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  • 3 Routes for the Twins After the Lockout


    Nash Walker

    The free-agent frenzy before last week’s lockout left the Twins needing more. There remains plenty of work to do, with a finite number of options. Here are three:

    Image courtesy of Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

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    1. SPREAD IT AROUND

    This is the most likely option. The Twins have averaged $127 million in payroll since 2018, per FanGraphs. They currently have a projected $91 million committed to the 2022 roster. That means there’s roughly $35 million to spend to return to a respectable level. 

    At first glance, that seems like a lot, but of course, it depends on how you spend it. Signing Zack Greinke ($12M), Michael Pineda ($8M), Andrelton Simmons ($6M), and a couple of relievers for a combined $10 million gets you to that sweet spot. 

    Would those signings instill any confidence that 2022 will be different? Probably not. This plan would likely accompany the idea that the Twins have many starting pitching prospects coming and want to give them a look early. Keeping Greinke and Pineda on one-year deals doesn’t retain any commitment if prospects upend them. Again, something like this feels likely. 

    2. INVEST IN WINNING 

    Route one is an example of spending $35 million as boring as possible. Here’s a way to make it much more appealing. Start by getting serious about Carlos Rodón, the best remaining starter on the market and a high-risk, high-reward option. Let’s say he costs $16 million per season for however many years it takes to secure him. 

    Then follow that with a trade for Oakland Athletics starter Frankie Montas, one of the most electric young pitchers in the game. Montas will earn a projected $5.2 million in 2022, his second year of arbitration. In another blockbuster, acquire Sonny Gray from the Cincinnati Reds. Gray is under contract for $10.7 million in 2022 with a club option for 2023. 

    After acquiring three legit frontline starters, a stopgap shortstop like José Iglesias makes sense on a one-year, $4 million deal. Finally, find a right-handed reliever with upside for $2-3 million. 

    Now you’re looking at a rotation fronted by Rodón, Montas, Gray and rounded out with Dylan Bundy, Bailey Ober, and Joe Ryan. The final payroll in this scenario would remain under $140 million. Of course, the Twins would lose prospect capital but would undoubtedly be an absolute threat in 2022 and 2023. 

    3. BARE BONES

    There’s a chance the Twins are heading for a complete cost-saving slice in 2022. That would probably include trading Josh Donaldson, perhaps followed by Miguel Sanó. Third base would likely be taken over primarily by José Miranda, while Alex Kirilloff spends most of his time at first base with Trevor Larnach in the outfield. 

    The rotation would front someone like Zach Davies on a one-year, $6.5 million deal. Looking for more bargains, the Twins could add former Cardinal Carlos Martínez for cheap and bring back Pineda as a steady presence. Shortstop would be handled for a year by Simmons, Iglesias, or Nick Ahmed in a trade. 

    Needing relief help, the Twins may turn to Hansel Robles-like additions to fill out the bullpen. Payroll would probably reach the $105-110 range, depending on how much Donaldson’s (and Sanó’s) contracts remain. The Twins would be young, inexperienced, and likely poor. However, if this means payroll reaches $145-150 million when the Twins expect to be competitive again, is it worth playing the kids prematurely?

    What do you think is the most likely path? Which path would you like to see them take? Which direction will make them the most entertaining in 2022? Comment below!

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    I feel bare bones is more the approach this year.  We need to find which of the young pitchers will make it and which are more AAAA quality.  RIght now we have 8 - 10 young starters and several young bullpen pieces.  Since we already have missed out on adding an ace or near ace pitcher,  we now have to see if we have one in the farm system.  There is a lot of near major league ready talent there,  much of it will probably not work out, but  by the end of 2022, I would like to have an idea of what holes need filling and which holes are filled. Most of the clubs now selling pitching what cost controlled young talent back.  If you do this, you had better be sure not to give away the best of the farm system. 

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    Nothing you have said excites me at all. Grienke is a veteran but what does he have left. Rodon will cost too much off a single season. Montas may cost too much in a trade but is worth looking at. I'd rather have Pineda back and maybe Iglesias for a year. Otherwise, I'd try to find a different gem for a starter. I never liked Gray. I'd have to look at the pitchers still available before commenting further. I'd also raise the amount spent to 150 mil and see what we can get for Sano and Donaldson but don't give them away.

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    They will likely go with the first option. Spend just enough to be mediocre, just enough to get people to the ballpark. Would rather they would either go all in or dump salary and be awful in which case I wouldn't have to bother wasting my time with them. As long as this organization is unwilling to pay for top pitching they will never get anywhere, even in years when they make the playoffs.

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    I have to agree with Whitey that we can't really assume anything about payroll. Rodon would be nice but only on a sort term contract with mutual options, maybe something similar to what we signed Morris to back in 91, so both the team and player have options. We have to remember we have Maeda coming back at some point late next year or in 23, and a stable of promising youngsters that got stalled out due to covid. I think the trade route makes the most sense. Add Pineda, maybe 1more in that level of FA starter, but build up the pen. Pick up a GOOD defensive ss that can hit above the mendoza line and I think this team could be competitive. That being said, of course they will have to get back to playing good, fundamentally sound, baseball. Something they seem to have forgotten how to do under Rocco.

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    Minimalistic. Why spend $30-50mil more in the hopes of finishing 4th I'm their division? Spend the year incorporating rookies into the lineup and rotation. Shoot for 2023 or probably 2024.

    Remember it took Berrios 4 years of going back and forth to triple A before he solidifies his position in the rotation. It could take awhile to build a real rotation.

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    Nash, I appreciate your (and others) efforts to keep the content going on Twins Daily; the posts are admirable in the face of the disappointing lack of moves by Falvey. I find it increasingly difficult to engage.

    The Baltimore Orioles have much better pitching prospects than the Minnesota Twins at this time. Do we wish to emulate the Orioles? The Detroit Tigers and Kansas City have blended in a number of pitchers in the last few years, all of whom were much more highly rated than any of the Twins pitching prospects. The Tigers did not put forth their prospects solo. It is quite confusing how anyone can believe that using just our pitching prospects can bring a positive result. Currently, the Twins have only Dylan Bundy slated for their starting rotation. Can anyone point to a rotation that had anything resembling this and managed to avoid 90-110+ losses?

    Not to be a downer, but the Pohlad family has made a fortune on the Twins alone, and I don't care about that except if they abuse the public trust made when Target Field was built with tax dollars. A budget of less than $120-160 million is an abuse of that trust. This leaves a single option for after the entire CBA debacle is settled. The Twins will need to frantically find a way to sign and trade for three starting pitchers, a shortstop, and a relief pitcher. The names mentioned all work for less than the money available: Story, Rodon, Pineda, etc. via the free agent market and some folks like Bassitt, Manaea, Montas, etc. via the trades. Some combination of players (some unnamed) will need to be added to fill the holes.

    A rebuild isn't necessary for financial reasons by any calculus and a rebuild due to a failure to sign or trade any decent players would be be nothing short of illuminating an epic weakness in management. I remain hopeful and supportive that the FO will be able to accomplish the moves needed to roster a competitive team and hope everyone has a positive holidays as we all wait for the renewal of the conversations needed to negotiate an end to the impasse between MLB owners and the MLBPA.

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    The Twins will do 1 of 3; get better, get worse or stay the same. The only way the Twins get better is; trade for better players or sign better FAs. The ownership has been in the “hoping stage” and this doesn’t work forever and generally leads to demise.  The Twins by finishing at the bottom of the central division & bottom 20% of the AL, and bottom 25% of all major league teams are at a critical point of existence. The changing of players or FO will not change the situation until ownership changes it’s philosophy, direction, decision making process. This ownership team tried to dissolve the Twins once before. It appears they are on the trail to doing it again. 

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    What the Twins owner and FO have to do is show us that they really are committed to winning.  The moves before the lockout leave us in limbo - not much hope except for Buxton and the Angels have proven that having one of the great players in the game does not mean playoffs!  

    Thanks for trying to keep our hot stove season stoked - the fire is in my woodbox, but not with the Twins. 

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    Solely based on their lack of interest in spending what appear to be reasonable contracts for the FA pitchers who signed - I'm pretty sure we're heading towards #3. 

    Could it be because they know this will be the last year they can be cheap and save money with a possible cap floor in 2023 (too late to likely implement in time for 2022) so gotta save the money now while they can?

     

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    The lockout has only been alittle more than a week !

    To me it feels alot longer as our owner and front office made no significant  moves to improve the team before the lockout except for re-signing buxton to extention  ( 1 player can't win it all ) ...

     

    Where is their pitching savvy approach  ????? ...

    Still at the bottom of the dumpster I guess !

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    Trade for a SP, sign Pineda-none of the other FA SP left excite me, FA reliever, FA SS. Rotation to start year would be-Traded for SP, Pineda, Bundy, Ober, Ryan. Still have Dobnak, Winder is close to being ready, Duran may be better suited for BP, along with 4-6 other legitimate SP prospects close to being ready. Really need a SS, in this scenario Twins could afford Story. I am not confident Lewis or any of the other Twins prospects will end up at SS.

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    Seems like you have the options covered. My one question stems from option #3. When have the Twins ever used money "saved" to bolster a roster in the future?

    If, and it's a BIG if, after moving into Target Field the goal was to have a 50/50 revenue to payroll split, the Twins have been over budget just once. That was in 2011, their 2nd year playing at Target Field - and coincidentally the first year of Joe Mauer's contract. Since then the average savings would be over $17MM per year. (using statista.com for team revenue and Cot's Baseball Contracts for player salaries) 

    In my perception, money "under budget" goes straight into the pockets of ownership (or probably to polish the gold plating on the Gulfstream) never to be seen again. Or, if ownership has been "saving it up for a big splurge," the Twins should have an extra $161MM to spend. Which way do you think we're headed?

     

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    I wanted the Twins to put together the foundation for a strong rotation this year, even if they still needed a season to retool.

    But if they give up prospects for Gray and Montas when they could have easily afforded to sign free agents of that caliber instead, I'm going to be beyond disappointed in this organization.

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    I think they will go for #1 and hope to compete and pull fans in. They will not go #2 as we have too many SP’s close to coming up and I sure hope they stay away from #3 as that would burn another year of prime for Polanco, Buxton, Garver, etc.

    Sure would be nice to add years for Rodon, and add health incentives like they did with Buxton, but as a FA he probably could find another suitor with a fully guaranteed contract but one can dream.

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    4 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

    What the Twins owner and FO have to do is show us that they really are committed to winning.

    Unfortunately, the FO is unable to show us that because all they are interested in is APPEARING to be competitive.

    The current Pohlad's learned their Fred Flintstone business philosophy from PAPA CARL. " You're in the business army now, your only friends a buck and the more bucks you've got, the more friends you've got".  The resigning of Buxton was just done to appease the fan base just as the Mauer signing was.

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    Twins should be looking for a third team to involve in an Oakland trade.  Who would be interested in 2 years of Donaldson and what kind of prospects would/could they send to Oakland with the Twins chipping in prospects and getting pitching??

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    Sign Rodón, trade for an undervalued starter like Elieser Hernández and/or Kyle Freeland. Sign a stopgap SS like Simmons 🤮, Iglesias, or trade for Ahmed/Dejong.

    This avoids gutting the farm, lets the team compete in 2022, and maintains flexibility to pivot to compete in 2023 if the team underperformes in '22 by using the 2nd half to promote their prospects after trading/dumping players at the trade deadline.

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    2 hours ago, 4twinsJA said:

     in this scenario Twins could afford Story. 

    If YOU were Story, and FINALLY are able to get away from the Rockies, why in the world would you jump to another frustrating organization in the Twins?  And to a team that plays outdoor baseball in Minnesota in April, May, September and October ??  I just don't think Story, a Texas born player, will be THAT desperate !!!

     

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    I have been stating I see them doing option #3, and it is the only that makes sense with their lack of anything early, before the lockout. They have decided that Buxton is what they plan to build around, but it would be nice in one of those deals to get back a young CF'erd that can step in for 100-120 games a season for Buxton, and not cost too much.

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    1 hour ago, nicksaviking said:

    I wanted the Twins to put together the foundation for a strong rotation this year, even if they still needed a season to retool.

    But if they give up prospects for Gray and Montas when they could have easily afforded to sign free agents of that caliber instead, I'm going to be beyond disappointed in this organization.

    I wouldn't worry as much about prospects. Most of them don't pan out.

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    I'm open to anything that's smart and well evaluated. (OAK) Montas & Bassitt makes sense anything else that makes us contenders I'm all for. I'm not for giving up and throwing all our prospects out to the wolves to sink or tread water. This could destroy their confidence and actually take longer for them to reach their desired level.

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    4 hours ago, nicksaviking said:

    I wanted the Twins to put together the foundation for a strong rotation this year, even if they still needed a season to retool.

    But if they give up prospects for Gray and Montas when they could have easily afforded to sign free agents of that caliber instead, I'm going to be beyond disappointed in this organization.

    This. They could have added decent pitchers for nothing but money. For a team whose farm system is its lifeblood it makes no sense to deplete it for pitchers with two years of control. 

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    C Garver/Jeffers

    1B Sano

    2B Polanco 

    3B Donaldsom

    OF Kepler Buxtton/Kiriloff

    UT Arraez

    SS black hole, but if the other 9 are playing up to their potential that is a lineup that would average over 120+ WRC+. If the FO doesn’t think they can hit their potential they should have cleaned house. So far they have not. If they thought they could they should have addressed the weaknesses. Given the health and wellness problems of pitching (see any season injury report) I can understand the reluctance for avoiding the long term contract. They still have to try something

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    It feels like #1 is most likely at this juncture.   #2 is unlikely to me as I can't see Falvey & Levine trading away a significant amount of their prospect pool to acquire a front end SP. They could have spent money they have available to sign one of the FA pitchers such as Ray, Gaussman or Stroman.  Any one of those would have been a satisfactory signing.  I suspect Greinke, Pineda, J. Iglesias and a couple of RP sounds about right.   Ugh...

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