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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: Generics Over Brand Names

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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 09:30 PM

On a shelf sit two bottles of dishwasher gel. One is a brand name you’re familiar with, the other a generic. You start reaching for the brand name and notice it’s $5.99 while the other is only $3.69. Is there any reason to pay nearly twice as much for a comparable product?Much like at the supermarket, there are also name brands and generics on the free agent and trade markets this winter. I’m going to be identifying a number of players who represent the plain generic bottle that does just as good a job at a greatly reduced price.

*cue cheesy infomercial music*

This is a similar line of thinking I explored in my piece for the 2020 Twins Offseason Handbook, which you can download at whatever price you’d like (including $0). Now that’s the ultimate deal.

*record scratch*

I’ll be referencing Kiley McDaniel’s contract projections from FanGraphs. I don’t have a great reason behind picking those in particular, I just wanted to keep things consistent.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (2Y, $32M) over Zack Wheeler (4Y, $68M) and Madison Bumgarner (4Y, $64M)
It’s difficult to paint the defending ERA champ as a generic alternative, but I think the shoe fits in this scenario. What am I missing here? Ryu is the best pitcher of this trio. The big divider seems to surround durability concerns, but Ryu did manage to throw 182 2/3 innings in 2019 and is still only 32-years-old.

Ryu is unlikely to provide 30+ starts, sure, but that’s fine with me as long as he’s good to go in October. Though he’s coming at a similar AAV to Wheeler and Bumgarner, the shorter commitment to Ryu appeals to me. Less potential for disaster.

We’ll split the difference and say that’s about $34 million saved, plus a draft pick. Wheeler and Bumgarner both rejected qualifying offers, meaning any team that signs them forfeits a pick.

Some outlets have very different figures on these projected contracts. MLB Trade Rumors has Wheeler at five years and $100 million, MadBum at four and $72 million with Ryu at three years and $54 million.

Matthew Boyd as a trade target over Noah Syndergaard
It’s amazing what pitching in New York, having a cool nickname and topping out at 100 mph can do for your reputation. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see Thor in a Twins uniform, but Boyd was actually a more dominant pitcher in 2019.

Boyd had a 30.2 K% and 14.1% swinging-strike rate while Syndergaard was at 24.5% and 12.5%, respectively. Boyd also bested Syndergaard in ERA-, xFIP- and SIERA. Just imagine what he could do with someone other than Rick Anderson as his pitching coach! :)

Baseball Trade Values has its flaws (Jake Cave is valued higher than Jordan Balazovic, for example), but it also appears to be the best tool at our disposal. They estimate Syndergaard has twice as much trade value as Boyd ($75.7M vs. $37.7M), despite the fact that Boyd has an additional year of team control. He won’t be a free agent until 2023.

A package of Trevor Larnach and Ryan Jeffers does the trick for Boyd, per their trade simulator. To get Syndergaard, they project you’d need to add Brusdar Graterol to that package. Pass.

Michael Pineda (1Y, $12.1) over Dallas Keuchel (3Y, $45M)
That figure listed above for Pineda is his projected $16 million deal prorated with the remaining 39 games of his suspension factored in.

Both of these pitchers can play the rust card in regard to their 2019 seasons, Pineda due to injuries and Keuchel due to silly qualifying offer stuff. That’s about all they have in common. Keuchel is a lefty ground ball wizard who essentially pitches to contact while Pineda is a right-handed flyball pitcher who posted a swinging-strike rate comfortably above league average (12.5 vs. 10.8).

I’ll take Pineda and save another $32.9 million. For what it’s worth, MLB Trade Rumors had Pineda tabbed for a two-year, $22 million contract and Keuchel at three years and $39 million.

Here's the rotation. Since you only need four starters early in the season, covering the rest of the suspension shouldn’t be much trouble.

Download attachment: TFrotation.png

Chris Martin (2Y, $12M) over Will Smith (3Y, $40M)
Yup, I’m pitting a guy you’ve (probably) never heard of against the guy who was the top free agent reliever on the market.

Martin edged Smith in xFIP, SIERA and was the only pitcher to post a better K:BB ratio than Taylor Rogers (min. 40 IP). In 55 2/3 innings, Martin struck out 65 batters and walked just five. Both Martin’s average fastball velocity (95.6 mph) and average exit velocity (88.7 mph) also bested Smith’s.

Two years of Martin for less than the cost of one season of Smith? Yes please. There’s another $28 million saved. Of course, Smith has already signed with the Braves at this point, but this was just too good a thrift to delete.

Sergio Romo (1Y, $3M) over Daniel Hudson (1Y, $6M)
Romo had a better fWAR, FIP, xFIP, K-BB% and SIERA than Hudson, who enters the market after a solid postseason showing. It’s too bad Sergio doesn’t have October success on his resume. Oh, wait ...

Romo isn’t listed on either of the top 50 free agent lists, but I’d bet $3 million plus some incentives in which he can earn GameStop gift certificates would get the deal done. I’ll count that as another $3 million saved, though MLB Trade Rumors has Hudson projected for a more lucrative two-year, $12 million contract.

Brusdar Graterol and Zack Littell Return to the Rotation
Even with a few starting pitchers added, I’m still redirecting more resources to the rotation. The staff was remarkably healthy last year, as the team’s primary quintet accounted for 90% of the team’s starts. I’m not banking on that again in 2020.

I want to keep Graterol on a track to develop into a stud starting pitcher. His ceiling is enticing, but there’s still work to be done. Some guys fail as starters or were always better suited for a bullpen role, but I don’t see Littell in that light.

Think about it, if you could go back in time and convert Taylor Rogers back into a starting pitcher earlier in his career, would you do it? C’mon, you’d at least think about it.

Keeping all that starting pitching depth in the minor leagues at the onset of the season also opens the door for guys who are out of options, like Fernando Romero and Matt Wisler, to find spots in the bullpen. If they don’t work out, it’s a lot easier to convert one of the Littell/Graterol/Dobnak/Smeltzer/Thorpe types into relievers than it would be to stretch them back out in the event rotation help was needed.

Download attachment: TFbullpen.png

Miguel Sano to First Base, C.J. Cron Non-Tendered ($7.7M)
I’m ready to accept the fact that the Twins can no longer get away with both Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco on the left side of the infield. Sano is swinging over to first base while Marwin Gonzalez takes over as the primary third baseman.

The Rays cut ties with Cron last winter after he posted a 123 wRC+ and 2.2 WAR, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Twins move on after a 101 wRC+ and 0.3 WAR. This decision has more to do with shifting Sano to first base than anything in particular with Cron, but it does also add another $7.7 million saved (projected arbitration salary per MLB Trade Rumors).

Sign Martin Maldonado (1Y, $3M)
The only bat I’m bringing in is actually a guy I’m more interested in because of his glove. I don’t expect Robinson Chirinos or even Jason Castro, both of whom I’d prefer, would sign with the Twins. They’re good enough to get starting gigs..

What about Eddie Rosario? I think he’s more valuable on the 2020 Twins roster than he’d be in a trade, so he stays.

Here’s the starting lineup and bench:

Download attachment: TFlineup.png
Download attachment: TFbench.png

This is a good ballclub with plenty of talent still waiting in the wings. The payroll gets stretched to a franchise-record $132.5 million, higher than I originally intended. Jake Odorizzi accepting the qualifying offer added $10.8 million to my original plan. I explained how that would have worked out in a YouTube video, if you’re interested.

Still, thrifty shopping saved a total of $97.9 million in cash, Brusdar Graterol (by targeting Boyd instead of Syndergaard) and a draft pick (by signing Ryu over Wheeler or Bumgarner). Oh, and another $7.7 million was saved by non-tendering Cron.

Yes, I admit it, this offseason blueprint is also to be included as part of my application to become a member of the Minnesota Twins front office. Ya got me.

I hear they’re looking for an Assistant to the Regional Manager of Comparative Sciences and Dumb Jokes (A2RMCS&DJ for those of you familiar with the inner workings of an MLB front office). I guess part of the exam is to build a 2020 roster that protects the Pohlads' pockets but still appeases Twins Territory.

Can I put you down as a reference?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook.

Building a Bullpenner | Nick Nelson
Making Big Betts | Nate Palmer
Hooking a Big Fish | Ted Schwerzler
The Window Just Opened | Jeremy Nygaard
Cheat Off the Champs | Matthew Lenz
Run It Back | Nash Walker
Spending Every Penny | Cooper Carlson
Bet the Farm | Matthew Taylor

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#2 Danchat


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Posted 18 November 2019 - 09:57 PM

I wouldn't be opposed to this plan, though I would like to have more than just the one trade target if we're going to take the cheaper route. Ryu is a legit pitcher when healthy.


I don't agree that Littell should head back to the rotation after pitching so well as a reliever, and I don't think Graterol is going to start very many games for the Twins in 2020. Ryu-Berrios-Odorizzi-Boyd would be a pretty darn good starting corps, though.


Marwin at 3B full-time is an interesting idea, but I doubt it happens. He did rate well there by the fielding metrics, but it would lead to Adrianza playing a lot more in the field (as the primary utility guy). This would also open up a chance for Nick Gordon to be the second utility guy (like Astudillo/Arraez were last year). 

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#3 Mike Sixel

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 10:02 PM

I wanted Taylor Rogers a reliever a year earlier, so no. As for Gaterol, I have no idea what he'll be. It's an intriguing plan, I'm not in love with the constant need to reload the starting veteran pitchers.....

It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 

#4 tony&rodney


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Posted 18 November 2019 - 10:56 PM

I like the addition of Martin.

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#5 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 12:37 AM

I like the addition of Martin.

Agreed. He was good with the Angels. Not much if a hitter, but great D and the pitchers seem to love him.

#6 old nurse

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 02:11 AM

Boyd had a career year, Thor had a career worse.

There is what your calculator says then there is what the teams that control them think. Type in DeGrom and that is about what the teams are asking for,

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#7 Richard Swerdlick

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 05:09 AM

Lots of good ideas. Littell as a starter is not one of them.
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#8 Steve Lein

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 08:58 AM

I must be the only one who looks at Boyd and sees a guy I don't want to pursue in a trade. Is it because he strikes out a bunch of guys? I look at everything else and go "he's league average... at best."


I'd like to do better than that if we're trading the names proposed, and I hate any trade within the division.

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#9 MMMordabito


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Posted 19 November 2019 - 08:59 AM

I have to agree with others on Littell.He's been eye-opening out of the bullpen. If the starter acquisitions take some form like you are suggesting, I think the Twins will have enough depth with Graterol, Thorpe, Dobnak and Smeltzer to cover those early season starts or provide depth beyond the fifth guy.


The rest of the plan is great.Nice work.

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#10 jrod23


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Posted 19 November 2019 - 09:57 AM

Tom...hired.Pack your box with TD.You're convincing with Boyd.You think they'd take Rooker over Larnach and anyone not named Lewis, Graterol, or Balazovic instead of Jeffers.Finding a solid hitting catcher who can actually catch a good game is so rare.


#11 sweetmusicviola16


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Posted 19 November 2019 - 10:04 AM

I like the idea of Ryu and resigning Pineda. I also like trading for Boyd. But Larnach is too high a price imo for a guy that has built a mediocre resume. Granted his teams have been awful. More like Javier and Jeffers and throw in another wildcard prospect from the low minors.


If I'm trading Larnach or Kiriloff its for more than a #4 SP.

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#12 sweetmusicviola16


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Posted 19 November 2019 - 10:08 AM

With a rotation of Ryu and Berrios at the top followed by Odorizzi and Pineda, Boyd even though he is Detroit's Ace he would be our #5. Yes to Boyd but no for Larnach.


But that in my estimation would be a great rotation.

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#13 Seansy


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Posted 19 November 2019 - 10:14 AM

Don't cut Cron. He had a 900ops before he got hurt.

Trading for Boyd in the division will be tough, skip that. Sign Wheeler instead.

I like Chris Martin but would prefer a 2nd lefty like Drew Pomeranz. Will Harris is another solid RP target.

I LOVE going after Ryu, great pitcher on a short term deal. Same with Pineda at his expected contract years/amounts.

Bringing Romo back seems like a no brainer.

We will see what happens!
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#14 JD Green

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 10:26 AM

Like the plan. Only change I would consider is to add Cave in a trade package somewhere. Use his roster spot to bring up some of the guys for a stint from the farm to get their feet wet and let them realize what they need to work on if and when they get sent back down. Also the coaches and FO get the opportunity to see what they potentially have in a player at the MLB level. Injuries are going to happen. Hopefully when there is a callup, they wont be coming up totally green.

#15 Tom Froemming

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 10:29 AM

Just a little bit more info on Littell:


I'd be fascinated to see how he could apply the lessons learned as last season progressed to working as a starter. His pitch usage changed dramatically to where he was a fastball/slider guy, but I've seen him working with five pitches successfully in Triple A. Similar to Lewis Thorpe, consistency was elusive, but I think it's worth giving guys like that as much time as possible to figure it out as starting pitchers. 


Also, I don't necessarily feel like Littell is needed in this bullpen. He wouldn't be pitching many high-leverage innings over Rogers/Martin/Duffey/May/Romo. So instead of having him mostly work mop-up duty on the big club, why not give it one last go on the starting path? After all, it's much more difficult to find starting pitching than bullpen help..

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#16 lukeduke1980


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Posted 19 November 2019 - 10:45 AM

Is Ryu getting only 2 years realistic?  

#17 Tom Froemming

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 10:50 AM


You're convincing with Boyd.You think they'd take Rooker over Larnach and anyone not named Lewis, Graterol, or Balazovic instead of Jeffers.Finding a solid hitting catcher who can actually catch a good game is so rare.

Always really tough to say, but if I was Detroit I wouldn't take anything less than Larnach as the centerpiece. Boyd has three years of team control left, so it's not like they're going to be very motivated to move him.


In no way am I targeting Larnach and Jeffers because I don't believe in them, that just appears to be (at least) the cost of doing business in this case. I do feel the system could withstand losing those two because there are so many other corner outfielders, Mitch Garver is going to be around four more years and I'm pretty high on Ben Rortvedt. 


Also, I don't understand this, but catching seems to come cheap on the free agent market. I suppose it's due to the injury risk? I dunno. Here are the projected contracts for this year's top catchers (per those same FanGraphs projections I used in the article):


Grandal 4Y, $70M

d'Arnaud: 2Y, $12M

Castro: 2Y, $12M

Chirinos: 1Y, $9M


Weirdly low, considering position scarcity. That's a long-winded way of saying if it came down to it, I'd much rather have to supplement catching on the free agent market than starting pitching. Still, I definitely understand the attachment to Jeffers. Guys like that are hard to find.

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#18 Tom Froemming

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 11:01 AM


Is Ryu getting only 2 years realistic?  

Here's how that one works out on a couple other projections:


MLB Trade Rumors

Ryu (3Y, $54M), Wheeler (5Y, $100M), Bumgarner (4Y, $72M)


MLB Daily Dish

Ryu (3Y, $57M), Wheeler (4Y, $81M), Bumgarner (5Y, $88M)


And the median crowd sourced projections from FanGraphs had this:

Ryu (3Y, $48M), Wheeler (4Y, $72M), Bumgarner (4Y, $72M)


So I think it's very fair to be suspicious about a two-year deal being realistic, but I'd still prefer Ryu in each of these other scenarios.

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#19 Dman


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Posted 19 November 2019 - 11:08 AM

While I like Generics sometimes there is just more comfort in going with the name brand.I mean I took generic Advil once and ended up having an allergic reaction so it seems like there can be less risk going with the name brand sometimes.


That being said if you have a budget you can get more value for the money going generic and I like your plan for the most part.As noted in my intro I am concerned about injury risk for Ryu.I get that even the most injury free pitcher can get injured at any time but one with a pretty established injury history does give me pause because he can't help the team if he can't pitch.Granted Rocco seems to be in tune with getting players rest when they need it but all I am saying is getting a cheaper guy that might not make it the whole season isn't a good deal unless he plays the whole season.


I also am not a huge Boyd fan but then again I am not a great judge of pitching talent but his price is likely to be high and he might end up as 4th or 5th starter which we have plenty of.If he is the real deal then the trade makes sense I just am not sure what kind of pitcher Boyd will end up being.


Everything else looks good to me and I am not opposed to your plan I am just a bit more risk averse and possibly less informed than you are.

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#20 Brandon


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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:15 PM

Cron is likely to earn 7.7 million in arbitration. I'm sure he would like to come back. I can see the Twins offering an incentive based contract. Like 6 million base with 2 million based on games played/ plate appearances. I think the Twins would like to keep Gonzales as a supersub to fill in for injuries and resting others. If you are set o. Releasing Cron we need a replacement 3rd baseman. Also I thought Sano was not good at digging out bad throws at 1B making him a bad 1B defensively. This in itself is a long debate to be had here on Twinsdaily complete with video and in depth Parker Hageman analysis (nudge, nudge).