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  • Top 5 Derek Falvey Twins Moves


    Ted Schwerzler

    The Minnesota Twins turned their front office over to Derek Falvey in October of 2016. After participating in his first offseason, the first club of record played during the 2017 season. In five years leading the organization, Falvey has orchestrated three postseason appearances. What are the moves he’s made to get there?

    Image courtesy of © Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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    Saddled with Paul Molitor to start his tenure, Falvey tabbed Rocco Baldelli as manager before the 2019 season. A breath of fresh air and a new perspective, Baldelli represented a complete change from the Twins' old guard. While the losing in October hasn’t ceased yet, the club has stockpiled a plethora of solid prospects and could be on the verge of another sustained run.
     
    Here’s one writer's opinion of the five best moves Minnesota has made during Derek Falvey’s tenure:

    5. Nelson Cruz Signing (Twice)
    Looking to add thump to their lineup, Falvey inked the long-time designated hitter to a one-year deal worth $14 million (and a second-year option at $12 million). At 38-years-old, there was cause for concern, and he was coming off a slide posting just an .850 OPS for the Mariners. His services were hotly contested, and he wound up being a catalyst for the Bomba Squad. Cruz’s 1.031 OPS was a career-best, and he finished 9th in the American League MVP voting after blasting 41 dingers. His value was estimated as being worth more than $34 million that season by Fangraphs.

    4. Nelson Cruz Trade
    After bringing Cruz back on a one-year deal for $13 million, Minnesota saw the writing on the wall as they slipped down the AL Central standings in 2021. Having posted a .907 OPS through 85 games for the Twins, Cruz was still productive at 40. Despite half of the sport not using the designated hitter, and even fewer teams needing one, Falvey orchestrated a coup in a deal from the Tampa Bay Rays. Acquiring Team USA ace and top-100 prospect Joe Ryan for a few months of Cruz would’ve been great on its own. Minnesota also netted Drew Strotman (a recent Twins Spotlight guest), another strong pitching prospect, and despite Cruz’s greatness here, they couldn’t have packed his bags fast enough for that return.

    3. Michael Pineda Signing
    Signing someone while injured is always a tricky situation, but that’s what Falvey opted to do with Michael Pineda. Needing starting arms, the Twins came to an agreement with the former Yankees starter while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2018. Paying him just $10 million over two years, Minnesota got to monitor Pineda’s rehab and set him up to be a rotation mainstay for them in 2019. He turned in a strong 4.01 ERA and was among the many reasons the club was so good. In 2019 alone, Fangraphs valued Pineda’s production north of $20 million. Pineda has been unquestionably the best free-agent move on the pitching front from this front office, taking steps forward in each of the next two seasons.

    2. Jorge Polanco Extension
    After a career-best .773 OPS in 2018, Minnesota decided to lock Polanco up long term. He was signed to a five-year deal with two additional options. The guaranteed portion was for just $25.75 million, or $5.15 million per year. Polanco became a first-time All-Star in 2019, posting an .841 OPS and generating MVP votes for the first time in his career. His 2020 was a slide backward as he dealt with nagging ankle issues, but a switch to second base and a clean bill of health had him rebounding to an .826 OPS in 2021, and he launched a career-best 33 homers. Polanco is among the best second basemen in baseball, and this contract looks like one of the most team-friendly deals across the entire sport.

    1. Byron Buxton Extension
    This one takes the top spot mainly for the impact it could have and would have had it not gotten done. Buxton is a generational talent, and the only thing that has sapped his earning potential is the ability to stay on the field. Now signed to a seven-year, $100 million contract, Buxton looks to expand upon three seasons totaling an .897 OPS. He’s arguably the best defensive outfielder in the game and has come into his power potential; the speed asset to his game is just a cherry on top. Minnesota needed to get this done, and now both parties stand to benefit plenty from one another.

    What are some of the moves made under Derek Falvey that you would place here? Is there a favorite I missed?

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    It is nice to see a list of some of the good things so far.  Many fans like to point out how pear shaped last year went and all the moves fell apart quickly, other than the Cruz trade, which would not have happened had they been winning.  I think the next year or two will really show if the changes to organization will pay off.  

    The starting pitchers that were brought in via trades, and drafts in the minors are starting to make way to majors.  We will see if they pan out or flop, and then the FO can be really judged.  A flop of a FA pitcher is nothing to judge a GM on as they happen all the time. 

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    I think you pretty much nailed it, although the order could be debatable (I agree with a prior poster about Cruz/Pineda, mainly because of Pineda's surprise suspension). I think a ton of feedback could be generated from an article about the 5 WORST moves, but let's stay positive!.

    I'm anxious to see how the Berrios trade eventually pans out...

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    A good list. I also would slot Cruz a couple slots higher but can't quibble much with the rankings here.

    I think this list could have easily gone another couple of spots to include the Maeda and Odorizzi trades. Frankly, I think an arguement could be made that acquiring Alcala, Celestino and Duran were very good moves as well. I know we are just begining to see the potential with those 3, but Alcala is starting to flash. Celestino is looking like a potentially outstanding 4th OF with possible starting potential. And even IF Duran ends up in the BP eventually...and by no means am I saying he will or should at this point...the potential to be dominate is there.

    I see this/these as examples where the FO hasn't always been right in what they did or didn't do, but a reminder that focusing on merely the negatives is a disappointing exercise without looking at all the positive moves in comparison. 

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    TD sure overplays Buxton and these great prospects we got from Rays for Cruz.  How can anyone at this point call Buxton a generational player when he's only played about 45% of games in 7 years.  I will give you he's a great center fielder and over the last couple of years shows flashes of his potential but a part time player is NOT a generational player.  As for all these great prospects you tout as being steals for the Twins, the jury is still out.  I hope they pan out but I would contend maybe 1 or 2 will and that's a maybe.

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    19 hours ago, Trov said:

    It is nice to see a list of some of the good things so far.  Many fans like to point out how pear shaped last year went and all the moves fell apart quickly, other than the Cruz trade, which would not have happened had they been winning.  I think the next year or two will really show if the changes to organization will pay off.  

    The starting pitchers that were brought in via trades, and drafts in the minors are starting to make way to majors.  We will see if they pan out or flop, and then the FO can be really judged. 

    Quote

    A flop of a FA pitcher is nothing to judge a GM on as they happen all the time. 

    What about being "caught off guard" by how quickly the FA market went past them? Should that be held against them?

     

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    1 hour ago, Whitey333 said:

    TD sure overplays Buxton and these great prospects we got from Rays for Cruz.  How can anyone at this point call Buxton a generational player when he's only played about 45% of games in 7 years.  I will give you he's a great center fielder and over the last couple of years shows flashes of his potential but a part time player is NOT a generational player.  As for all these great prospects you tout as being steals for the Twins, the jury is still out.  I hope they pan out but I would contend maybe 1 or 2 will and that's a maybe.

    THANK YOU! I was beginning to think I was the only person that sees Buxton for what he is. Why are we anointing him a 'generational' player when he cannot stay on the team? The argument 'When he is healthy, he is the best!' Okay, WHEN is he healthy? And shouldn't that play into his overall expectation? We now have to sign a 4th OF'er to be a starter. He will have to play 100+ EVERY year to cover our $100mm man!

    What about: Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Rick Ankiel or Ray Fosse? All were 'generational' players that could not stay healthy enough to reach their potential. The difference, none of their teams gave them $100mm contract to play less than 100 games per season. The closest would have been Kerry Wood's 3yr $32mm deal. You could even add Bo Jackson to this list, too. Over an 8 year, injury riddled career, Jackson still averaged more games played (86.75) per season than Buxton (70.4). He earned just $6.8mm for his entire baseball career. In todays money, that would be $15,289,142.

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    5 hours ago, Boogeyman said:

    Wait a minute Kenta Maeda almost won a Cy Young. I love big Mike but that should be at least 4th

    I thought about this one a lot, and for me it came to signing Pineda cost us nothing but cash and Maeda we had to give up a legitimate prospect who would have been a solid bullpen piece. I would still do the Maeda deal 100 out of 100, but signing Pineda was a clever move that required some extra creativity but cost the team less, so in terms of front-office moves I credit it a bit higher.

    The Odorizzi deal certainly could qualify, as we did very well on that one: Odo was ok the first season in MN, very good the second year, before injuries wrecked his walk year...and we got back the prospect we dealt for free (who has gotten back on track with the team to the point that he's a reasonable SS option in the organization again). Can't ask for much better in a trade, really.

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    1 hour ago, Whitey333 said:

    TD sure overplays Buxton and these great prospects we got from Rays for Cruz.  How can anyone at this point call Buxton a generational player when he's only played about 45% of games in 7 years.  I will give you he's a great center fielder and over the last couple of years shows flashes of his potential but a part time player is NOT a generational player.  As for all these great prospects you tout as being steals for the Twins, the jury is still out.  I hope they pan out but I would contend maybe 1 or 2 will and that's a maybe.

    Joe Ryan is already in rotation and looks like a real pitcher. we got him for half a season of a 40-year old DH in a lost season, and added Drew Strotman as well, whose floor looks like "bullpen weapon" and still might make it as a starter. Hell, we even saved money on the deal. Even if both pitchers flame out, it was a smart deal...and Ryan sure doesn't look like a guy who is going to flame out.

    Buxton put up 4.5 bWAR in 61 games last year. pro-rated to 150 games, that's an 11 bWAR season! That's Wllie freakin' Mays. Of course he's a generational talent. He is a spectacularly talented player who can do things on the field only a handful a players in all of baseball can do. Yes, he's missed a lot of time and one of the most important abilities is availability...but this FO has managed to put together a contract that keeps the most exciting player I've ever seen in a Twins uniform here while protecting the organization if he's not healthy. He's got the same kind of talent that Joe Mauer had before the concussions. You can reasonably talk about him in the same sentence as Mike Trout, who has put up 7 or 8 MVP-caliber seasons in 10 years. he is truly great...and I hope he annihilates the league next year and the twins have to pay him every possible bonus.

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    2 hours ago, jmlease1 said:

    ...You can reasonably talk about him in the same sentence as Mike Trout, who has put up 7 or 8 MVP-caliber seasons in 10 years. he is truly great...and I hope he annihilates the league next year and the twins have to pay him every possible bonus.

    I swear... the Byron Buxton vs. Mike Trout comparisons are so ludicrous. Byron Buxton is not a prospect. He's a 7 year veteran who has never once, in his entire career, legitimately approached a single year of Trout's full season production. Ever. Not remotely within reasonable sight. It's as if Buxton had never suffered an injury in his career... You know why a full season matters? Regression. Adjustments to how pitchers approach hitters. The players who play full seasons need to deal with those things and they matter enormously. Buxton never deals with those things because he's on the field for 2 weeks to a month at a time.

    Buxton's 24 game start in 2021 was similar to 24 game spans by a half dozen recent Twins players with names like Escobar and Santana, but players like Escobar (who was nearly as valuable at SS as Buxton in CF) were never compared to Mike Trout. Joe Mauer's start to 2009 throws a bunch of shade on Buxton's start in 2021, yet Mauer is certainly not considered the greatest player to ever play MLB. Buxton's 24 games after he returned in late August after his 24 game hot start in April? .202/.250/.394, but nutso Twins fans blamed his lingering injury for that despite him raking in AAA before being recalled. It wasn't regression! It couldn't be! Buxton was a .350 hitter for sure! Oh, his (insert one of 10 possible injuries) must be still affecting him is the apologist excuse for Buxton as his zealot-like supporters wilt away in the sunlight. The zealots just waiting for the next 10 game hot streak when they can bloom again and start posting away about how Buxton is the best player in MLB history. Btw, multiplying small game samples of WAR is sketchy when trying to make MVP claims, especially when so much of that player value is based on defensive metrics which do not really smooth out before at least 1/2 a year is played for premium positions. Buxton's fWAR declined from 2.7 to 2.1 before his last 10 games of the season, where it jumped from 2.1 to 4.2... That means, if you project Buxton's last 10 games to 150, Buxton was actually producing at a 32 fWAR over a 150 game pace! Whoa! That's worth $250MM per year according to Fangraphs! MVP! Unanimous first ballot HoF!!! 10 years and $50MM per year! Better than Mike Trout!!! (yes, this is how Twins fans making the Mike Trout claims actually look to the rest of baseball fans. Like raving town idiots.)

    In my opinion, Byron Buxton will likely never play a full season or qualify for a championship title in his career. Byron Buxton will likely never come close to winning an MVP, even if he plays a full season because he's a 5-6 WAR full season player. That's perennial All Star level if he actually played more than 2.5 months in the first half of the season, and it should be good enough. When Buxton manages to even make an All Star Game (he's never been an All Star in his 7 year career), I'll start recognizing him more. At least fans should wait for an All Star Game for a 7 year veteran before making comparisons to a player who was a first ballot Hall of Famer by age 28 and is on the path to being the greatest player in MLB history.

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    When I saw the headline, I was curious that you could find 5 good things. 

    1. I would give them one and that is Buxton.
    2. Nelson Cruz twice?  Plus the fact he is no longer here? 
    3. I see we got some prospects for Nelson but not sure they can be graded for a year. 
    4. Pineda (hasn't played much). 
    5. Polonco is a good player.  But resigning him is a stretch for a great move.  

    I think 5 is a stretch and the only thing to stay positive are how will the players we got for Nelson Cruz pan out?

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    17 hours ago, DocBauer said:

    A good list. I also would slot Cruz a couple slots higher but can't quibble much with the rankings here.

    I think this list could have easily gone another couple of spots to include the Maeda and Odorizzi trades. Frankly, I think an arguement could be made that acquiring Alcala, Celestino and Duran were very good moves as well. I know we are just begining to see the potential with those 3, but Alcala is starting to flash. Celestino is looking like a potentially outstanding 4th OF with possible starting potential. And even IF Duran ends up in the BP eventually...and by no means am I saying he will or should at this point...the potential to be dominate is there.

    I see this/these as examples where the FO hasn't always been right in what they did or didn't do, but a reminder that focusing on merely the negatives is a disappointing exercise without looking at all the positive moves in comparison. 

    You've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative,, don't mess with Mister. in between.  Thank you Johnny Mercer.. 

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