WARming Up to 2019 Twins
To say that the Twins have been inactive this offseason would not be accurate. In fact, Jim Bowden of The Athletic recently gave the Twins a B- for their offseason moves thus far. No other team in the AL Central received higher than a C. While their moves have filled some of the gaps they have, I have been frustrated by the lack of a big move. Falvey and Levine clearly did not read my 2019 Blueprint.
After much thought, I am starting to warm up to the Twins offseason decisions. They have added players with the potential to improve the Twins run-producing ability in CJ Cron and Jonathon Schoop. Each player fills a need on the team, both have 30 HR potential and neither limits future moves from a financial perspective. Schoop clearly had a down season last year, but I would happily take an average of his previous three. The reason for my shift in opinion is tied to WAR.
In looking at last year's results, it appears that a team needs to be in the 40+ range for team WAR to be a contender for the playoffs. The moves made by the Twins front office thus far are inching the needle closer all the time. Looking at previous seasons and using predicted WAR for 2019 on Fangraphs, I made what I believe to be reasonable estimates for the Twins in 2019. This comes with the assumption that the Twins will add two more arms to the bullpen. For this exercise I have chosen Joakim Soria and Kelvin Herrera, which seems about right for the Twins.
Castro/Garver - combined they should be able to produce 2.0
Hitters' Total: 22.2
13th man 0
Pitchers' Total: 16.0
Overall WAR: 38.2
While this doesn't get them above 40, they are within striking range. A few surprises could give them the nudge above 40. The biggest question marks in my estimates belong to Buxton and Sano. This is a big season for both players and the Twins are counting on them being productive players in their lineup. Those two, along with perhaps Berrios, provide the Twins with the most potential star power on the team. I believe that the front office is hedging their bets to see what Buxton and Sano can deliver. If they fail to deliver, I suspect Falvey and Levine sell off pieces (Gibson, Odorizzi, Schoop, relievers) in order to retool for 2020/2021 when Kirilloff, Lewis and Graterol are expected to arrive. If Buxton and Sano are up to the task, the Twins will have the ability to take on salary and add a piece or two to push them towards the playoffs. It may not be the path I would have chosen, but I can at least see some reason in the choices they have made.