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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 09 2017 12:44 PM

 

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. 

 

Well, and you can actually make the case that midseason deals for pitching hold some promise to recoup value.  It's still risky, but less so than the case of Dozier.

 

Still, I'd hope he's traded at some point in the calendar year.  

    • Mike Sixel likes this

Well, I just looked through the "25 man" and "40 Man" rosters (which have 40 and 56 players on them respectively) and it becomes REALLY obvious looking at them that we need an upgrade at 3rd/4th OF (depending on your view of Rosario). The Youth of  Buxton/Rosario/Kepler supported by Grossman-DSan-Palka-Granite is not acceptable... not much better when you count Schuck.

 

Short Stop looks similarly desperate. Polanco-Escobar-Vielma-DSantana does not look like a depth chart acceptable in MLB. The other non-roster invites do not make it look any better.

 

One thing REALLY obvious to me is DSan needs to be cut and someone signed at either SS or OF. I like Rosario. I would love him as a 4th OF.

 

I know Im not saying anything revolutionary here but when you actually look at those rosters... Holy Wow!

    • Mike Sixel, TheLeviathan, Vanimal46 and 1 other like this

 

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

 

Here is the current Twins' rotation (in no particular order)

 

Santana

Hughes

Gibson

Santiago 

May

 

which means that unless they get read of Santana and Santiago (and Hughes as soon as they can), not only the new pitchers they may get in a Dozier return do not fit in, but Berrios and Mejia as well (Duffey in the pen where he belongs.)  And by allowing Berrios to play for PR in the WBC, the Twins pretty much closed the door on him.

 

 

This is not what to do to an 103 L team that had the worst pitching in the majors.

 

Santana is half a UCL and one more PED suspension for being worthless for the Twins; he needs to go, as much as Dozier does.

    • Platoon and d-mac like this

 

Here is the current Twins' rotation (in no particular order)

 

Santana

Hughes

Gibson

Santiago 

May

 

which means that unless they get read of Santana and Santiago (and Hughes as soon as they can), not only the new pitchers they may get in a Dozier return do not fit in, but Berrios and Mejia as well (Duffey in the pen where he belongs.)  And by allowing Berrios to play for PR in the WBC, the Twins pretty much closed the door on him.

 

 

This is not what to do to an 103 L team that had the worst pitching in the majors.

 

Santana is half a UCL and one more PED suspension for being worthless for the Twins; he needs to go, as much as Dozier does.

 

This gets rehashed again and again, but Berrios, Mejia and (potentially) De Leon have done nothing to be given a spot in the opening day rotation, no matter what the Twins record was last year. It is a good thing they are not Plan A.

 

Injuries happen, May and Hughes can go the bullpen, spring training trades can easily happen. If those young guys come out and earn it they'll get their opportunity.

    • Nick Nelson likes this

 

Here is the current Twins' rotation (in no particular order)

 

Santana

Hughes

Gibson

Santiago 

May

 

which means that unless they get read of Santana and Santiago (and Hughes as soon as they can), not only the new pitchers they may get in a Dozier return do not fit in, but Berrios and Mejia as well (Duffey in the pen where he belongs.)  And by allowing Berrios to play for PR in the WBC, the Twins pretty much closed the door on him.

 

 

This is not what to do to an 103 L team that had the worst pitching in the majors.

 

Santana is half a UCL and one more PED suspension for being worthless for the Twins; he needs to go, as much as Dozier does.

I don't think Hughes has a spot in the rotation unless he shows that he's throwing real fastballs again.  Every year we argue about SP depth but it's needed.  We aren't going to go with 5 starters and Berrios and Mejia will probably be up and down (although it would be great if they locked down a spot for the next decade).  It's still a long shot to declare that Molitor will let May start.

 

I don't think Hughes has a spot in the rotation unless he shows that he's throwing real fastballs again.  Every year we argue about SP depth but it's needed.  We aren't going to go with 5 starters and Berrios and Mejia will probably be up and down (although it would be great if they locked down a spot for the next decade).  It's still a long shot to declare that Molitor will let May start.

 

I agree with the Hughes and May concerns, which is why I would certainly endorse signing another starter.

 

This gets rehashed again and again, but Berrios, Mejia and (potentially) De Leon have done nothing to be given a spot in the opening day rotation, no matter what the Twins record was last year. It is a good thing they are not Plan A.

 

Injuries happen, May and Hughes can go the bullpen, spring training trades can easily happen. If those young guys come out and earn it they'll get their opportunity.

 

What more would you want Berrios to do in AAA.

    • gunnarthor, bluechipper, HitInAPinch and 2 others like this
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South Dakota Tom
Jan 09 2017 02:52 PM

My greater sense, and it is explored here, is that the Dozier deal is holding up everything else.  If Dozier is dealt (assuming for JDL +), then - and only then - do you reassess your needs.

 

It is a domino - Polanco slides over to 2B, Escobar is penciled in at SS, and you decide if you have a 4th IF anywhere on your roster in 2017 (D San - no; Vielma - probably no; Beresford - possibly).So then that starting SS or 4th IF becomes a higher priority.

 

I'm not saying we're getting a SS or RP or 4th OF back for Dozier, but you pretty much gotta wait and see.Any position that we fill now (outside of the emergency need at C) to some extent ties our hands on a potential return for Dozier.

 

That's why the front office wanted final offers for him.If he is staying, we got holes to fill. If he is traded, we need to figure out where those holes remain. I agree with most here that Bellinger is probably not coming back in the Dozier deal, or the SS they like, but there is time to find those positions still before spring.

 

Would be nice if something happened (my lips to God's ears) just to break the bleak monotony of this cold, windy winter, but I don't see our off-season shopping list as anything in crisis - least not from a timing standpoint.

    • Nick Nelson, Mike Sixel, DocBauer and 2 others like this

 

What more would you want Berrios to do in AAA.

 

Decrease his walk rate and get off to a strong start. Also ease in his starts and innings for the year. Interested in him finishing strong in September and being ready to go Day 1 in 2018 too.

 

But I'm also open to him breaking camp in the bigs, just shouldn't be Plan A

    • chpettit19 likes this

 

Decrease his walk rate and get off to a strong start. Also ease in his starts and innings for the year. Interested in him finishing strong in September and being ready to go Day 1 in 2018 too.

 

But I'm also open to him breaking camp in the bigs, just shouldn't be Plan A

 

If the ball is actually different (why the heck would MLB do that), I'd want him here with certainty, learning with that ball....

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diehardtwinsfan
Jan 09 2017 03:59 PM

I personally think you're selling Escobar a bit short. I'd give him another shot at SS and see if his 2016 down year was health related.

 

Not sure if I'd spend big other than picking up RP options that can be flipped at the deadline or cast aside if a guy like Melotakis or Chargois steps up.I really want to see the Twins get some of their younger players in the pen, which means having spots for those two along with Hildenberger, Burdi, or Reed.

    • d-mac and BuxtonBandwagon like this
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Nick Nelson
Jan 09 2017 04:31 PM

 

I personally think you're selling Escobar a bit short. I'd give him another shot at SS and see if his 2016 down year was health related.

Don't get me wrong, I like Escobar. But he had a terrible year on both sides of the ball. And right now if Dozier gets traded he is the sole option at shortstop. Bringing in someone like Aybar gives you a decent plug-in if the struggles continue, and a versatile veteran backup if Esco returns to form.

    • Physics Guy, Platoon and BuxtonBandwagon like this
Cannot go with 13-man pitching staff and 3-man bench.
Jettison D Santana and Grossman.
Sign Bourjos.
Insert Escobar at SS.
Sign Aaron Barrett to split deal.
Polanco plays 2B if Dozier is traded, super utility if he is not.
Sign Drew if Dozier is traded.
Dump Santiago's salary.
Sign Brett Anderson to incentive-laden deal.
Hope Park is ready and able.
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bluechipper
Jan 09 2017 05:07 PM

 

Decrease his walk rate and get off to a strong start. Also ease in his starts and innings for the year. Interested in him finishing strong in September and being ready to go Day 1 in 2018 too.

 

But I'm also open to him breaking camp in the bigs, just shouldn't be Plan A

I think Berrios should be in the plans to start in the rotation, especially if shows good control during the spring. He's got to learn how to pitch to MLB hitters at some point.

 

And he threw about 170 innings last year, so I wouldn't even worry about his innings count for 2017.

    • Platoon likes this
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bluechipper
Jan 09 2017 05:09 PM

 

Not sure if I'd spend big other than picking up RP options that can be flipped at the deadline or cast aside if a guy like Melotakis or Chargois steps up.I really want to see the Twins get some of their younger players in the pen, which means having spots for those two along with Hildenberger, Burdi, or Reed.

I agree with this. Remember last offseason when so many people wanted the Twins to sign Bastardo or Sipp? That hasn't worked out too well.

    • diehardtwinsfan likes this

Time to start trying to ink Buxton and Sano and Kepler and Berrios to long-term deals. Agree with the author that there isn't really anywhere to spend a lot of money. I'm fine with that but let's use that money to try to get a deal on some of these guys before they explode and get too expensive.

    • BuxtonBandwagon likes this
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HitInAPinch
Jan 09 2017 06:41 PM

Random thoughts:

 

Escobar had a groin injury in May and then ahamstring injury in July that lingered a bit.In that time, Eduardo Nunez took over and went on to hit like a madman.

 

Rosario:Ahem, "The Throw."Yeah.....

http://www.kansascit...le96623782.html

 

Yeah.But there is this:

http://m.mlb.com/vid...-to-nab-bregman

 

Both deserve another shot.That, and I really don't think Polanco is a good shortstop.Second is his best position and not a bad fill-in at 3rd.Love his bat.Aybar would be a good add.

 

Kinzler did very well as a closer until overuse caught up with him.At worse, I'd like to see a MiLB pitcher step up as a co-closer.Shopping for a veteran?If not Neftali Feliz, how about Sergio Romo?

 

Rest of bullpen:I wouldn't change a thing.Need to see those young arms develop further.Pretty sure Hughes will be in the pen.

 

Starter:If Berrios and another MiLBer aren't in the rotation, I'd sure like to hear Falvey and Levine have in mind.May needs to be in the rotation, so does Ervin, for different reasons.Last spot goes to Santiago.Hughes injury history is 1 great season, injury from over-use and into the bullpen, if I remember correctly.The Twins adding onto his innings for stinking win #16 was a bad move.

 

OF is set.Need a 4th:anyone with solid+ defense, speed and some OPS. Starting catcher is set. Backup?

 

Stop whining about Mauer. 

 

    • Nick Nelson and messed up like this

Why is everyone ready to jettison Grossman?Sure, his defense is crap but he can take a walk - something our team lacks. I trust his hitting ability a lot more than I trust Vargas and (sadly) Park right now.As a back-up DH/4th or 5th OF, he's not bad - esp if Molitor uses him in a platoon. 

    • bluechipper, d-mac, Tom Froemming and 1 other like this
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ashburyjohn
Jan 09 2017 06:54 PM

Why is everyone ready to jettison Grossman?Sure, his defense is crap but he can take a walk - something our team lacks. I trust his hitting ability a lot more than I trust Vargas and (sadly) Park right now.As a back-up DH/4th or 5th OF, he's not bad - esp if Molitor uses him in a platoon. 

Backup-DH. That's how you list him first. Roster spots are too precious for that.

 

Your defense of him is how I indict him. :)

    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, Physics Guy and 2 others like this

 

Why is everyone ready to jettison Grossman?Sure, his defense is crap but he can take a walk - something our team lacks. I trust his hitting ability a lot more than I trust Vargas and (sadly) Park right now.As a back-up DH/4th or 5th OF, he's not bad - esp if Molitor uses him in a platoon. 

 

Robbie Grossman let the team in OBP. I like that and have used it as a reason to keep him. However...

 

The problem is that neither Rosario or Kepler are sure to be MLB average hitters. Buxton may or may not be, but his elite CF will keep him in the lineup unless he is very, very bad at the plate.

When looking to rest outfielders occasionally it makes it difficult if your 4th OF is a complete disaster as a fielder. This is an issue, and one I cannot reconcile. Tough decision to be made. Let your team leader in OBP walk away?

Vargas is a very good hitter against LH pitching (.800 OPS in 2016). He and Mauer need to platoon.

Sadly, I don't see Molitor doing that.

    • glunn likes this
Is it a sure thing that Grossman will be a disaster in the field this season? He was bad last year for sure, but previous years he seemed at least passable. Not impossible he can be a functioning LF in a part time role.
    • d-mac likes this

 

Is it a sure thing that Grossman will be a disaster in the field this season? He was bad last year for sure, but previous years he seemed at least passable. Not impossible he can be a functioning LF in a part time role.

 

I looked it up on Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, only to confirm that you are right.

He was incredibly bad in CF in 2013, but Buxton, Rosario and Kepler can all play CF.

 

For some reason Grossman was unusually terrible in 2016. Seems that his 2014 stats and his 2015 stats are passable. In fact in 2014 he was a slightly plus OF in 865 innings.

    • d-mac and BuxtonBandwagon like this
Maturity by Sano, Kepler, Buxton, Polanco, and yes I think even Roaario will go a long way to making this team semi competitive. But until they fill the black hole at SS and seriously upgrade the SP, they will never be printing playoff tickets as the second WC. If we keep Dozier, meaning Polanco plays SS, or EE, and we then spend the first half of the year trying to decide which 5 of our multitude of SP will be able to pitch into the 6th inning, the season will again be over in May!
    • Mike Sixel, Taildragger8791 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.

Welcome to Twins Daily.

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HitInAPinch
Jan 10 2017 04:32 AM

 

Is it a sure thing that Grossman will be a disaster in the field this season? He was bad last year for sure, but previous years he seemed at least passable. Not impossible he can be a functioning LF in a part time role.

My Kingdom for "at least passable" players.  ;)