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Game Thread Twins @ Royals 6:05pm cdt 8/8/2020ad

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 09:02 PM
1. Dedication: If i were clever, i would dedicate this game thread to the pioneers of Twins Daily. But i wasn't around in the before time...
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Where are they now? Ex-Twins in 2020

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 09:52 PM
I said in the 2019 thread that I would start this forum thread...    Let's start populating it. How many former Twins are on ro...
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Future Roster Transactions

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 03:39 PM
Jake Odorizzi gets activated today to face the Royals, filling out the 28-man active roster which will include 16 (!) pitchers. The way t...
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Royce Lewis on YouTube

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 10:16 PM
Twins top prospect Royce Lewis started his own YouTube page since the quarantine started. He's posted several entries. Some are short. So...
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2020 Twins Transactions

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:16 PM
There haven't been many yet, but I'll start this today...   The Twins just announced that Zack Littell (hamstring) has been placed o...
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The 12 Free Agents of Twins-mas: Part I – Infielders

The holidays are around the corner with the end of this treacherous decade for Minnesota postseason baseball finally in sight. Although the twelve days of Christmas aren’t due for another two weeks (yes, they are AFTER Christmas), the five days of the Baseball Winter Meetings quickly coming to an end.
Image courtesy of © Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports
With the hottest of hot gloves, Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon, off the market, there are still hundreds of eligible free agents, eagerly awaiting the name on the front of their next jerseys. While the Twins have their work cut out for them in bolstering their rotation (looking at you, Ryu), there are still small, yet prominent holes that need to be plugged throughout the team.

This three-part series will cover the twelve free agents that the Twins should spend the remainder of their payroll on this holiday season. Stay tuned for Part II – Outfielders and Part III – Pitchers in the coming weeks. Feel free to sing along. No turtle doves were harmed in the making of this list.

First FA of Twins-mas: Justin Smoak, 1B

2019 salary: $4.25M
Twins should offer: 1 year, $5M

Justin Smoak was a part of a team whose core included Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and Edwin Encarnacion, who collectively led the Toronto Blue Jays to divisional dominance in the AL East for much of the 2010’s. Just like the three aforementioned players, Justin Smoak is looking for a new home. However, unlike Donaldson and Encarnacion, Smoak has struggled to match his offensive numbers after an All-Star bid in 2017. In 2019, Smoak hit .208/.342/.406 and a meager 22 home runs, in the year of the (allegedly) juiced ball.

However, at 33-years-old, Smoak still has a few years left in his prime. In addition, the Twins have a gap in their lineup at first base. Although Miguel Sano is a potential substitute in this position, his defensive metrics are a cause for concern. In 100 games in 2019, Sano committed a total of 19 errors and held a fielding percentage of .956 at first base, far below the league average of .993. In 89 games, Smoak committed only four errors, with a fielding percentage of .995.

However, the elephant in Smoak’s locker room is the concern for his offensive production in 2020. The “Bomba Squad” campaign showed that defense is not always key with this team. Having someone like Smoak to ensure that each defensive stone is turned can be key in close, divisional games. This will also bring great ease to Twins fans across the territory, who collectively groaned far too many times in 2019 due to missed defensive plays by Sano.

Lastly, with the retirement of Joe Mauer and the loss of Kyle Gibson to the Texas Rangers, the team could use a veteran presence. Justin Smoak is widely known as a “clubhouse guy” and was a fan favorite in Canada during his tenure with the Blue Jays. Smoak can be a great leader for the numerous, young Twins, while quickly becoming a fan favorite in Minnesota as well.

In this free agent market, first basemen are not a dime-a-dozen. Therefore, the Twins should invest in Justin Smoak as a defensive key to improve the team from 26th in the league in fielding percentage, to at the minimum, league average.

Second FA of Twins-mas: Greg Bird, 1B

2019 salary: $1.2M
Twins offer: Minor League Deal

Greg Bird had a long, frustrating, and very disappointing tenure with the Yankees. Every step forward launched seven steps back and an even longer stint on the injured list. The man who was once deemed “the future of the Yankees” was kicked out of his nest in the Bronx earlier this winter. Despite being a free agent for this first time in his career, there has been little to no activity in potential landing spots for Bird.

The Bad: Bird missed all of 2016 due to injury.

The Ugly: He has only played in 186 games since 2015.

For reference, Jorge Polanco played the most games for the Twins last year, at 153 games. There’s only one thing going for Greg Bird at this point: he’s 27-years-old.

It’s no secret that the Bronx isn’t a welcoming playground for struggling players (remember Sonny Gray?). However, Bird’s 2019 spring training statistics are a glimmer of hope for a resurgence. He hit an impressive .333/.500/.643, which shows that the pieces are still there, somewhere underneath the injuries. In a more welcoming environment such as Minnesota, where Bird would not face the same pressure to perform right away, he might thrive. With little to no pressure for Bird to join the roster, he can take the time that is needed to re-establish himself in the minor leagues.

If betting on Bird pays off, it could pay off big time. In the scenario that future first baseman and Marwin Gonzalez both face injuries, which occurred in 2019, Bird could be a highly effective substitute. Although his sample size is small, Greg Bird has had solid defensive numbers at first base, with his fielding percentage consistently hovering near 1.000. Lastly, Greg Bird was an effective asset in the playoffs when he was healthy enough to join the postseason roster. In two postseasons with the Yankees, Greg Bird put up .250/.421/.500. For reference, only Luis Arraez, Eddie Rosario, and Jorge Polanco had better numbers for all three stats in the short-lived 2019 postseason.

It takes one spark to create a forest fire. If the Twins sign Greg Bird to a minor league deal, and it doesn’t work out as intended, the Twins don’t lose out long term, unlike committing a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal to an older player whose future is also uncertain. However, if Greg Bird finds his groove, he could find himself in a critical role on the Twins’ roster. Did I mention that Bird is currently playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic and looks the healthiest he has been since spring training? Let’s keep an eye on this bird.

Third FA of Twins-mas: C.J. Cron, 1B

2019 salary: $4.8M
Twins offer: 2 year, $12M

This last free agent slot was a difficult one to fill. Josh Donaldson is an obvious choice, and as one of the many villains of Target Field with a spectacular tenure with the Braves in 2019, I have no doubts about his performance. With only $33M left in payroll for the Twins to commit to in 2020 (please read this), I would like to see as much of this allocated to other necessities, such as signing a primo pitcher for first half of the next decade. Therefore, the final FA on this list is another bargain with an even more familiar face.

C.J. Cron had a decent year with the Twins. Cron first brushed with the injured list on July 7 with thumb inflammation. After this, he faced on and off stints on the IL until the postseason, where his .200 batting average clearly indicated that his thumb injury was still lingering. Prior to his first stint on the IL in July, Cron hit 266/.326/.495 with 17 homers and 18 doubles in 78 games. His season ended with just eight more home runs and six more doubles.

On the defensive side, Cron is solid and consistent. In 2018 and 2019, Cron put up positive values for Rtot/year. His defensive measures have consistently improved year over year from his first season in the majors with the Angels in 2014. His fielding percentage in 2019 was .992 and he turned 87 double plays, the highest in his career, despite any potential hindrance from his injury.

Cron underwent thumb surgery in October and will be ready for spring training. Despite the unfortunate injury which tainted Cron’s overall performance, Cron’s consistency and persistence show that he can continue to be an asset in Minnesota if he is given a second chance here. At 29-years-old, Cron still has prime years for the Twins to invest in with plenty to prove in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. I am hoping that the man with the best walk-up song in 2019 makes an eventual return to Target Field.

Editor's Note: Rena is a new contributor to Twins Daily. You can find her on Twitter @renabanena.

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35 Comments

I think I'd go with Cron. He would probably be a place holder and I think he has the highest floor of those 3. If he has a good season the 6 million gives us a lot more flexibility to add pitching. Was Cron a good fit in clubhouse?
    • Oldgoat_MN and mikelink45 like this

Donaldson.

    • Twins33, TNTwinsFan and LeePinLee like this

Smak and Bird are the types of free agents teams loke the Royals should persue on one year deals. Cheap players that if they do not rebound you can cut, if they do well you can trade to a contender needing a bat

    • Riverbrian likes this
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yeahyabetcha
Dec 13 2019 06:10 AM
Pass on all. Spend the money on pitching.
    • mikelink45 and tarheeltwinsfan like this

If Bird is finally healthy he might be worth a look, especially at the cheaper salary. He can launch some bombs when he's not hurt.

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Tom Froemming
Dec 13 2019 07:24 AM

Justin Smoak wasn't really on my radar, but now I'm intrigued (assuming they're motivated to keep Sano at third base). He put up similar overall production to Cron but is a much more patient hitter, something I think the lineup could benefit from. His BABIP dropped to .223 last year, so he seems like a good bet to put up more impressive overall numbers in 2020. That had been .297, .285 and .295 the previous three seasons. 

    • Danchat, tarheeltwinsfan, lukeduke1980 and 2 others like this

On a minor league contract with a spring training invite I'd be in on Bird. However, given the injury history, if it was anything more than that I'd pass.

 

 

    • Mike Sixel, Riverbrian and beckmt like this
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Aerodeliria
Dec 13 2019 08:25 AM
I'll pass on all three as well, but if we don't move Sano, I'd take a flyer on Smoak.
    • mikelink45 likes this
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Aerodeliria
Dec 13 2019 08:27 AM
On 2nd thought, Smoak had a precipitous and unexpected drop off a cliff with his BA. One has to wonder if he was dinged up or he just felt uncomfortable in Toronto. Maybe we should throw some cash his direction.
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strumdatjaguar
Dec 13 2019 08:32 AM
Cron is the only one worthy one of that trio. Better yet, about moving Sano to 1B and starting Marwin Gonzalez at 3B (Adrianza as a sub). Injuries and other factors may give an opportunity to a worthy prospect (like Arraez last season).
    • Riverbrian and mikelink45 like this

Wow do the options begin to look bad as we move to this part of the FA season.Of the three Cron, by far.Then it is Rooker, Raley, Kiriloff on my list.Who knows - maybe it will be Cave with Wade 4th OF. 

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

I'm open to them as placeholders. So much depends if Sano moves to 1B or where Kirilloff fits (replacing Rosario or at 1B).

 

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sweetmusicviola16
Dec 13 2019 08:57 AM

I'd prefer Mitch Moreland as a 1B sign. Bird on an milb? Sure.

 

Then wait for whoever is ready among Raley, Rooker, Larnach, Kirriloff.

 

On 2nd thought, Smoak had a precipitous and unexpected drop off a cliff with his BA. One has to wonder if he was dinged up or he just felt uncomfortable in Toronto. Maybe we should throw some cash his direction.

 

I think there may have been a new U.S. tariff, on Canadian batting averages...

    • USAFChief, Riverbrian, Oldgoat_MN and 3 others like this
Why can't M. Gonzales play 1st base?? Our seats are in Sec 108 and we ladies enjoy watching him on First Base! And I think he is a little quicker than Sano...or Buxton so he doesn't run into anything.....I feel like the Twins are waiting to get a Holiday deal and we all know how that goes....everything is picked over on Dec 24th....
    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

Still need a good defensive Shortstop.

 

Teams that succeed need to be good defensively. Then after they find a Shortstop they need to find a way to get Buxton to play 150 games in a season.

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this

Marwin's bat is not good enough for him to be your everyday 1B. I'd make an offer to Smoakie. He's a good guy and took good AB's against the Twins last year. 

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whosafraidofluigirussolo
Dec 13 2019 07:58 PM

 

Justin Smoak wasn't really on my radar, but now I'm intrigued (assuming they're motivated to keep Sano at third base). He put up similar overall production to Cron but is a much more patient hitter, something I think the lineup could benefit from.

 

I didn't get any farther with an offseason "blueprint" than drafting it in my head beforetransaction dominoes started to fall and it became outdated, but I had Smoak in it for just this reason. Also if others outperformed him such that he lost a regular starting gig, being a switch-hitter might give him a bit of extra utility as a bench bat.

I think you make an error comparing the fielding percentage of 3b to 1b.The hot corner as far as I can tell suffers historically the worst natural fielding% on the diamond, while first base generally enjoys the best.If Sano was a first baseman, his fld% would likely be in the 990s too.  

None of these options are anything approaching a plan unless February comes and nothing else has materialized.  

 

I'm personally wedded to the idea of getting Araez as many appearances as possible at various positions.I'm curious why he's not in the 3b conversation.Singing any of these guys to the major league roster would cut into his time more than anyone else. 

    • Riverbrian likes this

Don't think it'll happen, but I'd rather see a 3B added.Sano/Marwin/Garver man 1B.And, of course, pitching.

Healthy, the FO convinced he is healthy, I'm still in on Cron.

Secondary option, think I like a bounceback by Shaw over Smoak or Moreland.

In the interest of saving money for pitching, could an Iglesias signing make sense?Polanco to 2B,Arraez, Marwin play 3B.Sano, Garver, Marwin play 1B.

 

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Dec 14 2019 08:30 AM

 

In the interest of saving money for pitching, could an Iglesias signing make sense?Polanco to 2B,Arraez, Marwin play 3B.Sano, Garver, Marwin play 1B.

Exactly

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Battle ur tail off
Dec 14 2019 09:32 AM

Puke to all of them. If you are going to sign retreads and bargain basement guys, I would rather they just give the job to one of the younger guys in our system that has earned it. No need to waste money on this type of signing when you will get the same production from your system at the league minimum. 

    • Mike Sixel likes this

 

Smak and Bird are the types of free agents teams loke the Royals should persue on one year deals. Cheap players that if they do not rebound you can cut, if they do well you can trade to a contender needing a bat

 

Minor league deal only for a contender.