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  • Which Twins Could Become Free Agents Later This Week?


    Ted Schwerzler

    The World Series kicks off on Tuesday night, and following its completion (which could be as early as Saturday), Minnesota will experience an exodus of players hitting free agency. How will the roster look different a week or so from now?

    Image courtesy of David Banks, USA TODAY Sports

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    Before taking a look at the upcoming Rule 5 draft, and the players Minnesota will need to protect, it’s worth getting the lay of the land for guys headed onto the open market. Minnesota has a handful of 40 man players that will be on their way out, and some minor leaguers will also be worth keeping tabs on once they exit the organization.

    First, let’s take a look at the guys currently on the 40 man roster:
    Michael Pineda, Alexander Colome*, Andrelton Simmons

    Both Pineda and Simmons are sure to be jettisoned this week. The former is a strong candidate to re-sign with the Twins, while the latter should be expected to wind up elsewhere. Given Minnesota’s 2022 pitching outlook, bringing Pineda back to bolster the starting rotation would be an excellent decision. The one uncertain candidate here is closer Alexander Colome. He fell flat for Minnesota but did rebound somewhat down the stretch. His career numbers have been better than in 2021, and free agency isn’t a straightforward process for him. Both parties have a mutual option for 2022, and the value checks in at $5.5 million. His $1.25 million buyout is forfeited if Minnesota exercises their option but Colome declines (which would seem the least likely scenario).

    Notable Minor Leaguers:
    Melvi Acosta, Adam Bray, Trey Cabbage, Wander Javier, Hector Lujan, Carlos Suniaga, Aaron Whitefield, B.J. Boyd

    The three most prominent names in this group are sandwiched in the middle. Trey Cabbage was a 4th round pick in the 2015 draft. He reached Double-A Wichita this season and posted an .882 OPS over 68 games. It was a solid season for the 24-year-old. Minnesota could consider a 40 man roster addition, but if not, he’ll reach the open market for the first time.

    Once a top prospect, Wander Javier finds himself at a critical juncture in his career. He’ll be 23-years-old next season and has played in just 226 professional games. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, things just have never followed the tools that have impressed through evaluations. Javier was at Cedar Rapids last season, although it did represent High-A this time around. He posted a sub-.700 OPS but did show flashes after a very slow start. He may find a better path forward in a different organization.

    Lujan represents a definite grinder when it comes to prospects. He was a 35th round pick back in 2015 but reached Double-A during the 2019 season. Pitching all of 2021 for Wichita, the numbers looked good enough for Triple-A or big-league consideration. Nothing is extremely flashy for the reliever, but there are solid numbers across the board, and he could factor as a depth middle-reliever.

    The other pitchers noted above have shown flashes of capability that could be useful at the big league level. Acosta, Bray, and Suniaga are more unknown names but have made a presence for themselves through performance. In the box, Whitefield has previously debuted with the Twins while Boyd put up strong numbers at Double-A in 2021.

    A whole host of veteran or non-prospect types will also hit free agency as Minnesota needs to decide who will be offered deals for the upcoming year. Free agency could also look slightly different this offseason, with the CBA negotiations likely dictating the ultimate timeline for players.

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    With five nearly certain players needing to be added, will be surprised if any of the players you mentioned are added to the 40-man.  Hopefully, Cabbage and most of the others can be signed to a minor league free agent contract and kept in the system.  Especially interested in seeing them retain Whitefield, who I believe can become a very good player later in his career.

    When the two or three free agents depart, the 40-man will be down to either 39 or 40.  All future reductions will be tied to opening spots for prospects to be added or free agent signings.

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    Two ways to deal with minor league free agents: you give them a contract that far exceeeds the probably minimum they might get from another team, or you add them to the 40-man.

     

    Reasons why a player will switch teams once he becomes a minor league free agent? They team doesn't want him back. Someone offers you more money. You see less blockage in your way to advance in another oprganization.

     

    If you are a minor league free agnt that would just be putting in time at the AA level because of two much competition, or if you are AAA filler, you can make a decent living signing with pretty much any organization. Of course, any min or league player risks getting released from the non-binding contact and suddenly faced with job outlooks that often league to independent league ball with the hope for a comeback in a minor league system of a major league team.

     

    The lost season set so many players back. Every major league team is in the same situation, players they wish to keep not advancing past AA ball. So will be interesting to see what prospects might be changing teams, compared to the three dozen folks the Twins signed as basically AAAA fodder last season.

     

    That being sai,d I hope the Twins are not hasty in resigning either Pineda or Colome, although their decision on Coleme means spending $1.25 million for nothing or $5.5 million for something. Is Colome a better keep on the 40-man than, say, Jax or Garza or  Which of thor Thorpe or Smeltzer, any of whom would be jettisoned if they kept hiose names, if any, would remain on a Twin on a minor league contract and the hopes that they can crack the team out of spring training?m.

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    Wander Javier is an interesting case. He's stalled out a bit as a prospect and normally you'd look at him and think he'd want to move on to another organization and wouldn't be worthy of a 40-man spot. but he's experienced another organization and came back to the twins when presented with the opportunity. So while I still don't think he's a good choice to add to the 40-man...I think there's a real possibility he might be interested in staying with the twins on a minor league deal for another season since he started to get back on track this year being back in his first organization. the grass is not always greener, and he may be less enthusiastic about jumping elsewhere after struggling in Tampa.

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