Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.

Front Page: Winter Meetings Bring a Dose of Cold Reality for Twins

  • Please log in to reply
152 replies to this topic

#1 Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson


  • Owner
  • 4,266 posts

Posted 15 December 2019 - 08:28 PM

Several teams and their fanbases came away from last week's Winter Meetings feeling happy and fulfilled – most notably the Yankees, Nationals, and Angels, who scored the top three prizes.

The Twins, however, were left out cold in San Diego, underscoring the uphill battle they face in the coming weeks.By all accounts, the Twins entered this offseason – and these Winter Meetings – with legitimate intentions to aggressively pursue high-end talent. They've come up empty thus far, despite their efforts to follow through.

The Twins reportedly extended to Zack Wheeler a nine-figure offer, which would've doubled their highest previous free agent commitment, but the right-hander chose Philadelphia. This exercise served to remind the Twins, and their fans, of two disadvantages working against the front office as it wades into the deeper waters: Money and Minny.

Money. It's the sole focal point for some fans, which has become draining. Yes, the Twins (and many other suitors) were outbid for Wheeler. They never could've even dreamed of approaching the contracts handed out to Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, or Anthony Rendon. While this will inevitably invoke utterances of "Cheap Pohlads" from a certain crowd, those folks need to face facts: The Twins are never going to have the uninhibited spending flexibility of a Philadelphia, New York, Washington, or Los Angeles.

Minny. Look, I know most Minnesotans hate this shorthand but I needed it for the wordplay so please let it slide. As much as I love Minneapolis, I recognize that we're not the most appealing destination for high-profile free agents and their families. Money talks, but it's narrow-minded to believe that's the overriding factor in every decision, especially for the most in-demand players. All four of the aforementioned free agents – Wheeler, Cole, Strasburg, Rendon – went from famed big-market cities to other famed big-market cities. Wheeler, from what I've heard, notified the Twins more or less that he wasn't interested.

Lament and loathe these realities all you want, but they are the hindrances faced by this organization, and they've become unignorable in the early stretch of this offseason.

As the latest example of uncontrollable influences, Madison Bumgarner signed with Arizona yesterday for five years and $85 million. That's a price point the Twins – who were said to be heavily interested in the left-hander – could've matched, if they pleased, but it sounds like Bumgarner had his heart set on Arizona from the jump. He doesn't have horses in the Minneapolis area. What are ya gonna do?

Money isn't an overwhelming encumbrance – ownership's willingness to spend was made clear by the apparent green-lighting of a massive offer to Wheeler, which healthily exceeds the amount Bumgarner got – but the Twins can't endlessly outbid competitors with deep pockets and built-in preference. I'm not sure why fans would yearn for it.

There's truth to this quote from Dodgers president Andrew Friedman a few years back: "If you're always rational about every free agent, you will finish third on every free agent." That speaks somewhat to the Twins' dilemma this winter. But it's much easier said by a guy whose virtually unlimited resources enable him to absorb irrational long-term deals with high risk.

Friedman's Dodgers came up short in their pursuit of top names on the market, so now they've got money to burn as they train their gaze on the next tier of free agents, for whom the Twins are also trying to compete. Incidentally, Los Angeles faces its own perception issues (Rendon cited LA's "Hollywood lifestyle" in opting for Anaheim) but needless to say, the Twins will struggle to woo Hyun-Jun Ryu, whom they continue to target...

... Or even a significant offensive upgrade like Josh Donaldson ...

I believe the Twins are serious about doing everything within their power to strike a sensible deal with these players. And maybe, with the right guy, they'll go well beyond the point of rationality to do so. (One comment from Derek Falvey at the Winter Meetings I found interesting: "Sometimes you’re a little more risk-seeking, sometimes you’re a little more risk-averse ... But I think we try to evaluate each decision on its own merits.") Maybe in spite of that, it still won't be enough. That is the nature of free agency, which gets oversimplified by the subset of fans who view every free agency pursuit as the equivalent of an open auction, where teams are raising cards and bidding solely based on price.

If they can't find a fit on the free agent market, then the Twins will have to turn their full focus toward a trade. Here, the overpay will hurt even more, but that'll be necessary if they want to acquire a real difference-maker. Teams are protecting the kind of controllable rotation-fronters Minnesota desires more than ever, and execs have remarked on the generally steep asking prices. (The light return Cleveland got for Corey Kluber would seem to contradict this thinking... or maybe it just means the league is generally convinced the soon-to-be 34-year-old's days as an ace are finished.)

A trade like Jake Cave for Elieser Hernandez could make sense on its own merit – just as the "stabilizing" additions of Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, and Alex Avila do – but it's not the needle-moving splash this offseason seems to need. At least, not on the surface. And this is the developing reality Twins fans may need to come to grips with: An offseason defined more by savvy than splash.

Few outsiders viewed the original Odorizzi acquisition as a bold one, but he quickly transformed into one of the American League's better starters. Ditto for Pineda. Last offseason's splashiest free agent pitcher, Patrick Corbin, certainly delivered during his first year in Washington, but his 4.8 fWAR ranked third among newly signed pitchers, behind the decidedly less splashy Lance Lynn (6.8) and Charlie Morton (6.1). The Twins were known to be interested in Morton before he signed in Tampa Bay, and had signed Lynn the previous spring (unseating Anibal Sanchez, who ended up being a key contributor in Washingnton's World Series run this year alongside Corbin).

This front office has shown a keen eye for pitching talent, and a special ability to develop arms. Three years after taking over a 103-loss team with chronic and pervasive pitching issues, their 2019 staff ranked third in the majors in fWAR, right between the Dodgers and Astros. We should show some faith in their ability to find the next Lynn or Morton, while acknowledging their limitations when it comes to landing the next Corbin.

Chilly as it may feel to some at a time where baseball's Hot Stove is being revitalized, the reality of that path as the one the Twins need to follow has become increasingly evident.

(If you're feeling aggrieved about this and wish to find guidance, our guy Stu's got you covered.)

— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

Click here to view the article
  • birdwatcher, Blake, nicksaviking and 2 others like this

#2 adorduan


    Junior Member

  • Member
  • 793 posts

Posted 15 December 2019 - 09:09 PM

So the Twins were interested in Morton, but couldn't beat 2/30?

  • jud6312 likes this

#3 Rosterman


    Senior Member

  • Member
  • 3,602 posts

Posted 15 December 2019 - 09:26 PM


So the Twins were interested in Morton, but couldn't beat 2/30?

Again, there was the Minny issue on the table. Minnesota or Florida. The problem often is that you MUST lay your best offer on the table right away. There is seldom a comeback, unless you are close enough that the agent thinks he can bluff you higher, or the agent thinks he can bluff the other team because of interest(but that doesn't work as the "second" offer is usually revealed). 


I'm sure that Twins like Berrios, Sano, Buxton and even Rosario, although they "love" Minnesota, are salivating at the prospect of playing elsewhere, in a bigger market (perhaps player revenue for advertising and such) and nickel and diming your "future" can sometimes work against getting a long-term commitment from in-house players, too.



Joel Thingvall
rosterman at www.twinscards.com

#4 Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson


  • Owner
  • 4,266 posts

Posted 15 December 2019 - 09:37 PM


So the Twins were interested in Morton, but couldn't beat 2/30?

"Charlie Morton believes he found the perfect situation with the Rays. Not just in terms of money and location. Not just in environment and culture. In the end, he was able to check every box that was important to him."


^ The opening paragraph in the report after he signed. Again, free agency isn't an auction, there are other factors beyond money involved. Morton lives a half-hour from Tropicana Field. It's a perfect illustration of what I'm getting at in this piece.

  • TwinsTakes-RD, birdwatcher, Blake and 11 others like this

#5 adorduan


    Junior Member

  • Member
  • 793 posts

Posted 15 December 2019 - 09:45 PM


"Charlie Morton believes he found the perfect situation with the Rays. Not just in terms of money and location. Not just in environment and culture. In the end, he was able to check every box that was important to him."


^ The opening paragraph in the report after he signed. Again, free agency isn't an auction, there are other factors beyond money involved. Morton lives a half-hour from Tropicana Field. It's a perfect illustration of what I'm getting at in this piece.

Got any ideas what that means it terms of what they could provide and the Twins couldn't? Because it sure seems to happen a lot.....

#6 Darius


    Rochester Red Wings

  • Member
  • 1,900 posts

Posted 15 December 2019 - 09:57 PM

I guess we just don’t see things the same way.

It boils down to them being unwilling. If you have to overpay, so be it. At some point you have to go for it, otherwise what are we even doing here? If not this year, when?

At what point are the Twins numbers just off, and it’s a problem? They are way low on everyone. Always. They have to know that going in.

They don’t have to have the payroll flexibility of the large market teams all the time. Nobody is saying that. People are asking for them to do it once. When you have the table set for you as a potential contender.

Why is this getting framed so often by the media right now as an unreasonable ask? I understand their payroll limitations. There is no reason why can’t be in the $140-150 range (right what 50% of 2019 revenues will be).

Part of the problem is them shooting themselves in the foot PR wise. If you’re not willing to go out and pay up, be honest about it. Don’t say “we’re going to do everything we can to add impact pitching,” if that means Zach Wheeler having to turn down $20M additional to sign with you. That’s not serious. Don’t lie to the fans in an attempt to run up season tickets, then say, oops that got away from us. Show some aggression, competence, and willingness to get something done, or don’t say you will to schill.
  • scottz, spanman2, sandbun and 8 others like this

#7 prouster


    Pensacola Blue Wahoos

  • Member
  • 699 posts

Posted 15 December 2019 - 10:00 PM

Got any ideas what that means it terms of what they could provide and the Twins couldn't? Because it sure seems to happen a lot.....

It means he can live in the same place year round. That much is obvious, isn’t it?

#8 FormerMinnasotan


    Pensacola Blue Wahoos

  • Member
  • 714 posts

Posted 15 December 2019 - 10:04 PM

So, then how are the Twins going to actively compete for a championship then? The biggest need is a top of the rotation starter and there’s no evidence the Twins will achieve this off season goal. What’s the plan? Cling to the hope that José Berrios a #3ish pitcher can some how achieve ace status despite having a long period during each season where he can’t find his pitches, or struggle with his mechanics. To me that’s the calling card of a mid rotation starter, not an ace. Or are the Twins going to wait out the development of either Graterol, Balazovic, or Duran to become that ace? That’s a nice thought, but by the time either of those pitchers develop into possibly that ace role the current window of contention will have closed and some sort of a rebuilding process will began. I’d be more okay with the state of the Twins if they’d make the necessary trades needed to upgrade the team but they won’t even do that.
  • adorduan and Jeff_M like this

#9 nicksaviking


    Billy G.O.A.T

  • Moderator
  • 15,832 posts

Posted 15 December 2019 - 10:11 PM

Depressing article, but a good one. They got to start working on trades though, my biggest issue is that Falvey said they were concentrating on free agents first. Why unless they didn’t have a good read on these free agents and what they wanted?

I agree that both of those variables are big issues for the Twins, I’m more troubled that the organization seems to prefer the status quo to rocking the boat. Like every other professional league MLB absolutely needs a salary cap and salary floor. All the small market Midwest teams should pushing for this.
  • DocBauer, bighat and jkcarew like this

#10 howeda7


    Senior Member

  • Member
  • 2,187 posts

Posted 15 December 2019 - 10:25 PM

I'm tired of the "no one will come to MN" excuse. You could have had Keuchel with a competitive offer in June. You could probably have him now. You could have traded for Stroman or Minor at the deadline. All of these will probably require you to over-pay. Tough. Do it. Or admit that we can't ever compete and trade everyone within 2 years of FA. 

  • adorduan, KGB, bighat and 3 others like this

#11 savvyspy


    Senior Member

  • Member
  • 234 posts

Posted 15 December 2019 - 10:45 PM

Free Agency = We came in 2nd and no one wants to play in Minnesota

Trade Deadline = The asking prices are too high

Draft = These picks are just crap shoots at best

Playoff Wins since 2004 = ZERO
  • scottz, adorduan, laloesch and 7 others like this

#12 ND-Fan



  • Member
  • 233 posts

Posted 15 December 2019 - 10:46 PM

I will give them benefit of the doubt for Bumgardner because he is such individualist that i can see him signing where he did because of where he wants to live. If he already is living there in Arizona it make perfect since because he will be home almost half of the baseball season. If he was looking at Minnesota he would have to find place to live for the baseball season and then find place for Spring baseball season all time being away from family and his home.

The Twins are going to have to over pay to get somebody to come to MN not only because of location but also because of taxes players have to play playing in MN. My understanding is even when were next to what another club offers in money were not because amount of taxes taken away for being in Minnesota.Second I think the first two years this management group was in charge has had impact on recruiting new players because they were subtracting when they were competing for playoff spot because of their analytics were showing they couldn't win. This had impact on getting future players because not standing behind their team to win. If you don't think so players do talk and set a poor example of team backing there players. Third how they treated Byron Buxton hurt them in how they were perceived by players and agents it made them look cheap not good recruiting stance for other players. Then add in perception of ownership being frugal not just in short term but long term these are hard perception to over come. Especially when they were willing to at one point contract this team. The ironic part of this when Pohlad's took over they were ones breaking the barriers on player salaries with what they paid Puckett and other players. Also one last thing everyone in Minnesota are in love with the new ball park but because its outside but nice weather does not cover whole season and as player the beginning and the end of season can be very tough weather to play in. Just another reason for Free agent to consider where choosing a place to play.  

  • Dakota Diver likes this

#13 High heat

High heat

    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 131 posts

Posted 15 December 2019 - 10:51 PM

Well we are unwilling to pay the cost for the best.  

I think now you need to identify pitchers outside the organization that you and wes Johnson believe can teach or make adjustments to turn into that “ace”. 

i know it’s easier to say then do but it’s going to be the only way to get the pitching we need.  

you did it’s to a less extent with Penada and Odo and even Martin Perez for a couple months.  

  • bighat likes this

#14 Winger2765


    Elizabethton Twins

  • Member
  • 2 posts

Posted 16 December 2019 - 01:24 AM

I can't agree with this article. If you look at other Minnesota sports teams they have no issues finding talent (at least in leagues with a cap). The Vikings/Wild have not for the most part had issues finding talent. Did the Vikings overpay for Captain Kirk....maybe, but Speilman recognized the window was open and they made their move. He chose Minnesota over New York and Denver. That being said the professional football, hockey and basketball players have to live here in the winter. The Baseball players arrive in March and stay through October. You ever do work outside in southern Florida during the summer, Texas, Arizona. Frankly the whole its cold think doesn't really apply to them. That being said the MLB needs to take a long look at their cap/luxury tax system. The reality is that if the Yankees want to win a WS they go out and buy it literally buy it (27 of 112 of them with an additional 13 appearances that they lost). After the Gerritt Cole Signing baseball is starting to lose its appeal again. 

  • scottz, Doug Y and by jiminy like this

#15 Dome Dogg

Dome Dogg

    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 118 posts

Posted 16 December 2019 - 06:14 AM

"Look, I know most Minnesotans hate this shorthand but I needed it for the wordplay so please let it slide. As much as I love Minneapolis, I recognize that we're not the most appealing destination for high-profile free agents and their families."


In my opinion, it's not the city and state, it's the ownership and the way the franchise is run. Would you want to play for a team that tries to do things on a shoestring budget, or a team that is willing to pay for a real contender. 


Maybe Wheeler's girlfriend truly dragged him to Philly (although I would imagine it was that extra $18 million that was the real reason), but I am guessing their contract to Bryce Harper and the message ownership puts out there that the goal is to win the World Series didn't hurt either. 


If a player can go anywhere in the league, I would imagine two things are most important: money, and a commitment to winning. I really doubt these guys care about where they will spend essentially three months out of the year when you factor in all the road trips. 

  • bighat and Jeff_M like this

"Kid, don't you think there's a problem when you get that excited over a seeing-eye single?"

#16 HrbieFan


    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 140 posts

Posted 16 December 2019 - 07:14 AM

Now the silly Pohlad jokes will continue. I love Minnesota, but if I was a free agent, there is not enough money on Earth to move me to NYC, Philly, SF, Houston or LA.
  • LeePinLee and Jeff_M like this

#17 rv78


    Ft Myers Miracle

  • Member
  • 261 posts

Posted 16 December 2019 - 07:23 AM

So no one wants to come to Minnesota in the summertime. Tell me, what can they do in the big market team cities that they can't do in Minnesota? Find a beach somewhere when it is the The Land of 10,000 Lakes. Play golf? Fish? Is the weather that bad during the summer in Minnesota? Still too cold? Is it hotter than Caifornia or the East Coast? Rain too much? What?


No one wants to come to the Twins because there is no committment to winning. If I was a Free Agent, such as Nelson Cruz and we were having the best season in Franchise history ever and the Front Office doesn't go out and acquire a top starting Pitcher before the trade deadline I'd be PO'd. Perfect example of no committment, Right? I'm not saying Cruz is PO'd but it sends a message to other players. Gee. why would I want to go there? They had a great season but they never made a move at the trade deadline to better themselves for a playoff run, even when they knew it would greatly improve their chances. Why put myself into that situation? I'll go someplace that isn't afraid to sign the best available and shows they are willing to do the most they can to win. A real contender, not a pretender.


If the Twins cannot compete for top Free Agents such as Cole or Strasburg then MLB and the Twins have a problem. MLB needs a Cap. The luxury system doesn't work. The Twins need new ownership. Like someone said in a previous post. The Vikings and the Wild can get top talent and they play during the winter. It's not the location, it's ownership.

  • scottz, Doug Y, Jham and 2 others like this

#18 twinfan


    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 125 posts

Posted 16 December 2019 - 07:31 AM

Ok. Let's now sign Hellickson, Teheran and a lefty starter and Betances for the pen. Don't trade Cave because we need a backup plan for Buxton and his injuries. I would have loved Bumgarner but figured he would stay in the NL. Ryu is the last hope for a solid lefty but he may go elsewhere. The Indians weren't going to be dumb enough to trade Kluber to a Central team. The Phillies keep signing high priced free agents and haven't won anything yet. I'll bet we win more games than they do. The Dodgers and Yankees also spend tons of money but recently haven't won the World Series. As far as coming to Minnesota, I wouldn't know about that though we have friends there are they love it. Personally, I would not live in that extreme cold but if I were a ballplayer it might not matter. Give me 10 million and I'll be on the next plane. 

#19 mike8791


    Cedar Rapids Kernels

  • Member
  • 82 posts

Posted 16 December 2019 - 07:50 AM

Nick, congrats on another of your balanced, logical articles.As you say, Twin fan base expectations for an impact pitcher have been overly optimistic.Cole and Strasburg were never within reach, and the next tier of MadBum, Wheeler and Ryu, for personal and financial reasons, were low % Twin FA additions.Just too many bidders for too few commodities.And frankly, there is a a huge question mark on whether any of the latter three FA would actually be the ace we're seeking.Mad Bum is on the decline, Wheeler has never been more than a #3 on the Mets and Ryu has an injury history that leaves major questions.


But that leaves the question - what should this FO be doing -unanswered.IMO, there are two major reasons holding this organization back:


1. Ownership's inability/unwillingness to bring this franchise a championship.Pohlad has never come out and stated this as his mission and consequently, this ambiguity is reflected in lack of financial commitment to do so.


2. Falvey has demonstrated a risk aversion to trading assets that is more than troubling.One significant trade in three years(and that one didn't result in giving up a top prospect).This FO had no hesitation in collecting prospects at the 2018 trade deadline but have shown no propensity to use such assets to improve the major league team.No guts, no glory, I'm afraid.


While 101 wins raised everyone's hopes, very few seasoned Twin fans on TD gave this team much of a chance to advance in the playoffs, especially when they sat on their hands at the trade deadline(Romo and Dyson were not going to move the needle much).And sure enough, another embarrassing loss to the Yanks!  


The offseason is well advanced by now, and so far the Twins continue to dither, ala Ryan.It has been 28 years and counting since our last WS and 17 years since our last playoff series victory.If the Wonder Boys continue to nibble at the edges, I would hope that the good writers like Nick call a spade a spade, rather than to continue to offer time-worn excuses for their lack of resolve.WE loyal fans deserve more!

  • Nick Nelson and DocBauer like this

#20 strumdatjaguar


    Ft Myers Miracle

  • Member
  • 436 posts

Posted 16 December 2019 - 07:54 AM

I hate the term - Minny - it’s what people who are rarely here call this place. The Wild attracts free agents who have ties to Mn but also attracts free agents who have wives with ties to Mn
  • nokomismod likes this