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Article: Sizing Up Cody Allen

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 07:43 PM

After reaching agreement with all of their arbitration eligible players last week, the Twins have solidified their projected 2019 payroll at around $96 million. That's about $30M below where they were last year (which was just below the MLB average), so needless to say they've got spending flexibility.

The back end of the bullpen is the clearest need, and in that market, one name stands out as a fairly obvious fit.From 2014 through 2017, Cody Allen was consistently one of the better relievers in baseball. Serving as closer in Cleveland, he averaged 30 saves per season while posting a 2.62 ERA, 2.82 FIP, 1.10 WHIP, and 12.1 K/9 rate.

In 2018, at age 29, he took a sizable step back, posting a 4.70 ERA with career highs in WHIP (1.36), BB/9 rate (4.4) and blown saves (5). His strikeouts were down along with his velocity. It was a troubling season for Allen and it couldn't have come at a worse time for him.

But these circumstances make him an ideal fit for the Twins, who evidently aren't interested in any long-term commitments this winter. With another typical campaign in 2018, Allen might've been in line for a three- or four-year contract. But his major lapse creates too much risk for any team to make that leap now.

Allen's most realistic hope now is for a high-dollar short-term deal, which is exactly what Minnesota's positioned to hand out. That's just one reason this match makes sense. There's also the team's need for a dominant late-inning reliever, and Allen's familiarity with Twins CBO Derek Falvey, who was Cleveland's co-director of baseball operations when the Indians drafted him in 2011.

La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported a month ago that the Twins were interested in Allen, but obviously nothing has come to fruition as of yet. It's been a slow-moving relief market. Perhaps the right-hander is waiting on Craig Kimbrel and Adam Ottavino – the two names clearly ahead of him in the pecking order – to sign and set precedent.

I'm wondering if something like a one-year, $14 million offer might get it done with Allen, who would reel in more than half of his career earnings up to this point (he's totaled about $24 mil) with an opportunity to rebuild value in a prominent role and hit the market again next offseason.

The upside here for the Twins is plain to see. But there is downside. It'd mean having $20M-plus tied up in two relievers who were both not very good in 2018. The money isn't really an issue, but the hefty guaranteed contracts mean Allen and Addison Reed will get every chance to earn them, possibly at the expense of worthy younger arms.

Adding Allen to a bullpen that includes Reed, Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, and Blake Parker would leave few vacancies. Someone like Trevor Hildenberger, Gabriel Moya or Andrew Vasquez could more easily become blocked even if he proves deserving. The opportunity to try converting a younger starter, like Fernando Romero or Adalberto Mejia, becomes more limited.

These aren't necessarily huge stumbling blocks, but they're worth keeping in mind for a team focused on rebuilding via the internal pipeline. Players need opportunities to develop.

It's basically a moot point if Allen returns to his pre-2018 form or anything close. He'd significantly upgrade and legitimize Minnesota's bullpen unit. In light of that upside, and given the fact that – even in his down year – Allen's K and whiff rates would've ranked among the best in the Twins bullpen, I think the reward far outweighs the risk here. So I'm only left asking one question:

What are we waiting for?

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#2 Post-Concussive Blues

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 07:56 PM

I think 1 year/$14 million is way more than he will get, coming off a bad year with loss of velocity. Maybe 1 year/$9 million, or two years/$16 million are more realistic.

That said, I’m not advocating the Pohlads save money. Please, go ahead and bring in good players to make our team better!
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#3 Nick Nelson

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 08:02 PM

You might be right. What I'm saying is, why not pay whatever it takes to get him on a one-year deal? If someone else is offering 2/16 he'd obviously take the 1/14 offer, right? There's basically no cap to what the Twins could offer him on a one-year deal, and it still aligns with their established no-commitments strategy.

 

If Allen is fiercely determined to get a multi-year deal, even at a far lesser annual salary, then maybe the Twins should stay away. That sends all the wrong signals coming off a season like he just had.

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#4 beckmt

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 08:08 PM

Allen couldwell be toast from Cleveland's overuse.He might rebound, but do not think Twins should take the chance, except on a very team friendly one year deal.

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#5 sweetmusicviola16

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 08:09 PM

14mil for one year? If they are going to overpay for a reliever then they should have overpaid for some of the guys that did not suffer from reduced velocity last season. I get that we need pen help. But do we need to overpay for guys on the downside of their careers?

 

Frankly we have the money for Kimbrel if we want to throw $$$$ around.

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#6 Nick Nelson

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 08:18 PM

 

14mil for one year? If they are going to overpay for a reliever then they should have overpaid for some of the guys that did not suffer from reduced velocity last season. I get that we need pen help. But do we need to overpay for guys on the downside of their careers?

 

Frankly we have the money for Kimbrel if we want to throw $$$$ around.

He lost less than 1 MPH on both his FB and CB. With that drop, he still allowed a .230 batting average and struck out 80 hitters in 67 innings. 

 

Sure, I'd love to get Kimbrel. I'd love to get Ottavino. But in practical terms: people have to want to sign here, and the Twins are clearly shying away from multi-year commitments. Allen just makes a ton of sense from that perspective, and after Kimbrel/Ottavino he's the best bet in free agency from my view.

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#7 sweetmusicviola16

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 08:27 PM

 

He lost less than 1 MPH on both his FB and CB. With that drop, he still allowed a .230 batting average and struck out 80 hitters in 67 innings. 

 

Sure, I'd love to get Kimbrel. I'd love to get Ottavino. But in practical terms: people have to want to sign here, and the Twins are clearly shying away from multi-year commitments. Allen just makes a ton of sense from that perspective, and after Kimbrel/Ottavino he's the best bet in free agency from my view.

Better than anything either of us has suggested I'd rather the Twins sign Brad Brach to a 2/13 option type deal and trade away some of our milb excess talent to Baltimore for Mychal Givens. It makes no sense to be sitting on the assets and seeing them go to waste.

 

Basically you'd be looking at 9mil for both guys for 2019. Plus we'd have some badly needed depth and hopefully upgrades.

Edited by sweetmusicviola16, 15 January 2019 - 08:37 PM.

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#8 ChrisKnutson

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 08:28 PM

I think 3yr/$24M would be fair for both sides. Twins need more stability in the later innings and Allen needs security in case 2018 is the new norm (which is unlikely).
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#9 TheLeviathan

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 08:59 PM

The team needs to sign a guy like this.3/24 is not going to kill them and the upside is there.

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#10 SF Twins Fan

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 09:05 PM

Get it done!!! If they're in the playoff hunt in July they should have a better understanding where the team and the minor leaguers are at and use them to improve the MLB team.

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#11 Otwins

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 09:23 PM

I have been hoping for more upgrades in the bullpen and I think Allen is worth taking a chance on. His worst season last year was 5 blown saves.Didn't we blow about 25 as a team last year. I am not worried about blocking marginal major league relievers. If they could not contribute last year when there was plenty of opportunity and need I would make them earn their innings. I hope they sign a closer and an additional starter and reliever on minor league contracts.

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#12 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 10:14 PM

I don't understand why the staff writers here continue to ignore the fact that $25 million of last year's payroll was due to BamTec money.
There likely isn't nearly as much payroll flexibility remaining as many people here seem to think.

#13 DocBauer

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 10:16 PM

Unless there truly is something amiss physically, this is a no-brainer that most of has have been clamoring to happen for weeks now. All but the truly elite relievers, and often them as well, have a down season from time to time. It's the nature of the game and being human. Unless told otherwise, he is healthy and only 30 in a roster category in which many guys perform strongly until mid to even late 30's. I would take the 1 yr deal but don't like it. (Especially for $14M). This is the perfect time in invest in a 2-3yr deal, or some sort of 2+ option. There is need, opportunity, fit and familiarity on both sides. If this doesn't get done, then something really strange is going on.
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#14 Nick Nelson

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 10:48 PM

 

I don't understand why the staff writers here continue to ignore the fact that $25 million of last year's payroll was due to BamTec money.
There likely isn't nearly as much payroll flexibility remaining as many people here seem to think.

Average payroll in MLB over the past 5 years (via BP):

 

2014: $115M

2015: $125M

2016: $130M

2017: $136M

2018: $135M

 

The Twins are currently at $98 million. They have money to spend. Lots. 

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#15 Channing1964

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 12:13 AM

Cody Allen should be a Twin...Fernando Rodney shouldnt have left..shame on you Falvine

#16 Channing1964

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 01:41 AM

Look. after the
justifications last August of "we freed up payroll money to pay for the improvement of the team

#17 Channing1964

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 01:41 AM

really derek?

#18 old nurse

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 05:31 AM

 

I have been hoping for more upgrades in the bullpen and I think Allen is worth taking a chance on. His worst season last year was 5 blown saves.Didn't we blow about 25 as a team last year. I am not worried about blocking marginal major league relievers. If they could not contribute last year when there was plenty of opportunity and need I would make them earn their innings. I hope they sign a closer and an additional starter and reliever on minor league contracts.

Rodney blew six saves and was shipped out to blow more. Ryan Pressly blew 4 and was shipped out and blew 2 more. Duke blew 3 and was shipped out. Busenitz blew 2 and was demoted.The people responsible for half the blown saves are gone.

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#19 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 07:47 AM

I wonder if a deal like Nelson Cruz got (14 million in 2019 and a second year team option for 12 million with a low ($300,000) team buyout) would entice Allen to sign?

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#20 lukeduke1980

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 08:22 AM

He gave up 11 home runs last year.I can't take any more walk off losses than endured last year.