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Twins Mailbag: Kohl Stewart, Mauer Extension, DH Options

With MLB’s Winter Meetings on the horizon, thing have continued to be relatively cold when it comes to the off-season hot stove. Shohei Ohtani has been getting most of the headlines as he has narrowed his list down to a handful of teams. Unfortunately, one of those teams is not the Minnesota Twins.

While we wait for the hot stove to actually star heating up, you asked me questions on Twitter and I’m going to take the time to answer them. Here’s a look into the Twins Daily Mailbag.
Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Kohl Stewart Not Added to 40-Man

It was a little surprising not to see Kohl Stewart’s name on the team’s list of additions to the 40-man roster. Stewart, the former fourth overall pick, signed for $4.544 million when he was selected in the 2013 Draft. That’s a lot of money invested in a player who could end up being selected by another organization in the Rule 5 Draft. However, he was picked under the previous front office regime.

As a pitching prospect, Stewart has yet to put it all together. In high school, he was a two-sport star with a Division I scholarship to play quarterback. He has been over two years younger than the competition at every minor league stop, so he has been facing older players. That being said, his strikeouts haven’t ever shown up and he still has things to prove.

If a team wants to take a flyer on him in the Rule 5 Draft, they could try to hide him in their big league bullpen. He’s only made three relief appearances in his entire professional career. Even if a team picks him, I think he will end up back in the Twins organization. Stewart isn’t ready to be on a big league roster for the entire season.

Joe Mauer Extension

Here at Twins Daily, there has been a lot of talk about who the Twins should offer extensions to this off-season. There is a young core of players who are going to get expensive. Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier both will see their contracts expire at the end of 2018. This leaves the front office with some decisions to make about the veteran leadership around their young core.

I believe Mauer will finish his career in a Twins uniform. At this point in his career, I don’t know if it make sense to sign him to a four-year deal. I also don’t know if he is going to want to play for another four seasons. He has a young family and a life outside of baseball and there are other opportunities he could pursue. On Twitter, I wondered out loud if he would be open to a Tim Wakefield-type of contract. Keep him on one-year contracts as long as the team and the player agree with him playing.

When it comes to the 3,000 hit mark, Mauer is going to need to have quite the stretch. Since 2014, he’s averaged 143 hits per season. At that rate, he wouldn’t crack the 3,000 hit mark for another seven years. He would be in his age-42 season so that seems like it will be an uphill climb.

Free Agent DH Options

Eric Hosmer and JD Martinez are the two players who are going to make a lot of money this off-season. MLB Trade Rumors ranks Martinez as the second best free agent with an estimated six-year, $150 million contract. Hosmer ranks as the number three free agent with an estimated six-year, $132 million deal. I think if the Twins are going to spend that kind of money it would be in the club’s best interest to spend their funds on pitching.

There is another tier of designated hitter-type players who could fit better with the Twins. Carlos Santana is a name that has been thrown around but plenty of other teams would be interested in his services as well. According to MLB Trade Rumors, he could sign in the $45 million range on a three-year contract. Some of the market will begin to unfold after Ohtani picks the club where he is going to sign.

Adding More Pitching

Spending money on free agent pitchers isn’t always the smartest investment. Pitchers like Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are going to command multi-year contracts for north of $100 million. Both players are in their early 30’s which would put them in their late 30’s before their contract would expire. This usually results in some dead money at the end of the deal. As players age further into their 30’s, they lose some effectiveness.

Falvey and Levine were a little surprised by the Twins being in contention during their first year on the job. With that being said, I think they want to make a splash this off-season. They are going to go hard after Darvish to try to lure him to Minnesota. If that doesn’t work out, I could see them packaging multiple prospects to go after the likes of Jake Odorizzi or Gerrit Cole. Nick Gordon would likely need to be a centerpiece of that kind of trade. The front office might be fine with dealing him after Jorge Polanco’s emergence in 2017.

Was leaving Stewart off the 40-man a mistake? Should Mauer get an extension? What DH could the Twins sign? Do free agent pitchers make sense for the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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54 Comments

No on the Mauer extension. I'm not to worried about Kohl. He lost his control last year and that could scare teams away, does't have the K numbers to handle big league pitching right now. If he gets selected I wouldn't be surprised to see him sent back by the end of march. More worried about Lewin Diaz and Nick Burdi in the Rule V.

They can't sign Mauer to an extension anyway so it is a moot point unless they pay 80% (yearly) of his current contract. They can offer him a new contract next offseason though.

 

Spending money in FA is never totally wise but if you can't avoid it forever. You just have to pick the right players. Ervin/Willingham were correct choices and Nolasco/etc were terrible choices.

    • Sconnie likes this

When the team decided not to protect Stewart, I just figured there was some kind of deal for him pending.

Let's worry about the Mauer situation once the 2018 season is over. He's not going to run off elsewhere in FA for big bucks. I think Rooker will be the future 1B and we'll see where his progress is at by that point. He's still a below-average offensive 1B and he could decline further in the future, so that's why I'd rather play the situation on a year-by-year deal instead of giving him a 4 year extension.

    • Deduno Abides and Taildragger8791 like this
I would like to see a Mauer extension…year by year or maybe two, but he should retire as a Twin. As a future hall of fame candidate, he will probably end his career as a role player, but that needs to be with the Twins, it would be a shame if it was anywhere else.
    • Riverbrian, 70charger, woolywoolhouse and 5 others like this

I don't know, is Stewart really much of a risk to get picked? I mean like last year our pitching went from terrible to not quite as terrible, and he was like 9,10,11...on the minor league depth chart. I doubt any team can look at him, potential and all, but look at that and see a place on a 25 man roster. I always thought they should try to work out more trades using the rule 5 though. 

 

And Im all for the wakefield contract, for everyone. $4m/yr mutual option forever? If all the money wouldn't just go to the owners, and they'd make tix and concessions dirt cheap. But if Mauer would be into it I think that would make sense for both him and the Twins.

    • 70charger likes this
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Tommygun921
Dec 07 2017 07:24 AM
I'd wait till next off season on Mauer. Then most likely two year extension max. I'm thinking Rooker plays well this year and could take over in '19. I don't see why Gordon is always the first name to come up as a trade candidate. I can see why other teams would have interest in him obviously, but did Polanco show enough this year to make him expendable? Will Lewis move fast and make him expendable? Guess the story lines for the rest of the off-season and then in 2018 will be fin to watch and follow.
I think Mauer retires when his contract expires. Stewart won't get picked, the only reason to suggest he would is his draft status.

 

They can't sign Mauer to an extension anyway so it is a moot point unless they pay 80% (yearly) of his current contract. They can offer him a new contract next offseason though.

 

Spending money in FA is never totally wise but if you can't avoid it forever. You just have to pick the right players. Ervin/Willingham were correct choices and Nolasco/etc were terrible choices.

agreed, need to wait on Mauer until he offseason as he should be a 10-12 mil player not an 18-19 mil per year player.

 

 

If not spending on FA when our payroll is 95 mil and dropping, when?

No way they go anything more than year to year with Mauer, given his age and relative performance. No way.

    • Twins33, Sconnie, Major Leauge Ready and 1 other like this

I like the idea of signing Carlos Santana.

    • Twins33 likes this

I think exposing Stewart is a reasonable move. He's not a short-term option for the 'pen right now and hasn't taken the leap forward he needs as a starter (velocity plateaued, K's haven't come, control has fluctuated) so while he's still an interesting prospect, you'd really be taking a risk trying to hold him on a MLB roster for the whole season. Hard to hold that roster spot for a guy who isn't ready to pitch right now at that level and needs innings in the minors if he's ever going to get there. I'd prefer he stays with the Twins because I do think there's still a chance for him but it's also not a terrible loss if he goes (just an indictment on the previous regime for busting a high pick).

 

I'd like Mauer to keep playing for the Twins, in part just to piss off Dan Barriero. But if he can stay healthy like he did this year and play at this level, he's a real asset. Not a $23M asset, but them's the breaks. I don't know what the right price is for him, where the line is between what's a good value for the team and what's a number he just says, "nah, I'm good." No new deal should be longer than 2 years, though. 2 years, $20M? If Joe gets through another season playing 140 games with this level of hitting and defense, I'd love to have him back for another go around.

 

Don't want Hosmer. Not even a little. Mauer was better defensively despite the GG and Hosmer has had some bad years sandwiched right in what should be his prime. This was Hosmer's best year as a pro and there are enough red flags that anyone signing him to a big deal should be nervous. he's not a good fit here and there's too much risk.

    • 70charger likes this

Yeah, I would not sign Mauer to any "extension" as there are rules on what his minimum salary could be. You have to let him become a FA first at this point.

 

Would love to see Darvish brought in, I don't care about the dead money there might be at the end. He moves the needle significantly. 

    • Sconnie and SF Twins Fan like this

This is a fitting article for an auspicious day.

 

Sixteen years ago, mayor Norm Coleman proclaimed Dec 7th, 2001 to be Joe Mauer Day in recognition of his Gatorade Football Player of the Year award and each year we remember our hero. What's that you say? It was the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor? Over 2000 people died? Pshaw, that's old news. High school football success is clearly more important than some silly old war!

Long live Joe Mauer Day!

 

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Tommygun921
Dec 07 2017 09:50 AM
If a player such as Stewart is taken in the Rule 5 and spends "X" amount of time in the majors before being sent back to his original Org. Does that start his MLb service clock? Option year?

 

And Im all for the wakefield contract, for everyone. $4m/yr mutual option forever? If all the money wouldn't just go to the owners, and they'd make tix and concessions dirt cheap. But if Mauer would be into it I think that would make sense for both him and the Twins.

 

Mauer isn't going to make $4 million. You're looking at $8-$10 million per year and if he hits like last year, he's well worth it. Anything else is insulting. I think you'll see a 2 year $18 million extension at some point this winter. Gives Mauer some stability, he still draws fans to the park and he can shift into a 120 games type of player.

 

Even though free agent pitching contracts are almost always awful, I'd much rather the Twins go after Darvish than trade away assets for an inferior pitcher. In a perfect world, the Twins just go with the youth but that seems to be unlikely to happen due to optics and what not. But ugh I don't want to trade Gordon and other prospects for a #3 pitcher we have to pay $8 million.

Last year, mauers performance was worth like 18M
    • Dantes929, Oldgoat_MN and HitInAPinch like this

 

They can't sign Mauer to an extension anyway so it is a moot point unless they pay 80% (yearly) of his current contract.

 

"Upon request by a Major League player to the Commissioner, the Commissioner may, on such conditions as he stipulates, consent to such player accepting a renewal of his contract at a salary rate less than eighty (80) percent of the rate stipulated for the preceding year, providing the salary rate is mutually agreed upon between the club and the player prior to January 10 and providing the request for consent to accept such salary is made by the player and received by the
Commissioner prior to January 10."

Twins not hamstrung by this at all.


 

Fix the pitching before extending position players who are not in a contract year. The Twins can probably save $ on Mauer by letting him hit free agency first anyway. I don't see him going anywhere, and if he does go somewhere, so what?

 

The pitching can be addressed in 1 year if the Twins are smart, so it's not like position player contracts will be unresolved forever. 

 

Someone is itching to respond with "The Twins can do both" -- and sure, they could -- but so far we have seen nothing to suggest the Twins have changed their tight purse strings policy, and the Twins truly just have one immediate need right now.

 

"Upon request by a Major League player to the Commissioner, the Commissioner may, on such conditions as he stipulates, consent to such player accepting a renewal of his contract at a salary rate less than eighty (80) percent of the rate stipulated for the preceding year, providing the salary rate is mutually agreed upon between the club and the player prior to January 10 and providing the request for consent to accept such salary is made by the player and received by the
Commissioner prior to January 10."

Twins not hamstrung by this at all.

 

The Player's Union tends to get involved when teams try to do this. Back in the day, A-Rod accepted what the Player's Union called a paycut and the union got the contract thrown out. The union feared it would set a bad precedent. Plus, I don't see the Twins screwing with a player in this way or Mauer agreeing. Contracts in the NFL are not guaranteed so we see this sort of thing happen all the time in the NFL, but we rarely see it in baseball where the player holds all the leverage.

    • Sconnie likes this

 

The Player's Union tends to get involved when teams try to do this. Back in the day, A-Rod accepted what the Player's Union called a paycut and the union got the contract thrown out. The union feared it would set a bad precedent. Plus, I don't see the Twins screwing with a player in this way.

 

I tend to think that the players union wouldn't care about this. This isn't the Twins getting out of paying Mauer money. They're extending his career by paying him a faire wage. If they tried to pay him $4 million, the union would flip. But if they pay him a fair market wage of $8-10 million, I don't think the union bats an eye.

    • Taildragger8791 and SF Twins Fan like this
Zero reason to sign Mauer more than year to year, at the end of any given year. He's not going to another team.
    • zenser, Oldgoat_MN, mikelink45 and 3 others like this

The core of this team is 23-26 years old.

 

In trying to build a long-lasting competitive team, it makes no sense signing/extending/re-signing much older players, esp. if they are not at the superstar level and the DH position.Rooker will be the Twins' next first baseman, with maybe someone like Vargas (or a free agent you can sign to a 1yr contract) as a 1 yr stopgap. 

 

I think that Ryan Eades and Mark Appel have higher probabilities of being picked up than Kohl Stewart at this point.He has not shown that he is close

    • Oldgoat_MN and Danchat like this

 

Zero reason to sign Mauer more than year to year, at the end of any given year. He's not going to another team.

And let's see what he does in 2018 before worrying about signing him for 2019. 2017 was his first 800 OPS since 2013, and he just barely made that.

    • Twins33, nicksaviking, Danchat and 4 others like this
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Taildragger8791
Dec 07 2017 01:42 PM

I don't have much interest in hamstringing my roster with an expensive aging player that doesn't really fit well anywhere. Mauer is considerably below average offensively at 1B or DH. The defense is nice but I have to believe someone else can be more than serviceable while adding 40-50 RBI and 20-25 HR to the position. There's also a strong likelihood we'll need the flexibility to rotate more guys through that position in 2-3 years (Sano, Vargas, Garver, Kepler, Dozier, Rooker, Diaz).


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