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Jake Odorizzi, What's going on w/ him?

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Twins struggle with free agency

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One less Grove to pick from...

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Joe Musgrove to the Padres...who else   https://www.mlbtrade...e-musgrove.html   Feel free to rant, rave, bemoan, lament all th...
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J.A Happ?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 11:14 AM
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Free Agency / Re-Signings 2020-21 Offseason

Other Baseball Yesterday, 04:20 PM
Free agency is likely going to be a really slow burn this year, but I still think it's worth having a thread to discuss signings. ...
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The Mysterious Release of Matt Wisler

Who was Jack the Ripper? Where is Jimmy Hoffa? What became of the Ark of the Covenant?
On Wednesday night, a new mystery entered the annals of great unknowns: Why did the Twins front office non-tender Matt Wisler, one of their most resounding success stories?

Ever the intrepid gumshoe, I set out to investigate.
Image courtesy of Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Here are the facts, as we know them:
  • The Twins claimed Matt Wisler off waivers from Seattle on October 29th of last year, and tendered him a $725,000 contract via arbitration. Evidently they saw something they felt they could unlock in the 27-year-old, coming off a 5.61 ERA with the Padres and Mariners.
  • They unlocked it. Wisler enjoyed a breakout season in 2020, albeit in the small sample of 60 games. Relying almost entirely on a fully realized slider, the right-hander was nearly unhittable, posting a 1.07 ERA in 25 ⅓ innings while holding opponents to a 1.65 batting average.
  • Here in his second turn at arbitration, Wisler was expected to make somewhere between $1-2 million, a seemingly nominal fee for a 28-year-old relief pitcher coming off a breakout season. (Especially with Trevor May, Sergio Romo, and Tyler Clippard all cast into free agency.)

Everything was lined up such that Wisler was never viewed as much of a question mark. Bringing him back was a given. Even if the Twins looked at Wisler more as a middle reliever than setup man, there was no reason to think he'd be cut loose.

And yet.

When Wednesday's non-tender deadline came, that is exactly what the Twins did. I was baffled. About an hour after this news dropped, I did a live-stream with Seth and David. We strained to make sense of the move but it was tough.

Even if the Twins viewed Wisler's 1.07 ERA as an unsustainable fluke (it was), and even if they felt his agent was pushing a little hard, and even if budget constraints are tightening in this offseason of uncertainty ... it's just hard to comprehend why the front office would cut ties with a pickup that was everything they could've hoped.

In my state of despair, I wandered over to Wisler's FanGraphs page, with no specific intention. "Maybe I'll just gaze longingly at his swinging strike rate," I thought. But as I arrived at the page...

Attached Image: wisler1.png

And scrolled down to look at his stats...

Attached Image: wisler2.png

My eyes suddenly zeroed in on one particular region...

Attached Image: wisler3.png

Again, we are dealing with a small sample size here. So everything must be taken with a grain of salt, including Wisler's shiny ERA and opponents' batting average. But these underlying numbers make you wonder a little more about those glossy bona fides.
  • .241 BABIP: Opponents were less successful on balls in play against Wisler than ever before, by a longshot. His previous career low was .277, and his 2020 BABIP ranked as second-lowest in the Twins bullpen.
  • 99.3% LOB: This represents the percentage of baserunners that Wisler left on base, and if you find yourself exclaiming "WHAT?!" you are not alone my friend. That is an incredible number. As I ventured over to his Baseball Reference splits, I found that Wisler held opponents to a .080/.179/.160 slash line with runners in scoring position, and .119/.260/.190 with men on base. One could argue this signifies cold-blooded clutchness. One could also argue it represents a 25-inning fluke. I think I know which way the Twins lean.
  • 5.7% HR/FB: Wisler was one of the league's most extreme fly ball pitchers (his 23.6% grounder rate ranked 6th-lowest out of 323 pitchers with 20+ innings) but those flies only left the yard at a 5.7% rate, compared to the league average of 14.8%.

Now, none of these on their own are damning. But each of the above metrics tends to be viewed as relatively random for pitchers ... as opposed to say missing bats, which Wisler did well, or limiting walks, which he didn't.

What these numbers do is cast a little more light on why the Twins front office might've disagreed with the assessment of Wisler and his agent, as Derek Falvey put it so diplomatically:

So for now, Wisler is out of the picture. Meanwhile, Trevor May has signed a deal with the Mets. Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard are free agents. The Twins are sticking with Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, and Caleb Thielbar.

As for the rest of their bullpen? Now we have our next great mystery.

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Doctor Gast
Dec 03 2020 05:44 AM

I believed the FO did their best to work out what they believed to be a reasonable offer to all that were in arbitration. Also I believe the FO are confident that they have found many ways where they can maximize their options&not to go after deals like Snell.

Wisler and Dobnak were two pitchers that always seemed to lead to heart palpitations for me when they pitched. Their results seemed too good to be true (in Dobnak's case for half the year, anyway) from 'the eye test.' Granted, that is from the eye of a center field camera and not a batter at home plate, but the provided stats provide some support for that concern.

    • Dman likes this

Amazing - so unpredictable.Wisler was never on any projections I read.I would have been less surprised if Taylor Rogers had been released.

    • Dman likes this
To me there’s not much to be baffled about with this decision. The staff transformed Wisler into a one pitch wonder, and he saw immense success. The league always adjusts, and they’re probably not betting him repeating what he did in a larger sample size. For now, they’re paying lip service in case if their other options don’t work out and he’s still available later this winter.

I’m more confident that the FO can identify more reclamation projects and transform other players just like Wisler. I think yearly bullpen turnover will continue to be a trend in the future. Especially with how many in game pitching changes there are, and the volatility of the position group as a whole.
    • Twins33, LA VIkes Fan, Dman and 4 others like this

"We engaged with his agent. Just couldn't come to that agreement. We'll stay engaged with his agent." I'll go with this statement as they play The-Price-is-Right. We just might see Mr. Wisler back in a Twins uniform.


One thing that is really hard to gauge this off-season is the development of minor league players. Is it possible that certain players have actually furthered their game more from the Player Pool environment than a regular season? We might be surprised by the roster make-up come spring time.

    • wabene likes this

Seems odd, even with the out-of-line results this year. Even if (when) he gives back some of the gains he still seems like a good ~$1-2mil guy to have around.

    • Dman likes this

I believe the leverage is on the Twins side. Don't think other teams will overpay for a one trick pony. Good chance Whistler will resign after testing the market.


That said, I was thrown by this decision as well. 

Alex Schieferdecker
Dec 03 2020 09:13 AM

One thing that doesn't cut in Wisler's favor, ironically, is the success of guys like Matt Wisler.


If the Twins could pluck a guy like him out of nowhere and get those kind of numbers out of him, then they've got to be pretty confident in their ability to do it again.

    • Vanimal46 likes this

I think Wisler and agent just wanted more money than slotted to get. Not sure arbitration works-club offer, player offer and arbitrator decides? Don't know why Twins would release Wisler if could have had arbitration decide, unless afraid arbitrator would give too much.

Ace brings up a good point, how to give credit for alternate site play last year. People say some of these prospects don't have enough AA or AAA at bats. But, at alternate site were hitting against AAA and AA pitchers last year. No stats available to fans, but sure Twins kept stats in some manner.

Good tidbit from Aaron this morning on the podcast with John was that the Twins were worried they would have to pay Wisler closer to 4-5 million if they went to arbitration because of his amazing ERA being prorated over a full season by an arbiter. 

I think that worry is a little overblown but if that's the sense they got from Wisler's agent it at least explains a bit better why they nontendered him.

    • wabene and heresthething like this

The old regime would be offering him an extension.

    • wabene likes this

I'm surprised, but I'm also not upset. He's likely a one-year wonder, but either way it's easier to replace a 6th/7th inning RP than an 8th/9th.

Good tidbit from Aaron this morning on the podcast with John was that the Twins were worried they would have to pay Wisler closer to 4-5 million if they went to arbitration because of his amazing ERA being prorated over a full season by an arbiter.

I think that worry is a little overblown but if that's the sense they got from Wisler's agent it at least explains a bit better why they nontendered him.

If he was actually looking for that much, then I can understand the Twins’ decision a bit more. But I was under the impression he’d get $1.5-$2M.
Dec 03 2020 12:53 PM

Thanks for this information. It makes sense. They want him back but at reasonable terms, considering how many unknowns MLB faces in 2021 without the vaccine in full force until, possibly, mid-summer or even later. Wisler is a small piece of the puzzle, either way; it's Rogers I'm anxious about.

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