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Offseason Blueprint: Hooking a Big Fish

There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins greatest need this offseason is pitching. The front office has stated their focus will be on arms defined as “impact” and filling out a rotation that’s virtually empty is a must. With the premiere arms having plenty of suitors, the Twins could turn to what they did best in 2019.
Image courtesy of © Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Every team in baseball should be salivating at the thought of adding either Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg to their starting rotation. Young aces simply don’t hit the free agent market often, and when they do the costs will be substantial. Minnesota can afford either (and even both), but I’d expect Cole to look at the West Coast or New York, while Strasburg returns to D.C. with on a hefty raise. That doesn’t mean all is lost for the Twins, but how they react is where this narrative begins.

Going into 2019 the front office suggested a wait and see approach that was built on the premise of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano establishing their value. The former looks the part of a star (when healthy), and the latter showed he’s one of the best power hitters in the game. Neither of them was a linchpin in the 101-win season though, and Rocco Baldelli got strong performance by utilizing the full sum of his parts. Buxton and Sano can be key cogs, but the winning was as much alongside them as opposed to being because of them.

Now with an established infrastructure of developmental talent, a big-league roster capable of competing with anyone, and opportunity as abundant as it may ever be, it’s time to follow in the footsteps of recent World Series winners and begin to capitalize on the window.

I’d hardly be shocked if the win total takes a slight step backwards, but the goal is an extended presence into October. Here’s how that happens in 2020:

1. Cron is the odd man out in arbitration deals.

After a nagging thumb injury in 2019, Cron should be all systems go in 2020. He was great before the thumb issue flared up, and I certainly have no problem with the Twins offering him an arbitration deal. Unfortunately, this projection includes a roster crunch, so C.J. becomes the lone arbitration-eligible player to not be tendered a new deal.

2. Make Anthony Rendon the big splash paying him $33 million for eight years.

Last offseason I liked the idea of Josh Donaldson coming to the Twins. He was a former superstar and could be had at a discount. Going home to Georgia he had a very good bounce-back year. With plenty of money to spend, and the top two pitchers likely off the board, the next superstar opportunity is a better one. Anthony Rendon is an MVP-level talent, has been incredibly consistent, and joins one of the best lineups in baseball. I’m not sure Miguel Sano needs to move across the diamond yet, but there’s no reason this isn’t a good enough opportunity for him to do so.

3. Sign Zack Wheeler to a four-year, $72 million contract.

At the top of Minnesota’s impact pitching list should be Zack Wheeler. Hiss secondary numbers are drool-inducing, and he’s already got plenty of velocity for Wes Johnson to work with. Allowing the Twins pitching coach to pull more from the 29-year-old and Baldelli would have a very impressive one-two punch at the top of his rotation.

4. Sign Jake Odorizzi to a three-year, $36 million contract.

The Twins smartly handed Odorizzi a qualifying offer. He could take that and return at $17.8 million which would be just fine. It may also ward off some competition for his services, keeping the bidding on a longer-term deal. Two-years doesn’t seem enticing for the former Rays hurler if the alternative is a gaudy one-year pact, so go three and bolster the middle of the group.

5. Trade Eddie Rosario and Jhoan Duran to the Colorado Rockies for Jon Gray.

Under team control for two more years, the former third overall pick is where I’m setting my sights in a swap for the Minnesota outfielder. Rosario can probably hit a boatload of bombas in the Rockies, while Gray can be expected to build on a career year in 2019. His FIP has suggested there’s more than the ERA has told us for a few years, and while the walks could be reduced, the strikeout stuff is going to play anywhere. At worst you’ve got a number four starter, and the upside is a guy to contend with Wheeler and Jose Berrios at the top. Duran was the main piece in the Eduardo Escobar deal, and he looked impressive during his first full season in the organization.

6. Sign Alex Gordon to a one-year, $2 million contract.

Prioritizing defense is a must for the Twins in 2020. With Eddie Rosario gone, adding another plus-glove into the outfield mix as depth makes a lot of sense. Gordon isn’t the player he once was, but he’s still above average in the field and can play left as often as Marwin Gonzalez is elsewhere. Ideally, I’d like some center field depth, but I’d tell Max Kepler and Jake Cave to be as prepared as possible coming into spring training. Gordon is done with his massive Royals payday, and the $4 million buyout should reduce his 2020 ask as well.

7. Sign Robinson Chirinos to a one-year, $6 million contract.

I’d be fine with Jason Castro returning on this same exact deal, if he’s open to it. Chirinos is an excellent backstop with a strong bat, and seemingly an impressive clubhouse presence. He recently wrapped up a season coming just shy of winning a World Series and could help push Minnesota toward that same exact goal.

8. Sign Drew Pomeranz and Sergio Romo to one-year deals for $3.5 and $3 million.

The former gives Minnesota a second lefty option in the pen, and his former starting experience should allow for some length as well. A reunion with Romo would work in the clubhouse, and his slider is still as devastating as ever. Neither represent earth-shattering pen arms, but this is the easiest avenue toward improvement.

Summary

The most prolific power offense in the history of baseball returns in 2020, but with an added boost. Eddie Rosario ends up being dangled to acquire pitching but getting the best position player on the market makes up for that and then some. Rendon’s bat plays, and his glove may be even more important. I like Marwin in the outfield more than on the dirt, and Alex Gordon provides a defense-first bench option that the Twins haven’t had.

Yes, the outfield prospects are close, but there’s still a clear path to playing time, and the Opening Day roster starts in a very good place.

Attached Image: Lineup.PNG

From a pitching perspective it’s a season of change. Odorizzi is back with Berrios, but the impact is felt from outside the organization. Wheeler represents a second bullet for Minnesota to mold into an ace, and he can bolster the top of the staff even if he doesn’t get there. Gray should benefit from leaving the Rockies, and a better organization can most certainly take his stuff up another level.

I struggled with the idea of giving Brusdar Graterol a rotation spot out of the gate. He has never pitched more than 102 innings in a season, is coming off just 61 in 2019, and is still just 21-years-old. Ideally, he starts at Triple-A and settles back into starting. That said, I like his arm a good deal better than any fringe fifth starter, and if Minnesota deems that he beats out the likes of Lewis Thorpe then take off the training wheels.

Attached Image: Rotation.PNG

If there’s a weak spot to this roster it’s the same area 2019 started out with. The relief corps is composed of internally developed arms, which is only a strength if regression is to be denied. Rogers, May, Duffey, and Littell all return as near certainties. Stashak earned himself an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster, and Devin Smeltzer could be a nice long man in relief. Free agents, one returning, complete the group and Pomeranz looks to have some serious upside.

Should the Twins find themselves cycling through arms too often out of the pen, or if there’s a lack of production, relief arms at the deadline are among the most easily acquirable commodities.

Attached Image: Bullpen.PNG

When the dust settles this puts the Opening Day payroll at $143.4 million. That’s almost a $30 million jump from 2019, and a step up from the previous high-water mark in 2018 as well. This is the time to build, and this plan leaves the Twins with opportunity to add more in 2021 and puts forth a very strong group to defend their AL Central Division title.

~~~

What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long.

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53 Comments

Overall, that's a nice footprint for the coming season. I just don't know if Colorado would pull the trigger for that offer.  

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tony&rodney
Nov 12 2019 10:38 PM

I agree that Sano is not in line for a Gold Glove and believe improved defense is important for the Twins but I wonder if Sano is fully open to being moved across the diamond. The Twins could really use a focused and motivated Miguel Sano. I like that you are pushing for the front office to spend and hopefully Wheeler or others are enticed to sign for 2020. The idea of adding Gordon and Pomeranz is solid, however their costs should be about double the rates stated. An interesting plan, for sure, but Rendon is almost surely looking elsewhere.

    • birdwatcher likes this
*Note: Duran is part of your trade proposal but then mentioned Alcala as being a chief part of the Escobar deal. Small typo.

In theory, your proposal is sound. A few caveats/thought:

1] Rendon is a marvelous player. But assuming he is interested in joining the Twins...not saying he wouldn't be...$33M per for 8yrs just sounds kind of crazy to me. Will he really get that big of a deal? Are there enough teams out there that could actually afford that? Or would pay it?

2] I think you might be a couple $M short per year on Wheeler and Odorizzi.

3] Probably right on for Romo, wonder if you might have to bump Pomeranz just a little bit.

4] I'm OK with Chirinos on the 1yr deal. Agree with you at being fine with Castro for the same $6M. Not so sure i wouldn't prefer Castro for the LH bat and continuity.

5] Gordon may be near the end, but he had a nice bounce back 2019. Despite veteran status, I'd like to think the 1yr $2M would do it. But if the 35yo Gordon could replicate his '19, he'd be my primary OF and let Marwin continue to do what he does best.

I'd be really happy with everything you have here, bumping the pitching contracts up a bit and knocking Rendon down 1yr and a couple $M per.
    • alphanumeric likes this

Hasn’t Gordon stated that he’d only play for the Royals or no one?

Nothing like great off season fantasy. Can't wait for the reality of the actual 2020 season. Seems like a lot of limitations are being put on the Twins in this thread. Why not sign the entire 2019 All Star roster in one fell swoop? Repeat.... Rendon will never play for the Twins (thank goodness). Arguably the most reliable Twin over the past several seasons is Eddie Rosario and for some reason he is the one constantly being mentioned as trade bate. Alex Gordon a Twin? What is this, stand up comedy? Falvey/Levine definitely get their daily yucks out of this.

    • Kelly Vance likes this

I like the idea of going after Gray. We won't sign a first tier free agent.

This is a very well thought out plan, couple nitpics:

I think your dollars are light everywhere, except Rendon. Pomeranz will get double that, for example.

Way light on the Gray trade, as well. Rosario just doesnt have much trade value.

I want no part of Romo. His smoke and mirrors were fantastic this season, but smoke and mirrors never last.

I think Alex Gordon already stated he will only play for the Royals, didn't he?
    • alphanumeric and Major League Ready like this
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TwinkieTownKiller
Nov 13 2019 09:01 AM

 

Overall, that's a nice footprint for the coming season. I just don't know if Colorado would pull the trigger for that offer.  

They may actually do it for another outfielder that they may overvalue and a pretty good pitching prospect. Their patience may have reached its end with Gray and they're desperate for young pitching.

    • Ted Schwerzler likes this
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Ted Schwerzler
Nov 13 2019 09:08 AM

Couple of things I just wanted to lay out:

 

Dollars were taken from the Offseason Handbook. I believe those are somewhat crowdsourced between the authors.

 

I struggled with the Alex Gordon acquisition. I hadn't heard the bit about playing for the Royals. What I was trying to accomplish there is a replaceable defense first player. I like Corey Dickerson a lot, but think he gets a two year deal and starts somewhere. Adam Jones could make some sense, but that defense has fallen off. I think one of Minnesota's corner OF prospects steps up sooner rather than later, but they can't be relied upon to start the year. With the time Buxton missed, it'd really be great to have the defensive acumen added as well. Also considered Cameron Maybin, who I'm not sure has any chance to repeat 2019 offensively.

    • nmjohn4 likes this

mlbtraderumors had Oderizzi at 3/51.Would rather take the Rendon money and go top shelf with Cole (not likely, but we can all dream).I had him at 7/260 slightly front end loaded with an op-out after 3.Trading Rosario is not a bad plan, just do not like Gray(and would rather have Duran).Wheeler would be my fall back option if we do not get Cole.  

Nitpicking, but I like the general outline.

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Major League Ready
Nov 13 2019 09:26 AM

Trading Gray would signify the Rockies are going to rebuild. Why would they trade Grey who has 2 years of control for any position player with 2 years control? Rosario has very little value to a rebuilding team. I would love to see an answer from any of the people who are suggesting similar trades.

 

Teams have adjusted their approach to Rosario. His value is very modest unless he proves he can apply a reasonable degree of plate discipline. Why sell low. Give him a chance to prove he can adjust. I don’t believe he does not know where the ball is going. He gets the bat on balls that are 16 inches off the plate, balls in his eyes and balls in the dirt. The question is why the hell is he swinging at the balls? Eddie would be one of the best hitters in the league if he did what Sano did last year in terms of improved plate discipline.

 

If I were signing an outfielder it would be a RH to platoon w/Cave. Perhaps Garcia.

I really like Pomeranz to bolster the BP but it’s going to cost more than 3.5M. 

Chirinos is fine but why not just resign Castro?

 

There are several high revenue teams shopping for SP. Wheeler is going to cost more than 4/72. My guess is that it takes a 5 year deal to land him. If not it will be something like $4/84 or an Arietta type deal for $3/75.

    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel and DannySD like this

This is a very well thought out plan, couple nitpics:

I think your dollars are light everywhere, except Rendon. Pomeranz will get double that, for example.

Way light on the Gray trade, as well. Rosario just doesnt have much trade value.

I want no part of Romo. His smoke and mirrors were fantastic this season, but smoke and mirrors never last.

I think Alex Gordon already stated he will only play for the Royals, didn't he?


Was going to type up a long reply, but I'll just say ditto to this one.

Trading Gray would signify the Rockies are going to rebuild. Why would they trade Grey who has 2 years of control for any position player with 2 years control? Rosario has very little value to a rebuilding team. I would love to see an answer from any of the people who are suggesting similar trades.

Teams have adjusted their approach to Rosario. His value is very modest unless he proves he can apply a reasonable degree of plate discipline. Why sell low. Give him a chance to prove he can adjust. I don’t believe he does not know where the ball is going. He gets the bat on balls that are 16 inches off the plate, balls in his eyes and balls in the dirt. The question is why the hell is he swinging at the balls? Eddie would be one of the best hitters in the league if he did what Sano did last year in terms of improved plate discipline.

If I were signing an outfielder it would be a RH to platoon w/Cave. Perhaps Garcia.
I really like Pomeranz to bolster the BP but it’s going to cost more than 3.5M.
Chirinos is fine but why not just resign Castro?

There are several high revenue teams shopping for SP. Wheeler is going to cost more than 4/72. My guess is that it takes a 5 year deal to land him. If not it will be something like $4/84 or an Arietta type deal for $3/75.


Also ditto on this one.

Rendon is an excellent young player who just saw his value go up in the Series.But $33mm a year, no.And for 8 years, no way.Very few clubs can, or should, make that type of an investment in any one player.

 

Expect Odorizzi is gonna cost more than $12mm per year for 3 years.Would love seeing Wheeler join a rotation with Berrios and Odor.  

 

 

    • alphanumeric likes this

Pretty much everybody's plan (not just on TD, I mean everyone) includes a low ball offer to Wheeler so I just don't see it panning out. He'll get more money and have his pick of where to play. 

If the Twins were to (very hypothetically :)) splurge on any position other than pitcher...I'd be ok it being 3rd-base. Doesn't seem like any needle-moving options currently in the organization once Sano moves. And I love Rendon.

 

Having said that, I do think his AAV will equal/exceed Machado's...meaning north of $30M. And since Machado was 3 years younger than Rendon will be, and Machado got 10 years...I think Rendon will get 7-8. So, would I do that? Probably not.

 

Also, Gordon doesn't make us better in left field. Although, if Rosario helped return Jon Gray, it would probably be a net win. Gordon is most decidedly NOT an above-average fielder at this point. His most recent GG was won, as they often are, by reputation alone...and would probably be exhibit A in how meaningless that award is. He's a 36-year old outfielder...that can't hit. 

 

 

    • Kelly Vance, alphanumeric and Wizard11 like this
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Minnesotabro
Nov 13 2019 12:51 PM
I dont get signing Rendon. Lewis will be ready mid year and then where do you put Arraez and Polanco. I mean, I’m all for it if we can still get a starter like cole. I’m fine with spending money and going over the top. I’d just rather use it for pitching. Also, at least make it a shorter deal with Lewis coming up. Good trade of Rosario. And dont give me the move Lewis to OF crap. We have too many good OF prospects to do that.
    • birdwatcher and alphanumeric like this
Wish list:

FAs
1: Madison Bumgarner 4yrs / 74M
2a: Jake Odorizzi 3/45
OR
2b: Cole Hamels 1/12.5
3: Josh Donaldson 3/70
4: Travis D'Arnaud 2/15
5. Will Smith 3/35

Trades
Eddie Rosario & Brent Rooker for Nomar Mazara & Mike Minor
Balazovic or Graterol, Nick Gordon & Jhoan Duran for Sonny Gray


I have very little interest in Jon Gray, Sergio Romo, or Drew Pomeranz.
    • alphanumeric likes this
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Ted Schwerzler
Nov 13 2019 01:41 PM

 

I dont get signing Rendon. Lewis will be ready mid year and then where do you put Arraez and Polanco. I mean, I’m all for it if we can still get a starter like cole. I’m fine with spending money and going over the top. I’d just rather use it for pitching. Also, at least make it a shorter deal with Lewis coming up. Good trade of Rosario. And dont give me the move Lewis to OF crap. We have too many good OF prospects to do that.

What this assumes is that everything is linear. In a best case scenario, Lewis is up in September probably. He struggled at Double-A last year, will go there again, and he'll have new challenges. I think Royce is a star, but you banking on him to be that effective for a team coming off 100 wins is as foolish as anyone thinking the White Sox are immediate contenders because they have prospects.

 

The whole premise for signing Rendon is that you're adding top tier talent wherever you can. The goal absolutely should be to sign Cole or Starsburg. The likelihood is that even if the Twins offered them $40MM AAV, they still have preferred destinations elsewhere. If Rendon is going to the highest bidder, make it be you, and that helps to raise the overall talent level of the roster.

    • railmarshalljon likes this
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Ted Schwerzler
Nov 13 2019 01:43 PM

 

Trades
Eddie Rosario & Brent Rooker for Nomar Mazara & Mike Minor
Balazovic or Graterol, Nick Gordon & Jhoan Duran for Sonny Gray

 

Mike Minor is a rental and had a strong year as a SP with a lackluster FIP.

 

Not sure why the Reds would move Gray after just acquiring him, and pairing Bauer in the rotation.

    • nicksaviking and alphanumeric like this
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Ted Schwerzler
Nov 13 2019 01:46 PM

 

Also, Gordon doesn't make us better in left field. Although, if Rosario helped return Jon Gray, it would probably be a net win. Gordon is most decidedly NOT an above-average fielder at this point. His most recent GG was won, as they often are, by reputation alone...and would probably be exhibit A in how meaningless that award is. He's a 36-year old outfielder...that can't hit. 

As a massive proponent of Gold Gloves being a farce (and Gordon didn't deserve his this year over Brantley) the characterization here is incorrect. I definitely made sure to double check before offering that. He was worth 1 DRS and 3.2 UZR. That's above average. He was at 13 DRS last year. Eddie Rosario was an abomination statistically in 2019.

    • Aerodeliria likes this
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Battle ur tail off
Nov 13 2019 01:54 PM

 

. An interesting plan, for sure, but Rendon is almost surely looking elsewhere.

 

False. 100%. If the Twins offer up the highest bid, he would be here. Some of you guys need to quit that line of thinking. The reason we haven't gotten these types of guys in the past has nothing to do with where we are located. It had to do with us being a ways off the top bid that those types signed for. 

    • Mike Sixel likes this

I would not move Duran for 2 years of Jeff Grey.I think that Duran might compete for a spot on the Twins' rotation some time next season and will likely be better than Berrios his next 6 seasons of control.The Twins need to use their excess of OF prospects for a trade.If anyone would take Buxton for a pitcher like Grey, I'd do that again.Wheeler and Gray can slot nicely and numbers 1 and 2 on the Twins' rotation.

 

Cron was on the top 5 of the league on xwOBA-wOBA so he is due for a rebound with the bat, esp. if the wrist is healed, and his defense at 1B is above average.It is not broke...

 

 

    • alphanumeric likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Nov 13 2019 03:34 PM

 

I would not move Duran for 2 years of Jeff Grey.I think that Duran might compete for a spot on the Twins' rotation some time next season and will likely be better than Berrios his next 6 seasons of control.The Twins need to use their excess of OF prospects for a trade.If anyone would take Buxton for a pitcher like Grey, I'd do that again.Wheeler and Gray can slot nicely and numbers 1 and 2 on the Twins' rotation.

 

Cron was on the top 5 of the league on xwOBA-wOBA so he is due for a rebound with the bat, esp. if the wrist is healed, and his defense at 1B is above average.It is not broke...

yeah, I like the idea of spending big, but this is creative for the sake of creative and I think if they will spend money, it would be wiser to go get pitching instead of another bat. 

 

I would not move Duran for 2 years of Jeff Grey.I think that Duran might compete for a spot on the Twins' rotation some time next season and will likely be better than Berrios his next 6 seasons of control.The Twins need to use their excess of OF prospects for a trade.If anyone would take Buxton for a pitcher like Grey, I'd do that again.Wheeler and Gray can slot nicely and numbers 1 and 2 on the Twins' rotation.

 

Cron was on the top 5 of the league on xwOBA-wOBA so he is due for a rebound with the bat, esp. if the wrist is healed, and his defense at 1B is above average.It is not broke...

 

You think it is LIKELY that a minor league pitcher will be better than Berrios? I don't even know how to respond to that.

    • gunnarthor, Twins33, railmarshalljon and 1 other like this

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