As things stand right now the Minnesota Twins have what can be considered an incomplete 26-man roster. There’s work yet to be done, as there is for most teams in baseball, and the front office may find favor in one-year agreements for 2021.
The reality right now is that teams are using the lack of traditional revenues as reasons to spend less for the 2021 Major League Baseball season. On top of that, there’s uncertainty regarding the 2022 season due to an expiring CBA and the previous history between the league and Players Association. While the Twins may see reduced payroll as a way forward in terms of financial flexibility, one-year deals may be an outlier allowing them to still maximize a competitive window.
It’s a pretty hard sell for the Pohlad’s to suggest they are committed to winning while instructing Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to take their foot off the gas in the midst of developmental emergence. This organization signed their biggest free agent in history just last offseason, and not pairing him with more talent as the home-grown group has emerged would be a head-scratcher at best. While it wouldn’t necessarily reduce the bill for 2021, removing future monetary commitment is a practice that makes some sense this time around.
Think back to 2018 for a moment. Minnesota made a splash with Spring Training already underway. In a less than ideal market for both players, the secured the services of Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison. Both players came in a bit disgruntled at the process they witnessed over the winter, and their output left plenty to be desired. At that time, the suggestion of hired hitman brought forth the discussion as to whether chemistry was ever truly able to be established. With a different set of parameters this time around, a similar plan could be truly beneficial.
Thus far the only deal of consequence for Minnesota has been the acquisition of former Angels closer Hansel Robles on a one-year deal. Internally, he joins Michael Pineda as a free agent following the 2021 season. There’s a sunk cost already with Josh Donaldson, and then much of the Twins roster is on team-friendly extensions, or just into the arbitration process. In short, there’s not much of a massive monetary leap year over year from what’s already committed to.
Enter the onslaught of one-year deals. Kris Bryant for $18 million, yep, sure. Trevor Story at the same price, why not. How about Sonny Gray for just over $10 million, or Jon Gray coming in just under $6 million. The reality is that while all of those players are substantially more costly than a prospect at the league minimum, the future financial fear is off the table. You could add Nelson Cruz and his $16 million ask to this group as well. The point isn’t that the money is inconsequential, but that you’d be maximizing your opportunity while still having flexibility in the seasons ahead.
For years Major League organizations have seen record growth and financial dividends. 2020 provided an unprecedented halt to those trends, but the reality for the vast majority of the league is that a profit was still turned. Having the ability to regain that opportunity in the near future remains a priority for ownership, and this would give them a clear vision to see that come to fruition.
Players in the final year of contracts, and especially those with hefty price tags, should not require a ransom be paid in exchange for their services. The Rockies Story is an elite talent, but plenty of Minnesota’s system should stay intact. Bryant would seemingly have even less of a required package, and the same could be said about Colorado’s Gray. I don’t know how Falvey and Levine will navigate these waters when they finally dip their oars in, but this seems like a plausible path forward.
In a traditional cycle I’d be less interested in a team full of short-term reinforcements. If it means that talent is bolstered and payroll flexibility is still to be achieved, this could be a blueprint that satisfies all needs.