Where Can the Twins Add the Most Value?
Image courtesy of © Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY SportsThere holes left to fill on the Twins roster, but luckily for Twins fans, there are plenty of options still available. Here’s a look at three positions where Minnesota could add the most value. WAR total comparisons are from FanGraphs ZiPS projections for the 2021 season.
It’s ridiculous that the National League still doesn’t know if they will have a designated hitter in 2021. Teams are supposed to proceed as if there won’t be a NL DH, but it makes it tough for free agents like Nelson Cruz to know their market. Cruz and the Twins have been in contact throughout the off-season and the two parties seem like a natural match with the current DH market. However, there are other options for the Twins to consider.
If the Twins choose not to sign a DH, the organization’s options to fill the role are Brent Rooker and Alex Kirilloff. Rooker had an impactful debut before being hit with a pitch that ended his season. Kirilloff seems more likely to take over Rosario’s role in the outfield, but he could still get at-bats as the DH.
Marcell Ozuna represents Minnesota’s best chance to add the most value at DH. He’s a decade younger than Cruz and he is coming off a tremendous season in Atlanta. Obviously, his price tag is going to include a longer commitment and more money than Cruz. Michael Brantley is a different style hitter than Cruz and Ozuna, but he also offers more defensive flexibility than some of the other DH options.
Current DH Options: Rooker (0.5 WAR), Kirilloff (1.5 WAR)
Free Agent DH: Ozuna (3.6 WAR), Cruz (3.1 WAR), Brantley (2.9 WAR)
Back-End Starting Pitching
Minnesota’s top three starters are already penciled in with Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, and Michael Pineda. This means the club is looking for other options to fill out the back half of the rotation. In-house options like Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, and Jhoan Duran could eat innings in the fifth starter spot. However, the team likely doesn’t want to rely on those arms filling in back-end roles.
Minnesota isn’t going to spend the money it takes to sign Trevor Bauer, so the Twins are likely looking at the other names at the top of the free agent list. This includes Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Jake Odorizzi, Taijuan Walker, and Jose Quintana. ZiPS loves Dobnak so only the first three free agent pitchers would be an upgrade over him to the Twins rotation.
Current 4/5 Starters: Dobnak (1.5 WAR), Smeltzer (0.8 WAR), Thorpe (0.5 WAR), Duran (0.8 WAR)
Free Agent Starters: Paxton (2.7 WAR), Tanaka (2.3 WAR), Odorizzi (1.8 WAR), Walker (1.2 WAR), Quintana (1.3 WAR)
The Twins need to add infield depth with Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianaza both becoming free agents. Throughout the offseason, there has been talk about moving Jorge Polanco to a super utility role and the Twins acquiring a better defensive shortstop. One option would be to trade for a shortstop with an expiring contract like Javier Baez or Trevor Story, but there are plenty of good free agent options still available that would allow the team to keep prospects.
If the Twins want a starting shortstop, there are clearly three players at the top of the free agent market. Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, and Marcus Semien are all very intriguing options and the idea of having Simmons and Donaldson on the same side of the infield is a defensive dream. Semien is projected is the only player projected for a higher WAR than Polanco. Other utility options include Jurickson Profar, Enrique Hernandez, and Tommy La Stella, but none of them are considered everyday shortstops.
Current SS/Utility Infielders: Polanco (2.8 WAR), Gordon (1.1 WAR), Miranda (0.8 WAR), Blankenhorn (-0.2 WAR)
Free Agent SS/Utility Players: Semien (3.9 WAR), Simmons (2.7 WAR), Gregorius (2.3 WAR), Profar (1.6 WAR), La Stella (0.7 WAR), Hernandez (0.6 WAR)
If the Twins want to add the most value, it looks like they should turn to Ozuna, Paxton, and Semien. That trio of players would likely come with a hefty price tag, so the Twins might have to be creative as they complete their roster.
Where do you think the Twins can add the most value? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
- mikelink45, dbminn and Minny505 like this