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  1. Astudillo Tests Postiive for COVID-19, In Quarantine

    In a zoom meeting with media on Friday afternoon, Derek Falvey mentioned that Willians Astudillo and one other Twins player had tested positive for COVID-19 during the intake process (players reporting and being tested).

    Astudillo is in Minneapolis. "He is presently asymptomatic, feeling fine. He is quarantined here."

    Falvey said that Astudillo has given his permission for his name to be announced. There is still some steps in the intake process that have to be completed.

    Falvey was not able to comment on the identity of the second player at this time.

    "We will now subsequently go through a protocol where after a minimum period of time, we can then test him again. The way the protocol works, when he tests negative twice, subsequent to a positive test, you can then be brought back into the environment." Falvey continued, "We will likely test him above 48 to 72 hours from now. Then subsequently test him a couple of days after that. If he clears two negative tests, he would then be someone who could re-enter."

    Shortly before the press conference, MLB announced that 38 of the 3,185 people tested (1.2%) were positive. 31 of those were players and the other seven were staffers. 19 of the 30 MLB teams had at least one positive result.

    Falvey noted, "I'm really happy to hear that a lot of players and staff, wherever they were over the past several months, they were able to keep themselves healthy and in a safe place and limited their contact outside of their home environments."
    In addition to the two MLB players, both Edwar Colina and Nick Gordon had positive COVID-19 tests recently. They had their tests administered prior to the baseball testing this week.

    Falvey said, "Those guys are here. They're rostered, and hopefully eventually will be cleared. In Colina's case, he has already cleared and a subsequent test since he has tested negative for the virus, but we are being cautious."

    He believes both players should be in Minnesota later this weekend.

    There were some other Twins minor leaguers who also tested positive in Ft. Myers when the facilities were shut down across baseball. Colina was there when he tested positive.



    Falvey noted that there has been "a wide range of perspectives" on their return to Target Field. "They walk in and see masks, and the clubhouse doesn't look like it used to look. It's a bit jarring initially for some folks. That said, you get back to seeing some people. You get in the clubhouse, get dressed, get out. It's an interesting set up in the ballpark right now."

    "Some are throwing with their mask on while they're out there. Everyone's trying to get used to it. It's a range of feeling. Some guys are a bit anxious and that's real, and then some guys are really excited to be back and ready to go, and just trying to figure it out. Anything that's different from the norm, it's going to take some time."




    --------------------------

    Falvey also noted that Byron Buxton and Cody Stashak are not in camp. They have been excused for personal reasons. Buxton's wife Lindsey is due to have the couple's second child any day now. Stashak's wife, Taylor, gave birth to the couple's first child in mid-June.

    Update - Today (Friday), Lindsey Buxton gave birth to a baby boy. They named him Blaze Jett.

    --------------------------

    • Jul 03 2020 10:53 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  2. Twins Maintain Division Lead As Memorial Day Weekend Begins

    Minnesota fans had every reason to be optimistic entering the 2020 season. A relatively easy division, a potent 1-9 lineup, and improved rotation options all led to confident predictions of postseason baseball. Still, things sometimes just don’t work, be it a due to injury or regression or clubhouse strife. The Twins have surmounted those obstacles so far and are guaranteed to be in first place come Memorial Day.

    “There haven’t been any games,” said manager Rocco Baldelli. “I mean, yes, technically we’re in first place, but so is everyone else.

    “There’s a pandemic,” he added.

    While the Twins have held their own, they are joined in first place in the AL Central by Cleveland, their consensus rival for the division crown. Joining them are the surprising White Sox, Royals, and Tigers.

    “I don’t know what this means,” said Twins outfield Max Kepler. “This is very confusing to me.”

    No team in the rest of the American League has broken from the pack. We asked Twins center fielder Byron Buxton if he felt this improved the odds for a deep postseason run.

    “What’s wrong with you,” said the speedy outfielder. “Stupid. Just stupid.”

    With the team competitive as June nears, we asked Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey if the front office was working the phones to make some moves in advance of a possible pennant run.

    “We are not in the office right now,” said Falvey. “There’s no season right now. Are you OK?”

    One thing is for sure, Twins fans are excited and ready to go for what promises to be a thrilling summer at Target Field!

    “We probably won’t be able to have fans in the stadium this summer even if we can play,” said Falvey. “You really seem like you’re not well?”

    Image license here.

    • May 21 2020 06:29 PM
    • by RandBalls Stu
  3. Twins Positioned Well for Short Draft

    Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over the top of the front office prior to the 2017 season. While a substantial part of the scouting and draft focused contingent remained in the organization, the overall infrastructure has changed. Falvey and Levine have instituted a significant expansion of analytical models, as well as people to cultivate those initiatives. Developmental staff has been brought in across the farm, and voices through the system seem more aligned than ever.

    Although the post-draft process of skill development and progression remains the most vital piece in generating a big leaguer, it’s also very much about nailing the makeup and tools of each guy selected. With just five rounds to get it right this year, it’s worth looking at how the last three tries in that same space have gone.

    2017 Picks: Royce Lewis (1, 1), Brent Rooker (1, 35), Landon Leach (2, 37), Blayne Enlow (3, 76), Charlie Barnes (4, 106), Andrew Bechtold (5, 136)

    In their very first draft Falvine went big on upside. Royce Lewis was selected over players like Hunter Greene and Kyle Wright. He’s got the makeup of a star player and still trends towards being a difference maker up the middle for the Twins. Rooker was a bat only prospect, but it’s played as expected at every level thus far. The power is real and he’s near Major League ready.

    In going after Leach, Minnesota was able to bank some money to entice Enlow. Landon hasn’t established himself much in pro ball yet, but Enlow looks to be one of the better arms in the entire system. Barnes has been a consistent lefty without much flash. He reached Triple-A last year and could project as a back-end starter. While Bechtold was seen as a very nice JUCO get he’s still waiting to establish himself. The Appy League debut was a good one but a .738 OPS at Single-A, where he was old for both leagues, didn’t light the world on fire.

    Overall, this group looks to have two guaranteed Major League talents, and one that could absolutely be a star. Throw in Enlow’s upside and another potential lottery pick on one of the remaining to call it a very solid first showing for the front office.

    2018 Picks: Trevor Larnach (1, 20), Ryan Jeffers (2, 59), DaShawn Keirsey (4, 124), Cole Sands (5, 154)

    Just four picks in the top five rounds this year, Minnesota had to do more with less. Larnach was a College World Series star and brings exit velocity in spades. He’s since become a very similar comp to another Twins prospect, Alex Kirilloff. That’s great company and there’s a significant ceiling to be fulfilled. Jeffers is the best catching prospect in the organization, and while touted for his offense, he’s transformed into more of a complete player.

    Until now Keirsey hasn’t yet taken hold. He posted a .798 OPS in his pro debut but owned just a .436 OPS last year playing 43 games. Cole Sands looked like a gem when he did debut last year. He made it all the way to Double-A and dominated to the tune of a 2.68 ERA with a 10.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9.

    Once again, this looks like a strong core group. Larnach and Jeffers are great headliners with Sands trending way upwards. Keirsey could be a miss, but three of four looking like Major League assets this early is a solid set of circumstances. A smaller group, but a good one here.

    2019 Picks: Keoni Cavaco (1, 13), Matt Wallner (1, 39), Matt Canterino (2, 54), Spencer Steer (3, 90), Seth Gray (4, 119), Will Holland (5, 149)

    The Twins went with the helium to start last year’s draft. Cavaco vaulted up boards but was not necessarily expected to go this high. He really struggled from the get-go but showed up to Spring Training looking very strong. Wallner is a local product and was a standout at Southern Miss. Both he and Matt Canterino looked like tested amateurs that can contribute at a very high level.

    Adding infield talent was the theme of a run in rounds three through five. Steer made quick work of the Appy League and held his own for the Kernels. Gray showed well for Elizabethton and made a brief cameo with Cedar Rapids. Holland was the pride of a very good Auburn squad and is seen as a very good defender. The bat didn’t play in year one but it’s far too early to make assessments there.

    Lots of uncertainty in regards to trend lines for this group at an early stage, but I think it’s fair to say both Wallner and Canterino impressed.

    Looking back at the last three drafts Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have shown there’s people in all of the right places across the Twins organization. It’s hard not to be excited about the top of any of these groups, and even moreso considering the futility the previous regime showed in regards to recent top picks. Minnesota only has four picks (27, 59, 99, and 125) to make in June and they’ll need to supplement the system as best they can. With an unlimited number of undrafted signees also on the docket, enticing amateurs with the revamped development infrastructure should be a selling point as well.

    Before we’ll get any live action in 2020 the draft is going to take place, and thankfully for Twins fans, there’s a group in place capable of hitting a home run.

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    • May 19 2020 08:41 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  4. Twins Front Office Testing Fate in Waiting

    Dan Hayes wrote a story on Tuesday at The Athletic that focused on the acquisitions of Rich Hill and Homer Bailey. The former is a top-notch arm that struggles to stay healthy, and the latter represents a solid addition to the floor of the starting rotation. What neither of them accomplish is the impact pitching that Minnesota suggested they were targeting. Thad Levine told Hayes, “The one thing we’ve learned over the years is that you can’t just have a Plan A. Tomorrow’s Plan B becomes the next day’s Plan A.” Derek Falvey went on to suggest he “may rue the day I ever mentioned that (impact) as a singular word.”

    More swiftly than a dancing Michael Jackson, Minnesota’s top duo is moonwalking their opening comments backwards.

    There is truth to Falvey’s suggestion that the current Twins roster has impact all over it. They won 101 games, returned a significant amount of talent, and have added to the point where they are better now than when the season ended. All of that is true, but the goal this winter should be to expand upon the opportunity currently in front of them.

    You can’t fault the Twins for being shut out by uninterested free agents. Gerrit Cole wasn’t coming here, and Stephen Strasburg wanted a Washington reunion. Madison Bumgarner told everyone "No" because he loves his horses, and Zack Wheeler preferred family ties (although the Twins offer being $18MM short probably made that decision easier). Where blame can start to be placed is when obvious opportunity is met with only moderate execution.

    Enter Josh Donaldson.

    As Levine suggested, the Twins plans have now shifted. The starting pitching market is largely bare, and unless they’re going to swing a trade (they still should), Hill and Bailey represent the lone new additions. Upgrading elsewhere makes sense, and the former Braves third basemen is an ideal fit for the Bomba Squad.

    With C.J. Cron onto Detroit, Rocco Baldelli is tasked with designating a new first basemen. Miguel Sano has proven limited, especial going to his left at third base, and would be an ideal candidate to make the switch. Generating 15 DRS a year ago, Donaldson would provide a defensive boon in the infield, and it’s a unit that needs to take a significant step forward. Throw in his .900 OPS from 2019 and you’ve got the makings of a superstar.

    Reports suggest that Donaldson has at least three four-year offers, coming from Minnesota, Washington, and Atlanta. He’s had the Twins ask for over two weeks though, and that’s where my problem lies. The Nationals are synonymous for deferrals, so it’s fair to assume that could be prohibiting them from being in contention. Atlanta is best positioned geographically, and it was said the third basemen was simply waiting on a guaranteed fourth year from his hometown club. Dangling in front of him is the Twins payday that’s not quite good enough to make a decision.

    Ken Rosenthal reported on Friday night that Donaldson is waiting for a team to hit his number, believed to be near $110 million. There's possibility Donaldson is angling for Atlanta to be his destination while increasing the take; after all suggestions indicate the Braves will get an opportunity to match before this is done. What also is apparent through Ronsethal's report is that Minnesota isn't there. Expected to be around the 4yr/$100MM range, the Twins leave it to chance to dictate an outcome. Derek Falvey should be on the phone with MVP Sports Group offering up $120 million over four and calling it a day.

    We can discuss value forever, and there's inherent risk any time you sign a big-dollar free agent. The reality though, is that injury concerns don't subside simply because you end negotiations at $100 million. Also, after pivoting to this plan, are you really interested in going to Plan C because the cost of what amounts to a relief arm ($5 million AAV over the four years) is too much?
    It’s probably unfair to be frustrated about simply being "in" on free agents. That’s going to happen, and you’re not completely interested in every player you’ve been tied to. Minnesota has been set on two players this offseason however, and they’re now in jeopardy of losing the second because of playing the value game. At some point need and opportunity should factor into the discussion, and by the time Falvey and Levine get there this time around, it may be too late.

    This offseason would presently be graded as a “C” which is fine if you’re ok with status quo. Looking to take the next step, and truly capitalize on your opportunity, pushing for an “A” is a must. There’s one bullet left, but you actually have to take the shot.

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    • Jan 04 2020 04:48 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  5. Buzzwords Will Ignite the Twins Front Office

    When Thad Levine was introduced, the talk was about collaboration. Their organizational restructure has been focused around internal infrastructure. Upon entering a competitive window in 2020, the suggestion was for a necessary "impact" pitching addition. Each of the small quips or phrases allude to a larger story or goal, but it is there they will now be held accountable.

    Impact pitching is now gone from the open market. When the Toronto Blue Jays landed Hyun-Jin Ryu, there were officially no arms left that would slot into the upper half of Rocco Baldelli’s rotation. That leaves us questioning where the club turns, but it’s worth suggesting that this front office very likely may have intended this path all along.

    Jim Pohlad has not protected his pockets against this duo, and Falvine has not collaboratively come up with black eyes like “bilateral leg weakness.” No, this front office bided their time before appointing a Manager of the Year-quality leader in his rookie campaign. They nabbed a topflight collegiate pitching coach, they’ve overhauled the Baseball Operations department, and they’ve pilfered talent from all over the nation no matter what notch had been achieved on their target's belt. In short, they’ve laid a foundation for a successful and sustainable plan designed around competition.

    Not surprisingly, that’s also how they’ve handled the offseason thus far. Thad Levine suggested that the initial goal was to “stabilize” the roster, and then move toward a position of “impact.” In retaining top talent and filling out the bullpen, it’s now reached the critical juncture of impact acquisitions being the only thing left to accomplish. If the offseason ended today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Twins fan pleased with where things stand. Fortunately, it doesn’t end today, and that’s where our focus should be.

    Given the goodwill generated by shrewd and well-timed decision making thus far, it’s hard to imagine a complete failure waiting in the weeds. The Twins have something like $30 million yet to hand out, and those impact moves they’ve preached have yet to be made. Rather than operating from the standpoint that it was all just talk, the surmise that we will see those "impact" developments is a very exciting one.

    I can listen on Terry Ryan failing to land big fish. Maybe the Pohlad’s weren’t willing to open their pocketbooks for the necessary resources. We haven’t ever seen otherwise at this point, but the circumstances today are not what they were a decade ago. This offseason won’t be defined by what Minnesota has always done, or how the former regime operated. This all comes down to the execution plan from a dual-headed monster that has done everything to position the club in its current state as favorites within the AL Central Division.

    Should the buzzwords end up going undefined and unfulfilled once the club heads to Twins Territory South down in Fort Myers, a full-on roast should be sent toward 1 Twins Way. Until that point however, the anticipation of impact and belief in those having fostered all this promise seems like a far fairer expenditure of emotional resources.

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    • Dec 23 2019 11:52 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  6. Twins Front Office Playing with Patience this Winter

    No, that’s not coming from the front office. I think that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine could take a quick look on the Twitter machine and realize pitchforks and brimstone flow heavily through Twins Territory. Doom and gloom is the mood with some big arms being off the board, and the fear of being left out in the cold has set in. All is not lost though, there’s still plenty of time and assets still to be sifted through. All we must do is wait.

    I have a tough time listening to arguments about what Minnesota has traditionally done. This front office has been in place for three years, and they’ve yet to be in a position where opportunity and trajectory point towards a path of sensible spending. They’ve opened a sustainable window of winning that we’ve not really seen the dual-headed monster work within. In short, this is uncharted territory.

    On top of all of that, this front office is directly responsible for the positioning that the Minnesota Twins are currently in. The farm system is loaded, and the infrastructure designed around development and advancement is derived from their vision. Internal talent is being explored and cultivated, while major league success looks here to stay. Through those happenings, it’s hard not to argue a benefit of doubt should be granted.

    As I wrote back in early November, the Twins can take a page from the book of Houston and Chicago in creating their juggernaut. Now is a time to supplement, spend, and add, but it isn’t the only time that will ring true in the years ahead. This needs to be a strong and consistent build. A right foot forward is put forth this offseason with that being doubled down upon in the immediate future.

    The gnashing of teeth is far from unexpected. We live in a world searching for immediate gratification and behind a “what have you done for me lately” ideology. It can be increasingly hard to separate from that, but there’s solace in understanding deadlines allow for processes to play out as well. The Twins didn’t need to make all their moves during the Winter Meetings, and free agents weren’t tied to accepting contracts while executives were out in San Diego. We’re exactly two months from the first spring training workout in Fort Myers, and plenty of work remains.

    From the outset of the offseason Thad Levine noted the Twins goal was to add “impact pitching.” If they don’t like what is presented to them, further supplementing the offense is another way to increase the water level. What can’t happen is a stagnant display of standing pat, but I’d have to imagine two intelligent guys that have orchestrated an organizational turnaround are aware of that fact.

    Until the dust settles, the point is this; breathe. Allow Falvey and Levine to cash in on some of their generated benefit. Trust that a similar process instituted to right the organization will be utilized to bolster the roster. When Bumgarner or Ryu sign elsewhere, assume that there’s a plan and other irons in the fire. All the way up until we get our first play ball from Twins Territory south, pump the brakes.

    If we’re still in a similar situation at that point, then, burn it all down.

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    • Dec 13 2019 11:01 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  7. Absorbing Risk Is Twins Next Decision

    There isn’t a soul within the organization or outside of it that will tell you Minnesota doesn’t need more pitching. Despite his efforts down the stretch, rookie Randy Dobnak in Yankee Stadium during the ALDS was hardly an ideal scenario. That said, the situation isn’t at all as dire as one may assume. From June 1st onward the Twins had the sixth best rotation in baseball, as well as the third best in the American League. That was on top of employing the now departed Kyle Gibson, who posted a 5.26 ERA over that stretch.

    So far this offseason has included the Twins bringing back Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda. The former graciously accepted the $17.8 million qualifying offer, while the latter is being had just south of that same dollar amount over the course of two years. Talking to reporters on Monday, GM Thad Levine said the team needed to be stabilized and “now we have the ability to impact it significantly.” Making sure the foundation is laid is something this front office has carried as a premise throughout their time, but this is the first opportunity to make a substantial impact.

    When looking at the free agent market, there’s scrutiny at every turn. Do you want to bet on Madison Bumgarner holding up despite the mileage? Is Hyun-Jin Ryu going to be any good if he keeps getting hurt? Is Dallas Keuchel really any better than a mid-rotation arm? All of those questions are entirely fair, and they’re being asked because teams must commit substantial sums to players seeking their next opportunity. Unless you want the certainty of the elite, and that comes with the unlikely proposition of outspending (and being more desired) than the big boys, this is the landscape the Twins must traverse.

    On the flip side, you’ve got the trade market. You can bet that the Chicago Cubs would love to have Gleyber Torres right about now, but I’d also assume they’re more than happy to have ended their World Series drought. Detroit probably wishes they’d hit on more for Justin Verlander, and the Pirates are no doubt kicking themselves for the gaffe that was the return for Chris Archer. Win some and lose some there too, but the risk is not much different.

    As Minnesota looks to make moves and additions that significantly impact the major league club, it becomes a chess game of evaluation. Is there enough information on free agents to hand out paydays, and is it detrimental to give up dollars if the deals go sideways? The farm system has both height and depth. Does that make it more enticing to part with a known commodity to acquire something that hasn’t been cast off by a former employer?

    This organization is often chided about spending, or lack thereof. Now with the first legitimate opportunity to do so in quite some time, it comes down to which risk factors are weighed most heavily by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. The payroll needs to be north of $135 million going into 2020, but there’s more than one avenue to get there. Before the dust settles it will be hard to present an argument for any real hand wringing, but a reflective analysis is certainly going to be on the table.

    At the end of the day we can pick apart what’s on the open market and push toward the trade route. We can also overvalue certain prospects and shy away from making that big move. What we can’t do is operate on both of those levels to the full extent and fail to make a well-timed acquisition solely because of inherent risk. The front office has worked their way into deserved trust, and now they need to cash the check and stand by their decision.

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    • Dec 11 2019 05:12 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  8. Twins Winter Meetings Primer

    Over the next four days, we will hear about teams talking to teams, and agents talking to GMs. We’ll have to work hard (or at least think hard) about many of the vast rumors that we will hear and read about. Many will fall into the “That’s Silly” category. Others will warrant interest and discussion.

    But it’s important to remember that the Winter Meetings are just that. They are a series of meetings. Minor league teams will be there, sitting in on meetings. Independent Leagues will have representatives there, going to meetings. There will be a lot of college kids and others, wearing suits, trying to line up jobs in baseball. It isn’t just about making roster transaction.



    Let’s admit it though. That’s the only part we care about. So, let’s discuss what the Twins need to do yet this offseason, while at the same time reminding us all that it doesn’t have to all be done by Thursday.


    ~~ Read Nick’s Offseason Update ~~


    Here are some things to watch this week:


    Number One: Add an Impact Starting Pitcher

    The Twins have Jose Berrios under team control, signed Jake Odorizzi to the qualifying offer and are a passed physical from having Michael Pineda inked up. While not as exciting to bring back players, two of those players could have been lost via free agency and now will return.
    However, we all know that the Twins need an “Impact” starting pitcher to give themselves a better chance to compete not only in the AL Central but in short series in the playoffs too.

    I think we can all understand that they aren’t going to get Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg.

    But they have clearly been involved in conversations for the next level. They were involved in Zack Wheeler discussions. They clearly have strong interest in lefties Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Is either interested in leaving California for Minnesota?

    If not, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will likely need to shift gears and start contemplating trade options for an impact starter. A call to Colorado’s front office to discuss Jon Gray or German Marquez might make a lot of sense. What other starters might be available in trade?


    Number Two: A Second High-Quality Starting Pitcher

    Even if they add an impact arm, the Twins front office will need to ask itself another question. Do they want to bring in one more starting pitcher or do they want to trust their young pitchers and player development to fill one of the five rotation spots?

    Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, and Lewis Thorpe all showed signs in 2019 that they are either ready to pitch in the big leagues in 2020 or are very close. Brusdar Graterol will likely get another opportunity to start at some point in 2020.

    But could the front office bring in another veteran pitcher or two to compete for a roster spot. Last week, I mentioned Kevin Gausman as a possibility for a veteran coming off a tough year who could potentially be a #3 type of starter if Wes Johnson & Company are able to help him. Also, Julio Teheran fits into that category. Both of them are still well under 30 years old.


    Number Three: Who’s on First?

    Last week, the Twins non-tendered first baseman CJ Cron. That opens up a roster spot, if the Twins front office wants it to. One option, of course, would be for Miguel Sano to stay at third base and Marwin Gonzalez to play first base. Or vice versa. Ehire Adrianza is the utility man, and Willians Astudillo remains in the picture. There are also other internal options for first base.

    But if the Twins are unable to convince Bumgarner or Ryu to take their money, maybe they chose to offer it to a position player. They could get someone like Mitch Moreland within a budget to do a nice job defensively at first base, saving errors for the other side of the infield. Or, they could make the move of Sano to first base and sign someone like Josh Donaldson for big money. Maybe a trade for an all-star, like Matt Chapman, could also be explored.


    Number Four: The Bullpen

    While I don’t think that the Twins bullpen would be considered a strength, it certainly can be solid. The Twins have not been mentioned in rumors around relievers, with the possible exception of bringing back Sergio Romo, so it’s hard to know how active that have been or will be in the bullpen market. In general, the bullpen market has been fairly quiet so far.

    Taylor Rogers has turned into a great late-inning reliever, but the Twins may be interested in adding another lefty (though Smeltzer and Thorpe could compete for a spot as well). They have added Blaine Hardy on a minor league deal and he is certainly an option.

    Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May and Zack Littell were all really good in 2019. Cody Stashak showed a lot, and Fernando Romero is out of options. Matt Wisler signed for $700K.

    I can certainly see the Twins looking to add one more high-quality late-inning reliever, if not two.


    Number Five: Rule 5

    On Thursday, the Rule 5 draft will take place. The Twins 40-man roster is currently at 35. With the additions of Alex Avila and Michael Pineda (whenever they are announced), they will be at 37. They could add a free agent or two and still have a 40-man roster spot for a Rule 5 pick.

    Without knowing who might be available for the Twins to consider, teams should absolutely always consider adding in the Rule 5 draft. It is a good, cheap way to potentially add talent. With rosters jumping up to 26 in 2020, the Twins - and every other team - may use the Rule 5 draft more liberally as an opportunity to add a piece.

    While I think it’s something to be considered, I don’t necessarily think it’s likely for the Twins to add a player in the Rule 5 draft. As Twins fans, we will likely be paying attention more out of concern for potentially losing high-talent prospectslike Wander Javier and Luis Rijo or near-ready talents like Griffin Jax or Tom Hackimer.

    ----------------------------

    So there you have five things to watch for during the Winter Meetings in San Diego. As always, the Winter Meetings will be complete on 12th, so not all of these things will need to be answered by then.

    Be sure to refresh Twins Daily often as we will try to keep close tabs on any Twins news and rumors.


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    • Dec 08 2019 10:43 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  9. Twins Offseason Chapter has a Loaded Amount of Spoilers

    The more I worked through my own disappointment regarding the reality that Wheeler would not be coming to Twins Territory, the more I concluded that my expectations are largely built on straightforward belief. The Twins have a substantial amount of unallocated cash flow to deal with. They also have a very distinct area of need, even before considering corner infield and backup catcher. From there it’s pretty simple to assume that pieces are plugged in following a linear decision-making process and that it resembles the simplicity of a puzzle coming together.

    One of the greatest impressions this front office has made on me since taking over however, is the depth and talent within an infrastructure that supports all the club does. From fresh and progressive coaches and coordinators in the player development realm, to outside-the-box thinkers on the big-league side, everything about the way Minnesota is building looks different than ever before.

    Rather than simply operating from the standpoint that Madison Bumgarner is now the best available talent with a logical degree of signability, Minnesota is likely considering previously glossed-over factors. Wes Johnson has brought a wealth of knowledge and information, but which arms will be most open to latching onto it and utilizing suggestions. Does the loss of assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner pose challenges in the relay or dissemination of information? Are there talented players that simply won’t fit within the confines of how the Twins work toward performance growth? I think that may be true now more than ever, and it’s beyond just a changing culture.

    With so much money, and plenty of holes yet to fill, finding angst in who or what opportunities Minnesota passes on in December or January is a losing proposition. This free agent cycle has certainly started better than those in years past, and that gives us a bit of belief that the offseason will truly conclude before spring training begins. Until that dust settles though, there isn’t much reason to make conclusive statements on the pending number of transactions.

    Although the Twins are going to be building to repeat as AL Central Division winners and sustain a high level of performance, we should be trying to find the takeaways from each addition that they make. There’s a high level of intrigue regarding who steps in to important roles vacated by Hefner and Derek Shelton. There’s an even higher level of intrigue regarding the free agents or trade acquisitions and what their profiles tell us about how Minnesota assesses them internally.

    Maybe I’m reaching a bit too far into the realms of uncertainty here, but I think the takeaway from the next few months will be an additional understanding of what this front office is trying to construct. The Twins have overhauled a process and blueprint and have positioned themselves to be a force for the foreseeable future. Finding the right pieces to capitalize on that, both coaching and players, is more about spending on the right assets than the expected ones. Certainly, there’s an intersection of those two narratives combining forces, but part of this whole process will be understanding which situations that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine find worthy of pulling the trigger on.

    Sign me up for the shopping spree, but we already know that needs to take place. To whom the checks are written and what they tell us going forward is the chapter I’m excited to read.

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  10. Twins Trades Show They've Got This Down

    Jake Odorizzi didn’t experience much of free agency, having accepted the Twins qualifying offer of $17.8 million. Minnesota immediately secured one of the better available arms and did so with a high level of familiarity. Now they still should be attempting to sign one of the top free agent arms available, but with a plethora of prospects at their disposal, swinging a trade makes a ton of sense.



    When the club made five additions to their 40-man roster, protecting those players from being subject to the Rule 5 draft, there was a handful of takeaways regarding the names in play. Four of the five guys added were acquired via trade in the last calendar year. Getting significant value from veterans like Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Ryan Pressly, and Fernando Rodney only solidified how well the front office had done in identifying talent. Although they parted with good big leaguers, they did so while outside of a competitive window and by nailing the return.

    It’s absolutely true that not all prospects pan out, and development isn’t linear, but realizing these commodities needing to be protected and were on a big-league trajectory less than a year later is a significant development. It’s one thing to acquire additional team control or roster flexibility but doing so while also making sure to identify usable and high-performing assets is not an easy task. We may have known the return was strong through production on the farm over the last year, but Wednesday night’s decisions solidified it for us.

    Going forward, the acumen displayed by Falvey and Levine will be integral to the next step Minnesota takes. On the free agent market, the expectation is that both Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg would have little interest in the Twins. Zack Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner are hardly slouches, but through a player swap, the front office can hope to identify their own version of an ace. Regardless of the name on the back of the jersey, any top tier arm is going to have a league’s worth of options on a yearly basis. When making a deal with another club, it’s a one-on-one discussion that revolves around player development and the knowledge you possess in both what you currently have and who you hope to acquire.

    At this point in Minnesota’s competitive arc they aren’t in a position to piece out veterans for prospects. Although a big leaguer could be moved, the emphasis will be on a return that strengthens the major league roster. Finding assets that improve postseason posturing is the plan and doing so while mixing the ideal exchange is something every Twins fan should deem the front office capable of.

    There was a time that the Twins made reactionary moves to trade for positional needs or up-and-coming prospects. Now the Twins should be seen as an organization that can both identify and execute swaps that both help and don’t substantially hurt the overall goals of the club.

    I don’t foresee Royce Lewis or Alex Kirilloff going anywhere in the immediate future, but you can bank on Minnesota’s brain trust having an iron clad blueprint when working out any deal on the horizon. Knowing how important and valuable that avenue of asset addition is, it’s a skill that puts another feather in the cap of a front office responsible for an exceptional turnaround.

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    • Nov 21 2019 06:22 PM
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  11. Twins Getting Leadership When Needing it Most

    Initially saddled with a holdover manager, Falvey and Levine weren’t going to be able to make their mark from the start. They waded in the shallow end and allowed an acclimation process of sorts to take place. Prior to the 2019 season they jumped right off the high dive straight into the deep end. Regardless of the fanfare created by roster reinforcements, it was the infrastructure that seemed so valuable last winter.

    Having spent time down in Fort Myers for Spring Training, it was immediately evident that this collection was going to do things differently. The Twins can’t change how they’re viewed by potential free agents overnight, but they can position themselves as an industry leader other teams will quickly want to emulate. The former carries a significant monetary cost while the latter is generally accompanied by a level of commitment towards a strong belief in process. Over the past year Minnesota’s front office has reinvigorated the organization to levels it’s likely never seen.

    Without having yet signed any free agents, there’s been a flurry of activity from the Twins ranks this offseason. Something like five coaches will have been poached when the dust settles, and a five-year extension will have been handed out to the two head men. Those two combining realities are the defining moments of where Minnesota is now, and how they’ll want to operate in the future. Talent has been plucked from the organization to take promotions elsewhere, while the men who picked them for those roles are now tasked with getting it right again.

    There’s no denying that the Twins have a substantial amount of money to spend this offseason, and coming off a 101-win season, a responsibility to write those checks. What they also must get right is the replacements for the now goner developers of that talent, and a blueprint that continues to make the overall infrastructure an environment conducive of producing success.



    Minnesota should be looking to add everyone from Gerrit Cole to Anthony Rendon on the diamond over the next handful of months. Jim Pohlad also realizes that it’s equally important Falvey finds the next James Rowson, Jeremy Hefner, or Tanner Swanson as well. Coming over from an Indians organization that generated some steam as being progressive, the Twins head man has left no stone unturned. Plucking a pitching coach from the collegiate ranks and adding support staff based on success rather than tenure, it’s been in the advancements Minnesota has made that ultimately generated hot commodities for other big-league clubs.

    I’ll be the first to admit disappointment if a certain payroll threshold isn’t reached before Opening Day in 2020. I also believe that the Twins front office duo of Falvey and Levine are the best equipped to construct a process-oriented blueprint both on the field and off it. The Twins seem to believe this as well, evidenced by the lengthy pact made to the tandem, and that’s a very key development.

    With a window open, and execution at the forefront, I’m not sure we’ve ever had reason to feel so confident in a Minnesota Twins management group at any point in history. It will be on Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to hit on those beliefs, but for now, there’s no stopping this train.

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  12. Astros and Cubs Have Proven Twins Time to Spend is Now

    Let’s rewind over a half decade and land back in 2013. The Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros both employed top five farm systems but were among the worst teams in baseball. Chicago won just 66 games while Houston joined the American League and punted on the season to the tune of 51 victories. The next year both clubs remained in the top five on the farm but also showed life in the majors to the tune of 73 and 70 wins respectively. Pairing their development success with what was happening at the highest level, it became evident that it was time to go.

    In 2015 the Cubs opened with a $106.6 million payroll, 98% increase from the $53.6 million a year prior. Houston was not as drastic, going from $41.6 million to $64.8 million (a 56% increase). Both teams jumped up in wins, most notably Chicago parlaying their 97 into an NLCS appearance (in which they were swept by the Mets). 2016 saw the Cubs fully realize their goal with a World Series victory, the first since 1908. To get there Theo pushed payroll to $161.3 million, another 51% increase, or jump of 200% since 2014.

    [attachment=13303:Capture.PNG]
    Image Credit: Forbes

    To be fair, Minnesota will never operate on the same revenue stream that a national brand like the Cubs benefit from. Houston is a much more feasible example though, and while they likely have a more lucrative TV deal as well, 2019 revenues highlight the gap being relatively insignificant. The Astros also saw an 86-win successful year in 2015, only to take a step backwards (84 wins) in 2016. That is largely reflective of the cycle Minnesota endured popping up for a one-game Wild Card loss.

    Payroll growth in Houston has been noteworthy as well. Coming out of the 86-win campaign in 2015 the Astros operated differently than the Twins (who went from $130MM in 2018 to $114MM in 2019) by increasing payroll to $75.4 million, a slight 16% increase. They finished third in the division, but the dam was clearly ready to break. Still with a top farm system, and so much big-league talent, Houston went gangbusters spending $132.5 million in 2017, a 76% increase that culminated in a World Series.

    Despite being an uncapped sport teams all have a spending threshold. Chicago suggests they’re near theirs and have begun to scale back. The additional funs provided them a window of five straight winning seasons, 90 wins in all but one of them, and the ultimate goal. Houston is in the midst of a stretch where they’ve won three straight division titles, 100 games in three straight seasons, and have gone to the World Series in two of the past three years.

    Infrastructure and development in baseball is about creating a backbone capable of sustaining excellence at the highest level. Whether prospects contribute to maturing on the biggest stage, or being parlayed into veteran talent, the goal is not a constant state of hording. Minnesota’s window is now fully open, paired with ideal opportunity around them, and the financial flexibility to make waves. You could, and I have, made the argument that significant spending would have provided marginal gains in recent seasons. That is no longer on the table, and the blueprint has already been draw up for these Twins.

    2020 isn’t about dabbling at $130 million. This franchise now needs to show up at the checkout counter and make use of what it has built these past few years.

    Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook.

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  13. Twins Can Spend Themselves Into Uncharted Territory

    Coming into last season Minnesota took a step backward in the payroll department. After being just shy of $130 million in 2017, they began 2018 with a $114 million tab suggesting that the next step was largely reliant on seeing what they then had. We are now in a position, for the first time in nearly a decade, that the Minnesota Twins know exactly what they have. This organization has a forward-thinking front office that has hired an infrastructure designed to push development. They have a manager capable of getting execution at the highest level. They have a prospect stream filled with both quality and quantity. Maybe most important, they are division winners with a clear path to opportunity both immediately and into the future.

    It is in that perfect storm that you can adequately gripe about payroll needing to be where revenues suggest it should be.

    Now let’s apply this to actual commodities and what the dollars represent. Despite making a silly suggestion that Zack Greinke didn’t win the Astros a World Series, the reality is that the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals played on the biggest stage because they both employed three pitchers that could trump virtually any competition. The Twins hit a boatload of bombas in 2019, and the lineup will continue to play, but the rotation must be filled with arms capable of competing against the upper echelon.

    For the first time in franchise history the Twins have handed out a qualifying offer (there was an argument to be made that a second could have been made) insuring Jake Odorizzi will agree to nothing worse than a one-year, $17.8 million deal. That’d be a strong start to free agency for Minnesota, but if he rejects the offer in the next nine days, working out a long-term deal with the help of draft pick compensation warding off other suitors would be a fine result as well.

    Different publications have tied Minnesota to a handful of options, but there have been suggestions of arms starting with Bumgarner and Wheeler, and trickling down from there. Although Falvey needs to be a player on the Cole and Strasburg market, they both could very well have more exciting destinations in play. Regardless of how the four rotation spots are accounted for, a final tally of something near $70 million should be enough to create a strong group.

    If Minnesota can’t allocate all their funds to the pitching market, then supplementing with an offensive addition is hardly an egregious ask. Holding back some of the discretionary dollars a year ago made some sense but making sure every effort possible is made for 2020 and beyond now should be in all systems go mode. There are more than a few ways for the Twins to tack on significant money while avoiding risk and poor contracts, and this is their opportunity to do it.

    $140 million would be a bit north of $10 million into the uncharted waters territory. While $135 million is a nice bump from 2019, the $140MM mark would likely land them just outside of the top 10. At this stage of the cycle Minnesota could comfortably be closer to $150MM than $130MM and things would be just fine. No matter how they get there though, the training wheels need to come off this time around.

    Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook.

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  14. The Trend-Setting Twins

    According to D1 Baseball's Kendall Rogers, the Yankees have made "college pitching coaches a high priority" for the position. Rogers says that the Yankees have interviewed Michigan's Chris Fetter and Johnson's replacement at Arkansas, Matt Hobbes. The Yankees also inquired about Arizona's Nate Yeskie (a Driveline favorite) and TCU's Kirk Saarloos but both coaches turned them down.

    This past spring, I asked Johnson what he thought were the key differences between the college game and professional ball and what made that appealing for teams.

    "I think the college game, we have the resources, we have a smaller number of players, so we are able to go in and do a lot of research with biomechanics and Trackman and write those individual plans," Johnson said. "As you’re seeing that’s just where the game is going and so these guys have the experience doing it, so it makes it easier. You look, basketball, in the NBA and the NFL, that’s not uncommon but for some reason it is uncommon in baseball. In the NFL you have great head coaches who never played a day of college football or anything of that nature, and they are phenomenal. Same way in basketball."

    That's a huge factor for major league teams. College ball is where the forefront of development lies and the technology aspect was embraced heavily. Major league teams were late to utilize and some teams recognized that they didn't have the coaching infrastructure to incorporate the changes. Pitching coaches like Rothchild, while unbelievably knowledgeable about the craft, lacked the experience working with the advancements.

    "I think that college baseball has been slightly ahead of professional baseball in some regard," said the Twins' minor league catching instructor Tanner Swanson. "I think from an educational standpoint there’s just more people in that space who understand how this stuff works and we’re seeing how it is utilized now and implement it in a professional environment."

    As this continues to unfold and more college coaches are picked from the amateur ranks, keep in mind that this was Derek Falvey vision all along when he assumed the position of Chief Baseball Officer with the Minnesota Twins.

    “When I came here, one of the things I thought about over my career in baseball was where are the people learning and growing and developing as coaches," Falvey told me. "I found when I was in different positions I would go to different conventions, college conventions or off-sites or these events, and I met these different people from college and thought wow, these people really have curious minds, they are high character individuals, they care about baseball deeply."

    You may be surprised by the amount of money college pitching coaches at large universities make. Before leaving Arkansas, Johnson was making $250,000 a year and the Twins reportedly offered him a deal that is "well north" of $350,000 per year. The Yankees obviously have the biggest pocketbook so they could throw money at whoever they feel is the top coach but, for many teams, they typically pay between $150,000 to $300,000 for a pitching coach. Not everyone is as bold as the Twins when it comes to handing out money to unproven coaches. So you can see why some coaches, like Nate Yeskie who is earning “elite SEC school range” income, might turn down the opportunity. After all, most SEC head coaches make over a million a year and pitching coaches have a payday of half of that.

    Beyond just income, the time dedicated to the job is significantly different and could favor a switch to the professional ranks. While pro baseball coaches have higher scrutiny (although you could argue SEC coaches are constantly under the microscope), college coaching requires a year-round commitment and does not have the luxury of regrouping during the offseason.

    The Twins hired their Gulf Coast League pitching coach, Zach Bove, out of the College of Central Florida (you can read more about him in my article in the Offseason Handbook). Bove noted that the main difference between pro and college ball for coaches is the extra downtime pro coaches receive.

    “In college you have practices and games and then you are going out on the weekends to recruit or have phone calls to make,” said Bove.

    “People ask me how my time’s been and you have no idea,” said Johnson. “It’s 365 days a year in college. You’re on the phone with advisers, agents, parents and kids. Then you got your guys. You put it all into a funnel and let it come out on a calendar and you definitely have more free time in professional baseball than coaching in the SEC.”

    It is odd to live in a world where the Minnesota Twins are the trend-setters and organization like the New York Yankees are trying to follow suit. The Twins did well in capitalizing on a market inefficiency but that avenue might be closing soon as other teams pillage college programs.

    • Nov 01 2019 09:36 PM
    • by Parker Hageman
  15. Handing a Qualifying Offer to Michael Pineda

    Reports have suggested that the 2020 qualifying offer amount will drop to $17.8 million, which is a $100,000 step back from 2019. Determined by the average of the top 125 salaries in the game, it’s the first season that the amount has taken a step backwards. That alone is just another bullet point in a long list that the MLBPA must attack in upcoming CBA discussions.

    Minnesota organized a shrewd pact with the former Yankees starter prior to the 2018 season. Paying him $2 million to watch over his Tommy John rehab, he then made another $8 million as a fully healthy starter in 2019. Posting one of the best seasons in his career, Pineda was estimated to be worth $21.1 million after accumulating 2.7 fWAR. His season came to an abrupt halt after failing a PED test for taking a diuretic he noted as being for weight loss. At least in part, an appeals process deemed his reasoning sufficient, as his suspension was reduced to 60 games and would not have carried postseason ineligibility.

    From a merit-based standpoint, Pineda has plenty going in his favor. The 4.01 ERA was the best he had posted since his rookie season, and his 1.7 BB/9 established command not seen since 2015. After an ugly first month of the season, Minnesota got a 3.46 ERA in 117.0 IP from Pineda and he allowed opposing batters just a .670 OPS against him. Prior to his suspension, there was serious steam to him being the Game One starter in the American League Division Series.

    Looking ahead we see a soon-to-be 31-year-old that has had some health concerns. Pineda is now well distanced from Tommy John surgery, but he’s never pitched more than 175 innings in a given year, and (as evidenced by the intentions of weight loss) is not slight in stature. The body of work and physical profile make him somewhat of a risk on a long-term contract, but that’s mitigated on a one-year deal, and even moreso through the 2020 qualifying offer implications.

    The Twins have a substantial cash flow going into the upcoming offseason, and while they could certainly afford to pay Pineda nearly $18 million for a single year, that’s probably not the best plan of action. Fortunately, because of his remaining suspension, that’s not what the bill would look like. Having something north of 35 games left to serve for 2020, Pineda’s deal would be a prorated portion of that total QO. Rough math indicates a bill resembling something just shy of $14 million, which would be more enticing.
    Again, there’s no denying that an arm like Pineda’s can’t be the premiere acquisition, but we saw how important a strong back-end starter can be with the revolving door in 2019. Allowing an internal option or two an avenue to hold down the fort until Pineda is reinstated would be a solid blueprint, and there’s no long-term commitment here either. If the QO gets rejected, Minnesota gets draft pick compensation and wins either way.

    What do you think? Does Pineda get a QO if you’re in charge?

    • Oct 16 2019 06:08 AM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  16. Reflection Provides Solace for 2019 Minnesota Twins

    Rocco Baldelli took over a Twins team that had little direction, and even less certainty. Moving on from Paul Molitor and creating an infrastructure geared towards sustainable progression the Minnesota front office had set forth to blaze a new trail. Not only were we treated to a record-breaking performance, but it was done with a core that remains intact and reinforcements soon to follow.

    For much of the last offseason we heard about a timid approach reliant on the emergence of Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. Both had strong 2019 campaigns (for Buxton, while he was on the field), but it was the unexpected development of players like Luis Arraez and Zack Littell that defined the growth we saw on the field. Process and practice have fostered a team that will allow the expected to rise, but the unexpected to also seize opportunity.

    2019 was significantly more than a record -etting home run total, a win total mirroring that of the mid-1960’s, or even an American League Central Division title. It was a season that provides a launching point into the future and gives us a glimpse of what is not only possible, but what is yet to come. Although the bar has been raised across much of the record book, the result is now a future more hopeful than it has been since Torii Hunter was chasing down baseballs at the Metrodome.

    I’m not here to tell you that losing in the postseason isn’t a bummer, or that dropping a series to the New York Yankees doesn’t stink. Reality hits us in clarifying that only one team ends their season with a victory however, and that being in the final pool for that annual opportunity is a must. Terry Ryan was not able to position the Pohlad’s team for that scenario at the end of his tenure in Twins Territory. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have hit nearly as many bombas as their on-field product, and now should begin a stretch of yearly October baseball.

    There will be time to discuss the size of a blank check Gerrit Cole may eventually turn down, and whether Nelson Cruz repeats his 2019 performance as a 40-year-old. There can be a moment of frustration hurled at the Yankees, and unfortunate history can even receive its run. Looking back, and beyond the final three games, it’s hard to be anything but excitedly hopeful for what is yet to come.

    The Minnesota Twins didn’t provide us with a “there’s always next year” type of theme in their exit. Instead we are faced with a “look out” and “we’ll be back.” It won’t be uncommon to see the team that calls Target Field home assumed as the division favorite next March, and they’ll get another shot at rolling the dice in October.

    A sport that celebrates failure occurring only 70% of the time is quite a difficult beast, and humility can often be dished out in small sample sizes., but this was a season of excitement for what is yet to come. To Derek, Thad, Rocco, and the 50 guys that put that Twins script across their chest this season, thank you for months of enjoyment. Soak up the well-deserved rest, and we’ll all still be waiting for the next October opportunity to get unhinged in downtown Minneapolis. We all know it won’t be long.

    • Oct 08 2019 02:56 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  17. Moneyball Redux: Will Red Sox Raid Twins' Front Office?

    In 2011, the film adaptation of Moneyball hit theaters, bringing Michael Lewis's non-fiction work to the big screen.

    Near the end of the movie, Red Sox owner John Henry invites Billy Beane to Fenway Park for a conversation. Beane had freshly guided small-market Oakland through back-to-back 100-win seasons, overcoming a limited budget by championing innovative strategies and cutting-edge analytics. His success caught the attention of one of baseball's most storied and respected franchises.

    When Henry (portrayed by Arliss Howard) and Beane (Brad Pitt) sit down to chat, Henry says he heard about Beane receiving an extension offer from A's ownership.

    "So why did you return my call?" he asks.

    "Because it's the Red Sox," Beane replies matter-of-factly.



    Ultimately, Beane turned down a lucrative $12.5 million offer from Boston to stick with Oakland, where he remains today. But the temptation was evident and understandable.

    You don't have to look hard to find parallels between the Athletics front office of that era, and the current Twins regime. Since taking over a club that had freshly lost 103 games, and hadn't reached the playoffs in six years, Derek Falvey has overseen a complete turnaround for the Twins, who are on the verge of their second postseason berth in three years since Falvey's arrival.

    Falvey isn't quite working with the budgetary constraints of the A's circa Y2K, but he has brought sophistication to a dated baseball operation, ushering in a rapid analytical awakening. Suddenly, the Twins find themselves mentioned among baseball's most enlightened franchises.

    As Matthew Trueblood wrote at Baseball Prospectus on Monday:

    "Most importantly, what the Red Sox need isn't a technological catch-up or an extra fleet of interns in research and development. What they need is, in all likelihood, a top-level change in philosophy, one that aligns them with the Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, Rays, Twins, and Diamondbacks, who now represent the state of the art."

    Seeing the Twins mentioned alongside the game's most respected front offices feels surreal, but here we are. Falvey's vision has quickly come to fruition and he – along with his handpicked GM Thad Levine – has this franchise as geared for long-term success as any in baseball. It's no secret that I've long been a fan of the way these guys operate, and the rest of the league has quickly taken notice as well.

    Unsurprisingly, Minnesota's Chief Baseball Officer has been mentioned as a candidate for the Boston GM vacancy by numerous outlets, including the Boston Globe. Still only 36 years old, Falvey could be viewed as a long-term fixture atop the Red Sox, in the same way Henry fancied Beane (who was 40 back in 2002).

    So let's just assume that the Sox come calling. How tempted would Falvey be? There are a few things to keep in mind.

    • Falvey grew up in Lynn, MA – roughly 30 minutes from Fenway Park.
    • The Red Sox GM gig brings with it almost unlimited resources.
    • It also brings a level of prestige nearly unmatched in the profession.
    • Boston will undoubtedly be able to dangle a significant raise if they so choose.
    These are serious perks. Of course, they also will be weighed against some very real factors in Minnesota's favor. For example:
    • Falvey and his family have planted roots here.
    • He's building something special, and is likely only getting started.
    • The Boston job, while glamorous, brings far more scrutiny and stress.
    • It also doesn't necessarily offer much job security. (Dombrowski was fired less than one year after winning a World Series!)
    Will Falvey make the same move as Beane 17 years ago, and say "Thanks, but no thanks"? I don't know, but I do feel quite confident the Red Sox will at least inquire. He's clearly a rising young star among MLB's executives right now. With luxury tax become a central consideration for even the biggest of spenders, a GM who can stretch a dollar, dig up hidden values, and bolster development is in high demand.

    If Boston misses on Falvey, they could conceivably turn their attention to Levine, who deserves his own share of credit for the spiffy roster construction in Minnesota. In his case, unlike Falvey's, it'd be a clear step up in terms of role – becoming the No. 1 guy.

    But on that note, I guess the Twins are in better position than most in this regard, given that they have a two-headed monster atop their front office depth chart. Both Falvey and Levine seem capable of handling the head job solo. Maybe that would make one of them more amenable to leaving. Maybe it'd make the Twins more at peace with such a defection.

    All I know is that Falvey and Levine appear to have great chemistry, and they've jointly built a hell of a roster in Minnesota, as well as a hell of a baseball ops department. Personally speaking, I've never had more trust in the people running this team in my life than I do right now. So thinking about a big-market shark coming in and pilfering away from what is currently the Twins' foremost competitive advantage?

    Well, to borrow another line from Moneyball... "It's incredibly hard."

    • Sep 12 2019 09:05 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  18. Trade Deadline: What if the Twins Do Nothing?

    On Tuesday night, Cleveland finally traded All Star starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. Typically that move would be seen as the team selling, but in this case, I do believe that they got better. They have pitching, and seem to keep calling pitchers up who do well. Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac are two guys who fit into that mold. They also should be getting Corey Kluber back in the near future.

    Their need was offense, and they added two powerful outfielders in Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes in the three-team swap. They also added LHP Logan Allen, a Top 100 prospect, and two more minor leaguers.

    It was a very creative move for Cleveland. The Twins were very creative in their acquisition of Sergio Romo over the weekend. Not only did the Twins receive the veteran reliever, but they also received hard-throwing RHP Chris Vallimont and a Player to be Named Later for slugging first base prospect Lewin Diaz.

    On its own, the Twins made a really, creative, savvy move to improve their bullpen and improve the team. Twins fans have generally felt that the trade was good for the Twins, though that thought always comes with the “as long as it isn’t the only move they make by the deadline.”

    But what if it is? What if Sergio Romo is the only player that the Twins add? What will it mean? Here are my thoughts.

    DISAPPOINTMENT

    First and foremost, Twins fans will and rightfully should feel disappointment. On the basic level, it’s always fun to acquire talent. It doesn’t even have to be elite talent, but just make the team better. Let's just say, #TwinsTwitter will not handle it well, for sure!

    On another level, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have consistently said that when the Twins window to compete for championships opens, they will pounce. Well, the window is wide open. This team has the talent to compete, not only for the American League Central title but also for a World Series. They have won two of six games against the Yankees this year, and probably should have won two more of those games. They won four of their seven matchups with the Astros this year. They currently have an edge on Cleveland this year too. Those are the top teams in the American League, and the team should absolutely feel like they can compete for an American League pennant. And hey, if you get to the World Series, you have a chance.

    So Twins fans will absolutely have every right to be disappointed and even upset if nothing is done.

    HOWEVER…

    This is a very good team as is, as shown by their performance so far this year against the top teams in the league. Their lineup can compete with anyone. They can slug with the best. Pitching has been the issue although even that hasn’t been as bad as we may think. The starters rank in the top the top third of the league in most statistics. Some of that is because their #4 (Perez) and #5 (Pineda) have been better than most 4s and 5s around the league. Jose Berrios is approaching Ace level. Jake Odorizzi was an All Star for his strong start, but he has been more inconsistent of late. Kyle Gibson’s been good at times but also a bit inconsistent. Not adding a starter would just mean that these guys would need to step it up down the stretch. But would the Twins have a top three or top four that you could feel good about going into the playoffs?

    And the bullpen has been better than expected, though a lot of that is because of Taylor Rogers. Sergio Romo stepped in as the 8th inning guy last night in his Twins debut. Tyler Duffey has returned to an intriguing bullpen option. Ryne Harper has been a big surprise. Trevor May was doing well until the 0-2 curveball in Cleveland, but he has the stuff to dominate and will need to find that again.

    And then some young guys. Cody Stashak had a moment in the Yankees series. Sean Poppen reeling off 96-97 mph fastballs with a strong slider could be great for the team down the stretch. And if Will Smith and Felipe Vasquez are unavailable, I don’t think there is an available left-handed reliever that I would feel better about than giving Lewis Thorpe an opportunity. And Devin Smeltzer is available as well. The concern with them is their lack of MLB experience, obviously.

    In addition, Fernando Romero has been much improved of late in Rochester. And as it appears the odds of Cody Allen helping the Twins down the stretch is waning, flamethrower Brusdar Graterol returned to the mound on Monday for his first rehab appearance. Maybe he and his 101-mph fastball can help. Jorge Alcala and his triple-digit fastball pitched out of the bullpen in his most-recent outing.

    SUMMARY

    So, while I still think it is very likely that the Twins make one or two moves before the trade deadline, and this article will be all for naught, it is important for Twins fans to stand by a team that has put themselves in this position. Absolutely, be disappointed that nothing was done, but hopefully you’ll be able to quickly shift your attention back to the fact that this team, as it is currently put together, can win the division. And, if you are under the opinion (as I mostly am) that the playoffs are mostly a crapshoot, then you should still believe that the Twins can win in the playoffs too.

    All that said… Come On, Twins… Make a Move!

    • Jul 31 2019 07:49 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  19. Trade Deadline Thread: How Far Would You Go to Add an Ace?

    Friday, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported that the Mets asking price for Noah Syndergaard is sky high. According Neal’s sources, the Mets are “eyeing both Lewis and Kirilloff as part of a package for Syndergaard.”

    Wow. Royce Lewis AND Alex Kirilloff ... and that’s just PART of the package?

    Last night, La Velle passed along another trade tidbit, saying that the Mets’ asking price included Byron Buxton.

    It’s not at all surprising the Twins were “turned off” by that price, but from the Mets’ perspective, the worst thing that could happen is the Twins say no. Why not ask, right?

    Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that an executive who has communicated with the Mets said “They are definitely trading Syndergaard.” If that truly is the case, the Mets front office will need to lower its asking price, but they can certainly expect to command a hefty return for the 26-year-old Syndergaard, who still has two more seasons of team control.

    The beauty of the deadline is this will all have to be resolved one way or another by 3 pm CT tomorrow afternoon.

    La Velle’s piece called Syndergaard a target “no longer viable,” but only time will tell. That price may drop. Among the bullpen targets the Twins could pivot to, Neal listed Kirby Yates, Greg Holland, Archie Bradley and Mychal Givens.

    What do I think is going to happen? Well, here’s nearly 15 minutes of me sharing my thoughts on the deadline, the front office’s intentions and some of what my expectations are. This could end up looking really, really bad. It’s so difficult to even guess what may happen, since this is the first real contending Twins team of the Derek Falvey era.



    To answer my own question purposed in the headline, the furthest I’d personally go to trade for an ace-calibur pitcher would be Alex Kirilloff as the marquee piece. Cody wrote an article last night that asked Is Alex Kirilloff Expendale? I think to a certain degree he is. That’s much less of a shot at Alex as it is an indication of how stacked this organization is with corner outfield/first base options right now.

    It’s not that I view Lewis as completely untouchable, but it’d take multiple good, long-term pieces coming back. There’s a chance Royce both reaches his ceiling and stays at shortstop. If that happens, he’ll be among the most valuable players in the league. It’d take a lot to walk away from that.

    Not that I don’t believe in Alex. There’s no questioning his feel for hitting, and I think he’s more athletic than most people give him credit for, but corner outfielders or first basemen are easy to find, relatively speaking. C.J. Cron hit 30 homers and was non-tendered. The entire current Twins outfield will remain in tact for multiple seasons and there are some other attractive outfielders in the pipeline as well.

    If the Twins end up aiming lower on the trade market, there are reasons why I could understand that. This is the first year on the job for Rocco Baldelli, Wes Johnson and Jeremy Hefner. This is a franchise on the rise, not one who sees its window closing.

    A lot of the players carrying this team right now will be around for years to come and the minor league system ranks among the best in the game. That doesn’t guarantee you anything, but I feel like there’s a very good chance we’re entering an extended period of sustained winning baseball in Twins Territory.

    Even if they aim gets lower, this front office still has plenty of incentive to make some moves. In mid-June, I wrote about the potential impending roster crunch this offseason. Lewin Diaz was among the guys I mentioned who needed to be added to the 40-man roster at the end of the season. He’s already been shipped out to Miami.

    Beyond all the top prospects is a nice tier of players that should be attractive to a team who has a barren system. Ben Rortvedt, Ryan Jeffers, Jose Miranda and (though he’s injured right now) Travis Blankenhorn could be dangled for more pitching help. Guys performing in Triple-A like Nick Gordon or Jaylin Davis would have some appeal to certain teams. And those are just some of the bats.

    This is going to sound harsh, but it wouldn’t take a lot to improve the outlook of the Twins bullpen right now. Even marginal upgrades would go a long way. They’ve looked good at times, but it’s just not realistic to roll with rookies Lewis Thorpe, Sean Poppen and Cody Stashak in the bullpen down the stretch.

    So while the market for a top of the rotation starter may seem steep right now, there’s still time for things to change. If prices don't come down, I still fully expect the Twins to make multiple moves between now and the deadline, given their incentive to clear some room.

    I still can’t believe how quiet things have been league-wide to this point. Things could get nuts leading up to tomorrow’s 3 pm CT deadline.

    MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
    Twins Moving on From SP Trade Targets?
    What Sergio Romo Brings to the Twins Bullpen
    Could the Twins Afford to Take on Zack Greinke’s Contract?
    Trade Deadline Thread: The Rumor Mill is Working Overtime
    Trade Deadline Topics: Prospects, Scouting, Rumors
    Trade Deadline Thread: What To Do About the Rotation?
    The Gauntlet 1.2; A Complete Breakdown of the Top Relief Arms
    For Enlow and Other Minor Leaguers, “No One Is Safe” At Trade Deadline
    Twins Won't Rule Out Trading For Lance Lynn

    JEREMY'S DEADLINE SERIES (Part VI Coming Soon)
    Let's Make A Deal, Part V: Are We Getting Noah Syndergaard or Someone Else?
    Let's Make A Deal, Part IV: The Sellers
    Let's Make A Deal, Part III: The Ammunition
    Let's Make A Deal, Part II: Payroll
    Let's Make A Deal, Part I: 2020

    • Jul 30 2019 05:43 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  20. Could the Twins Miss the Playoffs?

    Standings Check-In
    The Twins enter play on Thursday with a three-game lead in the AL Central. At the beginning of June, the Twins were up 10.5 games as Cleveland had squeaked out a .500 record up to that point. By the end of June, Minnesota still had a comfortable eight game lead, but then Cleveland really turned on the heat. The Indians have gone 13-4 in July with two of their losses coming against the Twins. Some will point to Cleveland’s recent opponents as the reasons for their success, but they are winning the games in front of them.

    According to Baseball Reference, the Twins have a 96.2% chance of making the playoffs and a 90.9% chance of winning the division. They put Cleveland’s odds at 9.1% to win the division and 41.1% to make the playoffs. Also, the site projects Minnesota’s best possible record as 104-58 and their worst record as 91-71. On the flip side, Cleveland’s best record is projected as 96-66 and their worst record could be 83-79. Cleveland’s best and Minnesota’s worst would put the Twins back into the AL Wild Card Game.

    Cleveland currently sits in the first Wild Card spot with Oakland trailing by one game. Twins fans saw how good Oakland has been in their recent match-up and the A’s have a 7-3 record over their last 10 games. Boston and Tampa Bay sit two games behind the A’s, which means the Twins are six games up from being on the outside looking in.

    Multiple Weaknesses
    Minnesota has been running through a steady group of relievers from Rochester over the last couple weeks. This comes on the heels of the club parting ways with Matt Magill, Mike Morin and Adalberto Mejia. Minnesota cleared multiple roster spots without making any immediate additions to the bullpen. Cody Stashak made his MLB debut last night and he might have been the most effective Twins pitcher in a crazy game. Other players like Lewis Thorpe and Kohl Stewart are also getting some relief opportunities.

    Twins relievers have seen some struggles in recent weeks albeit it has come against some strong opponents. Trevor May has given up multiple leads with some hanging breaking balls that ended up over the fence. He was even asked to pitch over 50 pitches in one game. On Thursday, Blake Parker was designated for assignment or release. Ryne Harper and Tyler Duffey have also had some blemishes on their record as of late. Even the team’s best reliever, Taylor Rogers, has seen some leads slip through his hands. Realistically, the bullpen needs some help and Rochester might not have the pieces the team needs.

    The bullpen hasn’t been Minnesota’s only weakness. Fans have been frustrated with the Twins inability to get clutch hits with runners in scoring position, especially with the bases loaded. Twins batters have combined for an .820 OPS with runners in scoring position. However, the club has had 91 at-bats with the bases loaded this season while hitting .195/.213/.286 with only four extra-base hits. There seems to be some kind of hang-up when three men are on base instead of just having runners in scoring position.

    Looming Trade Deadline
    Minnesota could address some of their issues through trades in the next seven days. Earlier this week, Derek Falvey joined Darren Wolfson on his podcast to discuss the upcoming trade deadline. This year’s deadline is different since team’s cant make waiver trades after July 31. Falvey believes there will be a flurry of moves right before the deadline. Minnesota has given some consideration to being the first team to pull the trigger on a big trade, but that likely would mean the team is going to have to overpay to set the market.

    Falvey went on to say, the Twins are interested in improving “overall pitching depth.” This could be starters, relievers or maybe the team can get creative. He mentioned, “If there are ways to add to our starting rotation, our pitching depth, is there a way to add to the bullpen at the same time?”

    Fans might not want to hold out for any blockbuster trade. He believes the team is most likely looking for “supplements” to the current roster. If the team is going to win this year, it is going to be because of “the group that’s in the clubhouse right now.”

    To some, that might not exactly be a vote of confidence. However, the Twins need to avoid doing anything brash, because those type of trades can come back to haunt an organization.

    Do you think there’s a chance the Twins don’t make the playoffs? What would the repercussions be for the organization? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    Other Stories of Interest
    Byron Buxton’s Not So Secret Value
    Twins Getting Greatness from Utility
    Buyer Beware: Avoiding a Chris Archer Trade

    • Jul 24 2019 05:49 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  21. Using Derek Falvey and Thad Levine's Past to Forecast the Minnesota Twins' 2019 Trade Deadline

    For the Twins, they find themselves solidly on the other side of the table this year as they will not be looking to shed veterans for prospects but instead they will be adding veterans in exchange for their much-coveted prospects. Essentially, this will be the first deadline under the new front office headed by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine where their play is obvious and on the spectrum that involves making a World Series contender instead of aiding another team in their efforts to win the title. I phrase it that way with the odd 2017 deadline in mind where Jaime García was acquired just to be shipped off to the Yankees a week later and Brandon Kintzler was sent to the Nationals. But that was hardly a team looking to become true World Series contenders and the fact that they made the playoffs that year at all was a minor miracle.

    This year is different, the fruits of Falvey and Levine’s efforts (along the many coaches and players) have blossomed and the Twins sit at the top of the AL Central with a 5.5 game lead. Since the introduction of the new front office, basically everything that was ever synonymous with Twins’ baseball has been stomped on and thrown out the window. Long gone are the days of small ball and pitching to contact and in are the days of slugging and striking out other batters. The results have been pretty decent if you ask me as Stage 1 of the plan has been a success but Stage 2 emerges and the question now is; how will the Twins attack the trade deadline?

    We all have our own personal beliefs for whom the Twins should acquire (I say a top-tier starter, a top-tier reliever, and a mid-tier reliever for depth but that’s a different topic), but as I mentioned before, we are heading into uncharted territory as the Twins go into the deadline as kings with a vast bounty in front of them to choose from, something that has not happened under this front office. Shoot, the last time you could really even say they were in a similar place was 2010 when they last took the division, but even that team was only at 58 wins at the deadline (the current Twins are already at 56) and the only big move at the deadline then was the addition of Matt Capps which was… Yeah let’s just leave that topic alone.

    Without any recent Twins history of deadline moves as World Series favorites, I looked to the history of Derek Falvey during his tenure with the Indians and Thad Levine when he was with the Rangers in order to get a good feel for how those teams acted when they were in a similar spot as the Twins are now and then use that information to predict what they will do in the coming weeks.

    Derek Falvey
    Falvey first joined the Indians in 2007 but was promoted to co-director of baseball operations after the 2011 season so that is where I will start my investigation. In the season immediately following his promotion, the Indians won just 68 games as they continued to wander aimlessly through the baseball landscape like the Israelities when they left Egypt but with fewer curses, or maybe more actually ... anyway, they were bad for a while.

    It was a different story in 2013 for the Indians, as they won 92 games and made it to the Wild Card game. They would eventually lose that game but they finally reversed course toward a successful future and the groundwork was set. At the deadline the Indians were at 59 wins and their lone move was acquiring reliever Mark Rzepczynski who definitely made me check my spelling no less than four times when typing his name.

    The Indians were really boring for the next two years so let’s skip those.

    The 2016 Indians is where stuff gets really fun. That team won 94 games and not only won the division but made it to Game 7 of the World Series where they lost in heartbreaking fashion, a shame. That Cleveland team had 60 wins at the deadline and shocked the baseball world by acquiring a little known reliever named Andrew Miller at the deadline. They also were on the verge of acquiring catcher Jonathan Lucroy but he exercised his no-trade clause and the trade died.

    What can be learned from this? Well, unfortunately there was only one year where the Indians were in a position much like the 2019 Twins. But what is really interesting is the addition of Andrew Miller as he proved to be a key cog in their bullpen and was an instance where the Indians bought high on a controllable reliever who would help the team that year and a few years down the road. What possibly is frightening is that the one weakness of that Indians squad was their bench depth that was half-heartedly addressed by adding Brandon Guyer and journeyman Michael Martinez who of course happened to be the final out of that World Series. The 2019 Twins currently hold a better bench than the 2016 Indians, but it will be pushed to the limit in every capacity during the playoffs and Derek Falvey would be wise to remember what happened in 2016.

    Thad Levine
    Thad Levine was brought on as an assistant to the general manager for the Rangers following the 2005 season. Since he was there was that many years ago, I’ll cut out some seasons that amounted to nothing, you’re very welcome.

    For the first few years, the Rangers really didn’t do much winning but in 2010 they won 90 games and made it all the way to the World Series. With 61 wins heading into the trade deadline, the Rangers were big buyers, as they traded for starter Cliff Lee and reliever Mark Lowe along with some depth pieces like Bengie Molina, Jeff Francoeur, Jorge Cantu, and Christian Guzmán during July and August. Cliff Lee was a hired gun as his contract was up after the year, Mark Lowe was a controllable reliever who stuck around for two years following the 2010 season and the other players mostly didn’t stick around long.

    What I find very interesting is that the Rangers in 2010 had no previous history of success leading into the season but saw what unfolded in front of them and were very aggressive in acquiring the pieces necessary to make a run not just that year but for years in the future. They covered all their bases (pun most certainly intended) and just happened to run into the buzzsaw that was the Giants that year in the World Series. Speaking of the future, though …

    The 2011 Rangers didn’t like losing the World Series in 2010 so they went and made it again! This year they won 96 games and had another aggressive trade deadline by acquiring relievers Mike Adams, Koji Uehara, and Mike Gonzalez in order to boost a bullpen that was the third worst in baseball by fWAR before the deadline (it was then the sixth best bullpen by fWAR in baseball after the deadline). The Rangers after the deadline were again a very well-rounded squad but just couldn’t seal the deal against a scrappy Cardinals club and they again lost the World Series.

    What I really like is that the Rangers again showed that they were willing to aggressively attack what they saw as the biggest weakness on the team in order to put themselves in the best place possible to win a championship.

    The next two years, the Rangers still fielded good teams but not quite good enough to make more deep playoff runs and they made a number of trades for veterans in which they gave up prospects who eventually would become quality players in a desperate attempt to continue their run (guys like Kyle Hendricks, Carl Edwards Jr., and Leury Garcia). Their contention window with that core was over after 2013.

    Now knowing how each team conducted their deadline when in a position to succeed, I am even more looking forward to the deadline as it could be a combination of the Indians' pragmatism in 2016 for quality players who would stick around for more than just that season (Andrew Miller and almost Jonathan Lucroy), and the Rangers' aggressiveness in 2010 and 2011 where positions of need were identified and addressed and depth was made a priority in order for their squad to best make their playoff run. I can’t know for certain what the plan is, but I am damn excited to see it unfold.

    • Jul 11 2019 09:11 AM
    • by Matt Braun
  22. Blueprinting the Twins Deadline Plan

    Minnesota has been linked to players like Marcus Stroman and Madison Bumgarner. The Twins have ties to any number of relievers, and you can bet the front office has no desire to leave any stone unturned. We’re soon getting to decision time though, and what they acquire will matter almost as much as who they acquire.

    Needs

    The bare minimum here is two relief pitchers. Taylor Rogers has been nothing short of exceptional this season, but he needs to continue with an ability to operate as a hybrid pitcher. Keeping him solely locked into the ninth inning or late inning work isn’t necessarily ideal. He benefits Baldelli most by working as the fireman, and being able to work multiple innings is a massive boost.

    Ideally one of the arms acquired should be a southpaw and finding an impending free agent over 30 years-old with an ERA right around the mid-3.00 range shouldn’t be a difficult task. Realistically hat type of get isn’t going to cost any significant prospect and the boost could be substantial.

    On top of relief help a starter would be a definite bonus. Minnesota has just Jose Berrios and Martin Perez locked down for the rotation in 2020, and a controllable asset there makes a ton of sense. Giving up prospects for relief help is never an enticing plan of action but tying in a controllable starter would help to lessen that blow.

    When the deadline comes and goes on July 31st success should be measured for Minnesota numerically. At least two relief arms would represent a job well done, and an additional starter could tip things over the top.

    Process

    Derek Falvey is going to need prospect capital in order to make any move. I’d imagine, and probably suggest, that both Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff be non-starters in almost any package. From there though the Twins will have significant depth at their disposal. Finding a way to both utilize and conserve talent at the same time would provide an optimal crossroads.

    Opposing organizations are likely going to want trades completed for one big-league asset at a time. If I’m Minnesota however, pairing the starter with a reliever is a way to mitigate risk. Working to pass on parting with real prospects for a rental or relief arm, adding in controllable starting talent opens the door to more coveted names.

    There’s a handful of selling teams that have assets in both areas Rocco Baldelli’s club currently needs to upgrade. There should be no reason that any deal with those clubs doesn’t go down the path of two players at once when discussions start. Settling on one at a time is fine but look to pair a maximized return with a protected parting.

    Redundancy

    It’s true that there’re specific areas on the farm that you’ll never have too many prospects. Up the middle and on the mound, teams will forever find a way to utilize talent. For the Twins, in their current situation, one of the best ways may be in using said players as trade chips.

    Falvey has a system chock full of middle infield prospects and corner outfielders. Although there’s not a significant number of upper-tier arms, there are a select few that have significant upside. Most of this talent is still at or below Double-A which makes the future risk carry a hefty amount of uncertainty. Using a trade partner to thin out some of that talent and turn it into big league commodities is hardly a bad blueprint.

    This offseason the Twins will also be up against a 40-man roster crunch that will put some bigger names in a position where they could be exposed. Utilizing them now in a way that draws a return is a significantly better decision than seeing them lost in the Rule 5 Draft.

    At its core the trade deadline should be a ton of fun for fans of the Minnesota Twins. This team is in position to be a legitimate player for the first time in nearly a decade. Good at the big-league level and on the farm, there’s opportunity to make some serious noise. The goal should be to acquire at least two assets, attempt to engage big with one partner, and work through some of your similar assets. How it all shakes out remains to be seen, but we’ll have answers soon enough.

    • Jul 09 2019 08:40 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  23. Previous Postseasons the Story for Minnesota

    By the end of the All-Star break Minnesota will have all eyes focused on what reinforcements can be brought in to help the big league club. Derek Falvey faces just one trade deadline this season, July 31. All goals from here on out will be related to improving the length of time spent playing October baseball. Although the Twins did grab a one-game cup of coffee two seasons ago, this level of expectation is largely unprecedented for the current collective.

    When it comes to those big games in October there have been to consistent story lines drawing repeated dialogue in 2019. How will the Twins handle the Yankees and is Madison Bumgarner the guy for the Minnesota?

    The former is a question rooted in a deep spell of futility. New York has had the number of this organization for years. During the Ron Gardenhire run of division titles there was no ability to get beyond The Evil Empire. New York had their way with Minnesota and the 2-12 record says as much. There’s no way to paint a pretty picture on those results, but it’s hardly relevant today.

    For the 2017 Wild Card game only five of the starting players still remain in a Minnesota uniform. Pitching in relief of starter Ervin Santana that game were names like Hildenberger, Busenitz and Belisle. As the new regime has transformed the roster, and in 2018 purged ineffectiveness, this current crop of Twins likely could care less how the “last time” played out.

    Right now the New York Yankees are one of the best teams in baseball and that is an accurate reflection of how they’ve played this season. If and when Minnesota sees them in the opposite dugout during the postseason it will be a dogfight because of that reality as opposed to any hardship the local franchise has previously experienced.

    On the opposite end of this same discussion Minnesota could use pitching help. While it’s the bullpen that’s a focus, a starting arm slotting in behind Jose Berrios would be welcomed. Madison Bumgarner will be available and his name carries significant weight but will the opposition truly worry about a guy because of his track record in 2014?

    When talking up the Giants starter you often hear of his World Series and postseason dominance. Those exploits are nearly a decade old, his last go-round in 2016 was hardly as effective, and he’s dealt with major injury and declining effectiveness since that point.

    Past experience will certainly afford the thought of Bumgarner in a Twins uniform a calming aura, but it’s hardly relevant and intellectually dishonest to suggest that his previous World Series experiences trump the pitcher he is today. His ERA is in the land of mediocrity, and similar WHIP, H/9, and FIP numbers back that. He’ll leave the easiest park to pitch in, but bring a heightened velocity and strikeout rate.

    At the end of the day the Twins will need to ask themselves if the juice is worth the squeeze. Bumgarner is not the same pitcher that twirled innings during the 2014 World Series. He’s a serviceable veteran that could be had to improve the overall strength down the stretch. Going all in on a move with the Giants hoping that the previous postseason success plays a trump card is quite the foolhardy gamble.

    Following the well-deserved All-Star rest Rocco Baldelli will have a refocused Twins team keyed in on making waves when it matters most. The front office will work to bring in reinforcements that can help put this club in a better position. When the dust settles and October begins, you can bet that this team isn’t going to be worried about the failures of yesteryear, and they shouldn’t be holding out hope to capture performances based on history either.

    • Jul 05 2019 06:51 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  24. Twins Can Welcome the Perfect Storm this Summer

    Thus far Derek Falvey has cycled through more than a handful of minor league relief options while trying to sort out Rocco Baldelli’s bullpen. A few wild cards were drawn to start the year, and while some have stuck, others have flopped. The lineup is a monster from top to bottom, so it remains on the mound that this team can get better. With roughly a month to the trade deadline, not only is the belief that they will, but with no hesitations they absolutely should.

    Timing

    Coming into 2019 the AL Central was never going to be more winnable for the Twins than it is right now. Cleveland had clearly peaked, and without having an influx of talent, their only opportunity was to go backwards. Only the White Sox are trending toward a mature state in their rebuild, and even they are going to experience growing pains over the next year or so. Taking advantage of virtually a free pass to the postseason was an absolute must as the Twins' window opened.

    Performance

    As noted above, Baldelli’s lineup is arguably the best in baseball. Without being made up of names like Judge and Stanton, a collection of homegrown talent and scrap heap pickups have come together in an effort to pound a baseball more juiced than it has ever been. Wes Johnson and the Twins entire infrastructure on the pitching side of the game has allowed the staff to take steps forward, and though they may not receive the same praise, the group has certainly been among the game’s best.

    Deficiency

    Because of how good Minnesota has been there’s also not a significant amount of need to take the club to the next level. While the bullpen certainly needs to be addressed and the rotation could use a boost, we aren’t talking about an overhaul here. Minnesota’s active roster is legitimately a few players away from being a sustainable and serious threat in October. This isn’t the NBA where one guy can transform a team, but the Twins are so close that one or two additions can be what puts them over the top.

    Landscape
    Never in the history of major league baseball have fewer organizations been trying at any giving time. There’s a handful of clubs tanking in an effort to supplement their lagging systems and move out of the dreaded middle ground. Because of this reality it’s a wonderful time to be a buyer. Clubs are parting with big league assets and there are only so many places for those players to land. In a trade market that will be influenced by an earlier and single transaction date, competing offers aren’t solely in the form of dollars as is the case in the offseason.

    Capital

    If there’s one thing Minnesota fans consistently ride the organization for, it is its payroll. Without touching on that subject, the only other capital in the game is in the form of players. Given the front office’s decision to hold onto dollars this winter, and the impending 40-man crunch coming up, there’s an abundance of prospect capital to be doled out. Not only are the Twins loaded at the top with some of the game’s best prospects, but the system's depth is also impressive and backs their organizational prospect ranking.

    By no means should the suggestion be that Minnesota attempt to throw away their long-term window for one run at the World Series. That said the opportunity to make bold acquisitions that will impact this team and those of the future lies ahead. The cost will be substantial, but the reward is also tangible through these same means. I don’t know if Minnesota will ever be in position to sign a free agent like Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, but right now they’re certainly positioned to trade for one.

    As the organization bides its time and collects more depth in the form of big league vets such as Cody Allen and Carlos Torres, the time to pounce looms large. It’s a bonus if any of those guys work out to be serviceable arms down the stretch. In the month ahead engaging teams on the outs and swapping future assets for current ones is where Falvey finds himself, and given all of the factors, it should be the most comfortable storm he’s ever stood in.

    • Jun 25 2019 09:14 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler
  25. Twins Sign RHP Cody Allen (Minor League Deal)

    Cody Allen had a few really good years in Cleveland. Many assumed that his connection with Twins CBO Derek Falvey made him a realistic offseason target for the Twins. Instead he signed with the Angels.

    Things did not go well for Allen in Anaheim. He was designated for assignment before being given his outright release last week.

    In 25 games for the Halos, he posted a 6.26 ERA and a 1.91 WHIP. In just 23 innings, he had 29 strikeouts but also walked 20 batters.

    From 2013 to 2017 (five seasons), he never posted an ERA over 2.99. He was Cleveland's closer a couple of those years and a key late-inning reliever. He posted 145 saves for them

    Jon Heyman was the first to tweet the news.



    Dan Hayes posts an update with a good reason for the signing.



    "There is no timeline."

    The Twins don't have to push him to the big leagues to see value.

    "They want to get their hands on him."

    Derek Falvey came to the Twins with a reputation as being a pitcher guru from his days in Cleveland. Wes Johnson is being given a lot of credit for the Twins pitching successes in 2019.

    It will be interesting to see when Allen arrives with a Twins affiliate and which affiliate that is. How quickly will he get to Rochester? And, the strikeouts certainly indicate that there is some stuff remaining for the still-just-30-year-old.

    As with RHP Drew Hutchinson, who signed a minor league deal with the Twins on Friday, signing Allen to a minor league deal is a no-risk, potentially good reward deal. If he never finds his velocity and isn't good in the minors, the Twins are not obligated to call him up. If he finds his stuff again, the Twins could have added a low-cost late inning reliever for the season's final weeks.

    • Jun 23 2019 02:34 PM
    • by Seth Stohs