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  • Twins Offseason Status Update: All Done?


    Nick Nelson

    Following their flurry of early-February activity, the Twins made a few minor moves on the fringes of the bullpen and bench before wrapping up the rotation with an addition this week.

     

    Now, it looks as though their roster is mostly finalized, with just days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

    Image courtesy of John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

    Here's a look at how the 2021 Minnesota Twins roster and payroll are shaping up, as spring training bears down upon us.

     

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    The $124 million payroll estimate above is merely a baseline – with reachable performance incentives added in (mainly Kenta Maeda's), the Twins will probably be well north of $130 million. It'd be the highest payroll in franchise history, although they were on track to spend more than $140 million last year before the season was shortened.

     

    Are they done? That's not entirely clear. But the 40-man roster is full, and the team is looking pretty complete. Here are some updates and things to watch as we wait for the Lee County Sports Complex to soon spring to life.

     

    IF THE SHOEMAKER FITS...

     

    The Twins have dropped plenty of hints that they were monitoring the starting pitcher market, seeking a reasonably-priced veteran to come in and compete with Randy Dobnak for the fifth rotation job. On Monday, they got their guy, agreeing to terms with 34-year-old right-hander Matt Shoemaker on a one-year deal worth $2 million.

     

    Shoemaker has much to prove on the health front, having thrown just 166 innings combined over the past four years due to various injuries. But as Andrew Thares pointed out ahead of the signing, Shoemaker saw a big spike in velocity last year and there are some signs his pitch mix can be further optimized by the Twins.

     

    Plus, the righty ended last year in good shape physically, and even got the nod in Game 1 of the postseason for Toronto last year, firing three shutout innings against the Rays.

     

    The presence of a perfectly dependable fallback option in Dobnak gave Minnesota the chance to gamble a bit in their final rotation spot. While some might have liked to see a higher-upside play such as James Paxton (who signed with Seattle last week for $8.5 million), Shoemaker can be a very strong fifth starter if healthy.

     

    ROUNDING OUT THE RELIEF CORPS

     

    In the days following their big free agency additions of Nelson Cruz and Alex Colomé, the Twins brought in a few more bullpen candidates, acquiring Shaun Anderson via trade and Ian Hamilton via waivers.

     

    The latter might already be on his way out, as the Twins designated him for assignment just days after claiming him, making room for Colomé. If another organization snags him, it'll be Hamilton's fourth time switching places since last September. If not, the Twins can keep him around as quality non-roster bullpen depth, alongside fellow waiver pickup Brandon Waddell.

     

    As for Anderson, it seems he is here to stay after the Twins acquired him from San Francisco in exchange for outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr.

     

    Anderson boasts big stuff – an upper-80s slider and spin-heavy mid-90s fastball – but the challenge for Minnesota lies in helping him command it. I wrote here about a mid-August incident in 2020 where Anderson buzzed Mike Trout's tower three times in one week, leading to some on-field tension and infuriating Angels manager Joe Maddon.

     

    If the Twins can help him reign in his intriguing stuff, Anderson could be a big addition to this bullpen. Will he make the Opening Day roster?

     

    PROJECTING THE OPENING DAY BULLPEN

     

    Last week I was joined by John Bonnes and David Youngs on Offseason Live to break down the bullpen picture and project the Opening Day setup. Together we tried to determine which relievers will be in the mix when the season starts, and what the pecking order might be.

     

     

    Here's where we landed:

    1. Taylor Rogers
    2. Tyler Duffey
    3. Alex Colomé
    4. Hansel Robles
    5. Jorge Alcala
    6. Caleb Thielbar
    7. Cody Stashak
    8. Lewis Thorpe

     

    At that time, we were under then impression that Thorpe was out of minor-league options, giving him an inside track for the long relief role. Dobnak was also still penciled in as the fifth starter.

     

    With the revelation coming to light this week – via Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic – that Thorpe will get a rare fourth option year, the Twins are no longer obligated to carry him coming off a bad year. Meanwhile, Dobnak being supplanted from the rotation makes him the ideal fit for a long man/piggy-backing role, with which he's fairly familiar. Thus, we now have Dobnak as the eighth reliever in our roster projection, with Thorpe likely headed to St. Paul.

     

    SPICING UP THE OUTFIELD

     

    The Twins used another waiver claim last week to add outfielder Kyle Garlick, who effectively replaced the previous week's waiver claim, Hamilton. Garlick infuses helpful corner outfield depth, with Minnesota losing both Eddie Rosario and Marwin González, and his right-handedness adds some nice balance alongside Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Jake Cave, and Trevor Larnach.

     

    Garlick hasn't had a ton of success in the majors (.691 OPS in 76 plate appearances), but he has slugged .553 against left-handed pitching, and he slashed .292/.364/.708 versus southpaws at Triple-A in 2019. Given how mightily the Twins struggled in this department last year, the decision to swap out a lefty swinger in Wade for a lefty masher in Garlick makes plenty of sense.

     

    Since Garlick has an option, he seems likely to open in Triple-A barring injuries.

     

    TWINS DONE MAKING BIG MOVES?

     

    The Twins could arguably use further additions in the bullpen, but it sounds unlikely they've got any big bullets left to fire.

     

    As Phil Miller reported in the Star Tribune, Derek Falvey indicated the the "heavy lifting is done" after the team committed nearly $40 million to Cruz, Colomé, Andrelton Simmons and J.A. Happ in the span of a few weeks.

     

    "We'll have some other conversations about other potential guys as well as nonroster fits and others that will compete. But I feel really good about our pitching right now," Falvey said.

     

    Miller understandably inferred this to mean that Jake Odorizzi is basically out of the picture, which seems all the more certain after Shoemaker's signing.

     

    The 40-man roster is full and the payroll seems to be essentially maxed out. I'd be surprised if they sign anyone else to a big-league deal. That said, I still fully expect the Twins to bring in a few non-roster relievers.

     

    Among the noteworthy names still unsigned:

    • David Robertson, RHP
    • Pedro Strop, RHP
    • Ian Kennedy, RHP
    • Tyler Clippard, RHP,
    • Oliver Drake, RHP
    • Brad Peacock, RHP
    • Chaz Roe, RHP
    • Brandon Workman, RHP
    • Jeremy Jeffress, RHP
    • A.J. Ramos, RHP
    • Cam Bedrosian, RHP

     

    Nobody on that list has particularly high stock at the moment, obviously, but there are plenty of legitimate names. I'd be thrilled to bring in a few of those guys on non-guaranteed contracts and get a good look at then. I'm sure the Twins would too.

     

    But for now, with the preliminary list of non-roster invites announced and the first player player group reporting to camp on Friday, it's time to start getting familiar with the group we have. For the most part, this is probably it, and from my view it's a dang good roster.

     

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    Yeah, I think they're done. They spent more money than I (and I'm sure many others) expected, so I'm happy with the offseason they've had. Getting Cruz back, adding Simmons to the infield, and getting Colome for cheap were quality moves. I just would have preferred not throwing $10M at Happ & Robles, and instead made a trade for a starter and retain Wisler for $1M.

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    With payroll at $130M, accounting for incentives, they are a little short of what I expected. Being more conservative than what I expected or holding out room for a mid-season addition? Hmmm...maybe. But while having yet to make a major mid-season move, they haven't exactly shied away from moves either. (Both ways).

     

    They have checked all the boxes. They have a team in place that looks at least as good as last year's despite some turnover. And they have done so...at this point...while keeping their milb system in place, providing depth, promotions and future trades all intact.

     

    I just can't see any immediate need or opportunity staring us in the face at the moment. But it's only mid February and this is Falvey and Levine. They have always made a move right around the start of ST or just after previously. Maybe it's another BP arm or a bench option instead of something big, but I would be surprised if we didn't see one more move.

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    That is great news about Thorpe’s extra option. It’ll be nice to let him work a full year at St. Paul and get back on track without taking up a place in the bullpen. Feeling much more optimism about Dobnak filling that long relief\Swing role. Excited about Spring Training and the Season!!! It’s going to be fun!

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    Happ and Pineda getting paid millions more than Berrios and Maeda (yes, Maeda has incentives). Not much justice in baseball sometimes.

     

    Rosenthal could be added to the noteworthy names still unsigned......

    Shane Bieber is going to make a 10th of what Berrios is making.

    Pujlos will make $165M for the last 6 years to play at below replacement level.

    Chris Davis will make $92M for the last 4 years of his deal to be well below replacement level and there are many other examples.

     

    The system pays them as they become established just like any other profession. Some guys pay their dues and others get paid enormous amounts for sucking big-time.

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    Didn’t Falvey come out and say they done making significant moves? Could be I misread something somewhere.

     

    I can’t really complain about what they’ve done. I’m not going to anoint them baseball royalty like some. I don’t think they’ve done enough to get over the hump, but that’s just one guy’s opinion.

     

    One thing I take exception with is Shoemaker. If they’re rolling the dice on an injury-prone pitcher, I would prefer Paxton. If that works out you’re looking at some legitimate front-line upside. But, at the end of the day, I’m not confident either will be healthy enough to make a huge difference.

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    Every team is tied for first right now. Odorizzi might give up his hopes for a big multi-year deal. We’ll see. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pounce if he does. Otherwise, play ball!

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    Fourth outfielder seems like the biggest hole in the roster right now. Sure, we have Cave, Larnach, and Rooker ready to let Max shift over if Buxton goes down, but that hasn't worked well in the past. Plus, an actual center fielder providing speed off the bench would be great.

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    Fourth outfielder seems like the biggest hole in the roster right now. Sure, we have Cave, Larnach, and Rooker ready to let Max shift over if Buxton goes down, but that hasn't worked well in the past. Plus, an actual center fielder providing speed off the bench would be great.

     

    They have Rooker / Cave and Arraez presently and Kirilloff / Larnach Broxton waiting in the wings. Kepler is perfectly capable of taking over CF short-term. If they need a CF for an extended period of time they would probably call up Celestino.

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    What's up with Clippard? I thought he did a good job last year and expected the Twins to re-sign him. Now he's got nothing on 2/16? I don't get it.

    Someone is gonna get a bargain. The problem with a Clippard-Twins reunion is where do you put him? If you remove Theilbar it leaves Rogers as the only lefty (assuming you swap Dobnak for Thorpe). Can you justify Clippard over Alcala or Stashak?  It's a tough call. 

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    Count me among those surprised at how large the payroll is. Due to uncertainties with COVID, I was expecting them to come in much lower than last year, perhaps approaching $100M.

     

    The good news is that COVID cases are declining, people are getting vaccinated, and there will be fans in the stands in Ft. Myers. Will they have fans at Target Field on opening day? Don't know, but expect they have a good idea if yes or no. Ownership should be commended for approaching this year much like others and not wanting to recover some or most of the heavy losses from 2020.

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    Are we sure Kirilloff is gonna make the opening day roster, and isn't going to be down in AAA for a couple weeks for "seasoning"???  I sure hope he is on the opening day roster....

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    Are we sure Kirilloff is gonna make the opening day roster, and isn't going to be down in AAA for a couple weeks for "seasoning"???  I sure hope he is on the opening day roster....

    I think this is probably the case, yes, but I have him listed first on the depth chart because for all intents and purposes, he is.

     

    Guessing we'll see a fair amount of Arraez in left early in the season.

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    They spent far more cash than I expected. I'm not too proud to admit that I was way off on their budget and plans for the year.

     

    I am pleased but not blown away by their moves, but I will say this has been a very atypical Twins offseason. Most of us did not expect most of these guys to be signed, and I think at the same time most of us don't know what the end result will be.

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    All but 6 teams are playing budget ball in 2021. I am very excited for our chances of going deep into the playoffs! We have a great mix of solid vets and developing young stars. Getting an extra option year for Thorpe is a nice surprise! Having the AAA at midway is beyond exciting. I'll definitely be spending time there!!!

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    Add me to the list of people surprised at the payroll. When Donaldson was signed I was shocked; in response I made a commitment to stop criticizing the Twins spending.

     

    I was expecting to spend this season biting my tongue, instead I find myself praising the team for staying the course. Where the spending is allocated is subject to debate, as always, but it's tough the denigrate the amount. I'm looking forward to a season of competitive baseball. 

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    Rooker should be on the roster instead of Kirilloff early in the season. Both Alcala and Stashak could be the long reliever. This team could carry 14 pitchers if needed. I think the bullpen is a little weak (losing 3 or 4 guys from last season and getting only 2). They really need to sign Clippard.

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    I'm not surprised by the payroll hitting $130M. I've been expecting it, stated so, and hoped I wouldn't look silly for doing so, lol. I am mildly surprised, however, at Happ over Odorizzi for what will probably turn out to be only a couple $M less. I just saw a perfect fit and thought $135M made sense to me.

     

    The possibility exists, however, at $130M to take on payroll during the season and still keep the final 2021 number at $140M-ish, which is what they spent last year.

     

    Could they still add another pen arm? Yes, absolutely. I think it's debatable if they NEED to, however. If the arms on hand perform as expected, they really only have 1 spot left to fill. And they seem to like having that 1 spot open for development, auditions, and flexibility to option guys up and down during the season.

     

    The one area I remain a bit concerned about is another infield spot. Arraez is going to be a pseudo-starter, but history has shown injuries happen. Gordon and Blankenhorn need to be at St Paul playing daily at least to start the season. Astudillo could, in fact, be the last guy on the bench to begin the season. And while the well has been drying up recently, I'm still wondering about another late infield signing for depth. As LA Vikes pointed out, Miller and Gyorko are still out there, unless I misssd a recent signing. Is there room to add? Would they want to join a contending club as a piece to the puzzle? Or would they still be looking for more guaranteed playing time somewhere?

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    Not much justice in baseball sometimes.

     

    Shane Bieber is going to make a 10th of what Berrios is making.

    Pujlos will make $165M for the last 6 years to play at below replacement level.

    Chris Davis will make $92M for the last 4 years of his deal to be well below replacement level and there are many other examples.

     

    Thanks for driving it home for me.

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    I don’t think they want to fill the rotation with another average SP. We don’t know how last year went in terms of developing pitchers. We should have quite a few pitchers that are ready to be auditioned.  Plus, any of the guys that are left have their own risks with short-term benefits.

     

    The organization is looking at how these decisions impact the next couple of years. Establishing one or two of our prospects this year would be huge for the next 2-3 years. We will need to replace Happ and Pineda. If just one of them is replaced by a pre-arb player, the payroll from Happ and Pineda could be reallocated to one higher profile pitcher that would be more impactful in post season play.

     

    We have a similar situation with Lewis. Let’s hope he kills it in the minors the first half and spends the second half of the season at the ML level. If he is successful, Simmons salary could also be reallocated. I have run the numbers for next year. Assuming Cruz is not back and payroll back to 2020 levels, we would have $53M available under this scenario. This includes arbitration estimates which could be a bit higher if Buxton and Berrios have big years.

     

    Part of this is as simple is these roster decisions were made based on what fit in the budget. However, the specific players and one year deals with Happ/Simmons had one eye on the future. That future is going to look great if a couple pitching prospects break through this year. So, I am firmly in the camp of giving innings to prospects instead of adding another back of the rotation vet.

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    Shane Bieber is going to make a 10th of what Berrios is making.

    Pujlos will make $165M for the last 6 years to play at below replacement level.

    Chris Davis will make $92M for the last 4 years of his deal to be well below replacement level and there are many other examples.

     

    The system pays them as they become established just like any other profession. Some guys pay their dues and others get paid enormous amounts for sucking big-time.

     

    Chris Davis contract was for long term guaranteed money on a couple years of hitting the long ball.  Angelos has ruined the O's for the fans.  Davis will make about $23MM this year and their team projected payroll is $39MM.  He will hit about .200 and strike out more times that combined hits once again.  Laughable if you aren't an O's fan.  Talk about job security.  They can't move the guy since it is all guaranteed

     

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