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  1. Show Me the Money (and the Wins)

    Given that we’re Twins fans here, payroll has never been a topic of discussion. No one has ever been annoyed at the lack of big spending in free agency and is always perfectly OK with how the front office allocates their resources, especially this year. Free agency is supposed to be an opportunity to right the sinking ship through veteran additions to a low-talent roster (Texas), to fortify a good roster to take their team over the top (Boston), or to sit around and talk about how good the farm system is (San Diego).

    Every year, we see the offseason as a chance for teams to flex on small market franchises by throwing money at players like drunken pirates. Nowadays it isn’t as prevalent, but teams are still paying players for their services for the next year or beyond. But is that a recipe for success?

    The process is quite simple: Find the top 10 spending teams in an offseason over the last five years and then see where they ended up the following year. I’ll rank them by total money spent so that the Padres’ brilliant Eric Hosmer contract screws them over a lot because they deserve to be ridiculed. Information will be used from Spotrac, let’s see what it says!

    2018 offseason shopping sprees

    [attachment=12243:Spending1.png]

    A few things are already looking interesting here! The Cubs slide into the top spot because they handed out contracts to pitchers like Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood who both probably are sleeping in their beds of money, grateful for their agents, while the Ricketts continue to try to print money in order to scrape together a hitting coach that they won’t throw under the bus.

    Other than that, a great number of the top teams are up there because of financial promises to a single player. Some were great (J.D. Martinez with Boston), some were very good (Lorenzo Cain with Milwaukee), and some were terrible the second they were signed (everyone with the Rockies). Altogether, the top 10 in spending netted +6 wins overall or +34 if you want to ignore Baltimore, which is a good plan for just about everything.

    Only 3 teams went negative in wins the year after spending like a redneck at a gas station with one of them being, of course, the Twins... great luck there. Let’s go back one more year now.

    2017 offseason shopping spree

    [attachment=12244:Spending2.png]

    Ah, 2017, a simpler time, a time where Dexter Fowler received the third-most expensive contract of the offseason and Ian Desmond got the fifth. I have to say, I like seeing the spread of typically smaller spending teams here like Miami, Cleveland, and Colorado. It really just warms my cold, frozen heart.

    Overall the top ten spending teams netted a whole -1 more wins than the year prior but that number becomes +22 if you throw out the massive outlier in the Giants. The Dodgers were by far the biggest spenders but most of it was them keeping players they already had like Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, and Rich Hill, leaving Sergio Romo and his $3 million payday as their highest paid free agent who came from another team.

    All in all, this list translates fairly well to success when considering the context of which players were brought in for which team. Houston added a few veterans who turned them into a World Series champion, Cleveland added Edwin Encarnacion to legitimize their lineup and lead them straight into and out of the playoffs after the first round, and the Yankees added back Aroldis Chapman after swindling the Cubs into trading yet another top prospect for pitching. Although, someone should have told St. Louis not to invest over $110 million into Brett Cecil and Dexter Fowler, yikes.

    2016 shopping spree

    [attachment=12245:Spending3.png]

    The first obvious thing to note, what the hell was going on in this offseason? Are you guys seeing the amount of money that teams were spending here? We talk about the horrible offseason in 2018, but it looks like free agency actually started going downhill a year before that. Maybe it was a fluke year, but teams were dropping money like upper-class toddlers at Toys R' Us on their birthday. All for elite names like Chris Davis, Jason Heyward, Ian Kennedy, and Jordan Zimmermann. Freakin' Jeff Samardzija got $90 million this offseason. What was going on back then?

    Luckily, there isn’t some massive outlier team, so adding up the wins gained/lost results in a cool +9 overall. I do love how the Twins biggest signing that offseason was David Murphy, who decided that he would rather not play baseball the rest of his life than play for the Twins. And this was after an 83 win season! The next biggest acquisition was Carlos Quentin who you definitely forgot was technically a Twin, leaving the only impactful addition being Fernando Abad who was signed to a minor league deal, great stuff Terry Ryan, it’s a wonder that it took him that long to be canned.

    Despite that Heyward contract looking like the albatross to end all albatrosses, the Cubs dropping nearly the GDP of the Republic of Palau that offseason brought them to the promised land thanks to other veteran signings like Ben Zobrist, Dexter Fowler, and John Lackey.

    2015 shopping spree

    [attachment=12246:Spending4.png]

    We finally reach the infamous 2015 offseason where Max Scherzer and Jon Lester got paid handsomely and actually provided good value for their team while Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez also got paid well and did whatever the opposite of providing value would be. Overall, the top spending teams netted +38 wins overall which still stays a +14 even if you throw out the outlier Cubs.

    There isn’t too much to really report here, spending was about what it typically is. The Royals added some garnish to their eventually World Series-winning club with the signings of Edinson Volquez and Twins legend Kendrys Morales. Hell, they even gave Alex Rios $11 million that offseason to kind of just hang around and do Alex Rios things. This was also the year where the Twins handed out their biggest contract ever to Ervin Santana which went pretty well and they also decided to bring back Torii Hunter for old times sake, which went less well, but who cares? Torii was back!

    2014 shopping spree

    [attachment=12247:Spending5.png]

    What a strange offseason this was, the Mariners absolutely shocked the world when they gave a 31-year-old Robinson Cano a 10 year, $240 million contract and then later shocked no one by not keeping him through the whole deal. The Rangers gave Shin-Soo Choo $130 million and then lost 24 more games than the year prior. The Yankees decided to back the dump truck of money up for veterans like Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran and I’m sure that they would still do that Ellsbury contract again if they could.

    The Twins slot in as the fourth-highest spending team mostly thanks to the elite three-headed Nolasco-Hughes-Pelfrey starting trio. They also tried to bring back Kubel, Bartlett, and Guerrier, all of whom failed miserably and proved that you do in fact become the villain if you live long enough. Kurt Suzuki was a nice cheap find here who made the All-Star Game despite being signed for less than $3 million in the offseason and is still kicking after getting a nice deal from the Nationals this offseason.

    Overall the top 10 spending teams netted +16 more wins than the year prior and there is something kind of hilarious about the second highest spending team going +26 while the third highest went -24. Interestingly enough, the Giants won the World Series that year despite their biggest signing that offseason being a Tim Hudson who was collecting social security at that point and needed a walker to get to the mound.

    All right, that’s a lot of information, but what narratives can we draw from this? Overall, through five years of data covering 50 individual team seasons, the top 10 spending teams netted 68 more wins or an average of 1.36 more games won than the year before. Throwing out any season that ended in a +20 or -20 to control for outliers brings the number to 93 more wins total, or an average of 2.07 more games won than the prior year.

    So, there is a very slight positive correlation between spending money and winning more games than the year before. Let’s get even more specific here: The top spending team over each offseason overall won eight more games than the year before, or an average of 1.6 more games won. Teams that were top three in spending in a given year won 41 more games than the year before overall, or an average of 2.73 more games. Teams that spent more than $200 million in an offseason overall netted 45 more wins the next year, or 4.5 more games on average.

    For me, this data is certainly interesting, but nothing really groundbreaking or astonishing. Spending more does indeed have a general slight positive correlation with winning the next year, but the numbers weren’t exactly eye-popping to me. Just an average of one to two more games won than the year prior. That total is certainly an improvement, but not such an incredible one that spending becomes such an obscene advantage over other teams that it isn’t even fair.

    I also find it hilarious that the top spending team on average barely won more games than the year before... so much for a competitive advantage. I suppose if I had any other major conclusions, it would be that spending more than $200 million in an offseason without being the highest spending team would be the best plan of attack for teams who are inclined to do such things.

    As it pertains to the Twins, spending more would improve the team, but context is more important when considering how much a team spends. Yes, in general spending more will win a team more games, but it has been and will always be about how that money is spent more than how much of that money is spent. Spending will never save a bad team from the depths of irrelevance, but it can certainly lift a team up into the glories of the Postseason.

    • Feb 03 2019 12:28 PM
    • by Matt Braun
  2. 2018 Twins Daily Top 30 Most-Viewed Articles: Part 2 (11-20)

    Today’s installment begins with an article on a player that the Twins, and probably 90% of the teams in baseball, would love to have on their team. Feel free to discuss these articles. Click into them and read the articles as well as some of the comments in them.

    20. Real Deal What would it take to get JT Realmuto - July 9


    As the July trade deadline was approaching, Nick Nelson wrote an article attempting to project what it might take for the Twins to acquire JT Realmuto. While the Twins were not traditional buyers, Nick pointed out that Realmuto was a guy who was available for a couple of seasons and potentially for a long-term deal. Of course, he noted that the Marlins would likely request Alex Kirilloff and Brusdar Graterol in a deal that would likely include a couple more players as well. Is such a deal still possible this offseason since Realmuto is still a member of the Marlins as their asking price remains exceedingly high?

    19. 2018 Top Prospects #7 Brent Rooker - February 12


    Twins fans have been intrigued by the power potential of Brent Rooker since the Twins drafted him in the compensation round following the first round in 2017. He debuted and powered his way up to the High-A Ft. Myers Miracle where he continued to mash home runs. Heading into the season, he was the Twins Daily choice for the #7 Twins prospect and there was some talk that he could debut in 2018. That didn’t happen, though he certainly continued to hit with power in the Southern League at Chattanooga.

    18. 4 Creative Tweaks the Twins can make to get better - November 27


    What role could we see Trevor May or Fernando Romero pitch in during the 2019 season. How much should Willians Astudillo play? When we returned from Thanksgiving, Nick posted this interesting article with some ideas for the Twins brass to consider as they dove into the offseason.

    17. The Yu Darvish Contingency Plan - February 10


    Well, the Twins were fortunate that Yu Darvish decided to sign with the Cubs. When that news broke, Cody Christie tried to provided readers with options that were still available He wrote about some free agents that were still available, as well as some possible trade targets. As we know, the Twins did get one of those free agents.

    16. Breaking News - Twins Trade Rodney to A’s - August 9


    The Twins were busy at the end of July, making several trades. That continued into August when their hard-throwing, sometimes erratic closer was dealt to the Oakland A’s in exchange for Dakota Chalmers. Rodney helped the A’s into the playoffs, and the team picked up his 2019 option. Chalmers was the A’s third-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Georgia. He throws hard, though he doesn’t always throw strikes. He had Tommy John surgery early in the 2018 season.

    15. 2018 Twins midseason top prospect list (1-5) - July 12


    At Twins Daily, we publish our choices for the Twins top prospects before the season. Then in late June or early July, we update the rankings. Fans often viewed our top five choices at midseason. The list may look a little bit different again when we do our 2019 Twins Top Prospect Rankings.

    14. Where can the Twins find some OBP for their lineup - December 2


    Joe Mauer retired and Robbie Grossman was not tendered arbitration for the 2019 season. The two were clearly the Twins most patient, disciplined hitters and guys that could be counted on to put the ball in play most of the time. Nick wondered where the Twins might be able to find some hitters that could make up for the loss in on-base percentage. Have they accomplished this goal yet?

    13. 2018 MLB Draft Day 2 thread - June 6


    Like I wrote yesterday, Twins Daily covers the Twins draft like no one else, and our readers really enjoy the discussion. In the article, we review the selections from the first night of the draft before updating the site with each of the Twins picks from the third through the tenth rounds. The Twins didn’t have a third-round pick this year, having given it up to sign Lance Lynn.

    12. Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects 1 Royce Lewis - February 20


    The choice for the Twins top prospect before the 2018 season was pretty easy. Royce Lewis was the first overall pick in the 2017 draft and impressed in his professional debut not only in the Gulf Coast League but also in Cedar Rapids. Lewis continued to play well throughout the 2018 season and moved into the Top 10 prospects in baseball. However, when we put out the Twins Daily Top Prospect rankings (maybe later this month), will Lewis be able to hold off Alex Kirilloff and Brusdar Graterol to remain at #1? Well, you’ll just want to come back to see.

    11. How soon could Royce Lewis call Target Field home - August 7


    Write about Royce Lewis and people will read it. I often get asked either when Lewis will get called up to the Twins, or why the Twins are moving him up so slowly. So, I decided to do a little research. I looked at other top first-round pick shortstops to see what their timeline looked like relative to where Lewis was. To say that Lewis is ahead of the pace of both Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor should be exciting to Twins fans.


    So there you have it, the 11th-20th ranked Twins Daily articles according to page in 2018. Offseason speculation, an August trade, and top prospects (especially Royce Lewis) certainly lead the way in today’s installment. Be sure to check back in the next couple of days to find out what the Top 10 most-viewed articles on Twins Daily were in 2018.

    • Jan 02 2019 09:49 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  3. 2018 Twins Daily Top 30 Most-Viewed Articles: Part 1 (21-30)

    In Part 1 today, find out which articles ranked 21 - 30 in terms of most viewed articles of 2018.


    30. Twins to Hire Rocco Baldelli as Manager - October 24

    Late on the night of October 24th, reports started trickling out that the Twins had made their decision. Derek Shelton had been informed that he would not be the next Twins manager, and Rocco Baldelli would be named manager. The next morning, the Twins made it official. It is interesting to me that a managerial hire would fall this far down the list, but generally speaking, articles on players or strategies, etc., get more discussion.


    29. Twins Select Trevor Larnach in First Round - June 4

    Drafting 20th overall is a little different than having the first overall pick. It’s much more difficult to know who the Twins might have available to them, much less who they will take. When their pick came, they selected outfielder Trevor Larnach out of the Oregon State. Following the draft, he played hero in his team’s march toward the College World Series championship. After signing, he played briefly in Elizabethton before joining the Cedar Rapids Kernels to end the season.




    28. 2018 MLB Draft Day 3 Thread - June 6

    At Twins Daily, we take a lot of pride in the draft coverage that we have provided in recent years. It started with Jeremy Nygaard’s hard work and great sources. In 2018, Andrew Thares took over the draft coverage and did a great job. The draft is clearly a major event for Twins Daily readers as even our Day 3 of the draft article made the Top 30. Maybe it is because we update the article after each of the Twins 30 Day 3 selections (Rounds 11-40). You never know when you’ll find a late-round sleeper.


    27. The Wall of Ground Ball Prevention - February 15

    While most articles in this Top 30 are Twins-related, this Parker Hageman feature doesn’t mention the Twins. What it is a a very interesting article on how teams (professional and college) are working to help hitters increase launch angle.


    26. Why I believe the Twins are going to sign Yu Darvish - January 8

    A year ago at this time the Twins had made some bullpen moves (Zack Duke, Fernando Rodney). But most Twins fans coveted Yu Darvish, the ace-right-hander who finished the 2017 season with the Dodgers after five-and-a-half with the Texas Rangers. That was a big part of why Twins fans were hopeful that Darvish might sign with the Twins, the Rangers connection between Darvish and Thad Levine. Nick Nelson wrote an article pointing out several reasons that he felt the Twins were the favorites to sign Yu Darvish. Of course, one year into his six year, $126 million with the Cubs, Twins fans are thankful that the Twins did not acquire him.


    25. Ryan LaMarre just might make the Twins opening day roster - March 24

    Ryan LaMarre was one of the best stories of spring training. He was coming off of an injury and the Twins signed him to a minor league contract. He had made several adjustments to his swing, and he hit well all spring. His speed and defense made him the choice for the team’s fourth/fifth outfielder on Opening Day. In spring training, I had the chance to chat with him for a while about why the Twins were the right choice for him last offseason.


    24. Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #2 Fernando Romero - February 19

    Each year, Twins Daily provides our choice for the Twins top 20 prospects before spring training. Romero has been a top prospect for several years, even through his two missed years of development time due to Tommy John surgery. That didn’t change coming into the 2018 season. Just a few months later, Romero made his major league debut with a strong showing.


    23. Twins Sign Anibal Sanchez No Really - February 16

    Just as spring training was about to start, the Twins announced the signing of Anibal Sanchez. It was a non-guaranteed deal that could have been worth $2.5 million. Admittedly, most - if not all - Twins fans hated (or at least didn’t understand) the signing and specifically why it needed to be a MLB deal. Maybe that’s why this was a Top 25 article in 2018. Over his final three seasons of a six-year deal with the Tigers, Sanchez went 20-30 with a 5.67 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. As we now know, Sanchez didn’t stick around long. The Twins soon signed Lance Lynn to a one-year contract. We were all excited, and Sanchez was released. Atlanta claimed him and he went 7-6 with a 2.83 ERA this year. He turned that into a two-year, $19 million deal (with a third-year option) with the Nationals.


    22. 5 Things the Twins absolutely must accomplish this offseason - September 20

    As the disappointing 2018 Twins season came to an end, Nick Nelson wrote up a set of five Must-Do’s for the Twins front office in this offseason. To this point, none of the five have happened, but to be fair, a couple of those things have not yet needed to be done. For me, if #3 is completed this offseason, I will call the offseason a success.


    21. Is Paul Molitor the right man to lead the Twins? - June 18

    While Paul Molitor was the easy choice or AL Manager of the Year in 2017, 2018 started out badly, and by mid-June, Nick Nelson penned this article wondering aloud if Molitor was the right choice for the Twins. There is no doubting Molitor’s intelligence and baseball IQ, along with his willingness to use new analytics and new thinking. Well, as we now know, soon after the completion of the season, the Twins announced that Paul Molitor had been fired. It was very interesting to me to see that the article announcing the Molitor dismissal barely made the Top 50 articles of the year at Twins Daily. Not sure I can really explain that.


    In the coming days, we’ll continue to count down the Top 30 most viewed Twins Daily articles of 2018. They are fun to look back at, to read what we wrote, and to read the comments of what people thought at that time. Hopefully you will enjoy this look back as we now look forward to 2019.

    • Jan 02 2019 07:43 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  4. Twins Pitching For More Pitching

    Change of Heart?
    When the Twins traded for Jake Odorizzi, the message from the front office was pretty clear. It didn’t sound like the Twins were happy having only Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi leading the rotation.


    Santana will miss the first month of the following surgery on his finger. This means the rotation would currently be rounded out with the likes of Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, and Adalberto Mejia. With extra off-days built into the early schedule, the Twins only need a fifth starter a handful of times while Santana is on the DL.

    With some of the best free agent pitchers still unemployed, the Twins front office might have had a change of heart in recent weeks.

    Lowballing Lance Lynn
    Mike Beradino of the Pioneer Press is reporting the Twins made Lance Lynn a 2-year, $20 million deal. This is seems like a lowball offer from Minnesota as the front office continues to try and be “opportunistic.” Beradino makes it sound like the deal didn’t gain any traction and rightfully so if you’re in Lynn’s shoes.

    Lynn missed all of 2016 following Tommy John surgery. In his first year back, he had a 3.42 ERA and a 124 ERA+. Those numbers were a little higher than his career 3.38 ERA but that can be expected coming off major elbow surgery. With expected improvements in his second year removed from surgery, Lynn could slide into the back of Minnesota’s rotation and add some depth to the rotation.

    Show Me The Money
    Coming off a playoff appearance, the Twins are currently set to open the year with a club-record $118 million payroll. Minnesota lost out on the Yu Darvish sweepstakes but they were rumored to have offered him a contract worth over $100 million. This could mean the team still has money in the bank to put towards adding other pieces.

    With big contracts from Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier coming off the books, the club has little invested in guaranteed money beyond next season. Phil Hughes, Addison Reed, Michael Pineda and Jason Castro are the only players with guaranteed money for 2019. There is currently no guaranteed money for 2020.

    Obviously, young players like Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Jose Berrios will start to get more expensive. Buxton might already be in the beginnings stages of a long-term deal. Young talent is cheap but it doesn’t stay cheap forever.

    Do the Twins need to add another starting pitcher? Will Lynn even negotiate with the Twins after they lowballed him? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Mar 07 2018 09:57 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  5. The Difficult Dozier Decision

    “I’ll Be A Free Agent”
    Dozier made it clear to the assembled media last week that he is heading into free agency. When the Twins signed Dozier, it was certainly a unique contract. He signed a four-year contract for $20 million that bought out the remainder of his arbitration years. For the Twins, it created some cost certainty. For Dozier, it allowed him some financial stability, he got to avoid the messy arbitration process, and he knew he could enter free agency in his early 30’s.

    This offseason’s free agency period has been strange to say the least. Yu Darvish, the biggest name on the free agent market, took his time in selecting a new home. Even after his signing, the market has been moving slowly despite spring training being well underway. While the free agent class wasn’t one of the best classes in recent memory, there were some names that should have drawn interest.

    There were very few second baseman on the free agent market and not many of them were of the same caliber as Dozier. Players like Neil Walker and Brandon Phillips aren’t exactly going to be huge difference makers for a team. Former Twin Eduardo Nunez is the lone second baseman to sign. A year after hitting .313/.341/.460, Nunez was able to sign only a one-year, $4 million deal.

    According to FanGraphs, Brian Dozier has been worth 14.2 WAR over the last three seasons. That means he’s been worth roughly $113 million over that span. Nunez has been worth 5.9 WAR and $47.4 million during the same time period. Dozier is one of the best offensive players at his position and he won his first Gold Glove last season.

    Since 2006, there have been few second basemen who have been able to score big free agent contracts. Baseball Prospectus found five second basemen to get more than $25 million as free agents. Only Ben Zobrist (4 years, $56 million) and Robinson Cano (10 years, $240 million) brought in over $40 million.
    It’s clear to see Dozier’s value but his age going to start playing a factor.

    Better With Age?
    Dozier fits the definition of a late-bloomer. His breakout season came at Double-A when he was 24 years old. He wouldn’t make his big league debut until age 25 and he wouldn’t play a full big league season until he was 26. He hit under .245 in each of his first three big league seasons and never had an OPS higher than .762.

    Over the last two seasons, his OPS has jumped to .886 (2016) and .856 (2017) while averaging 38 home runs per year. I’ve been critical of Dozier’s defense in the past but his defense made remarkable strides last season. According to SABR’s Defensive Index, only Ian Kinsler ranked better than Dozier among AL second basemen.

    Moving On
    Many of Minnesota’s top prospects currently play shortstop and Jorge Polanco is coming off a strong second half. Royce Lewis, Nick Gordon and Wander Javier all could shift to second base if Dozier finds another home for 2019. If Polanco can continue to play well this year, a starting middle infield of Nick Gordon and Jorge Polanco seems a likely scenario for next season.

    Considering Dozier’s age, and other options in the system, it seems likely for the Twins to say goodbye to Mr. Dozier. Younger players are going to be ready for the big league level. I believe Dozier’s veteran presence is something that also can’t be overlooked. A team trying to contend can’t be made of all young and unproven players. However, the front-office still has a difficult Dozier decision.

    Do you think it’s time for the Twins to say bye-bye to Brian Dozier? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Mar 05 2018 05:09 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  6. Twins Weekly for Feb. 9-15: Darvish Derby Depression

    Let’s take a quick look back at all the articles from the front page in the order they were published. This edition of Twins Weekly covers Friday, Feb. 9 to Thursday, Feb. 15.

    The Darvish Contingency Plan | Cody Christie
    The Twins Almanac for February 11–17 | Matt Johnson
    Gleeman & The Geek, Ep 355: General Malaise | John Bonnes
    Don't Panic Over Bad Breaks For Twins Rotation | Nick Nelson
    Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #8 Blayne Enlow | Nick Nelson
    Trade Target: Collin McHugh (McWho?) | Seth Stohs
    Spring Training Storylines: Pitchers And Catchers | Cody Christie
    Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #7 Brent Rooker | Seth Stohs
    Seth's Twins On Deck Podcast (Episode 6) | Seth Stohs
    Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #6 Wander Javier | Nick Nelson
    Scouting Target Field’s Biggest Games of 2018 | Tom Froemming
    Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #5 Alex Kirilloff | Cody Christie
    The Wall Of Ground Ball Prevention | Parker Hageman
    Minnesota's Winter Of Discontent | Nick Nelson
    Minnesota and Mauer Facing Important 2018 | Ted Schwerzler
    Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #4 Stephen Gonsalves | Seth Stohs

    Twins Daily Bloggers on the Darvish Fallout

    State of the Twins - Pitching Rotation edition
    By JohnOlson

    So, where does that leave us? Well, there was always an opportunity for in-house competition for the 5th starting pitching spot, we'll start there. Phil Hughes, off of his second rib surgery, will be in the mix, along with a post-Tommy John Trevor May. Among those who had a cup of coffee in the majors last year, Aaron Slegers and probably to a lesser extent Felix Jorge, and exciting young pitchers Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero and Zach Littell. Adalberto Mejia, who had a fairly up and down 2017, also projects to be competing for a spot - he would be the lone left hander in the rotation, with his experience in 2017 and flashes of ability, I expect him to be among the favorites.


    We should Be Happy Darvish Signed Elsewhere
    By Twins in 6

    Now that we Twins fans have had a few days to take in (and get over) the fact that Yu Darvish signed with the Cubs we can start thanking the Falvey and Levine brain-trust for saving the Pohlad dollars. It’s easy to say “Darvish was never going to come here” or “the Pohlads were never going to cough up what it takes to sign a real star” but let’s think about this for a moment… Not signing Darvish was the smart move.


    To Trade or not to Trade? That is the Question
    By TwinsO’Holic

    Adding 1 or better yet, TWO, starters no doubt helps this team try to get back to the postseason in 2018. Yu Darvish signing with the Cubs on Saturday left Twins fans shattered, as their #1 option went off the board. This leaves Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb as the top remaining free agents. While there are many blogs that have speculated on how those three would contribute to the team, I will be focusing on the Twins trade options.


    Video of the Week
    Good news: Actual Baseball things are happening!!!


    Item of the Week
    Single-game tickets for all the Twins home games become available for purchase tomorrow morning, and there are some sweet bobblehead giveaways.With that in mind, check out this sweet lot of three Twins bobbleheads from the early 2000s: Corey Koskie, Doug Mientkiewicz and Cristian Guzman. At the time of posting, these babies could be had for just $19.99. Free shipping even!
    [attachment=11109:Bobbleheads.png]
    That’s it for this edition of Twins Weekly. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • Feb 16 2018 07:02 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  7. Trade Target: Collin McHugh (McWho?)

    Background
    Collin McHugh made 15 big league appearances in 2012 and 2013 for the Mets and Rockies. Following that 2013 season, Colorado waived him and the Astros claimed him. As a 27-year-old rookie in 2014, he made 25 starts for Houston and went 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA. In 2015, he went 19-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 32 starts. In 2016, he made 33 starts and went 13-10 with a 4.34 ERA. Last year, he missed a lot of time due to a posterior impingement of his right elbow. He made 12 starts and went 5-2 with a 3.55 ERA.

    However, last August, the Astros acquired Justin Verlander and went on to win the World Series. Then this offseason, they traded for Gerrit Cole. Their rotation going into spring training is Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton. McHugh provides depth, but he would be outside of the rotation.

    McHugh is not a flamethrower. His average fastball is just over 90 mph. He throws a cutter in the mid-80s and also has a good slow curveball.

    McHugh will turn 31 in mid-June. Last week, he lost his arbitration hearing and will make $4.55 million in 2018. He will have one more year of arbitration in 2019, so acquiring him gives you two years of control.

    Risk
    As I see it, there are a few risks with McHugh. First and foremost, the elbow is a concern. I get that as of last season his injury had nothing to do with his ulnar collateral ligament, but sometimes pain in that area can lead to other issues in related structures.

    Reward
    Collin McHugh is not Chris Archer. Acquiring him would give the Twins a real solid #3 pitcher (if healthy). A top three of Santana, Berrios and McHugh is pretty solid. Kyle Gibson bumps down to the #4 starter and then you’ve got depth of young pitchers with varying levels of upside competing for the fifth spot in the rotation. That depth then moves down to Rochester where they continue to work to move their way up.

    Secondly, he provides a quality starter at likely two years and maybe $10-13 million.

    Despite not having big velocity, McHugh finds a way to miss bats. Over his four previous seasons, his K/9 numbers have been 9.1, 7.6, 8.6 and 8.8. Those numbers would be at the top of Twins starters in recent years.

    Potential Cost
    McHugh has two more years of team control, likely in the $10-13 million range. He doesn’t have a spot in the Astros starting rotation. The Astros have used a lot of minor leaguers in the last couple of years to acquire players like Verlander and Cole. They will likely want to acquire prospects for McHugh, but the haul for him should be far less than a trade for Chris Archer. In other words, the Twins should be able to pick any 6-8 prospects that they say are untouchable, and then the conversation can start.

    That would mean that the Twins may have to give up one quality prospect, but not a top 100 type of prospect. At that point, if I’m the Astros, I’m wanting quantity as much as quality. They should take advantage of the Twins minor league depth. Maybe they would want three prospects in the 16-30 range as opposed to the Twins #11 prospect alone.

    By comparison, acquiring Chris Archer is likely to cost a young major leaguer, two top five prospects and maybe two more prospects. But instead of getting a guy similar to Ervin Santana, you would be getting an absolute ace who is young and under team control for four more years for about $30 million. It’s an important distinction when comparing two potential trade targets.


    Is Collin McHugh a guy you think that the Twins should consider acquiring?

    • Feb 11 2018 10:01 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  8. The Darvish Contingency Plan

    Other Free Agent Options
    The second tier options for free agency include names like Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn. National baseball writer Jon Heyman reported that “Alex Cobb is believed to be [the Twins] fallback choice for the rotation” after Darvish passes. Minnesota is reluctant to go past four or five years for any free agent pitcher so that also changes their approach with other free agent arms.

    Minnesota has been in contact with the other free agent pitchers but MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger says “their interest in Cobb has been a bit overstated.” Plenty of other teams have expressed interest in signing Lynn but most clubs believe his asking price is too high at this point.

    There may be some other options to add depth to the back-end of Minnesota’s starting rotation. Chris Tillman is coming off of shoulder surgery and could be a strong bounce-back candidate. Another option would be reuniting with Jaime Garcia, who made one start for the Twins last season before being dealt to the Yankees.

    Searching The Trade Market
    The Twins are considering a variety of options with Darvish off the market. 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson gave fans an update on the Darvish situation. In his podcast, he mentions the Twins are “maintaining regular trade talk” with the Rays. Tampa Bay has multiple pitchers who could be dealt and each one is going to come at a different cost.

    Chris Archer is the most coveted Rays pitcher. The former All-Star is signed to a team-friendly deal through 2019 with team options for 2020-21. He won’t turn 30 until next September so Tampa isn’t exactly in a hurry to have him pack his bags. Minnesota might have to deal multiple top prospects and maybe some young major league assets to acquire Archer.

    Another option could be Tampa’s Jake Odorizzi who has compiled a 3.71 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP over the last three seasons. He is in his second year of arbitration eligibility so that means he won’t be a free agent until 2020. According to Wolfson, the Rays have a lot of interest in outfielder Max Kepler. Kepler turned 25 this weekend and he could be poised for a breakout season in 2018.

    With Darvish heading to Chicago, what’s the team’s next best option? Another free agent pitcher? Making a trade with Tampa Bay? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Feb 10 2018 04:09 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  9. Darvish Down To The Studs

    At this point there’s been so much written about the fit between the two sides. Jay Jaffe recently noted that Darvish makes too much sense for Minnesota, and MLB.com’s Richard Justice put the Twins atop the list of teams needing to make a move (with Darvish being the suggestion). If Darvish to the Twins were to fall into the “beating a dead horse” category, we would’ve entered the sick and twisted level of punishment a long time ago.

    So, what’s the hang up?

    On his latest version of The Scoop podcast, Darren Wolfson noted the Twins have made Darvish a formal offer. The belief is that it’s of the four or five year variety, and that they aren’t keen on the idea of going to a sixth year (more on that in a minute). Also, while Chris Gimenez is now trying to recruit Darvish to Chicago, Mike Napoli believes it’s a matter of when (not if) he’ll be with Minnesota. The former Rangers teammate is playing an active role in recruiting the star pitcher to Thad Levine’s new club.

    Now back to that sixth year and Darvish bit. Twins Daily’s Tom Froemming had a couple of noteworthy comments regarding Yu recently on Twitter. First and foremost, if the sixth year is what would get the deal done for the Twins and they decide to forego that opportunity, it would be a huge egg-on-face scenario. Despite lacking the ability to play in the big boy pool a vast majority of the time, Minnesota finds itself with a prime opportunity. Positioning themselves to offer something competitors can/will not in order to get a monumental deal done would like a big whiff.

    Looking at what the market has to offer, Tom delves a bit deeper. A year from now, the free agent pitching crop isn’t going to yield much more than what Minnesota currently has in front of them. While Clayton Kershaw should headline that class, he’s going to be nowhere within the Twins means (especially with Los Angeles and New York attempting to position for a big spend). That leaves a group headlined by Dallas Keuchel, and rounded out by names like Patrick Corbin and Garret Richards.

    Finally and maybe most importantly given the factors at play, Mr. Froemming quips “If the Twins just want to be a cute little small market team that builds from within that's fine. That's actually smart. But then you need to do things like trade away Brian Dozier.” This point makes a bunch of sense as well, and is akin to how the Tampa Bay Rays have operated. In flipping names like David Price, they’ve recouped controllable talent and tried to win outside of free agency. However, the crossroads for the Twins to pick a side is right in front of them.

    As has been dissected plenty this offseason, Minnesota views a perfect storm for Darvish to end up in the Twin Cities. A bad division, prospects graduated to regulars, and a payroll begging to be expanded upon. If the Twins are not ready or able to take the plunge on Darvish at this juncture, there’s probably never going to be a time in which they are willing to make this sort of leap. There are only a few times in an organization's cycle of competitiveness that point directly at a certain line of decision-making. For Minnesota, this is it.

    As I outlined here recently, there’s no denying that clubs are backing away from long-term big-money deals. The reality is that the back end of those deals leaves you significant opportunity to be exposed when a player begins to fall off a cliff. That being said, it also has to be applied on a case-by-case basis. While there are any number of players available in a given offseason, top-of-the-rotation pitchers rarely hit the market surrounded by ideal circumstances.

    Should the Twins land Darvish on a six-year deal, it’s fair to assume that the final (and possibly even the fifth year) would be a wash. That being said, there are more than a few things in their corner here. First and foremost is the commodity that they’re starting with. Darvish is an elite level pitcher now. Assuming he falls off as time goes on, him going from a 3.70 ERA (16/17) to a 4.50 ERA and fifth starter at age 35-36 is hardly a massive failure. By starting with a higher talent level out of the gate, the expectation should be that the bottom wouldn’t drop out as deeply.

    Second, payroll being what it is now, and should continue to be, positions the move well. Although Minnesota hasn’t kept up with inflation for years, they also haven’t been in a scenario in which supplementing the internal roster with outside talent would’ve made much difference. Before the emergence of young and controllable talent hit the big leagues, spending would’ve been at a time to do little more than tread water. Now with the roster where it is, 2018 should represent an organizational record in payroll, and that should continue to hold strong for the next several years.

    Finally, Minnesota has been waiting for this opportunity for years. No, not the opportunity to sign Darvish, but instead the ability to “go for it,” with names like Buxton and Sano already in place. After having a top farm system for a number of years, those prospects have graduated. If by the time Yu Darvish is 36 or 37, the Twins have yet to accomplish anything, they’ll also be watching both Sano and Buxton stare 30 in the face. At that point, they’ll be established veterans on a roster waiting on the emergence of players headlined by Royce Lewis. This current core of graduated prospects was what the Twins needed to supplement, and the time to do so is now.

    At the end of the day, Yu Darvish gives the Twins an opportunity to play in a space they so rarely have been able to. They can bring in an elite and necessary talent, while pushing them forward from a year in which they showed emergence. Seeing future salary relief in 2019 and beyond, Falvey and Levine should be able to continue to pump external talent into their established squad, and it could result in the best opportunity for a World Series run in years. It’s hard to suggest that any one offseason is defined solely on the shoulders of a singular player, but it’s equally hard to understate just how valuable the addition of the former Rangers ace would be.

    Four years, five years, or six years, find the competitive advantage necessary to get a "Yes" and take the plunge.

    • Feb 08 2018 12:12 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  10. Free Agent Starters By The Numbers Part II: WAR and Projections

    To start, let’s look at where the Twins currently stand by the one major projection system that’s been fully public so far. On FanGraphs you’ll find an early look at their projected standings for 2018 based on the Steamer projection system. FanGraphs writers have cautioned that their projected standings will be updated sometime in March to incorporate ZiPS, so expect these estimates to change, but Steamer currently projects the Twins to finish at 80-82, or 12 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central and 9 games behind the Yankees and Angels, who are projected about even for both wild cards.

    Even if an AL Central teeming with 90-loss teams gifts the Twins a few extra wins in the Wild Card race, Steamer seems to think the Twins have a ways yet to go to catch up with the Yankees and Angels after their aggressive offseasons. So how did the free agents stack up with the Twins’ candidates in 2017, and what do the major projections systems expect from them in 2018?

    Let’s take a look:
    [attachment=11094:FASP1.png]
    [attachment=11095:FASP2.png]
    *As mentioned above, FanGraphs hasn’t yet released their formal “Depth Chart” projections, which aggregate ZiPS and Steamer and prorate for the FanGraphs staff’s playing time projections, so I’ve calculated the Depth Chart projections manually based on FanGraphs’ methodology and the ZiPS projections that have been released so far. Jake Arrieta’s ZiPS projections have not been released, so his Depth Chart projection is based only on Steamer.

    Unsurprisingly, Steamer and ZiPS both project Yu Darvish to lead the pack in 2018, but what is a bit surprising is by how much the projections see him outperforming the rest of the field. If you look at the aggregated rankings, he is projected to outperform Jake Arrieta and Jose Berrios (ranked 2 and 3 above) by more than a win and to outperform every other free agent starters by at least two wins. Maybe more surprising is that the aggregated projections do not project Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb as clear improvements over Kyle Gibson as the third starter and or even anything more than a slight improvement over Adalberto Mejia as the fourth starter.

    Of course, the Twins will eventually need a fifth starter, and signing Jaime Garcia or even Chris Tillman could likely help avoid a replacement-level solution (see: Phil Hughes) every fifth day until top pitching prospects Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero prove they’re ready for the show.

    Do these projections change your opinions of any of the free agent starters? Who would you have the Twins sign?

    • Feb 04 2018 01:25 PM
    • by Greg Logan
  11. MLB Shift Driving Market Realities

    Looking at the list of the top 25 free agents for 2018 from MLB.com, only four of the top 10 players available have been inked to deals. Shohei Ohtani chose the Los Angeles Angels in a deal that was never going to reflect true market value. Wade Davis inked the largest relief contract ever with the Rockies, Jay Bruce rejoined the Mets, and Lorenzo Cain entered the National League with the Milwaukee Brewers. However, the battle cry continues to be that money is scarce on the market, and players demand better.

    In a tweet from agent Brody Van Wagenen, threats regarding a strike were made, and indications of former $200 million and $300 million deals were alluded to. It's absolutely fair on one hand to see players band together; being represented by a union, that's what should take place. That being said, the threat of a strike while failing to realize market indications seems somewhat like misplaced frustration. First and foremost, a strike would effectively squash all positive momentum the sport has, which is currently experiencing popularity at its peak. The players stand to gain nothing in the long run from a strike, and comparing the current landscape to that of 1994 couldn't be further from level ground. The second part of the equation however, is what both market factors and available commodities are telling us.

    There're two real situations at play this offseason in my mind. Situation number one is that the crop of free agents is, for lack of better descriptors, rather week. Jay Bruce was a top ten name, Yu Darvish is truly the only ace, and as good as he is, J.D. Martinez as a true designated hitter becomes a top three get (this coming from someone who genuinely supports the DH, and believes it ought to be universal). No doubt owners have revenues to disperse, but there is a lack of players worthy of the funds to be allocated, in a sense.

    The second situation is that the impending free agent class represents one of the greatest to ever hit the open market. Brian Dozier, Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, Byrce Harper, A.J. Pollock, and Andrew McCutchen highlight the bats. On the mound, names like Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw (likely), Dallas Keuchel, Klevin Herrera, Craig Kimbrel, and Zach Britton all get the engine running. As harsh of a reality as it may be, the money allocated for those players should be significantly more than what's currently available.

    I'm absolutely in favor of a player being paid whatever they can get, and your worth as far as a contract goes should be whatever someone is willing to pay you. However, it seems that agents are overreaching while players are lulled into a false sense of reality. When it comes to a free market structure, it's generally the market that dictates valuations. One player commanding an unrealistic amount would effectively throw off the valuations surrounding the entirety of a current class or one in the future.

    We have heard reports of Darvish seeking something north of seven years and $175 million, while someone like Hosmer has been reported to have seven year deals on the table, but holding out for eight. There've been notes reporting Martinez is looking for $200 million, and Arrieta could be commanding as much. Sure, given the current availability of free agents, those numbers might not be ridiculous in a vacuum. The problem however, is that organizations are trying to create a culture of consistent winning. By offering Martinez $200m or Hosmer eight years, the correct structure of a Machado or Harper deal becomes $600m or 15 years. At some point, there has to be reality to the sliding scale matching talent or return, with valuation.

    Throw into the equation that front offices are also now more intelligent than ever before. Analytics may not have entirely taken over the on-field product, but you can bet that algorithms are run for virtually every dollar amount thrown into a discussion. No longer does a team want to get stuck paying Albert Pujols $240m over 10 years, while he limps through two-thirds of the deal. The Zack Greinke's and Giancarlo Stanton's over the world make the money easier to wrap your head around given the age factor (similar to what Machado and Harper will experience), but massive paydays spread across significant time commitments for players into their 30's has long been a negative proposition.

    At the end of the day, I expect a dam to break, and it's the players that probably need to do some budging. Sure, there's absolutely money to be spent, and the sport should continue to foster payroll growth. What can't happen however, is for talent to hold money hostage until market inefficiencies are forced. The future viability of contracts relies upon a level of consistency year over year. Baseball being an uncapped sport leads to an interesting economic study created entirely by its own doing. The sport needs Darvish and Hosmer thrilling fans, but it also needs them doing it in a scenario that makes sense for future markets as well.

    We may have had one of the most boring off-seasons in recent memory, but there's a time crunch coming, and the craziness could just be about to start.

    Originally posted at Off The Baggy.

    • Feb 03 2018 01:03 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  12. Twins Weekly for Jan. 26-Feb. 1: Asking Questions

    Let’s take a quick look back at all the articles from the front page in the order they were published. This edition of Twins Weekly covers Friday, Jan. 26 to Thursday, Feb. 1.

    The Twins Almanac for Jan 28–Feb 3 | Matt Johnson
    Gleeman & The Geek, Ep 353: Waiting on Yu | John Bonnes
    Here's How The Experts Are Viewing Twins Prospects | Nick Nelson
    Get To Know Twins RHP Prospect Bailey Ober | Seth Stohs
    Seth's Twins On Deck Podcast (Episode 4) | Seth Stohs
    Dozier Debate: Contract Extension? Pace of Play? | Cody Christie
    Do The Twins Need To Add a Right-Handed Bat? | Seth Stohs
    Can Extending Relief Appearances Address Baseball’s Pace of Play Concerns? | Tom Froemming
    Open Windows | Nick Nelson
    Top 10 Twins Players Under 25 (1-5) | Cody Christie
    Top 15 Minnesota Twins Players | Seth Stohs
    Why The Twins May Opt For Short-Term SP Commitment | Nick Nelson
    A Central Of Historic Proportions | Ted Schwerzler

    Twins Daily Blogs
    Perseverance Plays Role For Baseball and Puerto Rico
    By Ted Schwerzler

    After narrowly missing the bulk of Hurricane Irma's effects, Puerto Rico will look back on Wednesday September 20, 2017 as a day it won't soon forget. Hurricane Maria makes landfall and demolishes the small island. A place that has become a growing epicenter for baseball talent, and set to host a Major League Baseball series in 2018, was simply devastated. This isn't a tale of the destruction however, but instead a look at the resolve of each part involved.


    Free Agent Starters and Rotation Candidates: By The Numbers (Part I)
    By Greg Logan

    While we wait to hear whether Darvish picks the Twins or sends the front office scrambling for Plan B, let's take a look at how the top four free agent starters – Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb – stack up against the existing Twins rotation candidates by the numbers. Today we'll start with rate stats, and I'll follow up with a "Part II" that takes a deeper look at the major WAR and projection models.


    Whine Line Investigation: Explanation for a Boring Off-season
    By Vanimal46

    ANND Welcome! To Minnesota Twins Whine Line: Detective Edition! I'm your LEAD Investigator, Vanimal, along with my trusty sidekick, the intern. Since we last checked in, both of us set down the PS4 controllers, put MLB The Show back in the case, and studied for our Private Investigator license! In the real world, we noticed that it's January 30th, and 8 out of the top 10 free agents have still yet to sign! It's a strange, boring off-season... There's been several STRONG takes about why this is happening... And we're no different! We decided to put on our Deerstalker, and dive deep into the REAL reason why recent off-seasons are boring...


    Student Mailbag: Homerun Rates v. Strikeout Rates
    By Matthew Lenz

    Most of you probably don't know that I am a high school math teacher and junior varsity baseball coach. Recently, a student of mine asked for me to write about the record breaking home run and strikeout rates from the 2017 season. I'm going to dive into those numbers for you today, but then also look at how these numbers are reflected in the projected 2018 opening day lineup for our beloved Twins.


    Also, Thrylos has begun sharing his top 60 prospect list.

    2018 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: Introduction

    2018 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 56-60

    2018 Twins Off-Season top 60 Prospect List: 51-55


    Poll of the Week
    Earlier this week, I asked when games should be scheduled to start during the week. The Twins currently schedule all their night games for 7:10 PM, but some teams are starting to mix in some earlier times. Based on the results of my poll, maybe the Twins should consider doing the same. Just 27 percent of people voted to keep things as they are. What do you think?


    Video of the Week
    The Patriots or the Eagles are going to win a world championship in Minneapolis. I figured it was a good time to break this out, but it’s also just really great to hear Vin Scully’s voice.


    eBay Item of the Week
    Speaking of the 1991 World Series, check out this sweet knock off Kirby “Stop the Chop” shirt. At $50, it’s too rich for my blood, but still a pretty fun T-shirt.
    [attachment=11081:Screenshot 2018-02-01 at 8.15.19 PM.png]

    Calling All Bloggers!!!
    Reminder: Anyone can start a blog at Twins Daily. If you're interested in being a regular writer for the site, the blog section is how you get your foot in the door. The only reason you're reading my words right now is because I started my own blog at Twins Daily.

    Calling All Readers!!!
    I don’t want to leave you out, either. If there's anything you'd love to read about next week, please let us know in the comments.

    Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!
    Be here Sunday for loads of Twins content. The Super Bowl signifies that it’s time to click into baseball mode, but we’re not waiting until after the game’s over. From earlier in the morning all they way up until right before kickoff, the site is going to be pumping out articles, many of them from the fresh voices you’ve seen emerge in the blog area. Please join us for what should make for a fun day of Twins talk.

    • Feb 01 2018 09:22 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
    • Jan 28 2018 08:26 PM
    • by John Bonnes
  13. Report: Darvish Decision Expected This Week, Twins In Consideration

    Darvish Decision Looming
    Jon Morosi of Fox Sports and MLB Network is reporting that Darvish is expected to make his decision this week. He also adds that the Twins are one of the teams still in discussion with the star pitcher.


    It is interesting that his only note about a current team is the Twins. However, there have been plenty of other teams connected to Darvish in recent weeks. The list of teams includes the Twins, Cubs, Rangers, Dodgers and Brewers.

    Gimenez Signing
    Former Twins catcher Chris Gimenez signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs this week. Sporting News compared this move to when the Cubs brought in David Ross to be paired with Jon Lester in 2015. Gimenez worked with Darvish in Texas and helped the pitcher on his way back from Tommy John surgery. Darvish has also called Gimenez his “all-time favorite catcher.”

    Five-Year Offer
    Darvish will turn 32 next August and he has only pitched one season of more than 200 innings. This might make it tough for team’s swallow a long-term deal. With many big free agent signings, there is some “dead” money at the end of the deal where the player isn’t playing at the same level as prior to his contract signing.

    According to reports, Darvish has at least one five-year offer on the table. There are still multiple teams in the mix for Darvish’s services but it sounds like his decision will be made by the end of the week.

    What are your thoughts on the latest Darvish news? Will he be in a Twins uniform by the end of the week? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Jan 24 2018 07:59 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  14. Would You Rather: Darvish or a Cobb/Lynn Combo?

    I threw this idea out on Twitter last Friday. I figured it was possible a total investment of $120 million may be able to net a team Darvish alone or the combination of both Cobb and Lynn.


    The poll got 432 votes and ended up as a 50/50 split, so I thought it was worth revisiting here. I'll let you all break the tie.

    It's worth noting that since the length of the deals being different, the annual average values didn’t match perfectly. Darvish at five years, $120 million would cost $24 million per season. Cobb and Lynn both at four years, $60 million works out to a total of $30 million a year.

    There were people on Twitter shocked with the results on both sides. Some thought it was obvious the Cobb/Lynn duo was best because of insurance. They were a little worried about putting all their eggs in one basket. Another argument from that side was extra depth made it more likely the Twins could win the AL Central, as opposed to competing for the Wild Card again. This crowd also seemed less trusting of Kyle Gibson and Adalberto Mejia.

    The pro Darvish crowd was mainly preaching the importance of adding a true top of the rotation starter. But there were a few people who also made the case that adding two middle of the rotation guys would be unnecessary due to Trevor May’s return and the emergence of guys like Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero and Zack Littell. Personally, going all in for Darvish is the option I'd prefer for that exact reason.

    For what it’s worth, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press sent out a couple Tweets earlier today relevant to this discussion:

    So it seems like the Twins aren't willing to go much beyond the $120 million I threw out there for Darvish ...

    ... and it doesn't sound like they'll go nuts for either of those two. MLB Trade Rumors noted that Cobb has already lowered his asking price from $100 million down to $70 million.

    This was just me spitballing some numbers, so it’s entirely possible that none of those three pitchers sign for anything close to the deals I threw out there, but just play along and let me know which of those two options you’d prefer.

    • Jan 23 2018 10:14 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  15. Twins Weekly for Jan. 5-11: Seth Speaks!

    Let’s take a quick look back at all the articles from the front page in the order they were published. This edition of Twins Weekly covers Friday, Jan. 5-Thursday, Jan. 11.

    The Twins Almanac for January 7–13 - Matt Johnson
    Projecting The 2021 Twins Line-Up - Cody Christie
    Gleeman & The Geek: Ep 350 Mega Mailbag - John Bonnes

    The Return of Seth Speaks (The Podcast) - Seth Stohs

    The guest list included Gopher baseball player Luke Petterson, LaMonte Wade, Stephen Gonsalves, Tyler Wells and Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline.


    Why I Believe The Twins Are Going To Sign Yu Darvish - Nick Nelson
    Justin Morneau To Retire, Join Twins Front Office- Cody Christie
    Winter Meltdown And Diamond Award Tickets Available Now! - John Bonnes
    Projecting the 2021 Twins Pitching Staff - Tom Froemming
    Hey Joe, What's Next? - Ted Schwerzler
    2018 Minnesota Twins Roster Projections - The Catchers - Seth Stohs
    Minnesota’s Base Running Resurgence - Cody Christie
    Did Nick Gordon’s Second Half Turn Him From Prospect to Suspect? - Tom Froemming
    Hard Work Jorge Pays Off - Ted Schwerzler

    Twins Daily Blogs
    Below are some additional items of note from both the blog area. I've pulled excerpts from each piece in attempt to hook you in.

    On acquiring Yu Darvish or Gerrit Cole
    By Hosken Bombo Disco
    “Now compare Cole to Darvish. Fangraphs projects Cole for 3.8 fWAR in 2018, while Darvish is projected only for 3.6 fWAR in 2018. Consider that Darvish’s contract will fetch more than $20 million per season for each of the next five or six seasons; Cole will not earn $20 million over the next two seasons together. Moreover, Cole might be motivated to pitch his best in order to increase his value in free agency following 2019.”

    HildenWho?
    By Jamie Cameron
    “Hildenberger had good MiLB numbers, but I had no idea how dominant he was. In any MiLB stint in which Hildenberger pitched at least 20 innings, he never had a K/9 of under 9.6, and never had a GB% lower than 53%. He topped out at 11.8 K/9 at low A. His GB% peaked at 67%. To put that into some major league perspective, only 4 guys who threw at least 40 innings in 2017 had a GB% higher than 67% (one of whom, Scott Alexander, the Dodgers saw fit to trade for as a replacement for Tony Watson in their bullpen). Granted, Hildenberger was at high A, but the signs were promising. Hildenberger had consistently shown an ability to do two things which in combination can make a reliever elite; get lots of strikeouts and induce a ton of ground balls.”

    Minnesota Jumeaux – Eh!
    By mikelink45
    “With Justin Morneau returning to Minnesota it just seems to fulfill destiny. The Canadians have only two teams – Toronto (officially) and that offshoot of Ontario called Minnesota with the Twins (Jumeaux). Canada should celebrate both and we should take pride in straddling the border with both temperature and hockey to welcome our northern kin.

    Morneau was a natural and Colorado was just a blip on his resume. Now he is coming back home. Welcome Justin – you can let your o’s get longer and slip in an Eh! Or two.”

    Understanding the "Quality of Pitch" (QOP/QOPA/QOPV) Statistics
    By Lenzy2108
    “I've spent a lot of time over the last few days reading about a relatively new statistic called "quality of pitch" (QOP), which assigns a numerical value to each pitch a pitcher throws. The values can then averaged together to come up with a pitchers average quality of pitch (QOPA) or you can look at a quality of pitch set of values (QOPV) as another tool to measure the performance of a pitcher. The purpose of this post is to provide a simple overview of this data as it may be referenced in future articles.”

    Additional Links

    Minnesota Twins: Paul Molitor’s New Year’s Resolutions
    By Benjamin Chase of Puckett’s Pond
    “The most obvious example of this was lefty Taylor Rogers. He made 69 appearances on the season, 19 of them on back-to-back days. However, early in the season, Molitor drastically overused his left arm, using him for three days in a row 3 times and five days in a row once all before the All-Star break.

    Predictably, Rogers had a rough time coming out of the All Star break, making 6 appearances between July 22nd and August 5th, throwing 4 innings, with a 22.50 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, and allowing 3 home runs (he allowed only 6 on the ENTIRE season).”

    Twins had planned to call up ByungHo Park in 2017
    By Maija Varda of Twinkie Town
    “Though news came out awhile ago that ByungHo Park would be returning to South Korea to play baseball in 2018, he actually only arrived back in his home country yesterday. Since it was his first time back, Park held a press conference about his return with his new/old team, the Nexen Heroes. He didn’t really say that much new about the Twins or his time in the US, but one small comment stuck out to me: apparently, at the end of spring training in 2017, the Twins told Park they wanted him to start the season in the minors, but that they planned to call him up later that April.”

    Podcasts

    Minnesota Sports Weekly Episode 52
    By Travis Aune/Chad Smith
    I had the pleasure of chatting with the guys from Minnesota Sports Weekly. We talked about everything from the prospect handbook/rankings to Yu Darvish. I believe I'm welcomed on to the show at around the hour mark. They led off the show with Josh Whetzel, who is the radio guy for Triple-A Rochester.

    Baseball is Good Episode 30
    By Cory Engelhardt
    “Shea McGinnity is a big time baseball fan who lives in Kansas City, MO. We will talk baseball, Minnesota Twins, and anything else that comes our way.”

    The Show About the Show Episode 2 (airs Friday night at 7 pm)
    By Devlin Clark
    Before we close out the podcast segment, I just wanted to give a heads up that Devlin will be recording his first full-length episode with special guest and former Twins pitcher Cole De Vries later this evening.

    Calling All Bloggers!!!
    One of the biggest obstacles to overcome when writing is figuring out just what the heck to write about. Well, here’s a topic to consider …

    TwinsFest stories and tips.

    This idea was offered up in the comments last week by TD member IndianaTwin. Anybody have good stories to tell about TwinsFest? What’s your most memorable moment or favorite person you’ve met at the event? Do you have any pro tips to pass along for first-time TwinsFesters?

    Just to be clear, this simply an idea I'm throwing out there to consider. Just a reminder, anyone can start a blog at Twins Daily. If you're interested in being a regular writer for the site, the blog section is how you get your foot in the door. The only reason you're reading my words right now is because I started my own blog at Twins Daily.

    Calling All Readers!!!
    I don’t want to leave you out, either. If there's anything you'd love to read about next week, please let us know in the comments.

    Twins Weekly will continue to be posted every Friday morning at the site. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

    • Jan 12 2018 09:14 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  16. Why I Believe The Twins Are Going To Sign Yu Darvish

    What leads me to this conclusion? Well, part of it is wishful thinking, I'll admit. Darvish would be an awesome fit on the Twins and would lift them to serious championship contender status almost instantly. I badly want to see it, so long as the price makes any sense.

    But there are also plenty of legitimate indications that this could very realistically go down. I'll lay out the two biggest ones, and you can add your own (or dispute mine) in the comments.

    Only Eyes For Yu
    The Twins have been openly connected to Darvish throughout the offseason, and GM Thad Levine hasn't been shy about his pursuit. But there've been few other substantive rumors tying Minnesota to any other prominent free agents. A rumbling of trade buzz here and there, sure, but despite their outward interest in adding a frontline starter, the Twins have been conspicuously silent in relation to other free agent starters like Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn.

    Meanwhile, they've been operating as a team that's gearing up for a big spend. Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke were both low-dollar one year commitments. The Twins have added around $7 million in salary by signing them, but offset part of it by shedding ByungHo Park's contract.

    So right now they are treading water below $100 million in committed payroll, at a time where they're making their contention push in earnest.

    Darvish in No Hurry
    Last week it was reported that Darvish's and his reps had yet to meet with the Twins front office, and that the two sides "don't see it as necessary -- not yet anyway."

    Many took this as a sign the Twins aren't really in the running for Darvish. We're headlong into January now and there hasn't even been a meeting? Sounds unpromising.

    But, in my irrationally and unfoundedly optimistic state, I'm clinging to the hypothetical premise I laid out in the forums here at Twins Daily last month:

    "Here's what is playing out right now – from my hopeful view:

    Levine has a good enough relationship with Darvish and his agent that the two sides have kept an open line of communication. Thad signaled early on that his interest was very serious, and Darvish's camp indicated that the interest was mutual.

    So over the past couple of weeks, Darvish has been meeting with other legit suitors to hear their pitches and receive their offers. Now he'll be able to go into a meeting with the Twins knowing full well what else is out there, and what his options are. Meanwhile, Levine will know exactly what kind of bids he's up against.

    No matter how you look at it, I think Minnesota meeting with Darvish later in the process rather than earlier almost has to be viewed as a good thing... as long as it actually happens."

    It was a shot in the dark at the time, but nothing that's happened since has made it feel any less plausible.

    Darvish has met with the Cubs. He's met with the Astros. Neither of those engagements resulted in remotely immediate action, and the Yankees seem to be distantly waiting for the righty's price to drop.

    The Twins are said to be prepared to offer a "market deal" to Darvish. And as it happens, through all of his courting elsewhere, the realities of his market have become pretty much solidified.

    It's clear that Minnesota is at least interested in a meeting with Darvish. And while jaded Twins fans love to opt toward the ol' "he's just not that into you" quip, it's kinda silly to think he'd actually be opposed to linking up, given that he evidently hasn't been blown away by any other suitors.

    It's almost as though Darvish is biding his time, content in the knowledge that his destination is set, and a meeting is merely a formality.

    What say you?

    • Jan 09 2018 10:28 AM
    • by Nick Nelson
  17. Twins Weekly: Monitoring the Pulse of Twins Daily

    Before we get down to business, let’s crank up the old This Week In Baseball theme song to set the mood.

    Ah, doesn’t get any better than that.

    Leading off we’re going to take a quick look back at all the articles from the front page in the order they were published. When Twins Daily is really rolling, articles fall of the first page pretty quickly. Here's a second chance to catch anything you may have missed. This edition of Twins Weekly covers Friday, Dec. 29-Thursday, Jan. 4.

    On Miguel Sano, Al Franken and Believing in Heroes - Tom Froemming
    The Twins Almanac for Dec 31-Jan 6 - Matt Johnson
    Five Twins Players’ Resolutions - Cody Christie
    Gleeman & The Geek, Ep 349: Duke & Sano - John Bonnes
    The Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets: Part 3 (6-10) - Nick Nelson
    Join Twins Daily At The Diamond Awards! - John Bonnes
    Will Max Kepler Take the Next Step in 2018? - Tom Froemming
    The Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets: Part 4 (1-5) - Nick Nelson
    Eddie Rosario and the Battle for Plate Discipline - Jamie Cameron
    Three Prospects To Watch In 2018 - Cody Christie
    A Look Back: 2011 Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year, Brian Dozier - Seth Stohs
    What If Miguel Sano Is Really Kyle Schwarber?- Ted Schwerzler
    Three-Bagger: Darvish Meeting, Sano Fallout, Ice Cold Stove - Cody Christie

    Community Content
    You may have noticed there was a debut on the front page this week, Jamie Cameron wrote a great review of Eddie Rosario's progress at the plate. Below are some additional items of note from both the blog area and forums. I've pulled excerpts from each piece in an attempt to hook you in.

    A New Year for the Twins: Call your shot now!
    By dougkoebernick
    “One year ago, I seriously doubt that anyone would have made a New Year's prediction that said the Twins would be in the playoffs in 2017 (if you did let all of us know!).

    Now here we are on December 31, 2017 and all the avid readers of Twins Daily are looking forward to 2018. What is everyone thinking? What are your hopes and dreams for the new year?”


    Happy New Years to the 2018 WS Champions
    By mikelink45
    “It is a time to reflect, speculate, lie and hope. We are all equal, we can all sign the big star, we know the next great player is about to be called up from the minors, and we are all undefeated. So, until spring training ends, I nominate the Twins as the 2018 World Series champions. I can revisit that prediction many times in the next few months and like most New Years resolutions and predictions it will be hard to remember anyway.”

    Ridiculously Premature Enthusiasm for Kernels' 2018
    By SD Buhr
    “Even as the 2017 was winding down, I found myself taking mental inventory of which members of the playoff-bound Kernels might be starting 2018 in Cedar Rapids, as well. Then I started looking at the talent that was on the field for Elizabethton's Appalachian League champion club and projecting a few that were likely to get their first exposure to full-season minor league ball with the Kernels in 2018

    All of that informal mental note-making left me feeling pretty optimistic that the Twins would send a pretty competitive group to Cedar Rapids this spring.

    The Kernels have qualified for the Midwest League postseason in each of the five seasons that Cedar Rapids has been affiliated with the Twins and it was fine to feel pretty good about that streak continuing in 2018.”


    Baseball Adventure
    By Luke Albrecht
    “And here I am, over two months in. We've both got jobs and an apartment in the second city, Santiago de los Caballeros. We've made some friends and are starting to get the hang of things down here. On one of my first nights here I got to watch the last game of the World Series while sharing drinks with the local guys at the corner shop.

    Most importantly, I've been to over 15 games at 2 of the 6 stadiums. I've seen all of the teams and a really interesting array of prospects, big league regulars, and has- beens. Plenty of future, current and former twins as well. I've also gotten to know a lot more about Dominican culture and it's people at the games.”


    Mauer’s Future
    By Lenzy2108
    “It's no secret that Joe Mauer is entering the final year of his eight-year, $184 million contract extension signed in 2010. It's also not a secret that Mauer isn't the player he was in 2009 or in the years leading up to that MVP season. What does seem to be a secret, is what thoughts "Falvine" have on Mauer's future past the 2018 season. As a new, "lets try this out", blogger I don't yet have the insider access to pose this question to the Twins FO myself, but Twins Daily has given me a platform to provide what I see are the three options for Joe in 2019 in no particular order.”

    Diving Into Twins 2018 ZiPS
    By Ted Schwerzler
    “Today, Dan Szymborski released the 2018 Minnesota Twins ZiPS projections via Fangraphs. If you aren't familiar with ZiPS, it is simply a projection system (similar to Steamer, KATOH, PECOTA, etc) that attempts to look at potential production for an upcoming season …

    Rather than dive deeply into the bulk of the projections themselves, I'd like to point out a few key areas of note, as well as adding some commentary.”


    Community Casting
    Below are podcast episodes that Twins Daily members have shared either in the blog area or forums.

    Baseball is Good Ep. 29 (scroll down)
    By Cory Engelhardt
    "I had my 29th episode last night. Chad Matthews was my guest last night. He is a HUGE baseball fan who lives in Michigan. We talked MLB, the hall of fame ballot, the AL Central, the future outlook for the Detroit Tigers with Ron Gardenhire at the helm, and how he plans a baseball trip every summer with his son. Please give is a listen!"

    Midwest Swing ft. Matt Trueblood (scroll down)
    By Brandon Warne
    "Matt Trueblood came on to talk Chicago Cubs, Yu Darvish and a bunch of other stuff."

    T&L Supershow Ep. 52
    By Twins and Losses
    "Happy New Year! We're back with a brand new episode to ring in the new year. This week Dan and Panda talk about TV shows, Dan's complaints with Star Wars fans, and the terrible news regarding Miguel Sano."

    Calling All Bloggers!!!
    One of the biggest obstacles to overcome when writing is figuring out just what the heck to write about. Well, here’s a topic to consider …

    Which Twins player is going to break out in 2018 and why?

    There’s been plenty of talk about who the Twins might add this offseason, but what about the guys already in the organization? Who’s your pick to click in 2018? This could be anyone from prospects to guys who’ve been around for years. Use stats, use narratives or just listen to your gut. The method is your choice, and there are no wrong answers.

    Just to be clear, this is simply an idea I'm throwing out there to consider. You can post a blog about whatever topic you'd like. If you're interested in being a regular writer for the site, the blog section is how you get your foot in the door. The only reason you're reading my words right now is because I started my own blog at Twins Daily.

    Calling All Readers!!!
    If there's anything you'd love to read about next week, please let us know in the comments.

    That's all I have for now. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

    • Jan 05 2018 11:10 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  18. Three-Bagger: Darvish Meeting, Sano Fallout, Ice Cold Stove

    Minnesota Meeting With Darvish


    Yu Darvish and his team certainly seem to be doing their due diligence. The top free agent pitcher on the market has already met with multiple clubs as he looks for his next team. Minnesota has not been one of those organizations. It’s hard to know if he is avoiding the Twins or if he’s actually familiar with the organization’s front office so a meeting isn’t necessary. He might also be trying to avoid the cold in Minnesota.

    For those worried about Darvish not coming to the Twin Cities, local baseball writers have also chimed in. It sounds like he might already know everything he needs about Minnesota. This might be enough to sway his decision. In the meantime, fans will have to sit back and wait for more news from the Darvish camp.

    Sano Fallout
    Miguel Sano was in the news for all of the wrong reasons last week. Major League Baseball started its review process of the situation as soon as the allegations were brought to their attention. It’s hard to know how long the process will take. This is the first major allegation against an MLB player since the #MeToo movement has come to light.

    In 2016, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was suspended 30 games for allegedly choking his 22-year-old girlfriend and firing eight shots in the garage of his home. He was never prosecuted by law because there were conflicting account and not enough evidence. Will the Chapman suspension be the baseline for Sano’s potential punishment?

    Ice Cold Stove

    There hasn’t been much action on the free agent market so far this year. In fact, it’s the coldest “hot stove” over the last half of a decade. Eric Hosmer, a former AL Central foe, has been offered seven year deals by the Padres and the Royals. The St. Louis Cardinals are also rumored to be interested in Hosmer’s services. As one of the top available free agent bats, his signing could set-off a series of other signings.

    The Rockies have been busy signing multiple pieces for their bullpen. A “super bullpen” might be the wave of the future. One has to wonder if the Twins will be able to improve some of their relief pieces for 2018. Young players like Trevor Hildenberger and John Curtiss could figure prominently in Minnesota’s plans. Tyler Jay continues to lurk in the minors and could be the team’s wild card in the second half of 2018.

    Do the Twins need to meet with Darvish? How fast will the Sano situation be resolved? Will the hot stove ever heat up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Jan 04 2018 08:25 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  19. What Happens if the Twins Can't Sign Yu Darvish?

    Every team in baseball has to do a little re-tooling each offseason, but as it stands right now, the Twins will have a number of big decisions to make at the end of 2018. Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar are all due to become free agents while Ervin Santana has a $14 million option. It seems like an easy decision for the team to pick up that option today, but a lot can change in a year.

    The front office has taken some small measures to shore things up beyond this year, signing Michael Pineda to a two-year deal and securing a modest 2019 team option in Fernando Rodney’s contract, but the fact remains that not much is certain beyond 2018. Who knows if Pineda can regain his old form, and even though Rodney’s in tremendous shape, it seems like you’re asking a lot to expect a guy to be a big contributor in what would be his age 42 season in 2019.

    What I see right now is a team that is trying to give itself a chance in 2018, but one that is also falling behind other contenders in the American League. At the same time, they've done virtually nothing to increase their odds of improving beyond next season.

    I think everybody (myself included) is hoping the team can land Yu Darvish, but would that move even make sense? It’s hard to answer that question. He certainly makes the team better, but how much would he really improve their chances of going deep into the playoffs? Is that worth giving him a potentially disastrous deal?

    Even if it doesn’t make the most sense from a purely baseball operations standpoint, I believe that it would be in the team’s best interest to make a big splash. I've been thinking this for a long time now. But what happens if the Twins fail to land that big fish they're after?

    If there’s one thing the Twins have, it’s flexibility. There is very little money tied up beyond next season, and the farm system is as healthy as it’s been in years. If the front office fails to sign Darvish or trade for a top-end pitcher who’s controllable for the future, then what? I figure they’ve got three options …

    1. Lower their aim.

    Darvish is an awfully high target. If the Twins can’t keep up with the competition, they could always turn to the other top-tier free agents that are still available: Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn. The same thing could be said about the trade market. If the Twins can’t land a big fish (Gerrit Cole and Chris Archer seem to be the two guys most talked about), they could pivot to pitchers in the next tier down like Jake Odorizzi and Dan Straily. Both of those guys have some future control (Odorizzi through 2020 and Straily 2021) and would help improve the depth of the rotation.

    2. Go into sell mode.

    They could always revisit the idea of trading Dozier, Ervin or whoever else has value for pieces who are more likely to help in 2019/20. This would obviously make the Twins worse in 2018, but is it inconceivable that they could still be competitive? There are plenty of infield variations the Twins could assemble between Jorge Polanco, Escobar, Ehire Adrianza and even Nick Gordon. They could add a veteran free agent on a one-year or minor league deal into that mix for added security.

    In the rotation, maybe Trevor May could pick up the slack or they could catch lighting in a bottle with one of the rookies like Stephen Gonsalves or Fernando Romero. My point is I don’t think the Twins would be completely hopeless in 2018 without Dozier and/or Ervin. It would be a huge blow, and turn this upcoming season into more of a building year, but it’s likely the return in those trades could improve the outlook for the near future.

    3. Keep building for 2018, but maintain future flexibility.

    I hate the idea of staying in the middle ground, but this is actually starting to make a lot of sense to me. There are a lot of players rumored to be floating around on the trade market who will be free agents at this time next season. On the downside, those guys are only going to help you out in 2018. On the plus side, they’re not going to be nearly as costly to trade for as a guy like Cole or Archer. Which players am I talking about?

    Pie In The Sky: Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado and Cole Hamels (who has an option for 2019).

    More Realistic Targets: Andrew McCutchen, Nelson Cruz, Patrick Corbin, Brad Brach and Kelvin Herrera.

    I’d have a really difficult time seeing the Twins pursuing any of those pie in the sky guys, but it’s always important to keep in mind that we still really don’t know this front office. What if asking prices drop and/or this group doesn’t value one of its prospects like the rest of the market does? It could happen, but let's move on to more realistic options.

    Cutch and Cruz are both lefty killers and patient hitters who could really push this offense to the next level. You’d be potentially creating some playing time issues by adding one of these guys. Getting Cruz would certainly mean Robbie Grossman and/or Kennys Vargas would be gone and you’d be counting on Miguel Sano being able to play third base every day. McCutchen would allow for some more flexibility, making it possible to form some kind of a corner outfield/DH platoon.

    The only left-handed starter penciled in to the Twins rotation at this point is Adalberto Mejia, so Corbin could help even things out in that regard. He’s also pretty good. Corbin posted a 4.08 FIP and 2.54 K:BB for Arizona last season. Those marks were better than Ervin, Cobb and Lynn all posted last season.

    Brach has a 2.74 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 9.5 K/9 as a right-handed setup man for the Orioles over the past four years. They lost closer Zach Britton to an injury. On one hand, they may opt to keep Brach to fill that opening, but on the other hand, Baltimore’s chances at being competitive seem pretty bleak.

    Herrera is coming off his worst year with the Royals, but he would represent a high-octane option for the Twins bullpen. Could moving him back into a setup role result in a return to form?

    Adding these one-year commitment guys would cost you some mid-level prospects that would hurt the system. They would also create further havoc for next offseason, but if this front office is as good as a lot of us here think, they should be able to play jazz. Why can't they just make it up as they go every offseason?

    Committing big money to aging players rarely works out. Plus, this plan builds in further flexibility. If the Twins got off to a bad start and were out of contention by the deadline, they’d have a bunch of the most attractive rental pieces to market. At the same time, if the young players like Gonsalves, Romero or any number of the relievers that are still in the system emerge, you've got some built-in turnover to create openings in 2019.

    Assuming the Twins lose out on Yu Darvish, what should they do? Feel free to offer up any other options I haven't detailed here. I'm sure there are a lot more than three directions they could go.

    • Dec 28 2017 08:29 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  20. Twins Must Get Creative To Lure Darvish

    In the Offseason Handbook, we projected that Darvish would get a five-year contract worth $135 million. MLB Trade Rumors predicted six years, $160 million. So it seems there's agreement that $27 million annually sounds about right, and given the competitive market for his services, the right-hander shouldn't have trouble getting someone to offer it.

    Who knows, perhaps the Twins will outbid a number of large-market clubs and dangle the most money flat-out. I think we can all agree that's not very likely. This is a guy that pretty much every heavyweight contender would love to add. Even if Levine gets the sign-off on an offer in the $150 range (clearly a monumental IF) he could still easily be surpassed by another team that needn't concern itself with adding another 10 or 20 million to sweeten the pot.

    So if we operate under the assumption that Minnesota won't be able to match other suitors in terms of pure dollars, how might they get creative and entice him to sign here for less money?

    Sure, the Twins have some factors working in their favor. The bond between Darvish and Levine appears to be real. Any outside pitcher has to like the idea of throwing in front of Byron Buxton. And I've heard that the 31-year-old hurler doesn't necessarily gravitate toward playing in a big city.

    But, with prized free agents, sentimentality rarely wins out. The Twins need to figure out some tangible methods for overcoming heftier bankrolls and persuading Darvish.

    I see a few different avenues they could try:

    Opt-Out Clause

    These are becoming more and more common in contracts for top free agents. A lot of general managers don't like them because they're extremely one-sided, and offering one now would be a first for the Twins, but I think it'd almost be an obligatory component of any contract for Darvish that doesn't approach $30M/year.

    I'm sure Minnesota won't be the only team willing to include an opt-out clause, but maybe they're willing to let him trigger it earlier? Such a scenario would mitigate Darvish's risk in taking a smaller deal, because if he significantly out-pitches his pay he can hit the market again in two or three years, still shy of 35.

    It's not ideal for the Twins because they could easily lose Darvish right in the middle of a theoretical prime window of contention. But if that's what it takes to get him, you do it without a second thought.

    Deferred Money

    Here's an outside-the-box idea. Many baseball fans will immediately envision a Bobby Bonilla scenario where the Twins are paying Darvish a few million bucks in 2065, but Bonilla's infamous deal with the Mets is not the only example of this framework in action.

    In January of 2016, when the Baltimore Orioles signed slugger Chris Davis to a seven-year, $164 million contract, they deferred $42 million of it. He receives $3.5 million every year from 2023-32, and then $1.4 million annually through 2036.

    This reduced Baltimore's actual commitment on the ledgers to $119 million over the seven years, or $17 million AAV. The deferral is interest-free, which works in the club's favor, but Davis can look forward to steady income well into his retirement.

    That kind of distribution would make Darvish more palatable for the organization's bottom line. And while a perpetual $3-5 million payroll penalty for a decade-plus would hurt, the Twins are more than accustomed to carrying dead salary weight. That's a relative drop in the bucket. For a franchise-altering acquisition like this, it's worth considering.

    Personalized Experience

    We're veering back toward intangibles here to some extent, but not entirely. The most pervasive trend in business today is offering personalization. If you can tailor your solution to the specific needs and wants of the customer, you greatly increase your chances of closing a sale.

    To stick with that transactional metaphor, if the Twins are marketing themselves to Darvish, they may not be able to offer the best price, but could woo him with the most customized experience.

    Consider this: Chris Gimenez, who was Darvish's personal catcher in Texas, has been actively recruiting the righty to Minnesota despite his status as a free agent. Minnesota could easily bring Gimenez back if it'd be a draw. The Twins also recently signed Masa Abe, a Japan native who served as a trainer on the country's 2017 WBC team, as an assistant on the staff.

    With Gimenez indicating that Darvish was "not necessarily a fan" of some of the team rules during his time with the Rangers, Minnesota looks to have an experiential advantage over at least one other known suitor. And in fact, given the intel they have on Darvish's unique preferences, Levine and Co. have the ability to really appeal to the free agent on a deeper level.

    Money talks. But in the case of Darvish, it might not be alone at the podium. The Twins will probably have to hope that's true if they wish to defy the odds and win the ace they need.

    • Dec 17 2017 09:38 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  21. Twins Mailbag: Kohl Stewart, Mauer Extension, DH Options

    Kohl Stewart Not Added to 40-Man


    It was a little surprising not to see Kohl Stewart’s name on the team’s list of additions to the 40-man roster. Stewart, the former fourth overall pick, signed for $4.544 million when he was selected in the 2013 Draft. That’s a lot of money invested in a player who could end up being selected by another organization in the Rule 5 Draft. However, he was picked under the previous front office regime.

    As a pitching prospect, Stewart has yet to put it all together. In high school, he was a two-sport star with a Division I scholarship to play quarterback. He has been over two years younger than the competition at every minor league stop, so he has been facing older players. That being said, his strikeouts haven’t ever shown up and he still has things to prove.

    If a team wants to take a flyer on him in the Rule 5 Draft, they could try to hide him in their big league bullpen. He’s only made three relief appearances in his entire professional career. Even if a team picks him, I think he will end up back in the Twins organization. Stewart isn’t ready to be on a big league roster for the entire season.

    Joe Mauer Extension

    Here at Twins Daily, there has been a lot of talk about who the Twins should offer extensions to this off-season. There is a young core of players who are going to get expensive. Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier both will see their contracts expire at the end of 2018. This leaves the front office with some decisions to make about the veteran leadership around their young core.

    I believe Mauer will finish his career in a Twins uniform. At this point in his career, I don’t know if it make sense to sign him to a four-year deal. I also don’t know if he is going to want to play for another four seasons. He has a young family and a life outside of baseball and there are other opportunities he could pursue. On Twitter, I wondered out loud if he would be open to a Tim Wakefield-type of contract. Keep him on one-year contracts as long as the team and the player agree with him playing.

    When it comes to the 3,000 hit mark, Mauer is going to need to have quite the stretch. Since 2014, he’s averaged 143 hits per season. At that rate, he wouldn’t crack the 3,000 hit mark for another seven years. He would be in his age-42 season so that seems like it will be an uphill climb.

    Free Agent DH Options

    Eric Hosmer and JD Martinez are the two players who are going to make a lot of money this off-season. MLB Trade Rumors ranks Martinez as the second best free agent with an estimated six-year, $150 million contract. Hosmer ranks as the number three free agent with an estimated six-year, $132 million deal. I think if the Twins are going to spend that kind of money it would be in the club’s best interest to spend their funds on pitching.

    There is another tier of designated hitter-type players who could fit better with the Twins. Carlos Santana is a name that has been thrown around but plenty of other teams would be interested in his services as well. According to MLB Trade Rumors, he could sign in the $45 million range on a three-year contract. Some of the market will begin to unfold after Ohtani picks the club where he is going to sign.

    Adding More Pitching

    Spending money on free agent pitchers isn’t always the smartest investment. Pitchers like Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are going to command multi-year contracts for north of $100 million. Both players are in their early 30’s which would put them in their late 30’s before their contract would expire. This usually results in some dead money at the end of the deal. As players age further into their 30’s, they lose some effectiveness.

    Falvey and Levine were a little surprised by the Twins being in contention during their first year on the job. With that being said, I think they want to make a splash this off-season. They are going to go hard after Darvish to try to lure him to Minnesota. If that doesn’t work out, I could see them packaging multiple prospects to go after the likes of Jake Odorizzi or Gerrit Cole. Nick Gordon would likely need to be a centerpiece of that kind of trade. The front office might be fine with dealing him after Jorge Polanco’s emergence in 2017.

    Was leaving Stewart off the 40-man a mistake? Should Mauer get an extension? What DH could the Twins sign? Do free agent pitchers make sense for the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Dec 07 2017 05:55 AM
    • by Cody Christie