Twins Winter Meetings Primer
Image courtesy of Mark J Rebilas, USA TodayOver the next four days, we will hear about teams talking to teams, and agents talking to GMs. We’ll have to work hard (or at least think hard) about many of the vast rumors that we will hear and read about. Many will fall into the “That’s Silly” category. Others will warrant interest and discussion.
But it’s important to remember that the Winter Meetings are just that. They are a series of meetings. Minor league teams will be there, sitting in on meetings. Independent Leagues will have representatives there, going to meetings. There will be a lot of college kids and others, wearing suits, trying to line up jobs in baseball. It isn’t just about making roster transaction.
Let’s admit it though. That’s the only part we care about. So, let’s discuss what the Twins need to do yet this offseason, while at the same time reminding us all that it doesn’t have to all be done by Thursday.
~~ Read Nick’s Offseason Update ~~
Here are some things to watch this week:
Number One: Add an Impact Starting Pitcher
The Twins have Jose Berrios under team control, signed Jake Odorizzi to the qualifying offer and are a passed physical from having Michael Pineda inked up. While not as exciting to bring back players, two of those players could have been lost via free agency and now will return.
However, we all know that the Twins need an “Impact” starting pitcher to give themselves a better chance to compete not only in the AL Central but in short series in the playoffs too.
I think we can all understand that they aren’t going to get Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg.
But they have clearly been involved in conversations for the next level. They were involved in Zack Wheeler discussions. They clearly have strong interest in lefties Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Is either interested in leaving California for Minnesota?
If not, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will likely need to shift gears and start contemplating trade options for an impact starter. A call to Colorado’s front office to discuss Jon Gray or German Marquez might make a lot of sense. What other starters might be available in trade?
Number Two: A Second High-Quality Starting Pitcher
Even if they add an impact arm, the Twins front office will need to ask itself another question. Do they want to bring in one more starting pitcher or do they want to trust their young pitchers and player development to fill one of the five rotation spots?
Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, and Lewis Thorpe all showed signs in 2019 that they are either ready to pitch in the big leagues in 2020 or are very close. Brusdar Graterol will likely get another opportunity to start at some point in 2020.
But could the front office bring in another veteran pitcher or two to compete for a roster spot. Last week, I mentioned Kevin Gausman as a possibility for a veteran coming off a tough year who could potentially be a #3 type of starter if Wes Johnson & Company are able to help him. Also, Julio Teheran fits into that category. Both of them are still well under 30 years old.
Number Three: Who’s on First?
Last week, the Twins non-tendered first baseman CJ Cron. That opens up a roster spot, if the Twins front office wants it to. One option, of course, would be for Miguel Sano to stay at third base and Marwin Gonzalez to play first base. Or vice versa. Ehire Adrianza is the utility man, and Willians Astudillo remains in the picture. There are also other internal options for first base.
But if the Twins are unable to convince Bumgarner or Ryu to take their money, maybe they chose to offer it to a position player. They could get someone like Mitch Moreland within a budget to do a nice job defensively at first base, saving errors for the other side of the infield. Or, they could make the move of Sano to first base and sign someone like Josh Donaldson for big money. Maybe a trade for an all-star, like Matt Chapman, could also be explored.
Number Four: The Bullpen
While I don’t think that the Twins bullpen would be considered a strength, it certainly can be solid. The Twins have not been mentioned in rumors around relievers, with the possible exception of bringing back Sergio Romo, so it’s hard to know how active that have been or will be in the bullpen market. In general, the bullpen market has been fairly quiet so far.
Taylor Rogers has turned into a great late-inning reliever, but the Twins may be interested in adding another lefty (though Smeltzer and Thorpe could compete for a spot as well). They have added Blaine Hardy on a minor league deal and he is certainly an option.
Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May and Zack Littell were all really good in 2019. Cody Stashak showed a lot, and Fernando Romero is out of options. Matt Wisler signed for $700K.
I can certainly see the Twins looking to add one more high-quality late-inning reliever, if not two.
Number Five: Rule 5
On Thursday, the Rule 5 draft will take place. The Twins 40-man roster is currently at 35. With the additions of Alex Avila and Michael Pineda (whenever they are announced), they will be at 37. They could add a free agent or two and still have a 40-man roster spot for a Rule 5 pick.
Without knowing who might be available for the Twins to consider, teams should absolutely always consider adding in the Rule 5 draft. It is a good, cheap way to potentially add talent. With rosters jumping up to 26 in 2020, the Twins - and every other team - may use the Rule 5 draft more liberally as an opportunity to add a piece.
While I think it’s something to be considered, I don’t necessarily think it’s likely for the Twins to add a player in the Rule 5 draft. As Twins fans, we will likely be paying attention more out of concern for potentially losing high-talent prospectslike Wander Javier and Luis Rijo or near-ready talents like Griffin Jax or Tom Hackimer.
So there you have five things to watch for during the Winter Meetings in San Diego. As always, the Winter Meetings will be complete on 12th, so not all of these things will need to be answered by then.
Be sure to refresh Twins Daily often as we will try to keep close tabs on any Twins news and rumors.
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