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Buxton: "Pissed" at Twins for No Call-Up Decision...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:43 PM
According to the Star Tribune, Byron Buxton is displeased with the Twins after not being called up in September of 2018. According to Byr...

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Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:18 PM
According to the Star Tribune, Miguel Sano's workouts this off-season are being viewed by the Twins' front office, in an effort to more c...

Non-Twins Off-season news, tidbits and transactions

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Article: Rundown: Cruz, Cahill, Soria and Ramos

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Outlining the Offseason: Areas of Addition

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 09 October 2018 · 1,510 views

minnesota twins brian dozier joe mauer
As the 2018 Major League Baseball Postseason continues to rumble on down the tracks, the Minnesota Twins are nearly two weeks into their offseason. Paul Molitor has been let go as manager of the club, and the winter ahead looks to be the most critical in the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine tenure. Despite a 78 win season for the hometown nine, this is still a collection that should compete next year in a weak AL Central. To best position the club however, the front office has some work to do.

With departures, and dollars coming off the books, Minnesota should have something like $50-60 million to spend on talent before Opening Day 2019. That's a good chunk of change, presumably one of the higher numbers in the sport, but before looking at names we'll need to blueprint the areas of focus. There's a handful of holes that need to be filled, and prioritizing them is part of the process as well. Let's take a look at what the blueprint may look like.

Bullpen

In 2017 the Twins owned the 22nd best relief ERA in baseball at 4.40. The front office responded by signing Zach Duke, Fernando Rodney, and Addison Reed in hopes of an uptick. In 2018 the relief corps owned the 22nd best relief ERA in baseball at 4.45. Looking ahead to 2019, two of those free acquisitions have since been traded (both were on one year deals), and Reed put up a clunker. Elite arm Ryan Pressly was also dealt from the group.

Taking a look at holdovers Minnesota really only has three certainties. Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, and Trevor Hildenberger look like capable high-leverage options. Outside of that trio however, Minnesota's bullpen is somewhat of a black hole. Names like Alan Busenitz and Tyler Duffey haven't seen consistent big league success, and internal options appear to be running relatively thin. Given the impact relievers now have on the game, it's hard to suggest less than two impact arms be acquired by the Twins.

Right now this collection doesn't have the "proven closer" type, although I'm not certain that's a necessity. If Reed can return to form, giving him the 9th wouldn't be such a bad idea. Pairing the internal trio with a couple more firemen that can be leaned out to get big outs would lighten everyone's workload, and raise the overall water level.

1st Base

Given where things stand currently, it seems near certain that Joe Mauer's playing career is over. I don't see how he'd be able to top the moment he left Target Field on, and a season of questions doesn't strike me as something the Minnesota native would welcome. Add in the fact that he'd be learning another new manager, along with his changing family dynamic, and I just can't find a way it makes sense. That means the Twins need someone new to start at first.

Tyler Austin is going to be in this mix, and he certainly should be, but there's a lot to be desired defensively from his candidacy. With Mauer out of the mix, the Twins could go the more traditional route of a power hitter at the corner spot. Miguel Sano could definitely be moved off of the hot corner, but again would need to show the defensive chops worthy of regular time there. Brent Rooker still remains a bat only prospect, and Zander Wiel probably isn't ready for that type of promotion.

How the Twins decide to address this spot is going to be interesting. All of the internal options have a couple of warts, and Mauer held the position despite being non-traditional in the stat producing categories. When a legend hangs them up you've got big shoes to fill, but how the front office goes about this fix should be worth watching.

2nd Base

From 2013-2018 the Minnesota Twins employed the 3rd best second basemen in baseball (in terms of fWAR). Brian Dozier also hit a position leading 166 homers in that time span. In fact, since Dozier came into the league in 2012, no second basemen has hit more than his 172 longballs. Transforming himself from a failed shortstop into a slugging two-bagger was an incredible feat. Don't let any of that cloud your judgement though, as Minnesota did the right thing.

In the final year of his deal Dozier owned a .712 OPS through 104 games for the Twins. It was apparent that a qualifying offer wasn't going to be an option for the organization, and getting assets in return was a very good proposition. Brian went on to post a .650 OPS in 47 games with Los Angeles, and hasn't started a Postseason game.

When looking to fill holes up the middle, the Twins have a few options. Although Jorge Polanco is miscast as a shortstop, he's certainly not an abomination. He could be shifted though, and a shortstop could be targeted instead. Nick Gordon struggled mightily at Triple-A and isn't a big league option right now. Really, you'd need to go down to Royce Lewis before you find a true shortstop in the system.

At the end of the day, expecting peak Dozier production from the replacement is a losing proposition. Second basemen typically don't launch 30 or 40 homers in a season. Polanco may be the best bat available, and Minnesota has some flexibility in that regard with how they'll fill the other position. An up the middle player is needed however, and it'll need to be one of starting caliber.

Starting Pitcher

You could arguably put starting pitcher among the list of needs on a continual basis for eternity. That said, seeing it this far down the priority list when looking at the Twins is quite a nice development. Kyle Gibson, Jose Berrios, and Jake Odorizzi have spots locked in for 2018. Michael Pineda is also going to be in the rotation if he's healthy. From there, it's up to the Twins depth.

The front office could deem that Fernando Romero is ready to be the 5th starter right from the get go. That would hardly be a poor decision, but it would be a significant gamble in the depth department. Should the Twins go out and sign a guy that can slot into the top three of their rotation, the overall quality rises, and Romero immediately becomes a strong first depth option.

It was nice to see guys like Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, and Aaron Slegers get run this year. In 2019 names like Lewis Thorpe and Brusdar Graterol could vault to the next level as well. The more patient the organization can be in terms of readiness however, the better results can be expected from the big league group. Minnesota could make a relative splash here, and with the talent already in house, it would make for a very strong overall positional group.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

  • nclahammer likes this



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LA VIkes Fan
Oct 09 2018 03:16 PM

Like the order with one caveat. Kepler may be the 1B option if Cave's one half season was real. My though tis that we need one or the other, and OF with KEpler moving to 1B or a IB.  

the other three infield spots are well covered in this article. I would love to hear your thoughts on 3B.
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theBOMisthebomb
Oct 10 2018 06:04 AM
What a weird middle ground this franchise is stuck in. Drats. Here's hoping Falvine signs some FAs this winter that make a lasting impression and give some productivity.
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Ted Schwerzler
Oct 10 2018 09:38 AM

 

What a weird middle ground this franchise is stuck in. Drats. Here's hoping Falvine signs some FAs this winter that make a lasting impression and give some productivity.

I left third out, and thought about incorporating it into 1B, because so much depends on Sano. If Sano moves to 1B, then obviously you have a hole there. I think it comes down to whether or not they like available options at one corner over the other. I do think Miguel can make the move, so that shouldn't be the issue.

What to do with Sano is the key. Like Mauer, he is the questionable need of the team. Is he a third baseman? If not, you need to grab Escobar again, or maybe a longterm solution. If he plays fist, is he a better choice overall than Austin/Kepler at the bag. If he is a DH who can alsostill need to look at third base and first base...hard.

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Winston Smith
Oct 11 2018 08:30 PM

If you move Kepler to 1B his bat doesn't play. The only reason it plays at all in RF is plus defense. Sano sub par defense would play better at 1B than at 3B, imo.

This team scores enough runs and should be better with anything next year from Buxton and Sano. Imo help the defense all you can, improving 3B, SS & CF would help the pitching a lot. Keep Grossman off the field, this team doesn't move forward with 1 tool players. If you need a DH other than Sano or Austin (both HR or K guys w/no D) find one that can hit and also play some decent defense.

    • nytwinsfan likes this