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Article: Big Splash Coming in Twins Territory

minnesota twins josh donaldson nelson cruz carlos santana daniel murphy
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#1 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 06:00 PM

With the offseason upon us, the Hot Stove will eventually heat up and free agents will begin to select their teams for the 2019 Major League Baseball season and beyond. The Minnesota Twins have some of the most available money across both leagues, and they also have some relatively glaring holes. Needs up the middle, on the corners, and in the bullpen are of the utmost importance. Plugging just anyone into the mix isn’t logical and there’s an offensive profile that is desperately needed.Since Joe Mauer has decided to hang up his cleats and the organization could choose to move on from Robbie Grossman, the starting lineup is lacking some on-base prowess. On top of that reality, a feared slugger to anchor the middle of the order is essential for Rocco Baldelli’s group. Checking off both of those boxes in the form of one player would be the most optimal way to go about it, and that leads me to believe in the following necessity: A successful offseason for the organization almost must include the acquisition of Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Santana, or Daniel Murphy.

The names above are not all created equal, and there’re warts that come with each of them. However, given the mix of power and on-base skills, along with the plausible acquisition costs, each profile seems like too good of a match to pass up. Suggesting that any of the four-some are true superstars may be a stretch, but in terms of incoming talent to a Minnesota squad, they all present the opportunity to grab both an impact name and impact ability.

Diving into them individually, here’s how they break down and rank for me:

Josh Donaldson

At 33 Donaldson is arguably the most complete mix of perfection in this group. He’d push Miguel Sano over to first base, but the infield would be better because of it. Obviously, there’s significant injury concern here, as he hasn’t played more than 115 games either of the past two seasons. If the bill of health is good though, he was a model of consistency from 2013-2016. A career .367 OBP guy with a .507 SLG, Donaldson would be a surefire superstar in the heart of the Twins lineup. He’s mashed at Target Field (albeit off Twins pitching) and would certainly elevate the overall ability of the starting nine. A high AAV on a one-year deal, or something a bit more conservative on a three-year deal needs to be something Minnesota jumps at.

Nelson Cruz

Despite being the elder statesmen of this group, Cruz is appealing as he’s aged incredibly well. He’s going to be 38 this upcoming season, and even in his “down year” last season, an .850 OPS was still posted. The Twins would need to be certain that it’s not the beginning of the end, but a guy who posted a .925 OPS with 126 HR’s from 2015-2017 is someone to take a serious look at. With a career .342 OBP, Cruz has surpassed that mark each of the past four years, and he’s still a perennial All-Star. This is not a guy who can do anything but DH for you, but that’s a need for Minnesota and his presence should be welcomed on a one or two-year pact.

Carlos Santana

If it’s not Donaldson to shore up some of the infield situation then Santana makes an incredible amount of sense. The only caveat here is that he’s a trade target, but the choice can be made to include lesser prospects and pay more, or increase the return and have the Phillies kick in. Philadelphia is a motivated seller in this case, and the Falvey connection is certainly there. The catcher-turned-first-basemen still posted a .352 OBP during his first sub-.800 OPS season since 2015 last year. He provides a strong bat from both sides of the plate (being even better as a lefty) and plays average defense as well. Taking on the finals two years of his current deal (and the 2021 option) would be a nice fit for Minnesota.

Daniel Murphy

Of this group it’s Murphy who really profiles the most difficult to fit. He’s a second basemen by trade but is terrible or worse in the field. He’s never played much more than a fill-in role at first but would likely be much better suited there. In 2019 Murphy will be 34 and looking for what should be his last payday. You can expect him to provide a high .700 OPS, but the .900-plus marks in two full seasons with Washington may be wishful thinking. Murphy is a high average, high on-base guy, with more gap power than anything. He’ll launch about 20 long balls a year, but it’s the doubles that will really come in bunches. Coming off injury last season he got into just 91 games, and that could help to suppress his price some in this market. I’d prefer not to see him play up the middle with Jorge Polanco, but inking him to a three-year deal isn’t a bad idea either.

When the dust settles on this offseason, I think it’s a pretty fair expectation to assume the Twins will have at least two new infielders (2B/SS and 1B/3B), as well as at least one new reliever. Adding in a top-three starter would be a bonus, and a designated hitter could be addressed as well. Given what’s out there however, none of the necessary additions can simply be band-aids. Whether or not the front-office goes for it in 2019 or beginning in 2020 doesn’t much matter. This club needs an impact bat in the worst way and skimping on that should draw ire from the fan base.

Buckle up as things are about to get interesting.

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- Ted Schwerzler
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#2 Physics Guy

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 08:46 PM

I am a proponent of signing Donaldson.The rest are all meh to me.

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#3 notoriousgod71


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Posted 15 November 2018 - 08:52 PM

Donaldson is the best of the bunch but I'd be very concerned with his durability.


It would be nice to nice to add some more swagger to this team, however.

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#4 cmoss84


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Posted 15 November 2018 - 09:06 PM

I would LOVE to sign Donaldson to a 1 year deal...whatever $ it takes. I just see someone taking a chance on a 3 year deal for him, which I would not. 

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#5 TheLeviathan


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Posted 15 November 2018 - 09:10 PM

Honestly, I'd rather not have any of these guys. 


Maybe Donaldson, but he might be cooked.He's got upside, so I wouldn't complain, but I'd rather invest elsewhere I think.

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#6 beckmt


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Posted 15 November 2018 - 11:35 PM

Any of the guys would have high risk. But maybe it is time we took some.Prefer Donaldson, but either (and not both) would be a good start.

Twins have the ability to take on Santana's salary, and give only a low level prospect in return.This is more a salary relief(clear a spot) play for Philly.Think he could be gotten cheaply.By the time it will make a payroll deference he will be gone.  

#7 Brandon


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Posted 16 November 2018 - 01:43 AM

I think Nelson Cruz is the best bet as power is the last skill to go. He will hit 30 HR next year. The question will be when his legs give out and he runs like Pujols.

#8 David HK

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 04:54 AM

I'd love to see Donaldson in Twinks' pinstripes- but I bet they get Cruz instead.


And I love Daniel Murphy- as a lynch-pin piece for a team like the Cubs, but not for this MN team at this time.

#9 old nurse

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 06:44 AM

Lo Mo II. Short term fill in, not likely to be effective, not likely to have upside, only decline.Any of them should not have more than a one yearcontract.The time to have had any of these players was in Molitor's first year of managing.

#10 USAFChief


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Posted 16 November 2018 - 06:47 AM

Donaldson, please. Been beating that horse since mid summer. 


I don't care if he's a risk. The team is in a position where they need to take risks if they want to be relevant. And the risk/reward on Donaldson is the best of the bunch, by far.


Add Cruz, or Santana, plus a healthy Sano, and the middle of the order suddenly looks a lot different.

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#11 old nurse

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 06:47 AM

Given the FO's apparent aversion to age there is little chance of them signing these players or trading for Santana

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#12 diehardtwinsfan



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Posted 16 November 2018 - 07:47 AM

Honestly, Donaldson AND Cruz makes a ton of sense. That means one of Sano, Cruz, Donaldson, and Austin are on the bench every day giving Rocco some options with platoons and what not. It also gives felxibility during the inevitable 15 day DL stint and adds some serious punch to lineup that was lacking it last year. I think a little protection for Sano, Buxton, Rosario, and Kepler can go a long way too. 

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#13 NapoleonComplex


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Posted 16 November 2018 - 08:01 AM

Gotta go with Donaldson of the bunch. I'd rather risk cash by signing Donaldson rather than risk prospects in a trade for Santana.

#14 RatherBeGolfing


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Posted 16 November 2018 - 08:17 AM


Honestly, Donaldson AND Cruz makes a ton of sense. That means one of Sano, Cruz, Donaldson, and Austin are on the bench every day giving Rocco some options with platoons and what not. It also gives felxibility during the inevitable 15 day DL stint and adds some serious punch to lineup that was lacking it last year. I think a little protection for Sano, Buxton, Rosario, and Kepler can go a long way too. 

With a 13 man bullpen common though now, it is really, really hard to carry someone on the bench of that skillset if they can't provide any defensive versatility. If we have Sano/Cruz/Donaldson, Austin is not making the roster. No way they could carry all 4

#15 rdehring


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Posted 16 November 2018 - 08:18 AM

Only negative I see with Donaldson is that he is a right handed hitter, correct?With Sano and Austin also right handed, a leftie would be nice.Granted, with Rosario, Kepler, Castro and Polanco all being able to hit from the left side, the overall balance is ok.Just means you can't platoon him with Sano/Austin.Of this group, he is the only one that gets me a little excited.


Problem I see with Cruz is that you not only can't discount last year being down, you can count on it being the start of his downward spiral.For that reason, he would be a no-no for me.  

Edited by rdehring, 16 November 2018 - 08:21 AM.

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#16 Doomtints


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Posted 16 November 2018 - 09:06 AM

Want a big splash? Sano, Buxton, and Kepler for Kris Bryant.

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#17 Doomtints


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Posted 16 November 2018 - 11:18 AM


Want a big splash? Sano, Buxton, and Kepler for Kris Bryant.


Revision: Sano, Buxton and Castro for Bryant.

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#18 ChrisKnutson


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Posted 16 November 2018 - 11:34 AM

Besides Murphy, I really wouldn’t mind any of them, although I really hope the Twins can add Eugenio Suarez to the list of possibilities. I mean, the Padres kicked the tires on him, why not us, we have the bigger need.

#19 Thrylos


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Posted 16 November 2018 - 12:12 PM

Donaldson has chronic leg (calf) issues. 


Santana is not that great.He had a 105 OPS+ and he is in decline.That OPS+ is lower than the yet to reach his prime Tyler Austin (108 OPS+).I'd give advantage to Austin.

Cruz is old.


From that group only Murphy (whose defense if you ask UZR is about as good as Dozier's at second base) does something for me, esp. as a most-time DH.


I like to buy low and my candidate for that is Jonathan Schoop who is a year removed from being an All Star, just entering his prime, and in a year full of injuries was ok in Baltimore before falling apart in Milwaukee.

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#20 ewen21


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Posted 16 November 2018 - 01:30 PM

I am off the Donaldson train.  

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