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  • Twins Offseason Status Update: Early Maneuvering and Rumors


    Nick Nelson

    The offseason is officially underway, and while the Stove's temperature could hardly be described as Hot, there's been plenty of action percolating in MLB, with some surprising early moves.

    For the Twins, efforts have largely been geared toward clearing roster space and preparing for the work ahead. But there has been one noteworthy addition, and some intriguing rumors bouncing around.

    Image courtesy of Darren Yama****a-USA TODAY Sports

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    Roster and Payroll Outlook as of Nov 10th, 2021

    In each of these "status update" posts, we'll share an up-to-the-moment look at the 40-man roster as well as the projected 2022 roster/payroll.

    On the 40-man front, we've already seen a cascade of cuts, with the Twins needing to create significant room for new acquisitions, 60-day Injured List activations, and protecting key prospects from the Rule 5 draft. 

    Since season's end, the team has already removed Drew Maggi, Rob Refsnyder, John Gant, Andrew Albers, Kyle Barraclough, Nick Vincent, Ian Gibaut and Luke Farrell. That's in addition to Andrelton Simmons, Alex Colome and Michael Pineda, who all exited via free agency. 

    That's eight cuts to go along with one addition (which we'll cover shortly), leaving the number of spaces currently occupied at 30. However, this doesn't account for players who will need to be re-added from the 60-day IL (Dobnak, Kirilloff and Maeda at the very least) nor the prospects who need to be added (Lewis, Miranda, Sands, Winder -- jury's out on Enlow).

    40man111021.JPG

    Several key questions emerge in looking at this current breakdown. Will any of Smeltzer, Stashak or Thorpe be re-added after totally lost years? Are the Twins going to retain Garlick? Will any prospects other than the aforementioned handful be protected?

    Regardless, it's clear that there are still cuts yet to come, because one way or another, the front office will need more than 2-3 open spots to work with. Astudillo, Cave, Barnes, and Strotman strike me as players who are especially at risk, on the fringe of the team's plans.

    Here's a look at the 2022 squad as it currently projects, from my view (courtesy of our Roster & Payroll tool😞

    rosterpayroll111021.JPG

    Cotton Claimed Off Waivers 

    The Twins added the former Rangers reliever on Friday, and as you'll notice above, we've now got Jharel Cotton penciled into the 2022 bullpen. That's not a lock by any means, but I don't think Minnesota would've committed a roster spot to him unless they intended to keep him. The right-hander is projected to make around $1.2M in his coming first year of arbitration eligibility.

    That price tag likely compelled Texas to part ways. Cotton is coming off a solid but shortened season in the majors (30.2 IP, 3.52 ERA, 3.72 FIP) and his track record is riddled with injuries, so he's far from a sure thing. It would be tremendously disappointing if he turns out to be anywhere near the club's biggest bullpen addition, but Cotton's a clear upgrade over much of the flotsam that comprised their relief depth in 2021.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. We'll see if it pays off.

    Twins Exploring SS Market

    No surprise here, but Jon Heyman reports that Minnesota is among the 13 teams "at least gauging the SS market."

    As Heyman notes, the level of early competition for this group is good news for an historically great class of free agent shortstops, but less so for any needy team like the Twins that might've hoped to strike a bargain. 

    Aaron Gleeman has a great new piece at The Athletic analyzing this winter's SS class in depth.

    Oakland Open for Business

    Another development that Twins fans should have eyes on: the Athletics appear ready to blow it up. This became somewhat evident when they let their world-class manager leave for San Diego, and quotes from their GM only serve to confirm that an offseason of scaled-back spending and talent-dumping is ahead.

    For teams like the Twins that are in the market for pitching and possessing robust farm systems, this is a big moment of opportunity. Oakland, as usual, is deep on arms, and there are a few specific names that jump out as candidates for immediate and dramatic impact in the rotation. Per Heyman, Chris Bassitt, Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea are all on the table.

    Montas and Bassitt bordered on ace status in 2021. Manaea was one step behind, but still very good with a 3.91 ERA, 3.66 FIP and 9.7 K/9 rate. Because he's entering his final year of team control, and will be fairly expensive next year (~$10M), Manaea is someone the A's will be motivated to move, and will come at a lower price than the other two. 

    Regardless of whom they're targeting, it's a no-brainer for the Twins to engage in talks and make a push for at least one of these quality starters. The more they can reduce their reliance on the free agent pitching market, the better.

    Heaney Comes Off the SP Market

    There was a sense that free agency would remain in mostly a holding pattern throughout November as teams brace for an expected lockout in December. But while there certainly has been no rush out of the gates, there's already been one significant starting pitcher signing that puts the Twins on notice: Andrew Heaney inked a one-year, $8.5M deal with the Dodgers.

    I don't know if Heaney was a target of particular interest to the Twins, but he's certainly the type of guy they should be eyeing as a secondary free agent addition for the rotation, given his age and upside. The fact that Los Angeles jumped on him so aggressively hints that it may not be wise to wait on other players in this range, who won't be as inclined to wait out a slow offseason as the top names.

    Speaking of which, that top tier of potential FA starters might get thinned out a bit more in the coming week. Robbie Ray, Noah Syndergaard, Justin Verlander and Eduardo Rodriguez were among the 14 players to receive qualifying offers. If any of them take it, they'll cease to be options for the Twins and others. Their deadline to make a decision is November 17th.

    2 Key Additions to the Coaching Staff

    Finally, in non-roster news, the Twins have already filled the two biggest needs on their coaching staff, adding a bench coach and hitting coach to replace Mike Bell (R.I.P.) and Edgar Varela. The addition of David Popkins leaked in late October but was made official on Monday, when the Twins also announced the hiring of former Padres manager Jayce Tingler.

    Tingler, 40, is of a similar ilk to Rocco Baldelli in that he's relatively young (40) and was considered a rising managerial star in the game before things went sideways in 2021. He was NL Manager of the Year runner-up in 2020.

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    Always look forward to everything you write Nick, cause it’s always great.    Thanks!

    Its nitpicking, but I sure hope Dobnak is used as a starter only.  Also see Kirilloff as their full time first baseman with Sanó as a backup and DH.

    will be surprised if more than 5 of the 60-day guys are kept following the deadline.

     

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    Garlick and Smeltzer are possible removals and possibly Cotton.  Waddell and Gibault were wasted roster holders for most of 2021, so I hope they look hard to his spot and not run into another Baddoo, Webb type loses in 2022.

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    I like your current roster as you see it. It gets rid of players such as Cave, Smeltzer, Thorpe, Garlick, Astudillo.

    I’m leery of Dobnak but they signed him to that long deal which I think was a mistake. 

    From your roster, I’d like to see Kepler traded, maybe as part of a deal for Montas or  Bassitt.

    As you know I’d like Canha as a free agent LF sign. I would pencil in Miranda as the DH/3B/2B.

    Maybe I’m wrong but I like Contreras with good defense speed and power. I think he’s worth a 40 man roster spot.

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    11 hours ago, Greglw3 said:

    I like your current roster as you see it. It gets rid of players such as Cave, Smeltzer, Thorpe, Garlick, Astudillo.

    I’m leery of Dobnak but they signed him to that long deal which I think was a mistake. 

    From your roster, I’d like to see Kepler traded, maybe as part of a deal for Montas or  Bassitt.

     

    I agree with Cave, Smeltzer, Thorpe, Garlick, and Astidillo, each I feel have had enough chances and have served a purpose for a period but not worth losing out on some of our prospects for them.  Some may even pass waivers and will stay in organization.  

    In terms of Dobnak, the long term deal is for very little money overall, and if he continues to struggle cutting him will not cost much.  He has show stretches of great pitching, but then stretches' of terrible pitching.  Hopefully he can come back healthy get back on the right track.

    For Kepler, I am all for trading him, but why would Oakland want anything to do with him?  If they are blowing up their roster, it would be to bring in young controlable guys and prospects, not some the age of Kepler.  Only way Kepler gets involved with a trade with Oakland is if a third team is involved.  Kepler is losing value each year, as he continues to remain the same type of player, good defender with okay hitting.  When he is hot he can put a few out of the park, but at this point I think teams are not going to be high on what he could be as he has not made improvements and despite the years of his number not matching his hard hit rate, ect.  Eventually, you just have to accept he is going to be who he is. 

    The time to have traded Kepler was a couple of years ago. Now they would just be selling low on him and dumping in hopes of getting something for him.  Because he is good on defense I would keep him, unless some team blows you away with an offer, but I doubt that will happen. 

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    15 hours ago, Nick Nelson said:

    That's eight cuts to go along with one addition (which we'll cover shortly), leaving the number of spaces currently occupied at 30. However, this doesn't account for players who will need to be re-added from the 60-day IL (Dobnak, Kirilloff and Maeda at the very least) nor the prospects who need to be added (Lewis, Miranda, Sands, Winder -- jury's out on Enlow).

    40man111021.JPG

    Several key questions emerge in looking at this current breakdown. Will any of Smeltzer, Stashak or Thorpe be re-added after totally lost years? Are the Twins going to retain Garlick? Will any prospects other than the aforementioned handful be protected?

    Regardless, it's clear that there are still cuts yet to come, because one way or another, the front office will need more than 2-3 open spots to work with. Astudillo, Cave, Barnes, and Strotman strike me as players who are especially at risk, on the fringe of the team's plans.

    Here's a look at the 2022 squad as it currently projects, from my view (courtesy of our Roster & Payroll tool😞

     

    There is just not a need (yet) to cut too deep.  I agree Astudillo, Cave, and Barnes can go.  I would probably hold onto Strotman because of his upside.  The other two I think we have seen more than enough from are Smeltzer and Thorpe.  Remove those 5 and you have 7 slots open,  Add the 5 prospects you have listed and we are at 38.

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    I would also remove Dobnak and Garlick, hopefully they can be resigned as minor league options.  A bad club may claim Dobnak, he is cheap starting pitching, but not the type you need to contend.  I would rather sign 1 - 2 FA pitchers and use the other spot(s) for a revolving door for the 8 - 10 pitchers we have at AA and AAA, to see what we have before we have to trade them, or the roster crunch gets them next year. 

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    The Twins only actually have to remove up to three names now to have prospect roster spot. Of course, there are easily a dozen candidates, and another go be jettisoned if you choose to Rule 5, and each free agent you sign can easily replace a name on the roster.

     

    But, yes, I would remove Dobnak. I doubt someone else would readily pick up his contract at this point, but the Twins would still have him sitting in the minors and working his way back to the team. You have to ask what is more important at some point, a 40-man spot for the guy, or paying him too much to pitch in the minors. That's what other teams would also look at.

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    I continue to believe people are way too down on Dobnak! The guy was pitching through a bum finger on his pitching hand most of last year. When healthy and on his game, he's a great fit in a long-relief role: a strike-throwing, efficient, GB pitcher who can bridge several innings on a regular basis. I'm not ready to judge him entirely on the basis of his 2021 season. He did some special things in the first ~60 MLB innings and he has a legit formula to succeed.

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    I'd drop Thorpe, Cave, Garlick, Astudillo, Barnes and probably Smeltzer. Would rather open up a spot or two for another prospect than carry these guys who aren't really more than replacement level or AAAA players. Time to roll on. Dobnak I think is probably worth keeping still?

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    1 hour ago, Nick Nelson said:

    I continue to believe people are way too down on Dobnak! The guy was pitching through a bum finger on his pitching hand most of last year. When healthy and on his game, he's a great fit in a long-relief role: a strike-throwing, efficient, GB pitcher who can bridge several innings on a regular basis. I'm not ready to judge him entirely on the basis of his 2021 season. He did some special things in the first ~60 MLB innings and he has a legit formula to succeed.

    Prior to the injury, Nick, I believe the Twins messed with Dobbers head out of spring training.  He was starting, then he wasn't.  He was long relief, until they sent him down to St. Paul to build his innings back.  Since he first appeared, Dobnak has been a starter.  I hope that the Twins now realize this, get his finger 100% and let him battle next spring for a spot in the rotation.  If he doesn't win it, then send him to St. Paul as depth for when he is needed.

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    20 hours ago, Greglw3 said:

    I’m leery of Dobnak but they signed him to that long deal which I think was a mistake. 

    I don't know how it works:  If the Twins drop Dobnak off their 40-man, wouldn't any team picking him up then need to assume the salary of that long deal?  And so, and if it's so bad, no one would take him, right?  Then couldn't the Twins pick him up again later after the Rule 5 Draft when roster space isn't so crucial?

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    43 minutes ago, Einheri said:

    I don't know how it works:  If the Twins drop Dobnak off their 40-man, wouldn't any team picking him up then need to assume the salary of that long deal?  And so, and if it's so bad, no one would take him, right?  Then couldn't the Twins pick him up again later after the Rule 5 Draft when roster space isn't so crucial?

    I’m pretty sure he would pass through waivers, then I think the new team would owe him maybe 600,000 or so and the Twins would owe him the salary of the deal unless there’s a team buyout provision. Don’t hold me to that, though!

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    1 hour ago, Greglw3 said:

    I’m pretty sure he would pass through waivers, then I think the new team would owe him maybe 600,000 or so and the Twins would owe him the salary of the deal unless there’s a team buyout provision. Don’t hold me to that, though!

    Ah, that makes sense.  Then the Twins need to hang onto Dobby or trade him now.

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    I was kind of hoping the Twins would go after Heaney.  I thought with his stuff and age he would have been an excellent gamble if you could get him to focus on finishing hitters off and not giving up the HR's he does too often.  The Dodgers certainly see something in him they think they can fix, and they move quickly and aggressively to sign him.  I would like to see OUR FO be aggressive early and not wait until the end for "bargains" they they always seem to do.  I agree that Minaya should be retained.  I liked what I saw of him this year. 

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    On 11/11/2021 at 2:36 PM, Nick Nelson said:

    I continue to believe people are way too down on Dobnak! The guy was pitching through a bum finger on his pitching hand most of last year. When healthy and on his game, he's a great fit in a long-relief role: a strike-throwing, efficient, GB pitcher who can bridge several innings on a regular basis. I'm not ready to judge him entirely on the basis of his 2021 season. He did some special things in the first ~60 MLB innings and he has a legit formula to succeed.

    Twins have much better pitchers with more stuff waiting a AA and AAA, why waste a roster spot, if nothing else see if he can be traded.

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    On 11/11/2021 at 8:28 PM, Einheri said:

    Ah, that makes sense.  Then the Twins need to hang onto Dobby or trade him now.

    He may have 3 years time to declare FA if passed through waivers, but they he would lose the salary, so if not claimed the Twins could hang unto him. 

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