I'd like to preface my blueprint with a few points:
1] There may literally be a dozen FA RP on the market who could be considered here, so the names could easily be swapped out here for others and still be viable options and similar parameters.
2] I deliberately stayed away from trades, though I think one or two could take place, as not only are they virtually impossible to predict, but I still believe thjs is a budding team filled with talent yet to be unlocked/realized, still in re-build mode, awaiting a second wave of prospects, but not far from actual contention. Therefore, in my plan, the FO is augmenting the existing roster while not losing sight of the future. Trades, even bjg ones, can take place during the season. So in my version, the FO is holding on to as much talent as they can for depth, comletition, and in season moves.
3] I am keeping the 2018 payroll of approximately $130M in mind. Not because the Twins couldn't rise above that, but simply because I am offering financial flexibility and just trying to be pragmatic.
4] I am examing the roster as is, need, reasonable expectations/hope for what IS on hand, what is coming, as well as opportunity for 2019 and beyond.
5] Lastly, there are various dollar numbers I have found for my plan, so forgive me if I'm off a few dollars here or there.
All that being said...here I go:
I am NOT opposed to an extension for Berrios at this point, and absolutely believe in one for Gibson. Will Berrios be a true #1? I wouldn't get against him, but I feel certain he will develop in to a legitimate #2. Gibson's early work was solid. He slipped badly for a year and a half. But his last year and a half has proven himself to me. Odorizzi is not want I want, but he is solid, shows flashes, may have room for growth, and if the the "opener" concept is employed, he could be even better. No question Pineda is a question mark. Except, his track record is pretty solid. His arm appears sound. It appears his knee injury wasn't serious. Perhaps he needs a little time to round in to shape, but I feel surprisingly comfortable he will be solid. With an "opener" or not, Romero is just too good not be here. He has even better stuff than Berrios, and needs the opportunity to grow and develop here.
There is depth here, again, using an opener or not, and I'm sitting stays quo here for now. (Mkre on the rotation later though).
Projected $: 28.2M
Waiting in the wings: Gonsalves, Stewart, Littell, maybe Slegers and De Jong and Thorpe really, really soon. (Not sleeping on Wells).
Again, some of the names out there could easily be swapped and still keep the numbers and potential results the same. It's up to the REAL experts to sign the names on the dotted line.
I am signing Jeurys Familia for 3yrs at $11M per. My second FA addition is Kelvin Herrera for $8M. I have read about Herrera having a foot injury late last season. That could bring him in on a 1yr deal, or be dismissed entirely and net him a 3yr deal. Regardless, the numbers per year remain the same, from projections I read. The problems Reed encountered in 2018 should not dissuade the Twins from a couple of big FA moves due to opportunity and financial ability. A pair of high quality arms...proven and young enough to sustain or be viable trade candidates...turns the bullpen in to a real strength, and aids the rotation as well.
Combine these two with May and Rogers, and you are building something pretty nice. We are stuck with Reed, or at least his contract, but I'm willing to bet on a rebound in 2019. He has been a model of durability and consistency in his career to this point. And he looked good early in 2018. Unless I have missed something, there is still no major injury concern involved. I am also banking on a return to form for Hildenberger. Look, his second half was pretty bad. But his milb track record, his 2017 results and performance, and at least a decent first half of 2018 tells me he can be a viable part of the pen in 2019, just not a closer. And he doesn't have to be here.
I am hoping and planning on a 7 man pen here, because I think the rotation can be strong enough to do so. Plus, there is still the Rochester shuttle to work with. Magill has a real shot here, especially if he can just harness a bit more control. His FB and slider can really kill if he does. But I'm hoping for a 2nd LH option and I'm looking at Mejia to fill that role, with Moya and Vasquez just behind him. Cost wise, the last spot or two really has no variance.
Projected $: 31.7M
Waiting in the wings: Moya, Vasquez, Reed, Curtiss and others.
Castro and Garver. I find it interesting how many blueprints list Castro as the #1 guy. And don't get me wrong, I like Castro. He is a quality receiver who can hit a bit and provide some power. We all get a bit wrapped up in wanting another Mauer, or the next Posse or next Rodriguez, etc, but those guys are rare. Castro is a good, quality, experienced receiver. But Garver is younger, has a much better bat, grew defensively as the season went on, and improved as a hitter as well. They will split time, and allow Garver to DH or even play 1B on occasion, but he is my #1 guy behind the dish.
I like so much about Astudillo, from his play to his bat to his versatility, but he may be on the Rochester shuttle in my blueprint.
Projected $: 8.6M
Waiting in the wings: Astudillo and whatever best AAAA catcher the Twins can sign.
What can I say that we all don't already know? The key here is Sano. Even with games missed, he has proven to be a force! He was an All Star in 2017 for a reason. I know how some see him defensively. But what I have seen is one of the best arms I've ever seen from a 3B, a great charge on grounders, decent hands, and improved ability on pop ups and flares. He has reportedly worked hard and seems to say all the right things. But we just don't know. To be real, his injury and surgery, recovery time, off the field stuff, etc, just really de-railed his 2018 season. Forget his comments about comjng to camp at 245-250lbs. If he's mentally and physically healthy at 260-265 He could be a fine 3B and an offensive force to be rekond with. He's also a candidate to play some 1B.
Speaking of 1B, I believe, as do most of us, that Mauer is done. That leaves Austin as the incumbent. I'm OK with that. He's solid at 1B and has clearly shown be has big power. He strikes out too much, will never be a great hitter, but seemed to show he can hold his own. Considering his milb OPS, and limited opportunity before joining the Twins, there is hope for some improvement. But with other fill-in options available and on the way, if he can continue to hit in the. 240 range with his power as a lower half hitter, I feel good.
I am a Polanco fan and believer. And yet, I still feel he's destined for 2B eventually. I've seen enough defense in 2017, and flashes in 2018 post-suspension to believe he can hold down SS decently for a year or two that improving 2B is the real opportunity here. I so badly want to sign Iglesius for SS and move Polanco to 2B now while waiting for Lewis. And I'm fine if we do. But when I consider what the lineup really needs, for NOW, especially in this new era of launch angle and HR/SO propensity, I'm signing Lowrie to play 2B and probably bat leadoff for 3yrs at $10M per. I'd prefer 2 years, but have to over-sign. I have no illusions he will maintain the same OPS and over all power numbers he's shown in Oakland. But he is a proven professional hitter who has life left.
For depth and roster flexibility, I am also signing Marwin Gonzalez. He can play 7 spots on any given day, or settle in to a single spot based on injury or poor performance. He will play daily and be paid as such. He gets the reported 4yrs at $9M per. In this scenario, Adrianza is my second utility player, and a good one. He won't play daily, but he will still play quite a bit. His glove and bat both do well with regular but not daily play.
Again, I like Astudillo as a utility option here as well, but he's squeezed in the ideal.
Projected $: 25.2M
Waiting in the wings: Astudillo, Gordon, Arraez, and whoever the FO signs to flesh out Rochester.
I get trade ideas. I understand frustration with Buxton. But in no way am I ready to part with any member of the current OF to begin 2019. Even if the 27yo Rosario is "tapped out" for his ceiling, not sure if that's true, he's a hell of a productive ballplayer. Buxton, like Sano, is a key piece with question marks. But with his talent, potential, and a new sheriff in town, I don't even consider trading him at this point. Will Kepler ever build on his potential and explode? I don't know. But I'm banking on that potential for another year, looking for mkre consistent splits and either greater launch angle or hard hit percentage to see that talent manifest itself. I'm also giving him a 1B glove again to spell Austin and increase my roster/lineup flexibility. I also really like Cave and his game and feel there is room for improvement.
I have no problem letting Grossman go, but I'd be willing to bring him back for depth and competition. But $4M projected is ridiculous. Half of that, I bring him back, though he doesn't make my blueprint roster. Wade isn't quite ready, but I think he's a better version of Grossman. Rooker isn't ready yet. Neither is Khirilloff. So a bit like the Brewers move to build on strength, I sign McCutchen to a 3yr deal for $15M per. He doesn't have to play CF any longer. He plays both corner spots and DH. He could be a dangerous and productive hitter at #1 all the way through the #5 spot depending on lineup construction from Rocco.
As mentioned, Gonzalez also figures in to the OF equation here.
Projected $: 24.6M
I absolutely believe the shift in the FA market is real, even though a few guys will get top dollar. And perhaps waiting a bit will allow some great bargains to slide down. Regardless, as I have built my 2019 Twins team I have built a very strong bullpen, filled the glaring hole at 2B, and built on the depth and potential of the OF/1B/DH spots to put together a versatile and deep offensive and defensive roster.
With no raise from the 2018 payroll at all, I still have approximately $12M in remaining payroll. I still have buyouts and some Hughes money on the books for 2018, however. Even with that, I still have close to $5M to play with to begin extensions for Berrios and Rosario and Gibson. A ton of capital? No. But enough to cover, or come close, to their first year extension overages.
What have I accomplished?
I have revamped and built a good to excellent pen.
If Kepler takes a step forward and a healthy Buxton can just find something that works I have built a hell of an OF.
With anything close to what Austin has shown, and the Sano we have seen previously, the same could be said about the infield.
I've created a quality, potentially dangerous and versatile roster.
The rotation? I'm banking on what I have, what is ready and almost ready, and the revamped pen. I still have all my milb depth for trades. And even with an extension for Gibson, (not even including Berrios), I have Odorizzi, Pineda and Castro all coming off the books, potentially, after 2019. That's $26.5M, plus the leftover from Hughes which is around $4-4.5M. So another $30M off the books, not accounting for extensions or trades. Which means I have the ability to still make a major move with future payroll in mind while still not blowing up the budget to anything beyond ML average.
That's my plan.
Edited by DocBauer, 06 November 2018 - 01:06 AM.