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What if the Minnesota Twins Go All In on Offense?


The Minnesota Twins' need for starting pitching has been well-documented, but what if the Twins pivoted and went all-in on offense?

The Minnesota Twins have long struggled to acquire top-end starting pitching. This was the case with prior Twins’ front offices and has been the case under Falvey/Levine’s leadership. Whether it is because of injuries (Kenta Maeda) or poor evaluation (J.A. Happ), betting on starting pitchers is extremely risky as the Twins have seen play out season after season.

After getting largely shut out from the first wave of free agent starting pitchers, the Twins have now found themselves in a spot where they need to sign Carlos Rodón, trade for starting pitching (they shouldn’t), or be in for another long season with a better shot of fighting for the number one pick in the draft than a playoff spot.

But what if there is another direction that the Twins could go? What if the Twins went all in on offense?

While there is a shortage of impact starting pitching left on the free agency market, there are no shortage of bats. This surplus of bats on the market could present an opportunity for the Twins to pivot, settle for back-of-the-rotation arms, and instead go heavy on bats to bolster up what is already a strength of the Minnesota Twins. Names like Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Nicolas Castellanos, and Michael Conforto are all all-star bats and are all still available as free agents.

Not only is there a nice supply of big bats left on the free agent market, but the Twins have a need to fill multiple holes in their lineup as well, including shortstop, outfield and (potentially) designated hitter.

The Minnesota Twins committed to Byron Buxton this offseason with a seven year contract. Additionally, the Twins have the young bats of Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Royce Lewis and Austin Martin ready to contribute for the next decade as well. An intriguing path for the Minnesota Twins to take would be for them to sign even more bats, completely lean into their offense and take on the identity of a bat-first team that will out-hit all of its opponents for years to come.

Assuming that the Twins have $55M to spend this offseason, they would have the funds to bring in two superstar bats this offseason like Trevor Story and Kris Bryant. They could then fill out the rest of their team with fringe starting pitching, or trade Max Kepler and a marginal prospect for a moldable arm.

Yes, this would leave the Twins with quite the shaky starting rotation, but with a lineup core of Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, and Alex Kirilloff, on top of Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco. John Bonnes could be pitching for the Minnesota Twins and they’d be in good shape with that potent lineup. 

I mean..just look at this team:

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You hear about football teams that take on an offensive identity and out-score their opponents in order to win games, but you hardly find that in baseball. The Twins are in a position that they could go all in on offense and outscore the rest of the league by producing fireworks all Summer at Target Field.

What do you think? 


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What I like about this plan is that bringing in 2-3 really top pitchers makes that team a real champion. And between the really good prospects nearly ready in the system and the increased attractiveness that such a lineup would present to FA pitchers, it might be a feasible route.

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Bats are good to have. My first iteration included Starling Marte, Trevor Story, and a few free agent pitchers as well a couple of trades for pitchers. In early October a budget of $130 million was largely assumed by many on Twins Daily and many of us pushed the limit upwards towards $140 million. I changed my mind in mid November. Two bats would bring the roster cost to $130+ million. That could be fun but I'm thinking the actual budget is more or less $110 million. The shift in numbers moves what players are available and while I believe Conforto and Story would be huge additions, the numbers might not allow it. 

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I'm all for this idea. I've said it on these boards too much already, but Story has been my #1 target all along. All Stars at SS, 2B, and CF is a real good place to start. I'd keep Kepler and put Bryant (or Conforto to balance the lefty righty situation a little more) in LF to start with Arraez keeping his "utility" man role as we know JD will need days off at 3B and I don't trust Sano to not have a month stretch where he's basically unplayable.

Bryant-Buxton-Kepler, JD-Story-Polanco-Kirilloff is a really good defense and would help the young arms acclimate. The idea of the Twins building a "real" major league pitching staff for 2022 at this point seems far too unrealistic to me. With Donaldson and Sano coming off the books soon I love the idea of locking in this sort of offense for the next 4+ years and not having future offseasons where it's SP AND SS AND LF that need to be addressed. Get 1 "side of the ball" squared away so really it's just building the pitching staff (hopefully the pipeline plays a huge role there) you have to worry about moving forward for the next handful of years.

I'm all in on this idea.

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54 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

I'm all for this idea. I've said it on these boards too much already, but Story has been my #1 target all along. All Stars at SS, 2B, and CF is a real good place to start. I'd keep Kepler and put Bryant (or Conforto to balance the lefty righty situation a little more) in LF to start with Arraez keeping his "utility" man role as we know JD will need days off at 3B and I don't trust Sano to not have a month stretch where he's basically unplayable.

Bryant-Buxton-Kepler, JD-Story-Polanco-Kirilloff is a really good defense and would help the young arms acclimate. The idea of the Twins building a "real" major league pitching staff for 2022 at this point seems far too unrealistic to me. With Donaldson and Sano coming off the books soon I love the idea of locking in this sort of offense for the next 4+ years and not having future offseasons where it's SP AND SS AND LF that need to be addressed. Get 1 "side of the ball" squared away so really it's just building the pitching staff (hopefully the pipeline plays a huge role there) you have to worry about moving forward for the next handful of years.

I'm all in on this idea.

I like the idea too. My concern - do you or does anyone still believe that the 2022 roster budget will be $130+ million?

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1 hour ago, tony&rodney said:

I like the idea too. My concern - do you or does anyone still believe that the 2022 roster budget will be $130+ million?

I honestly have no idea. I don't know that I'd be very surprised if the budget ends up being 130 or if it ends up being 100. I think the Ray rumors suggest they're still looking/willing to spend. Not sure if I believe they were caught off guard by the quick signings before the lockout or if I think they weren't planning to spend. I think either option is just as likely as the other. Neither makes me happy, though.

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Since we aren't going for high end pitching FA (which I agree is too risky) Story makes a lot of sense. Not for his bat but for his glove which fills a need although his bat would be very welcome. 

If we want to focus and spend big money on bats we'd be very disappointed. LAA have tried to do this for years, only coming short every year. While TB has no bats and they make it to the dance every year. IMO we have  more enough bats if we improve our pitching and defense. With right managing we could go far.

Piggy-back our rotation (which has been proposed) through the season is an interesting option. It could work if we have the right pieces, we need some solid pitchers to anchor this operation to go out there and dominate, which we don't have, to inspire the younger ones. With what we have right now I see them only floundering even in this scenario.

I disagree that trades are not an option, it is most definitely is. I see it as our best option to get a solid starter that can pitch at least 5 innings most of the season. I'm not convinced to have our entire rotation in the piggy-back mode with unproven rookies with Bundy and Dobnak. I don't see hording corner fielders/ DH and 2B as beneficial only to lose needed players like Baddoo via Rule 5 draft. We are also deep in good catching and even pitching prospects to draw from. There are a lot of opportunities with teams who are motivated to trade.

If we don't do anything more to really improve our rotation, adequately fill SS and CF back-up,  it could prove to be very entertaining if I was a Soxs fan.

 

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1 hour ago, chpettit19 said:

I honestly have no idea. I don't know that I'd be very surprised if the budget ends up being 130 or if it ends up being 100. I think the Ray rumors suggest they're still looking/willing to spend. Not sure if I believe they were caught off guard by the quick signings before the lockout or if I think they weren't planning to spend. I think either option is just as likely as the other. Neither makes me happy, though.

Same

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1 hour ago, Doctor Gast said:

Since we aren't going for high end pitching FA (which I agree is too risky) Story makes a lot of sense. Not for his bat but for his glove which fills a need although his bat would be very welcome. 

If we want to focus and spend big money on bats we'd be very disappointed. LAA have tried to do this for years, only coming short every year. While TB has no bats and they make it to the dance every year. IMO we have  more enough bats if we improve our pitching and defense. With right managing we could go far.

Piggy-back our rotation (which has been proposed) through the season is an interesting option. It could work if we have the right pieces, we need some solid pitchers to anchor this operation to go out there and dominate, which we don't have, to inspire the younger ones. With what we have right now I see them only floundering even in this scenario.

I disagree that trades are not an option, it is most definitely is. I see it as our best option to get a solid starter that can pitch at least 5 innings most of the season. I'm not convinced to have our entire rotation in the piggy-back mode with unproven rookies with Bundy and Dobnak. I don't see hording corner fielders/ DH and 2B as beneficial only to lose needed players like Baddoo via Rule 5 draft. We are also deep in good catching and even pitching prospects to draw from. There are a lot of opportunities with teams who are motivated to trade.

If we don't do anything more to really improve our rotation, adequately fill SS and CF back-up,  it could prove to be very entertaining if I was a Soxs fan.

 

I was fairly disgusted by last offseason and watched a couple of dozen Tigers games, a dozen Mariners games, and likely thirty Rays games. Sadly, I still listened to most Twins games but it felt inevitable from Week One that Happ (who wasn't actually terrible) and Shoemaker were a good idea.

We have beat the trade possibilities to death. So many rookies looking for a roster opportunity this year and desperately needing a couple of examples to lead them. We can add two or three pitchers and Story and still come in below $130 million. 

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You need the full package to win in the MLB, or any sport for that matter. If the Twins think that their pipeline will supply them with all of the pitching they will need, then they could sign a guy like Story or Bryant to a long term deal.

I wouldn’t do both, as I don’t think that their pipeline will supply them with all of the pitching they need. I think they should have a bit left over to spend in FA to address the pitching staff.

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27 minutes ago, Linus said:

If we think games take too long now………

I, for one don't think games take too long.  Give me old fashioned baseball and let it play out as it should.  Remember, "THERE IS NO CLOCK IN BASEBALL".

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Great plan. But bring in Rizzo instead of Bryant. Unless you can trade Donaldson. If not put sano at dh. Rizzo at first .story or Correa at s.s.  That would leave enough cash to bring back penada. And maybe we could spend 3 million on a pitcher like Robles. That would be about 145 million spent. We could still be able to trade someone before the season would be over. Do me one favor add up hrs. Obp. And avg. Of all these players . Then you will see why this would work.

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I agree up to a point. I honestly think the Twins offense needs a lot of work with holes in LF, RF, SS and question marks at 1B and even Catcher.

I'd go with Bryant or Castellanos in LF, Buxton/Billy Hamilton in CF and Kirilloff in RF.

Donaldson at 3B, Iglesias at SS, Polanco at 2B and Sano at 1B. Miranda would get 500 AB playing 3B, 2B, LF, 1B and DH. With injuries maybe he could take a regular position. Rooker is in the mix if he can start putting it together, which I think he will but should start out as a bench player.

From my bitter history as a Twins fan during the 17 year drought, as Herb Carneal called it, I learned the hard way that great hitting teams like the 1977 Twins, with little quality pitching have a ceiling of 84-77. Even if a great hitting team with mediocre pitching gets into the playoffs, it will fail (see 2019 Twins). The saying I grew up with is good pitching stops good hitting.

So I do want to improve the offense as much as you do but sign Pineda and maybe trade for Montas or Manea.

By the way, that 1977 team with Rod Carew at .388, Lyman Bostock at .336 and Glenn Adams at .338 plus Hisle over .300 with 119 RBIs was fun!!! And had virtually no pitching.

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Is it better to spend money trying to add runs or prevent runs? I think that is the question.

Bill James’ Pythagorean expected wins would suggest it is better to prevent runs. Let’s suppose you had a team projected to a .500 record at 4.5 runs scored given up per game. If you somehow had the resources to add 1 run per game you would be projected for 94.4 wins. If on the other hand you had the resources to prevent a run per game your projection would be 97.0 wins. In that vacuum it is better to spend on preventing runs.

There are a lot of other factors at play though. I think spending on offense is less prone to injury and a little more reliable.. On the other poor pitching and short outings can put more stress on all of the arms on the staff.

I think the Twins would be wise to invest resources into arms with multiple years of control rather than add to the offense.

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OK, I'll bite and play along here. 

 The Twins have stated publicly, with no exact numbers, that they expect to have a 2022 payroll commensurate to their previous 3-4 seasons. Taken to heart, and a general average, that would mean a pretty solid $130M with flexibility implied. At about $90M committed currently, that leaves $40M available unless they are willing to bump to $140M which should be easily affordable. In theory, you then have $50M to spend. With Bryant and Story out of the initial FA flurry/frenzy, my gut says they are NOT in the $25M per category. So yes, you could indeed sign both for around $20M-ish per year. 

So then what? You have ZERO to MAYBE $10M MAX to add a couple cheap SP options and maybe ONE BP arm with some ability/potential. Really? No matter how good your offense might be, no matter how much you believe in the arms a depth on hand to build a solid BP with arms you can rotate up and down as needed, you're still going to tell me you can win and be competitive with a rotation that is Bundy, Ober, Ryan, Dobnak, and X factor cheap FA or ST lottery winner 5th starter?

We have to allow a little reality to set in here!

IF the Twins could move Donaldson without eating too much of his contract, and IF they could move Sano and his numbers to a team looking for a powerful DH/backup 1B, THEN, you just MIGHT have enough money for Pineda and another "next best" FA arm to head a proposed mediocre rotation. OR, you sign Pineda and then make a Kepler-Arrzez-prospect arm type of package to Oakland or Miami for a SOLID arm to join Pineda at the front to at least give this lineup and potential BP a SHOT while working with all the young arms.

That's a lot of working pieces to put together to make something work and a lot of IF's. All of what I've stated is reflective of the original idea presented, and DO-ABLE! But come on, how realistic is this?

There have been obvious exceptions, but through the 90's and even in to the early 2000's, CF/SS and even 2B were often defense first and complimentary positions offensively. That has changed dramatically the past 5-10yrs where TOP athletes and TOP offensive performers began to fill those positions. And a wonderful, thoughtful, and analytical debate just took place here on TD in the last month as to whether winning was tied more to offense vs pitching. The subtle part of that debate, somewhat ignored but which I called out, was variations in defense and speed and how teams were built. Some teams hamered and had good pitching but bad speed and defense. Some had defense, speed, mediocre SP but a great pen. The point is, and always has been, there is no ONE way to win. Look no further than the Braves this year that re-built their OF on the fly, got lucky and hot, and ended up winning the whole damn thing. With a small, ironic twist, they were similar to the '87 Twins.

Long story finally getting back on point, this idea of going ALL IN with Bryant and Story and a potentially great offense sounds fun and interesting. But even if the pen turns out great, how many 8-7 games could be won just auditioning prospects?

What I find interesting is the belief that Story is THE GUY to help stabilize the infield and the lineup. Why? Considering the fact that baseball has changed so much, and offense now comes from so many positions, why is his signing so great? I get he's quality defensively. But how does his offense play away from Colorado and over the next 4-5yrs? Isn't Bryant maybe a better option? He could be a LF who could play a couple more positions to fill in as well. He could allow for Larnach or Kepler to be moved as part of a deal. Do we care where the offense comes from as long as it comes? 

If I had to choose Bryant or Story, right now, I'd be happy with either and excited for potential. There are various scenarios where each provides the FO to make moves to add pitching. I just don't see any way adding both does anything, other than initial excitement and then frustration for a lost 2022 season. I WISH they could add both and follow some FA/trade scenario as listed above, but man, dream land is a nice place to visit.

 

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Unfortunately, budget ALWAYS has to be mentioned with the Twins, because spending money CAN, possibly, fill holes and make for a better team.  However, a franchise must be WILLING to spend that money.  Many franchises don't and in the case of the Twins, they have a "comfort zone" that they have rarely, if never departed from.  Bryant is a more sure thing offensively than Story.  And his positional flexibility is attractive.   Story brings solid defense at short but with shifting, how essential IS that ?  If MLB legislates to limit the shift in some way, then Story probably IS a better choice than Bryant.  These are unknowns that until answered leaves the Twins with too much uncertainty to determine a course for action.  IMO, Castellanos is a dependable, money in the bank offensive performer, who would be a tremendous asset in the middle of ANY lineup.  But he's a below average corner outfielder/DH.  He doesn't help the everyday lineup enough for a team that needs to fill a couple of everyday lineup holes.  Going all-in on offense (now that the best SP options are gone) is an interesting proposition.  However, if I signed Bryant, I'd have a second part to my strategy:  I trade Arraez and Larnach and maybe a young arm or two (Sands, Winder, Duran...) to acquire Montas & Bassitt to head the rotation with Bundy, Ryan and Ober.  Then I make a deal with the Cardinals:  Strotman and Valimont for Alex Reyes and Paul DeJong. (it's a slight overpay for the Twins).  I have bolstered my lineup with a premium bat with versatility (Bryant).  I have added a SS with a good glove and power.  Plus, I add a power arm who seems to be out of the Cardinals plans in Reyes and determine if he's my closer or I use him in some other way.  I have a rotation that works for 2022.  I can add Maeda to the mix in 2023 and Balazovic and the remaining young arms are all a year older and further developed.   Yes, I've parted with some young arms, but I have 13 or so candidates to promote sometime in 2022 and 2023.  i can't promote them all and to build a better team for 2022 and beyond, I simply MUST get some talented, veteran arms to lead this staff.  Signing Bryant would be a great move.  But only if a bold trade is made to bring in some talented veteran pitchers.  

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On 12/25/2021 at 8:33 AM, Russ said:

Why is budget always mentioned.   Teams can spend as much as they want.  Sure teams have lost money the past 2 years, so what do they do, have a lock out.  Budget and small market are terms that are excuses.

Unfortunately fans are gullible

 

 

 

Sorry buddy not gullible at all. How about realistic? I'm not going to whine about something that I can't control and is unlikely to change. I live in Minnesota and choose to follow the Twins. They are owned by bankers who are ruled by their budget and will run the team with a focus on being a responsible, profitable business. If I did run the team, yes I would focus on wins. As a fan it sure would be fun to follow a team like the White Sox who do spend sometimes and are aggressive at times too. Instead I choose the Twins and not to beat my head against a wall. Take a look around this site. A good portion of the fans here don't live in Minnesota. That suggests a person could follow any team they want. If you can't get over the Twins self imposed budget, follow a big spender instead, then you wouldn't have to complain.

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