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What will it take to get Gerrit Cole?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:55 AM
The NY Post reported the Yankees are working on a deal to acquire a Gerrit Cole. Players mentioned include Clint Frazier and Chance Adams...
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OOTP Baseball -- Who Plays?

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Who plays out of the park baseaball?   Personally, I love it and found out about online leagues. Is anyone else interested in joinin...
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Article: Twins Sign Closer Rodney To One-Year Deal

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:37 AM
The Twins headed into the Winter Meetings with almost zero closing experience on their roster. They will exit with a wealth of it.On Thur...
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Twins Name Garvin Alston New Pitching Coach.

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:27 AM
I'd never heard of him, so here's the press release...     TWINS NAME GARVIN ALSTON PITCHING COACH Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN – T...
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Article: Twins Select RHP Tyler Kinley In Rule 5 Draft (L...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 10:25 AM
See updates below...The Twins lost two players in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 draft and added a right-handed pitcher. In the m...
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Twins Need To Be Buyers Next Winter

The Gophers are (correction, were) in the Big Dance, the Wild are Stanley Cup contenders, even the Timberwolves are fighting for a playoff berth and 35,000 fans recently attended the first Major League Soccer game in Minnesota.

The Twins, meanwhile, have averaged 94 losses the past six seasons, haven't won a single playoff game since 2004 and are expected to post another losing record in the season ahead. Opening Day is right around the corner, and they're essentially an afterthought in the Minnesota sports scene.
Image courtesy of Matt Kartozian, USA Today
Something drastic will need to be done in order to keep this team relevant. The front office turnover made some waves, but it was followed by a typically quiet offseason for the Twins. To be fair, with a free agent pitching class "headlined" by Rich Hill and Ivan Nova, this wasn't the winter to make a huge signing.

Next offseason it'll be a different story, however, and the Twins should be in a great position to make a big splash. Can't imagine the Pohlad's approving a marquee signing? Well, they have very little money tied up beyond 2018, so there should be plenty of room in the budget. The only guys signed through the 2019 season are Phil Hughes ($13.2M), Jason Castro ($8M) and ByungHo Park ($3M).



So without further ado, let's play my favorite game: Spend the Pohlad Family's Money!

MLB Trade Rumors released its top 10 free agents for the 2017-18 off season this week, and the class looks to be flush with starting pitching. The list is topped by Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, Johnny Cueto and Masahiro Tanaka. It's worth noting that both Cueto and Tanaka would have to opt out of their current contracts to become free agents, and it's possible between now and then one of those top guys signs an extension.

None of those big four free agents has even turned 32 yet, with 28-year-old Tanaka being the youngest. Arrieta was a Cy Young winner in 2015 and both Darvish (2013) and Cueto (2014) have a runner-up finish for the award. I'm drooling just at the thought of any one of these guys in a Twins jersey, but each of them will command a hefty salary and all have some questions to answer in 2017.

Arrieta looked human from June on last season, posting a 4.05 ERA, then had a 3.63 ERA in the playoffs. There are some durability concerns with both of the Japanese imports, but at least we know Darvish's UCL has been repaired. Tanaka had an elbow injury in 2014, but he elected to forego surgery. Seems to have worked out for him, but that arm could be a ticking time bomb. Cueto has been a workhorse, but his underwhelming run with Kansas City in 2015 may cause AL teams to shy away.

But even beyond that impressive foursome, is yet another group of less tantalizing, yet still intriguing names. Chris Tillman, Micheal Pineda and Alex Cobb are among that next tier, and could dramatically improve their stock this season. Here's a quick look at the numbers:

LAST THREE SEASONS
Arrieta: 2.42 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 9.15 K/9, 2.55 BB/9
Darvish: 3.20 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 11.55 K/9, 2.94 BB/9
Cueto: 2.80 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 8.21 K/9, 2.08 BB/9
Tanaka: 3.12 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 8.18 K/9, 1.54 BB/9
Tillman: 3.99 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 6.68 K/9, 3.19 BB/9
Pineda: 4.10 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 9.20 K/9, 1.77 BB/9
Cobb: 3.54 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 7.88 K/9, 2.58 BB/9

Assuming the 2017 Twins put the worst season in franchise history behind them and look to be playoff contenders in 2018, which of these guys would you prefer? Would you pay top dollar, or wait out the market to see if there's a bargain? Or do you avoid free agency all together?

Is it too early to be speculating on such things? Absolutely, but c'mon, let's have some fun.

The guy I'd personally most like to see would be Darvish, and perhaps having Thad Levine around could be helpful in landing the strikeout machine. Levine was with the Rangers when they signed Darvish out of Japan, so he likely knows a thing or two about what makes the big righty tick.

Even if the Twins can scrounge up the $150 or so million it'll cost to sign one of the top flight guys like Darvish, will they even want to come to Minnesota, or take less to play for a World Series contender?

That's where Derek Falvey is going to have to earn his salary. Between now and next winter, he will need to get the franchise in good enough shape to be able to convincingly tell free agents "this team will be in the playoffs next season."

The front office was apparently unable to deliver that message to Mike Napoli, who took less money and a shorter commitment to play for the Rangers. Continuing failure to attract free agents is going to result in a continuing failure to attract fan interest.

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125 Comments

I would say trade for Quintana and sign one of the pitchers and our rotation should be good.
I would say trade for Quintana and sign one of the pitchers and our rotation should be good.
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Cory Engelhardt
Mar 17 2017 09:03 AM

 

They like one way opt outs.Not the kind where the team can nullify the contract.

 

No, you are right, it would have to be a one way opt out.

 

The Pohlad's aren't going to spend big in free agency. Until they do it once, I don't think we should give them the benefit of the doubt that they'll do it. The new FO - particularly Falvey - come from orgs that didn't really rely on free agency. It's not a surprise that the Twins wanted that in their FO. Our bigger worry is that they won't pony up the money to keep these young position players around in a few years.

 

Concur. They'll never be comfortable to hand out $100+ MM contracts to FA pitchers... It's a bit silly to think they'll be in contention of signing Cueto, Arietta, etc. Falvey was brought on to acquire talent in other ways besides opening up the checkbook and handing out 9 figure contracts.

I'd like them to be buyers for sure, but through trades, international signings, and other routes.

 

And like you, I'd rather they pony up and hand out lengthy extensions to Buxton, Sano, and whomever else breaks out in the future.  

 

 

    • wsnydes likes this

I am here with my prejudice for young players.  We once dipped in to the big payroll and extended years with a guy named Mauer and I have seen more whining and anguish over that than almost anything the Twins have or have not done.  I look at the big contracts like Pujols and Fielder and Howard where teams go crazy paying for past performance with little expectation of getting what the contract is supposed to buy.

 

The Cubs did not succeed because of Lester, they got there by developing players and if the TD rankings of prospects and reports from Florida are to be believed we just might have the talent ready to rise.  Better we get the young arms producing and then let the other guys give them the big extensions for the end of their careers.

 

The nucleus is there, the potential is there, even at SS where the pundits weep over Polanco's fielding we have Javier and Gordon coming along.  This team is two years from going past contending to a real threat.  Load up the young guys and get it going.

 

No more Hughes, Nolasco, Santiago, Pelfrey, Correia, Pavano, Hernandez, Rogers... Get the talent coming up to produce, it is the only way this team can truly be competitive over the long run.  I understand what you are saying, but I do not want any of these players.  I would prefer the young potential prospects over guys who have already stressed their arms and have limited years ahead.

    • SF Twins Fan and caninatl04 like this

Just mention the Mauer contract around 1 Twins Way sends people scurrying like cockroaches in a newly lit room.  No way are they going to spend big money on a multi-year contract--for a pitcher!  This team is not a contender or even close.  When the team is rebuilt to a consistent winner, then the checkbook might open for a 1-year big money contract for a pitcher ala` Jack Morris. But next year--pure fan fiction.

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TheLeviathan
Mar 17 2017 10:37 AM

 

As the GM of the WS champion Cubs states, if you are rational about FAs, you won't sign FAs.

 

He was also the GM of the WS champion Red Sox.

 

He also signs FAs to big deals.

 

While the Twins can certainly do more (much more) I think your comparisons are rather flawed.  As much as I like Epstein, he's never been held to much of a budget. And when you have that kind of budget you have more room to make mistakes and you can throw reason out the window a little more freely.

 

At some point reality has to be in the equation here a bit.  A timely splash?  Sure.  Dropping 25M on one player every offseason?  Not reality.  And not wise either.

 

While the Twins can certainly do more (much more) I think your comparisons are rather flawed.  As much as I like Epstein, he's never been held to much of a budget. And when you have that kind of budget you have more room to make mistakes and you can throw reason out the window a little more freely.

 

At some point reality has to be in the equation here a bit.  A timely splash?  Sure.  Dropping 25M on one player every offseason?  Not reality.  And not wise either.

 

It wasn't an argument for spending on 5 players, but that people are saying "FA contracts turn out badly at the end, never sign a big time FA". His response is quite clear, those back years suck, but if you want the fun of the good years, that's the actual price of the good parts of the deal.

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TheLeviathan
Mar 17 2017 10:52 AM

 

It wasn't an argument for spending on 5 players, but that people are saying "FA contracts turn out badly at the end, never sign a big time FA". His response is quite clear, those back years suck, but if you want the fun of the good years, that's the actual price of the good parts of the deal.

 

You responded to me and I said I'd rather not spend like a drunken sailor.  You then quoted a GM about spending irrationally.

 

I stand by what I said - I don't want to spend like a drunken sailor.  FA, for the Twins, will always have to be measured and smart.  Even if it becomes more aggressive.

 

I would be the GM that TD hates. I would rarely if ever spend big money on a free agent. Instead I would plow that money into scouting and international signings. Scott Bowman kept the Canadiens dynasty alive by trading popular productive players before they hit their decline. Free agency is mostly fools gold.

Scotty Bowman was never the GM of the Canadiens.Its why he left for Detroit.Sam Pollock was the GM during Scotty's tenure.

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IndianaTwin
Mar 17 2017 10:55 AM

 

Not to be pedantic, but shouldn't it read "playoff berth"?

 

Pretty sure "playoff birth" isn't the correct terminology.

 

But, yes, I agree the Twins should start adding pieces next offseason. While I'm generally not a fan of $150m contracts to free agents, I'd be happy with the Twins picking up guys in the $50-90m range.

 

I don't know -- I kinda like "playoff birth." Postseason baseball and becoming a parent both involve a lot of pain and putting up with a lot of crap along the way, but they're pretty amazing and a lot of fun when they come to fruition! :-)

    • Tom Froemming likes this
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KirbyDome89
Mar 17 2017 11:11 AM

 

I used to play a ton of cribbage on line and won 60% but would still have stretches where I would go 3-19 with some of them even against poor players. Sorry about the bragging  but the coin flip is close to 50/50 odds and randomness is what allows there to be wide variations in small sample results. Twins against the Yankees were less than 50/50 con flip but if they were to play another 22 games I would have been happy to take the chances.  In fact I am still a bit bitter about 2008 tie breaker loss.  KC was one out from their playoff record being 0-1 in 2014 instead of  11-4.  Twins getting hot was always a possibility. The fact that it didn't happen is no proof that it could not happen. Those Twins teams always did well really well in interleague and did just fine against the AL West. They were not as good as the AL East teams but still did even worse against them than the bad KC teams against them.  I never understood it.  More mental than physical.

I think I would feel too guilty taking your money if we placed a wager on a Twins vs. Yankees 22 game series...

 

Since we're on probabilities; do you know what the percentage chance of the Twins being swept in three straight playoff series is? A lot less than 1%. They're either one of the unluckiest teams of all time or they weren't at the level of their playoff competition. I would agree with the latter. Nobody is making the point that a 3-19 record is impossible and that deviation to the mean (a TD favorite) couldn't happen, it just seems highly unlikely that in a game where a player/team can exert so much control physically on the outcome that a team like the Twins is just "unlucky," that often. 

 

I'm not sure why all these one game playoff comparisons are popping up. The one game wild card didn't even exist during those playoff years. They participated in play in games as a regular season tiebreak and those games aren't included in the 3-19 record. 

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KirbyDome89
Mar 17 2017 11:31 AM

I get not wanting to drop big cash on a FA pitcher, and I agree that the back of those contracts rarely if ever work out, but I don't know if I see another way in which this team as it stands can legitimately compete for a WS. 

 

Of course I would rather they develop front end starters and fill out their entire staff from within before looking outward but how realistic is that? There is a large push to build in that regard and I agree with it, the problem is that by the time they've established a pitching pipeline (if they ever do, they are the Twins...) the team could be looking at players like Sano or Buxton walking ie the window suddenly closing. For the long term obviously they need to focus on scouting and development, but if we're talking about putting together a solid playoff pitching staff to coincide with the rise of Buxton, Sano, Kepler, ect I just don't know if there is enough time to do that via development before those players are at the end of their contracts. 

 

I feel like if you're banking on being able to build a pitching staff in the next few years without spending for an ace then nearly all of the young pitchers in the minors are going to hit their ceiling as well as the Twins finding gold in a trade a la Jake Arrieta. That is a lot to ask. 

 

The end of big FA contracts suck, no doubt about it, but if they can use a contract like that as a bridge until they actually establish a pitching pipeline then I'm all for it. 

    • Mike Sixel, beckmt, markos and 2 others like this

 

I get not wanting to drop big cash on a FA pitcher, and I agree that the back of those contracts rarely if ever work out, but I don't know if I see another way in which this team as it stands can legitimately compete for a WS. 

 

Of course I would rather they develop front end starters and fill out their entire staff from within before looking outward but how realistic is that? There is a large push to build in that regard and I agree with it, the problem is that by the time they've established a pitching pipeline (if they ever do, they are the Twins...) the team could be looking at players like Sano or Buxton walking ie the window suddenly closing. For the long term obviously they need to focus on scouting and development, but if we're talking about putting together a solid playoff pitching staff to coincide with the rise of Buxton, Sano, Kepler, ect I just don't know if there is enough time to do that via development before those players are at the end of their contracts. 

 

I feel like if you're banking on being able to build a pitching staff in the next few years without spending for an ace then nearly all of the young pitchers in the minors are going to hit their ceiling as well as the Twins finding gold in a trade a la Jake Arrieta. That is a lot to ask. 

 

The end of big FA contracts suck, no doubt about it, but if they can use a contract like that as a bridge until they actually establish a pitching pipeline then I'm all for it. 

 

Hypothetically, since they're far away from being WS contenders, they'd have to go with the route the Royals took. Sacrificing prospects for good to great rentals to help them get over the hump. 

 

The best route IMO to finding a front line starter is through trade. It's not realistic to think that all of Gonsalves, Stewart, Romero, Jay, whoever else I'm forgetting will make an impact in the MLB. I'd gladly trade one or more to acquire someone who can provide an impact if they are close to being contenders. 

Depending on how 2017 goes, I think Pineda shoukd be the target. He's youngish and peripherals look good. His price may be kept down by the fact that he hasn't been too good. Could be a great replacement for a Santiago or Hughes type in the rotation.

 

Since we're on probabilities; do you know what the percentage chance of the Twins being swept in three straight playoff series is? A lot less than 1%. They're either one of the unluckiest teams of all time or they weren't at the level of their playoff competition. I would agree with the latter. Nobody is making the point that a 3-19 record is impossible and that deviation to the mean (a TD favorite) couldn't happen, it just seems highly unlikely that in a game where a player/team can exert so much control physically on the outcome that a team like the Twins is just "unlucky," that often. 

Doesn't it have to be a fair amount of both? If you want to argue that they weren't at the level of their playoff competition, that's fine. But exactly how big of underdogs do they need to be in order for an 0-9 record to be an expected outcome? Or even a 3-19 record? My back-of-the-envelope calculations might be off, but wouldn't they need to be something like a 10-1 underdog in every single game in order for those results to be expected? It seems crazy to me that two playoff baseball teams would have such wide discrepancy. I can't check at work, but are any Vegas lines close to that for a single playoff game?

After this season you start locking up the core you can to long term contracts.This gives you cost control and certainty of payroll so you can see what you can afford in the FA pitcher market.

 

You need an ace or a shutdown 4-5 inning bullpen to help make a run for the series.Then you figure out how many pitchers you need to buy and go after them.With the Twins young core, I do not believe it will be impossible to get them to come here. 

 

You responded to me and I said I'd rather not spend like a drunken sailor.  You then quoted a GM about spending irrationally.

 

I stand by what I said - I don't want to spend like a drunken sailor.  FA, for the Twins, will always have to be measured and smart.  Even if it becomes more aggressive.

If you define something as "spending like a drunken sailor," and then say you're against "spending like a drunken sailor." you've sort of set the terms of conversation in such a way as to prevent conversation.

 

The point is, there's a pretty good argument that purchasing top free agents is not actually "spending like a drunken sailor."  

 

It's paying market rate for something you think you need now, to hopefully achieve goals now, that might end up hurting your pursuit of later goals.

 

Against that?  Fine.

 

But it's not "spending like a drunken sailor."

    • Mike Sixel likes this
IMO, the Twins are financially sound enough and viable enough to make that $20-25M splash once every few seasons. Now is an example with the finances coming off the books the next couple of seasons.

Right now, it's looking like Hughes becoming a solid ML SP again is actually a possibility. Let's say the Gibson we are seeing this ST is a healthy and rebounding Gibson and not a mirage. Santiago and Santana both may be gone next seaaon or sometime later this season. Fast forward to 2018 and a couple guys like Berrios and Mejia have proven something in 2017 and the rotation might actually be just that one big arm away.

But assuming those guys, Gonsalves, Jay, Jorge, Stewart and Romero don't all have themselves fine seasons and are on the brink, I'd almost rather put together a package and trade for a top starter. Probably more control and even a younger option than going the FA route.

A credible method for building a top team is to trade elite prospects for multiple prospects.  One can become three, then nine.  It takes time, but it is sustainable.

Good... Good! (Cue evil chuckling laugher of Palpatine)

Let the hate flow through you! Let it make you strong. Take up your weapon and strike me down!

 

Ok, sorry about that one folks, couldn't resist.Not as vitriolic as some discussions I've seen, but I think I did feel the Dark Side flowing through some of the posts.

 

I think that we (myself included) often loose sight of just how difficult a game that baseball is (a beautiful, glorious game, but still extremely difficult). We see the success that other franchises such as the cubs have had (cue the 'why can't we have nice things lament') and gnash our terrible teeth and roll our terrible eyes and roar our terrible roars. 

 

The grog-nards, long-beards and curmudgeons harrumph and say, 'See, I told you that our prospects wouldn't develop'.

 

No other game in this world celebrates failure, or seems to, quite as much as baseball.  Where else do we see a 30+% success rate (i.e. batting average) and call someone a hall of famer?

 

What other sport lists failures on the score board? 

 

Still we come back. Why?  Because all the silly personnel decisions, player drama and long-beard grumblings aside... Baseball is pure. The game at it's heart is joyous and fun.  Filled with the highest of joys and the lowest points of anguish and heartache.

 

So the Twins, like many other franchises, have oft made mistakes and poor decisions. So has every other team that has ever played the game. IF the Twins fall flat on their collective faces again this year and prospects again fail to develop or get injured, I will sigh, shake my head and go play catch with my son in the yard. 

 

I will take him to his travel ball practices and tournaments, continue to enjoy his journey, be reminded that Baseball is joyous and be thankful to God that we have this beautiful game to partake of, even if we are Twins fans and are consigned to wander the desert in search of the Promised Land.

    • Riverbrian, DocBauer and Vanimal46 like this
Twins "buying." This is one of the more hysterical spoof articles I've read in a while. You have a future.
    • Tom Froemming likes this

No interest in any of those pitchers. All will demand a minimum of 5 years and you have to be careful of their ages near the end and the possible opt out in a contract. 

 

Let's just wait for 2018 offseason when Joe Mauer is finally off the books to think about spending money on an aging pitcher.

Another observation:

I'm not sure why it became so fashionable to be anti-spending. There is a paradigm floating around the spending and success have some kind of inverse relationship.

This just isn't true. The Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Rangers, and numerous other big budget franchises totally eclipse the opposite in terms of sustained success. Every once in a blue moon, a team like the Royals or As make a cute little run, or a big-money team underperformed, and get people all worked up.

And why are the Cubs being dragged into the small-market, build from the ground-up approach? Last I checked, they're in the top 5 in payroll every year. They just finally got competent scouts. Do people really think all of these big-time prospects were a product of them being cheap?

I know a lot of salesman that would love your phone numbers.

I'll take sustained success, over a cute little 1-3 year run that implodes once players want to get paid, any day. The opposite is like saying, "I'd rather have a terrible job, and live in a junky old house in a bad neighborhood, with bad schools, because they're generally the ones that win the lottery."

Reality has been totally lost.
    • Mike Sixel, Vanimal46 and Tom Froemming like this
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TheLeviathan
Mar 17 2017 02:59 PM

 

If you define something as "spending like a drunken sailor," and then say you're against "spending like a drunken sailor." you've sort of set the terms of conversation in such a way as to prevent conversation.

 

The point is, there's a pretty good argument that purchasing top free agents is not actually "spending like a drunken sailor."  

 

It's paying market rate for something you think you need now, to hopefully achieve goals now, that might end up hurting your pursuit of later goals.

 

Against that?  Fine.

 

But it's not "spending like a drunken sailor."

 

How often do you do that?  Every year?  Just once when you need it?  How much of your roster can be composed of guys paid in the top 10% of the league?  What should payroll be?

 

These are questions you should answer, not me.  Your original statement put no bounds on spending, which I consider to be both unrealistic and unwise.  I colorfully described that as drunken soldier spending. 

 

So please, you and Mike and everyone else, what's sufficient for the Twins to be spending to make you warm and cozy inside?  


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