Sizing Up The 2017-18 Offseason
** Before we get started on this overview of the coming offseason, I'll make a quick pitch for your quintessential Hot Stove guide: The 2018 Twins Daily Offseason Handbook is now available for preorder. Click the link to claim your copy, and you'll get it as soon as it's ready, after the postseason concludes. Same deal as last year: name your price. Recommendation is $5, but you can pay as little or as much as you wish. We appreciate any and all support! Plenty more details are on the way in the coming weeks. You can check out last year's edition for an idea of what to expect. **
Midway through Falvey's tenure in Cleveland's front office, the Indians made a leap similar to the one we just saw from the Twins. After finishing in fourth place with 94 losses in 2012, Cleveland improved by 24 wins, earning a Wild Card berth in 2013 but losing to the Rays.
In that case, the sudden emergence was followed by two years of treading water. The Indians won 85 and 81 games the next two seasons, finishing third both times, before rising to win the AL Central and pennant in 2016. This year, of course, they won 102 games and took the division again, but were ousted by the Yankees in the ALDS.
For Falvey and his general manager Thad Levine, the goal is to unseat the current Central champs by following a similar path, but skipping the stagnation. Given the makeup of this roster as we head into the offseason, that's a reasonable objective.
And in fact, while there's been much talk of a measured approach aligning with the big picture, one can argue that the front office should be making a very emphatic championship push in 2018 specifically.
END OF AN ERA?
Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer are both in line to return next year, and we can only hope they'll be as effective as in 2017.
Sustained performance is no given; Mauer turns 35 next April, Dozier 31 in May. Age can become a factor at any time. There's also the matter of their contracts, which both expire after next year. The Twins certainly could bring them back, but it's hardly assured. This may well be the last chance to make a run with both longtime staples as key contributors.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
Here are some important dates worth keeping in mind as we survey the offseason landscape.
Three Days After End of World Series: Contract Options Due. The Twins only have one and it's a no-brainer: they'll exercise a $700,000 buyout to decline the $6.5 million team option for Glen Perkins.
Five Days After End of World Series: Deadline to Make Qualifying Offers to Free Agents. For the five days after the postseason concludes, MLB teams get an exclusive negotiating window with their own free agents. During this time, they can make a qualifying offer, which brings the player back on a one-year (~$18M) contract if accepted, and yields draft pick compensation if they decline and sign elsewhere.
None of the Twins' internal free agents – Matt Belisle, Bartolo Colon, Hector Santiago, Dillon Gee – are worthy of a QO, and it's highly unlikely Minnesota will sign any before the market opens up.
Six Days After End of World Series: Free Agency Open for Business. We don't know much about how this front office will operate yet, but if their first major move was any indication, they are going to be aggressive in pursuing their top targets. Last offseason, the Twins made their interest in Jason Castro known very quickly, and had him signed before the end of November.
Once free agency officially gets underway, we should start hearing rumblings pretty quickly about players that Falvey and Thad Levine are keen on. This is the first offseason where they've had a chance to fully set up a plan going in, so they undoubtedly already have some names in mind.
I suspect they'll be shopping for three things in particular: starting pitchers, relief pitchers and right-handed bats. You can get a deep look at what's available in each of those categories with our Free Agency breakdowns in the Offseason Handbook.
November 13th-16th: GM Meetings. Today's general managers communicate through many different channels to negotiate trades (much of the action happens on Tinder, Levine has joked) but there's still something to be said for an old-fashioned face-to-face discussion. All 30 GMs will be in the same place during this week, with the annual GM Meetings taking place in Orlando. It'll be an opportunity to lay the groundwork with other execs as well as agents.
Falvey and Levine haven't been shy about pulling the trigger on deals thus far, and started up extensive talks with the Dodgers over Dozier last winter around this time.
December 10th-14th: Winter Meetings. One month later, the baseball world will converge once again in Orlando for the Winter Meetings – typically the most active period of the entire offseason. What kinds of shakeups might we see from the Twins?
EXTENSIONS, EXTENSIONS, EXTENSIONS
Some of the biggest storylines of this offseason will surround potential long-term contracts for a number of different players. Last week, John wrote about the merits of locking up Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario ahead of their arbitration years. A day later, Seth pondered what an extension for Dozier might look like as he looks ahead to a walk year. This week, he also took a deeper dive on how a Buxton extension could take shape.
Here at Twins Daily, we'll of course have plenty more coverage of Hot Stove season as it gets piping, with all of the speculation, analysis and up-to-the-minute news you expect. But I promise you this: you are going to want a copy of the Offseason Handbook as a handy resource along the way. Please consider preordering yours now to ensure you receive it the moment it becomes available.
- Cory Engelhardt likes this