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Blueprint for the Future after Cruz




Now that the first shoe has dropped in the Twin's trade season, what should the Twins do next?  The Cruz trade impact clearly affects both the pitching and offense of this team, both now and next year.  The additions of Ryan and to a lesser extent, Strotman, can be expected to bolster the Twin's staff, even as soon as next year.  Their addition improves the odds that ("trumpets blaring"), this team might have doubled their chances to internally develop an ace(prior to this trade, Balozavic seemed the only minor leaguer who has a reasonable chance to achieve this status).  Furthermore, their addition can allow guys like Duran and Winder more time in the minors to develop better secondary pitches, rather than being rushed to the ML club.

Of course, losing your most consistent hitter in a very inconsistent lineup will have a negative impact on the offense.  There is no one ready to step in to the DH role and replace Cruz, either this year or next.  So one fallout of this trade should be that the FO holds onto its remaining offensive talent, starting with Donaldson and Buxton.  Josh has shown his ability this year, both to stay relatively healthy and be a middle-of-the-lineup threat.  Buxton, despite his injury history, is the catalyst this offense needs and must be resigned at all costs.  Happy to see the FO making an offer now rather than let the issue linger into next season.  Get it done, Falvey.

The loss of Cruz should squash any thoughts of trading guys like Sano, Kepler, Garvey, Polanco, or Arraez if there is any hope of having a competitive lineup next year.  While each of these guys have their drawbacks, there is simply no one in the minors who looks ready to replace any of these guys.  Yes, Kirillof looks like a better long term 1B than Sano, but the latter should be retained to serve as DH, with Garver and Astudillo as backups.  Arraez should have a permanent position at 2B.  Ditto for Polanco at SS, at least until Lewis or someone else is ready.  Miranda is having a great season, but should not be rushed to the majors before he shows he can step into Donaldson's shoes in 2023/4.  Even with an improved staff in 2022, this lineup does not inspire great hope of an immediate rebound.

Hopefully, the FO is not finished dealing this month.  At the top of their list of tradable assets should be Berrios.  He is what he is - an above average, dependable #3 starter who can help put a contender in a better position to win it all these next two years.  You never know what other clubs would offer in trade, but certainly we could expect another major-league-ready pitcher at least as good, and likely better than Ryan.  Reading all the reports, Berrios seems very unlikely to resign with the Twins, and that's not a bad thing.  He is not the type of ace you can build a staff around and certainly shouldn't be paid like one.  Assuming the demand for his talents is quite strong now, the FO should capitalize on a bidding war to procure two top prospects by the July 30 the deadline.  One can hope that teams like the Dodgers, Padres, or Jays, loaded with excellent prospects, would be bidding for Berrios' services now - to the point of maybe even overpaying.  Trading Berrios should coincide with retaining Maeda and Pineda.  Though neither can be counted on as an ace, they are perfectly suitable for #2-3 slots in most rotations, especially a Twins team who has little hope of being serious contenders in 2022.   The one FA starter who the Twins should pursue this offseason is Syndergaard.  Yes, we don't know how much he can contribute in 2022 after a serious injury, but it's a risk worth taking.  He could be much more likely to be a true ace than anyone since Santana.  Maybe the FO could make it easier on the Mets by trading Berrios to them, thereby lessening their need to resign Thor.  I can get very excited by a rotation of Thor, Maeda, Pineda, Balozavic,  and Ryan in 2023!

As for the bullpen, yes, reinforcements are badly needed.  I would keep Rogers unless getting a trade offer too good to refuse.  Ditto with Duffey, but the Twins must have a proven closer in place by a year from now.  I've liked what I've seen of Coulombe and Ferrell, albeit very small sample size.  I can only hope Alcala progresses(though I think he's rapidly losing credibility this year in a late-inning role).. Duran looks like a potential closer-type but that remains to be seen.  One proven closer must be signed in the offseason to bolster this group.  This will not be a playoff-ready bullpen next year but it has the potential of no longer being the trash fire it was this year, especially after getting rid of guys like Colome, Robles, and other ill-conceived 2021 FA pickups.

And finally, since this is my wish list, I have one more request.  Please get rid of Rocky.  He is too laid back for a contender and doesn't have the necessary baseball smarts to pull the proper levers.  This team's lack of fundamentals and fire have been agonizing to watch and while blame can be shared equally among under-performing players, Rocco and the FO, if this team is going to rebound in the next couple of years, replacing Rocco with a veteran manager is a necessity.  It's worked for the Sox, why not the Twins?


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The rumor has it that even at that time of the Cruz trade some in the FO had expressed hope of re-signing him next year. Any thoughts on that happening?

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Interesting take Mike.  One small change:   I would include Garver as someone I wouldn't trade, but if we have Steve Garvey to play 1B I'd hang on to that guy !  :)   

I actually like the look of the pitching staff you've laid out for next year, but there's something missing:  If we trade Berrios we need to include some kind of guess as to who replaces him in the deal coming back.  Thor would be a FA acquisition, not somebody we would get back in a deal for Jose.  I believe that for the Twins to be "competitive" next year their pitching staff needs to be rebuilt.  Both SP's and RP's.  Let's assume we sign Thor to a FA contract.  He's coming back from TJ so this next season is quite a gamble to see how he does.  Still, it's worth the gamble.  We retain Maeda and possibly Pineda (it remains to be seen WHAT we could get in a Pineda deal) and MLB Trade Values puts him at -.70 for a value.  We're better off keeping him.  Balazovic will certainly be a strong possibility and Ryan REALLY intrigues me.  But what could we get for Berrios ?  If we traded him to the pitching desperate Padres we could see a return of LHP Ryan Weathers, who at 21 years old has impressed me in two separate games I watched him pitch (he's been on the IL lately but appears to be ready to start on 7/30 for the Padres vs. the Rockies) and once top pitching prospect LHP Mackenzie Gore.  Berrios has a value of 40.8. Weathers is 19.4 and Gore 17.5 (36.9 total).  So you can see that the Padres might even need to include something else to even things out.  Personally, I'd take this deal as is.  The Twins save not having to pay Berrios next season and in the future.  And they have Weathers on MLB minimums for several season as well as Gore.  THAT frees up money to be spent on a true closer like Rosenthal or Yates for next season as well as looking at possibly bringing Cruz back.  In my  GM world there is no way I'm continuing with Sano.  I trade him now before the deadline or more likely this winter.  I'm done with him.  I look to add a 4th outfielder who can play all three positions and hit a little.  He's my insurance for Buxton going down.  I realize you just simply can't replace Buck when he's hurt, but you can't just fall off a cliff without him either.  

So now here's what I have to choose from for starting pitching:  Thor, Weathers, Gore, Maeda, Ryan, Balazovic,  maybe Pineda and Dobnak.  That's tremendous depth.  I should also include Strotman who we just acquired in the Cruz trade with Tampa Bay.  He's at AAA and is very close to MLB ready.  If I add a real closer (Rosenthal, Yates, ??) and retain Rogers and Duffey with Alcala and possibly someone like Edwar Colina next season I have a pen that could work.  

The Twins lineup needs to be done with rally killers like Sano and needs a consistent bat like Cruz.  If we can't get Nellie to come back, then I would look to add a good bat.  Someone like Nick Castellanos.  He could play some OF, DH and maybe he or Garver could play some 1B.  But the Twins would need to do SOMETHING to replace the excellence and consistency of Cruz, and with Castellanos a FA I think his bat would do quite well batting 3rd or cleanup.  

I could see going one more year with Polanco at SS and Arraez at 2B so I can gauge what we have with Lewis.  It's not the best up the middle "D" but if both Polanco and Arraez HIT like their capable we could get by.  

If we don't trade Berrios to the Padres for that package, the pitching hurting Dodgers are interesting.  LA just won their first World Series since 1988 in a 60-game season.  The pressure is on to repeat.  They have Bauer in trouble, Kershaw on the IL and are stumbling and bumbling.  No one does LESS with more than Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts.  The Dodgers are loaded with prospects.  You could trade them Berrios for Dustin May (a great young pitcher out for the season with TJ) and have your choice of several other intriguing Dodgers prospects.  The Dodgers need pitching NOW.  Maybe despite the fact they are always madly in love with their prospects they will feel the pressure to move some of those prospects because their rotation is in tatters and their BP has blown 3 games in row.  Berrios and Taylor Rogers could bring back a TON.

We have about a week for all this delicious trade speculation before the deadline and then all winter as well.  Can the Twins FO navigate this to their advantage or do they crash the good ship Twins on the rocks, sending everyone into a raging sea of despair??  We'll just have to wait to find out.

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Arraez at 2B with Polanco as super-sub (SS,2B snd Dh).   Go to the free agent market to pick up a SS for defense   I prefer Polanco in the role as super-sub over Arraez because Jorge is a switch-hitter who is better to move around the Diamond to sub for players who have trouble with particular pitchers. 

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Here are my preferences, if possible, keeping in mind it takes 2 to tango and the Twins have no control over whether or not any of the impending FAs will actually be FAs since their current teams are all just as likely to extend.

Trade: Polanco, Sano (eat $11MM), Buxton

Acquire: Syndergaard

Extend: Berrios, Rogers ($10MM 2022), Syndergaard (20 MM 1 year), Refsnyder (750k)

Sign: Verlander (20MM 1-2yr AAV), Baez (20MM AAV), Cruz (12MM AAV)

Release/Nontender: Cave, Garlick

C = Garver, Jeffers

1B = Kirilloff

2B = Arraez

SS = Baez

3B = Donaldson

UI = Gordon

LF = Larnach

CF = Celestino

RF = Kepler

UO = Refsnyder

DH = Cruz

SR = Verlander, Berrios, Syndergaard, Balazovic, Winder, Maeda

RP = Rogers, Duffey, maybe a couple other FA relievers. The rest of the bullpen from our system.

This probably puts the Twins at $140MM (assuming they eat Sano's contract). If it's too much $$, might have to trade Donaldson and go with Miranda.

Edited this because I forgot to put Maeda into the rotation (assuming 1 pitcher is down all the time)

Edited by bean5302
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Top Gun:  Yes, I purposely left return for Berrios out, as now it's just pure speculation what that might be.  At first glance, yes, the Dodgers seem to be in great need for a starter and late inning reliever.  May would be great as a return.  I'd add Lux in the package, along with another top prospect like Pepiot or Gonsolin.  Problem is Friedman hates giving up top prospects and I think May would be untouchable.  The Pods also look like a good trade prospect with guys like Weathers and Paddack intriguing.  No telling what Preller will do, but SD would be my second favorite trade target.  Bottom line:  Twins FO needs to be blown away to trade Berrios/Rogers and while I think they should, given Berrios'  seeming  demand for  ace $ and Rogers still uneven, as indicated by his %Inherited Runners Scored, I doubt Falvey will pull the trigger.

I agree that offense will take a step back next year, but chalk it up to growing pains.  With our needs in the pen and rotation, just not much left over to add bats.  I pushed for Twins this past offseason to trade Polanco for package of Castellanos and Gray or Castillo, but that was not to happen.  And while I am as unhappy with Sano as everyone else, his trade value is so low we're better off holding on to him for DH duties.  Rooker will never be better than a AAAA player and there is no one else on the farm that looks like an upgrade.

Strum: Have to disagree here.  Both Arraez and Polanco are too valuable to slot into a utility role.  This lineup needs consistency and these two have been providing it.  A guy like Gordon could fill the bill until Lewis is ready, at which time, trading Polanco or Arraez might be feasible.  In the meantime, each of these guys should focus in their offensive contributions instead of manning several positions.  Bad idea, especially for a young guy like Arraez.

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I agree with a lot here but I'm not sure why so many people minimize Berríos' skill level right now. No, he's not an ace, at least not by my personal definition, but it's almost impossible to classify him lower than a good #2 right now.

His ERA rank out of American League qualifying pitchers the past three seasons: 8, 13, 11.

HIs ERA+ over the past three seasons: 119.

That's pretty clearly a guy who, if he's maybe just a click below a traditional ace, is clearly in that second tier of starting pitchers.

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Not minimizing Berrios" ability.  Just sounds like he wants the market to set his value, not the Twins.  That could result in his getting somewhere between $20-25MM/yr for at least 5 years.  If Twins ownership willing to increase payroll significantly more, e.g., by 20-30% over current payroll, then perhaps they could compete in FA.  But their priority seems to be resigning Bux - and that's as it should be, so if they can get someone now to send a couple top prospects for Berrios now, that would be far preferable to letting him go for a comp pick.  If you think the Twins can realistically retool enough in 2022, then yes, keep Berrios by all means.  I don't think that's reality and so, trading Berrios seems like the right move now.  After a very good yield for Cruz, I'm hopeful the FO can build on this success with a second major trade, and that would have to include Berrios and probably Rogers, too.

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The only teams I see IMO that match up well for a Berrios trade are the Dodgers and Blue Jays.  The Dodgers match up the best because they have some solid pitching prospects where the stuff matches the stats and other pieces that they can throw in just because their system is so deep.

The Blue Jays also might be able to pull it off because they have Woods-Richardson and other good prospects to build out a trade.  I just think that the Jays might not want to sell the farm for Berrios though.

If Pineda pitches well in his next start the Twins will net a decent return.  While he has had a tough year after getting hit by a ball his track record speaks for itself regardless of what Baseball Trade values thinks.  Teams need solid starters and he will be one of the few decent ones available. He just needs to show he is back to that level so that Detroit game will be important to set his value.

I think the Twins will trade Rogers.  The rumor mill has already started and the Dodgers know they need pen help and have the assets to get best left hander out there.  Friedman will get it done he always does.

I was thinking they also might trade Thielbar but if they do trade Rogers maybe they keep him as they won't have much for lefties next year,

IMO I think that is it.  They might be able to trade Simmons and Robles but the return will be so negligible it likely won't be worth mentioning.  They will probably have to DFA Happ and Colome but maybe there is team desperate for lefty pen help and they could use Happ there or for mop up duty in games out of control.  Odds are low they can move them and the return could be cash or PTNL.

I still think at the end of the Day the Twins keep Berrios, but who knows maybe the Dodgers give them a deal they can't refuse. 

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On 7/24/2021 at 9:57 AM, TopGunn#22 said:

So now here's what I have to choose from for starting pitching:  Thor, Weathers, Gore, Maeda, Ryan, Balazovic,  maybe Pineda and Dobnak.  That's tremendous depth.

I like most of what you said, but IMO those pitchers are not tremendous depth, they are major crapshots. Thor coming back from TJ, 4 rookies and as of today only one has pitched more than a 1/3 of an inning in the majors, and Maeda.

Going into this year they had, Smeltzer, Thorpe, Dobnak, Ober, Berrios, Pineda, Maeda, Happ and Shoemaker, which in theory is way more depth.


I do like those guys as the added to depth to a Rondon, Maeda, Thor, and then all those guys filling in 4/5.

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No more Polanco at SS. Upgrade.

I love his bat when he is healthy, but we need better defense at SS. Leave Jorge at 2b. 

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Joefish:  I realize Polanco is an average SS at best, but think it more important for both Arraez and Polanco to be in lineup every day and this is only solution, at least for 2022.  Without Cruz, this team is going to need all the offense possible, which is why guys like Donaldson, Kepler, Buxton, Garver and yes, even Sano should be on next year's squad if this team is going to at least be respectable.  Twins didn't do too badly in 2019/2020 w/Polanco at SS, so let him play there next year, too.  I see greater hope for 2023 with hopefully the emergence of Lewis and Miranda bolstering the lineup, thereby lessening heavy dependence on an aging Donaldson, an all-or-nothing Sano and allowing the FO to pursue trading Polanco for whatever help is needed at that time.

Of course, returning to contention in 2023 will greatly depend on the success of Falvine's draft picks upon being promoted to the Twins.  The jury is still out on that big question.

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Why not pay me league minimum to make a run at DH ? 49 bad knees, I sure used to could….for sure would at least keep up with Sano in strike outs…why is this guy doing anything in Target field besides selling hot dogs? Trade  him to the Vikings….they could use a little more muscle on O line

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The offseason will be a key to answer whether the Twins are in a full/partial rebuild or plan to play in October. Every player should be available and some risky trades might get solid results. I have no idea what could be viable at this time but as I look at the team we have an excess number of 2B rostered. Garver, Arraez, Kepler, and a lower rated pitcher for Sandy Alcantara and Max Meyer helps with pitching. Royce Lewis needs to play pretty soon despite missing two years and I'm wondering if Austin Martin can hit MLB pitching. There needs to be some moves. August and September should help management identify what prospects are likely to be useful going forward next year. 

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