I haven't done one of these Nine Innings bits in awhile... I wasn't sure how I would fill all nine innings, but we've done it. This has topics all across the board. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments below.
First Inning - Eddie Rosario Outrighted
Listen. No one thought that the #MNTwins were going to tender Eddie Rosario at the deadline Wednesday evening. But tonight, Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Twins have put Rosario on outright waivers.
I know I held out some hope that some team would be willing to give up a Low A pitching prospect for Rosario, and certainly the Twins tried, but they couldn’t find a taker.
Instead of just non-tendering him tomorrow, and making him a free agent, the Twins are hoping to find a team that will take whatever number they agree to in arbitration.
Rosario has been a controversial player. Ultimately, since he debuted in 2015, he has been a very productive player. While he comes with flaws that he just hasn’t been able to overcome, he has also produced in the middle of the Twins lineup. I know it has become cliche for me to do so, but I truly have enjoyed watching Eddie Rosario in a Twins uniform. He is absolutely entertaining when you just sit back and take the good with the bad.
Most likely, he will go unclaimed by the 1:00 deadline on Wednesday and become a free agent.
Second Inning - Wednesday is Decision Day
Teams have until 7:00 central time on Wednesday night to decide whether to tender a 2021 contract for its arbitration eligible players. If they are non-tendered, they become a free agent.
Taylor Rogers is the one other Twins player who some think could be non-tendered, but I think it’s most logical for the Twins to bring him back for 2021.
The other players who are arbitration-eligible are: Jose Berrios, Byron Buxton, Tyler Duffey, Mitch Garver, Caleb Thielbar, and Matt Wisler. I would be surprised if any of them were non-tendered.
However, it is possible that the team agrees to terms with a player or two before the deadline as well. Of that group, which if any are most likely to sign a deal ahead of the deadline?
Third Inning - Offseason Live TONIGHT (Reacting to the Non-Tender Deadline)
Tonight at 8:00 central time, Nick Nelson, Seth Stohs and David Young will react to the day in Twins news, specifically to the arbitration decisions that are made. Join us live on Twins Daily’s Twitter, Facebook or YouTube pages.
Fourth Inning - Realigning the Minor Leagues
The Star Tribune is reporting that the Twins and MLB will be announcing their re-aligned minor league system in the near future.
In the worst kept secret in baseball, the St. Paul Saints will become the Twins Triple-A affiliate. The Wichita Wind Surge will become the Twins new Double-A affiliate. The two Twins Class A affiliates will switch levels. The Midwest League and the Cedar Rapids Kernels will move from Low-A to High-A with the Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels and the rest of the Florida State League moving to a Low-A affiliation.
For much more on these changes, check out Tom’s Minor League Realignment article tonight.
My thoughts? First and foremost, I will miss conversations with some really good people at both Rochester and at Pensacola. The Red Wings have such an incredible baseball history going back well over a century. The Blue Wahoos were only a Twins affiliate for two seasons, but their stadium is remarkable and the people there were so helpful.
That said, there are obvious reasons for wanting their Triple-A affiliate in St. Paul, a dozen miles from Target Field. It’ll be much easier to call people up or send them down. It will be great for rehab assignments. And, with the Twins in a position to win and so many exciting prospects, it is great for baseball in Minnesota.
As for Wichita, they built a new $75 million stadium just a year ago. It was supposed to be the Marlins AAA affiliate, but then came COVID, a missed season and re-alignment. Seems like it would be a great facility for Twins prospects.
I am happy that Cedar Rapids remains an affiliate, and it’s exciting - I would think - for them and their fans to move up a level, to get a higher level of play with a more advanced league. I will always encourage baseball fans from the Twin Cities to try to make a trip or two each season to watch the Kernels. And, with the Twins player development site and the academy in Ft. Myers, it makes sense to keep players there for their first step up rather than sending them to Cedar Rapids right away. That will be good especially for transactions at that Low-A level. Easy to call guys up from across the parking lot.
So overall, I am very comfortable with how this has played out, and over time I think it will prove itself to be a good thing for the organization. I just still feel bad about losing the Elizabethton affiliate and the great history of that team. And I feel worse that the Twins have just let go of long-time leaders and coaches in Ray Smith and Jeff Reed.
Fifth Inning - Twins Lose Another Player Development Leader to Big-League Job
JP Martinez was announced on Tuesday night as the new assistant pitching coach of the San Francisco Giants. A week earlier we had heard rumblings that he was seen as a favorite. Now it isi Twitter official.
I got to know JP when he was the pitching coach in Cedar Rapids in 2017. Had some great conversations with him. He went to the same high school in New Orleans that the Mannings went to. More important to his role as a coach, he knows how to pitch. He reached AAA as a player. He’s coached as well as been the assistant pitching coordinator the last couple of seasons with the Twins. He also speaks Spanish (and English) fluently which is helpful too.He was also placed in charge of the Twins alternate site this summer in St. Paul.
The Twins have certainly lost their fair share of player development staff. Derek Falvey has talked about not only player development but coaching development, front office development, and providing opportunities for people to move up the ladder with the Twins or elsewhere.
Derek Shelton went from Twins bench coach to Pirates manager.
James Rowson went from Twins hitting coach to Marlins bench coach and hitting coordinator.
Jeremy Hefner went from assistant pitching coach with the Twins to pitching coach of the Mets.
Tanner Swanson went from Twins minor league catching coordinator to Yankees MLB coach.
Peter Fatse went from Twins minor league hitting coordinator to Red Sox assistant hitting coach.
Edgar Varela went from Twins minor league coordinator to Twins hitting coach.
Sixth Inning - (Trevor) May to the Mets
Reports started coming out mid-afternoon on Tuesday that the Mets were close to a deal with Trevor May. It wasn’t long after that we had verification that, pending a physical, the Mets and Trevor May had agreed to a two-year, $15 million contract.
May is one of the team bullpen arms available on the free agent market, and with this move, he sets the tone for that market. In 2020, May struck out 14.6 batters per nine innings and that number has been over 11 the past two years. He clearly has great stuff and could thrive in the Big Apple where he will be reunited with former Twins bullpen coach Jeremy Hefner.
May has been a great ambassador for Twins baseball throughout his tenure with the team, but this is a good opportunity for him and hopefully it works out well for him.
Seventh Inning - Top 60 Twins Players in 60 Seasons in Minnesota E-Book Available
In Case You Missed It… over the past month, I have been working with “Nate Tubbs Rules” on an e-book. NTR updates his Top 300 Twins Player rankings after every season and it is enjoyable to read through those updates each year. With the Twins having just completed their 60th season in Minnesota in 2020, we wrote The Top 60 Twins Players in 60 Season in Minnesota, and it is available now for just $7.99 (immediate download). It includes fun profiles of the Top 60 players on his list and yes, it does name all of his Top 300 players. Yes, my personal Top 60 rankings is in the back of the book too. Please consider this e-book. If you are interested, you can order here.
Last night, we spent about 40 minutes on a bonus Twins Spotlight discussing some of the fun topics of the rankings. Please enjoy. (Seth on WJON in St. Cloud today.)
Eighth Inning - Kirilloff Bumps Lewis from Baseball America Top Spot
On Monday, Baseball America released its updated Minnesota Twins Prospect rankings. Of note, they have now bumped Alex Kirilloff up from #2 to the #1 Twins prospect, a spot Royce Lewis has held for the past three offseasons. And no surprise, the two have always been kind of a 1a and 1b. Kirilloff certainly was the talk of the alternate site, and when he became the first player in MLB history to make his MLB debut by starting in a playoff game, more people started talking about him. I think the key is that Lewis’s star hasn’t diminished as much as Kirilloff has now been talked about more, and deservedly so. That said, I will continue to say that Trevor Larnach should be discussed in the same range as Kirilloff and Lewis.
Carlos Collazo, who worked on the rankings for Baseball America, wrote in the Twins chat that he has Larnach lumped into a group that includes Ryan Jeffers, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic. I personally have Larnach just a bit above that group, but that is a very good group. Literally all six of those guys should be in their Top 100 Prospect rankings when those come out in the spring.
He then noted that there is a group from #7 through #12 or 13 that could be inter-changeable too, and I agree with that. That is an exciting group as well with both power hitters, strong offense/defense guys and about three more pitchers that all profile as potential big-league starters.
Ninth Inning - A Minor Signing
The Royals signed veteran lefty Mike Minor to a two-year, $18 million with a $13 million option for a third year. The Royals are adding a veteran to a staff that includes youngsters like Brady Singer and Kris Bubic and a plethora of pitching prospects that are potentially available in the next year or two. Danny Duffy becomes a free agent after the 2021 season.
I have been a little surprised by the number of starting pitcher free agents who have already signed. Not sure what that will mean over the long course of an offseason, but it is encouraging.
That’s all I’ve got. Nine innings worth. Hopefully you have enjoyed it, and I welcome any questions or comments that you have below.