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Trusting the Twins Pen Plan

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 26 January 2021 · 848 views

minnesota twins brad hand liam hendriks trevor rosenthal wes johnson
Earlier this offseason the Minnesota Twins started to reconstruct their bullpen. Losing Trevor May was always going to be a big blow, and there hasn’t been much in the form of names yet, but it’s a process the front office has earned trust in.

A pair of big-name free agents with Minnesota ties have already come off the board but deals for either Liam Hendriks or Brad Hand always seemed far-fetched for the Twins. It’s not that they don’t have the money to spend, or need in relief, but nothing about either of those players fits the process of what this organization has done of late. Hendriks got $54 million from the White Sox over three years, while Hand got $10.5 million from the Washington Nationals. The last time Minnesota paid big on a reliever was Addison Reed, and it went up in smoke.

It would be silly to suggest that every reliever be viewed through the same lens as the failed Reed deal, but more realistically there’s the reality of what Minnesota has done with less. Look at some of the names from recent seasons, and the ERA’s posted by players on deals all at $2.75 million or less. It’s not that the Twins purposely set out to be bargain shoppers, but instead identify outliers very well and get the most out of castoffs from elsewhere.

This season Ian Gibault and Brandon Waddell were both claimed off of waivers at the end of October. They each claim a current 40-man spot and feature a slider. It’s a pitch that Wes Johnson and the coaching staff has targeted for some time, and it’s sensible to believe both are currently penciled into the bullpen. Hansel Robles is the lone larger expense thus far, and the former Angels closer was inked to a one-year deal paying him just $2 million. There’s probably at least one more spot open, and you can bet that Minnesota has a type rather than a name in mind.

From my vantage point Trevor Rosenthal looks like the best option remaining, and I loved the fit last year as he returned from injury. He’s going to come with a price tag near the upper levels of single digits however, so that may not be the way they go. There should be a solid grouping of guys like Tyler Clippard and Alex Colome left at the end however, and those pacts should fall within the same range as the Colome deal.

Dating back to 2015 Major League Baseball has shifted a pitching philosophy to a construction of an elite bullpen. How teams get there or create that though, are all made differently. The reality is that often times the mega deals for relievers go up in smoke (hello Wade Davis), and understanding how to best utilize what’s in front of you is the easiest path to success. There’s no denying that a group including Hand or Hendriks has a safer floor on paper, but it all comes down to execution.

On their own the Twins organization has turned Tyler Duffey into one of the best relievers in baseball. Taylor Rogers has looked the part of a lock down piece, and it was his recent seasons in the pen that got Trevor May paid. Edwar Colina could join this group, and Jorge Alcala has already flashed that promise. Sure, Minnesota hasn’t made any big splashes for their bullpen, but it’s probably more about what’s going on behind the scenes and the execution of who the tab, rather than the exciting names, that get the job done.

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

I was all for signing a top RP early on, but now am seeing the benefit of spending that money elsewhere. Therewill be reliable RPs available atlower salaries, put more money into SP and position players.

Jan 26 2021 01:48 PM

With how contracts for relievers have gone, it's hard to imagine Rosenthal or Colome coming this low, but I'd love to see splurging on one of those two in the $5-$6M range and then two from among these in the $2-$3M range: 


Jeremy Jeffress.

Tyler Clippard.

Joakim Soria.

Mark Melancon. 

Darren O'Day

Brandon Kintzler


Along with a flyer on David Robertson and Steve Cishek or Pedro Strop on a minor league contract. 


While I'm at it, I'd give any of them a $250-$500 buyout on a second year. In my mind, I'd rather get a fistful of those guys for $10M than spend that much on one Hand.


Young guys will still get their opportunities in a bullpen like that, but I'd rather not start the season with too many young guys getting their feet wet. 

That's a great list documenting the low-price signings and how they fared ... but which of them hasn't been cut loose, and which ones were trusted with consistent late-inning action.


That's what this team needs, not more guys that are readily available like Gibaut and Waddell.


Is the plan is to wait a few years for Alcala, Colina, etc. to develop the way May and Duffey did?


The way it stands right now they have ONE "lockdown reliever" and that's Duffey.


Rogers looked VERY regular last year. And the second half of '19. Is that the real guy, or is the real guy the one that was around for a piece before that?


Stashak, Alcala and Colina are very much still developing.


Is Robles cooked or was last year a blip on the radar?


Did Thielbar really figure out how to get guys out in his 30s? (I sorta doubt it.)


Waddell and Gibaut were available for a reason.


Unless they go out and get a workhorse or two for the rotation, this bullpen is going to throw a whole lot of innings this year and who can you actually trust to get that done?


I see one, maybe two guys that I'd trust to do it on a regular basis.


Two impact arms is what this team needs to move forward, not a bunch of guys with one good pitch and awesome spin rates.