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  1. Free Agent Market May Push Twins Away From Nelson Cruz

    There is no salary cap in baseball, but many teams have a self-imposed limit this winter for a variety of reasons. Revenues were limited in a pandemic shortened 2020 campaign and there are still plenty of questions about how much those revenues will improve in 2021. Minnesota’s current payroll sits around $110-113 million with the team anticipated to spend around $125 million. This leaves room for one more big signing or a pair of smaller additions.

    Many early reports had Cruz asking for a two-year contract and when looking at his last two seasons, that might seem like a no-brainer. Since joining the Twins, he has hit .308/.394/.626 with 57 home runs and 32 doubles in 173 games. However, his increasing age continues to be the elephant in the room. He turned 40-years-old last July, and he will be 41 about halfway through the 2021 campaign. Does any team want to have significant money tied to a 42-year-old DH?

    With their remaining payroll, the Twins can go in a few different directions to help the 2021 squad. Many of the players listed below will sign in the coming weeks and Minnesota doesn’t want to be left with money on the table.

    Adding to the rotation seems like an intriguing option for the Twins and signing Cruz likely means the Twins would enter 2021 with their current rotation. Trevor Bauer won’t exactly fit into the team’s self-imposed payroll restrictions, but names like James Paxton, Jake Odorizzi, and Taijuan Walker are still available. Any of these options can fit into the middle of Minnesota’s rotation and be relied on for starts in the postseason.

    For designated hitter, the top name left on the market is Marcell Ozuna, who is a decade younger than Cruz. He is coming off a tremendous season with the Braves, but he would likely come with a longer commitment and higher salary than Cruz. Minnesota might not want to invest long-term at DH with many of the team’s top prospects projected to be corner outfielders or first base types (Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, etc.)

    Adding to the bullpen is also an option, but it remains to be seen if the Twins would consider spending money on relievers when the current regime has found luck in cheap options that turn into valuable assets. Alex Colome and Trevor Rosenthal are the two biggest names available and the Twins might be able to add both players with their remaining payroll flexibility.

    It still seems likely for Cruz to wind up back in a Twins uniform, especially with no decision yet made about the DH in the National League. However, time is ticking away, and Minnesota might not want to hold out much longer.

    Will the Twins be forced to move on from Cruz? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Feb 02 2021 12:05 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  2. Twins Daily 2020 Trade Deadline Preview

    Minnesota’s Weaknesses
    Entering the season, Minnesota was perceived to have one of the strongest line-ups in baseball. That hasn’t been the case so far as the Twins have struggled through injuries to regular starters like Mitch Garver, Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Luis Arraez. This has resulted in making nearly everyday players out of Ryan Jeffers, Jake Cave, Marwin Gonzalez and Ildemaro Vargas. It’s easy to think the Twins need replacements for these players, but the best thing for the team would be for their injured players to be healthy and producing as the team enters the playoffs.

    Last season, Minnesota’s biggest weakness was pitching, and this was especially true for the bullpen. This is why the team made multiple deadline deals for bullpen help. The Twins relief core has turned into one of the team’s strengths over the last year and that might mean the team isn’t looking to upgrade unless there is some player control involved. Minnesota’s starting rotation has seen multiple injuries, but the team depth in this department.

    Possible Trade Options
    Lance Lynn, Texas
    Lynn has been good since leaving the Twins in 2018. Last season with Texas, he posted a 3.67 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in over 200 innings. He struck out 246 batters and only walked 59 on his way to finishing in the top-five for the Cy Young. In just over 100 innings with the Twins, Lynn had an ERA north of 5.00 and he didn’t exactly leave the team on good terms. He is under team control through 2021 and the Rangers are within a handful of games of a playoff spot, and he could be one player for the team to avoid.

    Trevor Rosenthal, Kansas City
    Minnesota might be hesitant about trading with another team in the division, but Rosenthal might be the ideal candidate. He was signed to a minor league deal in Kansas City and he has been outstanding through the season’s first half. So far, he has limited batters to two runs on seven hits in 12 appearances (11 1/3 innings). This includes a 1.06 WHIP and a 15 to 5 strike out to walk ratio. Kansas City is in a similar position to the Rangers so the team will have to decide if they want to trade pieces away.

    Keone Kela, Pittsburgh
    Unlike the team’s above, Pittsburgh is clearly not making the playoffs, but Kela is going to have to prove he is healthy over the next week. He left a game last Friday after five pitches as the Pirates revealed he had right forearm tightness. He is a free agent at season’s end, and it seems likely for him to be dealt if he is healthy. Kela has been limited this season because of a positive coronavirus test and this most recent injury.

    Dylan Bundy, Los Angeles
    Bundy might be one of the hottest names tossed around in rumors leading up to the deadline. The Angels have struggled this season and currently have one of baseball’s worst records. He is under team control through the 2021 season. So far this season, he ranks in the 80th percentile when it comes to fastball spin rate, hard-hit rate, and opponents’ exit velocity. Increased use in his slider has been part of his success and that has been something the Twins have harnessed with other current pitchers.

    Mychal Givens, Baltimore
    Givens has been dominant out of the Orioles bullpen this year and he has some intriguing traits the Twins might be interested in. Firstly, he is under team control through the end of 2021. Secondly, his slider has gotten hitters to whiff on it over 40% of the time. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and his increased usage of his slider is certainly intriguing. Minnesota might not need a ton of bullpen help but Givens could certainly provide a boost.

    There are three right-handed hitters that could be intriguing with some of Minnesota’s top right-handed bats on the injured list. Another possible pitching option is a man that’s boisterous on social media, but he is a free agent at season’s end and that could make him tradeable.

    What’s Going to Happen?
    Overall, it seems likely for the trade deadline to be relatively quiet when compared to recent years. Few owners and front offices are going to be willing to take on significant contracts with the uncertainty facing baseball in 2021. Baseball has dodged a few bullets this season, but no one is sure of the long-term ramifications of no fans in the stands and other lost revenue.

    Minnesota also has the luxury of Michael Pineda being added back to the rotation at the end of August. His addition could be construed as trading for rotation help. Jake Odorizzi, Rich Hill, and Homer Bailey have all seen time on the injured list this year and adding Pineda only strengthens the depth of a rotation that has been stretched this season. The last time the Twins saw Pineda, he was amid a tremendous stretch on the mound and he will have the month of September to get back on track.

    What do you think the Twins will do at the trade deadline? Add an arm? Add to the line-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    • Aug 27 2020 08:07 AM
    • by Cody Christie