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Who Stays and Who Goes? Relief Pitchers.


There has been much turnover on the Twins' 2021 pitching staff. It is a near certainty that several hurlers who got the ball for the team this year will not be back in 2022. Many have failed--Garcia, Waddell, Burrows--and very few have succeeded. Somewhere in the middle is a subset of relievers who have done "okay", that is an ERA plus of 100 or better, but are over 30 years of age. The chance of a breakout by any of these guys is very small, but as 2021 has shown, even okay relief pitchers are better than sending out arsonists. 

I've included Caleb Thielbar with this group, he is the most unlike the others in that he's been with the club all season and is nearly certain to get a major league contract from someone in the offseason, as long as there is a bargaining agreement. The rest of the players have not had a full season with the Twins and if they aren't on the team would have to be released or designated for assignment (no options). Here's my list, with my two-minute analysis of each:

Derek Law. Derek Law has logged only 15 low-leverage innings with the Twins this year. He impressed many with a good run in spring training, featuring lots of strikeouts. From what I've seen during the regular season, he has average stuff and no one dominating pitch. Law is currently on the major league IL, but is on rehab assignment in St. Paul. Law will have accrued over three years of major league service after this year meaning that he would be eligible for arbitration (under current rules).

Danny Coulombe. Lefty Danny Coulombe has been with the Twins since June and has logged a 3-1 record with a 3.04 ERA. Coulombe has given up a majority of his runs as a result of the home run ball. He's fanned more than a batter per inning and his FIP is over a run higher than his ERA. Coulombe hasn't shown any real platoon splits this year (SSS), but in his career has done better against left handed hitters. Coulombe throws a lot of breaking balls and throws a fastball in the low 90s. Coulombe will be 32 in October.

Juan Minaya. Minaya was signed by the Twins in 2020 and was on the roster for a few days, but didn't pitch. This season he has been up and down at least a few times and outrighted to St. Paul when sent back. His most recent stint with the Twins has been his most effective. Minaya throws the fastball up to 96 mph, and has a decent slider. Control seems to be his biggest hurdle and thus far this year, he's walked 14 in 25 innings. Under current rules, Minaya would be a Super2, eligible for arbitration this winter. He turns 31 next month.

Luke Farrell. The right handed Farrell has good numbers in limited work with the Twins this year. In 15 plus innings, he has a 1.76 ERA, 2.97 FIP and a 1.17 WHIP. Farrell doesn't throw particularly hard (low 90s) but features a lot of breaking balls. He is also currently rehabbing at St. Paul. Farrell wouldn't be eligible for arbitration this offseason. Farrell wouldn't be eligible for arbitration this winter under the current bargaining agreement.

Caleb Thielbar. As I mentioned earlier, Thielbar fits less with this list than any of the others. He's been with the Twins all season, except for time on the IL and is now considered one of their high-leverage bullpen arms. Thielbar has thrown over 50 innings this season and has an ERA below 4 (3.18 FIP), he's struck out 64 in 51 innings and has won six games, losing none (FWIW). Caleb features a variety of big breaking balls along with a sneaky low-90s fastball. He'll turn 35 this winter, 

It doesn't make sense for a team rebuilding their pitching staff to have all of these over-30 arms on the 40-man roster over the winter. That said, a case for each can be made that they could help the Twins in 2022. How many should stay on the roster? Should the Twins attempt to sign any of them to a minor league contract? Are there any who should be DFAed/released with no look back?

IMHO, no more than two should be on this winter's 40-man. The lock is Thielbar and the one in doubt is Minaya. I think any of the five who aren't tendered a contract should be offered a minor league deal. 

 

 

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A lot of hand-wringing has gone into players the Twins have let go that have broken out this year. I don't see any candidates for such fears in a group like this. (Maybe Minaya? But that ship has sailed, IMO)

However, one does have to fill the bullpen with some confidence. So, yeah, Thielbar and/or Minaya, I'd be ok with either or both. Beyond that, you start exposing prospects with too much upside or youth to other teams.

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What we have here is a BIG serious group of guys who basically joined the Twins as minor league free agents, and the majority will also fulfill dream on the off-season. Who would get offered a 40-man spot with any other team is the question. How many would get a serious invite to spring training. If the Twins literally let walk every relief pitcher they signed in this way during the season, there should be one for every team in the league, and considering most passed on these guys already....

 

Albers, Thielbar, Farrell, Law, Waddell, Minaya, Coulombe, Gibaut, Vincent, Garcia, Garza Jr., Barraclough, Burrows. And add to the mix Vasquez, Shepherd, Leyer, Nittoli, Nunn, Manoah, Lau, Koch, Garcia, Gilmartin, Hamilton, Harvey - man ohhhhhh man, That's a Million-dollar minor league bullpen. And #12 million if they all played in the majors. You could buy a.,..Happ, or Shoemaker for that kind of money.

 

Let's ask this: would you keep any of these guys over, say, adding or keeping Smeltzer, Thorpe, Jax, Barnes, Stashak, Gant. The majority slot behind those arms, and even some of those names aren't safe. Throw in names like Colina, Winder, Sammons, Moran, Mason, Ryan, Strotman, Sands, Enlow, Vallimont, Gore, Lujan. Would you want these 18 guys in the organization in 2022, or the 24 in the previous paragraph. 

 

I suspect you will have a chance to resign any of the 24. You could actually offer them 40-man roster money to take a minor league contract, if you really feel the need to have them on the team. Sure, Albers and Thielbar are showing signs of solid life for aging lefties. Gibaut did okay first time out, Gazra has life, Hamilton has promise, Minaya has been dependable. Farrell looked like the second coming of Wisler. Coulombe was better than Colome, but still an aging lefty. I would picture the Twins keeping one of Albers, Coulombe and Thielbar.

 

Boy, in reality it is depressing when you remember the 202 bullpen of May, Alcala, Rogers, Duffey, Stashak, Romo, Clippard, Wisler and Thielbar (with Colina, Gearrin, Poppen, Minaya, Littell and Coulombe in the wings - how many of those are still Twins).

 

And then you have 2019 with Rogers, Littell, May, Harper, Morin, Magill, Duffey, Parker, Stashak, Romo (and names like Mejia, DeJong, Adams, Vasquez, Eades, Poppen,  Torres, Dyson and Graterol - how many of those are still around or were kept).

 

We know the Twins, for 2022, will be keeping Rogers, Duffey, Alcala, Gant - wait, WOW, that is it? 

 

We NEED HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I would start the 2022 season with a bullpen of Rogers, Duran, and Alcalá, and go from there. And I guess Dobnak as a long man or mop up guy, since they saw enough in him to sign him long term. 

That would fill four spots, and leaves four (give or take) spots still open. 

We can build cases for individual guys like Thielbar or Farrell or Duffey or whoever, like I did with my first four, but once you start doing that, you start falling in love again and it’s hard to stop, and then you might as well bring back the entire 2021 bullpen, right? I mean, Colomé has pitched better of late, as well. 

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The red flag for me last offseason for a potentially bad bullpen was writing Thielbar’s name as a lock. He’s proved me wrong and one of the lone bright spots for the unit this season. He’s left handed and breathing, so I guess I’d bet on a decent age 35 season in 2022.

The rest on the list I think are getting by on smoke and mirrors, or simply not that good, so I’d let the rest walk. 

Locks for 2022: Rogers, Alcala, Thielbar (arb 1)

Question marks: Duffey (arb 3), Stashak(pre-arb), Gant (arb 3), Thorpe and Smeltzer (out of options), Garza

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44 minutes ago, Vanimal46 said:

The red flag for me last offseason for a potentially bad bullpen was writing Thielbar’s name as a lock. He’s proved me wrong and one of the lone bright spots for the unit this season. He’s left handed and breathing, so I guess I’d bet on a decent age 35 season in 2022.

The rest on the list I think are getting by on smoke and mirrors, or simply not that good, so I’d let the rest walk. 

Locks for 2022: Rogers, Alcala, Thielbar (arb 1)

Question marks: Duffey (arb 3), Stashak(pre-arb), Gant (arb 3), Thorpe and Smeltzer (out of options), Garza

Duffey and Gant seem like near-locks to me depending on arb 3 salaries. Duffey has been solid for 3 years now, with a little more up and down this season. Gant looks effective as a good swing man which the team will certainly need next year. The rest of the question marks should be replaced in my book.

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The focus for the offseason will be either Buxton extension or SS and the rotation.  I expect the Twins will sign a bullpen arm or two.  Both under 2 million per season.  We only have Over as a guarentee in the rotation with 30 to less than 40 million max to spend there.

We will keep Rogers, Duffey, Alcala, Theilbar, Coulombe, Minaya.  Dobnak and Gant. The last 2 could either or both end up in the rotation.  I hope we resign Albers to a minor league deal along with another arm or two.  Garza is the wild card and could be kept.  I am not sure on Stashak or Farrell, either but I am confident they let Thorpe and Smeltzer go. As well as Barraclough, Burrows, Garcia, 

I do expect the Twins to keep more players than you might think cause these guys are all low cost.  I wouldn't be surprised if Rogers was traded this offseason so we have more money to address the rotation.

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I just hope they don't fill the bullpen with guys without options, like they have in the past.....

Given everything wrong with this team, I'd spend almost nothing on the bullpen. They need SS and SP...... So I agree with the post above, they'll keep mostly the same bullpen. And I'd trade Rogers to free up money.

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