Looking ahead to the 2019 Major League Baseball season, it’s relatively apparent that this is a year that looms large for the Minnesota Twins front office. Embarking on year three, and with their hand-picked managerial candidate soon to be announced, the impact of change must be felt at the major league level. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have done a good job revamping the organization, but the fruits of their labor must start to show promise. In an offseason of massive proportions, some aggressive moves could be on the table.
I’m not sure how to categorize each of these scenarios other than to catalog them as realistic possibilities. Without attempting to venture down a hot take hole, each of the following situations could play out, but shouldn’t necessarily be banked on either. Minnesota has a significant amount of money to spend, and new talent should flood onto the 25 man roster this year. Noting both of those things as definitive truths, we could certainly see some interesting avenues explored when blueprinting how things look in March.
Eddie Rosario Doesn’t Play for Minnesota in 2019
If the Twins want to make a big move on the trade market, dealing from the outfield could be the option they explore. Max Kepler could be had by an opposing team, but obviously brings back a significantly muted return. Byron Buxton combines a low value and high ceiling to find himself in a relatively untouchable form. In Rosario Minnesota would be capitalizing on a player at his peak. Eddie would bring back the most talent and would be of benefit to another organization for the next few seasons.
At this point we’ve seen Rosario establish himself as a near All-Star caliber type of player. I don’t think the ceiling is much higher, but he’s also helped to cement the floor as being respectable as well. It would hurt the Twins to lose him, but there’s other avenues to make up the loss in outfield ability. Should the Twins pull off a big swap, I’d much prefer to see it include this name as opposed to some of the top prospects.
Nick Gordon Gets Dealt This Winter
Thinking along similar lines to any Rosario deal, Gordon is the prospect I’d try and entice another organization with. He’s still entrenched among Top 100 lists, and he’s just 23 years old. To be frank, that’s where the good news ends. Gordon has played 556 minor league games and owns just a .704 OPS. His only solid offensive output came over the course of 42 Double-A games while repeating the level to begin 2018.
At this stage of his career it doesn’t seem like Gordon will stick at shortstop either. Destined for second base, light hitting, and lacking ideal on-base skills, he seems like a decent type of prospect to include in a trade to sweeten the deal. Should the Twins sign a middle infielder this winter (and they need to) Gordon falls further down the depth chart as well.
Miguel Sano Is Done at Third Base
There’s a lot of assumptions built into this one, but I don’t think any of them are a relative leap. Joe Mauer appears to have player his last game in the major leagues, and that leaves the Twins with an opening at first. The free agent market for the position is beyond ugly and dealing for some thump could prove to be an unwise endeavor. Reports on Brent Rooker in the outfield aren’t good, and they aren’t much better at first.
Miguel has looked passable at times when it comes to his defensive ability, but it almost solely falls on his drive to be great. There’s a lot riding on how he prepares this offseason, and a move to first could allow him to slack further. That said, Minnesota can upgrade at the hot corner and grab the best bopper for first base from their own team. Both Mauer and Justin Morneau could help Miguel (if he’s willing) take to his new role this spring.
Addison Reed Rebounds in Year 2
Going the one-year contract route on a few relievers, it was Reed who grabbed $16.75MM from Minnesota on a two-year deal prior to 2017. The numbers looked good for the home team, and Reed was expected to be every bit worth of that contract. Fast forward to today, and we saw a guy be both bad and hurt most of the season.
Reed’s average velocity dipped to 91.3mph last year, which represented a career low and third straight season of decline. He’ll be just 30 years old however, and a clean bill of health should help significantly when it comes to righting the ship. Missing bats was the biggest problem for Reed last year, and that was evidenced by a career worst 7.1 K/9. Ticking the velocity back up and staying in front of hitters, he should see an ERA more in line with the 2.66 mark put up between 2015-17.
Once the offseason gets started the Minnesota Twins are going to be a team with plenty of intrigue. The front office knows what is expected of them, and there’s more than one way they can execute upon vast improvement for the year ahead. After a winter where baseball mostly froze out free agents, I’d expect a significantly different couple of months this time around.