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One Day Makes Twins Difference

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 19 February 2018 · 1,575 views

minnesota twins jake odorizzi anibal sanchez
Over the weekend, Minnesota Twins fans felt the full gambit of emotions. After announcing that Anibal Sanchez had been given a major league deal, frustration was felt in full force. A bounce-back candidate that has ugly numbers of late wasn't going to gain much confidence for a revamped starting rotation. Then, a day later, Jake Odorrizi was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays and the tide felt like it had turned. Putting a bow on the Minnesota offseason, it's hard not to like where this team is headed.

Going into the offseason, the Twins had one focus in hopes of returning to Postseason play, fix the pitching. The 4.60 team ERA in 2017 came in 19th among MLB clubs, and the 7.31 K/9 was better than only the Texas Rangers. Both in the rotation and the pen, Paul Molitor's club needed better names and the ability to miss more bats. From the jump, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine knew this was where the focus had to be, and it appeared they had a plan to execute on.

Signing Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke, the Twins bring in two arms with little risk and a relatively high upside. Rodney is an experience, but his 10.6 K/9 is an asset, and he allows arms like Trevor Hildenberger to be deployed outside of the 9th inning. Duke isn't just a LOOGY, and he too is a punchout pitcher when healthy. There's little arguing that Addison Reed was the pen headliner this winter however. After signing a 2yr/$16.75M deal with Minnesota, Falvey and Levine had somehow landed one of the premier options on what looked like a budget deal. Yet to hit 30, Reed owns a career 9.5 K/9 and a 2/3 BB/9 that makes him arguably the best arm in Minnesota's relief corps.

While it's hard to overstate the importance of the three relief acquisitions on their own merits, it's also big to note what their inclusion does for Paul Molitor as a whole. Instead of rounding out the pen with toss in names, the Twins can now rely on arms like Hildenberger, Taylor Rogers, and Ryan Pressly as complimentary pieces. Again, with the goal being a raised water level across the board, the front office accomplished that to a T in the pen.

From the outset of the winter Minnesota was tied to starter Yu Darvish. Given all of the factors, a union of the two sides made an immeasurable amount of sense from the home town perspective. Unfortunately, Darvish chose to sign with the Chicago Cubs in the end. Falvey and Levine may have ruled themselves out by failing to match the Cubs offer, but the likelihood always remained that the former Rangers ace wanted a bigger market than the up and coming Twins. While a tough blow for sure, there's no sense of settling either.

With Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, and Jake Arrieta all having their warts, the remaining top tier free agents left a decent bit to be desired. Draft pick compensation was tied to each of them, and the dollar ask would likely not be in the line with the expected level of production. Although I'll always be of the stance that you should spend from an unlimited cash pool as opposed to dealing from a limited talent pool in acquiring players, Minnesota found a way to make things look better the opposite way.

Netting Jake Odorizzi from the Tampa Bay Rays, the Twins gave up little more than a flier middle infielder. Jermaine Palacios went on a tear to start the 2017 season at Cedar Rapids, but struggled mightily as a 20 year-old at High-A Fort Myers. Odorizzi is a soon-to-be 28 year-old under team control for two more years, and immediately slots in among Minnesota's top three. Despite tallying his worst season as a pro in 2017, the numbers still equated to a 4.14 ERA and an 8.0 K/9. For the former Rays hurler, a 5.14 FIP and 3.8 BB/9 leave plenty of room for growth. His HR/9 rate spiked to 1.9 a season ago, and there's been plenty made about the idea that getting down in the zone could be a key to expanded success.

Not the headliner that Odorizzi is for Minnesota, Anibal Sanchez being brought in as a depth signing looks much better than when it was originally reported. I still think it's odd the deal needed to be of the MLB sort, guaranteeing a current 40 man roster spot despite it being uncertain that he'll make the opening day roster. The ERA there is awful, but the 8.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 are great marks. Sanchez posted a 2.52 FIP in his first two seasons with the Tigers, and then ballooned to a 5.01 mark the past three years. After never allowing home runs, he's gotten worse the last three seasons going from 1.7 to 1.8 to 2.2 HR/9. If Falvey saw a correctable adjustment to keep the ball in the park, that contract could end up being a steal for the Twins.

As with the bullpen, the goal in the rotation was to raise the overall water level. Now with Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, and Ervin Santana locked in as the top three, Minnesota has an enhanced level of depth to fill out the back end. Nothing is guaranteed for Adalberto Mejia, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, or Sanchez in terms of a rotation spot. They'll all be pushed by the likes of Stephen Gonsalves, Fernado Romero, Zack Littell, and Dietrich Enns. For a club that used way too many arms, and saw a vast level of ineffectiveness at times a season ago, the situation as a whole looks much better entering 2018.

Given the current roster construction, I'd imagine the Twins are done adding arms. They probably have room for a bat on a minor league deal, and 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson has been suggesting that could be Mike Napoli for weeks now. The Rays recently DFA'd Corey Dickerson, and he'd be a huge addition for Minnesota as well. Regardless, if another move is coming, it's probably a less noteworthy offensive addition.

With the dust now settled, it's hard to look back on the offseason with any sort of displeasure. There was one ace out there, and the Twins chance was always a long shot. They added significant pitching in the bullpen, grabbed a good arm for the rotation, and added a couple of fliers along the way. While the division, including the Cleveland Indians, got worse, Minnesota retained it's talent and added pieces. The American League is going to be tough in 2018, with teams like the Yankees an Angels both getting better. For Minnesota, the Postseason may have to come through their own division, and you have to like how they positioned themselves for this season and beyond.

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

  • bdodge22, DocBauer and puckstopper1 like this



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puckstopper1
Feb 19 2018 11:47 AM

Excellent summary Ted! 

 

One other thing the Twins did this off season is add these pieces without mortgaging the future both in terms of prospects traded and large $/length contracts.

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Ted Schwerzler
Feb 19 2018 01:08 PM

 

Excellent summary Ted! 

 

One other thing the Twins did this off season is add these pieces without mortgaging the future both in terms of prospects traded and large $/length contracts.

The addition of Odorizzi while giving up next to nothing in return is big. Twins can still turn prospects into a nice piece at the deadline if they want to.

    • bdodge22 and DocBauer like this

The Twins are still a +2 in terms of prospects over the off-season.As far as moves involving prospects go:

 

Twins give:

 

Jermaine Palacios

$2.5 mill

Some monopoly money

 

Twins get:

 

Jake Odorizzi @ $6 mill

Yunior Severino

Jacob Pearson

David Banuelos

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Ted Schwerzler
Feb 19 2018 01:39 PM

 

The Twins are still a +2 in terms of prospects over the off-season.As far as moves involving prospects go:

 

Twins give:

 

Jermaine Palacios

$2.5 mill

Some monopoly money

 

Twins get:

 

Jake Odorizzi @ $6 mill

Yunior Severino

Jacob Pearson

David Banuelos

Also a solid point. It feels long ago, but Pearson, Severino, and Banuelos are great additions that the Twins gave up nothing of substance for.

    • MN_ExPat likes this
Nice write up!

Odorizzi had the lowest batting AVG against in his career, but saw a dip in most all other numbers. Unless there is something we're not seeing, I'd say we bought low after a down year and would put faith in the season's proceeding. Additionally, only 27, soon 28, there is upside here as he continues to gain experience and learn his craft. I am NOT saying we found a sleeper #1 here, but a great majority of SP hit their peak in the late 20's through early 30's. They still have their "stuff" but learn more how to use it through experience.

I think it's pretty safe to assume Berrios, with his "stuff", work ethic, bulldog mentality, will continue to get better. One has to hope and assume Santana will be back in May and be at least close to the pitcher he was in 2017. Why? Because despite this setback, he's had some of the best numbers of his career with the Twins, has been mostly durable in his career, and doesn't seem to have any kind of injury that would indicate his arm is ready to just fall off.

Lastly, I forget the numbers right now so forgive me, but haven't recent articles here and elsewhere stated the Twins had guys like Turley, Tepesch, Melville, Wilk, Hughes and Santago start like 25% of games played? Now Colon was in there too, and really, he was solid and a godsend. You could argue Hughes gutted out a couple decent early season starts. But as much as we lament the lack of Darvish, a healthy Santana, improved Berrios, Odorizzi, Gibson (hopefully the same guy we saw for half a season), an improved Mejia, a return of a quality arm in May, prospects on the rise, and a flier or two in Hughes and Sanchez, we still look better and deeper in available arms and "possibilities" than we did this time a year ago.

Toss in an improved bullpen with several young arms who showed last year and are chomping at the bit to audition again, the overall talent and depth is better than the beginning of 2017.
    • Ted Schwerzler likes this