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Is Cruz a MUST signing? And what if he doesn't fit?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:18 PM
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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Free Agency / Re-Signings 2020-21 Offseason

Other Baseball Yesterday, 07:17 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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Twins Spotlight Episodes

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 04:47 PM
I'm going to try to keep a running list of all of the Twins Spotlight episodes here. Feel free to discuss any of them, ask questions or l...
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Comments on 41 MLB baseball I visited with 5 to go

Other Baseball Today, 09:05 AM
I've been to 41 MLB parks with 40 since 1993. I missed 5 or 6 starting in the early 1990s when I landed my first computer job and then jo...
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Twins Minor League Signings

Twins Minor League Talk 22 Nov 2020
I thought I should set up a thread for minor league signings. Use this thread to post when the Twins sign a minor leaguer or when a forme...
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Twins Free Agent Targets: Outfield and DH

Over the past two seasons, Eddie Rosario and Nelson Cruz rank first and second among Twins hitters in RBIs, with 151 and 141. No one else is close.

There's a very good chance one or both depart this offseason. How will Minnesota replace all that run production? Free agency may offer some sensible answers.
On Tuesday night's episode of Offseason Live I was joined by Twins Daily writers Lucas Seehafer and David Youngs. Each of us submitted our own preferred targets at these positions, and those choices were discussed and debated. You can watch it all play out below, or keep reading for a breakdown of what's available, and which targets stand out as our favorite fits for the Twins.



Free Agent Designated Hitters at a Glance


The Need: With Cruz hitting free agency and likely generating significant demand, coming off back-to-back monster seasons, the Twins will need to address a position that's been arguably their greatest competitive advantage.


The Market (This list is not comprehensive):
  • Nelson Cruz
  • Marcell Ozuna
  • Michael Brantley
  • Shin Soo Choo
  • Jay Bruce
  • Yasiel Puig
  • Robbie Grossman
  • Yoenis Cespedes
  • Nick Markakis
  • Logan Morrison
  • Matt Kemp

Our Targets:


Jay Bruce
Age: 33
Former Team: Philadelphia
2020 Stats: .198/.252/.469, 6 HR, 14 RBI

Why He's a Fit: He's a very accomplished lefty hitter, with 314 home runs and a .783 career OPS in 13 major-league seasons. But his somewhat diminished performance over the past three seasons (.217/.282/.448) should keep his pricetag in check. He can still play some first base and corner outfield, so Bruce won't be restricted to DH.

Estimated 2021 Salary: $3 million

Shin-Soo Choo
Age: 38
Former Team: Texas
2020 Stats: .236/.323/.400, 5 HR, 15 RBI

Why He's a Fit: Choo brings many of the same qualities as Bruce, but to a greater extent. He's also older and will probably be a bit more expensive. The 38-year-old left-handed hitter owns a .275/.377/.447 career slash line, and has consistently been around that in Texas, reliably scoring 85-95 runs, hitting 20-25 homers and 20-30 doubles. If you're looking for stable, rock-solid veteran production to replace Cruz at around half the price, Choo is a fine choice.

Estimated 2021 Salary: $7 million

Matt Kemp
Age: 36
Former Team: Colorado
2020 Stats: .239/.326/.419, 6 HR, 21 RBI

Why He's a Fit: Kemp figures to be very affordable. Last year he had to settle for a minor-league deal before a bouncing back a bit in Colorado. What I like about Kemp (aside from the low cost) is that he has a track record of mashing lefties – he hit .300/.375/.480 against this year and .313/.373/.536 in his career. This addresses a critical weakness from the 2020 Twins team, and – much like the two targets above – he brings a wealth of experience to help replace what you're losing with Cruz.

Estimated 2021 Salary: $2 million

Free Agent Outfielders at a Glance


The Need: If the Twins keep Rosario, there really is no need. But as we discussed in the arbitration episode of Offseason Live, that seems uncertain if not unlikely. Minnesota faces stark financial realities, with Rosario likely to command $10-13 million in his last year of arbitration. Can the Twins save money in left field, or use it more wisely? Let's take a look.

The Market (This list is not comprehensive):
  • George Springer
  • Marcell Ozuna
  • Michael Brantley
  • Jackie Bradley Jr.
  • Josh Reddick
  • Joc Pederson
  • Robbie Grossman
  • Kevin Pillar
  • Matt Joyce
  • Yasiel Puig
  • Nick Markakis
  • Cameron Maybin
  • Jarrod Dyson
  • Billy Hamilton

Our Targets:


Jackie Bradley Jr.
Age: 30
Former Team: Boston
2020 Stats: .283/.364/.450, 7 HR, 22 RBI

Why He's a Fit: Bradley will probably require a multi-year deal at an annual rate in the same range as Rosario is lined up for in 2021. So there's no real opportunity to save money here. But what you are doing with this move is making a long-term investment in someone who could become a core player. Bradley is an elite defender and can play all three outfield positions. He's a lefty hitter with patience and power.

Estimated 2021 Salary: $11 million

Joc Pederson
Age: 28
Former Team: LA Dodgers
2020 Stats: .190/.285/.397, 7 HR, 16 RBI

Why He's a Fit: He's a left-handed power stick to replace Eddie at a lower cost. Pretty simple. Pederson struggled a bit in the 60-game season but still hit seven homers, and in 2019 he launched a career-high 36. Much like Bradley Jr., Pederson has plenty of experience playing on the big stage in October, which is where the Twins are focused on getting over the hump.

Estimated 2021 Salary: $6 million

Yasiel Puig
Age: 29
Former Team: Cleveland
2019 Stats: .267/.327/.458, 24 HR, 84 RBI

Why He's a Fit: Looking for a Rosario replacement? Puig sure seems to fit the bill. He brings some fire and brashness with his personality, and while he didn't play in 2020, his fairly typical production in 2019 (see above) was almost exactly what you'd expect in a given year from Eddie. He will, however, cost substantially less, and his right-handed bat helps balance out Minnesota's current LH-heavy corner outfield depth.

Estimated 2021 Salary: $2 million

Michael Brantley
Age: 33
Former Team: Houston
2020 Stats: .300/.364/.476, 5 HR, 22 RBI

Why He's a Fit: Similar to Bradley Jr., Brantley offers the opportunity to swing for the fences, replacing Rosario with a new building-block type who brings more to the table. Brantley is a four-time All-Star with a .297/.354/.440 career slash line, and unlike most others on this list he was on top of his game in 2020. He's the real deal and one of the best players on the free agent market.

Estimated 2021 Salary: $11 million

Kevin Pillar
Age: 31
Former Team: Colorado
2020 Stats: .288/.336.462, 6 HR, 26 RBI

Why He's a Fit: Pillar represents a different approach to addressing the outfield. While many of the other players are of similar molds to Rosario, Pillar is more Buxton-like. He's a terrific center fielder and an aggressive right-handed hitter with some power and speed. Sound familiar? Pillar gives you a credible replacement in the event that Buxton goes down, and if the Twins are fortunate enough to keep the latter healthy, Pillar is a great piece to rotate around the outfield spots.

Estimated 2021 Salary: $6 million

Robbie Grossman
Age: 31
Former Team: Oakland
2020 Stats: .241/.344/.482, 8 HR, 23 RBI

Why He's a Fit: Unthinkably, Grossman has reinvented himself as an outstanding offensive outfielder since leaving Minnesota. By various defensive metrics, he's become an asset in either corner spot, and he's also a patient, OBP-centric switch-hitter who could fill in regularly at DH. He's just a very functional asset.

Estimated 2021 Salary: $5 million

Let us know in the comments who you like at these positions, or if you'd rather stick with Rosario and Cruz. In the meantime, check out previous episodes of Offseason Live and see what's upcoming:

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9 Comments

Think Puig would sign for 2 Million?He turned down a one year 10 million this year.Doubt that he drops all the way to 2 million at least not until February

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Richard Swerdlick
Oct 29 2020 01:52 AM

Time to see what our own system prospects have.We don't need a regular DH, as we can rotate players in and out.

    • USNMCPO likes this
Bradley Jr or Pillar, please. With Buxton on the roster, we need three other legit outfielders, one of whom can play above average defense in CF. It just makes our pitching staff so much stronger, especially the way it’s currently constructed. Kepler works in a pinch, but I don’t want to see him in CF for an extended period.

Time to see what our own system prospects have.We don't need a regular DH, as we can rotate players in and out.

You can. But every game you DH somebody with defensive skills, you are still paying a portion of salary for that glove sitting idle. If indeed it's a prospect earning MLB-minimum, as you propose, that's not an issue. But if it's sometimes someone with seniority, then there's a cost.

 

I continue to believe Cruz was an excellent signing because a top-notch DH is a very cost-effective roster move for a budget-conscious team like the Twins; in almost no games in 2019-20 did we pay to have a good glove sit unused. That bat must be top-notch, though, or the move doesn't work.
 

    • Twins33 and DocBauer like this

I can't begin to tell you how much I hate the idea of the Twins bringing in a Free Agent DH or Outfielder.We have an abundance of talent ready to play in the Majors and we might as well find out how many of them will stick. Besides... think I secretly hope they both will resign and return... :)

    • DocBauer likes this

There isn't anyone that can/will replace Cruz at DH. If the Twins don't resign him they will go backwards in production at that spot.

Of the players you list for the outfield, I like Brantley, Springer, Bradley Jr, and Pillar. Unfortunately only Pillar will come at a cost savings over Eddie. He'd be a good fit even if it's only for piece of mind knowing you have a centerfield replacement for when Buxton breaks a fingernail and has to go on the IR for 2 months. 

I still say it's time for the youth movement of Kirolloff, Larnach, Rooker, add Celestino and Wade Jr as backups. 

    • DocBauer likes this
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yeahyabetcha
Oct 29 2020 07:13 PM
I suspect a lot of teams will be reducing payroll, which would probably lead to an unusual off season. Not sure what to expect. If the Twins let both of these two go, it definitely would impact the lineup. If the front office really feel Rooker and Kiriloff are ready they would look like the replacements . If it led to better at bats from the whole lineup, it could still be a decent offense.
I regret I wasn't able to watch live, but I listened twice, lol. The jist of what I heard is what I believe; without Cruz or similar type of bat, there is no reason for a DH only player.

Now, 15 teams only, and some of them with a DH on hand, and some teams that will absolutely not spent $ on a 41yo DH...no matter how tempting...Cruz's market is not large, especially post 2020 financial implications. The smart move is a 1yr deal for $12M with the Twins and an option for less in 2022 that triggers with incentives around 120-130 games or an AB scenario. Possibly with a nice buyout. And if he performs well enough to warrant the 2nd year, then you are happy and hopeful and talking about a 1yr deal. And there is no such thing as a bad 1yr deal, right?

You just can't lose BOTH Cruz and Rosario in a single year and trust in rookies only, no matter talent and potential. So again, everything just screams for a workable contract for Cruz back for at least one more season.

Brantley or Bradley make sense. They make almost too much sense. And contract wise, either replaces Rosario and Cruz financially. But even in a depressed market, do we spend high $ for 3yrs for another player after signing Donaldson? Are we handcuffing ourselves financially too much the next few years?

With or without Cruz, the only guy mentioned that makes sense is Pillar. He SO way too much. He is not great as a hitter. But he could be a perfect option as a decent hitter with power and speed as a great glove 4th OF who can cover for Buxton as well. He fits with Kepler, Kirilloff and Larnach. He also fits with Rooker because of his CF ability and depending how the roster turns out. Remember, we don't know how big the roster will be, much less a loss of both Cruz AND Rosario and trusting on top young talent.

He should come relatively cheap. He fits. He can play for a contending team. I LIKE Cave and Wade for different reasons. But there is room to improve on both. And Pillar brings something different from each to build the 2021 roster. I think he's a perfect fit as a 4th OF who plays a lot for $2-3M. I'd do that in a heartbeat.

 

There isn't anyone that can/will replace Cruz at DH. If the Twins don't resign him they will go backwards in production at that spot.

I know he has defied the odds so far, but they will likely go backwards at that spot if they do re-sign him. Time always wins over the athlete's body ... eventually.


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