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Minnesota and Big Contracts

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:05 PM
For more than 2 decades I have listened to Minnesota Twins fans complain that the Pohlads never give out big contracts. This is mostly bu...
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Front Page: Twins Making Sweeping Changes on the Diamond?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:02 PM
When the Minnesota Twins decided to non-tender C.J. Cron it immediately created another position of need for the 2020 club. Joining the n...
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Front Page: Wheeler’s Gone, But Bumgarner Would Give the...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:01 PM
With Zack Wheeler signing with the Philadelphia Phillies for $118 million over five years, Minnesota’s interest turns to Madison Bumgarne...
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The Trade Route

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:53 PM
Ive heard rumblings of the Twins swinging a trade with the Tigers for a big name pitcher, and I have to assume it would be Boyd.   A...
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Chasing Madison Bumgarner Thread

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:32 PM
Looks like the market is heating up for Bumgarner now, and the Twins are in. Post rumors and thoughts as they arise, please:  
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Wish List: Circa 2012 and 2020 (Kevin Gausman)

At Twins Daily, we spent a lot of time preparing for the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft. The Minnesota Twins had the #2 pick and we spent more than a month, behind the leadership of Jeremy Nygaard, considering who the options might be for the Twins. After the Astros selected Carlos Correa with the first pick, the Twins drafted outfielder Byron Buxton, a prep star from Appling County High School in Georgia. Two picks later, the Baltimore Orioles drafted right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman from LSU.

I really liked the idea of the Twins drafting Gausman then. Now, you can count me as someone who would love to see the Twins sign Gausman now that the Cincinnati Reds have non-tendered him.
Image courtesy of Jason Getz, USA Today
LOOKING BACK

With a quick look back at the days leading up to the 2012 draft, it was pretty apparent that Byron Buxton was the best athlete in the draft. The Twins were in need of a catcher, and Mike Zunino was early the top college catching prospect in the draft. Gausman, along with Kyle Zimmer (University of San Francisco) and Mark Appel (Stanford, and the #1 overall pick the previous year) were the college pitching names to know.

Many were surprised when the Astros took Carlos Correa from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy with the first overall pick. Of course, we have since learned that the Twins had Correa in ahead of the draft and most believe that he was Number One on their draft list as well. The Twins took Buxton. The Mariners drafted Zunino next and then the Orioles selected Gausman one pick before the Royals selected Zimmer.

In mid-May of 2012, Jeremy posted an interview with Kevin Gausman while he was still pitching for LSU.

While I am always intrigued by immensely athletic baseball players from the prep ranks, as we got closer to the draft, I admit that I went public with the though that I would like to see the Twins draft Gausman.

Why?

Several reasons. First and foremost, he was a college pitcher who could be ready for the big leagues very quickly. And he was. He debuted with the Orioles less than a year later, on May 23rd, 2013.

But it wasn't just that. It was reports of his stuff. Not only was he consistently working with a fastball in the mid-90s, but he sometimes had games where he reached 98 mph regularly. In addition, he had a really, really good changeup and great makeup. There were some concerns about his ability to spin the ball but there was hope that he could develop his curve ball and his slider.

A college pitcher at one of the best baseball schools in the country who throws in the mid-90s with five pitches and plus-plus makeup.


His Career To Date

Gausman debuted in 2013 and spent parts of six seasons with the Orioles. He pitched in 150 games and made 127 starts. 15 of those 23 relief appearances came in his rookie season. In 2016, he worked 179 2/3 innings and posted a 3.61 ERA while pitching mostly in the AL East. The following season, he made 34 starts and posted a 4.68 ERA in 186 2/3 innings. In 21 starts at the beginning of 2018, he was 5-8 with a 4.43 ERA.

At the July trade deadline in 2018, he was traded to Atlanta with reliever Darren O'Day in exchange for four minor leaguers and some international bonus pool money. He went 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA in ten starts.

Last season, he earned $9.35 million in his second year of arbitration. But 2019 did not go well for Gausman. He made 16 starts for the Braves and went 3-7 with a 6.19 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP over 80 innings. He had a couple of stints on the injured list with plantar fasciitis. Atlanta DFAd him and Cincinnati claimed him in early August. He made 15 appearances for the Reds (one start) and went 0-2 with a 4.03 ERA in 22 1/3 innings.

That brings us to Monday when the Reds non-tendered him, making him a free agent.


The "Stuff"

In 2019, 57% of Gausman's pitches were fastballs which averaged 94.0 mph. That is up slightly from where he was in 2018. From 2013-2017, his fastball averaged between 94.7 and 95.9 mph. In college, his "typical" fastball was about 94 mph but he threw it anywhere from 92 to 98 mph.

After throwing his slider about 13-14% of the time between 2016 and 2018, he threw just his slider just 2% of the time in 2019.

He threw his changeup about 5.5% of the time the last couple of seasons. The pitch has consistently been ten mph slower than his fastball, which is a good differential.

In 2019, he threw his split-finger pitch 35% of the time after it has been between 16-22% previously in his career.

I won't pretend to be an expert or a video guy, but he continued to throw hard and throw pitches in the strike zone. He got equal or even higher percentages of swings and misses. In other words, he has the same or at least similar stuff now as he had at the beginning of his major league career.

I do know who has a good reputation for being able to find the strengths of a pitcher and even add some velocity. That's the reputation that Wes Johnson has, and with the help of the Research and Development group, just maybe they can find the key to getting Gausman to top form.

Gausman has the pedigree, the high draft pick status, and the stuff that earned him that spot. His arm has remained pretty healthy through his first seven big league seasons. That report of "plus makeup" certainly indicates his ability to work and to work within a team environment. And, he won't turn 29 until days after the calendar changes to 2020.


And Now...

Seven-and-a-half years later, I would love to see a scenario where the Twins have Byron Buxton manning centerfield and Kevin Gausman on the mound.

Teaming the duo with another 2012 first-round draft pick in Jose Berrios and the team might have three strong 5.5 players.

If Johnson and company can work their magic on Gausman and just get him back to his peak performance, the Twins could have found a very solid #3 starter to fall right between Berrios and Odorizzi in the rotation. Even if they can just get him to his career average numbers, he would make a solid #5 starter for 150 to 170 innings.

Because of his relative youth, I don't expect that Gausman's services will come terribly cheaply. I would also expect that he might prefer a one-year, make-good deal. The Twins made a similar deal a year ago with Jonathan Schoop. Schoop was coming off of an injury-plagued season which followed a solid career. Schoop played well for the Twins and would have played more if not for the emergence of Luis Arraez.

Personally, and admittedly, I'm probably a bit high on Gausman and believe in his stuff and the makeup he is touted for. I would be willing to get a little creative. I'd consider offering a one year, $5.5 million deal. I would structure it such that Gausman would make $4 million in 2020. I'd include a team option for 2021 at about $8 million but have a $1.5 million buyout. In fact, I would love to include a second option year, at about $10 million, but in that, I would prefer the buyout drop to $1 million. That would mean Gausman could then become a free agent at age 31, the more "normal" free agency age.

At those numbers, it would be fairly low risk but there could be some relatively high reward. Even better, it wouldn't keep them from going after he upper-echelon free agents that are out there this offseason.

In my mind, of all of the non-tendered free agents, I think that Kevin Gausman clearly has the highest potential.

What do you think?


MORE FROM TWINS DAILY

- Non-Tendered Players That Could Interest the Twins
- Get To Know 'Em: Kevin Gausman
- Looking Forward by Looking Back (2012 Draft)

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36 Comments

Love it Seth as long as we add 2 other starting pitchers either through free agency or trade. I hope we do not leave the 5th spot open for Dobnek, Thorpe, Smeltzer or Graterol.They will get thier chances as starters may be ineffective or hurt. You need at least eight possible starters. 

    • birdwatcher likes this
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Richard Swerdlick
Yesterday, 05:34 AM
So then if he is so wonderful, why did Cincy non tender him?
    • peterb18 and jud6312 like this

The Twins need 3 more starters, so they should be aggressive. Gausman would be a good one to sign early this offseason. I don't think I would go more than one year/one team option, but I might up the $$ for the first year of the contract. Gausman was an above-average starter for 2016-18. It's hard to find SP like that for under $10M/yr. 

 

One concern is the plantar fascitis, which can linger for a long time. The other is his propensity to give up the long ball. If the Twins FO is satisfied that both of these issues can be addressed, sign him.

 

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the_brute_squad
Yesterday, 05:36 AM

If he's the best of what the Twins won't go after (top line pitcher) then I say do it. The potential is certainly there.

Obviously is he's healthy he's worth a look. As Seth wrote, he seems like the perfect low risk and potentially high reward sort of signing.

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mikelink45
Yesterday, 07:03 AM

Load up the rack with all the arms we can find and let them compete!I am not particularly interested in Gausman, but I do know that the Reds play in a home run heaven so his HR rate is inflated.  

 

I do not want to remove Graterol, Dobnak, Smeltzer...from the competition, I want them to win it, but I want them to win it by beating out other good pitchers, not because they are the only arms left. 

    • peterb18, beckmt, DocBauer and 3 others like this

I agree, a low risk, high reward type of player.I also believe, and I could be wrong, these contracts are not guaranteed until the end of spring training with a growing buyout, so go for it.If it is fully guaranteed at signing I am a little more skeptical. 

And Glausman could want a fully guaranteed contract, he might get that from a club that does not rate to contend, and use him as a flip special at the trading deadline.

    • peterb18 likes this
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Seth Stohs
Yesterday, 08:14 AM

 

So then if he is so wonderful, why did Cincy non tender him?

 

I don't recall writing that he is "so wonderful" just that I still think he's very intriguing and after being a solid mid-rotation starter for 3 years, he had a rough 2019 so he's a possible candidate for coming back... 

    • Danchat, mikelink45, DocBauer and 1 other like this
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TwinkieTownKiller
Yesterday, 08:40 AM

 

So then if he is so wonderful, why did Cincy non tender him?

Basically the Reds saw him as more of a reliever and his raise in arbitration would have overpaid him for his role. He had a pretty unlucky year in terms of ERA and he looks like a classic case of a guy who could take a next step, but the arbitration process would have paid too much for what he was in 2019.

This might be a rare article that swayed my opinion.

 

Also, I love the rare first-person take from Seth.

The trend this off-season appears to be teams not willing to pay for bounce back potential. Gausman is one of a dozen or so players now who were non-tendered because they are coming back from injury, need time to recover from an injury, or had a rough 2019. 

 

If other teams aren't willing to do it, why should the Twins?

    • mikelink45 and jud6312 like this
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sweetmusicviola16
Yesterday, 09:25 AM

Gausman is what makes being a Twins fan frustrating. Year after year we are left with dreaming about bounce back candidates and drooling about never has beens. Really sick of this. 

 

Spend for Wheeler and Ryu. Or Cole. Enough of the Pelfrey's ,Perez's and Correia's. Enough.

    • mikelink45 and jud6312 like this

Know little about him, Seth.But will go with your recommendation and get on board.Right now that would be as one of three starters.You put him between Berrios and Odorizzi.Of that pair, who do you consider #1?Personally, could see arguments to go with either as #1.

 

And a question, Seth.Do you think it is possible the FO decides to go into spring training with the #5 spot open?Let the four rookies from last year and a couple reclamation projects (or AAAA) battle it out?That would mean they only need to fill two more spots.

 

So then if he is so wonderful, why did Cincy non tender him?

 

because they didn't think he was worth spending $10-12M on? Baseball arbitration is an odd duck where no one who is eligible for it ever gets less money than the previous year, only increases. So even if you had a bad year, you get more money in arbitration. It's one of the better things the players have in the CBA.

 

I think he's a very interesting choice to grab up as a 5th starter. The ceiling is someone who is a good #3 on a contending team, the floor is a replaceable 5th starter. I think Seth's contract proposal makes sense for the Twins, but not sure Gausman will go for the team option (definitely won't do a 2nd team option, IMHO). He's made about $20M in MLB already so unless he's been foolish with his money he doesn't need to worry about a 2nd year as much. But I'd be willing to take a run at him even without the option.

 

Gausman could be a nifty replacement for Perez/Gibson's production at a smart price and if he flunks out as a starter would still have value as a relief option. Again, i think one of the keys to regular season success is putting as few innings and ABs in the hands of bad players as you can. Raising the floor has real value, and even in his down years, Gausman was a better pitcher than Martin Perez (whom we gave 29 starts to last season). Working with a good pitching coach in a stable environment as a 4th or 5th starter, I think he could chew up 180 productive innings with an ERA floating around 4.10-4.25. I like that a lot at $6M.

    • birdwatcher, James, mikelink45 and 3 others like this
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gunnarthor
Yesterday, 09:52 AM

I won't complain if the Twins nab him. (He was my #2 choice after Buxton in 2012). I'm not sure why he was so bad last year but if the Twins think they can fix him, go for it.

    • James and Sconnie like this
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Seth Stohs
Yesterday, 10:08 AM

 

The trend this off-season appears to be teams not willing to pay for bounce back potential. Gausman is one of a dozen or so players now who were non-tendered because they are coming back from injury, need time to recover from an injury, or had a rough 2019. 

 

If other teams aren't willing to do it, why should the Twins?

 

I think the trend was for teams not being willing to pay the arbitration cost for guys looking to come back because arbitration numbers are high. But it's too early to know what teams are willing to pay for these types. Cron fits into the category as well. 

 

Gausman, through arbitration, probably would have made $10 million. He's not worth that, so he gets non-tendered... but getting him for 1 year and $4-6 million could be a steal... or not. 

    • mikelink45, DocBauer, JLease and 1 other like this

 

I think the trend was for teams not being willing to pay the arbitration cost for guys looking to come back because arbitration numbers are high. But it's too early to know what teams are willing to pay for these types. Cron fits into the category as well. 

 

Gausman, through arbitration, probably would have made $10 million. He's not worth that, so he gets non-tendered... but getting him for 1 year and $4-6 million could be a steal... or not. 

 

Owners have already suppressed free agency costs. I guess the next logical step for them is suppressing arbitration costs so they can pocket MOAR money. 

 

Would the decision with Gausman change at all if he was projected to receive $8 million instead of $10 million? Or $6 million instead of $10 million? We'll never know, but I'm willing to guess the additional $2-3 million dollars wasn't the primary reason he was non-tendered. 

 

 

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Seth Stohs
Yesterday, 10:37 AM

 

Gausman is what makes being a Twins fan frustrating. Year after year we are left with dreaming about bounce back candidates and drooling about never has beens. Really sick of this. 

 

Spend for Wheeler and Ryu. Or Cole. Enough of the Pelfrey's ,Perez's and Correia's. Enough.

 

Can't they do both? The beauty of a bounce-back guy like Gausman is that he has no impact on their efforts toward Wheeler, Ryu or Bumgarner. 

    • birdwatcher, Twins33, Dantes929 and 7 others like this
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Seth Stohs
Yesterday, 10:39 AM

 

Know little about him, Seth.But will go with your recommendation and get on board.Right now that would be as one of three starters.You put him between Berrios and Odorizzi.Of that pair, who do you consider #1?Personally, could see arguments to go with either as #1.

 

And a question, Seth.Do you think it is possible the FO decides to go into spring training with the #5 spot open?Let the four rookies from last year and a couple reclamation projects (or AAAA) battle it out?That would mean they only need to fill two more spots.

 

I would feel comfortable with having one spot open for Dobnak, Graterol, Thorpe, Smeltzer to compete for. That said, for the Twins, it may (or may not?) be better to have those guys as the 6-9 starters rather than 5-8. 

    • DocBauer likes this
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Seth Stohs
Yesterday, 10:47 AM

 

Owners have already suppressed free agency costs. I guess the next logical step for them is suppressing arbitration costs so they can pocket MOAR money. 

 

Would the decision with Gausman change at all if he was projected to receive $8 million instead of $10 million? Or $6 million instead of $10 million? We'll never know, but I'm willing to guess the additional $2-3 million dollars wasn't the primary reason he was non-tendered. 

 

I mean, would the Twins have offered CJ Cron arbitration if he had been projected to sign for $6 million instead of $7.5 million... or $5.5 million... Of did they just decide to go in a different direction? The injury is probably some concern, but he should be fine before spring training. Ultimately, they chose to go in a different direction. 

 

There are a lot of factors. The Reds projected rotation looks like Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafini and Tyler Mahle. Three of them are still in or under arbitration. And they are one of the finalists for Zach Wheeler. 

 

I won't pretend to have followed Gausman in 2019. Maybe there are some underlying concerns. Maybe his lack of spin rate is an absolute No. Maybe there are other injury concerns that teams may have. If so, yeah, find another name. 

 

But a guy like Gausman, who frankly did as much in 2016-2018 as Wheeler and is a year younger but he's coming off a rough season, could be had and it doesn't stop them from going after a bigger dollar free agent, or trading for an impact starter too. 

    • 70charger and Strato Guy like this

 

I would feel comfortable with having one spot open for Dobnak, Graterol, Thorpe, Smeltzer to compete for. That said, for the Twins, it may (or may not?) be better to have those guys as the 6-9 starters rather than 5-8. 

If they would do that, Seth, it sure would be a fun spring training.Should they sign Pineda, who I think would be a good signing, one of the four would also get those four or five starts before he is released from MLB prison.

 

 Enough of the Pelfrey's ,Perez's and Correia's. Enough.

And the Blyleven's, Morris's Odorizzi's , Lynn's, Pineda's?Some pan out, some don't. Correia's ERA with the Twins would have put him solidly in the #4 spot in 2019. Those guys have value also. If I had to bet I would say Gausman would give us better than what Gibson gave us last year.Either of Dobnak and Graterol and probably Thorpe or Smeltzer would give us better than what Perez gave us and possibly a lot more. I have no problem handing over at least one spot to the young guys. Where do people think good starters come from if not the minor leagues? Of course they don't always pan out but Dobnak pitched 135 innings in the minors last year with a 2.07 ERA and then did even better with the Twins in 28 innings. What more can you ask for in an audition?Graterol was equally dominant.I promise you that if this board existed in late 1990 fans would be saying Tapani is an ok middle rotation guy, Morris is washed up, Erickson only has 113 major league innings and should only be considered as extra depth in case of injuries to proven pitchers and Anderson and West would never be on the rosters of a seriously contending team.Sign a couple of guys like Gausman that have apparent upside,go hard after at least one of Pineda,Ryu, Bumgartner or Wheeler (in that order in my opinion) and rely on guys stepping up and thriving.

    • birdwatcher, Oldgoat_MN, DocBauer and 2 others like this
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SpicyGarvSauce
Yesterday, 11:26 AM

This would be your typical Minnesota Twins move - take someone off the scrap heap, who just got non-tendered by the CINCINNATI REDS, and make them your highlight of the winter thus far. Seriously, how can you people get behind ideas like this after watching the Twins's starting pitching take an absolute dump in the ALDS this past season?

    • sweetmusicviola16 likes this
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Seth Stohs
Yesterday, 12:10 PM

 

This would be your typical Minnesota Twins move - take someone off the scrap heap, who just got non-tendered by the CINCINNATI REDS, and make them your highlight of the winter thus far. Seriously, how can you people get behind ideas like this after watching the Twins's starting pitching take an absolute dump in the ALDS this past season?

 

See previous comments to see the projected Reds rotation in 2020... And again, this is a "typical" every team move because all teams are looking for the guy coming off a bad year with good stuff and previous success to hope to bring them back to solid or better. These types of moves are smart for every organization, including the big spenders and the mid-markets. Part of that is because it doesn't stop them from going after the high price tag guys too. 

 

Who were the 4/5/6 starters for the. The Nationals won the World Series with Joe Ross making a Game 6 start. The Twins won one with Les Straker. The Astros got a terrific start from Urquidy. Back ends of rotations come from all over. The difference is that Gausman has enough track record of success (while playing for the Orioles in the AL East and his first half-season with Atlanta in a playoff run. He had a bad year. Doesn't mean he'll be great in 2020. Doesn't mean he'll even be good in 2020. He might be. No guarantee, but all teams sign guys like this and see. 

 

 

    • birdwatcher, DocBauer, JLease and 1 other like this

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