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Feinsand: Twins Interested in Marwin Reunion

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The Twins reportedly have expressed interest in re-signing free agent utilityman Marwin Gonzalez. MLB.com's Mark Feinsand shares the repo...
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One less Grove to pick from...

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Joe Musgrove to the Padres...who else   https://www.mlbtrade...e-musgrove.html   Feel free to rant, rave, bemoan, lament all th...
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Who do you think is the Twins best/worst Free agent that...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:35 AM
Who do you guys think is the one who got away? Was a free agent and the Twins let them walk? No not Johan Santana as they traded him, I...
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Pitchers and Catchers Report Date?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:51 AM
What is the current status of Spring Training, and the start of the season? Is there a schedule?
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Free Agency / Re-Signings 2020-21 Offseason

Other Baseball Today, 10:21 AM
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 Offseason Status Update: Slow Going

As we prepare to flip the calendar to a new year, the Minnesota Twins haven't yet added many new faces to the fold in an offseason defined more by subtraction than addition up to this point.

They have made a few pickups, and been involved in some notable rumors, so let's get up to speed as we say goodbye to 2020.
After signing reliever Hansel Robles for $2 million on Tuesday (more on that shortly) here's a snapshot of Minnesota's projected 2021 roster and payroll:

Attached Image: twinsroster122920.png


This accounting does not include the $5+ million that Kenta Maeda is likely to make in incentives, but even still, the Twins are a long way from the $138.3 million mark I had them pegged for in the final update last winter. (They ended up spending a prorated portion of that in the 60-game season.)

While it's generally believed that 2021 payroll will be down a shade, there have been no indications the Twins intend to scale back dramatically. They might not have $50 million to spend, but they've got absolutely got the means to make some noise.

They haven't yet. And that's hardly unique among major-league teams. But with spring training (ostensibly) less than two months away, and with the San Diego Padres lighting the Hot Stove afire this week, it's time to start getting serious.

Here's a rundown on the Twins, and where they stand on several fronts at year's end.

Hansel Robles Joins Back End of Bullpen

After non-tendering Matt Wisler and letting three key veteran right-handed relievers walk via free agency, the Twins finally made an offsetting addition on Tuesday, signing former Angels closer Hansel Robles to a one-year, $2 million deal plus incentives.

The nature of those incentives probably tells us something about how they plan (or hope) to use him.



Robles can earn bonuses based on how many games he finishes, all the way up to 40. This suggests the Twins will open a path for the 30-year-old to do so – presumably, by filling a role similar to Sergio Romo, and splitting closer duties with Taylor Rogers situationally.

That's not a bad bet for the Twins if they're confident Robles' abbreviated 2020 season was an anomaly, and he can get back to the form he showed in 2019 as an All-Star caliber bullpen weapon for the Angels. Robles has the stuff, headlined by an upper-90s fastball, and the Twins have a recent track record that inspires confidence. But this is hardly the kind of slam-dunk move that screams "ALL IN!" for a club seemingly on the cusp.

Is that yet to come?

Rumblings of a Shortstop Splash

Where there's smoke, there's often fire, and the flumes surrounding Minnesota's pursuit of an impact addition at shortstop are hard to ignore. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, who's as plugged in as any reporter covering the game, wrote recently about the possibility of a Twins trade for Francisco Lindor or Trevor Story (both those possibilities were discussed in our Trade Targets episode of Offseason Live).

Rosenthal mentioned another shortstop target for Minnesota: free agent Marcus Semien. More recently, KSTP's Darren Wolfson reported over the weekend of the Twins having "real interest" in Semien.

In the event they were to acquire a Semien or Story, it's unclear how the Twins would shift their existing pieces of accommodate. The simplest answer is moving Polanco into the utility role formerly occupied by Marwin Gonzalez. But Rosenthal also hinted at the idea of Minnesota trading Luis Arráez and moving Polanco to second. Something tells me this would be a tough sell for the fan base.



All Quiet on the Nelson Cruz Front

In many ways, Minnesota's offseason strategy appears to hinge on the Cruz decision. So far, there's been little known movement. He wants to wait to sign until MLB provides clarity on the DH rule for next year, but there's no sign of getting any in the immediate future. How long can the Twins wait, with their offseason plans mired in limbo?

Baldelli made his pitch to the free agent slugger during a media Zoom session earlier this month. "Nelson, if you're watching, which I know you're not, we'd love to see you in spring training, and I'll talk to you soon," he said into the camera with a grin.

Goofing around? Sure. But it felt like there was almost a knowingness to Baldelli's casual advance. I'm not saying the Twins and Cruz have a handshake agreement in place that any competing offer on a one-year contract will be matched ... but it wouldn't shock me if they did.

We'll keep covering the news here at Twins Daily as it arises. I hope everyone has a happy, safe and healthy New Year.

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21 Comments

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terrydactyls1947
Dec 29 2020 10:13 PM
$50M available to spend? Bauer, Hand, and Gregorius would fit and still have $$$ left for other low-end pieces. Geez, do something so I can quit thinking about the pandemic, unemployment, and losing my house.
    • mikelink45, tarheeltwinsfan, PDX Twin and 2 others like this

Would you rather have Matt Wisler or Hansel Robles?ill take Robles for also the same $ figure. Hoping this isnt the biggest bullpen move of the off season but a nice grab. 

 

I like the idea of bring in a SS, I dont want to trade away the farm tho for a 1 yr rental unless there is a contract extension attached. I also dont want to trade Arraez the contact and onbase skill is a needed asset for this team now and into the future.But i would be mad if he was moved to the Marwin Gonzalez role as an everyday utility guy.  

 

I dont mind bringing Cruz back but I also dont want to get caught with our pants down waiting for him to sign and all our options get snatched up.  

    • DocBauer likes this

I'm not a fan of making Arraez into a utility guy. My observation of his outfield play is that he is pedestrian at best there, and he doesn't have the quickness/agility for short stop. That pretty much leaves 2B and 3B, and there's not much utility in that. Polanco has better all around ability to be a utility player.

    • mikelink45 and wabene like this

I am curious what the similar TD headline was last year at this time.It seems like the Padres are really taking advantage of the insecurity of other teams. 

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specialiststeve
Dec 30 2020 10:04 AM

 

I'm not a fan of making Arraez into a utility guy. My observation of his outfield play is that he is pedestrian at best there, and he doesn't have the quickness/agility for short stop. That pretty much leaves 2B and 3B, and there's not much utility in that. Polanco has better all around ability to be a utility player.

 

Agree completely. Polanco would be best served as the super utility guy at this point. Can play SS, 3B and 2B.. we have enough OF depth so that should not be a need. 

 

Pick up Didi, Simmons before Simion if it were me as Simion has the least talent on defense... Guessing both Didi and Simmons could be had on a 2 year deal ... give time for our stud to grow up a little more.... 

    • DocBauer, wabene and arby58 like this

I don't know what to think about the moves, or lack thereof, this winter. Am wondering if the addition of a shortstop may mean Cruz won't be back. One of the spots for Polanco to get at bats in a super-sub role would be at DH. Those at bats aren't going to be available if they resign Cruz.

 

Expect there is a better chance the Twins get their #3/#4 starter via a trade than a free agent. In that case, none of us has a clue who that pitcher might be just as we had no idea they were getting Maeda last year. Hopefully, he will be somewhat younger and tied up for 3 or 4 years.

 

As for left field, will be exciting listening to Gladden talk about Kirilloff in left field come opening day. Have a feeling this kid is gonna be special.

    • wabene likes this
I can see the Twins signing both Cruz and a good SS if they can acquire an inexpensive starter like Musgrove or a starter from Cincinnati Castillo or Gray....maybe with a few million included in a Gray trade....i also think we have lots of extra pitchers for the bullpen already so we need one more good high end middle reliever to sign and with the other pitchers we already signed I think our pen is set up well for next season. I think our own already has Duffey, Rogers, Robles, Littell, Alcala, Thorpe, Smeltzer, Stashak, Colina, and Theilbar ... 1 more steady arm should do the trick.

I would like to see Twins sign Cruz, Simmons at SS, another potential high leverage reliever, Hand, and a middle of rotation starting pitcher. Castillo would be great, if price not too high, he would be my choice.

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puckstopper1
Dec 30 2020 11:48 AM

I sure hope they are not done with constructing next season's roster, because the roster shown above is a .500 team, finishing in 3rd place in the AL Central.

    • Mike Sixel likes this

It's all about value. Only big splurge they have made using emotion was Donaldson and his health concerns make me very nervous. Stick with the plan and be patient for good deals .. Along with giving serious consideration to the wonderful talent we have waiting in the winds ..

    • wabene likes this

I think baseball as a whole is waiting to see how the actual free agent market will play out this year. Once a couple of guys start signing will give a good idea if the contracts will be subpar as well as the length, partly due to still some uncertainities about the upcoming full/not-full season.

 

There are an awful lot of players out there. Especially curious to see how the minor leagues pan out, especially for those minor veterans vs. all those players cut loose with little place to go because of elimination of a team and, thusly, the non-need for major league teams to house/play up to 25 players that they can snatch from what remains of indy ball (now controlled, in most part, by mlb).

 

The Twins need:

One solid starter

A closer would be nice, or a dominant arm (I vote for Hand).

A DH who can also play 1B or the OF (wait, they have Rooker).

If they grab a shortstop, they should be set for bench/field backup.

 

    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, adjacent and 3 others like this

I expect many teams to be slow on this until we get closer to season.Teams and players alike are playing the game of chicken on contracts.Many non-compeitive teams will be looking to dump money and will sell for pennies on the dollar, and many FA are getting crap offers to a normal off season and are holding out for better.  

 

What I expect to happen is once few guys sign dominos will start to fall very quickly.Every off season needs someone to set the market, this one everyone is afraid to set the market, not just for themselves, but for everyone else.If big name player takes less than players expect the other players will be upset.If Teams set it for more than teams looking to spend teams will be upset. 

I could get behind a Semien signing if Rowson was still here, otherwise Didi or Simmons if going FA. Would prefer even one year of Story over any of those three. Otherwise make a run for Kiki and keep the status quo.

 

Bradley and Clippard to fill out the BP, maybe one more if Cruz decides to sign elsewhere. If no Cruz, Brantley would look good at DH and can spot start in the OF.

 

If Odorizzi suddenly gets too expensive, I think Kluber, Bailey and Hill could make 25-30 starts between them and cost about the same without the long term commitment.

 

I have faith in the braintrust, they've done alright so far.

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ScrapTheNickname
Dec 30 2020 06:10 PM

I don't know where the talk of moving Polanco to the utility role originated but I don't see it happening. He has 9 games experience at 3B 5 years ago. He has 5 games experience at 2B 6 years ago. He has never played 1B or any outfield position. If his expertise as a SS is questionable, how does it figure he would morph, without experience, into even an average utility player?

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Nick Nelson
Dec 30 2020 10:05 PM

 

I don't know what to think about the moves, or lack thereof, this winter. Am wondering if the addition of a shortstop may mean Cruz won't be back. One of the spots for Polanco to get at bats in a super-sub role would be at DH. Those at bats aren't going to be available if they resign Cruz.

This is a good point. I was actually thinking the other day that if they acquired an SS, Polanco would likely be penciled in as Opening Day DH. 

 

It's just hard for me to imagine a scenario where he's not out there for the opener, even with the understanding that he'll see very regular time in the utility role. Down year in 2020 aside, he's been a fixture atop the lineup for years and arguably their most reliable player overall. And he's one year removed from being an All-Star.

 

 

I sure hope they are not done with constructing next season's roster, because the roster shown above is a .500 team, finishing in 3rd place in the AL Central.

Zero chance they are done. Don't worry.

    • ScrapTheNickname likes this
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Nick Nelson
Dec 30 2020 10:09 PM

 

I don't know where the talk of moving Polanco to the utility role originated but I don't see it happening. He has 9 games experience at 3B 5 years ago. He has 5 games experience at 2B 6 years ago. He has never played 1B or any outfield position. If his expertise as a SS is questionable, how does it figure he would morph, without experience, into even an average utility player?

I don't think it's that rare? Most borderline shortstops start moving down the defensive spectrum at some point – Polanco has arguably hung in there at SS for an oddly long time given his performance. With few exceptions, if you can play a decent a shortstop you're gonna be able to play a fine second and third. They are easier positions and relatively familiar. This ain't exactly like asking Miguel Sano to play RF.

    • DocBauer likes this
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Nick Nelson
Dec 30 2020 10:12 PM

 

It's all about value. Only big splurge they have made using emotion was Donaldson and his health concerns make me very nervous. 

Even in that case, I would say it was more about value than emotion. As I recall, they cut off talks at one point because he wasn't open to what they were offering, then they circled back like a month later and made it happen. On their terms.

 

So, yeah, your point stands.

I can’t help but think some teams are going reduce risk as much as possible for this season. I mean dumping any salary possible and not signing free agents. Lose as little money as possible this year and jump back into the game next year. The early signings might end up being huge overpays by spring training
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Major League Ready
Dec 31 2020 02:17 PM

 

I expect many teams to be slow on this until we get closer to season.Teams and players alike are playing the game of chicken on contracts.Many non-compeitive teams will be looking to dump money and will sell for pennies on the dollar, and many FA are getting crap offers to a normal off season and are holding out for better.  

 

What I expect to happen is once few guys sign dominos will start to fall very quickly.Every off season needs someone to set the market, this one everyone is afraid to set the market, not just for themselves, but for everyone else.If big name player takes less than players expect the other players will be upset.If Teams set it for more than teams looking to spend teams will be upset. 

 

I don't think it's a game of chicken. The starting point of any budget is a revenue projection. IDK about you but I don't have much of a handle on how many games will be lost or when fans will be allowed to return. The difference for the Twins between fans being present from day vs 1/2 the season is roughly $60M. How do you set a budget with that much variance likely?

 

The vast majority of teams are going to budget based on a low estimate. They will increase spending should evidence surface of revenues being closer to normal. However, Falvey could pitch cost averaging. In other words, a 3 year plan where current payroll is set based on a 3 year revenue plan. The logic being players will be less expensive this year and the overall return on investment (productivity per dollar) will be improved by investing more heavily this year.

 

The downside from a fan perspective is that the budget is going to be very tight in 2022-23 if revenues are down anywhere near what they were last year. However, we should have enough young talent emerging by 2022 to manage the roster in that event.

 

BTW ... The 10 o'clock news had a story on vaccinations in Minnesota a couple nights ago. They reported vaccines should be available to the general public "late spring to early summer". I am not exactly sure what that means for attendance but the end of the tunnel is in sight.

    • DocBauer likes this

 

I don't know where the talk of moving Polanco to the utility role originated but I don't see it happening. He has 9 games experience at 3B 5 years ago. He has 5 games experience at 2B 6 years ago. He has never played 1B or any outfield position. If his expertise as a SS is questionable, how does it figure he would morph, without experience, into even an average utility player?

Look up his minor league records. In 2012, 2013 and 2016, he played more games at 2B than at SS in the minors. He also played 14 games at 3B in 2011 and 10 that year in the outfield, in all three positions. He's certainly athletic enough for it - there have been several examples in baseball history of players shifting from SS to CF with little preparation and doing just fine out there. Robin Yount is one example, and Paul Molitor (ironically, he had to move from SS because of Yount) also moved around, to 2B, 3B and the OF. 

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ScrapTheNickname
Jan 01 2021 12:59 AM

 

I don't think it's that rare? Most borderline shortstops start moving down the defensive spectrum at some point – Polanco has arguably hung in there at SS for an oddly long time given his performance. With few exceptions, if you can play a decent a shortstop you're gonna be able to play a fine second and third. They are easier positions and relatively familiar. This ain't exactly like asking Miguel Sano to play RF.

You're right, moving Polanco to 3rd base would be nothing like putting Sano in RF, BUT ... it's the corner, it's not easy ... I think we kind of maybe got spoiled by how versatile Adrianza was defensively. I'm really just an observer; however it shakes out I'll be watching.


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