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Front Page: Absorbing Risk Is Twins Next Decision

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#1 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 10 December 2019 - 09:00 PM

101 wins, an AL Central Division crown, and a trip to the postseason. That’s what the Minnesota Twins accomplished under first-year manager Rocco Baldelli in 2019. Now when looking to sustain that the front office is faced with a you-choose menu involving risk. How they navigate it will lay a foundation or the future.There isn’t a soul within the organization or outside of it that will tell you Minnesota doesn’t need more pitching. Despite his efforts down the stretch, rookie Randy Dobnak in Yankee Stadium during the ALDS was hardly an ideal scenario. That said, the situation isn’t at all as dire as one may assume. From June 1st onward the Twins had the sixth best rotation in baseball, as well as the third best in the American League. That was on top of employing the now departed Kyle Gibson, who posted a 5.26 ERA over that stretch.

So far this offseason has included the Twins bringing back Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda. The former graciously accepted the $17.8 million qualifying offer, while the latter is being had just south of that same dollar amount over the course of two years. Talking to reporters on Monday, GM Thad Levine said the team needed to be stabilized and “now we have the ability to impact it significantly.” Making sure the foundation is laid is something this front office has carried as a premise throughout their time, but this is the first opportunity to make a substantial impact.

When looking at the free agent market, there’s scrutiny at every turn. Do you want to bet on Madison Bumgarner holding up despite the mileage? Is Hyun-Jin Ryu going to be any good if he keeps getting hurt? Is Dallas Keuchel really any better than a mid-rotation arm? All of those questions are entirely fair, and they’re being asked because teams must commit substantial sums to players seeking their next opportunity. Unless you want the certainty of the elite, and that comes with the unlikely proposition of outspending (and being more desired) than the big boys, this is the landscape the Twins must traverse.

On the flip side, you’ve got the trade market. You can bet that the Chicago Cubs would love to have Gleyber Torres right about now, but I’d also assume they’re more than happy to have ended their World Series drought. Detroit probably wishes they’d hit on more for Justin Verlander, and the Pirates are no doubt kicking themselves for the gaffe that was the return for Chris Archer. Win some and lose some there too, but the risk is not much different.

As Minnesota looks to make moves and additions that significantly impact the major league club, it becomes a chess game of evaluation. Is there enough information on free agents to hand out paydays, and is it detrimental to give up dollars if the deals go sideways? The farm system has both height and depth. Does that make it more enticing to part with a known commodity to acquire something that hasn’t been cast off by a former employer?

This organization is often chided about spending, or lack thereof. Now with the first legitimate opportunity to do so in quite some time, it comes down to which risk factors are weighed most heavily by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. The payroll needs to be north of $135 million going into 2020, but there’s more than one avenue to get there. Before the dust settles it will be hard to present an argument for any real hand wringing, but a reflective analysis is certainly going to be on the table.

At the end of the day we can pick apart what’s on the open market and push toward the trade route. We can also overvalue certain prospects and shy away from making that big move. What we can’t do is operate on both of those levels to the full extent and fail to make a well-timed acquisition solely because of inherent risk. The front office has worked their way into deserved trust, and now they need to cash the check and stand by their decision.

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#2 DavidGould

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 05:06 AM

LOL twins taking a risk will never happen unless it’s for under 5million dollars... this offseason has been a pretty crushing one as we have seen are roster get worse and everyone else’s get better... we may actually come in 3rd place in the division and Falvey and Levine a fent even worried

#3 mikelink45

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 07:58 AM

The risk factor does not offset the desires of the players.East Coast/West Coast will always dominate the decisions.Warm southern venues look attractive when we are in FA season and they see our weather report.While I frolic on my snowshoes these players cannot relate. 

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#4 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 07:59 AM

Twins are going to have to take some risk, like it or not... whether that be via cash or prospects. 

 

I have my preferences, but I really don't care as long as we have a better rotation in 2020 than we did in 2019. 

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#5 rdehring

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 08:29 AM

Reality is hard to accept some times, Ted.Thanks for the realistic look at what the Twins face this offseason.

 

With very few good options available on the free agent market, I suspect the Twins must turn to the trade market to find their fourth starter.Fully expect starter #5 to be one of the four young guns we saw last year.Maybe as a #5, or maybe one who follows an opener every fifth day.Personally, I like Graterol coming on in the third inning after Littell gets the start.


#6 PDX Twin

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 09:37 AM

 

The payroll needs to be north of $135 million going into 2020, but there’s more than one avenue to get there.

 

I'm sorry, but that's just silly. Payroll is the cost of getting what we want, not the metric by which we should measure its quality. If the Twins can improve by spending $120m or $110m, then that's what they'll do. Spending more money *might* buy more quality, but as the premise of your article suggests, nothing is anywhere close to certain.

 

I will be satisfied if the 2020 Twins contend to win an improved division. Given so many players who are likely to regress and the likelihood of a greater burden of injuries, anything more will be a surprise, whether they pay out for a big free agent or spend $30m less. Washington seems to have done pretty well after unloading last year's mega-bucks star, who went to a Philadelphia team that only managed to improve from 80-82 to 81-81.

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It's great to get out of the cellar ... as long as you bring something with you.


#7 SpicyGarvSauce

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 09:37 AM

The type of Twins risk is re-signing a guy who may get caught taking PED's again.

That is what the Twins consider as "taking a risk."


#8 FormerMinnasotan

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 10:15 AM

I think the reason the Twins are “gun shy” to sign a top FA pitcher is they did that w/Lance Lynn and it didn’t turn out well for them. Then again...they literally signed him at the very end of spring training and for most of the first half of that season it was obvious Lynn was out of shape. So...if the Twins signed him in the off season instead of at the end of spring training there’s a better chance Lynn would have pitched much better for the Twins.

#9 Aerodeliria

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 10:16 AM

If the Twins can land one of the remaining 'little guns,' I could say that we at least made an effort to reel someone in. The pitching staff is not as bad off as we thought just a week prior IMHO. Dobnak looked like he could pitch effectively in his playoff debut. He wasn't exactly getting hammered. He just was missing the strike zone. He was also getting squeezed by the HPU, which didn't help. Let's see what he can do this next season

#10 spycake

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 10:29 AM

 

Dobnak looked like he could pitch effectively in his playoff debut. He wasn't exactly getting hammered. He just was missing the strike zone. He was also getting squeezed by the HPU, which didn't help. Let's see what he can do this next season

Then what would you call Boof Bonser's playoff debut? A masterpiece? How did he fare the next season?

 

I'm all for seeing what Dobnak can do in 2020, but that is completely irrelevant to the goal of strengthening the top of the rotation this offseason.

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#11 spycake

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 10:31 AM

 

The type of Twins risk is re-signing a guy who may get caught taking PED's again.

That is what the Twins consider as "taking a risk."

As a bonus: players don't get paid while on PED suspensions!

 

The Twins might be trying to secretly perform their own PED tests on free agents this winter (don't ask how), with an eye toward getting a future discount.


#12 Don Walcott

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 10:41 AM

It seems like many Twins fans tend towards beating the FO over the head for risks taken that don't work out as we had hoped (or at all) -- i.e. Mauer, Nolasco, Hughes, Reed, Dyson. And many also continually point out risks that we might have taken, but were better off for not having taken -- i.e. Darvish, Zimmermann, Cueto. Then we celebrate the FO when they are clever and find a bargain. It seems to make taking risks even riskier for the FO.


#13 SpicyGarvSauce

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 10:55 AM

 

I think the reason the Twins are “gun shy” to sign a top FA pitcher is they did that w/Lance Lynn and it didn’t turn out well for them. Then again...they literally signed him at the very end of spring training and for most of the first half of that season it was obvious Lynn was out of shape. So...if the Twins signed him in the off season instead of at the end of spring training there’s a better chance Lynn would have pitched much better for the Twins.

Sorry, but Lance Lynn was not considered a "top FA pitcher."

 

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#14 spycake

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 11:00 AM

 

I think the reason the Twins are “gun shy” to sign a top FA pitcher is they did that w/Lance Lynn and it didn’t turn out well for them. Then again...they literally signed him at the very end of spring training and for most of the first half of that season it was obvious Lynn was out of shape. So...if the Twins signed him in the off season instead of at the end of spring training there’s a better chance Lynn would have pitched much better for the Twins.

Lynn was forecasted by MLBTR to sign for 4/56 that winter. I'm not sure how you define "top FA pitcher" but he was in the Ervin, Nolasco, Hughes extension type group, and his 2018 results were well within the expected range of outcomes for that group without any extraordinary factors.

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#15 spycake

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 11:09 AM

 

And many also continually point out risks that we might have taken, but were better off for not having taken -- i.e. Darvish, Zimmermann, Cueto.

Again, I'd scratch Darvish from that list. The way his 2019 finished and this offseason is trending, Darvish at 4/81 seems like a perfectly appropriate investment for virtually any contending team.

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#16 Don Walcott

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 11:14 AM

 

Again, I'd scratch Darvish from that list. The way his 2019 finished and this offseason is trending, Darvish at 4/81 seems like a perfectly appropriate investment for virtually any contending team.

I agree. It was the reaction here from fans I was talking about more than the reality. I'd definitely like to have Darvish in our rotation going into 2020.

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#17 Danchat

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 12:53 PM

Sorry, but Lance Lynn was not considered a "top FA pitcher."

I’m confident he was considered one of the best FA starters in 2018.

Check out my work at Purple Pain, a Vikings forum: 

Analyzing the Past Decade of Vikings Offseasons


#18 Mike Sixel

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 12:59 PM

 

I’m confident he was considered one of the best FA starters in 2018.

 

Which kind of shows the folly of waiting until just the right moment to add good players.....they might not be there in the year you waited for.

 

The Twins have historically played the risk game in one way:

 

Choose the least financial risk, while accepting that there may be considerable downside risk in playing mediocre players. That's fine, it's their company. But I'd really like them to make an upside play at some point.

 

This was that point. Great hitting team, with lots of money available (and money coming off the books next year), and 5-6 good starting pitchers available (they had no chance at the top two, but those two meant two other teams were not pursuing the other 3-4). 

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


#19 SpicyGarvSauce

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 03:31 PM

 

I’m confident he was considered one of the best FA starters in 2018.

OK?

 

It is all relative. In no way, shape, or form was Lance Lynn considered a "top FA" by all standards. He wasn't someone that was going to come in and change the Twins postseason fortunes, etc.


#20 Danchat

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 11:27 PM

 

OK?

 

It is all relative. In no way, shape, or form was Lance Lynn considered a "top FA" by all standards. He wasn't someone that was going to come in and change the Twins postseason fortunes, etc.

From MLB Trade Rumors:

 

9.Lance Lynn – Rangers.Four years, $56MM.Lynn, a 30-year-old righty, kicks off the second tier of free-agent starting pitching.He made 161 starts for the Cardinals in his career, regularly topping 30 per year.Lynn went under the knife for Tommy John surgery in November 2015.... The righty’s reported asking price of $100MM+ over five years seems unattainable, but half of baseball is seeking rotation help.That includes the Rangers, Orioles, Twins, Mariners, Phillies, Cubs, and Brewers.Given the expected demand for Lynn, the Cardinals are likely to make a qualifying offer, and he’s likely to reject.

Lynn was ranked as the 9th best free agent overall and their 4th best starter, behind Darvish, Arrieta, and Tanaka. 

 

MLBT isn't the word of god, obviously, and MLB teams clearly soured on him during the FA period, but no matter how poorly he pitched in hindsight, he was still a high-end FA that offseason.

Check out my work at Purple Pain, a Vikings forum: 

Analyzing the Past Decade of Vikings Offseasons




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