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2020 Blueprint: Cooking up a championship


IndianaTwin
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In constructing my blueprint, I tried to blend my own style with that of the current management, which seems to 1) seek out value; 2) stay away from long-term commitments; and 3) not spend a disproportionate amount on any one player. I also like to go with known quantities and maximize flexibility.

 

All that said, here’s your starting lineup for your 2020 World Champion Minnesota Twins (at least for eight or so random games scattered throughout the season as Rocco keeps playing Roster of the Day, but you get the picture):

 

2B: Luis Arraez (0.6) (L)
SS: Jorge Polanco (4.0) (S)
DH: Nelson Cruz (12.0) ®
RF: Max Kepler (6.3) (L)
3B: Miguel Sano (5.5) ®
LF: Eddie Rosario (8.9) (L)
C: Mitch Garver (0.6) ®
1B: Eric Thames (5.0) (L)
CF: Byron Buxton (3.5) ®

 

That brings the starting lineup in at $46.4 million. During the offseason, I did dangle Eddie Rosario in trade, but wasn’t able to get what I wanted in return, namely a starting pitcher. I sent a very nice Thanksgiving basket to Jonathan Schoop and gave him the cell numbers of all National League GMs. Similarly, I gave serious consideration to re-signing C.J. Cron, but decided to save a couple million by non-tendering him and signing Eric Thames at $5M instead. In seeking flexibility, I like the idea that Thames can also play some corner outfield. In reality, he’s keeping the seat warm for the midseason arrival of Rooker or Kirilloff.

 

As mentioned above, I do like known qualities, so I reminded Jason Castro of the very nice 3-year, $27 million contract we had offered him a couple years ago. He said, “Thank you very much, and yes, I would be glad to continue mentoring the fine folks you’ve put together. I’ll take that $6M contract you’re offering, particularly because you’ve added the optional second year at $5M, with a $500K buyout.” Marwin and Ehire will be back as well. The remaining outfield spot will be a spring training contest. The prime candidates were Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade Jr., though I also took a flyer and signed Benny (The Jet) Rodriguez to a minor league contract. Whichever one wins will bring my bench total to $18.6M as follows:

 

C: Jason Castro (6.0) (L)
U: Marwin Gonzalez (9.0) (S)
U: Ehire Adrianza (3.0) (S)
OF: Cave/Wade/Rodriguez (0.6) (L)

 

When it comes to the starting staff, I re-emphasize that I don’t like long-term contracts. I also don’t like starting the season with a rookie in the rotation. It’s very difficult for them to last an entire season, and I know that this past year was an exception in having my top five guys get nearly the entire season’s worth of starts.

 

Knowing that it was going to take a longer contract than I was willing to commit, I still stayed active on Cole and Strasburg, helping to drive up their contracts for other teams. That allowed me to circle back to a rotation that is built on depth while not overcommitting to any individual player.

 

First, in remembering that Berrios doesn’t turn 27 until May, I penciled him in as my No. 1 starter. I thanked Mr. Odorizzi for accepting the qualifying offer and offered him a raise. That is, I offered him a 3/$45M contract, but front-loaded it for him to be $18M/$13M/$13M with an optional 4th year at $13M on a $1M buyout. I thought the freedom of having a couple more million to play with next year as my core hits arbitration harder would be a good idea. I like the guys with no qualifying offer, so I signed Dallas Keuchel at 3/$39M and Hamels at 1/$15M with a $500K buyout on second year at $15M.

 

That rotation of Berrios/Odo/Keuchel/Hamels/rookie was looking pretty good to me until I was watching MLB Network and heard that Kenta Maeda is honked that the Dodgers are thinking about making him a full-time reliever. Turns out I was headed to SoCal for Christmas vacation, so I gave Andrew Friedman a call and met him for breakfast. Over eggs benedict served in a hubcap (because after all, there’s no place like chrome for the hollandaise), he told me that their folks still think Fernando Romero has potential. He was also seeking to shed a little salary and pick up some prospects. He showed me this spiffy web site, baseballtradevalues.com, and we cooked up a trade that got me Maeda for Romero, Gabriel Maciel and Blaine Enlow. I feel loaded with young outfielders, and while including Enlow hurt, I do have a number of starting spots filled for a few years.

 

Maeda is only guaranteed $3.125M for each of the next four years, but he’s got heavy incentives. If he gets 30 starts and 170 innings, that climbs to around $10M, so I slotted him in there. That gives me Berrios/Odo/Keuchel/Hamels/Maeda at $61M, counting the $500K buyout on Perez.

 

For the bullpen, I started with the givens of Rogers, May, Duffey and Littell for a combined $8.4M. Romo agreed to come back at $3M. If I signed Wisler ($0.6M), I’m going to use him, and with that group of starters plus Dobnak, Graterol and others, I decided to slot Smeltzer in the pen to give me a second lefty. That left me with one more spot. I thought about going with the Rochester shuttle, but that’s going to be tougher to do with the 15-day IL rules, etc., so I scoured the list of available free agents.

 

Michael Wacha was sitting at home playing PacMan when I got him on the phone in mid-January, a bit peeved that no one had called. He thought maybe I was calling to get a reference on Marcell Osuna, so he was impressed when I said I was interested in him. We switched over to conference call mode and May and Littell got on the line. They told him about how they had struggled as starters until they met the Mighty Wes. They sold him on being able to eat walleye-on-a-stick in the bullpen while waiting to pitch, and he almost offered to pitch without a contract. I reminded him that the MLBPA would never go for that and insisted that he accept a deal at $5M. That gave me a total of $17.6M for the bullpen.

 

Mr. Pohlad was a little concerned when I brought that $143.1M total to him, particularly with some likely increases coming in future years because of arbitration, but I reminded him that we’d only hit that total if Maeda pitched well enough to get $7M in incentives, that we had some very manageable future contracts, that Cruz and Castro would be gone with their $18M, and that Odo’s salary would drop by $5M in 2021.

 

He thanked me for a job well done and agreed to pick up the tab on all the donuts from the local Amish bakery that I choose to eat.

Edited by IndianaTwin
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