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Article: Where Are We Now?

thad levine rocco baldelli cj cron jose berrios
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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 09:59 AM

Starting this weekend, baseball will hold its annual Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. The event will get started on Sunday night and wrap up next Thursday with the Rule 5 drafts.

It's been a busy offseason already for the Twins as they have fired a manager, hired a manager and filled his coaching staff. They moved their Double-A affiliate from Chattanooga to Pensacola. Joe Mauer retired. Three players were added to the 40-man roster. The team claimed CJ Cron and then signed him and Ehire Adrianza too. They tended contracts to the rest of their arbitration-eligibles, with the exception of Robbie Grossman. There have been some minor league signings and a whole bunch of rumors.As they head to the Winter Meetings, here is a quick look at where they are today. This will give you a better idea of what their needs are and what types of conversations may be had this coming week

Let's take a look around the diamond and see what the Twins roster might look like if the season were to start today. Hopefully it gives Twins fans a glimpse at the work that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have ahead of them to fill out Rocco Baldelli's first Opening Day roster:


Catcher - Jason Castro, Mitch Garver

Jason Castro is expected to return to the field in 2019 after missing most of 2018 following knee surgery. Mitch Garver showed improvement at the plate and behind the dish. Willians Astudillo can provide some depth as well.

Infield/DH - CJ Cron, Tyler Austin, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Ehire Adrianza

Cron and Austin would split the first base and DH duties. Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco will again man the left side of the infield with Sano getting some DH time too. As of today, Ehire Adrianza would probably be the starting second baseman with Nick Gordon continuing to work in Rochester. Oh, and Willians Astudillo can provide some depth as well.

Outfield - Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave

Rosario had another strong season in 2018, cementing himself in the lineup. Buxton struggled early and then broke his toe and was never really given a chance to recover properly. But when healthy and with his legs (and feet and toes) under him, he's the best outfielder in the game. Can his offense be what it was in the second half of 2017? Max Kepler hasn't taken a step forward, but he's provided strong defense and 20 homer power. Jake Cave had a nice second half with the Twins, showing that he can be a big league contributor. Zack Granite and Michael Reed provide the team with other options in the outfield, along with recent 40-man add LaMonte Wade. And again, maybe Willians Astudillo can provide some depth.

Starting Pitchers - Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda

These four are written into the Twins starting rotation in at least some variety of ink, even if that is that erasable ink that just kind of makes a mess on the paper. Berrios became an All-Star and took a step forward in 2018. Kyle Gibson put together easily his best season and is now just one year away from free agency. Odorizzi is also one year from free agency. He finished pretty strong, and it will be interesting to see how he performs under Baldelli. Pineda will return after Tommy John surgery (and a late-season knee injury), hoping to get back to his old form, which was all-star caliber.

The question becomes...

Fifth Starter Options - Fernando Romero, Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, Chase De Jong, Adalberto Mejia, Zack Littell, Aaron Slegers, Lewis Thorpe

The Twins certainly have options for the fifth starter position, and some are more ready than others, and some certainly have a higher ceiling than others. How comfortable would you be with going into the season with one of these eight options as the team's fifth starter?

The Bullpen: Trevor May, Addison Reed, Taylor Rogers, Trevor Hildenberger

I've written before that I think these four are the givens to be in the Twins 2019 Opening Day bullpen (pending trades, injuries, etc.).

The Rest of the Bullpen: Gabriel Moya, Andrew Vasquez, Matt Magill, John Curtiss, Tyler Duffey

Along with this group, the fifth starter options could also factor into the bullpen equation as well. It will be interesting to see what the Twins do, and how the opener fits into that as well. Moya and Vasquez are the lefties. Magill and Duffey and a guy like Mejia could provide length out of the bullpen. And hey, maybe even Willians Astudillo could provide depth.


So, what do the Twins need to do over the remainder of the offseason?

(Note - I didn't say just by the end of the Winter Meetings because as we see every year, the Winter Meetings have some moves, but they are mostly filled with rumors of teams talking and teams talking to agents, etc. Additional note - The Twins will likely have conversations with almost all of the rest of the teams, and with most of the agents. Also, there are actual meetings during the Winter Meetings that front office staffs need to attend.)

1.) Bullpen - I would be surprised if the Twins don't target one or two quality bullpen arms.

2.) Middle Infield - The Twins could target either a second baseman or a shortstop and move Jorge Polanco accordingly. But they will need one. With Nick Gordon likely ready sometime late in 2019 and Royce Lewis likely ready sometime in 2020, will they want a more short-term option?

3.) Starting Pitcher - Of course this can be higher, but I am of the opinion that if you're not going to sign a real difference-maker, just give the young guys a shot. With Gibson and Odorizzi and Pineda all potential free agents following the 2019 season, it is reasonable to go after starters. Patrick Corbin is the pipe dream. Dallas Keuchel and JA Happ would be solid signs. The trade market could be interesting. Personally, I don't like the idea of trading a bunch for Zack Greinke unless the Diamondbacks take back a huge chunk of his remaining salary. 35+ year old pitchers are scary in the long-term. Cleveland has made some starters available, and they would be intriguing. There are likely other pitchers available who are interesting as well (Marcus Stroman could be one).

4.) First base/DH - Even with the signing of CJ Cron and Tyler Austin being on the roster, the Twins could look to add a left-handed hitting first base type. This is less likely if they really like Austin's potential because of the likely need for a 13-man pitching staff at times.

That's where the Twins roster is right this moment, as well as some areas of need.

What do you consider the Twins areas of strength, and how would you prioritize their areas of need this offseason?

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#2 KGB

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 10:28 AM

I think they really need to sign a third baseman.No need to get more 1b/DH's, we have plenty of options on the roster.Given Sano's history and with Adrianza appearing to be the backup option, they should be looking to add at that position.

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#3 beckmt

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 10:41 AM

Twins need to package some of the starting pitcher depth and some mid level prospect depth to get a real difference maker.  

I am worried about the OBP of this club and the great deal of swing and miss.Maybe some of this will improve, but am looking to Wade to make a difference maybe as early as this year.

Rest depends on what the Twins FO wants to do.If you do not want to go for the division +, play Arraez at 2nd base, rotation starters until you find one or two that can do the job and try bullpen options along with signing 1 - 2 pieces.  

With about 7 starters, Twins can afford to package 2 of them or 3 of them for a major league piece that is a #3 and maybe better.Maybe the Mets for Wheeler or KC for Duffy.They need to find out if Mejia can make it or maybe he can be included in a deal for a better starter. 

If Twins decide to step up (and I along with a number of posters hope they do), Sign 2 - 3 major bullpen pieces and a second base player.Explore all trade avenues to improve this club.Use the fact that they have 21 B- propects and better to trade a few of them for major league players.  

We do not have forever, White Sox are also coming and any delay may have the White Sox push to pass the Twins this year and they have more money and a better farm system to do so. 

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#4 Vanimal46

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 10:48 AM

The list of 5th starter options is not promising. I would move several of them to the bullpen, and that would eliminate the perceived depth.

The players I would move to the bullpen are Mejia (he's out of options), De Jong, and Stewart. Slegers is a DFA candidate or AAA filler IMO.

The bullpen candidates have a couple of DFA candidates in their own right. I've seen enough of Duffey to be confident he won't put it together. I can go either way with Magill and Curtiss.

My priority list:

- Trade for an impact SP (Bumgarner, Thor, or anyone else that pops up in rumors over the winter) that way everyone on the list slides down a spot in the rotation.

- Sign 2-3 bullpen arms. 2 that can slide into the "fireman" role, and another bounce back bargain deal.

- Sign a SS so Polanco can slide over to 2B.

- Sign a RH OF to challenge Kepler/Buxton for the starting job.
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#5 Lee-The-Twins-Fan

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 10:55 AM

 

I think they really need to sign a third baseman.No need to get more 1b/DH's, we have plenty of options on the roster.Given Sano's history and with Adrianza appearing to be the backup option, they should be looking to add at that position.

 

I disagree strongly with this assessment. Sano and Adrianza can more than adequately man third base. There are other options as well.  But for me, Sano is our 3B, until something happens and he cannot do it. For me, moving Sano to 1B is not an option. Having him DH full time is not an option. He should be at 3B. That's his position.

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#6 Lee-The-Twins-Fan

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 10:59 AM

 

 

We do not have forever, White Sox are also coming and any delay may have the White Sox push to pass the Twins this year and they have more money and a better farm system to do so. 

 

I agree. This is the year for taking the division. Cleveland is getting weaker and Chicago is getting stronger. This is our best chance to take the division and go far into the playoffs. The Red Sox and Yankees will continue to be tough, as will Houston, but the AL Central – the weakest division in all of baseball, is there for the taking.

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#7 Winston Smith

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 11:03 AM

With the Indians likely to take another step back it seems like a perfect time to step up.

 

They may or may not have plenty of money to spend (we don't know for sure what payroll cap the Pohlads have set) please go get 3-4 good players and put a decent team on the field.

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If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.

 

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#8 Mike Sixel

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 11:16 AM

I agree with vanimal, almost entirely. 

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I remain hopeful on Buxton and Sano.....but I'd not bet the franchise on them.


#9 KirbyDome89

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 11:27 AM

They desperately need MI help, but I'd put the need for another starting pitcher right there with it. 

 

I'm definitely not comfortable relying on Pineda to carry any sort of load. He's struggled to stay healthy over his career, and even when he was able to take the field he wasn't performing all that well. The fact that he was injured during his rehab assignment late last season is telling. 

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#10 gunnarthor

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 11:36 AM

It's amazing how much Machado would fit this team. We could use him at short for one year and let Sano man third and Polanco second while Gordon gets one more year under him before we shift Sano across the diamond. And his bat is everything we need. So we won't even be in on the conversation. Sometimes I hate this team.

 

I still want the Twins to upgrade the DH spot. I think we should just bring in a big bat like Nelson Cruz on a two year deal. 

 

On the pitching side, I'd talk to our scouts and look into Dylan Bundy. He had a hellish season in Baltimore but everyone did. Gausman looked better after he left (although he went to the NL). But Baltimore is clearly rebuilding and Bundy could be a nice get to fit in with Berrios for the next three years and he won't cost Lewis or Kiriloff. 

 

Lastly, I do expect the Twins to see if there's a market for Kepler and let Cave/Wade hold RF for a season until Kiriloff comes up. I know the Rays were interested in him last year and there are a few NL teams that could use a RFer. 

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#11 mikelink45

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 11:49 AM

Defense up the middle is essential to any team and particularly to the pitchers.If we want good pitchers we have to do more than frame their throws.Fix SS and 2B.We do not have the answers right now.I am not a fan of SANO at 3B either.Lets hope we start to see something from him with new coaching.

 

I am content with the 5th pitcher options.In fact I think Romero belongs in the top four and we should be ready to trade Odorizzi, or Pineda or Gibson if they look good this spring.Pair one of them with one of the other fifth starter options and move us up in talent.

OF worries me because I am not convinced that Buxton can make the transition from Billy Hamilton light to a full fledged CF star.Of course I hope, but the signs have not been there.

 

The BP is really light on talent.Time to change the SP candidates to RP.The RP prospects we have been developing have not been shining when called to the bigs.

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#12 SomeGuy

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 11:51 AM

We do not have forever, White Sox are also coming and any delay may have the White Sox push to pass the Twins this year and they have more money and a better farm system to do so. 

 

I agree. This is the year for taking the division. Cleveland is getting weaker and Chicago is getting stronger. This is our best chance to take the division and go far into the playoffs. The Red Sox and Yankees will continue to be tough, as will Houston, but the AL Central – the weakest division in all of baseball, is there for the taking.

I disagree with this strategy.We should not see 2019 as now or never.The White Sox rebuild has potential to be great but that is not a forgone conclusion.They have pushed back their perceived "contention window" by a few years already.Major prospects like Yoan Moncado and Lucas Giolito have underwhelmed so far, Michael Kopech just had Tommy John surgery.Twins fans should know that top prospects potential is never a lock.Besides, one more major injury or a large contract gone bad could throw a wrench in their rebuild pretty quick.

 

Seems like our rebuild will be a waste if we go all in on one year just to capture a bad division.Especially with the 3 "super teams" present in the AL right now.

 

 

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#13 Mike Sixel

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 11:57 AM

I disagree with this strategy. We should not see 2019 as now or never. The White Sox rebuild has potential to be great but that is not a forgone conclusion. They have pushed back their perceived "contention window" by a few years already. Major prospects like Yoan Moncado and Lucas Giolito have underwhelmed so far, Michael Kopech just had Tommy John surgery. Twins fans should know that top prospects potential is never a lock. Besides, one more major injury or a large contract gone bad could throw a wrench in their rebuild pretty quick.

Seems like our rebuild will be a waste if we go all in on one year just to capture a bad division. Especially with the 3 "super teams" present in the AL right now.


No one is saying sell the whole farm, or go all in. No one. But there are aggressive moves that can be made. Rather than wait another year or three.
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I remain hopeful on Buxton and Sano.....but I'd not bet the franchise on them.


#14 SF Twins Fan

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 12:00 PM

 

I disagree with this strategy.We should not see 2019 as now or never.The White Sox rebuild has potential to be great but that is not a forgone conclusion.They have pushed back their perceived "contention window" by a few years already.Major prospects like Yoan Moncado and Lucas Giolito have underwhelmed so far, Michael Kopech just had Tommy John surgery.Twins fans should know that top prospects potential is never a lock.Besides, one more major injury or a large contract gone bad could throw a wrench in their rebuild pretty quick.

 

Seems like our rebuild will be a waste if we go all in on one year just to capture a bad division.Especially with the 3 "super teams" present in the AL right now.

 

 

Nobody said the Twins should push all their chips in and only go for the playoffs in 2019. The Twins can make some significant moves that are beneficial for 2019 and beyond. There are multiple players they could sign to longterm contracts are there are multiple players they could trade for that would be here for longer than just 2019.

 

What they're saying though is that 2019 the AL Central will be extremely weak, the Twins have a ton of payroll flexibility, there are good options in FA and in trades that should allow the Twins to make some significant noise in 2019.

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#15 SomeGuy

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 12:22 PM

 

Nobody said the Twins should push all their chips in and only go for the playoffs in 2019. The Twins can make some significant moves that are beneficial for 2019 and beyond. There are multiple players they could sign to longterm contracts are there are multiple players they could trade for that would be here for longer than just 2019.

 

What they're saying though is that 2019 the AL Central will be extremely weak, the Twins have a ton of payroll flexibility, there are good options in FA and in trades that should allow the Twins to make some significant noise in 2019.

Sounds like you agree with me....we should stay away from Bumgarner, Sonny Gray, and any other player that is only controllable for 2019.I am not saying make no moves,I am saying don't make 2019 only minded moves just because we could sneak into the playoffs.

 

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#16 KGB

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 12:37 PM

 

I disagree strongly with this assessment. Sano and Adrianza can more than adequately man third base. There are other options as well.  But for me, Sano is our 3B, until something happens and he cannot do it. For me, moving Sano to 1B is not an option. Having him DH full time is not an option. He should be at 3B. That's his position.

Unfortunately, something seems to happen to Sano every year and he has not shown much of a fielder.It would be great to keep him there, but banking on this for next year isn't wise.You could sign someone like Mike Moustakas who would give you a better fallback option who could also be a left-handed bat at first.Between first, third and DH, you would have plenty of options for both Sano and Moustakas and you wouldn't have to rely on Adrianza for anything but a utility role.

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#17 SomeGuy

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 12:38 PM

 

No one is saying sell the whole farm, or go all in. No one.

I comments I quoted specifically state "We don't have forever, the White Sox might overtake us next year." and "I agree this is the year to take the division." 

 

Does that not mean all in 2019?

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#18 Mike Sixel

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 12:43 PM

I comments I quoted specifically state "We don't have forever, the White Sox might overtake us next year." and "I agree this is the year to take the division."

Does that not mean all in 2019?


Nope. It says at least try to add some great players. No place does it say sell the whole future. As opposed to posters who want all the stars to assign before adding expensive players from outside.
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I remain hopeful on Buxton and Sano.....but I'd not bet the franchise on them.


#19 Loosey

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 12:53 PM

 

It's amazing how much Machado would fit this team. We could use him at short for one year and let Sano man third and Polanco second while Gordon gets one more year under him before we shift Sano across the diamond. And his bat is everything we need. So we won't even be in on the conversation. Sometimes I hate this team.

I think Machado makes so much sense for this team and the position it is in right now.Aside from the cost, it seems to be an almost no-brainer.As you mentioned it fills a need this year and essentially stabilizes the infield for the foreseeable future.  

 

Imagine in 2020 an infield of:

 

2nd base: Polanco

3rd base: Machado

SS: Lewis

1st base: Sano

 

They have the money to do it and add pitching.

 

Do it Twins!

 

 

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#20 nicksaviking

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 12:55 PM

Whatever happens with the Twins, I think the expected Cleveland demise shouldn't be counted on. They still have excellent starters coming out of their ears and two of the best young hitters in the game. The multitudes of excellent bullpen arms are just as available to them as they are to the Twins. If Cleveland swings a trade or finds an unexpected outfielder or two on the free agent market they're going to have few weak spots.

 

To balance it out though, I think the White Sox stink, and will continue to stink. 

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