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Front Page: With Twins Likely Out on Donaldson, So What's the Plan Now?


Star-Tribune Twins beat writer Phil Miller is reporting that the Minnesota Twins are “pessimistic” about their chances of signing free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson. It was reported Friday night that Donaldson, a former American League MVP, had given his price to the remaining suitors, believed to be around $110M over four years. The Twins are either unwilling to take that shot, or believe that even if they did, he would end up with another team. So what now?The cost of the Twins current roster is approximately $117-120M, with a projected payroll ceiling of $135M or so. (It’s worth noting that had they been able to sign Donaldson to an estimated $25M/year contract, they would have had a payroll level of $142-145M, above that projection.) So they still have plenty of money to spend.

 

What they’re short of are options. The Twins say their focus is on adding an infielder, but Donaldson represents the last impact infielder available on the free agent market. Rena looked at some less impactful free agent infield options a couple of weeks ago, and Cooper detailed four names the Twins could now consider and a couple of other wild card options. The team could also explore trading for an infielder, such as Pirates first baseman Josh Bell.

 

Or they could pivot back to looking for impact pitching. There are several starting pitchers that could make an impact, provided the Twins are willing to pay the price. There are also some salary dump pitchers available, like David Price. And the Twins have plenty of pieces they can trade, even without dipping into their farm system.

 

The question is whether they will be more willing to spend prospects than they have been to spend money. They weren’t at last year's trade deadline. So the most likely scenario is that they essentially keep their powder dry; sign a mid-level infielder and enter spring training with a payroll of $120-$125M, which would be a lower payroll than they carried into the season two years ago.

 

If so, that is a failed offseason. Given an unprecedented opportunity to make a division contender a world championship contender - an opportunity so ripe they themselves proclaimed their intentions to add impact players - they will end the offseason with exactly zero new impact players.

 

Proponents might suggest that at least they didn’t make any mistakes, and that seems true. But that is also the problem. This management team was unable to chance the big signing, the big trade, the potential mistake. The most likely path forward is that same one.

 

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Signing Donaldson may very well have been a disastrous mistake. Yet I feel so defeated by this. Short of some sort of blockbuster trade, this treading of water is frustrating.

 

Happy New Year to everyone at Twins Daily, and to all who rely on it for all of its wonderful Twins content!

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Even after missing out on the top starting pitchers, they could have followed the 2015 Royals model and solidified the bullpen. Treinen and Betances were available. Both were hurt last year and there would be some risk. They took the cheaper and less risky route by signing Romo and Clippard. The front office is too conservative and is afraid to take chances.

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Even after missing out on the top starting pitchers, they could have followed the 2015 Royals model and solidified the bullpen. Treinen and Betances were available. Both were hurt last year and there would be some risk. They took the cheaper and less risky route by signing Romo and Clippard. The front office is too conservative and is afraid to take chances.

I think they've taken solid "swings" on guys like Wheeler, MadBum, Donaldson.  What they aren't is willing to move prospects to build a team that can compete for a World Series

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What we've seen now since the front offices promise to strike when the window is open is two opportunities that they've failed on. We saw them get Romo and Dyson at the trade deadline. Both solid moves to try and moderately help the team despite Dysons injury, but they ignored the biggest issue which was starting pitching.

 

 

Now we're looking at this offseason which looks eerily similar. Plenty of moves that marginally help us, but not really addressing our biggest needs in an exciting or aggressive way. Meanwhile we've seen the White Sox push their rebuild by being aggressive, challenging us to respond.

 

 

Last years trade deadline cost us greatly when we essentially has 3 starters for the playoffs, one totaling under 30 innings in the majors. Will this bland and disappointing offseason cost us again? We're due for regression in 2020 and haven't done much to combat it other than run out a similar team. In fact, we're currently looking at Marwin Gonzalez as our 1B which would be about as sad as we could have expected coming into the offseason. The front office is due for every bit of criticism they'll get at this point.

 

 

It's become a situation where Falvey and Levine need to earn the good will of the fanbase back. They've done a good job of putting this team together to be a contender, but at some point they have to stop settling for scraps and do something to significantly improve. The minors are stacked with future logjams of tradeable talent. The payroll is embarassing as it stands for a team coming off 101 wins. Do something.

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As a fan of the Vikings and the Twins, at least the Wilfs (and other owners) have actively spent money to improve the team and stadium. and have been competitive throughout their history. The Twins on the other hand......

I know a lot of this was Carl Pohlad, but the team is still owned by the family.

1. After 1991, the Twins did not make the playoffs again until 2002.

2. The Twins were nearly moved to North Carolina, which was only stopped after voters there did not approve a deal.

3. Carl Pohlad offered to sell the team to MLB in a contraction plan (Montreal still deserves a team by the way).

4. Torii Hunter was offered an embarrassing $45 million contract, but instead got $90 million from the Angels. Eventually, Torii was brought back to the team, but merely as a “feel-good” mentorship role.

5. Johan Santana was traded to the Mets after having one of the most dominant stretches ever by a pitcher. (This isn’t as bad as people say, as it was after a losing 2007 season for the Twins).

6. Pitching has been an issue on playoff teams in this era as well as the 2000s teams. The most significant mid season trade acquisition may be Matt Capps.

7. The Twins forced taxpayers to pay for the majority of Target Field. (Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I think the Vikings deal was 50/50).

 

The criticism for the Pohlads is definitely valid. The lack of a fan base is due to long stretches of mediocrity. The “Pohlads are cheap” argument is definitely worn out, but still factual. I’m sick of the “this player doesn’t want to move to Minnesota” argument. This team has the money or prospects to field a World Series contending team, and they are expected to field an equal team or worse on paper this year, despite the front office’s claims of wanting more. Look what happened to the Astros’ value after they won a title! Couldn’t the same thing happen here too?

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The Twins are out on Josh Donaldson because they don't want to increase their offer by another $20-30 Million to meet his demands. Donaldson is a good player, but the Twins need to draw the line somewhere. I'd rather see that money invested in an ace starting pitcher, if the Twins are ever able to acquire or sign one.

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As far as we know the Twins gave Donaldson the highest offer. 4 years at 100 million is more than fair. He's rebuilt his value, but there was a reason it was down in the first place. They may have failed at signing any of the impact free agents, but they did try. It's more than the Twins ever did under previous management. 

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Yeah, what is the plan now? Was there ever a plan? You would think that the front office would target a player (like Cruz last year) who is willing to sign with the club. If not Player A, then settle for Player B. But why is this process taking so long? I think this waiting game only offers us less choices and mediocre ones at that.

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None of the free agent infielders are very appealing. Moreland or Thames seem to be the best bets, but .830 OPS.... not a huge upgrade over what you might get out of Rooker, just more reliable.

 

From here on out, I’d look to swing a trade for a 3B and SP and plan on internal options as fallback options.

 

Edit to add: could get creative and look at Rosario at 1b as well.

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If I recall correctly the Twins were headed for contraction until a judge made opening the books to public scrutiny a condition for breaking their Metrodome lease. That brought the contraction move to a screeching halt. 

 

I expect a look at the books would have revealed that ownership was raking in a fat profit and the payroll limitations were completely self-inflicted. That was before the taxpayers built Target field. There is no excuse, none, for not spending to improve this team. The "impact" FAs are gone. It's time to trade for a salary dump starting pitcher. 

 

I'm all on board with hoarding prospects and internal development. If we take on enough salary we may even get prospects back. The Twins owe the fanbase an "impact" move and it doesn't have to cost anything in prospects or prohibit future growth. 

 

I don't begrudge ownership a return on their investment. I expect ownership receives a solid return on investment even if payroll spending goes substantially higher than current levels. And considering the taxpayer money provided to this franchise a substantial profit should be enough. 

 

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Are we more willing to spend money or prospects?  Neither. We all know how important it is for this team to keep all our prospects. They are cheap and under control for many years, so we always keep those precious prospects. And as far as spending the cash, we always do our shopping at the bargain bin. Looking for the low cost option or the special discount price. We always want to keep our precious cash...IMO between last seasons deadline and this off season,our FO has completely failed. But we still have our prospects and cash!!!

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None of the free agent infielders are very appealing. Moreland or Thames seem to be the best bets, but .830 OPS.... not a huge upgrade over what you might get out of Rooker, just more reliable.

From here on out, I’d look to swing a trade for a 3B and SP and plan on internal options as fallback options.

Edit to add: could get creative and look at Rosario at 1b as well.

 

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Prospects are the competitive advantage in baseball. This has been proven over and over again, so smart management always keep their prospects. It's the only way you can win as a mid-market team: catch a wave of talent and ride it as long as you can.

 

Twins are a good team, maybe a very good team, in a league with some juggernaut franchises that can spend, literally, twice what the Twins can.

 

So, we the underdogs. We need to embrace that, play like that, build like that, and hope, one day, we will get our shot and win it all.

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There is more than one way to improve. Sign José Iglesias to a cheap 2 year deal and take on Price and his entire contract along with another prospect. With Polanco at second Arreaz at third and Sano at first your infield defense improves substantially. Plus you’ve possibly improved the pitching and added a prospect all for a 3 year overpay that ends right when you need to pay Buxton / Sano

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 I`ve been a Twins fan since they existed & I`ll always be no matter what. I`m thankful to the Pohlads for bringing the WS trophy to MN. in `89 & `91.

 I don`t blame them for not signing their FAs even Ryu, they might have had a good reason but now if they don`t go out find  a descent trade or 2 & be very creative, I`d be very disappointed & even betrayed.

 there`s a lot good possibilities out there if they only open themselves to that & maybe very creative. Pitching is still the priority but a pretty good SS would be nice. We have many players that can be traded. There`s many I`d hate to see go but we can`t save them all on the 40 man. We can trade player that are redundant (meaning keeping several player when we need only one). We only need to decide if we want to go all in & win it all or only advance further in the PS for the time being, we can not be status quo or we`ll be left out in the cold. 

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I certainly didn't expect Donaldson to sign with the Twins. I think free agents like him just use the Twins as a team to drive up the price to places they want to go. However it now appears they won't have signaled any impact free agents. Which is highly disappointing. Especially with the Indians essentially staying the same and the White Sox definitely improved. Also can't imagine there's no regression from the Twins.

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I`ve been a Twins fan since they existed & I`ll always be no matter what. I`m thankful to the Pohlads for bringing the WS trophy to MN. in `89 & `91.

 I don`t blame them for not signing their FAs even Ryu, they might have had a good reason but now if they don`t go out find  a descent trade or 2 & be very creative, I`d be very disappointed & even betrayed.

 there`s a lot good possibilities out there if they only open themselves to that & maybe very creative. We have many players that can be traded. There`s many I`d hate to see go but we can`t save them all on the 40 man. We can trade player that are redundant (meaning keeping several player when we need only one). We only need to decide if we want to go all in & win it all or only advance further in the PS for the time being, we can not be status quo or we`ll be left out in the cold.

 

Twins won in 87, not 89.

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This seems as inevitable as any column on TD.  I believe most readers felt this would be the end result.  So if we are back to prospects - then play the prospects - no more questionable moves to veterans who do not move the dial.  

Give Rooker, Raley, Kiriloff a real chance at 1B. I am not interested in a journeyman, nor am I pleased to think that Marwin starts. Gonzales he had a total fWAR of 1.4.  I want more from 1B.

Give Graterol, Balazovic real opportunities if we believe they are going to be our best starters for the future and use Thorpe, Dobnak, Poppens, Smeltzer as fill in BP and SP rotations.

 

If they move Sano to 1B, push Lewis to start and figure out if he or Polanco are best at 3B.

 

 

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So the Twins have offered $100M/4 years to Donaldson = $25M a year.

They've dished out $7M to Bailey, $3M to Hill, $2.75M to Clippard, $4.25M to Avila for a grand total of $42M when you add what they have offered to Donaldson.

 

Cole went to the Yankees for $36M a year. Yet the Twins couldn't afford him? Pretty sure Cole will outperform Bailey and Hill and would have made Clippard less needed with having to use arms in the pen less often when every 5th day you've got a guy who can potentially pitch into the 8th or 9th inning.

 

Oh, don't forget the added revenue a Cole would have brought to Target Field by exciting the fan base. Instead we should show up with paper bags on our heads.

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Poker times over and Josh won, always wanted to stay with Braves. All he wanted was other teams to bid so he'd get more from the Braves. Trade only way to fill 2 voids ( 1B/3rd & P ). Might be just rumors but Pirates might be willing to trade Bell Archer Musgrave. Bryant Cubs ?

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I'm really not surprised at all by this offseason. The Pohlads are the problem. We've had some pretty smart GMs over the years. It's not them. Ownership puts severe limits on this team yearly. Dumpster diving, one year contracts, relying on prospects is going to continue. We need better prospects - Randy Dobnak should not be starting a playoff game.

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I think they've taken solid "swings" on guys like Wheeler, MadBum, Donaldson.  What they aren't is willing to move prospects to build a team that can compete for a World Series

Or maybe it's more to do with the fact that guys we'd wouldn't mind moving just aren't as good as a large part of the Twins fanbase and organization touted them to be?  I think of prospects as meat.  If there exists a team like this one, with a core of good players well under thirty, then prospects should not matter.  We should be selling off literally ALL OF THEM without any consideration about what we lost.  We need to be more worried about what we could gain than what we might lose.  Not with a team that has this makeup.

 

The other problem is, we just cannot compete in the FA market for reasons that go beyond money.  I think being pathetic losers in the postseason is probably the worst thing about this team.  The fact is, we can lose every game in the postseason and there is no shortage of fans who still call the season a success.  I don't know how that works to help foster a culture of winning.  When you consider the location and add to that postseason futility which is both historical and hysterical, then it's a problem.  All this complaining about not signing free agents this winter was ridiculous.  Especially when it comes from anyone who believes the players should be free to play where they want and sign absurd contracts that have no limit.  Most franchises in baseball are hamstrung by the system the players have fought to have and certain fans love to defend for whatever reason.  We are one of those franchises that are at a disadvantage and it goes far beyond money.  The money has gotten so insane that 15, 20, 30 million extra dollars isn't enough incentive to get players to play here.  Why in the world should Bumgarner want to come here?  For 15 or 20 million more dollars when he's already earned 57 million dollars by the age of 30?  A country boy like him from North Carolina has all the money he will ever need and then he goes into the open market.  He is going to choose where he wants to play and he was going to get more than enough regardless of where he signed.  It was about where he WANTED TO BE.  He wants a ranch in Arizona.  He wants that life.  He isn't getting that in Minnesota.  

So everyone who got up in arms about offering MORE MONEY MORE MONEY MORE MONEY really needs to take a seat for a little while.  It is over.  

 

To survive, we not only need to be very strong at developing players, but also we must be smart enough to trade off talent to make the big club better.  This garbage about "mortgaging the future" when the core of the team is young and talented is straight up weird.  If we are so besotted with a guy like Buxton then send Kirlioff and Larnach packing to add pitching depth.  If Graterol is ready then screw the service time nonsense.  Call him up now.  Find creative ways to use him.  Do it!

 

I don't blame the FO for not hitting a home run in the FA market.  The system is such that we'd need to outbid the entire market by a lot in order to entice players to come here and that is not a sound way of doing business.  It is stupid, desperate, irresponsible and will likely lead to trouble.  What this team needs to do is not get connected to prospects at all.  We surely need to treat them well, raise them to become pros and all the good stuff.  However, when it comes to future plans we need to stop acting as though the players we draft are going to be Twins by the time they get to the league. They are nothing more than assets the contribute to the success of the operation.  If trading one of those assets helps the operation then that asset served a purpose.

 

If we have meat to sell in the minors to improve the major league team then do it.  That is the beef I am starting to have with this FO.  They need to make a signature trade real soon.  Something that will shake the organization a little and perhaps change the culture a little.  

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