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Article: 2018 Twins Highlights: Longest Home Runs

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:13 AM
Eddie Rosario led the Twins with 24 home runs, followed by Max Kepler with 20 and Brian Dozier with 16, but neither of those three are re...
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2018 MLB Postseason Discussion Thread

Other Baseball Today, 12:01 AM
How about a postseason game thread? Any MLB postseason discussion can just go here.
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Article: What if This is the Max for Kepler?

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 09:24 PM
At the end of the 2018 Major League Baseball season the Minnesota Twins had a trio of main narratives. First and foremost, this was a tea...
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Article: Offseason Primer: Who Needs a First Baseman Anyw...

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 05:56 PM
The Twins are still waiting for the official word from Joe Mauer on whether or not he’d like to continue his playing career, but anybody...
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Article: 2018 Twins Highlights: Top Pitching Performances

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 01:44 PM
One of the strange things about the 2018 season for the Twins was that the one thing that seems to be a constant organizational weakness...
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Offseason Primer: Building a Badass Bullpen

The trend in baseball around power bullpens isn't new. But here in 2018, this seismic shift has become as conspicuously apparent as ever.

If the Minnesota Twins want to establish themselves as true championship contenders, it's blindingly clear they need to stockpile some serious late-inning juice. While the club appears to have a decent foundation in place, much work remains on this front.
Image courtesy of Orlando Ramirez and Brad Rempel, USA Today
This story helps set the stage for a truly pivotal offseason ahead. It's just a taste of what you'll find in the 2019 Offseason Handbook, which is currently available for preorder. If you wanna learn more about it, and the benefits of preordering, check out our FAQ.

In the American League Wild Card Game last week, New York received four strong innings from starter Luis Severino before unleashing its intimidating reliever stable on Oakland's doomed lineup. Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Zach Britton, Aroldis Chapman... ballgame.

The Twins can relate. One year earlier they'd been bounced in the same ballpark, after a bottomless Yankees bullpen ate their lunch following Severino's first-inning exit.

Of course, the A's had made it into this position on the strength of their own stellar pen, which carried them to stunning regular-season success and made up for a wholly unspectacular rotation. Look around at the rest of the remaining teams, and you'll find plenty of deep, dominant relief units.

Which brings us to the Twins.

They finished the season with exactly two reliable relievers. The good news is that those two – Taylor Rogers and Trevor May – had a hell of showing in 2018, solidifying themselves as fixtures.

Rogers has fully graduated to top-tier status, having finished with a 2.63 ERA and 0.95 WHIP after closing his year with 28 straight scoreless appearances. His 2.33 FIP ranked ninth among MLB relievers, and fourth among those who made 70+ appearances. Once a lefty specialist (and a great one at that), Rogers is now an all-purpose shutdown arm and easily Minnesota's best bullpen asset.

May shows signs of being able to join him at this level of distinction. He was nothing short of spectacular in his return from Tommy John surgery, turning in a ridiculous 36-to-5 K/BB ratio in 25 innings. Take out his disastrous lone outing as "opener" (1 IP, 4 ER) and the right-hander put up a 1.73 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 13.3 K/9 after joining the team in late July following Tommy John rehab.

He averaged a career-high 94.1 MPH with his fastball, pounded the strike zone, and induced a 15.4% swinging strike rate, which would've ranked among the top 10 AL qualifiers. May finished the year as closer and looked very much up to the task.

Rogers and May are 27 and 29, respectively. Both remain under control for multiple years. So, that's the good news.

Elsewhere? Plenty of not-so-good news and uncertainty.

I'm not sure you can make a strong argument that any other incumbents are locked into the 2019 bullpen.

Addison Reed is probably closest, solely by virtue of his contract. He's owed $8.5 million next year as part of the two-year pact signed in January, so he'll get every opportunity next spring, but Reed showed nothing to indicate he's capable of being any kind of positive contributor.

His 4.50 ERA was bad and his 5.11 FIP was worse. His fastball velocity was way down. He missed three weeks in July with elbow soreness and came back looking even worse, allowing an .842 OPS with just 8% swinging strikes the rest of the way (in 2017 he was at 13.7%).

It's very obvious that Reed's arm was not close to 100% for the majority of the year, but evidently Minnesota never discovered structural damage and so no action was taken. The Twins have little choice but to hope several months of rest will cure what ails him.

Trevor Hildenberger, too, looked completely broken by season's end. The reigning top Twins reliever bounced back from a rocky spring and put together a solid first half, but collapsed in the second. In August and September, he allowed more than a run per inning (9.55 ERA) and a .965 OPS, fumbling away his audition in the closer role.

Much like Reed, the Twins were hoping Hildy would be a trustworthy staple, and now he's probably going to have to earn a job next spring. His greatest strengths disappeared, as his ground ball rate dropped from 58.8% in 2017 to 46.3% in 2018, as his K/9 rate dropped from 26% to 22%.

The unraveling of these clearly capable righties throws a wrench into Minnesota's bullpen planning, and also casts further scrutiny on the decision to trade Ryan Pressly, who has since cemented his rep as one of baseball's very best relief pitchers. Jorge Alcala had better pan out.

In the meantime, the Twins need to replace Pressly's impact in the bullpen if they have true aspirations for 2019.

The remaining holdover candidates – Oliver Drake, Matt Magill, Alan Busenitz, Tyler Duffey, etc. – should all be considered fringe contenders for the bottom spots in the bullpen.

This means Rogers and May are short on company at the top. General manager Thad Levine, fresh off turning down the Mets' advances, will have his work cut out for him. Last winter he showed some savvy in signing Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke, but his biggest splash (Reed) proved to be his biggest whiff.

Will Levine be gun-shy this time around, still on the hook with Reed as the largest current payroll commitment for 2019?

There are other options than free agency, of course. Trades are in play, and in fact I would wager good money the Twins acquire at least one reliever through this avenue during the winter. Meanwhile, any number of borderline starter candidates could be converted to relief. It's an approach we've seen work with May among many others. Zack Littell, Kohl Stewart, Fernando Romero or Lewis Thorpe could be intriguing in this regard.

Needless to say, there's a lot at play here. We'll lay it all out for you – free agent options (+ what they'll cost), realistic trade targets, and an in-depth feature on the closer situation – in the 2019 Offseason Handbook. Preorder it today and you'll get your copy ahead of the official release.

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63 Comments

What do people think is "buy low" on Allen exactly?


$6-7 million would be buy low IMO. But if there's a bidding war I could see 3/$27
    • ashburyjohn and ChrisKnutson like this
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TheLeviathan
Oct 08 2018 06:42 PM

 

$6-7 million would be buy low IMO. But if there's a bidding war I could see 3/$27

 

Maybe, but that's what guys like TJ McFarland and Mike Minor got last year.

 

I'm guessing Miller, Allen are 10+ players.

I would like to see them be a bit creative as well. I cant recall his first name off the top of my head, but I recall how successful they were several years ago when they signed the LH Martinez, a former SP, who was looking for new life. He converted to the one very well, and I want to say even had a couple good years after he left us.

Absolutely nothing wrong with an older pitcher, or a younger one who hasn't lived up to his billing, being brought in for a conversion.

But please, not Romero. Even if moves are made and they decide he is best served opening at Rochester, dont convert him.
    • Original Whizzinator likes this

A good article overall, but I take issue with one statement;

"...but Reed showed nothing to indicate he's capable of being any kind of positive contributor."

While the jury is out on Reed's future arm issues, he certainly was a positive contributor for the first two months of '18, with an ERA of 3.03 on June 6th after 31 appearances. He was on pace for 81 appearances for the season. He got rocked in his next outing and was shut down for a week. 

Reed's troubles on paper started on May 29th. He entered the game, his fourth appearance in five days, with a 2.36 ERA. He was nicked with a blown save and his ERA rose continuously through August. In September, he only gave up one run, four hits, and one walk over 5.1 innings.

Reed posted a 2.84 ERA over 77 appearances in 2017, and 1.97 ERA in 80 appearances in 2016.

He will a 30-year-old next season after seven seasons with 55+ appearances. 

That said, I'd still argue that there is a reasonable chance that Reed will return to form and be an important contributor in 2019. 

 

    • DocBauer, IndianaTwin and Original Whizzinator like this
Note: In regard to Anderson and Reed, I think it was Seth, who made a comment he felt they weren't brought up as it may have already been decided they would be protected and weren't brought up due to numbers. Anybody buy that?
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ashburyjohn
Oct 08 2018 08:20 PM

Maybe, but that's what guys like TJ McFarland and Mike Minor got last year.

Unless b-r.com is mistaken, McFarland earns under a million; he might in line for a raise via arbitration. Minor was a starting pitcher until 2017 and was signed by Texas as a starter again, so he doesn't seem like a strong comp. Did you have some other pitchers in mind instead?

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TheLeviathan
Oct 08 2018 09:10 PM

 

Unless b-r.com is mistaken, McFarland earns under a million; he might in line for a raise via arbitration. Minor was a starting pitcher until 2017 and was signed by Texas as a starter again, so he doesn't seem like a strong comp. Did you have some other pitchers in mind instead?

 

Yup, looked at McFarland wrong.Tommy Hunter, Brandon Morrow, Juan Nicasio, Pat Neshek, and even our own Addison Reed are closer to that 3/27.I would say Miller and Allen are both superior players in the eyes of GMs.  

 

I'm guessing they are both much closer to what Wade Davis or Greg Holland made.If I had to guess, Miller probably gets something in the range of 4/50 and Allen maybe a shade under that. 

My head is turning round and round with this topic! Between a post I made about a week ago, Nicks here, and all the various comments and suggestions...i still don't know that I have the answers. But I think we all realize how important the bullpen is, always, and even more in today's game. I still believe in strong SP, and I think history proves that to be true. But there are different ways to build a strong pitching staff, top to bottom, and even more recent history has shown this as well. Not that building a top bullpen is secondary, but I'm just not sure it's so easy to factor out a bullpen when there are still rotation questions.

Presumably, we have 4 SP in place: All Star and STILL improving Berrios, the very solid Gibson, a very nice piece if healthy in Pineda, and the solid Odorizzi, who is still best as the #5 SP due to pitches thrown and IP. My goodness, how much better is the rotation, and staff as a whole, if Romero keeps developing and building on his last two seasons? That's not even considering a major trade or FA signing. To be honest, I'm just not seeing that. (Though I would love it!) I'm seeing Romero, Mejia, and others auditioning for a SP slot, with the idea of an "opener" still a possibility. And who is to say Romero, Mejiam or someone else doesn't earn a spot and run with it? Or a couple months in, someone like Thorpe doesn't just grab the job?

My hope is, concentrating on the pen all by itself, is we can get by with a 7 man group. Damnit, but a 13 man staff just limits your roster so much!

We can complain all we want to about Molitor, his use of the pen, and the disappointment of the 2018 season and moves made that didn't pan out. But at the end of the day, Rodney wasn't really a bad sign. Neither was Duke. And Reed was our best signing, but as luck would have it, for whatever reason, also the most disappointing.

I am going to assume Reed, supposedly structurally sound, simply was bound to have a bad season with previous workload and over use by Molitor. I am also going to assume that what Hildenberger showed in his milb career, and his first 1 1/2 ML career is indicative of his true potential. This allows me to further assume that ONE of them will rebound in 2019.

Just throwing money to sign a player has proven no guarantees. But it sure doesn't always hurt either. And I truly believe there has been a shift in terms of FA dollars and years involved. (There will always be exceptions, and we will see a few thjs season for certain). And while I don't disagree with trades of quality prospects, I disdain trades of high ranked prospects for RP. (Really, really dislike the Pressly trade and hope they made the right move in the long term).

But the more I think things, I'm seeing one major signing. They just have to! But they need a second arm. Is that a trade for someone maybe about to break out? Or is it a second FA, like Reed last season, in the $7-9M range? (Full confession, I'm hoping for FA because they can afford it, and because I think we may have enough milb depth to make a major trade in the next 1/2 or so to make a deal).

I am very content to enter 2019 with (in no particular order):

FA
FA
May
Rogers
Reed/Hildenberger rebound

That's 5 of 7 spots.

We need another LH, I'm presuming, and one additional arm, possibly a long or middle guy.

I say again, Mejia deserves a chance at the rotation, and will get a shot. He's in the pen, if not the rotation. Problem is, Moya and Vasquez are behind him. Both show promise, but Mejia just appears to have better stuff. (Is the rotation strong enough to let him relieve)?

The long/middle/mop-up guy never gets enough credit. They can actually be valuable, though you always hope they are better than just fodder. Magill has the FB and slider to excell at that spot if he can lower his BB and HR. Ditto for flier Drake.

Still discouraged the team didn't take harder, or any, looks at Curtiss, Reed, and maybe Anderson for the close of the season. But if you could tell me one of Hildenberger or Reed would rebound in 2019, and they would make a big and quality FA signing, and our biggest concern would be the 7th RP, I'd have to pinch myself.

Pineda hasn't pitched in a year, I hope no one is assuming he's there for sure next year.....

 

If all you ever sign is bargain RPs to one year deals, you need to do that year after year...what are the odds you are going to pick right? Move some of these mediocre SPs to RP, and let them loose. Sign a legit RP that you believe in to a multi-year deal. Then sign a flyer. But stop looking for guys trying to re-establish their value. 

    • NapoleonComplex likes this

Pineda hasn't pitched in a year, I hope no one is assuming he's there for sure next year.....

If all you ever sign is bargain RPs to one year deals, you need to do that year after year...what are the odds you are going to pick right? Move some of these mediocre SPs to RP, and let them loose. Sign a legit RP that you believe in to a multi-year deal. Then sign a flyer. But stop looking for guys trying to re-establish their value.


If Pineda isn't healthy and can't be relied on it's a terrible signing. He was on pace to pitch a little in September until he tore his meniscus. Nothing that should affect him long term. 2019 was always the play for him. I'm expecting him to be in the MLB rotation or bullpen.
    • DocBauer likes this
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Battle ur tail off
Oct 09 2018 02:31 PM

Twins need to identify the 2 best arms in free agency or trade and get them. Overpay or deal your guys to get them. Preferably guys under the age of 30. No low end guys, fliers, etc. Get the cats in here that throw 97 with hammer breaking balls. 

 

They won't because they are the Twins. But this is the quickest way to get yourself back to being in contention IMO. And it's simple. Most likely all it costs is money. 

Watching the Indians annual success does not build my confidence in the FO. I am also a FA sceptic how often do they really produce
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Physics Guy
Oct 10 2018 10:38 PM

Ranking of relievers on FA market (IMO):

 

Kimbrel

Britton

Ottavino

Familia

Doolittle

Robertson

Miller

Herrerra

Rondon

Allen

 

I'd like to see them sign two from Familia and below.I think the top three will command too much money.


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