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Recent Blogs


Offseason Underway: Twins Make Flurry of Moves

The Minnesota Twins' offseason officially kicked off on Monday, with the club announcing several significant roster moves.

Nelson Cruz will be back, Martin Perez will not (at least not on the same contract), and Jake Odorizzi faces a tough decision. Meanwhile, another key instructor was extracted by another (dreaded) team, and a pair of former top pitching prospects exited the organization.

Read on for more detail on each of these developments as the Hot Stove begins to spark.
Image courtesy of David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
NELSON CRUZ 2020 OPTION ACTIVATED

This barely qualifies as news. Activating the ultra-reasonable $12 million club option on Cruz was a total no-brainer, and the club's intention had already been announced via media reports. Nevertheless, it's now official: Boomstick is back.



MARTIN PEREZ 2020 OPTION DECLINED

Around the middle of May, the decision to activate Perez's team option in 2020 looked about as obvious Cruz's does now. Through his first eight starts he put up a 2.17 ERA, pairing a standout cutter with eye-catching fastball velocity, but it was all downhill from there. He posted a 6.17 ERA the rest of the way and was left off the ALDS roster.

The Twins are exercising a $500,000 buyout on the southpaw's $7.5 million option for next year, so he'll enter free agency.

I wouldn't rule out the possibility of Perez coming back on a one-year deal as a reliever (lefty batters hit just .228/.291/.294 against him this year), but the Twins clearly need to aim higher for the rotation.

QUALIFYING OFFER EXTENDED TO JAKE ODORIZZI

Coming off a breakthrough season, Odorizzi is poised to hit the open market, but the Twins now have an inside track on retaining him. By making him one of 10 free agents to receive a qualifying offer, the Twins have placed the ball in Odorizzi's court – he can either accept a one-year deal worth $17.8 million, or reject it and negotiate with other teams. Should he sign elsewhere, Minnesota will receive valuable draft pick compensation. Should he find the market underwhelming with this stipulation, the Twins gain leverage as the only team that won't lose a pick by signing him. Carl Pavano's 2010-11 offseason exemplifies such a scenario.

It really could go either way with Odorizzi. On the one hand, $17.8 million is a lot of money (especially for a guy who's made around $20 million total in his MLB career), and accepting the QO would enable him to hit free agency unencumbered next winter. On the other hand, he's coming off an All-Star season, and he's still under 30. This might be his best chance to shop himself and score a career-making payday. If his market isn't hot, I assume the Twins would be amenable to a longer deal that makes sense for both sides (we suggested three years, $36 million in the Offseason Handbook). Either outcome puts the team in a favorable position. Odorizzi has 10 days to decide.

Michael Pineda was not extended a qualifying offer, so he'll head to free agency with no hindrance other than the 39-game ban carrying over from this year.

STEPHEN GONSALVES CLAIMED BY METS

Minnesota tried to sneak the lanky left-handed pitching prospect through waivers, but weren't so lucky. Though his entire 2019 season was basically washed out by elbow issues, Gonsalves – Twins Daily's No. 4 prospect as recently as spring of 2018 – has a 2.50 ERA and 9.6 K/9 rate in the minors. He showed some intriguing signs during an altogether inconspicuous MLB debut last year. It's a bummer to lose him for nothing.



But it's also not a shocking or controversial call by the front office. The elbow issues are concerning and likely to linger. Even beyond that, there have always been questions about the viability of his middling fastball against big-league hitters. Turning 26 next season, he isn't young by prospect standards.

There's certainly a chance the Twins could live to regret this, but they can mitigate that risk by aggressively pursuing high-caliber arms to replace Gonsalves and his enduring promise.

KOHL STEWART OUTRIGHTED, ELECTS FREE AGENCY

And there goes one of the most painful busts in franchise history. Drafted with the No. 4 overall pick in 2013, at a time where the Twins desperately needed a transcendent pitcher to reverse their sagging fortunes, Stewart never developed into anything more than a mediocre sinkerballer, incapable of missing bats or consistently throwing strikes anywhere above rookie ball. He departs Minnesota with a 4.79 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 62 big-league innings.

Stewart isn't totally hopeless. He's still only 25 and a very good athlete. His outstanding ability to induce grounders is a building-block skill. Maybe a change of scenery will turn him around but the Twins could no longer justify giving him a 40-man spot.

CATCHING COORDINATOR POACHED BY YANKEES

Amidst this flurry of roster maneuvering, it was a non-player personnel move that hit me hardest today. Per Zone Coverage's Brandon Warne, Twins catching coordinator Tanner Swanson is leaving the club to join the Yankees (UGH) as Major League Catching and Quality Control Coach.



I've always heard good things about Swanson. My appreciation for him grew upon reading Parker's excellent spring training feature on his efforts to refine Mitch Garver's receiving technique, only to be crystallized as I saw those efforts pay off magnificently during the summer. Swanson is the real deal, and another tough loss in a young offseason that has already seen Minnesota lose hitting coach James Rowson and minor-league hitting coordinator Pete Fatse.

If there's any silver lining to be found in this scavenging by rivals, it's that having baseball powerhouses like Boston and New York hiring out of your ranks says a lot about your eye for talent. The Twins' newly reassembled baseball ops unit is becoming a hotbed, and that's about the highest praise you could give Derek Falvey as he enters his third year on the job.

(Speaking of which, let's us all just breathe a sigh of relief that Minnesota has evidently missed the biggest potential bullet: I wondered openly if the Red Sox would come calling on Falvey to replace fired GM Dave Dombrowski – turns out they did, and he said no.)

How are you feeling about this smattering of moves to kick off Twins' offseason? Anything you'd have done differently? Sound off in the comments.

And now an odd request from the Twins Daily community: if you found this page via Facebook, can you please add a comment telling us from which Facebook Page you followed it? It's getting quite a bit of traffic, and we would love to know who is sharing it. Thanks.

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83 Comments

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Battle ur tail off
Nov 07 2019 04:19 PM

 

The only place we differ here is that I don’t think a trade headlined by our 6 or 7th best prospect brings back an impact player.The only thing we are missing is impact pitching. We don’t need any position players and SP has historically been crazy expensive in terms of prospects. You know teams were asking for the moon last deadline based on the pitching that did not get traded.

 

This is not to say we can’t improve the team trading #6-30 but I just don’t see any such trade being a difference maker unless we take on a hefty contract but who would that be?

Someone brought up Mike Minor. I really like that idea because I am thinking he can be had without giving up the top 5. I would be curious to see what others think it would take to get him.

 

I brought up Archer and think he fits that bill. Sonny Gray is another one that could be had in that range. Those are just a few off the top of my head. 

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Battle ur tail off
Nov 07 2019 04:24 PM

 

Yeah, we're in agreement. I think there's this misconception out there that prospect-lovers like me believe prospects like Lewis should always automatically be off-limits, and that's not the case, for me or IMO for Falvey. 

 

Rumors were flying about Syndergaard, a borderline Ace in the minds of some, becoming available. True or not, it was rumored they asked for both Lewis and Kirilloff, and a number of commenters thought that would be a smart trade for the Twins. I can see that side, although I think it can be clouded by our frustration and desire for a WS experience. I also see the side that says Lewis and Kirilloff represent huge upgrades at two positions for years to come, with one of them projected to become a superstar, and therefore are necessary, not surplus.

 

Falvey was criticized for failing to outbid NYM for Stroman. TOR received two pitching prospects, a 1st and 2nd rounder, who now rank as their 4th and 5th best prospects. A comparable offer from the Twins would probably have been Duran and Balazovic. I suppose many might see that as a good trade-off. I can see and tend to be inclined toward the argument that, given the fleeting nature of pitching performances and the difficulty with finding front end talent, a club would really have to have great confidence that the acquisition would secure a long run in the postseason and be a big upgrade on the current options (Pineda and Gibson at the time).

 

Two sides to the argument, surely. IMO, Falvey is attuned to all of this and is willing to pull the trigger under what he regards as favorable circumstances.

 

I would never give up that kind of ask for Syndergaard. I don't believe that is what it would have taken to get him though. One of those top 2 guys, maybe a guy in that 7-15 range and a throw in lottery pick most likely would have done it IMO. And I am all for those types of trades if they are available. Young pitcher, amazing stuff, controllable for a couple years. 

 

To be clear. I also don't trade our very top guys unless the talent you bring back is also high end. Marcus Stroman. Yep, I think beating the offer made that ultimately landed him wouldn't have hurt us too bad. That said, this type of guy isn't someone I'd sell the farm for, and he most definitely is not worth someone of the caliber of any of our top 3 prospects.

    • birdwatcher, Major League Ready and DocBauer like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Nov 07 2019 08:56 PM
Ok so in exchange for Syndergaard, it was rumored that the Mets were interested in Buxton or Lewis or Kirilloff, or some combination of.

But now we know for certain that the Mets were interested in Gonsalves.

This tells me there might have been a deal to be made this past summer, somehow, and that an extra starter in the ALDS might have made a huge difference. Especially if it had been Syndergaard.

I want to see a trade or signing this winter—early this winter— that knocks me off my stool. This team needs pitching, bad. Their cutting Perez is a sideways admission IMO that pitchers can’t necessarily be fixed, or analytics applied to pitchers’ strengths. Sometimes sure, but what really makes a difference is getting pitchers who can pitch, who have that track record.

 

Ok so in exchange for Syndergaard, it was rumored that the Mets were interested in Buxton or Lewis or Kirilloff, or some combination of.

But now we know for certain that the Mets were interested in Gonsalves.

This tells me there might have been a deal to be made this past summer, somehow, and that an extra starter in the ALDS might have made a huge difference. Especially if it had been Syndergaard.

I want to see a trade or signing this winter—early this winter— that knocks me off my stool. This team needs pitching, bad. Their cutting Perez is a sideways admission IMO that pitchers can’t necessarily be fixed, or analytics applied to pitchers’ strengths. Sometimes sure, but what really makes a difference is getting pitchers who can pitch, who have that track record.

No, they've got pitching, bad.

 

They need pitching, good.

    • Mike Sixel and Hosken Bombo Disco like this

 

Ok so in exchange for Syndergaard, it was rumored that the Mets were interested in Buxton or Lewis or Kirilloff, or some combination of.

But now we know for certain that the Mets were interested in Gonsalves.

I think "interest on a waiver claim" doesn't necessarily imply any meaningful interest in trade. It's still possible the Mets turn around and try to put Gonsalves on waivers themselves this winter -- they already know 19 teams passed on him, so it's just a matter of sneaking him past the remaining 10.

    • SQUIRREL, Twins33 and nicksaviking like this
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nicksaviking
Nov 08 2019 11:01 AM

 

I think "interest on a waiver claim" doesn't necessarily imply any meaningful interest in trade. It's still possible the Mets turn around and try to put Gonsalves on waivers themselves this winter -- they already know 19 teams passed on him, so it's just a matter of sneaking him past the remaining 10.

 

Yeah, and even if they did have serious interest, I doubt Gonsalves would have been more than a 3rd or more likely 4th piece.

 

And that's if they were even actually interested in dealing Syndergaard in the first place; at this point I think it was a major feint and adding pitching was their plan from the get go.

    • SQUIRREL and spycake like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Nov 08 2019 11:03 AM

I think "interest on a waiver claim" doesn't necessarily imply any meaningful interest in trade. It's still possible the Mets turn around and try to put Gonsalves on waivers themselves this winter -- they already know 19 teams passed on him, so it's just a matter of sneaking him past the remaining 10.

Now they know that, but claims are blind, is my understanding.

Not endorsing it, but do you think Syndergaard for Lewis, Gonsalves, and one other arm or piece would have been appealing to the Mets?

 

Now they know that, but claims are blind, is my understanding.

Not endorsing it, but do you think Syndergaard for Lewis, Gonsalves, and one other arm or piece would have been appealing to the Mets?

Yes, claims are blind. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise -- I was just pointing out that the Mets may be more likely to waive Gonsalves again (and sneak past 10 teams) in the near future, as compared to an internal waiver candidate (who would have to run the gauntlet of 29 teams). We'll just have to wait and see.

 

But in general, waiver claims don't mean much in terms of estimating trade interest. The Dodgers claimed JT Chargois from us, but it seems doubtful they'd ever have given the Twins value to acquire him. I'd argue it was even more the case for Gonsalves circa July 2019, as he was injured at the time (and perhaps significantly, as he had only thrown 2 innings all season by that point). So no, I don't think he would have brought any meaningful value to a July trade package.

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this

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