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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: The Window Just Opened

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#1 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 13 November 2019 - 07:00 PM

Much has been made of Thad Levine’s quote last year where he said, “When (the window is open), we plan on striking.”

So much, in fact, that the Twins fan base - one that’s always rabid for big moves only to be left mostly disappointed - expects this offseason to include a few of them. That’s how a team “strikes,” right?

But let’s pump the brakes on that idea a little bit as I present to you my 2019-2020 Offseason Blueprint.The window is just opening and should be open for a while, I’m not adding anyone on a multi-year deal that isn’t going to help extend that window - Sorry, MadBum - but wouldn’t hesitate to add older guys on one-year deals. The next wave - Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Royce Lewis and a herd of young pitchers - is going to be here faster than anyone expected. And I trust most of the core that’s here now more than the guys that would command big money in free agency. Of course, the pitching rotation has to be addressed.

Re-sign P Jake Odorizzi to a 3-year/$42 million deal.

First up, Jake Odorizzi’s decision. By offering Odorizzi the Qualifying Offer, the team has seemed to identify him as someone they view as part of their core, or at least someone that could be part of their core. Accepting the offer is a simple way to guarantee $17.8 million in his pocket. It’s also a terrible way to guarantee future earnings, which is why I think Odorizzi says “no thanks” and searches for a three- or four-year deal. With draft pick compensation attached, I think that deal comes from the Twins. Something in the range of 3-years/$42 million sounds reasonable (could the Twins front-load his deal?) and I could see added language for a vesting fourth year included. A three-year pact lines up his free agency with the end of arbitration (at least for now) for all of Jose Berrios, Byron Buxton and Taylor Rogers.

Add INF Travis Blankenhorn, P Dakota Chalmers, P Jhoan Duran, P Griffin Jax and OF Luke Raley to the 40-man roster.

Five may be too heavy, but I view Duran and Chalmers as locks.

Non-tender 1B C.J. Cron. Outright P Ryne Harper.

Though the team has money to spend, committing in excess of $7 million on Cron is not something I’m comfortable with. I wouldn’t rule out bringing him back, but opening up a spot at first base gives the Twins more flexibility, whether that be for a different first baseman or moving Miguel Sano to first base and adding a third baseman.

Harper doesn't need to be outrighted at the same time, but I found a need for a 40-man spot later in the offseason and he's the odd-man out.

Extend CF Byron Buxton (4 yrs/$32m) and LRP Taylor Rogers (4 yrs/$24m)

Though signing guys to extensions shouldn’t be the biggest news of the offseason, it should be a telltale sign of how the Twins view things going forward. The club needs to establish their core and lock them up. So far, they have done so with only Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler.

I’ve never been a huge proponent of extending pitchers, so though I’d approach Jose Berrios about an extension, I wouldn’t put him in the extend-or-trade category.

Byron Buxton and Taylor Rogers wouldn’t fit in that category either, but both should be pursued to sign contracts into their free agent years. The reasons are two-fold: These are core guys that can help extend the window. Both players, especially Buxton, could have their costs skyrocket. Locking them in at a set-cost helps establish a long-term plan for a team so aware of their financials.

Eddie Rosario, and to a lesser extent, Miguel Sano, could both fall into the extend-or-trade category. Both have two years of control left. Both have clear ability, but obvious flaws in their game. There are prospects who will be ready soon that could replace Rosario’s production at a fraction of the cost. I fully expect Rosario to be traded this off-season, which we’ll look at later.

If the Twins can hash out deals with Byron Buxton (4 yrs/$32m spread evenly, with two options), Taylor Rogers (4 yrs/$24m spread evenly, with an option), that would put in place two more important pieces of their core through 2023.

Sign P Zack Wheeler to a 5-year/$95 million deal. (If you swing and miss, sign P Rick Porcello to a 1-year/$9 million deal.)
Re-sign P Michael Pineda to a 1-year/$8 million deal.
Re-sign RP Sergio Romo to a 1-year/$3 million deal.
Sign C Stephen Vogt to a 1-year/$5 million deal.

I anticipate the free agent market being slow. The big fish are all represented by Scott Boras, which means they aren’t coming off the board until very, very late. That’s likely to slow down the market for everyone else.

Even with the assumed return of Jake Odorizzi, the rotation is still two starters short. As much fun as Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg would be, they are going to require 6- or 7-year deals. Zack Wheeler might require a fifth year and the Twins should be willing to go that length. A five-year pact for $19 million annually is doable with the way the extensions have been formatted.

If the Twins shoot their shot on Wheeler and miss, I wouldn’t look at any other longer-term deals. I’d shift my focus from signing one of the group of Michael Pineda (yeah, I would), Rick Porcello, Cole Hamels, Alex Wood and Homer Bailey to signing two of them. One-year deals with a team option preferable.

While rolling with one-year deals on questionable starters during the clear window of contention seems counterintuitive, the moves that have been made previously have all ensured the window should stay open for, at a minimum, four more years. Making a long-term commitment to anyone - especially pitchers - comes with great risks as the results seem to decline rapidly on the wrong side of the 30… the age where most pitchers first hit free-agency.

In addition to adding to the rotation, I loved what Romo brought to the bullpen and adding Vogt fills the backup catcher void, adds a good platoon partner for Garver and gives the team a tad more flexibility as he's played both 1B and LF periodically.

Trade LF Eddie Rosario, P Blayne Enlow, INF Jose Miranda and P Luis Rijo to Miami for LP Caleb Smith and P Jose Urena.

On the trade fronts, it’s simple: Zero in on controllable arms that can help for multiple years. Whether a sign of things to come or not, the Twins held on to their closer-to-the-majors pitching prospects, instead showing a willingness to trade on-the-cusp hitters and pitchers at the lower levels.

There should be willingness to move Rosario and Sano if it can help accomplish the goal of moving the team both further into contention and to keep the window of opportunity open longer.

In this particular trade, the Twins would be getting back a lefty for their rotation in Smith, who's controllable for four more seasons, and Urena, who could used in either a starting or relief role and who has two years remaining before free agency.

That leaves a full 40-man roster and a 26-man/Opening Day roster that looks like this:
Download attachment: 20pr.JPG

Granted, Michael Pineda won’t count against either roster for the first six weeks of the season, that spot will be used on another young bullpen arm (such as Fernando Romero or Devin Smeltzer).

Other things to consider: Marwin Gonzalez, Miguel Sano and Mitch Garver will split the shared at first base. Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave will be the primary left-fielders until Alex Kirilloff comes up (which he would, if I were in charge, in June).

As you can see in the table above, Opening Day payroll is south of $120 million. By all forecasts, this is on the low end. This would allow the team to either (or both) shop free agents all the way until spring training (like they have done the last two years) and/or add payroll at the trade deadline.

Additionally, the Twins would enter 2021 with around $58 million committed to a core of Wheeler*, Odorizzi, Rogers, Buxton, Kepler and Polanco.

*Obviously, as previously stated, if the Twins miss on Wheeler and replace him with Porcello, payroll drops into the $106 million range, which allows additional flexibility when needed.

The possible ways the Twins organization navigates the waters of this off-season are endless. But the reality is simple: the team needs to make moves that keep them competitive for the next half dozen years without sacrificing the payroll flexibility that they’ve established since Falvey and Levine took over.

Check out these other Offseason Blueprints:
Building a Bullpenner
Hooking a Big Fish
Making Big Betts

~~~

What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long.

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#2 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 13 November 2019 - 08:54 PM

Thanks Jeremy for a very interesting series of proposals.My only changes would be to sign Castro for 1 year instead of Vogt, and try very hard to trade Sano for multiple minor leaguers with upside, focusing on young power arms,fast center fielders and/orcatchers with power. Move Polanco to 2B. Put Arraez at 3B. The IF defense is poor right now and it starts at SS. Sign Iglesias for 1 year at market value ( 3 million) with a team option for a second yearfor 2 million. He has no power, but makes contact and does not SO much. He is not spectacular at fielding but is above average and makes few mistakes.Let Gonzo, Garver and Adrianza share 1B. I'm not convinced that Jax needs a 40 man roster spot. And bring up Kirilloff in June.

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#3 jrod23

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Posted 13 November 2019 - 09:10 PM

Cole or Strasburg. No exception, unless they Darvish us and choose to go elsewhere. Then we’re (I’d love to eat my words), stuck with Wheeler, if he’d even choose to sign with us.

I sure hope we’re not a destination top line starters choose not to come to...

#4 jrod23

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Posted 13 November 2019 - 09:11 PM

...also, just put Kirilloff in the 40.

#5 Richard Swerdlick

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 04:57 AM

Great article. However I would only go 3 years max on Taylor Rogers. 4 years is too much for any relief pitcher.

#6 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 06:56 AM

 

Great article. However I would only go 3 years max on Taylor Rogers. 4 years is too much for any relief pitcher.

I would front load Rogers 4 year, 24 million contract...say 9,7, 5 and 3.


#7 mikelink45

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 06:57 AM

Wow - another trade Rosario idea!Come on - if he is traded for something really good I am fine, but these blueprints seem to require that he goes.If he is that expendable, why do others want him.If we want something really good maybe the blueprints should start dangling Buxton or Kepler.  

 

Bring Cron back.His bat plays well.

 

I am actually worried that we will move Sano again (remember the OF) and mess with him just as he is getting his bat in order.

 

Vogt is 35, signing Castro is a better option.


#8 John Bonnes

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 07:13 AM

1) I very much like the long-term view of this blueprint. The "extend or trade" strategy is not something I had thought of. I'd be a little hesitant to do either this offseason, but it makes a lot of sense to me next offseason. I wouldn't rule it out this offseason, but I'd want to see what the Twins get in return. I'd be less fussy about the return next offseason (as I would need to be).

 

2) I like the structure of the extensions very much. One thing we haven't talked about much is the payroll in 2021 and 2022. The amounts on those arb players are going to increase faster than revenues, which could mean some lean offseasons (though I haven't studied this). Essentially front-loading those contracts helps offset that. 

 

3) I also think the overall amount for the Buxton contract sounds pretty good, though I think you're dreaming a bit on those team option years. 

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#9 Supfin99

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 07:15 AM

Hey Jeremy this is by far the best blueprint I have seen.  Contract for Wheeler makes sense, he’s the FA pitcher I want the most.  Might be a little low on the annual salaries to get some of these guys to sign Like Odorizzi, Wheeler and Rogers but we will see.  

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#10 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 08:30 AM

 

Wow - another trade Rosario idea!Come on - if he is traded for something really good I am fine, but these blueprints seem to require that he goes.If he is that expendable, why do others want him.If we want something really good maybe the blueprints should start dangling Buxton or Kepler.  

 

In fairness, I've been "trade Rosario" since he debuted, though I came off that strong stance while he was cheaper. The Marlins are looking for outfielders, have a hitting coach that is familiar with Eddie, he's from Puerto Rico and the Twins/Marlins have matched up on a good trade for both teams very recently. There's a lot of reasons that this particular trade makes sense. (Plus it's my blueprint...)

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#11 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 08:31 AM

 

Cole or Strasburg. No exception, unless they Darvish us and choose to go elsewhere. Then we’re (I’d love to eat my words), stuck with Wheeler, if he’d even choose to sign with us.

I sure hope we’re not a destination top line starters choose not to come to...

 

I just don't think it's realistic that the Twins sign either of these two. (But I'd be jacked if they did.)

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#12 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 08:38 AM

 

Vogt is 35, signing Castro is a better option.

 

Castro is going to get multiple years. Ryan Jeffers is a year away and has consistently hit RHPs better than LHPS. He's the ideal Robin to Garver's Batman. 

 

Give me Vogt for one year over paying Castro for more than one. (Also give me Vogt for one year for less than Castro for one year.)

 

So I'm going to go ahead and disagree with Castro being the better option, for a few reasons.

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#13 bustedstuff88

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 09:00 AM

In an offseason where the FO openly declares they are going after "Impact pitching" you are gonna have a pretty angry fan base on your hands if you only come away with the 2019 rotation + a Rick Porcello type.

 

We need to aim higher. Wheeler I am fine with (and hope we get him) but we also need one more "impact" arm in addition. 

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#14 MMMordabito

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 09:04 AM

This is probably the best blueprint I've seen that appears to be realistic.  

 

I like the Vogt idea, especially since he's more likely to go for a 1 year deal.Most of the catchers are on the wrong side of 30, so his age doesn't really bother me. Coming of 835 OPS against RHP is definitely attractive.

 

I think it might take a little more AAV to keep Odorizzi, but even if that was 3/$48 mill with a possible club option attached, it wouldn't break the bank considering your conservative start.

 

That's one of the better Rosario trade proposals that I've seen.Enlow has a huge amount of upside, so the Marlins might be inclined to invest.A change of scenery for Urena isn't a bad gamble, especially when Caleb Smith is the prize return.

 

I'm curious on not protecting Celestino.He broke out in the second half, and I could see a team like Detroit being willing to throw him to the wolves.Do you think there will just be too many pitchers valued high enough in the rule 5 that he will slip through?Do teams get to pull back a player after the first round, or is that only in expansion drafts?

 

I'd personally rather outright Hildenberger than Harper, but that's splitting hairs with the 40th guy.

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#15 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 09:05 AM

 

Castro is going to get multiple years. Ryan Jeffers is a year away and has consistently hit RHPs better than LHPS. He's the ideal Robin to Garver's Batman. 

 

Give me Vogt for one year over paying Castro for more than one. (Also give me Vogt for one year for less than Castro for one year.)

 

So I'm going to go ahead and disagree with Castro being the better option, for a few reasons.

 

If Castro wants to stay as Garver's backup on a 2 year deal with say an auto vesting 3rd option, I'd be fine with that personally..

 

That said, I'd probably prefer a bit more OBP from that spot. The team was relatively lacking in OBP, and I do fear if MLB fixes the balls that our offense is going to be hurt more than most. 


#16 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 09:07 AM

 


Add INF Travis Blankenhorn, P Dakota Chalmers, P Jhoan Duran, P Griffin Jax and OF Luke Raley to the 40-man roster.

Five may be too heavy, but I view Duran and Chalmers as locks.
 

 

 

So I have to ask... every seems to love Chalmers. I understand the stuff is sexy, but right now he cannot control it at all and I don't see him sticking on an ML roster... I think the AFL told us that too... So what's the deal there? I think he's safe to leave unprotected...

 

Also, you're going to leave Tyler Wells off the roster? I think he's more likely to have a really good ML career than Chalmers for what that's wroth. I get he's coming back from TJS... but that also means a team can 60 day him for as long as necessary and then snag him. I'm not sure I'd let that one get away. 

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#17 spycake

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 09:22 AM

 

Re-sign P Jake Odorizzi to a 3-year/$42 million deal.

The only way this works for Odorizzi is if he doesn't think he can beat a 3/42 deal on the open market this winter with the loss of a draft pick attached, or beat a 2/24 deal next offseason with no draft pick compensation.

 

That calculation might make sense for guy who's a little older like Gibson, but Odorizzi is 2.5 years younger than Gibson. I think it will take a little more to sign Odorizzi to a 3 year deal right now.

 

MLBTR predicted 3/51 which sounds about right.

 

Edit to add: reading closer, it looks like you assume he declines the QO, in which case a slow market could lead to a further discount for him. I think he might just accept the QO, though, if he can't get 3/51+ from the Twins today.

Edited by spycake, 14 November 2019 - 09:26 AM.

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#18 Monkeypaws

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 09:22 AM

Interesting Jeremy. I'll pick a couple nits though.

 

Between Rosario, Cron, and Castro, that's 70 bombas going out the door. The pitching would be better, but that's a lot of offense to dump at once. 

 

IMO Brent Rooker is much more MLB ready than Kiriloff at this point.

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#19 spycake

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 09:30 AM

 

So I have to ask... every seems to love Chalmers. I understand the stuff is sexy, but right now he cannot control it at all and I don't see him sticking on an ML roster... I think the AFL told us that too... So what's the deal there? I think he's safe to leave unprotected...

It's not that hard to stash a Rule 5 reliever on a ML roster, especially with a 26-man roster next year. You can also DL them for up to half the season (leaving 90 days active) and still remove Rule 5 restrictions by the end of the year.


#20 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 09:30 AM

 

So I have to ask... every seems to love Chalmers. I understand the stuff is sexy, but right now he cannot control it at all and I don't see him sticking on an ML roster... I think the AFL told us that too... So what's the deal there? I think he's safe to leave unprotected...

 

Also, you're going to leave Tyler Wells off the roster? I think he's more likely to have a really good ML career than Chalmers for what that's wroth. I get he's coming back from TJS... but that also means a team can 60 day him for as long as necessary and then snag him. I'm not sure I'd let that one get away. 

 

 

I'm curious on not protecting Celestino.He broke out in the second half, and I could see a team like Detroit being willing to throw him to the wolves.Do you think there will just be too many pitchers valued high enough in the rule 5 that he will slip through?Do teams get to pull back a player after the first round, or is that only in expansion drafts?

 

I'd personally rather outright Hildenberger than Harper, but that's splitting hairs with the 40th guy.

Teams that have a lot of good major league players have less room on the end of their 40-man than teams that don't. (That's probably oversimplifying it.)

 

Those spots become that much more precious for those teams and they have to decide how to use them.

 

High upside guys? Close to ready guys? Specific skill-set guys? 

 

Currently, they have a lack of position players, that much is clear...they have a lot of swingmen-type pitchers. I don't know what they'll decide.

 

Chalmers and Duran are high-ceiling pitchers, that I'm not willing to lose for nothing. Blankenhorn and Raley are guys that I think could help soon. Jax... it's nothing specific, I just think he has a chance to be special.

 

I'm as curious as anyone (except Seth and JJ Cooper, probably) how the 40-man deadline plays out.

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