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  • 3 Moves To Help Twins Maximize Upside In 2022


    Nash Walker

    Byron Buxton’s health will once again play a huge role for the Twins in 2022. Of equal importance, though, is whether it will matter if he does stay healthy. It has to count. 

    Image courtesy of Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

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    Whenever a team signs a star in their prime, the pressure automatically mounts. Not just the stress of success, but the heat on how the team will build around that star. Will the Angels ever give Mike Trout enough pitching to win? Can the Phillies build enough strength around Bryce Harper? 

    There’s a constant clock tick, tick, ticking. Trout, 30, has nine years remaining on his deal. How many more years can the Angels expect healthy, MVP-level production? Harper, 29, just won MVP for a Philadelphia team that missed the playoffs once again. 

    $300+ million contracts considerably impact spending, even for teams like the Phillies, Angels, and Yankees. For one, that’s a lot of money on the books for a long time. Additionally, teams must supplement the stars they sign with other All-Star level players. 

    For the Twins, a club that just handed out the second-largest contract in team history, the situation is the same. On a per-game basis, Byron Buxton is in the same tier as his $300 million counterparts. The only thing keeping him from that status is his injury history. 

    Now that Minnesota decided Buxton is the building block, the front office must work to avoid wasting his prime. Buxton, 27, will never combine his elite speed and power more than now. In other words, this is likely the best version of Buxton we’ll ever see. 

    Consider this scenario. The Twins continue to sit around in free agency and on the trade market and fail to muster enough pitching to compete in 2022. Let’s say, on top of that, Buxton plays 140 games and wins MVP. This situation is plausible. While Buxton is one of the most impactful players in MLB, he is only one player. See Harper, Bryce and Trout, Mike. 

    By signing this deal, Buxton commits to a team coming off a last-place finish with an unknown road ahead. If he’s healthy, a gamble the Twins have already decided to make; they have to make it matter. Here’s how they can:

    1. SIGN CARLOS RODÓN

    Rumored to be involved in his sweepstakes, the Twins have an opportunity to add an ace for a cheaper-than-usual price tag. Rodón’s injury history is enough to scare off even the riskiest of teams. He barely got through the 2021 season with dwindling velocity and more arm problems. The healthy version of Rodón was the best pitcher in the league, posting a 2.37 ERA and 35% strikeout rate in 132 2/3 innings. He’s the exact type of gamble a team like the Twins should make. 

    2. TRADE FOR CHRIS BASSITT

    Bassitt has the American League’s lowest ERA over the last two seasons (min. 200 innings) and is reportedly available. He works with a deep repertoire of pitches with clear room for improvement. He’d immediately join Rodón as a duo rivaling Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito as the best in the division.

    3. RE-SIGN MICHAEL PINEDA

    Pineda had some hiccups over his three years with the Twins, but he was rock-solid and often gave them a chance to win. Pineda’s 3.80 ERA since 2019 is enough to run back for more. A top three of Rodón, Bassitt, and Pineda would enter the season as one of the best the Twins have ever had. (at least since the season they had Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda atop their rotation)

    What do you think? Does the Byron Buxton extension put more pressure on 2022? Do you like these moves? Comment below!

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    Nash, I'm all in on this post - great idea for the Twins. I would want one more pitcher too in a trade.

    I did chuckle at your last sentence though ... one of the best .. since last year; good sense of humor there. Despite the reputation of the Twins always struggling with pitching staffs, they have had some really good pitchers some years.

    Let's see it get done. The Twins have about $85 million on the books right now and $35 million more for pitchers  wouldn't kill them.

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    These 3, plus Ryan and Ober, give us a solid 5 that will let our offense compete every day.  Add an arm or two in the pen (I still like the Tepera option if nothing else to stick it to the Sox) and we have an exciting lineup 1-9 with many young players surrounded by Buck, Polanco and Donaldson and if you have to give up an affordable contract like Garver or Jeffers and Kepler or Arraez to the A’s to get Bassitt it feels like we have the parts in place to win 85-90.  I agree we have to build around Buxton to make his contract worthwhile.  Hopefully Sano can put together a bit of a more consistent season and finish 0.900 OPS.
     

    75 days until pitchers and catchers report?  How many times can I watch Major League to get me through the winter??

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    My guess is the Twins sign one pitcher or trade for one.  We have about 8 pitchers (starters) a year away.  If we do not find out if they can make it, we risk losing the wrong one is a trade.  Of the 8 ususally about 2 will make it as starters, so I am ok with flying a bit this year and then filling what we need next year. 

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    Rodon is the only one left with clear ace potential and also someone who might sign a shorter term contract than, say s Stroman,  because of injury concerns.  We can see that this FO will never sign a FA pitcher for more than 1-2 years.  Not sure what Boras is asking but as others go off the board and with a looming transaction deadline tonight, it would behoove the Wonder Boys to go all in now - before some of the bigger spending clubs who still have major gaps in their rotation decide to outbid the Twins.

    Bassitt would be a smart add if only Falvey would give up a couple of our top 20 prospects, including one top 10 pitching prospect.  Miami looked like a better fit but now that they've added a catcher, that ship has probably sailed.  And Sonny Gray would be a very nice pickup but reportedly the Reds are holding out for a rich package.  One of the A's pitchers looks like the best bet as of now, but does anyone on TD think that this FO would give up top prospects needed?  I'd bet on a Ryan redux.

    Pineda doesn't really move the needle, but is probably the most likely signing among the 3 candidates.  If they can add him on a one year contract, it would be an OK move, considering Maeda should return in 2023.  All in all, these 3 would definitely move the needle towards contention.  Anything less, however, and we're looking at a best outcome of .500 ball in 2022.  As others have noted the payroll hit would be very palatable and still leave room for a couple of pen pickups, a SS, and perhaps a fourth long-shot starter.  The window is closing fast.  Can Falvey rise to the challenge of nudging this team back into contention as early as 2022?

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    I'm Ok with most of this, but trading for Bassitt seems like a waste. Bassitt as the number 2 and Pineda as the number 3 isn't going to win this team a championship next year. Then Bassitt walks and the Twins are out both him and the players given up for him when they hopefully are in a better position in 2023.

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    I think this would be great. Plus we can QO both Rodon and Bassitt after the season. I just hope we don't give up pitching prospects and do a bulk prospects like how San Diego has done.

     

    It is also a good point there are only so many year with BB having speed with the power.

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    Agree with your logic and goal of competing in 2022.  Heck, give a couple of the regulars their best years and who know what happens.

    Have always been someone fearful of giving up top prospects, yet knowing that probably over half never produce as expected/hoped for.  If a trade does occur, I would expect that it could include Lewis Thorpe.  Seems to have worn out his welcome with the Twins, yet, he must have some value or he would have been included in the recent purge.  Not going to go into speculating who would be included for pitcher X, other than to believe that Thorpe could be included as a minor part of any trade.

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    I would hesitate on Rodon unless he's willing to do short term or maybe a contract structured with incentives to protect Twins. A trade for one of the A's pitchers would be nice, but only if they would allow us to talk extension before hand. Doesn't make much sense to give up that much for 1 year which in all reality probably wont be a serious year of contention. I think its almost a given (at least better than 50-50) that Pineda comes back.

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    3 hours ago, beckmt said:

    My guess is the Twins sign one pitcher or trade for one.  We have about 8 pitchers (starters) a year away.  If we do not find out if they can make it, we risk losing the wrong one is a trade.  Of the 8 ususally about 2 will make it as starters, so I am ok with flying a bit this year and then filling what we need next year. 

    Don't forget that we have another year or more of Maeda returning either late this summer or in 2023. That, combined with the promising kids, might argue for a shorter FA contract.

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    I'm on the Rodon train 100%, exactly the type of gamble you need to take. Sure the injury risk is high but that's a mostly unknowable risk with any free agent pitcher and Rodon's upside is enormous. That perceived heightened injury risk likely lowers the AAV and years of his next contract and for that reason unless the medical records show he's toast the Twins should be targeting him hard. 

    Bassitt seems like a solid target depending on cost, doesn't excite me a lot but would be excited if acquired. I agree that a trade is the most likely scenario to fill the #2 rotation slot. Hope to see them in on all the most commonly speculated names (Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Sean Manea, Frankie Montas) but wouldn't be surprised if the real target is someone none of us see coming (similar to the Maeda trade). 

    Pineda seems like such a no brainer to me, he's a solid established major league pitcher and by all reports there's significant mutual interest in a reunion. Maybe another 2-year deal gets it done?

    One thing the article doesn't address is the gaping hole at Shortstop. It will be interesting to see how this is addressed this offseason. With the way free agency has played out so far I'm hoping Trevor Story's market has dried up enough to get him on somewhat of a bargain deal. 

     

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    56 minutes ago, PDX Twin said:

    Don't forget that we have another year or more of Maeda returning either late this summer or in 2023. That, combined with the promising kids, might argue for a shorter FA contract.

    I'll be happy to get Maeda back, but I won't be expecting him until 2023.

    Even so, if the Twins are taking themselves seriously, their most optimistic outcome should be for Maeda to be the number 3. Great teams don't hope for the best, they take charge and go out and get the best.

    Maeda should only be considered the gravy on an already great rotation, not the meat and potatoes.

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    We should be happy to get Wally the Beer Man back with how cash strapped the powers that be just made us with this Buxton signing. I was mocked last offseason in chats because I said the Twins were not going to make the playoffs due to the poor decisions they made... remind me again where we ended up. Not claiming to be a smart man, because I am not, but it will be status quo if these guys do not start making smart decisions.

    Buxton was shopped at the trade deadline and no one wanted him. I know that was due in part to our asking price, but that should be a sign, shouldn't it? We [Twins] value him more than ANY other MLB team does... Yep, IF he stays healthy, he MIGHT put up amazing numbers... that should not be how you staff an MLB team; with if's and might's. Some risk is in fact good, but $100mm with incentives $180-190mm is not a managed risk, it's a blunder.

    They were free with the very little money we have as a small market team with this re-signing, but now history tells us they will attempt to go after top free agents with discounted prices and not land ANYONE. It will take deep into the spring before we sign someone of note and that player will be someone who has over valued his own talent, and that is why he is still available. This is so frustrating, the Twins should break back out the cardboard cutouts of fans they uses in 2020, because we have another 'disappointing' season like this year, no one will come.

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    18 hours ago, Mauer4HOF said:

    75 days until pitchers and catchers report?  How many times can I watch Major League to get me through the winter??

    I'm thinking you can watch Major league about 75 times in that span of time.  

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    Sounds great. We already signed dylon Bundy. We have room for the 3 you mentioned. One or two could be on one year contracts. Total cost for starters 36 million. Total spent 134 million. Room for one closer.

     

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    The post was good, a reasonable suggestion. Thank you Nash. 

    Internet trolls - not needed and boring.

    Twins fans will need to wait until the CBA is finalized to see if the team can be put together in ways many have mentioned, such as this post by Nash Walker. Unless, .... there is a last minute deal tonight.

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    On 11/30/2021 at 9:25 PM, tony&rodney said:

    Nash, I'm all in on this post - great idea for the Twins. I would want one more pitcher too in a trade.

    I did chuckle at your last sentence though ... one of the best .. since last year; good sense of humor there. Despite the reputation of the Twins always struggling with pitching staffs, they have had some really good pitchers some years.

    Let's see it get done. The Twins have about $85 million on the books right now and $35 million more for pitchers  wouldn't kill them.

    A competent pitching staff is greatly needed, good pitching stops good hitting, an experienced one or two veterans is what Twins need to be competitive in 2022 & beyond. Wes, the college only pitching coach, is a questionable staff member.

    Think small,stay small, in the market, now if only Buxton could pitch!!

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    The allure of Rodon is obviously TALENT.  But since the Twins would never dream of actually PAYING to get a Star Quality SP then the other side of the coin (Health)  could work in the Twins favor.  Boras is tough to deal with, but maybe a 2-year $40 million dollar contract gets it done.  The Twins aren't on the hook for a long term contract but there is the potential for elite production.  Remember,  Rodon was the first half of the season Cy Young.  He was nothing short of awesome.  I offer that contract and see what Boras does.  Then, instead of trading for Bassitt I trade Arraez, Cole Sands, Sabato and Thorpe for Frankie Montas.  Then I sign Big Mike. 

    Rotation in 2022:  Rodon, Montas, Pineda, Bundy, Ryan, Ober.   

    Dobnak and Balazovic are in the minors providing depth. (as are several others).  Maybe I bring back Gant as well.  Now I have two potential All Stars heading my rotation with young pitchers pushing for their chance by mid season.  My lineup is still relatively intact.  By signing Rodon, I have to give up on the Trevor Story dream, so I work a deal with K.C. for Mondesi or the Cards for Paul DeJong.  Neither should cost an arm and a leg, but both K.C. and the Cards have other guys who are ahead of Mondesi and DeJong.   KC has Lopez and Bobby Witt Jr. and the Cards have Sosa.  Mondesi has great potential but is very injury prone.  DeJong has his flaws but he's a solid glove who hits with power.  These are deals the Twins FO could certainly make.  As Nash has eloquently stated...you don't lock Buxton up long term to waste even one year of that on "rebuilding."  Now that this FO has committed to Buxton, the idea is to maximize what we can accomplish while he's in his PRIME.  To do anything else just wouldn't make any sense.  The Twins FO has made a bold FIRST STEP.  Can they follow through and make the additional moves necessary to make the FIRST step pay off.

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    18 minutes ago, TopGunn#22 said:

    The allure of Rodon is obviously TALENT.  But since the Twins would never dream of actually PAYING to get a Star Quality SP then the other side of the coin (Health)  could work in the Twins favor.  Boras is tough to deal with, but maybe a 2-year $40 million dollar contract gets it done.  The Twins aren't on the hook for a long term contract but there is the potential for elite production.  Remember,  Rodon was the first half of the season Cy Young.  He was nothing short of awesome.  I offer that contract and see what Boras does.  Then, instead of trading for Bassitt I trade Arraez, Cole Sands, Sabato and Thorpe for Frankie Montas.  Then I sign Big Mike. 

    Rotation in 2022:  Rodon, Montas, Pineda, Bundy, Ryan, Ober.   

    Dobnak and Balazovic are in the minors providing depth. (as are several others).  Maybe I bring back Gant as well.  Now I have two potential All Stars heading my rotation with young pitchers pushing for their chance by mid season.  My lineup is still relatively intact.  By signing Rodon, I have to give up on the Trevor Story dream, so I work a deal with K.C. for Mondesi or the Cards for Paul DeJong.  Neither should cost an arm and a leg, but both K.C. and the Cards have other guys who are ahead of Mondesi and DeJong.   KC has Lopez and Bobby Witt Jr. and the Cards have Sosa.  Mondesi has great potential but is very injury prone.  DeJong has his flaws but he's a solid glove who hits with power.  These are deals the Twins FO could certainly make.  As Nash has eloquently stated...you don't lock Buxton up long term to waste even one year of that on "rebuilding."  Now that this FO has committed to Buxton, the idea is to maximize what we can accomplish while he's in his PRIME.  To do anything else just wouldn't make any sense.  The Twins FO has made a bold FIRST STEP.  Can they follow through and make the additional moves necessary to make the FIRST step pay off.

    Sign me up!

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    11 hours ago, wabene said:

    Sign me up!

    Story fits at $130 M if the Twins can trade for Cabrera or Meyer instead of signing Pineda, but Big Mike does have experience. Story fits either way at less than $140 M. This all just says that there are options. A number of people see opportunity and try to avoid the taste of pessimism. We hope Falvey is an optimist.

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    Great point Doc Munson.   Puk is one of those "buy low" get great production type of gambles the Twins should be actively pursuing.  Ideally, Puk would be in the starting rotation.  But he could also be a key BP piece as well.  Maybe a change of scenery is just what he needs.  I've considered players like Clint Frazier (already snapped up by the Cubs) and Miguel Andujar and other similar players as buy low/high upside signings.  Andujar would give the Twins a "potentially" solid RH bat who could play a little 3B, 1B and LF.  Admittedly, that conflicts with what Miranda could do.  But if Andujar ever got back to hitting like his rookie year it would be a great acquisition.  Maybe the league has figured him out.  Maybe it's just been the nagging injuries.  But guys like him and Puk and really been hampered by those nagging injuries.  Maybe good health unlocks the tremendous potential each have.  

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    12 hours ago, Doc Munson said:

    I would say if we make a move for someone like Bassit, then also add a littel extra to get AJ Puk.  Puk is an "older young player" and a history of injuries, but still has potential.  Either as a starter or a big arm out of the bullpen

    I doubt Oakland is not letting Aj Puk go if they move one or more of their established SPs.

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