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Falvine's Waiver Claim Game


TwerkTwonkTwins

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Critique of a front office is easy to make in the midst of a deeply disappointing season. While many fans are languishing over the incoming July trade deadline, I've heard a lot of complaints about the lack of waiver claims made this season by the Minnesota Twins.

Why are the Twins continuing to trot out the likes of Colomé, Happ, and (formerly) Shoemaker, when the front office can claim replacement-level players from other teams for essentially nothing? 

The outright waiver transaction process is a deeply complicated one. Whenever a team wants to remove a player that is already on the 40-man roster, that player must first be offered to each of the other 29 major league teams. If another team claims that player, the player goes on that new team's 40-man roster. The full definition from MLB can be found here

Because I'm insane, and this season is awful, I decided to compile a list of every player that the Falvey/Levine front office has claimed from other organizations, in addition to players they've lost via waiver claims.

How have they fared in the waiver claim game?  Should they pick up the pace, now that they have nothing to lose? Do these claims actually amount to anything?

These questions are important... but so is the trip down memory lane, once you read some of these names. 

Players Acquired Via Waiver Claim

 

Date of Claim Player Claimed Position Team Claimed From fWAR in Minnesota
2/6/2017 Ehire Adrianza UTL IF San Francisco Giants 2.1
5/10/2017 Adam Wilk LHP New York Mets -0.2
6/7/2017 Chris Heston RHP Los Angeles Dodgers 0.0
3/24/2018 Kenny Vargas 1B Cincinatti Reds -
4/26/2018 David Hale RHP New York Yankees -0.2
5/28/2018 Taylor Motter UTL Seattle Mariners -0.3
8/3/2018 Johnny Field RF Cleveland Indians 0.1
8/3/2018 Oliver Drake RHP Cleveland Indians 0.2
10/31/2018 Michael Reed CF Atlanta Braves -
11/26/2018 C.J. Cron 1B Tampa Bay Rays 0.3
10/29/2019 Matt Wisler RHP Seattle Mariners 0.6
10/30/2020 Ian Gibault RHP Texas Rangers -
10/30/2020 Brandon Waddell  LHP Pittsburgh Pirates -0.3
2/5/2021 Ian Hamilton RHP Philadelphia Phillies -
2/11/2021 Kyle Garlick RF Atlanta Braves 0.3
6/22/2021 Beau Burrows RHP Detroit Tigers -
         
Total fWAR 2.6

The Twins have claimed a total of 16 players from opposing organizations since Falvey/Levine took over after the 2016 World Series. Of these 16 claims, their most consequential claim was their very first one. Ehire Adrianza was never a star, but a very productive role player for a number of contending Twins teams. 

After that, the list isn't so impressive. Matt Wisler was great at slinging sliders in the bullpen during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but the Twins cut him last offseason in a puzzling move. C.J. Cron and the currently-injured Kyle Garlick have been the largest "successes" outside of Adrianza and Wisler, each account for 0.3 fWAR as right-handed hitters that were acquired to mash left-handed pitching. 

Most of these players did not remain on the 40-man roster for a long time. Quite a few were lost to waivers shortly after the Twins acquired them, which include Kenny Vargas, Johnny Field, Oliver Drake, and Brandon Waddell. Such is the life on the waiver wire for many MLB players. 

Players Lost Via Waiver Claim

 

Date of Claim Player Position Team Claimed By fWAR after Minnesota
11/18/2016 Adam Brett Walker LF Milwaukee Brewers -
8/26/2017 Tim Melville RHP San Diego Padres -0.2
9/14/2017 Engelb Vielma SS San Francisco Giants -0.1
11/3/2017 Randy Rosario LHP Chicago Cubs -0.3
11/3/2017 Daniel Palka OF Chicago White Sox -0.7
11/6/2017 Nik Turley LHP Pittsburgh Pirates 0.2
1/22/2018 Buddy Boshers LHP Houston Astros 0.1
2/23/2018 JT Chargois RHP Los Angeles Dodgers 0.5
3/22/2018 Kenny Vargas 1B Cincinatti Reds -
7/9/2018 Ryan LaMarre CF Chicago White Sox 0.4
10/10/2018 Juan Graterol C Cincinatti Reds -0.2
11/1/2018 Johnny Field RF Chicago Cubs -
11/1/2018 Oliver Drake RHP Tampa Bay Rays 0.4
1/11/2019 Aaron Slegers RHP Pittsburgh Pirates 0.4
5/26/2019 Austin Adams RHP Detroit Tigers -0.1
7/20/2019 Adalberto Mejia LHP Los Angeles Angels 0.0
8/14/2019 Ryan Eades RHP Baltimore Orioles -0.2
9/16/2019 Marcos Diplan RHP Detroit Tigers -
11/4/2019 Stephen Gonsalves LHP New York Mets -
9/5/2020 Ildemaro Vargas 2B Chicago Cubs -0.5
10/1/2020 Sean Poppen RHP Pittsburgh Pirates -0.1
5/8/2021 Brandon Waddell LHP Baltimore Orioles 0
5/14/2021 Travis Blankenhorn 2B Los Angeles Dodgers -0.1
6/5/2021 Dakota Chalmers RHP Chicago Cubs -
6/18/2021 Shaun Anderson RHP Texas Rangers -
         
Total fWAR -0.5

You'll immediately notice this list of players lost via waivers during the Falvyey/Levine regime is a lot longer than the list of players they've acquired via waivers. All together, they have lost 25 players, which is 9 more players than they've claimed from other teams. 

The good news for the organization, is that this cumulative list has not come back to bite them. 10 of the 25 claimed players provided negative value for their new teams, after departing Minnesota. Daniel Palka's 2017 season really sunk this group, as he posted a -1.4 fWAR in only 93 plate appearances for the White Sox (after he provided 0.7 fWAR and a 109 wRC+ in 2018). 

The largest losses from this group have definitely been in the relief category, highlighted by JT Chargois, Oliver Drake, and Aaron Slegers. However, most of these players have had inconsistent careers, injuries, or both, in their time after playing for Minnesota. 

Even when factoring in some bullpen pieces this organization might regret losing, the total fWAR from these players after departing the Twins is -0.5 fWAR. The current front office has been right far more than wrong, when deciding how to churn the 40-man roster. 

Yearly Trends And Overall Takeaway

Year Players Claimed From Other Teams Players Claimed By Other Teams
2016/2017 3 6
2018 7 7
2019 1 6
2020 2 2
2021 3 4
Total Players 16 25
     
Total fWAR 2.6 -0.5
fWAR Difference   3.1

Overall, the Twins have gained 3.1 fWAR from their decisions to gain and lose players from the waiver wire. That's a pretty decent result for a type of front office transaction that is often overlooked. It averages out to about 0.69 fWAR per season, factoring in the 4.5 seasons of the Falvey/Levine regime. 

Most of that waiver activity came in 2017 and 2018, when the front office was still adjusting to their inherited players from the previous front office. Successful teams don't always gamble roster spots on players exposed to outright waivers, which is evident in the 2019 team. 

One major caveat to point out across the yearly trend is that teams were probably hesitant to claim players from other organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, so 2020 and early 2021 should be viewed through that lens.

However, that didn't stop the Twins from claiming 3 bullpen arms (Ian Gibault, Brandon Waddell, and Ian Hamilton), and Kyle Garlick this offseason. The jury is still out on these claims, but Waddell did not go well. 

The most interesting thing about 2021 is that the Twins lost 4 players during their early season free-fall (Brandon Waddell, Travis Blankenhorn, Dakota Chalmers, and Shaun Anderson), before claiming Beau Burrows a few weeks ago from the Detroit Tigers.

Is former first-round draft pick Beau Burrows the tip of the iceberg? Now that 2021 is officially kaput, will the front office be more aggressive? 

I sure hope so. Moves will be made in the next few weeks, and this 40-man roster will be significantly different as we approach the trade deadline. The 40-man roster will likely be smaller, and the Twins will be in front of the line when contenders have to cut players to account for their deadline additions. 

Waiver claims are rarely sexy transactions, but sometimes you stumble into a Ehire Adrianza or a Matt Wisler. The Twins have proven to be more successful than not when it comes to their waiver claim game. It's time to play, because there's simply nothing to lose. 

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They were successful playing the waiver game in 2016, 2017, and 2018 because they were much higher up in the waiver order. Its tough to do now when you were a playoff team last year and have little opportunity to put in claims on players who may have potential.  

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18 hours ago, Tim said:

They were successful playing the waiver game in 2016, 2017, and 2018 because they were much higher up in the waiver order. Its tough to do now when you were a playoff team last year and have little opportunity to put in claims on players who may have potential.  

Absolutely - a contending/playoff team probably shouldn't bank on the waiver process for meaningful results. However, I believe the order "resets" to the current year's standings after 30 days. So the Twins have definitely moved up in the process compared to April. They could (and probably will) begin to make more meaningful claims going forward. 

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Wow, great work. Goes to show that the vast majority of the time, waiver moves - whether pick ups or losing players - rarely matter in the grand scheme. We - myself included - sometimes get a little irritated when the Twins drop someone like a Chalmers or Blankenhorn, but this high suggests that doing so will almost never have any consequences despite their perceived upside.

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7 minutes ago, Lucas Seehafer PT said:

Wow, great work. Goes to show that the vast majority of the time, waiver moves - whether pick ups or losing players - rarely matter in the grand scheme. We - myself included - sometimes get a little irritated when the Twins drop someone like a Chalmers or Blankenhorn, but this high suggests that doing so will almost never have any consequences despite their perceived upside.

As a long time forum resident/owner, I've lost track of how many Joe Bensons there have been over the past 20 years (ie. players that were released to great internet outrage, only to amount to absolutely nothing in MLB, if they ever even got there).

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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

As a long time forum resident/owner, I've lost track of how many Joe Bensons there have been over the past 20 years (ie. players that were released to great internet outrage, only to amount to absolutely nothing in MLB, if they ever even got there).

I remember being torn up by Josmil Pinto 😄. Sometimes the only hope to cling on to is a player's 99th percentile outcome, especially in the rebuilding years. But if a player is exposed to waivers, the front office is usually confident that even their 80th percentile won't come back to bite them too hard. 

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Man, I remember feeling really upset about losing Randy Rosario...oh well.

Twins really struck gold with Adrianza, would be great if they could use their high slot this summer to grab another winner.

Ian Hamilton looked great in Spring Training, and with a terrible bullpen you'd think his shot has to be coming. What does this guy have to do to get called up?

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With waiver claims, you most often NEED a 40-man spot to put the player, and you put a player on waivers because you want to advance to your 25-man roster someone from your system. Often a roster as placeholders for just that reason.

 

Or you hope you can claim them, and them option them down to the minors, off the 40-man. But you always run the risk of losing the guy in the off-season (shades of Zack Littell).

 

Go back and look at transactions and see how many guys the Twins have been signing of late in the minors, often to be potential replacements for waiver wire guys that they may need to replace if booted from the roster (Derek law and Danny Coulombe are two recents, not to mention what might transpire if the Twins decide to send out Garlick or Refsnyder).

 

During the season you take a gamble claiming a guy on waivers. Often better to just let it past and the guy plays out the year somewhere else and eventually becomes a minor league free agent that you can choose to sign in the off-season. 

 

 

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Good work! Some of these names bring back memories. I forgot about Marcos Diplan, I was surprised when they gave up on him but I think they needed a 40 man spot, but he's still only 24 and now pitching as a reliever at AAA with the Orioles with decent numbers.  

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Wonderful analysis.  What do you think of the players the Twins let go without offering them a contract, ala Eddie Rosario?

Compare that to those we have signed the same way.  :)

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