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The 5 Rule Draft

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 11:24 PM
This year's Rule 5 draft we lost Akil Baddo and Tyler Wells. So I thought I'd check to see how they were doing. 1st I checked on Baddo, h...
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Why isn't Buxton on MLB OPS leaders list?

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:55 PM
Buxton is listed only on the MLB HR leaders list. Not on OPS or AVG or SLG or OBP. He should be the leader in several of these. He has as...
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2021 Regular Season Game Threads

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 08:40 PM
Welcome to the 2021 edition of Twins' Baseball. Twins Daily plans to have a game thread during the regular season for every game (one thr...
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Morneau

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 06:58 PM
I thought he was was really good last year. Maybe I'm on an opening day high (Not high) but he is so good.Who would have thought he would...
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Fun with Numbers 2021

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 06:27 PM
Nelson Cruz is on pace to hit over 150 home runs if he gets 500 at bats.   Josh Donaldson slash line:1.000/1.000/2.000/3.000
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Recent Blogs


Twins Offseason Status Update: February Free Agent Frenzy

The Twins have spent much of their offseason lying in wait. This week, they finally sprang forth, rattling off big free agency moves on successive days to address needs in the middle of their lineup and back end of their bullpen.

With pitchers and catchers reporting two weeks from today, here's where things stand.
Image courtesy of Jay Biggerstaff and Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
The last time I filed one of these status update reports was 10 days ago, although it feels like about 10 months in the pacing of this offseason. Back then, we were breaking down the new J.A. Happ signing and wondering when anything of true substance would come.

In less than two weeks since, the Twins have signed Andrelton Simmons, Nelson Cruz, and Alex Colomé, committing $30 million in guaranteed money while furiously crossing off boxes on the front office's checklist. Suddenly, they've already surpassed the $125 million threshold that we had set as a reasonable benchmark (a 10% reduction from the planned 2020 payroll).

Attached Image: twinsroster2321.png


Maeda's very reachable performance incentives, which will likely push his salary into the $10-12 million range, are not reflected in the spreadsheet above. So the effective payroll is about $130 million. That's creeping up on last year's planned commitment (around $138 million, as we had it figured). And it seems highly unlikely they are done.

More on that momentarily. But first, let's get caught up on Minnesota's free agency foray.

ANDRELTON UPGRADES THE INFIELD

The Andrelton Simmons signing is a fascinating one, because it's fundamentally transformative on so many levels. Adding a new shortstop wasn't even a clear-cut need coming into the offseason, but by infusing an elite defender and occasional MVP contender in Simmons, the Twins have essentially upgraded three positions in one fell swoop: short, second base, super utility.

A nifty bit of handiwork from the front office, especially given that Simmons' contract is the most palatable among the top three free agent shortstops. Following his signing, our writers explored the many impacts and implications of adding an historically brilliant defensive shortstop to the Twins infield:

CRUZ AND UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Nelson Cruz did just about everything during his first two years as a Twin – other than win a playoff game, that is. The borderline Hall of Famer has enjoyed a beautiful swan song while getting sucked into Minnesota's ugly postseason abyss.

Now, in what could well be his final MLB season, it's no mystery where Cruz's sights are set.

After months of inertia, the Twins and Cruz reportedly re-engaged in discussions last weekend. From there, the dominoes swiftly fell: universal DH more or less came off the table with MLBPA's rejection of a league proposal, then media reports started to hint at the Twins' growing impatience, and a day later, boom(stick): the deal is done.

There's no griping about a one-year, $13 million contract, which left the Twins with flexibility to make the signing we'll discuss next (and maybe more). Cruz was unfortunately leveraged into a corner, but it ends up leaving the team in good shape to optimize around him. In doing so, they increase of odds of him conquering his elusive ultimate goal in a Twins uniform.

BULLPEN BOLSTERED BY A FORMER RIVAL

Cruz's signing was no big surprise to anyone who's been following the coverage of Dan Hayes of The Athletic this offseason. That move was essentially foretold by his report the preceding weekend, and so was the one that quickly followed. Dan telegraphed the imminent Colomé signing immediately after he broke the Cruz news:



With all due respect to the many people and friends I admire in local media, Hayes is lapping the field with his Twins reporting this offseason. He's been on all these developments like white on ... Dan Hayes.

Jokes and groveling aside, the Twins' interest in Colomé has hardly been a secret, dating back months. Securing his buddy Nelly seemingly sealed the deal with Alex as well. The former White Sox closer's contract is downright reasonable considering his immaculately consistent track record. As a former All-Star and routinely high-end closer, he brings a new dimension of legitimacy to the back end of Minnesota's bullpen.

The White Sox ponied up a staggering $54 million to acquire Liam Hendriks two weeks ago. In the absolute best-case scenario, Hendriks will equal the results produced by Colomé over the past two years as Chicago closer: 2.27 ERA, 3.43 WPA (almost identical to Hendriks' mark in Oakland), 91% save percentage (superior to Hendriks' mark in Oakland).

Is Hendriks a better and vastly more dominant pitcher at this point? No doubt. But our guy Tom Froemming put it well: you don't get style points. Scoreless innings are scoreless innings. Bridged leads and closed-out victories are what they are. Colomé has a far lengthier track record of getting it done than Hendriks, for whom the White Sox paid literally tenfold.

This is going to be a fascinating subplot to follow in what promises to be a delightful Twins-Sox rivalry this summer.



ODORIZZI STILL IN PLAY?

As spring training approaches, Jake Odorizzi remains a free agent. A recent report in the Star Tribune from La Velle E. Neal III indicates that the Twins haven't given up on bringing back the right-hander, although there are no signs of momentum in that report or elsewhere. Every rumor and rumbling I've heard suggests the two sides aren't close on terms.

La Velle's article was also published before the Cruz signing, but it's worth noting this nugget he included: "It's not out of the question that the Twins bring back both Cruz and Odorizzi." Which leads us to our final point of discussion for today.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Even with Colomé added to the mix, the bullpen isn't all that deep with Cody Stashak (who's thrown 40 major-league innings) and "TBD" rounding out the final spots. It feels like there may be another acquisition on tap, as signaled by multiple sources.





The same can be said for the rotation, which thus far has received only Happ to replace Odorizzi, Rich Hill and Homer Bailey. So, one wonders: how much is left to spend?

It seems clear that Minnesota is ready to stretch the budget beyond our historically-conditioned expectations.

"None of our objective includes trying to make up for what happened in 2020," said Twins owner Jim Pohlad in Neal's article, published prior to the Cruz and Colomé signings. "It was significant. It was devastating. And you have to accept that as a loss going forward and not make it a goal to recover those losses either from fans or by affecting our payroll. That's not the mind-set we have been in at all."

They're backing that up, with a spending projection that is healthily above the league average, and a proven willingness to jump on the right opportunities.

Which other ones will emerge? Two weeks until Fort Myers.

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19 Comments

Hard to believe I am saying this but Jimmy P. is stepping up and giving the team a chance.Baseball is fickle and things have to go right to get where we want to go but I am happy he is digging deep to get it done for a change.  

 

It was a loooong rebuild to get back to this point with many years being more excited about the farm than the actual club.We all suffered through that so I am glad he isn't selling the team short.No guarantee that spending money gets you where you want to be but it sure can help.

 

After the Cruz signing I figured they were done.After the Colome signing I assumed it would only be minor league signings so it is interesting to hear that they are ready to pull the Trigger and make more moves. While I wouldn't mind a few more vets I am wondering who they plan to bump off the 40 man when they do make those moves. 

    • nicksaviking, DocBauer, ToddlerHarmon and 4 others like this

We can live without Odorizzi, but not without more help in the BP

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tarheeltwinsfan
Feb 04 2021 08:14 AM

Wonderful summation. Thanks for starting my day off so well.

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twinsfanstreif
Feb 04 2021 08:23 AM

Haven't been following much as there's a lot going on in my life so just catching up on these signing. So far I really like it. We needed a defensive shortstop as Polanco wasn't cutting it there and Simmons is certainly that, hopefully his bat can be adequate and not fall off a cliff. I love Cruz and want him to stay forever! He's becoming a player I am irrational about. Colome looks to fit in really well too. My only concern with these moves along with Donaldson last season we are starting to get a bit long in the tooth and aging rosters have a tendency to drop off quickly

    • Dman, ToddlerHarmon and Melissa like this

Thanks for another good read, Nick.

 

Count me among the group that believes they are done, other than signing a couple of veteran/AAAA types to minor league contracts to come in and compete for the #5 spot in the rotation, a spot in the pen or an infield utility guy.

 

The biggest reason is that the 40-man is full and there aren't a lot of good options to create an opening. Sure is different than a few years ago when any of us could look at the 40-man and come up with several players who stood a great chance of clearing waivers.

 

Considering the 40-man is full, another route they might take is trading someone on the roster together with a prospect for a good starting pitching prospect who is closer to being big league ready. Or maybe they are happy with Thorpe and Smeltzer as their competition for Dobnak in the #5 spot? Could they be so fortunate to have the Thorpe from 2019 show up after last year's disappointing season that began with his leaving spring training for a few weeks?

    • ToddlerHarmon likes this

I am guessing there will be more signings but nothing major.With spring training just around the corner both sides are feeling the pressure to get ready.There will be one or two more vet arms signed with invite to camp but no MLB spot yet.  

    • rdehring and MNT1996 like this
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strumdatjaguar
Feb 04 2021 09:33 AM
Twins should sign one more vet reliever (Clipprd level) and that’s about it. I like the roster as it stands. If Father Time catches up with Cruz, the Twins have to pivot to their hitters playing over in St. Paul.
    • rdehring and IAMNFan like this

 

We can live without Odorizzi, but not without more help in the BP

I think Odorrizi is much better than Dobnak, maybe 5 more wins for the team. Playoff weapon as well. I’m rooting for a signing.

    • Otwins likes this

I continue to marvel at how this front-office operates. Smart and efficient are the keywords.

    • DocBauer and rdehring like this

I'd be happy to get Clippard back because his reverse splits would give them another option against lefties and he wouldn't cost much. I don't see much need to get another mediocre RHP and see no reason not to let Stashak have a slot: he's pitched well enough to deserve it.

 

I don't think they need another backup INF at this point; If you're gonna carry that kind of guy on the 26-man, let a Nick Gordon or Travis Blankenhorn compete for it but you don't need the same kind of backup SS option when you have Polanco & Simmons on the same team. What's the advantage to having a no-hit utility guy who's D is probably overrated anyway sitting on the bench just because he's a SS? Just insurance against long-term injuries to both Simmons & Polanco? If both those guys go down for 2 months we've got bigger problems one of the utility guys still out there won't solve. 

 

It'll be interesting to see what they grab as a starter: cheap veteran on a make-good to compete for the 5th slot or someone like odorizzi who might find himself without a chair as the music stops and decides to jump in with the twins because they're a good team and they want to be a FA when the market is back to normal. I think it's one or the other and I have no idea which it will be; it'll depend on who's available at what price. (Gotta say, the rotation is pretty deep if Happ or Odorizzi is your 5th starter)

    • DocBauer, Bickle19 and rdehring like this
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MMMordabito
Feb 04 2021 11:20 AM

Odorizzi pitched some good games for the Twins, but I hope he lands somewhere else. If he does come back, I'll root for him.Honestly, he isn't my favorite pitcher to watch.I much prefer watching Dobnak.I do understand that Dobnak may be figured out and doesn't have the stuff that Odorizzi has.Dobnak also seems to be content yet hungry with any role he is given, so another option at the 5th spot would be better for depth.

 

This says nothing about the possibility that the Twins go the neo-unconventional route with handling innings on the backside of the rotation.

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Nick Nelson
Feb 04 2021 11:39 AM

 

I'd be happy to get Clippard back because his reverse splits would give them another option against lefties and he wouldn't cost much. I don't see much need to get another mediocre RHP and see no reason not to let Stashak have a slot: he's pitched well enough to deserve it.

I pointed this out on Twitter last night but actually Colome appears to be kinda similar to Clippard in this regard, with clearly superior numbers against LH batters. In 2020 he held lefties to a .098 avg and .122 SLG.

 

I'm not saying I wouldn't still be interested in Clippard at the right price, but I'm starting to think the bullpen would be better balanced out by a true RH specialist. Esp considering the makeup of AL Central lineups. 

    • JLease and rdehring like this
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nicksaviking
Feb 04 2021 12:04 PM

I'd take Clippard back, but there are still quite a few interesting relievers available, and I doubt most of them will be getting prohibitive contracts. 

 

Just for fun, I'll say they sign Shane Greene to a surprisingly small MLB contract with incentives and Nick Tropeano to a MiLB deal with a spring training invite.

 

I wanted to predict Keone Kela, but with the less than glowing reports on his attitude and behavior, he may not be someone the club has much interest in trying to tame.

    • DocBauer likes this

Justin Wilson seems like a good fit at somewhere below $5mil on a 1-year deal.I also like the idea of adding James Paxton but am uncertain as to his health and projected cost.

    • IAMNFan likes this

 

We can live without Odorizzi, but not without more help in the BP

Boy, I’d love Odorizzi & Rosenthal OR Clippard.

    • DocBauer likes this

If we're hoping for another starter, think we're looking at something like a Foltynewicz on a minor league deal.

It’s better now than it was two weeks ago. But, I still don’t think we’re a better team than 2019 or 2020.

None of these guys excite me much.

We couldn’t accomplish anything with Cruz playing out of his mind, and he’ll likely regress.

Simmons isn’t particularly potent offensively and has dealt with injury issues. If he’s healthy all year, he’ll help. But, he’s just another name on the long list of recent injury issues on this roster.

Colome isn’t a significant upgrade over May. If he was, wouldn’t the White Sox has brought him back on that deal instead of paying an arm and leg for Hendriks?

These are good players, don’t get me wrong. But, I just don’t see how dropping Rosario and picking up Simmons brings this club any closer to playoff success.

At some point, payroll for 2021 will hit a wall. I'm not sure we are there yet considering need, opportunity, FA depth lagging behind signing expectation, and a FO that is known to make late moves based on value and opportunity.

 

We can all debate priority, but there are THREE obvious areas to address IMO. 

 

1} BP: I just don't buy Rosenthal at this point. But the sheer number of RP arms on the market screams a late signing that could pay dividends. The FO is smart enough to identify the options and we don't have to make a list. But for $2-3M I am still shocked Clippard isn't already on board. His only negative is never putting up HUGE numbers to earn big notoriety or big contracts. All he did in 2020 is do what he's done his whole career; get out consistently against batters from both sides of the plate. I will be borderline shocked if he isn't signed the next week or so. He's affordable and needed.

 

2}SP: I would LOVE the FO and ownership to just accept a $140-150M payroll and just sign Odorrizi, Paxton or Walker on a 1yr or 1+ deal. And I could easily make arguements for any of them from production to "if healthy" to "young and if finally healthy".But even if we didn't go this route, there are going to be guys available for just $3-4M on a 1yr flier that could be worth a look. Some may be available on a milb deal with an invite. The Bailey signing last year was cheap and smart. If we had a normal 162G season, he may have paid a really nice dividend. 

 

So while I doubt Bailey would want to come back, and I'm not sure anyone knows what's up with Hill, just think along those lines. And maybe I missed a signing somewhere, but just to toss out a few possibilities; Arrieta, Fiers, Foltynewicz, Hamels, Porcello, Teheran. 

 

KNOWING you are a legit contending team, and KNOWING you will need more than 5 SP, do you make the big move to add to your depth? Or do you like the depth you have so much you are willing to gamble a bit and bring in someone on the cheap to compete?

 

Even if it's a milb deal and invite, SOMEONE needs to be brought in.

 

3} INF: This the CRAZY ONE that nobody seems to pay attention to. Adding another quality infielder would seem to take away from Arraez opportunities, which nobody wants. Additionally, having a 6th INF option means there may not be room for Rooker, unless Kepler is the CF option and Cave andWade both are left of the roster. OR, you start with 7 BP arms instead of 8. But if you are a legitimate contending team, and you have at least some concern about one of the best infields in all of MLB having a potential ankle, knee, calf injury from being all you can be, would you be smart to enough to take advantage of so many FA options on the market to add depth?

 

Would you bank on Gordon, Blankenhorn and a couple milb infield options to fill in? Or would you spend a couple $2-3M for a 1yr deal on depth and let the chips fall where they may, understand IL time WILL HAPPEN here and there, and trust Rocco to balance playing time?

 

The 40 man is full. There is room for a couple additions/deletions to make an even better one. Adding 3 more could be painful/hard. But if we're talking about real depth, real value/opportunity, real contention and allowable budget, a hard decision or two might be in order to build the best contending team we could have

Doc, I would keep the 6th IF option in St. Paul for a quick call up if needed as an IL replacement (assuming a 25-player roster). If we go to 26, maybe then?


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