Twins Front Office Testing Fate in Waiting
Image courtesy of © Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsDan Hayes wrote a story on Tuesday at The Athletic that focused on the acquisitions of Rich Hill and Homer Bailey. The former is a top-notch arm that struggles to stay healthy, and the latter represents a solid addition to the floor of the starting rotation. What neither of them accomplish is the impact pitching that Minnesota suggested they were targeting. Thad Levine told Hayes, “The one thing we’ve learned over the years is that you can’t just have a Plan A. Tomorrow’s Plan B becomes the next day’s Plan A.” Derek Falvey went on to suggest he “may rue the day I ever mentioned that (impact) as a singular word.”
More swiftly than a dancing Michael Jackson, Minnesota’s top duo is moonwalking their opening comments backwards.
There is truth to Falvey’s suggestion that the current Twins roster has impact all over it. They won 101 games, returned a significant amount of talent, and have added to the point where they are better now than when the season ended. All of that is true, but the goal this winter should be to expand upon the opportunity currently in front of them.
You can’t fault the Twins for being shut out by uninterested free agents. Gerrit Cole wasn’t coming here, and Stephen Strasburg wanted a Washington reunion. Madison Bumgarner told everyone "No" because he loves his horses, and Zack Wheeler preferred family ties (although the Twins offer being $18MM short probably made that decision easier). Where blame can start to be placed is when obvious opportunity is met with only moderate execution.
Enter Josh Donaldson.
As Levine suggested, the Twins plans have now shifted. The starting pitching market is largely bare, and unless they’re going to swing a trade (they still should), Hill and Bailey represent the lone new additions. Upgrading elsewhere makes sense, and the former Braves third basemen is an ideal fit for the Bomba Squad.
With C.J. Cron onto Detroit, Rocco Baldelli is tasked with designating a new first basemen. Miguel Sano has proven limited, especial going to his left at third base, and would be an ideal candidate to make the switch. Generating 15 DRS a year ago, Donaldson would provide a defensive boon in the infield, and it’s a unit that needs to take a significant step forward. Throw in his .900 OPS from 2019 and you’ve got the makings of a superstar.
Reports suggest that Donaldson has at least three four-year offers, coming from Minnesota, Washington, and Atlanta. He’s had the Twins ask for over two weeks though, and that’s where my problem lies. The Nationals are synonymous for deferrals, so it’s fair to assume that could be prohibiting them from being in contention. Atlanta is best positioned geographically, and it was said the third basemen was simply waiting on a guaranteed fourth year from his hometown club. Dangling in front of him is the Twins payday that’s not quite good enough to make a decision.
Ken Rosenthal reported on Friday night that Donaldson is waiting for a team to hit his number, believed to be near $110 million. There's possibility Donaldson is angling for Atlanta to be his destination while increasing the take; after all suggestions indicate the Braves will get an opportunity to match before this is done. What also is apparent through Ronsethal's report is that Minnesota isn't there. Expected to be around the 4yr/$100MM range, the Twins leave it to chance to dictate an outcome. Derek Falvey should be on the phone with MVP Sports Group offering up $120 million over four and calling it a day.
We can discuss value forever, and there's inherent risk any time you sign a big-dollar free agent. The reality though, is that injury concerns don't subside simply because you end negotiations at $100 million. Also, after pivoting to this plan, are you really interested in going to Plan C because the cost of what amounts to a relief arm ($5 million AAV over the four years) is too much?
It’s probably unfair to be frustrated about simply being "in" on free agents. That’s going to happen, and you’re not completely interested in every player you’ve been tied to. Minnesota has been set on two players this offseason however, and they’re now in jeopardy of losing the second because of playing the value game. At some point need and opportunity should factor into the discussion, and by the time Falvey and Levine get there this time around, it may be too late.
This offseason would presently be graded as a “C” which is fine if you’re ok with status quo. Looking to take the next step, and truly capitalize on your opportunity, pushing for an “A” is a must. There’s one bullet left, but you actually have to take the shot.
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