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Spring Training Game Thread: Twins @ Rays 2/26/202020ad

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Severino shut down with forearm soreness

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Recent Blogs


Offseason Status Update: Final Grades

Whew. What a Hot Stove home stretch. You can't rule anything out, but the Twins appear to have completed their offseason, with a late surge of activity crystallizing the front office's championship resolve.

Let's get up to speed with a final rundown as spring training officially gets underway.
Image courtesy of Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
One month ago, when we last checked in, the winter was dragging in a ho-hum direction. A recent Miguel Sano contract extension and some roster additions around the fringes were encouraging enough developments, but the big splash wasn't materializing. No marquee addition. No deviation from the narrative that long-term flexibility and internal pipeline matter above all else.

Since then, the Twins have signed Josh Donaldson to a record-breaking contract and traded the organization's top pitching prospect for a veteran impact starter in Kenta Maeda. In doing so, the front office emphatically addressed multiple remaining areas of uncertainty, albeit at the cost of Brusdar Graterol, two top-100 picks in the coming draft, and around $100 million.

Here's the roster and payroll projection with new details added: Donaldson's $21M salary, Maeda's $3.125 M (packaged with the rehabbing Hill, for the purposes of this table), and Jose Berrios's now-finalized figure after losing his arbitration case.

Attached Image: roster29.png


A HEIGHTENED PAYROLL CEILING

The $138 million payroll projected above is already easily a new franchise record for the Twins. But the final tab for ownership could end up being significantly higher.

Maeda has many incentives and escalators built into his base salary (via Spotrac):
  • Innings Pitched Bonus: $250,000 each for 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, 180, 190, 200
  • Games Started Bonus: $1M each for 15, 20l; $1.5M each for 25, 30, 32
Hill, meanwhile, has plenty of kickers on top of his $3 million guarantee (also via Spotrac):
  • $1 million for 5 games started or 25 innings
  • $1M for 7 starts/35 innings
  • $1M for 9 starts/45 innings
  • $1.5M for 11 starts/55 innings
  • $2M for 13 starts/65 innings
  • $3M for 15 starts/75 innings
Toss in reachable incentives for other players (including Donaldson), as well as the $1.6 million guarantee that NRI Jhoulys Chacin will trigger if (when?) he makes the team, and payroll could very well soar beyond $150 million. Last year, that would've ranked 11th in baseball.

Even accounting for the $10 million they got back in the Maeda trade, the Twins are stepping up financially. It's officially time to kill the "Cheap Pohlads" narrative.

BERRIOS TAKES A RARE 'L'

As mentioned earlier, Berrios lost his arbitration case, so he'll make $4.025 million this year rather than the $4.4 million he sought. These hearings have been known to cause friction between players and teams in the past, but by all accounts Berrios was pushing for a higher number more out of precedent, as opposed to feeling offended by Minnesota's offer (which, according to an objective ruling, was fair).

The possibility of an extension before Opening Day remains on the table, and I'm not sure this turn of events really affects that much one way or another.

RELOADING THE SYSTEM

There haven't been any further changes to the MLB coaching staff, which was rounded out by the addition of bench coach Mike Bell, but here again is the final group:
  • Manager: Rocco Baldelli
  • Hitting Coach: Edgar Varela
  • Hitting Coach: Rudy Hernandez
  • Pitching Coach: Wes Johnson
  • Bullpen Coach: Bob McClure
  • Bench Coach: Mike Bell
  • MLB Coach: Bill Evers
The front office underwent some reconfiguration over the winter as well. Daniel Adler and Jeremy Zoll were both promoted to Assistant GM roles, Alex Hassan was named Director of Player Development (you can get to know him in Seth's profile), and Jeremy Raadt became Director of Baseball Systems. Several new minor-league instructors entered the fold – many plucked from forward-thinking college programs, much like Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson was a year ago.

The value of having a two-headed monster in Derek Falvey and Thad Levine came into full focus over the winter, as the club filled numerous important roles throughout the baseball ops department while also executing the most ambitious and active offseason roster supplementation in franchise history.

The infrastructure they continue to build together is nothing short of amazing. So it's a very good thing that both Falvey and Levine were extended through 2024 in November.

GRADING THE OFFSEASON

Honestly, how can you not mark them in the 'A' range? I might go with an A- because neither Donaldson nor Maeda is quite a slam-dunk fit, but in tandem the duo is arguably superior to signing Zack Wheeler, who offered the most plausible big-splash scenario for this team coming into the winter.

By re-signing Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda, the Twins retained two key pieces of a 101-win division champ, and by adding Donaldson and Maeda they built significantly upon that base. Meanwhile, the front office also made some nice additions at the fringes: Homer Bailey, Rich Hill and Jhoulys Chacin bring varying levels of low-stakes veteran intrigue to the rotation; Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard do the same in a well-stocked bullpen.

This was a balanced, measured, aggressive offseason in which the Twins rolled with the punches, pivoted when Plan A failed, and hung tough in negotiations to get the deals they wanted. The team sent a message to the fanbase, and the league, by rocketing to new payroll heights and trading their top pitching prospect.

Meanwhile, the Twins filled numerous openings throughout the coaching and baseball ops ranks, and established some long-term continuity both at the executive (Falvey and Levine) and player levels. Sano joins Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco with extensions; add in the four-year contracts for Donaldson and Maeda, and in the space of 12 months, the Twins have gone from zero multi-year commitments to having five players locked in through at least 2022.

The Twins followed one of the most successful seasons ever with one of their most successful offseasons ever. What's next?

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34 Comments

I give them a solid B+. 

 

I love the transition from pitching to Donaldson to bring in an "impact" player. 

 

However, I don't grade trading for Maeda that well. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have him here, but as others have alluded to, I don't necessarily think he was the right type of target. The cost is probably right on it's own in the trade, but I loved the potential of having Graterol (even as a RP), and if I were making such a trade, I would have thought much bigger and probably just held off on it until July.

 

Granted, you certainly can say that another big fish can still come in July now, but then in that perfect world I don't think Maeda ends up starting a playoff game for you (traded for ace, Berrios, Odo), so the move is sort of a wash for me either way.

 

They didn't need pitching help to win the division, they need it to win a playoff series.

 

All that said, I will gladly eat my shorts if it plays out differently.

 

Definitely a different type of offseason for the Twins!

 

    • spycake likes this
Photo
drivlikejehu
Feb 14 2020 11:34 AM

 

I’ve been watching these guys seriously for more than 30 years; this is definitely atypical Pohlad activity.

 

I think that's the point - it's atypical. It's a little early to say all is forgiven or that payroll won't be an issue in the future, which was the implication when Nick said the Pohlads clearly aren't cheap anymore.

 

I'm good with the payroll for 2020 . . . don't need to make big conclusions beyond that.

Photo
IndianaTwin
Feb 14 2020 12:19 PM

 

...Honestly, my biggest concern right now is replacing the coaches we lost. The FO seems to have an eye for quality personnel and I'm trusting them in this area....
 

 

Excellent points, both in naming the concern, but also in noting that they have seemed to get good staff. 

 

 

 

    • DocBauer likes this

 

Speaking of The Titanic, my wife had her colonoscopy yesterday. (TMI, I know.)

 

While there, we were joking with the receptionist, who described having a friend who went to see "Titanic" in the theater. Before it started, he stood, faced the audience, and announced, "I don't want to spoil the movie for everyone, but the boat sinks." 

 

 

PS: It was clear by the way. I know -- WAAAAAAY TMI.

 

PPS: I will wait until Valentine's Day is past before revealing to my wife that I've shared the results of her colonoscopy on TD.

You know, might be best to just let it go. Telling her could cause a cold snap in temperatures for a bit.

    • Sconnie and IndianaTwin like this

 

I think that's the point - it's atypical. It's a little early to say all is forgiven or that payroll won't be an issue in the future, which was the implication when Nick said the Pohlads clearly aren't cheap anymore.

 

I'm good with the payroll for 2020 . . . don't need to make big conclusions beyond that.

Ok, so what?  Are you saying that you’ll need to see the 2019-2020 off-season repeat itself multiple years in a row before you’ll be willing to drop the “Cheap Pohlad” mantra?

 

Good luck with that. 

[quote name="jorgenswest" post="956602" timestamp="1581692102"]

The Twins payroll ranks will be above their revenue rank. I don’t expect more. They get high marks for raising payroll.

Coming off a 100 win season and the raise in payroll, you would hope to see a large increase in attendance. I have not heard a big jump in the season ticket base. Might be time for the fans to put up and start going to the game if they want the payroll to keep increasing.

Attendance will relate directly to performance. Always has, always will. Puckett and company along with a World Series ring drove it to over 3 million back in 1988. 1 million more than the average for all clubs that year. 2010 and 2011 were also over 3 million. Last year was 2.3 million. There is plenty of room to add revenue. As long as they make/keep it affordable to attend games they can still make money with their current payroll.

 

We can debate grading now vs grading after the season. But I am giving them a grade of A, though I could be talked in to A-.

I really hate going down the path, again, that all forms of offseason shopping are nothing like going to a store and selecting what you want off a shelf.

Donaldson affects defense and offense, and sets a different perspective and precedent for the club.

The Maeda trade was quality and aggressive. You can't knock them for trading good to get good.

The half season flier on Hill is smart and could pay huge dividends.

I really don't know how I feel about Bailey. Could be a quality move as his rebound and new approach looked legit last year. He was quite good before a string of injuries. The cost might be a little high, but it's only 1yr.

I like the Clippard signing and think it's being undervalued.

Just because Romo, Odorizzi and Pineda were with us last season doesn't make re-signing them any less impactful.

Honestly, my biggest concern right now is replacing the coaches we lost. The FO seems to have an eye for quality personnel and I'm trusting them in this area.

We have one of the best teams in MLB. Period.

So much for the debate

 

2020 34 Minnesota Twins $7,000,000 11.017 performance bonus available based on IP$5M paid by Los Angeles Dodgers (released)

I wanted to check out Bailey's contract, and I see this on BR; what is this about the Dodger's paying 5m?


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