Now that it is clear Twins must be sellers, the most pressing issue to the FO must be: Retool or Rebuild? With the trade deadline in just 4 weeks, many big decisions must be made this month. Just to restate the obvious: retooling can be defined as fielding a 2022 squad that can be a legitimate contender at least for a playoff spot. A rebuild means tearing down the core and hoping to contend by 2024/5 at the earliest.
For starters, let's list the key factors that would allow for a retool:
1. Build around the existing core of Berrios, Buxton, Donaldson, Rogers, Arraez, Kirillof and Larnach. I would also add Pineda and Maeda to this "core", as expecting to contend next season without at least three set rotation pieces would be comparable to entering 2021 with only question marks for the bullpen. One might argue that guys like Sano, Kepler, Polanco, Jeffers/Garver, could also be considered core players, but at best, these are either fringe players going forward with probably more value as trade pieces. Despite all the chatter about trading, the Twins need this core in place to have any real chance of contending next year. This doesn't necessarily mean resigning Buxton, Berrios, and Rogers, but their absence would likely severely limit contention chances next year.
2. To get higher impact prospects who could expect to contribute to the major league team in 2022, trade from strength. This means guys like Garver and Polanco should be available this month(alternatively, Jeffers and Arraez could be substituted but they are much more likely to contribute to squads beyond next year so should only be traded for very high end prospects). Guys like Sano and Kepler who have obviously fallen short of early promise, should also be marketed but they are not likely to bring back major-league-ready prospects. Expiring contracts should not be renewed(except for Pineda), although if Cruz does not bring back at least a medium level pitching prospect for next year, perhaps he should be retained as a player/hitting coach. He's that remarkable.
3. Push the best available pitching prospects up by Aug. 1st. Not a lot to choose from here, with injuries, limited or poor performances from guys like Duran, Enlow, Balozovic, but certainly Winder and Cano, if they both can establish their AA success has translated to AAA in July) should be promoted. Duran and/or Balozovis could be brought up after Sept. 1st if healthy and if they can turnaround some control issues that have emerged. They can continue to run out guys like Jax and Ober but they have shown little to warrant optimism for being keys to a pitching rebound.
With one or two high end pitchers acquired by the trade deadline plus hopefully, one or two minor leaguers who show more promise than the retreads used to date in 2021, the FO should have a clearer idea what the basic needs are in the offseason. At best, the Twins could find themselves entering the offseason with the need for one strong starter and one or two late inning relievers rather than a major bullpen overhaul. At that point it is incumbent upon ownership to step up and declare money is available for signing current stars and adding the necessary high end talent rather than nibbling around for bargains - a strategy that has obviously contributed to our record-setting playoff losing streak, as well as this year's collapse. And one more thing for the offseason. Rocco must go and replaced with an old-school, experienced disciplinarian. It's worked for the Sox. Why not the Twins? So give Falvine until June 30th 2022 to see if they're on the right track. If not, time for a midseason change. After this year's colossal failure, the rope should be short.
If ownership is unwilling to spend for high level talent and keep the core together for at least one more year, then rebuilding is the only alternative. Trading Berrios and Buxton would be necessary before 2022 and a 3 year minimum rebuilding program should be instituted. This rebuild has to be conducted by new FO personnel, ones who are not so risk averse as Falvine and have had experience in successfully rebuilding other franchises. What about Theo?? Of course, the ultimate solution is new ownership- one who is agressive about wanting a winner and willing to invest in the future. Mark Cuban, are you listening? But that's just wishful thinking. Conservative banking mentality will probably be our albatross for years to come.
So what do you all think? Is contention likely for this franchise in 2022 or is rebuild under new management the way to go?