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Dozier to the Cubs make some sense for both teams?

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Other Offseason Shopping Needs

With so much attention being devoted to the ongoing Brian Dozier saga, which figures to conclude within the next few days one way or another, there has been rather little discussion of Minnesota's other roster needs.

Outside of signing Jason Castro, the front office hasn't made any significant moves to upgrade a 103-loss team. What else might we expect, beyond the Dozier dealings?
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel, USA Today
People have wise-cracked throughout the offseason about the reigning worst team in baseball facing so many "roster crunches." However, the Twins legitimately find themselves in such a situation. As a rebuilding club with no shortage of talent in the organization, their foremost imperative is evaluating what they have on hand.

Which players are going to be part of the next contending Minnesota club? This year, fresh eyes will be making those assessments. There are only so many opportunities to go around, and I suspect Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will focus on looking closely at what they have before making a ton of acquisitions.

With that said, let's take a look at places where the Twins could theoretically still be looking to add, irrespective of a Dozier trade:

Shortstop

I'd say this one ranks at the top of the list. It's the one position on the field where the Twins still do not have a clear and obvious starter. Presumably that'll be Jorge Polanco in the event that Dozier stays, but he'd be a major defensive weakness at the infield's most important position. (He has been playing primarily second in the winter league, which is telling.)

If Dozier is dealt, then Polanco goes to second and Eduardo Escobar returns to short. Escobar was, of course, very bad in 2016 and he barely played shortstop during the final months.

The Twins remain confident that Nick Gordon will eventually take over this position, but he's a couple of years away. It makes all the sense in the world to find a veteran on a short-term deal who could compete for a starting gig or serve as a quality backup/fallback.

In our blueprint for the Offseason Handbook, we suggested Erick Aybar for this role. He's still out there, and probably not very expensive. Another potential option would be Daniel Descalso, who spent the last two seasons playing for the Rockies and is coming off a career year at the plate (he took over after Trevor Story went down).

Late-Inning Setup Man

It's unrealistically optimistic to expect that Glen Perkins, coming off shoulder labrum surgery, shows up at Fort Myers throwing well enough to reclaim the closer job. There are others who will be in play for that title, including incumbent Brandon Kintzler and potential long-term heir JT Chargois. But the Twins would do well to bring another contender into the mix, because quality late-inning arms are always needed.

Drew Storen was one buy-low candidate I liked, but he signed for one year and $3 million with the Reds last week. That's exactly the kind of no-risk gamble the Twins should be pursuing. Neftali Feliz is a name I've had my eye on, though he's coming off a good year in Pittsburgh and will require a larger commitment. Greg Holland would be a bigger splash with higher upside. Joe Blanton could be a dark horse.

As we approach mid-January, there are still so many free agent relievers out there that some of them are going to have to start settling for less than they want. That's where the Twins can strike for a good value.

Left-Handed Reliever

Heading into this offseason, I figured this would be a priority of sorts. The collective major-league experience of Minnesota's returning bullpen lefties is dauntingly thin. But after taking a closer look at the 2016 relief corps, I'm convinced that they don't really have a need here.

Taylor Rogers, Buddy Boshers and Ryan O'Rourke all showed enough to deserve longer looks. Each of them effectively dispatched left-handed hitters and that's the name of the game with these specialist roles. Adding an experienced southpaw means taking away opportunities for one of these guys.

Backup Outfielder

Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler are tentatively penciled in as the starting outfield trio. Robbie Grossman could vie for a job, but might be better suited as a backup and DH based on his defensive shortcomings.

With a focus on run prevention and a pitching staff that figures to remain fly-ball heavy, finding a defensive specialist who plays all three outfield positions would make sense.

Danny Santana has been filling that role, but he has also been one of the worst players in baseball over the past two years, and you have to squint to see his upside at this point. J.B. Shuck was signed to a minor-league deal last month, and he's renowned for his glove, but he's considered weak in center.

Defensive whiz Peter Bourjos is still out there and would fit the bill quite nicely. Desmond Jennings, still only 30, might be available on a minor league contract.

Starting Pitcher

Strange as it is to say, I don't see any reason for the Twins to pursue players here. The market is thin on quality and there are already so many starters that will come to camp deserving of an honest chance to win a job. That list presently includes Ervin Santana, Hector Santiago, Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Jose Berrios, Trevor May, Tyler Duffey and more.

Obviously the Twins will welcome any high-caliber young arms coming back in a Dozier trade, which will only further crowd this picture. Why add more veteran mediocrity to the mix? If there's an opportunity to take a flier on a boom-or-bust guy then sure, but those players will find more amenable situations elsewhere.

Are there any other areas you feel that the front office should be making additions as we count down the weeks until spring training?

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85 Comments

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TheLeviathan
Jan 08 2017 08:20 PM

Storen 1 year and 3M makes me sad.  We should've doubled that.

    • Mike Frasier Law, Riverbrian, zenser and 3 others like this

I think the Twins could use a hispanic, veteran bat. This could all be completely off, but I just feel like there's a gap between the veterans and the young guys in the club house. I just can't imagine Sano, Polanco, Rosario, or even Buxton and Kepler are real close with Mauer or Dozier. I think Dozier probably does what he can to help the young guys out in their transition and Mauer probably does in his own way, but they're not guys that can really connect with those young guys. I don't think it was a complete coincedence that the 1 good year they've had in the last 6 was the year Hunter was in the clubhouse. I think getting someone who could help guide the young guns would be incredibly helpful. Someone who has been to the postseason. Someone who maybe had their struggles early in their career and worked through them. Someone with some energy and attitude. The answer to a lot of those criteria is Jose Bautista. Unfortunately everything I've heard is that he's not in Toronto right now cuz he's not well liked in the clubhouse. Maybe he'd be helpful for half a season before they flipped him for a midlevel prospect. But I think the Twins need someone who can connect with the youth that's coming. I just don't see anyone in the clubhouse that can. Maybe Ervin Santana? But between Dozier, Mauer and Molitor (the 3 guys that should be the leaders) it just doesn't feel like they're people that connect well with the guys that are the future of this franchise. Franklin Gutierrez is another interesting veteran bat.

    • glunn, glanzer, blindeke and 2 others like this

I was hoping for aggressive bullpen shopping. 

 

Still hoping for it but it isn't looking good

 

    • USAFChief, glunn and Twins33 like this

 

I think the Twins could use a hispanic, veteran bat. This could all be completely off, but I just feel like there's a gap between the veterans and the young guys in the club house. I just can't imagine Sano, Polanco, Rosario, or even Buxton and Kepler are real close with Mauer or Dozier. I think Dozier probably does what he can to help the young guys out in their transition and Mauer probably does in his own way, but they're not guys that can really connect with those young guys. I don't think it was a complete coincedence that the 1 good year they've had in the last 6 was the year Hunter was in the clubhouse. I think getting someone who could help guide the young guns would be incredibly helpful. Someone who has been to the postseason. Someone who maybe had their struggles early in their career and worked through them. Someone with some energy and attitude. The answer to a lot of those criteria is Jose Bautista. Unfortunately everything I've heard is that he's not in Toronto right now cuz he's not well liked in the clubhouse. Maybe he'd be helpful for half a season before they flipped him for a midlevel prospect. But I think the Twins need someone who can connect with the youth that's coming. I just don't see anyone in the clubhouse that can. Maybe Ervin Santana? But between Dozier, Mauer and Molitor (the 3 guys that should be the leaders) it just doesn't feel like they're people that connect well with the guys that are the future of this franchise. Franklin Gutierrez is another interesting veteran bat.

 

From the time I've been in there Eduardo Escobar appears to be a uniter. He and Dozier are obviously very close, but he's often talking to the young, Spanish-speaking players. And I definitely don't think it's accurate to say that Mauer and Dozier aren't doing those things. Ervin Santana may or may not be. I've seen him with Berrios, but that's about it. (I'm not in there enough to know for sure what all happens. Then again, when anyone from the media is there, we don't see how the players are when it matters, behind the scenes.)

 

    • glunn, Vanimal46, Tom Froemming and 1 other like this
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Halsey Hall
Jan 08 2017 10:02 PM

I think when the season is over we'll look back and say the rotation hurt us the most.

    • jimmer likes this

I didn't say they weren't doing things. I said they were doing what they could in their way. I'm sure everyone in the clubhouse is doing what they can to connect with each other and to help everyone else out. They all want to win and helping each other is part of doing that. I'm not saying Dozier and Mauer aren't doing that, I'm saying Joe Mauer isn't the type of personality that young players flock to. He's obviously different behind closed doors, but he's a generally quiet guy who doesn't show a great deal of emotion. He's more of the stereotypical "old school" player in that way. Dozier certainly has an outgoing personality and I'm sure he's doing what he can with them as well. It's not surprising to hear EE is often talking with the young guys. My point is that Rosario and Sano especially are emotional young guys who play with some flair. That's not at all the type of player Joe Mauer is. And in general people tend to gravitate towards people who are similar to themselves in those ways. If Joe could get Rosario to buy into 1/10th of the patience he has at the plate Rosario would be much better of a hitter for it. But to get people to buy into what you're preaching you have to connect with them and I just don't believe Joe Mauer is a guy who connects well with those types of players. I have no problem believing Dozier is someone who can connect better with them. But neither of those guys are a Torii Hunter type personality who can really bring an entire clubhouse together. And I don't believe Paul Molitor is either. Joe Maddon and Terry Francona got a ton of praise for their in game decisions during the post season and during their careers. They're very smart baseball minds. But they're even better at getting the most out of their teams by how they run their clubhouse and how they make their players feel. That is obviously made easier by winning games and having the caliber of players they have, but Joe did it with the Rays when they were awful and Terry has done it the last few years with the Indians when they weren't very good. I have no problem admitting this is based off the read I get by watching them on TV and that sort of thing, but I thought there was a pretty clear difference in the clubhouse culture between 2015 and 2016. And I think Hunter was a huge part of it. And I think it matters. But like I said in my original post I could be completely off.

    • glunn, birdwatcher, BuxtonBandwagon and 1 other like this
How much would Zack Cozart cost to acquire in prospects? If it isn't crazy, he would be great for a year. Mike Napoli at dh? A 1 year deal with an option Neftali Feliz sounds good too. Luis Valbuena! Peter Bourjos or Desmond Jennings would be great to platoon with Rosario and provide solid outfield defense. Let's make a decision on Dozier and move on to other moves!
    • glunn, Vanimal46 and BuxtonBandwagon like this
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BuxtonBandwagon
Jan 08 2017 10:44 PM

I really like the comments made about Torii Hunter. I think a guy like that is exactly what the Twins need, here is an interesting little thing on Hunter.

2007 Angels(pre Hunter) 94 wins, 2008 Angels (with Hunter) 100 wins

2012 Angels(with Hunter) 89 wins, 2013 Angels(w/o Hunter) 78 wins

2012 Tigers(pre hunter) 88 wins, 2013 Tigers (with Hunter) 93 wins

2014 Tigers(with Hunter) 90 wins, 2015 Tigers (w/o Hunter) 74 wins

2014 Twins 70 wins, 2016 Twins 59 wins, Sandwich 2015 with Hunter in there and there's 83 wins.

This is pretty incredible, obviously there's a lot of other aspects to go with this, but no doubt no matter what type of performance he's giving you, Torii Hunter makes a team a lot better. WAR is obviously very popular stat used but WAR doesn't really tell you how many wins a guy like Torii Hunter is worth.

    • USAFChief, glunn, gunnarthor and 5 others like this
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Physics Guy
Jan 08 2017 10:55 PM

The only spots I really see is SS/Util and RP (and maybe 4th OF).Aybar and Feliz make sense as they could fill roles I don't see occupied by young players needing to play (assuming Dozier is dealt).Here's what I could see:

 

C - Castro

1B - Mauer

2B - Polanco

SS - Escobar/Aybar

3B - Sano

LF - Rosario

CF - Buxton

RF - Kepler

DH - Vargas

Bench - Ryan, Park, Util IF (Esco or Aybar), 4th OF (Grossman, Schuck, Palka, Granite)

SP - Santana and 4 among:Gibson, Santiago, May, Berrios, DeLeon?, Hughes

RP - Feliz, Kintzler, Pressley, Perkins, Rogers/O'Rourke, Duffey/Chargois

 

Does anybody know if May has options left?If so, he could work on a conversion back to starting in AAA.I suspect Hughes will be in the rotation if he is healthy or maybe as a long reliever out of the pen.I wonder if the Twins aren't waiting to trade Santana depending on what they get for Dozier.

    • glunn and BuxtonBandwagon like this
SS: This could still be solid with a healthy Escobar manning the position full time and reverting back to his 2014-15 form. There is no guarantee he will, but no reason to believe he can't or won't either. But you need SOMEONE to compete, at the very least, and fill the need for a backup position, again, at the very least. Did Drew sign with anyone yet? I confess to not paying enough attention to signings lately. He would be a perfect fit to challenge and rotate in at both 2B and SS with Escobar seeing some time at 3B as well. Akbar would also be an excellent choice.

Late Inning Set Up: How about potential closer? The Storen deal almost makes me ill that it wasn't us. Feliz has been my first choice, however. And I'd gladly do a couple years for him. Once again, he could be a flip candidate, OR, still only 28 a longerror term option. Building a solid bullpen is a GOOD IDEA and helps the team actually win games and helps mitigate questions in the rotation...at least to some degree. Having someone...and there are indeed other options available still...to close games allows Chargois and Pressly to set up, at least initially. Duffey could fit a number of solid roles here if he doesn't step up as a SP option. And there are others. The entire bullpen gets deeper and stronger by bumping everyone down one notch.

Left Handed Reliever: I agree this isn't a NEED spot as Rogers was solid, and should get better. Except for a couple appearances before getting hurt, Boshers was actually very effective and did a great job with SO. (I think some don't like him because of his pedigree from independent ball and the bad games, and not because of his solid results) O'Rourke has a shot if used properly. But I would still absolutely love the FO to find another Akbar, someone coming off injury, or a failed SP prospect to convert. Once again, we could be talking a flip candidate or longer term candidate depending on who and what age.

Outfielder: Please! He doesn't even have to be a true CF option with Rosario able to play there. (Though it would be nice) Give me a quality RH bat to give Rosario and/or Kepler a day off against LH pitching and play solid defense. There IS a spot for Grossman here as a 5th OF who can DH PH and occassionally play the OF.

Starting Pitching: Other than a move for Ross, or a cheap flyer I can't even think of right now, no more mediocre veteran signings. Assuming a Dozier deal takes place, run with what we have and see what develops.

And infielder, potential closer and 4th OF. Get them now! They won't block anyone long term in any way and are a real need to help this team. And there ARE options out there. But please don't ignore the LHRP option.
    • glunn, wavedog and Vanimal46 like this
Please let's evaluate Vargas by letting him start at 1B. Mauer is DH, 1B backup, left bat off bench. Rather see if Vargas can play everyday. This infield scares me. But please do not move Dozier without fair value. Bourjos helps every pitcher on the staff.
    • glunn likes this
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Physics Guy
Jan 08 2017 11:56 PM

Bourjos only helps the pitchers if Buxton isn't playing, which should be very rarely. I can handle Rosario or Kepler in CF for a handful of games that Buxton doesn't play. I'm hoping we have a better hitter as our 4th OF.

    • bluechipper and goulik like this

 

Please let's evaluate Vargas by letting him start at 1B. Mauer is DH, 1B backup, left bat off bench. Rather see if Vargas can play everyday. This infield scares me. But please do not move Dozier without fair value. Bourjos helps every pitcher on the staff.

 

Vargas has a huge split difference against RH and LH pitchers. That is true in both last season and his career splits. He absolutely rakes against LH pitching and hits downright poorly against RH pitching.

Mauer's career splits show that he's better against RH pitching. That was especially true last year. It appears that he is not as balanced against same siders as he once was.

 

A platoon of Mauer/Vargas at first is so obvious that I have to believe the Twins are seeing it, though I did not notice Molitor using such a platoon late in the year.

 

Why hasn't this already been happening? 

    • wavedog and enge0280 like this
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Vote for Gardy
Jan 09 2017 07:16 AM
Escobar earned the shortstop position from his strong 2015 and for the first month was the only one that could hit anything until he got into a slump that every mlb has now and then. Nunez got so hot they had no choice but having the everyday starter. He has since come down to earth in San Francisco. I'm sure it wasn't easy on Escobar being told all offseason that he's the shortstop and starts the season as the guy. Then for no fault of his own he's playing once a week then Nunez is traded and gets his job just to have Polanco take it away again. Escobar is a great clubhouse guy and deserves an everyday role. That said if Dozier stays I didn't see anything wrong with Polanco's game at short and think they are in good shape there.

The biggest need in the Twins' roster is to get rid of veterans (Dozier, Santana, Santiego, Kintzler, Boshers, Perkins etc) one way or another, get young pitching in return and see what they have in the organization, in order to assess what they might have and what holes need to be plugged when the team will compete.

 

Trying to make an 103 L team to a 90 L team makes zero sense.

 

Re: Storen: 2-3 mph velo drop across the board scares me.  If I were to bet, I do not see him finishing the season healthy.

    • Mike Sixel, Mike Frasier Law, Platoon and 3 others like this

It is kind of weird for a team to sit on a 103 loss team but there really aren't a lot of spots.  The OF of Rosario/Buxton/Kepler makes sense - all are 24 or younger, all were former top 100 prospects, it's too early to give up on any of them.  In the IF, if they don't trade Dozier, you have Sano/Polanco (two more under 24, former top 100 prospects) on the left side and Dozier/Mauer on the right.  Dozier's obviously pretty good and Mauer is locked in under contract.  Catcher is Castro, the wily vet.  DH is either Vargas or Park or a place we could bring someone in.  But really, there's not a lot of upgrades to be made unless we trade Dozier and want to upgrade short stop over Escobar (Profar is still my dream but I really have no idea if he's any good anymore).

 

The rotation has Santana and Gibson as locks.  They should switch Duffey and May but with Molitor, who knows.  Mejia and Berrios are another two former top 100 prospects, under 24, who can be slipped into the rotation and it is too early to give up on either of them.  And after those five you still have Hughes (who the team should know about in ST - it he's still throwing 88, he's cooked) and Santiago (who has been a solid back end type).  I'd be happy if the Twins signed Tyson Ross and let him have 20+ starts but he's about the only FA starter who I'd look at.  And if the Twins trade Dozier, they'd probably have another starter to add to this group.

 

I think they should add a lot to the bullpen but I'm not sure who but outside of Pressly, I'm not in love with any of our bullpen arms (although Chargois could become something).  I think Duffey would be a strong bullpen arm and should let May back into the rotation.

    • BuxtonBandwagon likes this

I agree with DocBauer, and believe they still need a backup SS, 4th OF, and a back end bullpen arm or 2. 

Feliz and Greg Holland are high on my priority list to sign. 

Erick Aybar isn't an exciting move, but could serve the role as backup SS. If not, trade for Zack Cosart. Remove D Santana from the 40 man to make this move. Escobar reverts to a utility role. 

 

A 1 year rental 4th OF would serve the team well as Palka/Granite get every day ABs in AAA. Just to throw out a name, Angel Pagan. Remove Grossman from the 40 man to make this move. 

    • Mike Sixel and DocBauer like this

I would say Dozier is no longer in play and will stay a Twin, so the big decision will be 12 or 13 pitchers and Danny Santana in the scheme of things. There might be a fight for the 5th starter and at least one bullpen arm. But that's it,

 

The need for REAL bullpen arms? Think the Twins will be in a total wait-and-see mode as they try to figure if Burdi, Reed, Hildenberger, Chargois are the real deal future (throw in Baxendale) or not.

 

Look at next year when the Twins MAY tear things apart. I think we may have been thinking too much that a new regime would come in and tear apart and reorganize EVERYTHING over the course of a couple of months. Probably word is that ALL jobs are on the line and if you want to keep any of your managing or coaching duties, you will be asked to change and see if you adapt or shown the door. And players will be given every opportunity to succeed and claim a role in the organization. With the absic concept being that if you don't push and succeed, you may never again be a major league player or have the opportunity to be a major league payer. 

 

The tough areas are two. (1) Getting the team to be a team and working together to produce results, rather than individuals glories and (2) How do you market this to the average fan and at what price.

 

I look for a lot of empty seats, possibly many no shows (hurts the concession biz. Unless the Twins get at least one breakout superstar (besides Dozier) who excites the populous to watch them play...or better yet, pitch.

 

    • chpettit19 likes this

 

I would say Dozier is no longer in play and will stay a Twin, so the big decision will be 12 or 13 pitchers and Danny Santana in the scheme of things. There might be a fight for the 5th starter and at least one bullpen arm. But that's it,

 

The need for REAL bullpen arms? Think the Twins will be in a total wait-and-see mode as they try to figure if Burdi, Reed, Hildenberger, Chargois are the real deal future (throw in Baxendale) or not.

 

Look at next year when the Twins MAY tear things apart. I think we may have been thinking too much that a new regime would come in and tear apart and reorganize EVERYTHING over the course of a couple of months. Probably word is that ALL jobs are on the line and if you want to keep any of your managing or coaching duties, you will be asked to change and see if you adapt or shown the door. And players will be given every opportunity to succeed and claim a role in the organization. With the absic concept being that if you don't push and succeed, you may never again be a major league player or have the opportunity to be a major league payer. 

 

The tough areas are two. (1) Getting the team to be a team and working together to produce results, rather than individuals glories and (2) How do you market this to the average fan and at what price.

 

I look for a lot of empty seats, possibly many no shows (hurts the concession biz. Unless the Twins get at least one breakout superstar (besides Dozier) who excites the populous to watch them play...or better yet, pitch.

 

Everything?

 

They have made 1 change to the worst team in baseball......that's hardly ANY thing, let alone everything.

    • Platoon, Vanimal46, d-mac and 1 other like this

 

Everything?

 

They have made 1 change to the worst team in baseball......that's hardly ANY thing, let alone everything.

What is your idea?

 

What is your idea?

 

I guess I was responding to "maybe we shouldn't have expected more" which was pretty much the post I responded to......

 

1. Trade Dozier

2. Trade ESan

3. Sign a flyer (or two) RP

4. Sign a 4th OF

5. Cut Dan San

 

those are not in order, just things I'd do/have done.

    • Thrylos, TheLeviathan, Platoon and 2 others like this

If they trade Dozier I would sign a good glove SS, otherwise leave bats alone. Maybe some minor league depth.

 

Still would sign a closer and perhaps another RP if someone slips through.

 

Sign another starter that is more a flyer type. Hold on to ESan, if he stays healthy his value will be higher at the deadline. Especially if they trade Dozier, there should be enough options to work through over the course of the season.

    • enge0280 and TheLeviathan like this

 

If they trade Dozier I would sign a good glove SS, otherwise leave bats alone. Maybe some minor league depth.

 

Still would sign a closer and perhaps another RP if someone slips through.

 

Sign another starter that is more a flyer type. Hold on to ESan, if he stays healthy his value will be higher at the deadline. Especially if they trade Dozier, there should be enough options to work through over the course of the season.

 

Ya, I have no issue holding onto ESan, I would just probably deal him now or at the deadline. Depends on the offers right now.

I sort of assumed the Twins wouldn't move Santana unless they got some pitching back from a Dozier trade first.

 

I sort of assumed the Twins wouldn't move Santana unless they got some pitching back from a Dozier trade first.

 

That's my going in assumption also, so I guess those two are in order. Even then, they might keep him for his leadership of the staff, if he's good at that. Then again, Santiago and Gibson aren't rookies.....so who knows.