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Injuries Set Up Twins Pitching Splurge


If the Minnesota Twins should have been doing something before the lockout, it was paying for pitching. Dealing with a plethora of pitching injuries, building a rotation of short-term deals made a ton of sense. Now the club will have to decide how the group is built.

After signing Dylan Bundy to a one-year deal with a 2023 option, Minnesota effectively has three of the five spots filled in their rotation. Kenta Maeda will be out for the season due to Tommy John surgery, and Jose Berrios is long gone. This group includes Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan, but it was intended to be more flush with homegrown talent.

The 2020 Minor League Baseball season being non-existent was always going to hurt the development of prospects, but the ripple effect that lacking game action had on injuries was crippling. All of the Twins top arms dealt with time on the shelf last season, which halted any of them being options for the 2022 Opening Day roster.
 
Derek Falvey is supposed to be a pitching guru, and developing arms was his calling card with the Cleveland Guardians. That’s yet to bear any fruit in Minnesota, but there’s a group very close to bursting through. Take your pick from this lot: Jhoan Duran, Jordan Balazovic, Matt Canterino, Josh Winder, Cole Sands, and Blayne Enlow. All of them are expected to provide varying degrees of rotational talent. Each of them has also been on the injured list during the past year, and whatever projection for a debut is further away than it once seemed.
 
This is where opportunity presented itself for the Twins. In 2021 the big league roster was intended to again compete for an AL Central Division title. That fell flat because the pitching wasn’t good. With essentially the same roster intact, a re-do on the rotation is a quick way for Rocco Baldelli’s club to regain its status among the best in the sport. Bundy isn’t enough to do that on his own, and the options left available are now bare.

Carlos Rodon is essentially a must for Minnesota. His shoulder issues are concerning, but there’s no denying he’s the ace-level pitching that could anchor the rotation. If the front office wants to play in those waters, they have to be willing to outspend the competition, especially when they shy away from duration. Trades also make sense for this club and worrying about how all the arms fit shouldn’t be part of the equation. As we just established, there’s been a run on injuries throughout the system and last year's depth was hardly the asset it once seemed.
 
Much like position prospect Royce Lewis, the pitchers being shelved for long enough to delay debuts changed the plans for Minnesota. However, that’s been established for months, and the club did little to play in the free-agent waters. It’s now time that a substantial step forward is taken on pitching, spending and dealing, to establish a group capable of supporting what should be a strong lineup.
 
It’s too bad that Falvey’s farm system hasn’t yet developed from the top group, but there are plenty of names that could stick. In the meantime, giving the big league club the additional firepower should be of the utmost importance.

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Prospects are like baking cinnamon rolls; if under bake the rolls they taste doughy, if you over bake them there burnt but when you take out the oven at the right time they are darn good. If you make too many rolls then old, stale & hard &  non-editable . The Twins seem to go through stages of drafting too many corner outfielders, then too many infielders, etc. The Twins always put up the lame duck argument that they won’t “sign”. Thats bogus because winning teams have less trouble signing their draft choices. The Twins better start shimming up to the bar and pay the going market value, this goes for FA & trades too  or get left out in the cold.

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I'll take Rodon for sure, but I'd like to hear more on why he's a must. Most pundits seem to think Rodon is destined for a one or two year deal, are you of the mind to give him a longer deal? No judgments; honestly asking. I wouldn't completely be against it if there was reason to think he could stay relatively healthy.

Because with Ober, Ryan and Bundy listed as the three other starters, I don't think there is a fifth pitcher on the planet to pair with that motley crew to make this team a contender next year. So to me, Rodon on a short deal would seem more like an olive branch to the fans with the team acknowledging that it's going to be a rebuild season but they'll at least give us one proven starter to put in the rotation.

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Advancing a player from double A to the major is not unheard of. With that said Sands, Balazovic, Duran, Dobnak, Jax, Ober, Ryan, Strotman, Thorpe, Winder,  Vallimont and maybe Richardson as well as Bundy could see time as starters with the Twins next season. Most of these guys are on the 40 man roster and might as well have them all training with the Twins. You definitely would need a score card next year. Keep the shuttle to the Saints running.

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Totally agree they need to sign Rodon. If not they might need to just go into 2022 as a transition. 
while I appreciate the article can we finally stop with Falvine as a pitching guru?  There is zero evidence of this in Cleveland or with the Twins yet it gets stated on this site repeatedly. 

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5 hours ago, nicksaviking said:

I'll take Rodon for sure, but I'd like to hear more on why he's a must. Most pundits seem to think Rodon is destined for a one or two year deal, are you of the mind to give him a longer deal? No judgments; honestly asking. I wouldn't completely be against it if there was reason to think he could stay relatively healthy.

Because with Ober, Ryan and Bundy listed as the three other starters, I don't think there is a fifth pitcher on the planet to pair with that motley crew to make this team a contender next year. So to me, Rodon on a short deal would seem more like an olive branch to the fans with the team acknowledging that it's going to be a rebuild season but they'll at least give us one proven starter to put in the rotation.

I would love to get Rodon on a 1 or 2 year deal.  They played 500 ball the last 2 months with Pineda / Ober / Ryan.  I never believed they we going to contend next year but I still would rather have a 500 team than a 70 win team.  Maybe he becomes a trade piece or maybe he works out and signs an extension.  Either way, Rodon on a short deal is a good deal.

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I'd have no issue with Rodon on a 2 year deal with a 3rd year option if the medicals are solid. The guy was a 3rd overall draft pick, behind Aiken and Kolek (neither of which panned out) and he showed last year how nasty his stuff can be. And he threw a no-hitter. I'd love to see the Twins get him, plus trade for another good starter (Montas?), and sign Pineda as well. They need pitching.

I believe Pineda would be a good safety net for Ober, Ryan, or the Bundy experiment. If they all do well, maybe Pineda could transition to the pen, as he is essentially a two pitch pitcher who throws strikes. Or we could trade one pitcher midseason if the staff health holds up.

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9 hours ago, Old fox said:

Prospects are like baking cinnamon rolls; if under bake the rolls they taste doughy, if you over bake them there burnt but when you take out the oven at the right time they are darn good. If you make too many rolls then old, stale & hard &  non-editable .

The problem is our organization can't seem to keep the young cinnamon rolls from getting injured.  

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Here is me putting on my rose colored glasses...........but if as an organization you believe that many of these young pitchers who were injured and hurt in 2021 are close to big league ready and going to be difference makers why spend a bunch of $ in free agency when you have young cheap talent at the top of the minor league system creating a log jam.  

 

I dont want the Twins to spend $ just to spend it.  I dont think the 2022 Twins season is all doom and gloom at this point.  The CBA i believe is going to change a lot of the trade land scape and i hope the picking prospects are closer to the big leagues then we think. 

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I would be shocked if they signed Rodon.  They haven't been in play for anyone except Bundy and one mention on Ray after everyone was pissed they weren't in on anyone.

They will probably bring back Pineda and hopefully they can find a good trade or 2.

Maybe Maeda can throw left handed?

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I mean they have 2 choices.  Sign Rodon and Pineda then you'd have Bundy, Ober and Ryan to complete the rotation.  Or you punt next year and see what they can develop.  I mean 7 of their top 10 prospects are pitchers.  Bring them up and let them fly.  I mean next year won't be good but if you hit on 2 or 3 of those kids now you have a very bright future.  But if you don't bring them up, then you never know what you have and the future is still bleak because you don't know and will continue to not know what they have.  So either go with Rodon and Pineda or go with the young guys.  

If you go with the young guys you could run out a 6 man rotation to limit their innings and such.  But do one or the other, I'd hate to see them half ass it again with a shoemaker type singing.

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11 hours ago, ashbury said:

The problem is our organization can't seem to keep the young cinnamon rolls from getting injured.  

In addition we drafted some players we thought were cinnamon rolls who never rose (get it?) to that level (Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, Tyler Jay, Alex Wimmers, Ryan Eades, Luke Bard, Mason Melotakis, Hudson Boyd all first or second-round picks other than Gonsalves who could be part of the team now but aren't). Berrios in 2012 and Gibson in 2009 are the last two high draft picks with some pitching success for the team.

Let's hope Chase Petty breaks the streak.

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I feel like the must is signing Pineda. That not being done prior to the lockout is concerning. Rodon was great, but there is so much risk. If it were my money (thankfully it isn't), I wouldn't give him more than two years, three with incentives. I doubt that would get it done. 

It's ugly, but unless something remarkable comes along, I'd go with Pineda, Bundy, and the combo of all the guys that need to build up innings-wise: Dobnak, Ober, Ryan, Sands, Balazovic, Duran, Jax, Strotman, Thorpe, Winder, Vallimont and Woods Richardson. 

We need to figure out who we've got. Between the juiced ball year (2019), COVID year (2020), and year of young pitchers' arms falling off (2021), getting a real evaluation of this team cannot have been simple. There aren't core-type pitchers left in FA. We could dumpster dive, but I think that's silly. Set up the St. Paul-MSP merry-go-round and let's figure out who our core guys are.  

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24 minutes ago, big dog said:

In addition we drafted some players we thought were cinnamon rolls who never rose (get it?) to that level (Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, Tyler Jay, Alex Wimmers, Ryan Eades, Luke Bard, Mason Melotakis, Hudson Boyd all first or second-round picks other than Gonsalves who could be part of the team now but aren't). Berrios in 2012 and Gibson in 2009 are the last two high draft picks with some pitching success for the team.

Let's hope Chase Petty breaks the streak.

You forgot Shooter Hunt. With a name like that what could possibly go wrong. 
https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=hunt--001sho

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6 hours ago, Twodogs said:

I mean they have 2 choices.  Sign Rodon and Pineda then you'd have Bundy, Ober and Ryan to complete the rotation.  Or you punt next year and see what they can develop.  I mean 7 of their top 10 prospects are pitchers.  Bring them up and let them fly.  I mean next year won't be good but if you hit on 2 or 3 of those kids now you have a very bright future.  But if you don't bring them up, then you never know what you have and the future is still bleak because you don't know and will continue to not know what they have.  So either go with Rodon and Pineda or go with the young guys.  

If you go with the young guys you could run out a 6 man rotation to limit their innings and such.  But do one or the other, I'd hate to see them half ass it again with a shoemaker type singing.

Their inactivity would suggest they are thinking like you.  They could trade away their best long-term assets for a 2 year shot at contention and hope it works out or they can use 2022 to position the team for the next decade.  Fans tend to go for option 1, ownership and therefore front offices tend to go for option 2.

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If we head to spring training, if there is one, with the current pitching staff we better all prepare for a very ugly summer of baseball.  The prospects that everyone is touting better produce or we are back to a 90-100 loss season.  I'm also hoping that Buxton can pitch lol.  If he is the only "addition" then this FO needs to go.

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I will say again, that Ryan and Ober need to be considered ONE pitcher in a starting rotation.  I could see each of them pitching 100-110 innings.  That's 200-220 innings.  They need a COUPLE of arms.

I would:  Think very hard during this break what my #1 priority is NOW (now that Buxton is signed).  Is it a SS like Story or a SP like Rodon.  That's the BIG DECISION.  I might sign Pineda first (and quickly) because ONE SP won't be enough.  Big Mike is a known commodity.  He will pitch to an acceptable level.  Spend at least one stint on the I.L. but for the most part be "steady."  If I sign Rodon, I make a trade with Oakland for Frankie Montas.  It would be something along the lines of Arraez, Sabato and Sands.  Then my SP is:  Rodon, Montas, Bundy, Pineda, Ryan, Ober.  That's 6 guys and I can lean on minor league depth for spot starts and such.  I also would make a smaller trade for Mondesi or DeJong to get a SS.  Both should be available because there are players who have moved past them.  

If I decide to go with Story instead I expand the trade with Oakland by including Larnach and maybe another smaller sweetener to include Bassitt.  Then the SP staff looks like this:  Montas, Bassitt, Bundy, Pineda, Ryan and Ober.  I have Donaldson, Story, Polanco and Kiriloff in the IF.  Garver & Jeffers catching and Buxton & Kepler in the OF.  I need a LF'er.  Miranda, Celestino & Martin could compete for it.  I could sign a vet at a bargain price instead.

That team can compete with the White Sox, Tigers and anybody else.  I still have PLENTY of young minor league pitchers to evaluate and elevate as needed throughout the season and I still have Lewis, Martin and other highly thought of prospects to evaluate and elevate as needed during the season if their play in the minors dictates that and/or injuries force my hand.  

I will keep pounding the drum on this:  We were the two-time defending division champs.  We had a dumpster fire last season but we still have TALENT.  We CAN and SHOULD compete for the division crown in 2022 and beyond.  

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If we could get Montas, I would be all for it. I don't believe we get him for a grab bag of Arraez, Sabato and Sands. I think we would lose Lewis or Martin in a trade for Montas. He's a young and very good SP. That's just my thinking, but I've seen this proposed trade a few times, and wanted to add my two cents to it. 

Has there been any reporting about Isiah Kiner-Falefa? He seems get-able and would be a solid starting SS that we could transition to utility if/when Lewis took over. 

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15 hours ago, Major League Ready said:

I would love to get Rodon on a 1 or 2 year deal.  They played 500 ball the last 2 months with Pineda / Ober / Ryan.  I never believed they we going to contend next year but I still would rather have a 500 team than a 70 win team.  Maybe he becomes a trade piece or maybe he works out and signs an extension.  Either way, Rodon on a short deal is a good deal.

I agree with a short term deal with some sort of mutual options that could protect both the Twins and Rodon. But then if you MUST build a strong pen and sign a good ss.

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2 hours ago, TopGunn#22 said:

I will say again, that Ryan and Ober need to be considered ONE pitcher in a starting rotation.  I could see each of them pitching 100-110 innings.  That's 200-220 innings.  They need a COUPLE of arms.

I think we are going to see a very unconventional usage by the Twins this year and most likely a trend away from conventual usage across the league.  I would not be surprised if the Twins have a few 3-5 inning starters and a number of 2 inning RPs and only 3-4 single inning RPs.  I would not be shocked if Alcala was used in a 3-4 inning capacity.  If that went really well he might transition to a traditional starting role.  Then, again, they might feel his value is high leverage situations.  It's going to be interesting.  If they are used 3-4 innings at a time will they be used every 4th day on average or will it be a way to manage IP?

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Let's not forget two things:

One is that the offense is good now, and there's a very good chance that the pitching staff will develop around the time that the offense starts to decline. I know there is a lot of upcoming talent on the offensive side, but we know what we have now, we have no certainty of what is to come. We could have used free agency as a way to preserve the competitive window that has been open for a few years now without leveraging future prospects. We really could have had it both ways, by winning now while also keeping the future in tact.

The second is that big additions like a front-end SP or a Trevor Story level SS would most likely be part of the present, and the future. If we sign Story or Correa (I know) to a long term deal they are part of the future and solidify a lineup both now and when the core shifts to the prospects. This would have been a really good reason for a #1 or #2 starter to anchor a rotation that is still in development, like the Tigers did by signing Rodriguez, or the Mariners signing Ray.

I'm a little surprised that that never came up, spending money doesn't deplete our farm system, and it leaves us with pieces that could contribute for years. Watching this wait-and-see approach with the pitching staff makes me nervous that we will go from a team with good offense and bad pitching to the exact opposite.

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I'm sory, you still need rotation arms that can do two things. One, get you beyond five innings a good chunk of the time.

 

Also, it is nice if a pitcher can do 30 starts minimum and the ideal rotation is at least four arms that can pitch 150+ innings, to keep the bullpen effective.

 

Sadly, few of the prospects outside of Ober will even pass 100 innings in 2022. But there is enough arms on the 40-man that you can run the St. Paul shuttle. Depending on how much you feel they have to pitch competitive in St. Paul.

 

 

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On 12/9/2021 at 1:20 PM, nicksaviking said:

I'll take Rodon for sure, but I'd like to hear more on why he's a must. Most pundits seem to think Rodon is destined for a one or two year deal, are you of the mind to give him a longer deal? No judgments; honestly asking. I wouldn't completely be against it if there was reason to think he could stay relatively healthy.

Maybe the consensus among predictions for Rodón's contract is that he'll take a short-term deal to prove he's healthy - I probably haven't read enough of the pundits to know - but one counterpoint to this was in Fangraphs' free agent predictions article: because of his checkered injury history, teams might want a longer-term deal, in order to get more chances at the "good," fully healthy Rodón. That's assuming he's healthy now.

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On 12/10/2021 at 9:45 AM, awmonahan said:

If we could get Montas, I would be all for it. I don't believe we get him for a grab bag of Arraez, Sabato and Sands. I think we would lose Lewis or Martin in a trade for Montas. He's a young and very good SP. That's just my thinking, but I've seen this proposed trade a few times, and wanted to add my two cents to it.

It might depend on how motivated Oakland is to cut payroll. Probably the rumors from early in the offseason, that they'd radically slash payroll to as little as $40-50 million, will end up being overblown. Maybe those rumors have people imagining the As' players coming cheaper than they really will.

Arráez is more valuable than a "grab bag" player IMO, and Sands is just below the top tier of Twins pitching prospects. But I see your point - how much less valuable is Montas in trade than Berríos? Montas has less of a track record, and midseason urgency may have driven up the price for the Jays to trade for Berríos. But if you think they're loosely comparable, then Lewis or Martin would likely be in the trade conversation at least.

If anything, that could be an argument for trading for Bassitt or Manaea. Those guys having only one year of team control left shouldn't matter too much to the Twins right now, when they need starting pitching so badly, and it would keep the acquisition cost lower.

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