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Article: 4 Stories To Watch At The Winter Meetings

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 07:01 PM

With Christmas only two weeks away, the Hot Stove has yet to heat up for Major League Baseball. But that's about to change.

Two situations that have been holding up the offseason landscape – Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton – have finally been resolved, and with the Winter Meetings set to get underway this week, the floodgates are going to open.

Here are four (potentially) Twins-related storylines to track as the action unfolds.1) Darvish Market Heats Up
In late November, Jim Bowden reported that there were six teams legitimately "in" on free agent starter Yu Darvish. It's reasonable to believe the Twins are one of those teams. Thad Levine, who has ties to the right-hander from his days in Texas, has called Darvish a priority.

The 31-year-old makes plenty of sense as a fit for Minnesota. He'd fulfill their need for a frontline starter, and as one of the game's best strikeout pitchers, he aligns with the organization's growing emphasis on missing bats. But can the Twins swing it financially?

Signing Darvish will likely require an investment roughly three times larger than the one Terry Ryan made in Ervin Santana, who became the franchise's biggest free agent splurge ever ($54 million) three years ago. But it's not like such commitments are unprecedented for the Twins; they did pony up $184 million to lock up Joe Mauer one year ahead of his free agency, and that contract is on the verge of expiring.

The problem is that even if Levine is prepared to come to the table as a serious bidder, he'll face stiff competition for arguably the most coveted free agent on the market. However, it is worth noting that a few of the big-market heavy hitters seem limited or less urgent in their pursuit.

The Yankees would be hard-pressed to go all in on Darvish after taking on Stanton's $250 million contract. The Dodgers must save up with an eye on re-signing Clayton Kershaw, who can opt out of his deal after next year. The Cubs appear to be focusing their attention on another free agent starter, Alex Cobb.

2) Rays Trade Talks
Speaking of Cobb, Tampa doesn't appear to have any intention of trying to bring him back, and in fact, it sounds like a bit of a fire sale might be in the works. Bob Nightengale of USA Today wrote the following: "The Rays, who have seen the disparity grow even greater in the AL East with Stanton coming aboard, are listening to anyone and everyone."

It was reported earlier this offseason that the Twins had discussed Jake Odorizzi with the Rays, and plenty of other intriguing names could be in play. Their closer Alex Colome led the American League in saves this season and has three years remaining of team control.

And of course, their ace Chris Archer would be the prize of all prizes. Can Levine muster an offer to make that happen?

If it means giving up four of the team's top ten prospects, should he?

3) Cole in the Stocking?
Another noteworthy trade target is Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole. The Twins have reportedly shown interest in the righty, who could conceivably slot ahead of Santana as Minnesota's No. 1 starter. He's two years away from free agency and in his prime at age 27. Because of these facts, Cole won't come cheaply, but he's more realistic than Archer.

4) Rule 5 Rumblings
The Rule 5 draft will take place on Thursday morning, giving teams around the league an opportunity to poach unprotected players from other organizations. The Twins have a few prospects who are candidates to get taken (I have a suspicion someone's going to grab Nick Burdi and stash him on the DL while he rehabs from Tommy John Surgery), but they also have flexibility to acquire someone, with four open spots on the 40-man roster.

J.J. Cooper of Baseball America listed his top five Rule 5 candidates and, unsurprisingly, the first three are relief pitchers. Burch Smith, Mason McCullough and Cale Coshow all have big fastballs, and could be impact additions.

It also bears noting that Justin Haley, Minnesota's Rule 5 pick from a year ago, is once again available. He pitched very well at Pawtucket after being returned to the Red Sox organization this past summer, posting a 2.66 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in seven starts.

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#2 D.C Twins

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 07:16 PM

Me thinks that the new-ish FO ultimately gets one of Darvish/Cole/Archer/Odorizzi/Cobb. I also don't think they'll wear blinders when making a decision. They'll figure out what provides best 'market value' and go with it. These guys are flexible thinkers and that excites (usually skeptical) me.

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#3 jud6312

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 07:25 PM

I hope they're in on Darvish, but won't be heartbroken if they're not. Lots of money and years for a 31-year-old with some past arm issues. I'd love him to be here, but something about him makes me a bit uneasy.

 

I'd really like them to chase Cobb, but the Cubs' interest probably drives the cost up above where it belongs. And, even if the Twins are able to offer apples to apples in terms of years and dollars, the Cubs are probably a bit closer to winning again. I imagine if all other things are equal, that might be a pretty good tie-breaker.

 

The prospect haul required for Archer might be a bit hard to swallow. Honestly, I think I'd prefer Cole to Archer - 2 years younger, comparable (if not better) career numbers, same number of years before FA, and likely a bit more reasonable in cost to acquire.

 

I have zero interest in another Rule 5 pick-up. They have enough young guys of their own that could be treated as an in-house Rule 5 guy. Sign a veteran or two and let the young guys battle it out. Maybe look at a guy or two that's available and if they're not selected, trade for them. 

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#4 brockbesler

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 07:45 PM

I hope they push as hard as they can to sign Darvish and trade for one of the others. My preference would be Archer or Cole. With the way the rest of the American League is shaping up the Twins are going to have to be aggressive. I think it’s time for them to go all in. The window is opening and they have room to take on payroll. Would Gonsalves, Gordon, Jorge, and a low level prospect be enough to land either Archer or Cole?
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#5 nytwinsfan

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 07:49 PM

 

I hope they push as hard as they can to sign Darvish and trade for one of the others. My preference would be Archer or Cole. With the way the rest of the American League is shaping up the Twins are going to have to be aggressive. I think it’s time for them to go all in. The window is opening and they have room to take on payroll. Would Gonsalves, Gordon, Jorge, and a low level prospect be enough to land either Archer or Cole?

Cole probably yes, Archer, no way in hell. Archer is the better pitcher and also has 4 years of control, versus Cole's 2 years of control. Archer probably has about 5/2 the value of Cole. I can't imagine a scenario where the Twins get Archer unless they trade at least Royce Lewis, one of Gonsalves or Romero, plus probably another decent 5-9 range prospect. 

 

I'm interested what it would take to get Cole. I've heard the Pirates likely have no interest in middle infielders, so even though Gordon would probably be who we'd want to give up, I'm not sure the Pirates would be that interested. 

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#6 Twins33

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 07:50 PM

The prospect haul required for Archer might be a bit hard to swallow. Honestly, I think I'd prefer Cole to Archer - 2 years younger, comparable (if not better) career numbers, same number of years before FA, and likely a bit more reasonable in cost to acquire.

Just a clarification: Cole has two years or arbitration and then is a FA. Archer has two years plus two club options (I'd be surprised if any team didn't activate those two options-they are way cheap for what he provides). So it's two years of control vs four.

Edited by Twins33, 10 December 2017 - 07:51 PM.

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#7 brockbesler

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 08:11 PM

Cole probably yes, Archer, no way in hell. Archer is the better pitcher and also has 4 years of control, versus Cole's 2 years of control. Archer probably has about 5/2 the value of Cole. I can't imagine a scenario where the Twins get Archer unless they trade at least Royce Lewis, one of Gonsalves or Romero, plus probably another decent 5-9 range prospect. 
 
I'm interested what it would take to get Cole. I've heard the Pirates likely have no interest in middle infielders, so even though Gordon would probably be who we'd want to give up, I'm not sure the Pirates would be that interested.


You are right. I was a little light for Archer. We all know Lewis isn’t going anywhere though. I wonder if Gonsalves, Gordon, Kiriloff, Jorge, and Blankenhorn would get them interested?
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#8 TwinsBrasil

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 08:26 PM

About the prospects Minnesota could use in a trade, is Nick Gordon anywhere near being one of them? I mean, Polanco isn't going anywhere for a while and Royce Lewis is the team's top prospect. Plus, they have Wander Javier as another option.

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#9 Baseball Bat

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 08:32 PM

I'm hesitant to do any trade this offseason that requires giving up more than 1 of Lewis, Gordon, Gonsalves, and Romero. I don't think the Twins are in the stage of their window yet where it makes sense to gut the top echelon of prospects that they have for 2 years of a starter who will leave for $100 + million anyways. Not saying Gerritt Gole isn't worth Gordon + Gonsalves and then a lower level guy because he probably is. I just don't think it makes sense for the Twins right now to do that. Why not just sign Cole in 2 years or trade for an Archer type pitcher then. The Twins have the potential to be really special come 2019 or 2020 once guys like Romero, Gonsalves, Jay, Gordon hit. Around then is when you can start mortgaging the future to go for it. 

 

The Twins farm system is probably borderline top 10, but the strength of the system is the depth. The Twins would be smart to utilize that depth in maybe trading for a reliever with a year or two left of control or a starter that may only require Gordon plus Littell or Jorge. Don't want to mistime the window and deal prospects too early.

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#10 ashburyjohn

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 08:37 PM

In advance of the Rule-5 draft, we have 14 position players on the 40-man roster. Fourteen! A team can't realistically go into a season with that number, can they? Something has got to be in the works to add to that quantity.

 

Even with the number of pitchers exposed to possible drafting, we have 22 hurlers on the 40-man. That becomes a seemingly unsustainable 23 if a pitcher is added via free-agency.

 

For comparison, a team like the Astros currently are at 18/20. Dodgers, 18/22. A ratio like 20/20 or 19/21 seems like the norm when the dust settles and the season starts.

 

14/22?!? I have to believe big changes are coming to pull these numbers for the Twins closer in balance, in a way not currently being discussed whatsoever.

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#11 drjim

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 09:12 PM

In advance of the Rule-5 draft, we have 14 position players on the 40-man roster. Fourteen! A team can't realistically go into a season with that number, can they? Something has got to be in the works to add to that quantity.

Even with the number of pitchers exposed to possible drafting, we have 22 hurlers on the 40-man. That becomes a seemingly unsustainable 23 if a pitcher is added via free-agency.

For comparison, a team like the Astros currently are at 18/20. Dodgers, 18/22. A ratio like 20/20 or 19/21 seems like the norm when the dust settles and the season starts.

14/22?!? I have to believe big changes are coming to pull these numbers for the Twins closer in balance, in a way not currently being discussed whatsoever.


I think they'll add a RH DH or 3b, but that's it. The catching depth is through minor league deals and they have Gordon and Wade as depth pieces not yet on the 40 man.

They'll probably even drop Vargas. I'd expect a few more minor league signings, but it will be lopsided this year, kind of a fluke of prospect timing.
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#12 Rosterman

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Posted 10 December 2017 - 10:30 PM

Regarding Rule 5. You have to ask, is the person they take better than the person they may lose (or persons). And do you want to spend a year finding that out?

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#13 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 05:30 AM

 

In advance of the Rule-5 draft, we have 14 position players on the 40-man roster. Fourteen! A team can't realistically go into a season with that number, can they? Something has got to be in the works to add to that quantity.

 

Even with the number of pitchers exposed to possible drafting, we have 22 hurlers on the 40-man. That becomes a seemingly unsustainable 23 if a pitcher is added via free-agency.

 

For comparison, a team like the Astros currently are at 18/20. Dodgers, 18/22. A ratio like 20/20 or 19/21 seems like the norm when the dust settles and the season starts.

 

14/22?!? I have to believe big changes are coming to pull these numbers for the Twins closer in balance, in a way not currently being discussed whatsoever.

 

yeah, we have a lot of 4/5 types sitting on the 40 man. I do think a trade for aguy like Cole makes sense in that you could probably offload a guy like Jorge as a part of the package (not the whole package, but certainly a part). I also think Enns likely gets the DFA at some point, though again I could see plenty of rebuilding teams who would move MLB talent and be happy to acquire a guy like that who is MLB ready with 6 years as a part of the deal.

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#14 Blackjack

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 07:43 AM

 


 

I have zero interest in another Rule 5 pick-up. They have enough young guys of their own that could be treated as an in-house Rule 5 guy. Sign a veteran or two and let the young guys battle it out. Maybe look at a guy or two that's available and if they're not selected, trade for them. 

 

It was pretty underwhelming what they did last year when they had the number one Rule 5 pick, I don't expect much this year as far as gains for the Twins.

 

If they lose Burdi, I think that will hurt them in the long run, he has too much potential.

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#15 nytwinsfan

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 10:05 AM

 

If McCutchen is on the trade block, per Olney, that probably means Cole really is too.

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#16 nytwinsfan

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 10:24 AM

ALSO, we can't let this happen:

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#17 twinfan

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 10:28 AM

Our history shows that a Twins playoff team comes along for about 3 years then goes into hibernation for several years before returning. Thus we should make hay while the sun shines and trade for Cole or Archer and sign a good free agent. I don't think we will win Darvish nor do I think we should trade the entire farm but prospects do not always pan out. Proven commodities are best. And I still believe we need a top closer. After all, do you trust who we have at this point?

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#18 nytwinsfan

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 10:38 AM

 

Our history shows that a Twins playoff team comes along for about 3 years then goes into hibernation for several years before returning. Thus we should make hay while the sun shines and trade for Cole or Archer and sign a good free agent. I don't think we will win Darvish nor do I think we should trade the entire farm but prospects do not always pan out. Proven commodities are best. And I still believe we need a top closer. After all, do you trust who we have at this point?

 

I'm for going after Cole if he can be got without include Royce Lewis. Archer, whose value is more than twice that of Cole (bc of years of control, quality of pitcher, and contract), would almost certainly require Lewis, Gonsalves or Romero, and probably more. That's not worth it.I'd target Cole with a package that does not include Lewis.

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#19 nicksaviking

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 10:59 AM

I'd include Gonsalves in a package for any good arm, it wouldn't take much to convince me to move Romero and/or Gordon as well. I'd be actively shopping Kepler and I would be willing to move Polanco from the MLB roster without too much hesitation. I like Garver but have a hard time seeing the club letting him usurp Castro any time in the next two years so I'd be willing to include him in a package as well. I'd also be willing to move Mejia, but since he's the only MLB ready lefty starter there probably would need to be a replacement for him in the cards.

 

Lewis, Buxton, Sano, Berrios (and obviously Brent Rooker) are probably my only untouchables when it comes to getting front line starters. And I might cave on Lewis if it's for someone truly exceptional.

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#20 nytwinsfan

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 11:05 AM

 

I'd include Gonsalves in a package for any good arm, it wouldn't take much to convince me to move Romero and/or Gordon as well. I'd be actively shopping Kepler and I would be willing to move Polanco from the MLB roster without too much hesitation. I like Garver but have a hard time seeing the club letting him usurp Castro any time in the next two years so I'd be willing to include him in a package as well. I'd also be willing to move Mejia, but since he's the only MLB ready lefty starter there probably would need to be a replacement for him in the cards.

 

Lewis, Buxton, Sano, Berrios (and obviously Brent Rooker) are probably my only untouchables when it comes to getting front line starters. And I might cave on Lewis if it's for someone truly exceptional.

A rebuilding team probably wouldn't want Kepler or probably Polanco either, I'm guessing.