Seth's 2018 Minnesota Twins Offseason Blueprint
With that, let’s get to my blueprint. Again, this is just a fun exercise to make us all think about what we might want the Twins to do. In reality, making actual moves is much more difficult than us typing out our thoughts. I mean, we can just type it. The Twins will have to actually outbid other teams for players. But with that mini-disclaimer, let’s get to my blueprint.
40-Man Roster Construction
Not a fun thing, but obviously planning and constructing a 40-man roster, but it does have to be done. Aside from the players who became a free agent at the end of the World Series (Matt Belisle, Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee, Glen Perkins and Hector Santiago), I would make additional roster spots by designating LHPs Buddy Boshers, Nik Turley and Dietrich Enns, RHP Michael Tonkin and IF/OF Niko Goodrum. I would attempt to bring back Turley, Enns and Goodrum on minor league deals.
Once those roster moves have been made, there will be space to make the necessary additions to the 40-man roster. I would add the following players to the 40-man roster, to protect the Twins from potentially losing them to the Rule 5 draft: Stephen Gonsalves, Zack Littell, Jake Reed, Lewin Diaz, Lewis Thorpe and Nick Burdi. (For more information on these choices, please see my article from earlier this week.)
The Twins have seven players who are arbitration-eligible. Here is what I would decide on those players.
Offer Arbitration to: Ryan Pressly, Eduardo Escobar, Kyle Gibson, Trevor May, Ehire Adrianza
Decline Arbitration to: Chris Gimenez, Robbie Grossman
Note that I think that Robbie Grossman’s on-base skills could mean that he could have some value to another team. I’d prefer to trade him, even if it’s “just” for a C-level prospect. I just couldn’t fit him into my Opening Day roster, and since he’s out of options, this felt like an option.
I mentioned above that I would like the Twins to find a team to trade Robbie Grossman to. I would also like to see the Twins find a trade partner for Kennys Vargas. I don’t think he would have a lot of value, but if you could get a prospect ranked in the 20-30 range from a team, ideally a low-level, but potentially high-ceiling pitching prospect, that would work.
A word of caution, as you see below, I did have the Twins bring in a free agent bat. You will have to consider whether you think that Vargas can be a better option that a bat brought in to be a DH/pinch hitter type.
Over the last several weeks, I have written articles regarding potential extensions for a variety of young Twins players. I personally feel that my “offers” are middle-of-the-road, in which both sides take on some risk and both sides should feel like they got a good deal. So, below, I will jot those downs and use them in my overall budget. Obviously if the pre-arbitration guys don’t want to deal at this time, their 2018 contracts will be less (around $0.6 million, rather than the $1 million that I’ve proposed for 2018). Here are the extensions, pointing out 2018 salary).
- Brian Dozier - 4 years, $65 million extension with option to 5 years, $73 million.
- 2018 value remains $9.0M, though I’d give him a significant signing bonus.
- Byron Buxton - 7 years, $76.5 million extension
- 2018 value at $1.0M
- Miguel Sano- 6 years, $66 million extension with option for 7 years, $86 million. (obviously with Sano's injury and surgery, this becomes more sketchy, but maybe that makes it a perfect time?)
- 2018 value at $1.0M
- Eddie Rosario - 5 years, $28.5 million extension with two option years (6/$40 or 7/$54)
- 2018 value at $1.0M
- Max Kepler - 7 years, $48 million extension with option for 7 years, $61 million
- 2018 value at $1.0M
- Jose Berrios - 7 years, $46 million extension with option for 8 years, $60 million.
- 2018 value at $0.75M
2018: $4.5 million, 2019: $4.5 million, 2020: option for $4.5 million ($0.5M buyout).
Finally, I would reach out to Joe Mauer and his representatives regarding an extension. His long-term contract extension comes to an end at the end of the 2018 season. But we are talking about one of the all-time greats in this organization’s history. He continues to climb the rankings on all-time Twins charts. And, more important to that discussion, he is coming off of a solid 2017 season in which he hit over .300 again, got on base and provided terrific first base defense. I would offer him a two year, $16 million extension for 2019 and 2020. Brent Rooker may be ready to take over at first base, but he can also play in the corner outfield positions. Mauer can play good first base, can DH, can be a pinch hitter, can continue to be a leader and to counsel younger players. If he’s willing to embrace that role and keep playing rather than retire, it’s an ideal situation for the team. Of course, there is no rush to make such a deal. His side may ask for 2 years and $20 million. I’d have no problem with that either.
As those who have followed me for a long time know, I’m not big into free agency as a way to develop a winning organization. However, I do believe that if you have a core of talented players, free agency can help complement that core and get you to the next level. With that in mind, I look for the Twins to add a few nice pieces via free agency this offseason. I don’t expect them to go out and spend wildly.
Address the Bullpen:
Yes, signing a Wade Davis to a 5 year, $80 million deal might make some sense to some. It’s great to have a dominant, reliable guy at the back end. For me, I would rather not add one reliever for that amount. Instead, I would recommend signing two reliable guys for almost half of that amount.
With that said, I would sign left-hander Jake McGee to a 3 year, $24 million deal and install him as the closer. Next, I would attempt to sign long-time Cleveland reliever Bryan Shaw by offering him a three year, $20 million deal. There certainly is enough money involved to call it risky. The Twins still have a lot of quality relief pitching prospects, but having depth is important, and having a couple of lock-down guys at the end is a good thing. Moving others down the usage spectrum will allow them to further develop, and if they become more and more reliable, it’s best for the whole team.
And, if Glen Perkins is interested in playing again in 2018, bring him back on a minor league contract with a whole bunch of reachable incentives. It could be structured such that he will retire at the end of spring training if he doesn’t make the team. It could be structured such that he would be willing to continue pitching in Ft. Myers for a month - until the weather in Rochester is good - at which point he could go up there for a month before he can make another decision. The details can be worked out, but if Perkins is interested in coming back, he should be able to do so. And if he gets closer to his old self, imagine a bullpen with Jake McGee, Taylor Rogers and Glen Perkins in it!
Address the Starting Rotation:
I suggest signing a guy like Chris Tillman to a one year, $5.0 million deal. Tillman is coming off of a really non-good 2017 season in Baltimore, but a year earlier, he went 16-6 and was generally pretty solid. He can start the season as the #5 starter, but he has the potential to be a quality, reliable starter. It can be a make-good deal for him that could turn into a bigger deal next offseason. (Note - if you want to replace Tillman with someone like Tyson Ross or Derek Holland or the like, I’m fine with that too.)
In doing do, you can also allow a couple of hopefully cornerstone starters a couple of months in AAA to further develop. First, Stephen Gonsalves has been consistently good throughout his minor league career. Each year at midseason, he gets promoted a level and pitches well. Then he starts the next season at the same level and takes a nice step forward in his development. He moved up to AAA late last season and did all right. Now he can use another half season (at most) in Rochester to put in the final developmental steps before calling him up in June (or earlier as needed).
Secondly, Trevor May is coming back from Tommy John surgery. While it may or may not be clear whether he will be a starter long-term, bringing him back from Tommy John in a controlled environment where it’s more conducive to bringing him back wisely makes sense. Set a comeback plan for him as a starter, and let him determine when he is physically ready to come back up.
Sign 1B/DH Mark Reynolds to a one year, $4 million deal.
A year ago, the Twins were said to be a contender for veteran right-handed bat Mike Napoli. Well, Napoli will be available for the Twins again this year, and at a much lower price tag. He’s 36, so is Napoli done? He did hit 29 homers despite an awful 2017 season. I personally prefer Reynolds (34), another high-power, high-strikeout, right-handed, veteran bench bat. Earlier I mentioned that you’ll have to determine whether Kennys Vargas can provide as much value. The answer isn’t easy.
I’d also consider signing Melvin Upton to a minor league contract. Twins need outfield depth at AAA, and the big league club could use a right-handed hitting backup outfielder. Upton was on a minor league deal last year and was not good in AAA, but it’d be a nice flyer. Also, Zack Granite has always had reverse splits at every level through his career, so he’s a terrific fourth outfield option against left-handers.
As you saw earlier, I non-tendered Chris Gimenez, but there is a ton of value in having minor league catchers who are good defensively and work well with pitchers. In my opinion, I would sign at least two AAA level minor leagues, guys who are known to work well with pitchers. With Mitch Garver in the big leagues, the Twins do not have much catcher depth in the upper levels. With so many potential big league arms who will pitch in Rochester in 2018, it’s very important to find veteran catchers who can work with them. Take a look at what a potential Red Wings rotation and bullpen could look like. That’s a lot of talent.
Here is a look at the payroll with the roster designed above:
C: Jason Castro - $8.0M
1B: Joe Mauer - $23.0M
2B: Brian Dozier - $9.0M
3B: Miguel Sano - $1.0M
SS: Jorge Polanco - $0.55M
LF: Eddie Rosario - $1.0M
CF: Byron Buxton - $1.0M
RF: Max Kepler - $1.0M
DH: Mark Reynolds - $4.0M
C: Mitch Garver - $0.55M
UT: Eduardo Escobar - $4.5M
UT: Ehire Adrianza - $1.0M
OF: Zack Granite - $0.55M
Hitters Total: $55.15M
SP: Ervin Santana - $13.5M
SP: Jose Berrios - $0.75M
SP: Kyle Gibson - $4.5M
SP: Adalberto Mejia - $0.55M
SP: Chris Tillman - $5.0M
RP: Jake McGee - $8.0M
RP: Bryan Shaw - $6.0M
RP: Trevor Hildenberger - $0.55M
RP: Taylor Rogers - $0.6M
RP: Ryan Pressly - $2.0M
RP: Alan Busenitz - $0.55M
RP: Tyler Duffey - $0.6M
Pitchers Total: $42.6M
Phil Hughes - $13.2M (while he should be ready by spring training or early in the season, I think that planning should go on as if he won’t play, and if he is, great.)
Byungho Park - $6.0M
Trevor May - $1.0M
“Other” Total: $20.2M
Total Payroll: $117.95M
I’m not messing with the core of young players. I’m looking to extend as many of them as possible. I’m assuming the young players will continue to improve, and improve as a group. I’m just supplementing them with one right-handed bat.
Pitching is where the needs are. While there are arms coming, I am picking up one veteran starter who can either be a surprise for the season, or provide depth, and more important at this point, allow them to be more patient with Gonsalves and May. With guys like Slegers and Jorge and eventually Littell and Fernando Romero also coming soon, I would sign a veteran at a low dollar value, but one who has some level of potential.
And, I do think that it is important for the Twins to add at least one, maybe two quality relievers. I don’t believe in paying the top-level guys like Wade Davis. Instead, I would prefer to get two in that second tier, and that’s where McGee and Shaw lie. That would give the Twins bullpen more depth. At the same time, the Twins still have some high-potential bullpen arms that can continue to develop. Ryan Pressly gets another shot. I believe Tyler Duffey can be a terrific late-inning reliever. If that kind of potential is working and improving in the 6th and 7th innings, I’ll feel really good about the Twins bullpen.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think of my blueprint and philosophies? What does your Twins offseason blueprint look like? Comment on my blueprint here, and then create your own blueprint in the forums or by creating your own blog.
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