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Article: Offseason Blueprint: Hey Big Spenders!

byron buxton jose berrios
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 07:52 PM

As the offseason gets underway, our team at Twins Daily is formulating blueprints that exemplify differing approaches the front office might take this offseason.

Last week Tom presented a trade-heavy changing of course, while Seth envisioned an internally focused rebuild. Today we'll have some fun and draw up a scenario in which the Twins really open up the wallet and push payroll to new (not totally implausible) heights.

Join the fun by downloading your copy of the 2019 Offseason Handbook and creating a blueprint in the forum.The Minnesota Twins opened the 2018 season with a $129.5 million payroll. It was the highest figure in franchise history, but still ranked just 16th among MLB teams. This tells you all you need to know about where the league currently stands with spending, even after a conspicuously splurge-averse 2017-18 offseason.

The Twins probably won't spend more in 2019 than they did in 2018. But there's not much reason they couldn't. Pushing payroll into the $150 million range would still place Minnesota comfortably among baseball's mid-tier spenders. And if they actually were working under such a cap, they'd have about $80 million in available funds for next year.

How to spend all that money?! I'll see if I can find a way while adhering to the model of sustainable, long-term thinking.

Step 1 | Sign two building-block players to extensions: RHP Jose Berrios (4 years, $45M + two team options) and OF Byron Buxton (5 years, $54M + team option)

Berrios and Buxton are both four years away from free agency. Neither has made big money yet, and each has motivation to lock up long-term financial security. This is the perfect time to strike, and with their financial flexibility, the Twins can offer upfront bonuses to incentivize.

I'm envisioning a Berrios deal similar to the ones signed by Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco in Cleveland, with team options on the back end in exchange for guaranteed money now (pitching is a dangerous profession). Meanwhile, Buxton gets locked up for his prime years, reasonably if he's a solid contributor and ultra-reasonably if he's a star. Both can still hit the open market around age 30.

The terms might not exactly align with what I've laid out above, but you get the idea. For the purposes of this blueprint and its payroll calculus, I'm carving out $4 million for each in 2019 (several times what either would otherwise stand to make).

Step 2 | Grab your frontline starter by signing free agent LHP Patrick Corbin (5 years, $120M)

In the Offseason Handbook, we deemed Corbin the best starting pitcher on the free agent market. Last year, the Twins pursued Yu Darvish late into the offseason but ultimately came up short. This time around they get their guy, reeling in the stud southpaw Corbin coming off a career year. He joins Berrios as entrenched rotation cornerstones for the next half-decade.

It's not an investment without risk (we all saw what happened with Darvish), but I feel good about Corbin, who posted stellar numbers in hitter-friendly Arizona and only seems to be hitting his stride at age 29.

Step 3 | Enlist two free agent relievers: RHP Kelvin Herrera (3 years, $25M) and LHP Jerry Blevins (1 year, $6 million)

Power bullpens are the name of the game. The Addison Reed signing didn't work out, but I'm biting the bullet and spending on Herrera, aiming high but not quite at the Craig Kimbrel/Jeurys Familia tier. Herrera can step in as closer, or as top setup man with Trevor May keeping the ninth; either situation sounds great with Taylor Rogers also around as a proven late-inning arm.

As lefty specialist, I'm enlisting one of the best in Blevins (585 career OPS vs LHB) on a short-term deal.

Step 4 | Add another power relief arm by trading LHP Stephen Gonsalves and OF Jake Cave to Cincinnati for RHP Raisel Iglesias (2 years, $11.4M remaining on contract)

I wasn't kidding about the power bullpen thing. Iglesias is a stud reliever with two years left on his contract, and the Reds are going nowhere at present. Flip them a couple young MLB-ready assets and weaponize Iglesias as a strategic fireman of the new era. Having Iglesias on hand in addition to Herrera, May, Rogers, Reed, Blevins and Trevor Hildenberger would enable Rocco Baldelli to stack relievers behind (or in front of, whatever floats your boat) the starters in the back half of the rotation.

(By the way, the back half of my rotation includes Fernando Romero, because I think he's ready and I had to nontender or trade Jake Odorizzi, whose estimated $10 million via arbitration couldn't be justified in this scenario.)

Step 5 | Alrighty, on to the offense: Sign 3B Josh Donaldson for 1 year, $15 million

That contract estimate would've been unthinkable a couple years ago, but things have changed for the former MVP. He took a step backward in 2017 and stumbled badly in 2018, playing only 52 games amidst recurring calf issues.

Admittedly this contract estimate (via the Handbook) might be a bit low, but it's feasible Donaldson could go for a one-year deal in that vicinity to rebuild value. He'd fit nicely with Minnesota, where there's flexibility to adjust to his new reality. If he can play still play third, great, Sano goes to first. If Donaldson is better off at first, then Sano gets another year to show what he can do at the hot corner.

Granted, each of these sluggers has his question marks, but I'm not committed to either beyond 2019. And the upside of this corner combination... whew.

Step 6 | Sprinkle in some versatility: Sign utilityman Marwin Gonzalez for 3 years, $33 million

The thing about rostering Sano and Donaldson along with Tyler Austin and Robbie Grossman (who I'm bringing back as DH/OF for a reliable dose of OBP) is that there are some major defensive limitations going on. To offset this, we add Gonzalez, who's played all over the field for the Astros while providing a steadily solid switch-hitting bat.

I'm actually plugging him in as the right field starter, with Buxton and Max Kepler rotating until at least one establishes himself as a clearly deserving full-time regular. And if both do (which I'm bullish on), Gonzalez can be used elsewhere. Crucially, he can play third, which helps reduce the risk of our previously stated Sano/Donaldson plan.

Step 7 | Shore up the D: Sign SS Jose Iglesias (2 years, $18 million)

He's not much of a hitter (.666 OPS the past three years), but Iglesias is among the best defensive shortstops in the league, and he's only 28, so I'm happy to pony up for him as my No. 9 hitter. Sliding Jorge Polanco to second while inserting Iglesias at short vastly improves my middle-infield defense, and this commitment is short enough to segue nicely to Royce Lewis in 2021.

ROTATION ($45M)

Jose Berrios (4M)

Patrick Corbin (24M)

Kyle Gibson (8.5M)

Michael Pineda (8M)

Fernando Romero (0.5M)

Download attachment: rotation.png

BULLPEN ($32M)

Kelvin Herrera (8.3M)

Trevor May (1.5M)

Taylor Rogers (1.5M)

Raisel Iglesias (5.7M)

Addison Reed (8.5M)

Jerry Blevins (6M)

Trevor Hildenberger (0.5M)

Download attachment: bullpen.png

LINEUP ($55M)

C: Jason Castro (8M)

1B: Miguel Sano (3M)

2B: Jorge Polanco (0.5M)

SS: Jose Iglesias (9M)

3B: Josh Donaldson (15M)

LF: Eddie Rosario (4M)

CF: Byron Buxton (4M)

RF: Marwin Gonzalez (11M)

DH: Tyler Austin (0.5M)

BENCH ($9.5M)

C: Mitch Garver (0.5M)

MI: Ehire Adrianza (2M)

OF: Max Kepler (3M)

OF: Robbie Grossman (4M)

Download attachment: offense.png

TOTAL: $141.5 million

Okay, granted, when you add in the money still owed to Phil Hughes, and the buyouts for Ervin Santana and Logan Morrison, it's up closer to $150 million. But such a number still would've ranked around the league median in 2018, and that's before the anticipated spending spree poised to take place this winter.

Plus, look at that beauty. This roster is built to win the division and boasts some staying power. With Chicago, Detroit and KC all rebuilding, and with Cleveland talking about trading away parts to trim payroll, one could argue the time is ripe for full-fledged investment.

I think we can safely say the Twins won't be quite as active and splashy as I've suggested above, but the point to take away here is this: right now we're looking at an almost completely fresh slate, with a wide-open horizon of roster-building opportunity.

You could pick and choose from the ambitious list above and arrive at a more realistic payroll figure while still upgrading with big names in several areas. High-profile free agents like Corbin, Gonzalez, Herrera and Donaldson are very much on the table, and Minnesota's front office should be seeking opportunities to acquire established difference-makers from rebuilding clubs.

If you were calling the shots, what would be your course of action this winter? Download the Offseason Handbook to see all the options at your fingertips.

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#2 Vanimal46

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 07:59 PM

Love it!
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#3 Carole Keller

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 08:04 PM

Love it!


Ditto!
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#4 SF Twins Fan

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 08:16 PM

Get it done! When does next season start?

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#5 tvagle

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 08:21 PM

Hey Big Spenders Team Blue Print

 

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Is it 2020 yet?


#6 TheLeviathan

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 08:25 PM

I prefer mine...but I'm good with this, :)


#7 Twins33

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 09:02 PM

This is pretty close to what I want to happen. I'd be very happy if something anywhere close to this happens.
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#8 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 09:07 PM

Yes to everything except Donaldson.Too risky. Keep Astudillo and save 12.5 million. Willians is a defensively versatile, good hitting baseball player. Gonzales can play 3B. Keep the really good fielding RF which we already have. I want a super fielding OF. to go with our improved IF defense. Look at Boston's OF. Kepler still has untapped potential. The change of manager and coaches may work wonders forseveral of the Twins young players. I want motivation from my manager more than strategy.Non-tender Grossman and keep Reed as a good fielding, fast, right handed hitting outfielder. This will save another 3.5 million, plus Reed has more of a future upside than Grossman...plus it will allow for a good defensive replacement in OF ( you traded Cave in your scenario).

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#9 Vanimal46

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 09:10 PM

Donaldson is one of the biggest boom/bust free agents out there this year. The Twins should be willing to take that chance. There's only 1-2 players on roster right now that could boom to a star level. Donaldson has shown he's a star if healthy.
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#10 Danchat

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 10:06 PM

I like most of the moves, but A) Corbin at $120M looks like a trap and B: I don't think the Reds trade Iglesias for just Cave and Gonsalves. I don't think they trade two years of a very good closer for a 4th OF and a probable AAAA starter. If they were going to trade Gonsalves, last year was the year to do it.

 

I'd love to see the trio of Donaldson, J. Iglesias, and Gonzalez sign here, but that's basically 3 out of the top of the hitters group outside of a few big names. I highly, highly doubt they would be able to ink all three. I think including another trade for a hitter would make more sense.

Edited by Danchat, 04 November 2018 - 10:06 PM.

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#11 SF Twins Fan

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 10:08 PM

http://www.startribu...wins/499368011/

 

Some interesting comments in the above Strib article by La Velle E. Neal III that could indicate they are looking to spend some money. These two quotes about position players are interesting. Maybe they're looking add Donaldson at 3B which would move Sano over to 1B. I'd also love Gonzalez.

 

“We’re going to remain open-minded to that,” Falvey said. “If we were to find a perfect fit at third base, would that open up a different place where Miguel [Sano] could play?

 

“I would anticipate position players being probably more of the focus in the early going, I would say.”

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#12 USAFChief

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 10:15 PM

This is a blueprint I could get behind.

It might take a 3 yr deal to get Donaldson though, and the Reds trade might be a little light.
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#13 railmarshalljon

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 10:47 PM

That's a beefy lineup I can get behind. But where is Mejia? Seems like he's being left out in this scenario. I suppose he could be part of the Iglesias deal as I don't think the suggested deal gets it done and Mejia is out of options.

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#14 rdehring

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Posted 05 November 2018 - 05:28 AM

Very interesting, Nick, and sure would be a change for this franchise.

 

Although I doubt we will see most of the moves you propose, let's hope we see several good signings and/or trades.  

 

The one move I would differ would be to sign both Rosario and Gibson this winter, then Buxton over the summer after we have seen what he has done during the first half.Also, like dollars coming off the books in 2020 when they are gonna have to sign several of these young guys to extensions...Buxton, Sano, Polanco, Kepler.That's assuming they have good years in 2019.

 

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#15 Doctor Wu

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Posted 05 November 2018 - 06:47 AM

 

I like most of the moves, but A) Corbin at $120M looks like a trap and B: I don't think the Reds trade Iglesias for just Cave and Gonsalves. I don't think they trade two years of a very good closer for a 4th OF and a probable AAAA starter. If they were going to trade Gonsalves, last year was the year to do it.

 

I'd love to see the trio of Donaldson, J. Iglesias, and Gonzalez sign here, but that's basically 3 out of the top of the hitters group outside of a few big names. I highly, highly doubt they would be able to ink all three. I think including another trade for a hitter would make more sense.

I also think it would take more than Cave and Gonsalves to acquire Iglesias. Honestly, I just don't think the Twins have that many desirable trade pieces right now, unless you want to get rid of the recent high draft picks that we have in the lower minors. Best strategy at this juncture would be to fork out some money for a handful of quality free agents.

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#16 mike8791

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Posted 05 November 2018 - 07:18 AM

Nick, you guys are finally warming up!Tom's plan to trade away important assets for a continuing rebuild makes little sense, particularly as it weakens our already mediocre rotation.And Seth's build-from-within plan is simply unrealistic given the porous "core" we simply cannot depend on to compete.Why kick away the opportunity to compete in 2019 when you have a mediocre division that only looks to get weaker with a cash-strapped Cleveland team contemplating listening to offers for their SPs and a Twins team flux with AAAA prospects and a large amount of cash to spend? 

 

Most fans hope to see a combination of FA signings and trades to fill obvious weaknesses in the lineup and staff, as you have done.A few specific comments on your ideas:

 

1. I like your addition of 3 newcomers to a shaky bullpen that badly needs at least two stoppers.I would only disagree with a trade for Iglesias, as FA relievers are in abundance and such a trade would deplete our tradable assets for more scarce commodities.Spend some of the money on top relievers(at least two)!

 

2. I applaud your idea of going after a top of the rotation starter, but don't believe a slim FA class would work(simply too much money chasing very few, if any, sure bets). Trading for a guy like Baumgartner, Matz or (third choice) Greineke by dangling a major league ready player(preferably Sano, but even Kepler) coupled with a couple of top 10 prospects(Gonzales, Romero, Gordon, e.g) should get it done.Obviously, at this juncture, we don't know who is available but the point is Falvine must be agressive in offering up at least one of the "core" players to secure an ace.

 

3. I think you are a little light in your new offense.Donaldson would indeed be first on my list of additions, but Nelson Cruz as a full-time DH is too tempting to pass up.Austin is a crap shoot and is pretty much an all or nothing type batter.Jose Iglesias does little for an already shaky lineup; Addison Russell is a bigger risk with a much better upside(and he will be made available).The Cubs badly need an infusion of younger pitching prospects that the Twins have in abundance.With these 3 additions, plus a veteran bat like Daniel Murphy or Matt Adams or Andrew McCutcheon for greater versatility, would be a quantum jump in offense that was so sorely lacking in 2018.

 

4. I would like at an extension for Berrios and Rosario, but not Buxton who must advance first before being rewarded.

 

So save the money on Corbin, go the trade route for a starter, pack the bullpen with quality arms and beef up the offense big time.And don't encourage Mauer to return!He is a big offensive void at a power position.The Twins have the money to do these things.Do they have the will and the brains to make the right moves?If they don't make at least a couple of major moves early in the offseason I am afraid they will not be able to achieve the turnaround all Twins' fans crave.This is the critical offseason for the duo and the team!They better have a plan in place and pull it off or their tenure will be a short one.

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#17 bighat

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Posted 05 November 2018 - 07:43 AM

Why not extend Jorge Polanco right about now-ish? Along with Rosario, he's our most consistent bat. He's going to want to get paid and he should. I'd prefer it would be the Twins who pony up.

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#18 Major Leauge Ready

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Posted 05 November 2018 - 08:12 AM

 

The Twins probably won't spend more in 2019 than they did in 2018. But there's not much reason they couldn't. Pushing payroll into the $150 million range would still place Minnesota comfortably among baseball's mid-tier spenders. And if they actually were working under such a cap, they'd have about $80 million in available funds for next year.

 


Click here to view the article

 

 

On what do you base the statement "There is not much reason they couldn't push payroll to $150? In the real world any report of this nature that did not validate such an assumption would have zero credibility. You also have a key assumption of that the Twins outbid the Yankees for Corbin who is from NY and the Yankees have $300M in revenue more than the Twins. It's fantasy baseball at best.

 

The revenue reports for 2018 are not out yet. In 2017 the Twins ranked 21st in revenue with $261M. Whre would you expect a team 21st in revenue to rank. 16th looks quite reasonable

 

https://www.statista...-teams-in-2010/

 

If you look on that list, several of the top teams made 80-100M. The Twins made $23M with a payroll of roughly $20M less than 2018 payroll. It would appear they were willing to push payroll to a level that would assure meager profits in 2018. To say there is no reason they could not push to $150M is uninformed or assumes they should operate as a non-profit.

Edited by Major Leauge Ready, 05 November 2018 - 08:16 AM.

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#19 ChrisKnutson

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Posted 05 November 2018 - 08:22 AM

Love the Iglesias trade, but besides that, I really don’t see us be huge players for any of Corbin/Donaldson/Gonzalez. Yeah they’d help, a lot actually (especially Gonzalez), but their markets are just too big for them to even consider us.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of spending even more this offseason than last, especially with a FA class like this, but we still need to be somewhat conscious about making cost effective signings; which means if Gonzalez or Donaldson asks for something unreasonable like 5yr/$80M let some other team have him. And don’t get me started on Corbin, we all know he’s going to New York.

While I think MLBTR got the Gonzalez prediction wrong, I do think there’s a very good chance Nelson Cruz ends up in MN, and if Oakland doesn’t resign Lowrie, we could be the front runners for him as well.

Lastly, when it comes to the bullpen, I don’t think we can go wrong this offseason, unless we sign no one, which is why the Twins should do what the Rockies did last offseason and sign a trio of proven bullpen arms (Allen/Herrera/Kelly).

#20 USAFChief

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Posted 05 November 2018 - 08:40 AM

On what do you base the statement "There is not much reason they couldn't push payroll to $150?


On the basis there isnt much reason they couldn't push payroll to $150m.
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