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Outlining the Offseason: Names to Consider

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 15 October 2018 · 1,536 views

minnesota twins justin bour manny machado garrett richards
Although the Postseason continues to press onwards with the League Championship Series round, the Minnesota Twins are firmly entrenched in their offseason. The front office has begun interviews of possible managerial candidates, and the free agent market looms right around the corner. Recently I looked at a handful of positions the Twins need to fulfill for the 2019 season, and now it’s time to put some names to those groups.

Given the free agent class, more loaded at the top than displaying real significant depth, there’s opportunity for Minnesota to get better through the trade market as well. Having financial flexibility plays on both the open market, as well as being able to absorb a contract in trade. On top of dollars, the Twins organization boasts one of the best farm systems in baseball, and while Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff are untouchable, that’s probably where the designation ends.

Bullpen

A season ago, the Twins brought Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke in on one-year deals. Addison Reed was given a two-year contract and responded with the worst year of his career. Although it’s a toss up giving lengthy deals to relievers, there’s two names that have age and ability on their side. Both Kelvin Herrera and Jeurys Familia have yet to reach 30 and are among the premiere relief options in the game. Closing experience resides in both, and Herrera obviously has divisional familiarity through his time with Kansas City.

Minnesota isn’t going to acquire either of those guys on the cheap, and a two-year deal around $20 million for each seems logical. That’s a pretty big chunk to spend on the pen, so a lesser option for just a year could come into play as well. Zach Britton isn’t the impact arm he used to be, and he’s never been a big-time strikeout guy. Given the expected market there, I think that’s a pretty safe pass. Joe Kelly and Adam Ottavino are both guys that would be huge boosts to the pen, and I’d think the one-year route could be doable there. As things stand now, the Twins don’t have a proven closer, so they could make a big play for Craig Kimbrel. He’s elite but will be paid as such also. Kimbrel well beyond a pace to shatter Mariano Rivera’s records, so he’ll need the 9th no matter where he ends up.

1st Base

In my initial breakdown, it was first base that I saw Minnesota looking to explore when it comes to the infield corners. Joe Mauer looks to be hanging them up, and that would leave a significant hole there. Obviously, the caveat is whether Miguel Sano slides over, but still just 25 and with more of a commitment, third base would be the ideal role from the Twins perspective.

From a point of talent acquisition, it’s relative negligible when it comes to what infield corner is being acquired. The market for first basemen is incredibly thin, bearing no starting caliber talents. On the hot corner side, you’ve got the injury plagued Josh Donaldson, or the utility man Eduardo Escobar. Minnesota has bridges to mend with Eduardo, and Donaldson will likely be given a deal that puts an organization in the unenviable position to be burned. If there’s an opportunity for the Twins to make a trade, this could be it.

There’s no doubt that the Phillies showed up in 2018, and probably outperformed a certain level of expectations. In signing Carlos Santana last winter though, they positioned youngster Rhys Hoskins well out of position and were worse off for it. They then also acquired Justin Bour, and now have a glut of options at the position. Both Bour and Santana are coming off down seasons and could be nice candidates to have bounce back performances. Santana is owed another $40 million over two years, while Bour is under team control through 2020. Either of those options would look nice in a Twins uniform, and they’d bring some significant thump to the lineup.

2nd Base

After deciding to hold off on any extension talks with Brian Dozier prior to the 2018 season, hindsight makes the decision look even better. In a contract year, Dozier put up his worst numbers as a pro, and he may need to settle for a one-year deal in hopes of recouping some future value. Minnesota could look to former utility man, and Fogo de Chao connoisseur, Eduardo Escobar here. Again, that’d have to include some mended feelings, and reunions aren’t often seen that quickly through free agency.

You’d have to put Logan Forsythe squarely in the running for a return to Minnesota. He played great defense and showed a capable bat down the stretch. There isn’t much youth to be had, and D.J. LeMahieu is the youngster of the class at 30. The falloff from Coors is real for LeMahieu, and he provides little else besides contact offensively. Asdrubal Cabrera could be a nice option, and there’s power in his bat that doesn’t typically show up at the position. I can’t see Minnesota being enticed by a 37-year-old Ian Kinsler, or an expensive Daniel Murphy however.

In an ideal world, Manny Machado makes too much sense for the Twins on paper. He’d be able to take over at short, pushing Jorge Polanco to second base. After rating horribly at the position with the Orioles, the more analytically inclined Dodgers had Machado looking like a new man. He’s elite, and at the top of this class however, so even if the Twins wanted to go all in, Manny would need to meet them there.

Starting Pitcher

Given the internal depth of Minnesota’s rotation, this is a much less pressing need than it has been in previous seasons. Fernando Romero looks ready to assume a regular big-league role, and unless the Twins want to add a top three starter, I’d rather not see him get bumped from that position. Should there be money left over however, slotting another arm in with Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson would only improve what should be a respectable group.
When it comes to hurlers Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin headline the talent. The New York Yankees have already indicated their intentions to pursue Corbin, and his figure is going to get quite high. Keuchel isn’t the Cy Young winner of a few years ago, but he won’t come cheap either. Minnesota could acquire either, but it’d likely come at the detriment of another position group.
Operating on two ends of the spectrum, both J.A. Happ and Gio Gonzalez are names that would be a fit. At 36, Happ isn’t the type you’d go more than a year or two on, but it certainly seems like there’s plenty left in the tank. Gonzalez will be 33 and has proved a timely addition for the Milwaukee Brewers down the stretch. Both should be in the mid-level category when it comes to a payday, and there’s little doubt that they’d pitch as one of the Twins three best starters.

Looking at more of a dice roll Trevor Cahill could be an option. He was solid this season for the Athletics, and while his track record isn’t great, the cost shouldn’t be significant either. I’d have trouble trusting him among the top half of the rotation, but he’d be a worthy addition to supplement the overall depth. Following along a similar train of thought used with Michael Pineda in 2018, Garrett Richards is a very enticing arm as well. He has a horrible time staying healthy, having not pitched a full season since 2015, but he’s very good when available. He’ll be 31 next year and is still recovering from Tommy John surgery in July. The stuff is hard to shy away from however, and if you can make the dollars work, there’s certainly appeal here.

If we’ve learned anything thus far about this front office, it’s that they have done a very solid job when it comes to talent acquisition. Regardless of how it worked out, the names brought in last winter were all good ones. Getting a big-league starter under team control for a flier prospect was also a shrewd move. I’d expect Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to be active on both fronts, and it should only push the envelope for Minnesota’s relevance next season.

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

  • DannySD likes this



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tarheeltwinsfan
Oct 15 2018 11:31 AM

Proof is in the pudding.

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South Dakota Tom
Oct 15 2018 12:32 PM

And please don't tell me we have to put Logan Forsythe on the radar; he was BABIP lucky for a month, but hardly a piece of the team we need to be.

    • Winston Smith likes this
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Ted Schwerzler
Oct 15 2018 12:34 PM

And please don't tell me we have to put Logan Forsythe on the radar; he was BABIP lucky for a month, but hardly a piece of the team we need to be.


He hasn’t been good offensively since 2016. He was significantly better than Dozier defensively and has been for a while. The 2B market also isn’t great. I do like Martin Gonzalez as another Eduardo Escobar type option.
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LA VIkes Fan
Oct 15 2018 04:51 PM

God no, please don't re-sign Forsythe or Dozier. Trade for Starlin Castro of Miami. If not, sign Escobar and have him play 2B. If not that, sign Jose Iglesias and move Polanco to 2B with Escobar as the super utlity (sign him regardless). If not that, make Adrianza the everyday SS with Polanco at 2b. All better options that Forsythe or Dozier... well, maybe the last one is a push. 

    • DocBauer likes this

Mending with Escobar? Hey, he was going to explore free agency anyways, went to Arizona, performed well. Eduardo will take the money and run with it. I'm sure he would happily return to Minnesota for the right payday. And he knows he would have a playday here.

 

If the Twins are going to go into the Free Agent Market, they have to latch onto the name that can be the Face of the Franchise for 2019 and a strong face beyond. They have to bleed Minnesota Twins. Otherwise, why bother throwing all that money out there.

 

Of course, two or three names - Bullpen/Rotation/Batter would be a good Trio for selling tickets. And the Twins can afford to overspend. They have $35 million coming off the books after next season. There is nothing that says a lot of the arbitration guys will be around in even two years.

    • MN_ExPat likes this

How about trading for Sonny Gray.His numbers away from New York are solid and sounds like Yankees are going to trade him. Seems like a good buy low guy

    • Strato Guy likes this
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Ted Schwerzler
Oct 15 2018 07:19 PM

How about trading for Sonny Gray.His numbers away from New York are solid and sounds like Yankees are going to trade him. Seems like a good buy low guy


It seems like the Twins have hinted at staying away from too many one year deals. This is one I’d jump on though. Trade familiarity there, and you’re right, hopefully you can buy low.
    • DocBauer, Strato Guy and MN_ExPat like this
Not sure i understand the mending fences with Escobar. Yes, I've heard reports he wasn't initially happy with the trade. But be was well respected and loved here, enjoyed his time here, had success here, and was even offered an initial extension, if I remember correctly. He seems a solution that is too perfect for all parties involved. Needs to be done! Then, bring in another solid flier to work with Adrianza or better. We need depth here.

$10M per season for 2 quality, productive pen arms? It's money the team has, can afford, and needs to Do! Period!

As to the rotation, I have no problem adding someone at the right time and place. I am NOT convinced there will be a market shift thjs off season in the opposite direction from last year. There could be a bargain to be had, but I'd concentrate on 2 big pen arms, a big infield addition with a smaller one, and leave the rotation alone.

POTENTIALLY, Gibson, Odorizzi and Pineda are gone after 2019. But again, that's "potentially". Odds are at least 1 If not 2, are back in 2020. But Romero is right on the cusp! I have him penciled in for 2019. I am NOT a betting man, but I'd be willing to bet some real money Thorpe is up in 2019 and getting ready to be part of the future. I still think a fully healthy Mejia has a real shot, but would love to see him working out of the pen with Rogers from the port side.

I know a lot of people are down on Gonsalves right now, and I understand why. But I predicted he would scuffle initially. He simply doesn't have a single pitch that dominates. But he is a pitcher, not a thrower. He has been a top rated prospect because he is a LH, hits low 90 consistently with a quality change, has a couple decent breaking balls, and adapts at every level be has been at. He's a work in progress. Still not sure what to make of Stewart, Littell and others. By this same time next year we could easily be talking about Graterol the same way we talk about Romero.

Right now, I'd focus on the infield and bullpen. And let's be honest, as you alluded to, a healthy Sano is a HUGE KEY, as well as Buxton. Sano is a fine 3B if healthy and in shape. He can also play a decent 1B on some days to relieve Austin.

Even with Joe gone, I'm less worried about 1B defensively than adding a bat to the lineup. Austin may never hit the way we'd like, but there is some real potential there. (And guys we all know coming up soon). As much as I like Kepler to really figure it all out next season, and love him in the OF, I'd still play him some at 1B. But we need a veteran guy on a 1-2 year deal to DH, hopefully field a spot a day or two without embarrassing himself defensively, and either provide a dangerous presence at the top of the order, or allow Polanco to move up to that spot.
    • MN_ExPat likes this