My first thought to this question was I hope so. That being said, the Twins don’t necessarily need him to be what Logan Morrison was supposed to be last year. Morrison was brought in to be the team’s regular designated hitter. Lucas Duda is certainly not going to be give that responsibility with Nelson Cruz on the roster. Plus, Duda isn’t guaranteed any money under his deal with the Twins. He must be on the roster and contributing to get paid.
Duda is left-handed so that could help him to find a place on a very right-handed heavy Twins line-up. Last season, he hit .241/.313/.418 with 29 extra-base hits in 107 games between Kansas City and Atlanta. He has a pair of 30 home run seasons under his belt including one as recent as 2017. CJ Cron, Tyler Austin, and Duda will all be battling for time at first base. A platoon with Cron or Austin versus lefties and Duda versus righties could add some power to the Twins line-up.
I certainly believe the Twins think they can contend this season especially in a very open AL Central. One of the biggest keys for 2019 is making sure the young core is ready to take the next step. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano have plenty to prove after last season. Eddie Rosario and Jose Berrios were two of the team’s best players last year but they each could be more consistent this season. Max Kepler destroyed every level of the minor leagues and he hasn’t shown that ability at baseball’s highest level. Prospects don’t always pan out, so the club needs to continue to add depth throughout the minor league system. They were able to do that in last year’s draft and by trading away assets at last year’s deadline.
Last year’s club was a good example of why one-year deals don’t typically work. There were a bunch of players with no connection to the club and very little team chemistry. Minnesota is never going to outspend other teams and I doubt many big-name free agents are identifying the Twins as an ideal destination for their talents.
As much as fans don’t want to hear it, the Twins need to see what their young core can do this season. Everything could come together and be great or things could crash and burn. We will have to see what players are up to the challenge.
There has been some talk of teams offering Manny Machado and Bryce Harper shorter-term deal with more annual money associated with each contract. I believe both players and their agents are looking for more long-term stability. They are each reaching free agency at a young age so the next contract they sign could take them through the bulk of their formative (and defining) years in the big leagues. They need to make sure the city and team are the right fit and that the contract works for their future.
I think there are a few reasons as to why the Twins wouldn’t be interested at four-years and $40 million per season. Adding another $80 million to the payroll seems like quite the jump. Minnesota needs to get into a situation where they can make more money on their television contract and that could help open the coffers for more payroll funding. I also don’t know if these two players want to be on the same team. They both have big egos and each wants to be the face of a franchise.
Nick Gordon is coming off his worst season as a professional. Most of last year, Gordon was playing at Triple-A where he was four and a half years younger than the competition. He struggled mightily with Rochester by hitting .212/.262/.283. His power hasn’t developed, and he doesn’t show much patience in the batter’s box. He’s spent the off-season adding some weight to his frame, which could help him in the power department.
He was a consensus top-100 MLB prospect in each of the last four off-seasons, but he didn’t make any top-100 lists this off-season. Here at Twins Daily, he dropped from the organization’s third best prospect to the club’s 12th best prospect. He was added to the 40-man roster this off-season, so I think he will make his big league debut this season. Gordon needs to find his swing at Triple-A and then he will be just a phone call away.
There are certainly some trickle down effects from the big-league level all the way down to Double-A. Players throughout the system are impacted by those already ahead of them on the organizational depth chart. With that in mind, there are a lot of things that will impact who is starting at which level.
I believe pitching continues to evolve and organizations are going to start taking a unique approach to the roles of starters. Chattanooga likely starts the year with a six-man rotation, but the organization most assuredly will be using more openers during the season. The Blue Wahoos’ bullpen will be equally important.
If I am picking the rotation today, I think it will include Jorge Alcala, Tyler Wells, Sean Poppen, Daniel Camarena, Charlie Barnes, and Clark Beeker. Alcala was acquired from the Astros last season as part of the Ryan Pressly trade. Wells made five starts at Double-A last season and should start the year there again. Poppen spent the majority of 2018 in Chattanooga but there is depth ahead of him that will likely keep him at Double-A. Camarena was signed as a minor league free agent and hasn’t pitched yet in the Twins organization. Barnes pitched all last year at Fort Myers so he should move up a level. Beeker will be 26-years old this season, so he likely starts in Pensacola.
What do you think? Leave a COMMENT and answer any of the questions above.
- Feb 12 2019 05:41 AM
- by Cody Christie
When it comes to the man behind the plate, it seems likely for Jason Castro and Mitch Garver to split time. Castro is coming off a major injury, but he should be able to go full-steam ahead with spring training starting. Mitch Garver caught almost 670 innings last season and hit .268/.335/.414. Those are very respectable numbers for a back-stop. Garver might seem like a young player but he will already be 28 next season. I think the Twins will rotate through both these players and allow them to work with specific pitchers to build a rapport.
Willians Astudillo has become someone of a cult hero over the last year but I can’t see him filling more than a third catcher role with this team. Obviously, an injury to Castro or Garver could change the plan. Astudillo showed some defensive flexibility last year but it hardly seems likely for the team to give him a utility job. My guess is they carry two catchers and Astudillo isn’t one of them.
Another catching option for the Twins is newly signed Wilin Rosario. He hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2015 when he was with the Rockies organization. In his five big league seasons, he has combined to hit .273/.306/.473 including two seasons with 20+ home runs. He spent the 2016-17 seasons playing overseas in the KBO, as he hit .330/.390/.625 while averaging 35 home runs per season. Last year, Rosario played in Japan and hit .242/.285/.374 with eight home runs.
While some of those numbers sound good, the Twins are not giving him an invite to big league camp. This seems strange since almost every catcher in the system gets a chance to help at big league camp at some point. He will provide some organization depth to start the year. Depending on how he hits in the minors, he could be added to the team later in the year.
As many people know, the Twins have gotten rid of their cream alternate home jerseys in favor of a new blue jersey. These new threads incorporate the Kasota gold colors the team has embraced since the 2014 All-Star Game. I was disappointed to see the cream-colored jerseys go because they reminded me of the early Target Field years with Jim Thome cranking home runs to all parts of the field. They had a throwback feel to them, but the team decided to go in a different direction.
From the team’s perspective, rotating alternate jerseys is a good way to keep fans interested in buying new gear. Most likely, everyone that wanted a cream color jersey already bought one. At the beginning of the 2016 season, the club had added in the red home alternate jerseys. Adding in a new color, allows the team to bring in a little extra. However, I believe the team only gets the revenue if the jerseys are purchased at an official team store. Either way, this was an opportunity for the team to rebrand and for fans to pick up another jersey of their favorite player.
Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are still free agents and spring training is days away from starting. Back in January, Buster Olney thought the Twins could be a mystery team for Machado or Harper because of their payroll flexibility. Minnesota has almost no guaranteed money on the books beyond this season so adding a franchise altering player could help push this team to the next level.
At TwinsFest, it sounded like the Twins have very little interest in going after either of the mega-free agents. “My view … for doing it is the best time to acquire players of that magnitude is when your window to win is wide open,” Levine said to the crowd. “Not when you’re got your fingers underneath the window and you’re trying to jam the window open. I want to do it when we’re projected to win the Central and we’re ready to put our foot on someone’s throat.”
Craig Kimbrel is the number one relief pitcher on the market. He’s a seven-time All-Star and he has topped the 30 save mark in eight consecutive seasons. He will be 31-years old next season and he hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down in recent years. He’s only pitched more than 70 innings in one season so it’s not like he has a ton of wear and tear on his arm.
If you follow the trail of this tweet, the Twins seem to be one of the teams in the running for Kimbrel. Jon Heyman, a well-respected national baseball writer, named the Twins as a possible landing spot for Kimbrel. Paul Crane is based out of Atlanta so he might have connections to Kimbrel and his camp from during his Braves tenure. This might be one of the reasons none of the Minneapolis beat writers are reporting on it at this point.
Does Kimbrel make sense for the Twins? I’m never a big fan of offering multi-year deals to aging relief pitchers. That being said, three-years and $45 million certainly wouldn’t hinder the team during the life of the contract. Also, he could be an intriguing trade piece if the Twins aren’t in contention.
Do you think the Twins should sign Kimbrel? Who catches the most innings for the Twins next year? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Feb 04 2019 12:07 PM
- by Cody Christie
Ideally, Byron Buxton’s leash won’t have to be tested this season. Last week, I identified Buxton’s emergence as one of the keys to the 2019 club. It’s easy to be discouraged after his 2018 season. Buxton rebuilt his body this off-season by adding 21 pounds of muscle. The extra weight can hopefully increase his durability and keep him on the field when he is bouncing off the outfield grass and crashing into centerfield walls.
Even if Buxton’s bat struggles again, he continues to provide value through his defense and base running abilities. I believe the team will bat him near the bottom of the order to keep some of the pressure off him. He needs to figure it out at the big-league level, so I think the team is going to sink or swim with Buxton in the line-up this year.
Minnesota will likely use a few different players at first base this season and the starter could be tied to the player with the hottest bat. Each of the most likely first base options were added to the roster in the last year. C.J. Cron was claimed off waivers this off-season despite a 30-home run campaign in 2018. Tyler Austin saw some action for the Twins last year after being traded from the Yankees. Miguel Sano and Mitch Garver are also possibilities to see time at first. If I’m picking the Opening Day starter now, Cron would be my pick.
As far as a replacement for Robbie Grossman, Jake Cave seems like he already started to do that last year. Cave played in 91 big league games and racked up over 300 plate appearances. He hit .269/.316/.481 with 32 extra-base hits. The club also used him at all three outfield positions, so it seems likely for him to continue to be used in a fourth outfielder role.
If the Twins are done adding players, there seems to be a pretty clear starting situation for the Twins. No one knows how Rocco Baldelli is going to approach lineup construction, but Minnesota has nine players that should be regulars.
Here’s how I would construct the Opening Day lineup:
1. Jorge Polanco- SS
2. Eddie Rosario- LF
3. Nelson Cruz- DH
4. Miguel Sano- 3B
5. CJ Cron- 1B
6. Jonathan Schoop- 2B
7. Max Kepler- RF
8. Jason Castro- C
9. Byron Buxton- CF
As I mentioned before, Tyler Austin will probably get some at-bats at first base. The second half of the lineup could be altered depending on who has the hot hand. Buxton might start the year at the bottom of the order, but it will be key for him to be batting near the top by season’s end.
This is certainly an intriguing question. In three of the last four seasons, Manny Machado has posted a WAR greater than 6.0. For the Twins, you also need to consider the players he would be replacing. Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco are currently penciled in to play on Machado’s side of the infield. As Thieres Rabelo wrote about last week, Polanco might be as potent on offense as Machado.
Polanco could slide over to second base but then he would be taking Jonathan Schoop’s spot in the line-up. Schoop was only worth 0.5 WAR last season and his career high WAR total was 3.8 back in 2017. That being said, Machado is one of the best players in the game. Over the course of 162 games, he could add 2-3 wins to the club. This might all be purely hypothetical because it sounds like the front office isn’t adding Machado or Bryce Harper.
Season ticket sales are usually tied to the team’s performance in the previous season. Last year, the Twins were coming off a playoff appearance and their young players seemed poised to take the next step. The club also had veteran stars like Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier that can help to drive sales. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano were a disappointment in 2018 and Mauer and Dozier are no longer with the club. Also, the team didn’t make the playoffs.
Nothing drives ticket sales like having a consistently winning product on the field. Season ticket data won’t be released until later in the year. It seems likely that sales will be down, and the demand will be low for the current team. However, winning cures everything.
TwinsFest is a wonderful weekend of events and activities for the entire family. Yes, the organization covers the traveling cost for players to attend. While the players are in town, the club usually completes some of the players' physicals so they can save time when players get to Florida.
Twins President Dave St. Peter has done a good job of building relationships with former players. Luckily, the dates for the event are almost always the last weekend in January. This can make it easy for players to plan their attendance at the event. That being said, a lot of fans want to get autographs from the newer players and the former players aren’t as big of a draw. (Ask Corey Koskie about that.)
- Jan 29 2019 07:08 AM
- by Cody Christie
ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting the Twins could be one of a handful of mystery teams interested in signing either Machado or Harper. Olney’s biggest reasons for identifying the Twins is their lack of free agent spending, which gives the club an opportunity to pull off this kind of contract.
Over the last week, Minnesota’s payroll has been a hot button topic in Twins Territory. (I wrote a little about it in this week’s Twins Daily mailbag and you can listen to Gleeman and the Geek discuss it in their latest episode). Joe Mauer’s contract came off the books and the organization has few contractual commitments moving forward.
According to Forbes, Minnesota ranks 22nd in MLB team valuations. The club made $261 million in revenue last year and spent $133 million on player expenses. Currently, the Twins are projected to start next season with a payroll around $100 million.
If it takes longer for these two players to sign, their asking price could continue to drop. It could also drop the length of the contract. Both players are relatively young for reaching free agency since they made their debuts as teenagers. This could allow teams to sign them to a longer contract because the prime of their careers would be throughout most of the new deal.
Since these two players debuted in 2012, Harper has the 12th highest WAR total, while Machado comes in at 15th. These are two of the best players of this generation and they are reaching free agency in their prime. All of baseball should be interested… why not the Twins?
Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Jan 23 2019 11:03 AM
- by Cody Christie
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the White Sox offer to Machado was for $175 million over seven years. From the rest of Olney’s tweet, it sounds like Chicago is hoping the market continues to be cold and Machado will eventually agree to their terms. This was a similar situation to the one faced by JD Martinez last year before he eventually signed with Boston.
Machado has reached free agency and he is only a year older than Byron Buxton. In the time Buxton has been trying to emerge at the big-league level, Machado has won two Gold Gloves and been selected to four All-Star Games. He’s also finished in the top 10 for MVP voting three times including two top five finishes. Also, he’s mashed 30 or more home runs for four straight seasons.
Looking into Minnesota’s future, the club has almost no guaranteed money moving beyond the 2019 season. Younger players will continue to become more expensive through the arbitration process and the organization could look to sign some of the young core to a long-term deal.
With Minnesota’s financial flexibility, there is room to add a player of Machado’s caliber. It seems like it would be easy for a club to top the offer on the table from the White Sox. Adding Machado to Minnesota could limit the club’s ability to sign the likes of Miguel Sano or Byron Buxton in the years to come. However, they both have a lot still to prove at the big-league level.
How’s this for an Opening Day line-up?
1. Jorge Polanco- 2B
2. Manny Machado- SS
3. Miguel Sano- 3B
4. Nelson Cruz- DH
5. Eddie Rosario- LF
6. CJ Cron- 1B
7. Max Kepler- RF
8. Jason Castro- C
9. Byron Buxton- CF
Signing Machado might be a pipe dream, but he’d certainly look better in a Twins uniform than roaming the infield for the South Siders. Chicago is an emerging team in the AL Central and Minnesota is going to be contending with them for the next half a decade.
Wouldn’t it be sweet to steal their prized free agent? Let’s dream about that.
Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Would signing Machado make sense for the Twins?
- Jan 16 2019 08:33 PM
- by Cody Christie
Last winter free agents were met with a depressed market. Despite some players holding out and still finding acceptable deals, there were plenty of solid names to be had late in the game. As organizations see results indicating mega-deals to players at or beyond 30 years of age aren’t good business, the sport has begun to take corrective action. For Minnesota, the acquisitions were mainly of the one-year variety, and it was a plan the front office has since reconsidered.
Going into 2019, opportunity is present largely due to Minnesota having the fourth lowest amount of committed money. Accounting for Ervin Santana’s $1MM buyout, the Twins have just $33.5MM in guaranteed salaries for next season. Obviously that number will rise with players arbitration and pre-arbitration values, but regardless, there’s a significant chunk of change to be spent. If the payroll gets to something like $60MM before any additions, the front office should have roughly $50-60MM at their disposal to acquire talent. So, how do they use it?
Looking at the free agent landscape this offseason, it’s hard not to stare directly at the top. No one knows yet where Bryce Harper or Manny Machado will go. Pitchers like Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel headline available arms, but it falls off considerably behind them.
For Minnesota specifically, the greatest areas of improvement will be focused in the infield. Miguel Sano could stick at third, or he could be asked to take over for Joe Mauer at first base. Nick Gordon doesn’t yet appear ready for the big leagues, and Brian Dozier isn’t in the organization any longer. Although Jorge Polanco appears as though he can hold down short right now, there’s the possibility that a better option may exist.
Although it was a lost season for Byron Buxton, you’d have to consider it an upset if he’s not the Opening Day starter in center field. Eddie Rosario is entrenched as an All-Star, and Max Kepler is probably entering a make-or-break season. Jake Cave looks the part of a capable fourth outfielder, and the next emerging prospect could soon enter the picture. When shopping for talent, outfield doesn’t appear to be an area of great concern.
Falvey and Levine have helped to establish some relative pitching depth, which is something the Twins haven’t had in quite some time. With four of the rotation spots already accounted for, an upper echelon arm to take the fifth spot could make a good deal of sense. Michael Pineda didn’t debut in 2018 for the Twins, but that acquisition still looks like a worthwhile investment by the front office. With Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves, Zack Littell, and a handful of other prospects ready and waiting, there’s reason for optimism on the bump.
Really, what it all boils down to, is that the Twins need to knock this winter out of the park. After experiencing the level of turmoil this team did in 2018, a 78-win season is hardly bottoming out. Minnesota should be well positioned among the AL Central in 2019, and the competitionbelow them should continue to be lackluster.
Above them, Cleveland’s offseason path might be determined by their playoff performance. Starting the playoffs with a series against the World Champion Astros is no easy task. If you’re planning to bet one way or the other, Bovada will have the latest odds, so make sure to read their review if you’re looking to bet. However it goes, the Indians might conclude they need to add significant pieces now that they’re competing with the big boys.
The Twins are not at that level but we hope they will be, depending on the development of the likes of Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. That said, this offseason can help to supplement that core and carry the organization into the next era highlighted by Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff. If we saw anything from the Minnesota Twins and the divisional foes this season, it’s that this group isn’t all that far away. By locking down key talent both internally and externally, the corner could again be turned towards a situation of sustained excellence.
On paper, Falvey and Levine had a stellar offseason going into 2018. They can take the shortcomings that were revealed in game action and utilize that learning process to really nail it this time around. There are expectations now, and responsibility for meeting those expectations hinges on what happens over the next few months, and Minnesota fans should certainly buckle in for what should be an intriguing ride.
- Oct 03 2018 01:36 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Jerry Crasnick, one of ESPN’s national baseball writers, is reporting that contract talks between Brian Dozier and the Minnesota Twins have come to a halt.
For those following the Twins this spring, it seemed like Dozier was destined for free agency. When he signed his current contract with Minnesota, the deal only bought out his remaining arbitration eligible seasons. For Dozier, it provided him some financial stability. At the same time, it allowed the Twins to have some cost certainty.
Dozier and his agency took a gamble on Dozier being able to produce in his late 20s to set him up for free agency for his age-32 season. This is typically the time when players start to decline but Dozier has been one of the best hitting second basemen over the last two seasons. Barring an injury, Dozier might be headed for a big pay day.
Next year’s free agent class looks stacked. Dozier will join a free agent class including Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, Charlie Blackmon, Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Cody Allen, Adam Jones, and Andrew McCutchen. Other players like Clayton Kershaw and David Price could be free agents if they opt out of their current contracts.
After this year’s cool free agent market, it will be interesting to see how much money will be thrown around next season. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado could get record-breaking deals. Heck, Harper could be headed for the richest contract of all time. For teams that miss out on the top tier free agents, there will be other options like Dozier waiting in the wings.
As I wrote about this spring, Minnesota has a multiple top prospects in the middle infield. Nick Gordon will be knocking on the door of the big leagues this season. Other top prospects like Royce Lewis and Wander Javier also play up the middle. If Dozier signs with another organization, one of these players could take over at second base next year.
What are your thoughts on a possible Dozier extension? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Mar 29 2018 11:25 AM
- by Cody Christie
Leading: Salvador Perez, Royals
My Pick: Salvador Perez, Royals
Catching is in a rough spot in the American League especially with Joe Mauer no longer being an option behind the plate. Salvador Perez, the reigning World Series MVP, leads the league in fWAR during the last 365 days. Blake Swihart and Matt Wieters are tied for a distant second place. Perez is hitting close to .300 and getting on-base 33% of the time. He hit a career high 21 home runs last season and he already has 12 long balls so far this season. He's never posted a slugging percentage over .475 in his career and he's sitting at a .520 OPS in 2016.
Leading: Eric Hosmer, Royals
My Pick: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
There are plenty of candidates for this spot but it has become a two-man battle. The voting block in Kansas City has Eric Hosmer out to a 550,000 vote lead at the last check-in but he doesn't get my vote. Sometimes it's about putting a player in who is one of the best players in the generation. Cabrera's average has dipped a little this year from his normal standards but he is still hitting .295/.368/.529 with 17 home runs after only hitting 18 home runs last season. I'd put Chris Davis ahead of Hosmer on my ballot as well so the player likely to start wouldn't be in my top 2 for voting purposes.
Leading: Jose Altuve, Astros
My Pick: Jose Altuve, Astros
There are some bigger names on the ballot like Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia but Jose Altuve is in the midst of a historic season. Altuve has a career OPS of just over .780 and this season he is closing in on a 1.000 OPS. By the way, he's leading the American League in batting too. If the Astros keep playing well, Altuve will be in the discussion for the AL MVP and this would be his fourth All-Star Game in the last five seasons. Cano and Pedroia might be the big names but everyone needs to get familiar with Altuve because he might be in this position for years to come.
Leading: Manny Machado, Orioles
My Pick: Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
This two-man battle features the defending AL MVP in Josh Donaldson versus the up-and-coming Manny Machado. Both players have been very good over the last calendar year. In fact, each of these players has been one of the top five players in the game this season. Look at the chart below to see how close the battle is between them even with Machado sliding over to play shortstop in the absence of JJ Hardy.
Donaldson has been slightly better so I will give him the nod but they should both be playing in San Diego.
Leading: Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
My Pick: Francisco Lindor, Indians
We might be living in the "Golden Age of Shortstops" in the American League. Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, and Carlos Correa are all young and dominating at one of the toughest defensive positions in the field. Lindor has dominated on both sides of the ball, being an offensive threat while playing some of the best defense in the game at shortstop. His 8.2 fWAR over the last calendar year is 1.5 points higher than Bogaerts and 3.6 points higher than Correa. Lindor plays in Cleveland where he isn't getting much attention but he is showing that he is one of the top overall players in the game.
Leading: Mike Trout, Angels; Jackie Bradley Jr., Red Sox; Mookie Betts, Red Sox
My Picks: Mike Trout, Angels; Lorenzo Cain, Royals, Mookie Betts, Red Sox
Mike Trout is another easy pick as he has helped the AL win the last two All-Star Games on his way to earning back-to-back All-Star Game MVPs. Even though he was just injured, Lorenzo Cain gets a big jump from his defensive numbers while holding his own on the offensive side of the ball. He also helped the Royals to their first World Series Championship since the 1980s. The last spot is a toss up between Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. so I gave my vote to Betts. I like his ability to steal bases and that can be a handy addition to the roster of an All-Star squad.
Leading: David Ortiz, Red Sox
My Pick: David Ortiz, Red Sox
Probably the easiest pick on the board. David Ortiz will retire at season's end and ride off into the sunset of what is likely a Hall-of-Fame career. It helps that Ortiz is also having a very strong season at the plate. This is nothing against Edwin Encarnacion and the season he is having, but Ortiz is a legend. The 2016 All-Star Game might turn into an honoring for Ortiz much like the 2014 All-Star Game in Minnesota honored Derek Jeter. Ortiz will bow out and let other players take his place in the years to come.
So there's my ballot with a few picks that were tough to make. Who would make your AL All-Star team? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Jun 29 2016 06:25 PM
- by Cody Christie