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5 Twins Players Most Impacted by MLB's Suspended Season

nelson cruz randy dobnak rich hill jake odorizzi trevor may
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 18 March 2020 - 05:13 PM

It goes without saying: The fallout of our global pandemic is far from ideal for anyone, in baseball or beyond. An indefinite delay of the league's 2020 season – one which seems likely to extend into July at least – creates challenging circumstances for each team and player.

But as I look up and down the roster, there are five Twins who, based on timing in their careers, stand out as especially unfortunate victims of this season in limbo.I feel for each of these guys, who will be dealing with shutdown disruption at critical junctures.

Nelson Cruz, DH

The veteran slugger's 40th birthday, July 1st, is a pretty reasonable over-under at this point for Opening Day – if not a tad optimistic. He looked incredibly good last year, giving no warning of imminent decline, but his age puts him up against the clock.

This delay will remove a significant portion of the remaining games Cruz has left in the tank. And given how brilliantly he's still playing (including this spring, where he mashed three homers and two doubles in 23 at-bats), that's a shame.

Trevor May, RHP

It's been a long journey for May. He was a fourth-round pick of the Phillies in 2008, traded to Minnesota in 2012. He debuted in the majors in 2014 as a starter, transitioned fully to relief in 2016, then lost basically two full seasons to Tommy John surgery. Last year, at age 29, May finally broke through, posting a stellar 2.94 ERA and 11.1 K/9 rate as one of the team's highest-leverage relievers.

This included a 1.38 ERA in 23 appearances between August and September. May was carrying a full head of steam into the biggest season of his career, with free agency coming at the end.

Due to his ill-timed elbow injury and role-switching, the right-hander has burnt through most of his team service time without truly establishing himself, in spite of his immense talent, dedication, and intelligence. That's why he finds himself looking ahead to the open market already, with fewer than 300 total MLB innings. He's yet to earn a salary over $1 million.

The 2020 season represented a huge opportunity for May to make his case on a big stage. And yes, that opportunity should still be awaiting him whenever baseball resumes. But I sure would've liked to see him ride all that built-up momentum. After putting it all together at long last, being forced to wait has gotta be especially painful for him.

Rich Hill, LHP

One might argue that Hill actually stands to be the beneficiary of a suspended season. He wasn't expected back until June at least, so a months-late start could make him available for the Twins from the jump. And should the season get extended later into the year to include more games, it's possible the Twins could get more starts from Hill than they ever expected upon signing him.

It's possible.

But any theoretical notion of Hill joining the club midseason, in classic form, was always steeped in hopeful optimism. The reason he and his immaculate track record were available to the Twins at such a fine value is that Hill is a longshot. He turned 40 a week ago and is trying to come back from rarely utilized elbow surgery.

In a situation like this, you need a lot to go right. Like all players, Hill will have to deal with the auxiliary impacts of a total league shutdown, including the loss of access to his team's world-class trainers, equipment, and rehab regimens. The southpaw will certainly stick to his own program but there's no replacement for the steady, organized ramp-up process with assorted milestones and benchmarks.

If the entire season is lost, this could very well be it for Hill's career.

Jake Odorizzi, RHP

Much like May, Odorizzi is heading into a pivotal year. In accepting Minnesota's qualifying offer, he opted to bypass a multi-year contract in favor of the short-term payday. Coming off an All-Star campaign, he was set to make $17.8 million and then hit the open market. Now, his plan is in flux.

In a shortened season, would players receive prorated salaries? It stands to reason. And in such a scenario, Odorizzi's perfectly logical gamble stands to backfire. He wouldn't earn the full 2020 figure that enticed him, and he would end up auditioning for his next contract in a weird, partial campaign.

Maybe that's not how it plays out. Hopefully baseball can find a way to ease the relative burdens for players in such tough positions. While these examples all obviously pale in comparison to the thousands of less-wealthy individuals who work at ballparks and fill their stands, there's an unmistakable difference between a player in Josh Donaldson's position of total security, and one in Odorizzi's. Not to mention a fringe player trying to seize what might be his biggest chance.

Randy Dobnak, RHP

His 2019 season was one of the best real-life underdog stories in memory, and there was more to Dobnak than just a fun narrative. He pitched extremely well, displaying poise and precision beyond his years. From undrafted independent-leaguer to ALDS starter, the right-hander is on a journey like no other.

He was set to continue it under favorable circumstances this spring. A spot in the Twins rotation was for the taking, and his case was strong coming off a dazzling debut. But a delayed start shifts those circumstances. Suddenly, the starting corps could become crowded much more quickly, with Hill and even Michael Pineda potentially entering the fold sooner, and no injuries to open up spots.

Minnesota's 2020 roster was meticulously built for the rigors of a 162-game season, loaded with depth and contingencies. A shortening of the season wouldn't negate this strength, but it would be costly for players like Dobnak on the fringes. Everyone knows how difficult it is to carve out a niche at the highest level of this game. Hard-working young men who are at the apex of their opportunities will lose time they can't get back.

That's just one of many harsh realities rippling from this occurrence. But to look on the bright side, baseball will be back eventually. And when that happens, so many of its players – these five especially – will be poised for inspiring tales of perseverance and success in the face of adversity.

I can't wait to write about them.

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#2 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 18 March 2020 - 05:31 PM

On a different note, Kenta Maeda may be impacted financially, due to his contract having such a low base salary and millions in various achievement-based incentives.

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#3 Otwins

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Posted 18 March 2020 - 11:40 PM

Do you think they are going to prorate Pineda's suspension? I think that would be bad precedent. I doubt that he is back quicker. I think it could be a lost year for him also.

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#4 HrbieFan

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Posted 19 March 2020 - 06:24 AM

Pinedas suspension of 60 games was based on a 162 game schedule. It isn't his fault that COVID19 popped up and will probably cancel the first 30-60 games of the MLB schedule. If baseball doesn't start until June, that would push his arrival to mid to late July. If that happens he would be out a possible 100+ games. I would hope MLB would not punish him even more.
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#5 nater79a

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Posted 19 March 2020 - 07:39 AM

I would add in Donaldson if only because, at age 34, the most productive years of his four-year deal are probably at the front end.

#6 strumdatjaguar

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Posted 19 March 2020 - 08:24 AM

I was also surprised Maeda was not included.

#7 cardsfan

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Posted 19 March 2020 - 08:46 AM

When they resume the virus won't be over with in this country. They are just trying to flatten the curve so the hospitals won't be overrun. Has measles truly gone away, you should still be vaccinated.

So they resume in May do you think there will be 1000's in the stands without a vaccine? With 20% unemployment?

I miss the diversion. I wish they would broadcast previous years games in which they don't tell you the exact date so the outcome is still a mystery.

#8 South Dakota Tom

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Posted 19 March 2020 - 10:05 AM

Would like to see an entire (prior) season on TV - each team could pick which season they want to watch ('87 holds the most allure for me, just seeing how much I forgot about the personnel and arc of that season).Have the games play on FSN exactly 33 years after the original...

 

For Pineda, I would assume the suspension will be for a pro-rated portion of the season, right?Essentially he would miss 1/4 of the "remaining" schedule?Also assuming we will know during this hiatus just how all these issues will be handled, long before resumption of the schedule.


#9 Tomj14

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Posted 19 March 2020 - 10:13 AM

Schools are talking about the kids returning to school for the 2021-22 school year. So I can't imagine sports playing again until there is a vaccine.


#10 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 19 March 2020 - 11:11 AM

Schools are talking about the kids returning to school for the 2021-22 school year. So I can't imagine sports playing again until there is a vaccine.


Which schools? Do you have a link to that?
Cancelling the next 18 months of school sounds like jumping the gun, more than just a bit.

#11 Tomj14

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Posted 19 March 2020 - 11:44 AM

 

Which schools? Do you have a link to that?
Cancelling the next 18 months of school sounds like jumping the gun, more than just a bit.

I have friends that are teachers and they are being told to prepare for it (not all of them have heard this, but a few have, some are actually being told they expect in-school to start up in April or May(My wife's school for example) ) and they are not cancelling school, doing distance learning until then. And I am pretty sure there are no articles saying this, it would freak the public out even more, but IMO sending people back into the real world before there is a vaccine would just start it up again.

 


#12 bobs

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Posted 19 March 2020 - 02:27 PM

It's cloudy, rainy and gloomy today in west central Minnesota.Devastated by the loss of the promise of baseball.I.MISS.BASEBALL!


#13 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 19 March 2020 - 09:09 PM

I have friends that are teachers and they are being told to prepare for it (not all of them have heard this, but a few have, some are actually being told they expect in-school to start up in April or May(My wife's school for example) ) and they are not cancelling school, doing distance learning until then. And I am pretty sure there are no articles saying this, it would freak the public out even more, but IMO sending people back into the real world before there is a vaccine would just start it up again.


If it's going to be 18 months before a vaccine is ready, they are going to have to come up with an alternative plan.

Short term, locking down is a good solution.
It's not sustainable to lock everyone in their homes for 18 months though.
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#14 Trov

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Posted 20 March 2020 - 08:37 AM

I brought this up before, but depending on when or if season starts, there will be a lot of questions the players have.Worst case, no season at all, what happens with 1 year contracts, were they served?What happens with service time, does it accrue?What happens with arbitration, will another year be added, do you use the 2019 stats to decide worth?  

 

I have seen players being optioned to AAA recently, is that because the assumption is season was going to start soon and the figure is they would accrue service time if they are not optioned?Should players that still have option years that would not need to be waived be optioned to stop service time, would that raise a grievance?There are so many questions.The CBA may have the answers and I am sure lawyers on both sides are looking into it, but it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

 

Even if half a season is played, many of the same questions will come up with service time.Think the questions about option years and contracts would be moot, but for many young players service time is a big thing. 


#15 Tomj14

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Posted 20 March 2020 - 08:56 AM

 

If it's going to be 18 months before a vaccine is ready, they are going to have to come up with an alternative plan.

Short term, locking down is a good solution.
It's not sustainable to lock everyone in their homes for 18 months though.

During the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, it took about 20 months for a vaccine to be ready for testing in people.

https://www.technolo...t-works-at-all/

 


#16 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 20 March 2020 - 12:46 PM

During the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, it took about 20 months for a vaccine to be ready for testing in people.
https://www.technolo...t-works-at-all/


I don't doubt the timeline for a vaccine.
I mean they are going to have to come up with an alternative mid to long term plan while we wait for the vaccine.
Locking everyone down for longer than a few weeks literally isn't sustainable. Not socially, and definitely not economically.
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#17 Tomj14

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Posted 20 March 2020 - 01:43 PM

 

I don't doubt the timeline for a vaccine.
I mean they are going to have to come up with an alternative mid to long term plan while we wait for the vaccine.
Locking everyone down for longer than a few weeks literally isn't sustainable. Not socially, and definitely not economically.

Completely agree with you.

 




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