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Front Page: With Donaldson in the Fold, Can the Twins Afford to Wait Until the Deadline to Trade for Starting Pitching?


Nash Walker
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The Twins made a franchise-altering move on Tuesday by signing superstar third baseman Josh Donaldson. His addition turns them into a serious World Series contender. Can they afford to wait to add starting pitching?It has long been known that the Twins were targeting impact starting pitching when the offseason commenced in October. Then Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu flew off the board, and the Twins were left in the cold of free agency. They quickly adapted, running for Josh Donaldson and grabbing the two highest upside free agent starters on the market in Rich Hill and Homer Bailey. Donaldson became a Twin, and now they are the clear favorite to win the AL Central again in 2020.

 

A fully healthy and reinstated rotation of José Berríos, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Hill and Bailey is hardly a disaster. The Twins’ rotation ranked seventh with 16.6 WAR in 2019, according to Fangraphs. They lost Kyle Gibson and Martín Pérez, who posted ERAs of 5.92 and 6.27 after the All-Star break, while retaining their three best starters in Berríos, Odorizzi and Pineda. The Nationals made an incredible postseason run with three phenomenal starting pitchers. Seeing this, along with the ALDS sweep at the hands of the Yankees, Twins fans asked for just one ace.

 

The trade market may not be flush with options at this time. The number of teams not competing has been much reduced from 2019. The Mets, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Angels, Rangers, Reds and Blue Jays are all looking to win in 2020. This doesn’t mean they are unwilling to trade, but when paired with the current grasp for starting pitching, asking prices became astronomical. Logical targets with expiring contracts such as Robbie Ray, Trevor Bauer, and Noah Syndergaard seem almost untouchable.

 

The good (and maybe bad) news for the Twins is that there are five playoff spots in each league. Come July, plenty of teams will unexpectedly find themselves far behind in the standings and won’t be demanding suddenly the moon. Some teams, like the 2019 Twins, will surprise in the first half and become buyers at the deadline. If, say, the White Sox and Angels, two pitching-needy teams who aren’t yet dubbed as contenders, are in the thick of things by mid-season, they will aggressively look to add that impact starter. Perhaps there is less of that competition now for the Twins.

 

Should the Twins wait until July, they risk disappointment in the first half. Bailey can’t be counted on for anything more than mediocrity, and Randy Dobnak, while great in 2019, remains unproven. Pineda will return from his 39-game suspension on May 10 and should provide more stability until Hill returns in June. In those 39 games without Pineda, 24 are against teams that had a losing record in 2019. Of the 15 games against winning teams from last year, nine are at Target Field. Just two of the first 11 teams they play made the postseason a year ago. This seems like a weatherable storm.

 

The Twins have momentum. Their 101-61 record was the fourth best in baseball last year and they just added a borderline top-20 player. Their youngsters will be more seasoned with playoff experience and they are led by a former MVP in Donaldson, the last decade’s home run leader in Nelson Cruz, four-time World Series champions in Marwin González and Sergio Romo, and a gritty veteran in Rich Hill. Is this team good enough to gamble on the rotation until the deadline?

 

Comment what you think!

 

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CAN they wait? Yes. But there's risk that goes with that.

 

They probably will win more high scoring games than most teams (especially other AL Central teams), so they can get by with average pitching out of the last couple spots in the rotation, but I'm not sure they can afford to have BAD pitching from those spots.

 

So between Bailey and the returning young pitchers, they need to be at least decent coming out of the gate.

 

Obviously, it would provide a better cushion if they could still get that top of the rotation guy sooner, rather than later, but Donaldson certainly provides a significant cushion in case that doesn't happen.

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I think SD makes a good point.    Now that JD is on board, the already potent lineup helps create some cushion that is aided by a favorable early schedule.   

 

Should they bolster the staff at some point?   Absolutely.   But at the very least, the FO can afford to be patient and not move out of desperation... at least not yet :)

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I feel the Twins can trade now for a high impact starter who will be available for the playoffs, without depleting the farm system. The Twins can also do the same thing just before the trade deadline, whenever that is. I'm sure the Twins FO has already identified potential "Aces" who are on teams which will not be contending this year. And hopefully the FO is already exploring possible trades with an eye toward obtaining that Ace which we all agree will increase the Twins' chances of advancement in the playoffs this fall. By the way, after 7 straight years of playoff experience with no championship to show for the high payroll Dodgers, the Dodger fans are saying some desperate things on their posts. And just look at the Dodgers'  current pitching staff. Attitude is critical.  The Twins need to go ahead and size the players' ring fingers for their World Series rings and make that their goal...not just reaching the playoffs.

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There is a risk/reward here.  I am more in favor of a 1 year rental (which should not be too expensive).  If you buy a long term pitcher(not bad) the following probably happen.

You are not extending Odorizzi (in all probability).  

You are delaying learning which of the multiple minor league pitchers will grow into major league players (and possibly stars)

You are using one or two of them in the trade for the ace (hope you don't trade an ace away). 

You are forced to pay Berrios what he wants, since you have traded some of your depth to find the right pitchers.

Don't care if you want this line, but the front office will have to be close to 100% right on all these points if you do it.

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"Should they bolster the staff at some point? Absolutely. But at the very least, the FO can afford to be patient and not move out of desperation... at least not yet"

 

Let's not wait until we're desperate...please.

 

 

As for trade assets, I've seen two perspectives presented.

 

One says there's no telling which prospects will turn out to be actual MLB talents, odds are against all of them, therefore the prospects should be retained. 

 

Another says we have a log jam at OF and rule 5 will prevent us from keeping everyone, trade prospects from positions of strength for MLB talent at positions of weakness (pitcher, infield D). 

 

I'm on board with the latter proposition. I agree it's difficult to tell who will transition from prospect to proven MLB player. However, the only way to find out is to promote them and see what happens. Barring multiple injuries we don't have room on the roster to try out everyone and see who makes it. The FO should make a decision who they want to keep and trade for pitching. 

 

I applaud the Donaldson acquisition. It would be a shame to squander it because the pitching doesn't hold up. 

 

 

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I agree we can get a high upside project that the pitching staff have located to develop  that can turn around faster than Graterol (hoping will become a high impact starter in time). There are non contending teams that have pitching (Pirates & Marlins do & we have an in w/ last year Twins coaches) Even contending teams w/ different needs might be open w/ more ML ready players. We don`t have to go after well known aces if the pitching staff are confident in any near future turn around  

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Yes you wait and put trust in that last year's 101 wins was not a fluke. You really didn't take away any key players that would make you believe that we couldn't win that many games again.

 

The only way I would like to see a trade now is to get rid of Mr.Byron Glass Buxton. We should of done it last year and we should still do it this year.

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CAN they wait?  I think they can.  SHOULD they wait?  I don't think they should.  FO would already be banking that at least one of the in-house candidates step up.  But you are one DL stint for a starter away from big trouble.  After mid-May, a DL stint for any of Berrios/Odorizzi/Pineda (or Bailey) would mean you are now banking on TWO of those in-house guys (Dobnak, Thorpe, Smeltzer) filling rotation spots.  That makes me nervous.

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There will always be sellers at the deadline, it really doesn't matter which teams.

 

Last year at the trade deadline... We needed a starting pitcher. 

Last year at the trade deadline... We did not trade for a starting pitcher. 

 

The article title is a question: With Donaldson in the Fold, Can the Twins Afford to Wait Until the Deadline to Trade for Starting Pitching?

 

I'll answer that question with a question.

 

Wait for what?  :)

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The Twins made a franchise-altering move on Tuesday by signing superstar third baseman Josh Donaldson. His addition turns them into a serious World Series contender. Can they afford to wait to add starting pitching?It has long been known that the Twins were targeting impact starting pitching when the offseason commenced in October. Then Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu flew off the board, and the Twins were left in the cold of free agency. They quickly adapted, running for Josh Donaldson and grabbing the two highest upside free agent starters on the market in Rich Hill and Homer Bailey. Donaldson became a Twin, and now they are the clear favorite to win the AL Central again in 2020.

A fully healthy and re-instated rotation of José Berríos, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Hill and Bailey is hardly a disaster. The Twins’ rotation ranked seventh with 16.6 WAR in 2019, according to Fangraphs. They lost Kyle Gibson and Martín Pérez, who posted ERAs of 5.92 and 6.27 after the All-Star break, while retaining their three best starters in Berríos, Odorizzi and Pineda. The Nationals just made an incredible postseason run with three phenomenal starting pitchers. Seeing this, along with the ALDS sweep at the hands of the Yankees, Twins fans asked for just one ace.

The trade market may not be flush with options at this time. The amount of teams not competing has decimated from 2019. The Mets, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Angels, Rangers, Reds and Blue Jays are all looking to win in 2020. This doesn’t mean they are unwilling to trade, but when paired with the current gasp for starting pitching, asking prices became astronomical. Logical targets with expiring contracts such as Robbie Ray, Trevor Bauer, and Noah Syndergaard seem almost untouchable.

The good (and maybe bad) news for the Twins is that there are five playoff spots in each league. Plenty of teams will unexpectedly find themselves far behind in the standings come July and suddenly won’t be demanding the moon. Some teams, like the 2019 Twins, will surprise in the first half and become buyers at the deadline. If, say, the White Sox and Angels, two pitching-needy teams who aren’t yet dubbed as contenders, are in the thick of things by mid-season, they will aggressively look to add that impact starter. Perhaps there is less of that competition now for the Twins.

Should the Twins wait until July, they risk dismay in the first half. Bailey can’t be counted on for anything more than mediocrity, and Randy Dobnak, while great in 2019, remains unproven. Pineda will return from his 39-game suspension on May 10 and should provide more stability until Hill returns in June. In those 39 games without Pineda, 24 are against teams that had a losing record in 2019. Of the 15 games against winning teams from last year, nine are at Target Field. Just two of the first 11 teams they play made the postseason a year ago. This seems like a weatherable storm.

The Twins have momentum. Their 101-61 record was the fourth best in baseball last year and they just added a borderline top-20 player. Their youngsters will be more seasoned with playoff experience and they are led by a former MVP in Donaldson, the last decade’s home run leader in Nelson Cruz, four-time World Series champions in Marwin González and Sergio Romo, and a gritty veteran in Rich Hill. Is this team good enough to gamble on the rotation until the deadline?

Comment what you think!

 

I don’t think so, Nash. While they could gamble and win if young pitchers such as Dobnak and Smeltzer perform well, that’s a great risk. One reason not to take that risk is that they are in the 2nd year of a window that they’re realistically WS contenders, IF they have the pitching. They failed to go out and trade for an impact pitcher at the deadline last year, so there’s one year of a championship window wasted. 

 

They haven’t obtained enough pitching this off season. Starting the season and using TWO unproven farm system candidates for maybe 2 months in Pineda’s case (will he be rusty on return) and who knows, maybe 3 months in the case of Hill - that’s a lot of starts to trust to unproven pitchers. And I would argue, that it could even cost them a division title. Acquiring one more solid, established major leaguer would help a lot. Two would be better. Cliche: you can never have enough pitching. The should go petal to the metal for a World Championship this year and they could even establish a run like the Oakland A’s in the 70’s who were so great, that had free agency not hit, they may have won 6 or 7 WS in a row. I hate the Twins wasting the careers of really good players like they did with Morneau and Mauer and even Mientkiewic (help me spell checker!).

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Hill is the midseason acquisition and if he returns and pitches they are around 150 million. If he doesn’t return I think they try to add a pitcher with those dollars.

 

They had an opportunity to add pitching by giving Ryu the Donaldson money and then they could have added a bat at 1B for the Hill or Bailey commitment. They went with Donaldson and I think I agree. Short of trading significant prospect capital for a young pitcher on smaller salary I think they have chosen to wait.

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I think they do have the time. I’m not worried at all about the regular season (apart from injuries). As long as something is done to gear up for the playoffs at some point, I’ll be happy.

 

A few things to think about:

 

1). The quality of pitcher available right now may not substantially help the team. For example, Gray would be a really nice piece to have around during the regular season. But, is that what gets the Twins over the hump in a playoff series? I don’t think so. They’re better off waiting for the deadline, where maybe someone like the Rays would make Snell available, for example.

 

2). The prospects available to trade may not be requisite if acquiring a true high-end starter. If Falvine are really as reluctant to trade the big names in the system (Lewis, etc), is acquiring a starter that helps possible?

 

3). Contracts will get in the way. There aren’t many cheap controllable starters available, obviously. I’m sure Price could be had, but what are the Twins willing/able to pick up?

 

My point is, there are a lot of hurdles. Many think it’s a foregone conclusion that they’ll trade at some point, but I’m not sure it’d all that likely. The stars will really have to align to get a legitimate high-ender.

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Can they wait?  Yes.  Should they wait?  Yes.

 

I am confident that one of the four young guns will pitch as well or better than the worst of Berrios, Pineda and Odorizzi.  Don't know which it will be, just that one will grasp the opportunity and run with it.  Let's remember that all four had some success last summer/fall, odds are one should be very good this spring.  

 

The biggest problem the Twins may have when Hill returns is finding a spot to put him in.  

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Make the trade as soon as the opportunity develops. Timing is rarely perfect, and waiting for the trade deadline for a strategic motive is a high risk low reward type of move.

 

The rotation as currently setup is a recipe to blow out the bullpen and make another quick exit in the post season.

 

Berrios is very good 2, good 1

Odorizzi is a good 2, very good 3

Pineda is out the first 39 games and then has to get up to speed. Lots of risk, hard to judge... could be their best starter down the stretch.

Hill is just as likely not to pitch as pitch 75 innings

Homer Bailey is a fine to be in the mix for 5th starter with Dobnak and Smeltzer but I hope he’s in the bullpen.

 

The Twins desperately need a starter to slot in the top 3 right now. Injuries and ineffectiveness will sort out any perceived over abundance of pitching.

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They have to look at what Houston did in getting Verlander for their staff. Hopefully the FO can bring themselves to let go of some of their prospects in order to make run. If this is about winning the World Series, you cannot outslug team with superior pitching. 

Just does not happen.

 

They should be trying from this day until the trade deadline to acquire a frontline starter. Unless one of Graterol, Thorpe or Dobnak are able to make the most of their opportunity make a big jump.

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A few things to think about:

1). The quality of pitcher available right now may not substantially help the team. For example, Gray would be a really nice piece to have around during the regular season. But, is that what gets the Twins over the hump in a playoff series? I don’t think so. They’re better off waiting for the deadline, where maybe someone like the Rays would make Snell available, for example.

 

 

 

 

That is what I'm thinking...maybe Tampa, Arizona or someone else is not close to sniffing the playoffs.
 

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Reality is that the Twins aren’t going to add more payroll at this time so all those calling for adding a proven pitcher aren’t being realistic.

 

Best bet is at the trade deadline when they won’t be paying full annual cost of a players 2020 salary.

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Provisional Member

Last trade deadline we needed starting pitching and didn't get any. The front office said not to worry we have the off season to upgrade our starting pitching staff.  Now we are at the point of just waiting until the trade deadline again?  Just seems like kicking the can down the road.

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Last trade deadline we needed starting pitching and didn't get any. The front office said not to worry we have the off season to upgrade our starting pitching staff. Now we are at the point of just waiting until the trade deadline again? Just seems like kicking the can down the road.

Would you have pursued Ryu over Donaldson and addressed pitching with free agency this winter?

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The main obstacle to adding a SP to slot above or between Berrios and Odorizzi remains the paucity of opportunity. 

Can they afford to wait? Yes.

Should they add an ace? Yes.

What is the ceiling for a Twins budget? No idea, but likely not more than $150 million.

Wishing for a trade now seems futile. Nobody has forwarded anyone available that is reasonable at this time. By July things should be more clear. The Twins do not have a history of adding someone like Verlander near the trade deadline. Then again, the signing of Josh Donaldson may have loosened up that philosophy to some extent. 

A poster mentioned adding someone like Snell in July and that may be possible. 

Everyone agrees that pitching is a key area where the Twins need strengthening for a solid postseason run. That argument applies to most teams.

Unless some dramatic major trade shocks everyone, I think the Twins front office has already arrived at an answer to the question - the roster is set.

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I am not the gm and don't have access to all the data and information they have.  As a fan I am glad they signed Donaldson. As a fan, I am just concerned that if they keep kicking the can down the road and never upgrade the starting pitching this team won't reach it's fullest potential.

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It is possible they have simply taken a different road and spent their budget with Donaldson. They may not be on the road to pitching any longer. The realistic options may have been Ryu, Donaldson or hold onto the money in hopes of making a deal later. They may not be kicking the can any longer.

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It is possible they have simply taken a different road and spent their budget with Donaldson. They may not be on the road to pitching any longer. The realistic options may have been Ryu, Donaldson or hold onto the money in hopes of making a deal later. They may not be kicking the can any longer.

This. Your ace pitching money is now playing 3rd base. Signing Donaldson is better than no signing but I would have given the money to Ryu

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I like the way they've set this up.  Leave opportunities for the younger guys who started stepping up last season to make their mark. Beat up on the weak central division.  Don't put your eggs in a basket until you see what is actually cooking.

 

The main argument I see for trading right now is that some of our prospect capital will flame out/get hurt--if you knew which one's, selling high would be nice!

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