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Rosario Placed on Outright Waiver

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https://www.mlbtrade...ht-waivers.html So long, at least temporarily, old friend.
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Let me state I love Cruz and want him back if possible. I not only believe he brings class, experience, knowledge and leadership to the t...
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Re-Creating the Bullpen in the Aggregate

The film Moneyball was recently uploaded to Netflix. Naturally, I watched it the first day it was available because of how hard it slaps (and because it documents the last time the Twins won a playoff series). In it there’s a famous scene where Brad Pitt points out that the scouts were looking at their problem all wrong when it came to free agency. They were trying to replace Jason Giambi, the exiting MVP, instead of re-creating him.
Image courtesy of © Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Giambi was an incredible player who held an eye-popping .477 OBP in 2001. There wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that the A’s could get a similar player at their budget so they decided to reconcile his loss with the other two position players they lost in order to recreate him. Instead of having to find a player with an OBP of .477, they just had to find three players with an OBP of .364 to even out the losses.

Let’s apply this theory to the Twins and their bullpen.

The team is set to lose Trevor May, Tyler Clippard, and Sergio Romo. Romo technically has a team option for 5 million but I’m assuming that the team will decline that. We’re going to use FIP as our guideline stat (read about it here if you don’t understand it). A quick rule is that you read it like how you read ERA. May had a 3.62 FIP in 2020, Romo was at 4.34, and Clippard came in at 2.65. Add those up and divide by three and you get 3.54. That’s the number that we’re looking to either hit or get close to. Here are three relievers who fit this criteria:

Tommy Hunter

Do you know who this is? Good. That just makes this an even better choice. Hunter is a reliever coming off three years in Philadelphia after bouncing around a number of teams. He was once on the Rays which should tell you everything you need to know. Hunter is mainly a sinker/cutter/curve guy who has been able to off-set the velocity loss that comes with old age by increasing the use of his breaking stuff.

But let’s get down to the stats. Hunter had a 3.31 FIP in 2020 and a 3.63 FIP in 2018 (he missed most of 2019 so we can ignore that year). The average of those numbers comes out to 3.47 which is perfectly in the vicinity of what we’re looking for. At the age of 34 he shouldn’t be a majorly sought-after commodity but he can be a useful arm in the Twins’ bullpen.

Greg Holland

We all know who this guy is. As a part of the terrifying three-headed monster that was Kelvin Herrera/Wade Davis/Greg Holland, he crushed the hopes of Twins hitters with incredible ease. It’s been a bit more rough since those prime years, however. Four other teams employed Holland after he left KC to varying degrees of success before he re-joined the Royals in 2020 and found some of his old stuff.

His fastball is no longer the crisp 95-96 that it once was but he sat at 93 on average in 2020 which is still respectable. Instead of the heater, Holland has leaned more on his slider recently and better results have followed. Combining his 2019 FIP of 4.76 and his 2020 FIP of 2.52 gives you 3.64. Again, that’s right in the sweet spot we’re looking for.

Robert Stephenson

We’re transitioning to a trade target for this one. Stephenson is a 27-year-old reliever on the Reds whose 2020 season was nothing but a disaster which is perfect for us. I actually also wrote about Stephenson when Twinsdaily profiled reliever trade targets in 2019 (man, my syntax really sucked back then.) My opinion on Stephenson hasn’t changed much since then.

Stephenson is a failed ex-top prospect who now must find his footing as a two-pitch reliever. He throws his fastball at 94.8 MPH on average but mostly chooses to rely on his devastating slider (thrown at 65.9% of the time in 2020). The pitch resulted in a swinging strike 15.6% of the time in 2019. As I said before, his 2020 was a disaster (12.19 FIP over 10 innings!) but I don’t see this as a fair reflection of his ability. His 2019 FIP was 3.63 and that, once again, is exactly the kind of number we’re looking for.

These three additions give us a FIP of 3.58; essentially the number we were aiming for (3.54). We’ve recreated the lost bullpen arms by finding value in veterans and potential cast-offs. Fangraphs hasn’t updated their crowd-sourced resource for predicting free agent contracts yet so I don’t have a great estimate of how much Hunter and Holland will cost. I can’t imagine it will be much, though. A 1-year deal for around 4 million for each feels about right relievers at their age. Stephenson on the other hand shouldn’t cost more than some low-level prospects. What do you know? Now the Twins have a bullpen again.

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10 Comments

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IndianaTwin
Oct 23 2020 07:22 AM

A nitpick. They didn't all pitch the same amount, so if you weighted the FIPs by innings pitched, the number drops a bit to 3.46.

 

Another reliever I'd certainly include in the list is... Tyler Clippard. His 2.65 this year was better than his career average, but his FIP over the past 11 years is 3.65, right in the range you're talking about. In an age of reliever volatility, he now has a streak of 12 straight years of at least 60 innings (or on pace for that in 2020). And his salary this year was $2.75M. Bring him back at that level. Heck, give him a couple years at that amount. 

    • Original_JB, wabene and Melissa like this

I am not very familiar with pitchers on other teams especially relievers, who is available. Yes, Twins need to find another WIsler this year. Always afraid of aging pitchers, maybe avoid hoping to get one more good year out of a past their prime pitcher.

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Original_JB
Oct 23 2020 07:45 AM

You can't cherry pick your numbers like that; I mean, you can, but it isn't a true reflection of what you're getting.Like: (he missed most of 2019 so we can ignore that year) . No, you can't.Some guys are/get hurt more than others, simply a fact. Now, over the last two of three years, what was the "availability" (to pitch) of our 3 guys you're trying to replace vs. that of your 'prospects'?Total innings pitched? Lefty/Righty splits? For that matter, over the last 3 years, what was the aggregate winning % of the teams/batters that these guys faced? You get a much clearer and 'true' picture then.

 

Stephenson on the other hand shouldn’t cost more than some low-level prospects.

Why would the Reds be motivated to deal Stephenson? He's arb eligible for the first time this winter but MLBTR estimates he may only get $600k, barely more than league minimum. And given the players they have under contract, the Reds intend to contend in 2021 (and should, in a fairly weak division).

 

And it's not like Stephenson is a lost cause -- he was solid in his first year as a full-time reliever in 2019. His issue in 2020, aside from a stint on the IL making an already small sample even smaller, was 8 HR in just 10 IP. 7 of the HR came in just 3 games. It's obviously something they will have to get under control but it doesn't seem too daunting of a task. He's not worth top prospects at this point, obviously, but that doesn't mean the Reds will have any motivation to deal him for low-level prospects.

I like the idea behind targeting a pitcher like Stephenson in a trade with another team but as spycake notes it won't come from a team that is looking to contend like the Reds. 

 

Regarding the options for FA I like resigning Clippard a lot given his low cost and track record of success. May will likely be outside of our price range given the likely reduction in payroll next year but if that depresses the market enough he could potentially be viable to bring back. I think Andrew Chafin might be a good bounceback candidate that shouldn't cost more than 2-3 million tops. Justin Wilson and Anthony Bass are other good options to look at and potentially target as well.

 

You can't cherry pick your numbers like that; I mean, you can, but it isn't a true reflection of what you're getting.Like: (he missed most of 2019 so we can ignore that year) . No, you can't.Some guys are/get hurt more than others, simply a fact. Now, over the last two of three years, what was the "availability" (to pitch) of our 3 guys you're trying to replace vs. that of your 'prospects'?Total innings pitched? Lefty/Righty splits? For that matter, over the last 3 years, what was the aggregate winning % of the teams/batters that these guys faced? You get a much clearer and 'true' picture then.

I'm just following the boundaries set by themovie. David Justice and Scott Hatteburg had OBPs of .333 and .332 respectively in 2001, nowhere near the number they were looking for. 

 

Why would the Reds be motivated to deal Stephenson? He's arb eligible for the first time this winter but MLBTR estimates he may only get $600k, barely more than league minimum. And given the players they have under contract, the Reds intend to contend in 2021 (and should, in a fairly weak division).

 

And it's not like Stephenson is a lost cause -- he was solid in his first year as a full-time reliever in 2019. His issue in 2020, aside from a stint on the IL making an already small sample even smaller, was 8 HR in just 10 IP. 7 of the HR came in just 3 games. It's obviously something they will have to get under control but it doesn't seem too daunting of a task. He's not worth top prospects at this point, obviously, but that doesn't mean the Reds will have any motivation to deal him for low-level prospects.

He's a soon to be 28 year-old reliever with a career ERA and FIP over 5. I think that's motivation right there. 

 

A nitpick. They didn't all pitch the same amount, so if you weighted the FIPs by innings pitched, the number drops a bit to 3.46.

 

Another reliever I'd certainly include in the list is... Tyler Clippard. His 2.65 this year was better than his career average, but his FIP over the past 11 years is 3.65, right in the range you're talking about. In an age of reliever volatility, he now has a streak of 12 straight years of at least 60 innings (or on pace for that in 2020). And his salary this year was $2.75M. Bring him back at that level. Heck, give him a couple years at that amount. 

I'd like Clippard as well. This wasn't meant to be a set-in-stone type of idea but rather a blueprint that can guide which other relievers the team should target. 

Maybe be more pitchers available than you think. Will probably be more nontendered players this year, Stevenson will be kept by Cin. since at minimum but other pitchers in the 3-6 mil range that teams may move on from. Twins may be thinking about nontendering Rogers, can understand argument for this but hope he is back.

 

He's a soon to be 28 year-old reliever with a career ERA and FIP over 5. I think that's motivation right there. 

I guess I am curious what you mean by "low level prospects".

 

Were the Twins motivated to deal May and Duffey a couple years ago? They both entered their age-28 seasons with career ERAs over 5 too (albeit better career FIPs). And arguably neither one of them up until that point had as good of a season in the relief as Stephenson's 2019, his first full-time out of the pen. (Actually quite comparable statistically to May's 2019 season.)

 

Stephenson is far from untouchable, but that doesn't mean they'd flip him just to restock their minor league prospect depth. I suspect they'd want something in return that could help them in 2021, and/or meaningful prospects.