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Are the Twins an unattractive destination for FAs?


cHawk
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This is a topic that we’ve visited before in this thread. I thought it would be a good idea to revisit it.

It’s no secret that the Twins have struggled to haul in “big fish” from FA for many years. This has been causing many fans frustration over the years.

One wonders if MN is an unattractive destination for FAs. Many have, and many have speculated reasons why. Is it because of the state of Minnesota itself? Is there something particularly rotten about the culture of the Twins organization? What could it possibly be?

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I'd say yes and no. For a veteran player wanting a commitment to championship caliber teams? Absolutely. The Twins have shown for over a decade they will not commit the resources necessary to take that next step. It's not like players and agents don't know this.

On the other side, I honestly believe the fans have a great reputation and the organization is known for treating people well and for at least a baseline of competitive play recently. It's probably not seen as a bad place to play ball in general.

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I don't think Minnesota is a completely unattractive destination for players but I think its reputation as a cold state plays into some of the bias that is out there. Also maybe that they aren't a franchise that is going to pay top dollar to bring a guy in would be another aspect of why FA's would be unlikely to come here.  Also for whatever reason players seem to like coastal cities better than landlocked ones or they prefer to be closer to family and since so few MLB players seem to come from up north fewer players have family close by Minnesota.  Of course all of this can be changed with the right dollar amount but the Twins are not ones to operate that way.

As far as the Twins culture and team atmosphere Byron Buxton didn't want to leave.  Neither did Nelson Cruz and Cruz went out of his way to say what a top notch organization it is.  I thought Maeda might not like it in Minnesota but he seems OK with being here as well.  I haven't heard Donaldson complaining either.  So it seems like they treat their players well and have coaches in place to help them get better.  I haven't heard any players say not to come to Minnesota that have been there.

Like I said probably just mainly boils down to money and where a player wants to be and Minnesota is just lower on most players list.

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It's a cold state, but only in the offseason. I don't think most players hang around for the offseason anyway. I think some free agents would rather be in a larger city, or on the coast, but I have a hard time believing that the problem isn't mostly money, particularly reluctance to offer long contracts.

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7 minutes ago, KirbyDome89 said:

No. If the Twins start offering top dollar and continue to lose out on FAs, then we can start to talk about culture/geographical location. 

You are right.  When you boil it down.  The Twins are never going to spend the kind of $$$'s to ever figure this question out.

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Of course. 

They have a history of signing guys then trading them off. Not many players want to move twice in 2-3 years and they have also shown to not really care about building a winning team. 

I don't think it has a ton to do about the cold, I really don't. I think it has to do with their lack of winning and the feel around the league that ownership is cheap and doesn't care if they win or not. 

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It IS all about the money, and the market. Players (and their agents) look at the extra income that can happen with endorsements, for sure.

 

In reality, the Twins are no worse than any of many markets that seldom get a free agent of note. Oakland, Kansas City, Baltimroe of late, Milwaukee more often than not. Cleveland, Marlins, even Tampa Bay. Best bet is to grab a contract in progress.

 

Also, what...there are 50 top-flight free agents at best each season that will command high multi-year contracts starting at, what - $60-100 million these days?

 

The Twins have to pay a tad more. That is how they got Ervin Santana. That is how they got Josh Donaldson.

 

Coupled with the actual need of teams. How many teams needed a $100 million third baseman. How many teams need an aging starter. If there are better alternatives in the marketplace, or in their own system.

 

Even players like Cruz and Thome. They got a decent offer from the Twins. Because not many teams were looking for a esignated hitter at their age, for one.

 

And you have to be competitive. Somehow, players do want that precious ring. Houston, remember, ahd trouble once. They traded for higher-priced talent and then paid to keep them as they became a winning team. 

 

It is all a game, run by the agents in the end. You gotta sell the agents!

 

 

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I don't think it really has anything to do with Minnesota's attractiveness. People like to be where they have familiarity. Most baseball players are from, and/or marry people from the coasts and the south. 

Plenty of local players find their way into Twins uniforms, and plenty of players, homegrown or not, end up staying long after they retired.

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I think there's certainly truth to the idea that not many players are from the midwest thus don't have a connection to the area or even much knowledge about it. Was just reading a Pro Bowl player survey on The Athletic today and Minneapolis was mentioned as one of their favorite cities to visit. Do the Twins do a good job of selling the Twin Cities as an attractive location? I have no idea. I don't know what sales pitches to mid-level ML free agents look like. At the end of the day it always comes down to money, though.

So this question really comes down to "would the average MLB player choose MN over another location if the money is the same" and the answer to that is most likely that they wouldn't. Being a competitive team that gives them a chance to win a WS is probably the most likely way to improve the desire to come here. Can't fix MN weather or it being located where it is. But every player has different desires in where they want to go and why. MadBum certainly didn't sign with Arizona because he thought they were going to be contenders. There are far too many variables that go into these decisions for players to make a blanket statement that MN is unattractive. (And on a side note: signing FAs for more than they're worth just to get them to come to MN is a bad strategy for building a winning team)

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3 hours ago, baul0010 said:

When our own residents are trying to escape from December to March...I'd say, ummmmm no.  We are not an attractive destination.

But we’re not playing outdoor baseball then, either. Okay, maybe the last of March. But I prefer the summer weather here to some other locations

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52 minutes ago, AceWrigley said:

Just think how much worse it would be if the Twin Cities weren't the cultural mecca that it is. ?

culture1.jpg

Where did you get the picture of someone in summer garb this time of the year?

A few years back I was involved in setting up a conference in the Twin Cities with a few side trips to outstate locations. I got a half dozen phone calls from warm state attendees who'd never been to Minnesota wanting to know if they should pack long underwear, snow boots, hats and gloves, etc. The conference was in August.

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On further thought, I actually do think the weather in Dec-Mar might have something to do with it.  Imagine a FA has school-aged kids--do they go to school in MN Apr-Jun and then again in Sep, while regular season baseball is being played?  If so, that means they're also there in Oct-Mar, when it is cold.  If not, then a FA has to be ok with living in a different city than his family, essentially permanently, for those 14ish weeks a year.  I could see where that would be a tough pill to swallow for some FAs.

That aside, I think the recent history of the Twins works against them.  20 years since the last playoff series win, 18 since the last playoff game win.  Very little track record of spending in FA, which suggests the Twins aren't particularly aggressive (this offseason seems to reinforce that); that could be read as the Twins not really wanting to bring a player in.  No real track record of "pushing the chips to the middle" at the trade deadline; FA's might prefer a team that is willing to spend prospect capital to improve partway through the year.

Add in players (or SOs) perhaps preferring a coast, not being aware of the assets of the Twin Cities (or if the player is single, not caring about those assets; if you're a rich, single guy in your late 20's, do you want to spend your free time in NYC, LA, Chi, etc...or Uptown?), and the greater visibility and potential for endorsements outside the MW, and I can see why MN is, on the surface, not an attractive option.

Most of that can be at least addressed, if not outright fixed.  The question is, how much should the Twins be trying to be players in FA.  To wit, the Twins will never beat the Yankees/Dodgers/Mets/Red Sox at FA; if you can't beat someone at a game, why waste time and resources playing?

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7 hours ago, bean5302 said:

For a veteran player wanting a commitment to championship caliber teams? Absolutely. The Twins have shown for almost two decades they will not commit the resources necessary to take that next step. It's not like players and agents don't know this.

….

FTFY

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2 hours ago, Cap'n Piranha said:

On further thought, I actually do think the weather in Dec-Mar might have something to do with it.  Imagine a FA has school-aged kids--do they go to school in MN Apr-Jun and then again in Sep, while regular season baseball is being played?  If so, that means they're also there in Oct-Mar, when it is cold.  If not, then a FA has to be ok with living in a different city than his family, essentially permanently, for those 14ish weeks a year.  I could see where that would be a tough pill to swallow for some FAs.

That aside, I think the recent history of the Twins works against them.  20 years since the last playoff series win, 18 since the last playoff game win.  Very little track record of spending in FA, which suggests the Twins aren't particularly aggressive (this offseason seems to reinforce that); that could be read as the Twins not really wanting to bring a player in.  No real track record of "pushing the chips to the middle" at the trade deadline; FA's might prefer a team that is willing to spend prospect capital to improve partway through the year.

Add in players (or SOs) perhaps preferring a coast, not being aware of the assets of the Twin Cities (or if the player is single, not caring about those assets; if you're a rich, single guy in your late 20's, do you want to spend your free time in NYC, LA, Chi, etc...or Uptown?), and the greater visibility and potential for endorsements outside the MW, and I can see why MN is, on the surface, not an attractive option.

Most of that can be at least addressed, if not outright fixed.  The question is, how much should the Twins be trying to be players in FA.  To wit, the Twins will never beat the Yankees/Dodgers/Mets/Red Sox at FA; if you can't beat someone at a game, why waste time and resources playing?

For 80 games you are on the road anyways. If a player chose to live in a different state than MN, it would be 7 months away vs 3.5 months. If the player’s family lived where they had parents/in-laws live, they’d have support structure that they wouldn’t have living in MN where the player is gone 3.5 months and they’re alone and making new friends (that can’t pick the kids up from school or take one to soccer practice)

I don’t think this is as much of a deal.

 

I think the higher likelihood is that the Twins and the Twins ownership choose not to invest in free agents the way we think it ought to be done. Maybe it’s cheap, maybe there’s a financial/operational reason, maybe Carl got snubbed by Bobby Bonilla and vowed to never again try to woo a high priced free agent because it hurt just too dang bad. Jim just carried on his dad’s torch because he just assumed “that’s how it’s done, those jerks”

I dunno, but I can’t imagine there are many players who won’t go to a competitive team that pays them the most.

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Forgive me, I'm going off on a weird tangent for a moment, but bear with me as I have a point here.

Here in Nebraska, BIG RED LAND, there is a strange perception that STILL permeates DECADES after the Huskers became nationally relevant and became a college football powerhouse. To this day, recruiting has been contingent on young men, and their families, actually taking a visit. Once here, they realize it's not just cornfields and tiny towns. They realize Lincoln is a small-ish city but not a tiny town. And Omaha is just down the road. And they realize it's a great University in a buzzing town with a great fan base, great facilities, and a tremendous fan base.

Perception is everything. So let me backtrack now.

The Twins have 3 issues in regard to FA:

1] IMO, regional bias is real, to some degree. There is real truth that California, the SW, including TX, the entire SE, provide a larger majority of MLB talent than the Midwest does, for a variety of reasons not worth getting in to. Money being close to equal, playing "close to home" has to have at least SOME bearing. I mean, if you can live, mostly at least, year round in 1 place that is home, or close to home for wife and kids family relatively close, wouldn't you enjoy that? Milwaukee, Cleveland, Chicago, KC, etc, also share in this situation. Just being honest and real, not everyone wants to live most of their year in the Midwest, even if you aren't spending the winters here.

2] And this refers back to point #1 to some degree, PERCEPTION has a degree of affect. MLB players have traveled all over to small towns and small cities in their milb career. And they have seen EVERY ML city at some point, and EVERY park if they've been around for a few years. And undoubtedly they've been impressed, or not impressed by said ballparks and a few restaurants or bars they may have visited, or had a taste of the fan base. They've been around. But that doesn't mean they know what it's like to part of that community. Is a FA tantalized by LA and NY,etc, without knowing the charms of Minneapolis, KC, etc. Have you EVER heard a single player dis the Twin Cities once they played here? 

3] Once again, perception is a key. The current FO lost out on Darvish though they were in the final 3. He signed for almost the same per year the Cubs offered, but Chicago won basically because they offered an extra year. They offered $20M+ just as an initial offer to Wheeler a couple years ago before being told right up front they were out of it because he would only consider an East Coast team. But the initial offers were there! And Donaldson signed for a huge contract. Has Donaldson uttered a negative word about the Twins at this point? Last off-season, there were various reports that the agents for Twins players who were arbitration eligible complimented the FO for their openness and honesty in dealing with their players. And remember, those agents represent more than just Twins players! So again, we're talking about PERCEPTION vs PREVIOUS attitudes and ideas over a decade before and how things were done. So players, and agents, have to re-examine how things are being done. And I think that is happening. And 3 playoff teams,  2 divisional championships, and a new way of doing things is going to bring weight going forward unless we see some surprising downward change, which I don't think any of us expect.

I know it sounds kinda crazy in the world of MLB professionalism, but I find myself wondering if the Twins should:

A] Just BOUNCE at a #1 target before they settle back and wait...and....

B] Why in hell wouldn't they "recruit" FA prospects and utilize current and past Twins to help them realize what's available for them in Target Field and what's here and what may be coming?

 

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1 hour ago, DocBauer said:

...The current FO lost out on Darvish though they were in the final 3...

The Rangers, Cubs, Yankees, Twins, Astros, Brewers and Dodgers were all in on Darvish and Darvish had several $100MM plus offers. The Twins were not among them as it eventually leaked out. The final, widely agreed dollar amount for Darvish from the Twins? 4 years and under $100MM ($96MM as I recall)

The Cubs offered more. The Brewers offered more. The Yankees offered dramatically more but pulled their offer after Darvish didn't respond within 48hrs.

Framing it as the Twins were in the final 3 suggests they were close, and they weren't.

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7 hours ago, bean5302 said:

I think Bill Smith made quite a few moves which were highly out of character for the way the team was typically run and more in line with a team aiming for the World Series so I gave the organization the benefit of the doubt there.

And look what it got him…….we here on this board really have strong opinions about the various GMs while ownership flies RELATIVELY under the radar.
 

I think the first item in the GMs job description is to learn the phrase:  the Pohlad family has never turned us down when we’ve asked for money to sign a free agent to a big contract.  

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17 hours ago, Battle ur tail off said:

They have a history of signing guys then trading them off.

Who has been signed and then traded? I honestly can’t think of a significant sign and trade unless things go completely upside-down, like last season and Nelson Cruz. 

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In a contest for a signing I am sure other places paint us with all the things that the commentors have stated in their posts and the Twins face the same issue that the Gophers do in recruitment.  NY and LA will always seem more attractive to many of the players.  Big market means lots of advertisements and other opportunities.  The Central division is pretty equal, except Chicago gets a lot more national press and that is important.  If the Twins were in the news more that would help.  Right now we have the civil unrest that has painted us in a negative light in national news and that will be an issue too.  It helps that we have Buxton here to help put that in perspective.   Yes it is a hard sell to FA, but as someone else noted money makes the biggest difference. 

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