In part one of my off-season blueprint, I took a look at the 40 man roster and made some changes. The headliners were waiving players such as Lewis Thorpe and Brent Rooker, while adding on prospects like Royce Lewis and Jose Miranda. These things aren't exciting, but they are necessary steps to go through to create a true off-season blueprint. Now we're on to the fun stuff. Adding on to our hypothetical Twins roster. The current payroll sits at 76.85M dollars after arbitration, which were pulled from MLB Trade Rumors. I have given myself the same budget as last year, 130M dollars. This means we have around 53M to spend either via trade or free agency. Of course, we could trade someone off the major league roster to clear up even more space. But for now, lets add on.
Team Needs - Pitching
As of now, our current rotation features Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan. These names aren't bad, and both guys performed well in 2021, but they aren't going to be able to be our best pitchers to have a real shot to contend. Having them in the rotation is fine, but we're going to need to add at least 3 starters via trade or free agency, and likely a few more on MiLB deals. The bullpen, while not good, does have a base to work with. Rogers, Thielbar, and Moran are more than enough from the left side, so we won't be targeting any left handed relievers. However, we need to add at least 2 right handed relievers are our current options are Jorge Alcala, Tyler Duffey, and Juan Minaya.
Sign LHP Eduardo Rodriguez to a 4 year, 60M deal
Eduardo Rodriguez has spent his entire MLB career with the Boston Red Sox, and is coming off of a weird year. He was given a qualifying offer by Boston, so signing him would cost us our third highest draft pick, but that's something I am okay with. Of course, I would much rather sign a front line starter like Kevin Gausman or Max Scherzer, but I simply don't see the Twins being able to swing that in reality, so we're going to keep it realistic here as well. Eduardo gets less than the QO, but gets long term stability with the Twins making 15M AAV. Eduardo has had a FIP under 4 for the past 4 seasons, including a career best 3.32 this past season. He strikes out 10 batter per 9 innings, and provides a lefty arm in the rotation. He does have some injury history, but did pitch 157 innings after opting out of the 2020 season. He features a 5 pitch mix which can keep hitters off-balance, and I'm comfortable starting him in a playoff series. Do I want him to start game one? Probably not. But do I feel better about him starting game one than Joe Ryan or Bailey Ober? Absolutely.
Sign RHP Alex Cobb to a 2 year, 18M deal
Alex Cobb isn't the most healthy pitcher on the market, but when he pitches he's been as good as anyone. Cobb has never thrown more than 200 innings in his career, and pitched only 93.1 in 2020, but he was worth 1.7 WAR, and had his highest K/9 in his career at 9.5. If he didn't have health concerns, he's a guy who is getting similar money to Eduardo, but he is not. This keeps him as a good option for the Twins because he can provide mid-rotation stability, and again, I am comfortable starting him in a playoff series. Cobb features a 4 pitch mix with his best put-away pitch being his split-finger which ties him closely to former Twins starter Jake Odorizzi. We know the current FO targeted Jake, so targeting Cobb would not be a surprise.
Sign RHP Michael Wacha to a 1 year, 3M deal
This is the exact deal that Wacha took with the Rays in 2021, and the performance was mixed. Wacha showed the he could still strike batters out at a decent clip, which he has done throughout his career, but still found himself being bit by the gopher ball. Wacha fits the bill of last years Matt Shoemaker addition, who is a potential upside starter for cheap, and at minimum will provide stability to the backend of the rotation. You aren't going to want to start him in a playoff series, but I have no issue giving him the ball once every 5 days during the regular season. Wacha, like Eduardo, features a 5 pitch mix that relies heavily on a changeup that had a whiff rate of 34% in 2021. He also features a seldom used curveball which had a whiff rate of 44%. This is something the Twins could look to get more out of, and more frequently.
That's it for the starters, at least on the free agency front. However, I promise you that I'm not happy with this rotation yet. A trade is coming...but not until the final part of this series, part 4.
After signing three starters, we currently have 26 million dollars to work with for the bullpen and hitting side of things, and we'll be sure to spend it all.
Sign RHP Corey Knebel to a 2 year, 14M deal
This hypothetical deal isn't an actual 2 year deal, but instead a 1+1 deal with the second year being a team option with a buyout. Knebel is coming off an injured year, so we can get him for cheaper than if he was healthy, and is another reason to add the team option in case we run into a similar situation in 2022. Knebel is a two pitch pitcher, who throws extremely hard, something that is currently lacking in the Twins bullpen sans Jorge Alcala. Knebel would immediately be the best right hander out of the Twins bullpen, and sets them up much better and much more balanced.
Sign Adam Ottavino to a 1 year, 3.5M deal
If there was ever a signing to predict, I think this is it. Ottavino is coming off of a very bad September for the Boston Red Sox, but was still a weapon throughout the regular season with a 4.21 ERA, which was inflated by his 8+ ERA in September. Ottavino features a wipeout slider, which as we know, is something that the Twins have targeted around the edges of their staff. His slider put away 25 hitters in 2021, but did surrender 5 home runs. He also works a cutter off the slider, which is his other main pitch. Ottavino likely won't be a late inning option, but I would be super comfortable going to him in the mid innings.
This sets up the current staff and rotation to look like this
1. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez
2. RHP Alex Cobb
3. RHP Joe Ryan
4. RHP Bailey Ober
5. RHP Michael Wacha
As I said earlier, the rotation isn't complete yet as there is one more move that's coming, but it won't be until the final part of this series where I put the finishing touches on things with some trades. However, the current state of the rotation is much improved to what we saw last year. Eduardo may not be a household name, but he's a very good arm. Cobb has an injury history, but is coming off of a successful year. Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober are both in house names that every Twins fan knows at this point. Wacha rounds out the rotation with a veteran arm.
Closer - RHP Corey Knebel
Set-up - LHP Taylor Rogers
Set-up - RHP Tyler Duffey
MR - RHP Adam Ottavino
MR - LHP Caleb Thielbar
MR - LHP Jovani Moran
MR - RHP Jorge Alcala
LR - RHP Juan Minaya
The bullpen features some familiar names, but we added a real back end weapon this year in free agency with Corey Knebel. I don't actually believe in having a true closer, but for the purposes of acting as the GM, we have listed Knebel there. You can mix and match Knebel, Rogers, Duffey, and Ottavino however you want in the late innings and I would feel good about it. Thielbar and Moran are both really good lefties, and Jorge Alcala is a wildcard. Minaya takes the first stab at the front end of the bullpen, but he will be cycled through like we've seen every year.
And with that, the pitching portion of free agency is done. We have roughly 15 million dollars left on the table, but there may be more room to add with some trades off of the roster.
Stay tuned, and let me know your thoughts below!