adams is intriguing because he shouldn’t take a long-term commitment, and he can fill in at first base and DH.
Since playing in the 2017 All-Star Game, things have gone horribly wrong in the career trajectory of Miguel Sano. Some has been injury-related, and some has been due to some really poor decisions. But Sano has 84 home runs in 384 MLB games, and he’s still just 25 years old. The Twins had him take three (or more) steps backward in an attempt to help him get back on track. Then came another injury. There’s so much talent, and when he’s in decent shape, he’s shown himself to be an adequate defensive third baseman.
Jorge Polanco came on again toward the end of 2018 and will certainly continue to be a key piece. For me, I’d like to see him get another year at shortstop before making any formal move to second base.
I would sign Daniel Descalso for a year or two. He could be Eduardo Escobar Light. He’s mostly played second base and third base in his career .He may be intrigued by knowing he’d have an everyday job. And, if at some point the decision is made to move Sano away from third base or Nick Gordon is deemed ready, Descalso can move to the hot corner. (Note - I would be fine with Josh Harrison on a one or two year deal because of his versatility.)
Ehire Adrianza has done a nice job as a utility infielder the last two seasons for the Twins and can play all four infield positions pretty well.
OUTFIELDERS: Eddie Rosario ($4.0M), Byron Buxton ($2.0M), Max Kepler ($3.0M), Jake Cave ($0.6M), Michael Reed ($0.6M) - (Total - $10.2M)
Eddie Rosario slowed down in the final couple of months of the season, largely due to injury, but he was the easy choice for Twins Daily MVP. He showed in 2018 that his 2017 season wasn’t a fluke. Max Kepler didn’t hit for average, but he improved his walk rate and improved against left-handers. He’s also tremendous defensively. In what many are deeming a disappointing 2018 season (and I can’t completely disagree), he was worth 2.8 fWAR. Jake Cave had a nice, solid rookie season. He is about three months older than Kepler, but he showed himself being a capable big leaguer. He was solid in the outfield and showed good power from the left side. He’s earned himself a spot on the roster. Michael Reed was claimed this week from Atlanta. He hits right-handed and plays good defense.
No surprise. The question mark is Byron Buxton. Injuries derailed his 2018 season before it even got started and clearly affected his play when he did return. Let’s not forget that he was worth 3.5 fWAR in 2017. His defense is elite in centerfield and helps make the pitching staff better. Hopefully he comes back in 2019, healthy and in a good frame of mind to play 150 games, and thrive under Rocco Baldelli.
STARTING PITCHERS: Kyle Gibson ($8.5M), Jose Berrios ($0.6M), Jake Odorizzi ($10.0M), Michael Pineda ($8.5M), Fernando Romero ($0.6M) - Total ($28.2M)
Jose Berrios was an all-star in 2018. He was great in the first half. He struggled some in August but ended strong. He set career highs in innings pitched and ended the year with a career-high 202 strikeouts. Kyle Gibson put together the best season of his career, certainly his most consistent. His career strikeout rate coming into the 2018 season was just 6.2 K/9. In 2018, he struck out 8.2 per nine. Odorizzi is a non-tender candidate after arguably the worst season of his MLB career, but he did end strong and he will be familiar with Rocco Baldelli. (also, I don’t think he’ll get $10M in arbitration). If he’s open to some of the new systems, and doesn’t have to face lineups a third time in a game, he could thrive. Michael Pineda signed with the Twins a year ago. He was paid $2 million in 2018 to rehab and he’ll be paid to (hopefully) pitch in 2019. When healthy he does throw hard and has a chance to be an upper-rotation pitcher. That leaves one spot for a lot of guys that the Twins need to make decisions on in the next year or two. Fernando Romero may have the highest upside, but we also saw Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, Zack Littell, Chase De Jong and Adalberto Mejia make starts in 2018. Lewis Thorpe and Brusdar Graterol are guys that could surface in the big leagues in 2019.
RELIEF PITCHERS: Trevor May ($1.5M), Taylor Rogers ($1.5M), Trevor Hildenberger ($0.6M), Gabriel Moya ($0.6M), Addison Reed ($8.5M), Alan Busenitz ($0.6M), Adalberto Mejia ($0.6M) - (Total: $13.9M)
It will be interesting to see how bullpens are comprised as the Opener or Bullpen concepts gain more traction. Could there be more guys capable of going two or even three innings in a bullpen? Will it look the same? In this plan, the biggest “acquisition” would be a healthy Addison Reed. The hope is that he was just hurt and overused early in the 2018 season. I am excited to see what May can do in a full, healthy season. Is he a closer, or would he be used in the game’s crucial moments. Can Taylor Rogers repeat his incredible 2018 season? Hildenberger has shown for extended periods of time that he can be reliable, but he struggled late. Moya is a solid second lefty, and he made a lot of starts (opens?). Could Adalberto Mejia, who is out of options, be a solid opener or long reliever? Alan Busenitz was good for the Twins late in the 2017 season. He was on a frequent shuttle between Minneapolis and Rochester throughout 2018 and he just gave up too many homers for the Twins. But if he can get that breaking ball more consistent (admittedly, a big IF) he deserves this opportunity to show he can be a late inning guy. If not, John Curtiss has the ability to pitch in late innings, and possible 40-man adds like Jake Reed and Nick Anderson can be options too. Andrew Vasquez would be the next lefty reliever up when needed.
Catchers: $8.6 million
Infielders: $19.2 million
Outfielders: $10.2 million
Starting Pitchers: $28.2 million
Relief Pitchers: $13.9 million
Total: $80.1 million
Free Agents Added:
1B/DH Matt Adams,
2B/3B Daniel Descalso
Daniel Descalso 2B/3B
Jorge Polanco SS/2B
Eddie Rosario LF/RF
Miguel Sano 3B/1B/DH
Matt Adams DH/1B
Max Kepler RF/CF
Tyler Austin 1B/DH
Jason Castro C
Byron Buxton CF
Mitch Garver - C/DH/1B
Ehire Adrianza - SS/2B/3B/LF
Jake Cave - LF/CF/RF
Michael Reed - LF/CF/RF
Next in Line:
Willians Astudillo - C/DH/3B
Nick Gordon - SS/2B
LaMonte Wade - OF
Brent Rooker - 1B/LF/DH
Zack Granite - OF
A reminder that this is not an offseason blueprint that we are necessarily advocating. However, a look at a roster like this, with minimal change (a few strategic free agent adds), can give you a starting point. It’s also a reminder that you do need to ask yourself which players you are ready to move on from. Adding another free agent means subtracting a current player, or maybe even DFAing a player. A trade would obviously come at the price of a player or three. That’s not a bad thing if it makes the team better. So, use this blueprint, maybe jot down the players, consider other current Twins players (big leagues or AAA) that might be impacted by any move, and then start mixing and matching.
And in reality, if things were to go well for a large majority of these players - and yes, that may be a big if - and they stay healthy and the make progress, this could be a solid team. If you believe in the talent of that core group of young players, you could hold on to hope that they can win. That includes the likes of Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jose Berrios, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano and others. If you consider some of the veterans on this roster, there are some guys who have succeeded on winning teams, and they can continue to do that. It does so without signing players to long-term deals, keeping the door open for players like Brent Rooker, Alex Kirilloff and Royce Lewis as soon as they are ready.
In addition, the team would have a ton of money to add at the trade deadline. But also, no one wants to leave the owner’s money on the table. Personally, I may advocate the idea of signing Jose Berrios and others to long-term deals, maybe with large, upfront signing bonuses to be paid in 2019. That’s an option that would continue to build the organization.
So discuss this roster below. Which players have you given up on, and which would you like to see get another year?
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- Monkeypaws, NoCryingInBaseball, nclahammer and 2 others like this