The great American poet Chester Bennington once said "I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end, it doesn't even matter."
Every time that a notable (read: league-average) player signs with a team other than Minnesota, we hear the same complaints: "Typical Twins, always in the mix but never get it done."
Why is it that almost every time a guy signs, it's not with the Twins? Well, we can start with there being 29 other teams, so surely the club can't sign every player they're interested in.
However, it's not reasonable to expect the Twins to sign 1 in every 30 free agents, either. That's far too low. So where is the line? How many misses is too many misses?
For an elite player, almost every team would be interested in their services, for the right price. Oakland and Pittsburgh aren't going to be writing a $360,000,000 check for Arson Judge anytime soon, though. Some teams also wouldn't be in the mix for a specific player at their price because they have someone else at that position that isn't worth replacing for the money involved.
Then there's the matter of more, let's just say, role players. Guys that no one is salivating for, but teams are interested in their services nonetheless to fill roster gaps, if they have room. Take Michael Brantley, for example. The Angels would have money to sign him, but as an almost DH-only player at this point in his career, the Angels wouldn't be interested in him displacing Ohtani.
So let's take a situation where the Twins are hypothetically in on Dansby Swanson. He was tied to Chicago, Boston, LA, Atlanta, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Minnesota over the offseason. So with Minnesota being one of seven teams, all things being equal, the Twins had a 14% chance to sign him. If the Twins were tied to seven Dansby Swanson-like players (one of seven in the mix) this offseason, would you be satisfied if they signed one of them?
What about someone like Josh Bell? Almost any team has a spot in some regard for a switch-hitting slugger. Obviously, we can throw out teams that would be unlikely to pay anyone 16.5MM right now like Oakland, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, or Kansas City, or a team like Houston post-Abreu signing and the White Sox that doesn't need that type of player at current. Still, we're down to something like 18 teams that would be interested, at the right price. Should we be happy with the Twins getting 6% of those types of free agents, 1 of every 18? Probably not, especially if we only want to consider players the Twins made a real run at.
Building off of that, how much should the context of the Twins being a mid-to-small market team affect your expectations? Given that they're competing in this case with five big-market teams and the Cardinals, one would assume that they would be less likely to put up the money, based on budgetary reasons. So should you expect to see the team snag fewer than the average?
I don't actually have an answer for this question. I'm mostly just thinking out loud. Obviously, there shouldn't be an expectation that the team signs all of the guys they pursue, or even most of them. But there has to be a line somewhere. It may be lower than emotion might tell you, but it also may be higher than logic might tell you.