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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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HitInAPinch
Jan 10 2017 04:40 AM

 

 

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.

I Googled "percent of left handed pitchers in mlb 2016".

 

Left-handed pitchers accounted for about 28 percent of all plate appearances since 2010.

 

So, Vargas would be playing only 28% of the time?IMO, I think I would have taken one of those alleged trade offers for Vargas.Or maybe the Dodger would take him?  LOL

 

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

 

Of course the ball is different:  

 

international_league2.jpg

 

New-Major-League-Baseball-for-2015-Rob-M

 

 

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Halsey Hall
Jan 10 2017 09:00 AM

The seams are higher on the International league ball.I pointed that out to a couple coaches a few years back and they didn't know why.I found out - they're cheaper to make.

    • Thrylos, Doomtints and HitInAPinch like this

 

The seams are higher on the International league ball.I pointed that out to a couple coaches a few years back and they didn't know why.I found out - they're cheaper to make.

 

Unreal.  A multi-billion dollar industry, and they don't use the same ball in AAA as in the majors (probably other parts of the minors also). Talk about setting up players for failure....

    • Doomtints and dbminn like 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.

Depends on how you define "passable", I suppose.  Is a Grossman level defender really "passable" considering our already precarious pitching?

 

FWIW, TotalZone has never really liked Grossman (-12 and -19 Rtot/yr figures preceding his -29 with the Twins last year).  Combined with observation, I wouldn't be surprised if his overall metrics are finally trending toward his true talent level in the field, even if he's not quite as bad as 2016 suggested.  Over his career, just in LF, he now averages -12 UZR/150, -13 Rtot/yr, and -15 Rdrs/yr..

 

Given the current roster, I guess I still might roll with him and hope he has another hot start and maybe you can flip him to an aggressive team at the trade deadline for something interesting like we did with Nunez and Abad.  Although if another interesting outfield candidate comes available, I might rather drop Grossman and put Rosario more in the 4th OF role.

    • Mike Sixel and Vanimal46 like 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.

 

Most likely Grossman is neither the bad defender he was in 2016 nor is he the great hitter he was in 2016. He is going to regress on both ends.

    • spycake and Vanimal46 like this

 

Unreal.  A multi-billion dollar industry, and they don't use the same ball in AAA as in the majors (probably other parts of the minors also). Talk about setting up players for failure....

 

Every single league has its own balls.  So they use a different ball in AAA International League and in AAA Pacific Coast League even...

 

Every single league has its own balls.  So they use a different ball in AAA International League and in AAA Pacific Coast League even...

 

really? wow. How is that good for development of pitchers?

    • Doomtints 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.

 

Ehhh.....I'd wait another two seasons.  None of the guys has been consistently productive yet.  Way to early yet to commit big bucks to them IMO.

    • Mike Sixel, Oldgoat_MN and d-mac like this

 

really? wow. How is that good for development of pitchers?

 

Or position players for that matter. A cheaper, looser ball probably doesn't carry the same way. 

 

I would think that the economy of scale would render the "cheaper to buy" argument moot pretty fast. The MLB is already making the balls. If they use the same balls, they would become cheaper for everybody.

    • Mike Sixel and d-mac 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.

 

Akbar? I hope it's not a trap. 

    • USAFChief, diehardtwinsfan, snepp and 3 others like this

 

Or position players for that matter. A cheaper, looser ball probably doesn't carry the same way. 

 

I would think that the economy of scale would render the "cheaper to buy" argument moot pretty fast. The MLB is already making the balls. If they use the same balls, they would become cheaper for everybody.

 

Which is why I don't buy the "cheaper to make argument." Doesn't make sense from a basic economics standpoint. Why set up multiple processes to make multiple ball types? Streamlined production of one ball should be cheaper. 

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Halsey Hall
Jan 10 2017 04:45 PM

If you look closely at the photo you can see how MLB ball is strung tighter, hence the lower profile. Why they use all these different balls is beyond me.You'd think the balls would be uniform.

    • Mike Sixel likes this
I think we all love playing amateur GM. I know I do! LOL The whole point of this is not what moves could the Twins make to be a contending team. That would take some serious lightening! And it's not just about working on the rebuild. It's also about this upcoming season, team needs, and what makes the Twins, overall, a better team to be more competitive and win more games.

And that's not just about appeasing us fans or putting butts in the seats. It's about a rebuilding team also learning how to win. You don't want to simply sign mediocre veterans for a few games of improvement. And you don't want to just say, "this guy has talent and potential so we'll just promote him and see if he sinks or swims." There has to be a balance.

Do the Twins have a legitimate need for a solid, quality 4th OF? Yes. Does signing one block Granite or Palka? No. Granite has no time above AA and Palka less than half a season. What's smarter, let them play every day for now at AAA or throw them to the ML wolves and spend most of their time on the bench?

If Dozier is traded, do the Twins have a need for another solid, quality option in the infield? Yes. Is Gordon ready? No. Despite a great glove and a bit of hitting potential and speed, (remembering he did suffer through a few nagging injuries this past season), mean Vielma is ready to jump from AA? I don't see how. Does signing someone to a 1 or 2 year deal really affect Gordon's or Vielma's arrival or block them? No.

Do the Twins have a closer option they can count on to deepen the bullpen and actually help close out and win games? No. Is winning games a good thing? Yes. Despite talent and real potential, are Burdi, Hildenberger, Reed and Melotakis really ready to jump from AA to the majors right now?

The whole point is, simply, there are real options out there to actually fill holes, improve the team, get more wins, without really blocking anyone or getting hung up on big or long term contracts. And isn't what we all want a better, more competitive team with more wins?
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TheLeviathan
Jan 10 2017 09:00 PM

 

Which is why I don't buy the "cheaper to make argument." Doesn't make sense from a basic economics standpoint. Why set up multiple processes to make multiple ball types? Streamlined production of one ball should be cheaper. 

 

This thread took a weird turn.

    • d-mac likes this

 

Ehhh.....I'd wait another two seasons.  None of the guys has been consistently productive yet.  Way to early yet to commit big bucks to them IMO.

 

You wait two years and two things:

 

1.) In two years, these guys are way less likely to want to sign, even at a higher price. They can sniff free agency and the risk-reward equation for them changes. They can wait two years and get the huge payday and that's pretty tempting, especially since they can take out insurance policies to guard against injury

 

2) You don't get much of a deal. The Evan Longaria deal was amazing because The Devil Rays gambled and committed assets prior to him getting big. He got the guaranteed payday and they got a chance to have an amazing asset. If you want that amazing asset, you need to make that gamble. IMO, Buxton is a guy who is very much worth that. I'm not sure what the numbers would be but his floor (AKA he hits .225) is still decent CF because of his speed and defense - I'm not sure that anything you signed this offseason would be crippling. I can see arguments against Sano, Kepler and Berrios because that floor is much lower but to me the gamble is worth it. The Twins have budget room they're not likely to spend since they don't have needs easily fixed with free agents. That money should be used to try to hedge future costs if their young guns take off.

 

I'm bad with current contract numbers so someone will likely need to tweak these who pays more attention to that but if you offered Buxton 7 years and $70-$80 million, he'd be a fool not to take it right? He could bust and still cash in. He'd still hit the market at age 29 (so he'd have a chance for another big contract). And for the Twins, it would buy out two years of his free agency and $10 millionish a year is not going to break the bank. If even two out of Buxton, Kepler, Berrios and Sano hit, you've killed it.

 

Hopefully new management is more forward thinking.

    • BuxtonBandwagon likes this
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Halsey Hall
Jan 11 2017 03:24 PM

The addition of the two pitchers today could help.Vogelsong wasn't great after coming back from the line drive to the face, but then who would be.I can see him possibly helping the rotation.

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nicksaviking
Jan 18 2017 10:11 PM

http://m.startribune...eran/410968995/

Per La Velle, Molitor is campaigning for a veteran presence in the clubhouse. La Velle rightfully suggests it likely would have to be an outfielder. He name drops my horse in the race, Ryan Rayburn.

But most importantly, and really the only reason I'm posting this is due to this excerpt:

--We'll see if Falvine can come up with a player or two for Molitor before camp opens.--

Falvine? As in Falvey and Lavine? Seriously, are we really doing this? In the spots section of a major market newspaper no less.
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Deduno Abides
Jan 18 2017 10:21 PM
Would be good to move Polanco to second, which is likely his long-term position. For shortstop, perhaps someone with experience at the position on a reasonable contract who can also provide some pop and clubhouse leadership, like. . . .


Dozier.

 

really? wow. How is that good for development of pitchers?

 

It teaches "dealing with change"?

 

(It's probably just branding.)

Pitchers tend to move up quicker from AA because "stuff" plays.However do not see more than 1-2 of the current bullpen staff would be on a team that makes a noise in the playoffs.So signing 1-2 relievers on 1 -2 year deals and letting them battle it out would not hurt this club.As long as the deals are not big buck(though I would love Holland on a 2 year deal with no opt out), you are not blocking anyone as you can always either flip(if they are doing well and you need the spot), or just cut bait.

What we needed, but could not do is get rid of excess, clear the decks, allow the young players to move up and if they are not ready get one year fill ins,  but not more DH/1B, no more catchers.  I would love to see a true 3B and Sano as DH and Mauer on the bench for spot starts, and if it is Vargas or Park at 1B for defensive substitution.  

If the twins seek a veteran of Hispanic heritage, and still look to add to the bullpen, may I submit Sergio Romo.  He has plenty of experience as a late inning, high pressure situation reliever.  he certainly has experienced his share of winning, and has been part of a highly regarded clubhouse situation in SF.  He certainly isn't one to shy away from his heritage (he wore a shirt at one of the WS parades that read "I just look illegal", and perhaps could be a veteran influence for the younger Hispanic players.

I realize that he didn't have the best season last year, but that bullpen seemed to just be jinxed or they all had a bad year at the same time.

 

It's something to consider, I'd think....... 

    • Oldgoat_MN and Vanimal46 like this
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Mr. Schneebley
Jan 19 2017 10:34 AM

I think making the argument of signing Mike Napoli has a lot of merit. I am on board with rolling with the DH's that we have. However, with Napoli's experience in the league as well as playoffs success, he does play the role of a leader in the clubhouse as well as being a solid contributor in the lineup daily. Leadership has been vacant on this team since Torii has since left us.

 

I also think it is fair to say that with Napoli's playoff success that he would carry more trade value than say a Chris Carter or even Mark Trumbo. There is a reason why no body is signing these guys. They do not have the same value they did even a couple years ago. I understand Nap falls into this category, but its the fact that he has proven and sustained success that separates him from the bunch.

 

A consistent threat in the 4 hole would be a great asset for this team. I don't have a number for a contract to throw out, but I think at this stage of the game your looking at a 1-2 year deal.

 

 

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nicksaviking
Jan 19 2017 10:55 AM

 

It teaches "dealing with change"?

 

(It's probably just branding.)

 

Yeah, and I'm an advocate for societal change and evolutoin. However for some reason I have the hardest time dealing with change in decorum of language and journalism. I don't like how casual it has become, but if that's how it's going to be from here on out, I guess I'll just have to suck it up and go along with it.

    • Shaitan likes this