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  • Twins Winter Meetings Preview


    Seth Stohs

    On Sunday, the eyes of the baseball world will be upon San Diego and the Winter Meetings. Let’s take a look at what the Minnesota Twins need to accomplish this offseason. Obviously not all of it will be completed over the next week, but it is an opportunity to get all parties in one location, able to have discussions. 

    Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

    Twins Video

    Here we are in the first days of December, and there are some fans who are already wondering if this has been a lost offseason for the Twins. Aside from the standard roster cleanup at the end of the season and the 40-man roster additions, the only moves made have been bringing back minor-league free agents Jair Camargo and Elliot Soto

    It is also important to note that the annual Winter Meetings are set up for league meetings, rules meetings, minor-league meetings and more. It is also a place where people will bring their resumes and meet with teams, hoping to get jobs or internships. Those looking for jobs in baseball will be dressed in suits and ties. GMs and media are often seen in business casual, if not shorts and a beach button down shirt. 

    If the season started today… 
    I think that it is always important to know the current status. That way, we are able to look at where the roster stands, and see where there are weaknesses and strengths. This is all stuff that the front office does, though much more in-depth and thoroughly than any of us. But for us, it’s where we’re starting. If the season started today, what would the roster look like? 

    C: Ryan Jeffers
    1B: Alex Kirilloff  
    2B: Jorge Polanco 
    3B: Jose Miranda 
    SS: Kyle Farmer  
    LF: Trevor Larnach 
    CF: Byron Buxton
    RF: Max Kepler 
    DH: Luis Arraez 

    More 40-Man Options: Edouard Julien, Gilberto Celestino, Mark Contreras, Matt Wallner, Kyle Garlick
    Injured: Royce Lewis
    Upper-Level, Non-40-Man Roster: David Banuelos, Jair Camargo, Alex Isola, Chris Williams, Michael Helman. Austin Martin, Brooks Lee

    SP: Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Kenta Maeda, Tyler Mahle, Bailey Ober 
    RP: Jhoan Duran, Jorge Lopez, Caleb Thielbar, Griffin Jax, Jorge Alcala, Emilio Pagan, Jovani Moran, Trevor Megill.

    More 40-Man Options: Jordan Balazovic, Blayne Enlow, Brent Headrick, Ronny Henriquez, Cole Sands, Louie Varland, Josh Winder, Simeon Woods Richardson
    Injured: Chris Paddack, Matt Canterino
    Upper-Level, Non-40-Man Roster: Evan Sisk, Randy Dobnak,Austin Schulfer, Kody Funderburk, Steven Cruz, Cody Laweryson

    Roster Needs
    1.) Shortstop - Obviously the big talker this week, as it has been the last month or more, is what will happen with Carlos Correa? While the Twins have made offers, Correa is going to have many offers. In my opinion, he’ll get 10 years from someone, and I would guess that he would get a number very close to the $325 million that Corey Seager got just a year ago. The Twins love Correa. Correa clearly enjoyed his time with the Twins and developed some very strong relationships in the Twins organization. It may simply come down to money, and the fact that teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, Padres, Phillies, Braves, and Cubs are other teams looking to sign a shortstop, it will be very hard for the Twins to compete with those teams. Could he be willing to get creative to stay with the Twins?  

    So what is the fallback plan? The Twins were aggressive in bringing in Kyle Farmer. If he’s the Twins opening day shortstop, the Twins will be fine, but that is the proverbial floor that they have set. They clearly want Correa. If they don’t get him, I think they’ll continue their conversations with Scott Boras in hopes of signing Xander Bogaerts. You could argue that dollar-for-dollar, that would be a better investment. Bogaerts is only a year younger than Correa, has had a remarkable career in Boston already, and will likely make $100 million less than Correa. The Twins front office clearly has a strong relationship with the Boras agency, so while odds may be low, it’s OK for Twins fans to have some hope in bringing one of them in. 

    2.) A top starting pitcher - Forced to fill innings and starts in 2022, the Twins gave opportunities to several young starting pitchers. Joe Ryan was the Opening Day starter, and when Bailey Ober was healthy, he pitched well. With the emergence of Varland, Henriquez, Winder, and Woods Richardson, the need to sign veteran fifth starter options to eat innings should not be there. That is especially true when looking at the eight-figure contracts signed last week by Mike Clevinger and Matthew Boyd

    Can the Twins count on their starters being healthy in 2023? While it would surely be nice to assume that Kenta Maeda will return from Tommy John and pitch like he did in 2020, that’s probably not fair. Tyler Mahle made just four starts before his shoulder issues continued, but if he’s healthy, he would likely be their top pitcher. Sonny Gray ended the season in the Injured List with a hamstring issue. Bailey Ober had two long stints on the IL with leg issues. If healthy, this rotation can be pretty solid. Maybe no number one starters, but potentially a couple of solid #2s and a couple more solid #3s. The youngsters can be the as-needed starters, working to improve their readiness in St. Paul. 

    If the Twins can add a true #1 starter, that would be huge. The problem is Jacob de Grom inexplicably got five guaranteed seasons from the Rangers. Justin Verlander will either pitch for Houston again or in New York. The only other ace available in free agency is lefty Carlos Rodon, an injury-risk in his own right. Is that the move? Risks are very high with free-agent pitchers. Between one-third and one-half of the 30 teams in the league will be after the southpaw. How strong a starter could the Twins hope for in free agency? Is the trade route a possibility for the Twins? 

    3.) Backup catcher - I know, the front office and others have said that they would like to add a catcher to split time with Ryan Jeffers or even be a starter. I’m admittedly a big believer in Jeffers. I don’t see a big problem at all. For me, I much prefer they find a solid left-handed hitting catcher to start maybe 60 games while Jeffers gets the other 100 starts. 

    Willson Contreras would be fun and provide strong offense, but I don’t think they need to spend four years and $80 million on a catcher. Christian Vasquez may get $10-12 million annually over a year or two.Both are right handed. Omar Narvaez makes a lot of sense. To a lesser degree, Tucker Barnhart might make sense. I would be fine with them. Honestly, I’d also be intrigued by the likes of Austin Hedges and Mike Zunino, or Roberto Perez or Kevin Plawecki. Really, once you get past Contreras, there aren’t really many catchers that can hit, so they should grab another strong defensive catcher that is well respected. As I mentioned, I’m a big believer in Jeffers, and that includes his bat. Yes, it would be good to see him hovering around .240 instead of .200, but he has the power to hit 20 or more homers if he gets 100 starts. How many catchers can do that? 

    Other Things to Consider

    • Where should the Twins payroll be? While there aren’t great or exact public records for MLB team’s books, if they are to be in the player preferred 48-52% of revenue, the Twins should probably be somewhere between $150 and $165 million in 2023. 
    • Will the Twins be able to trade veteran Max Kepler? Should they? 
    • Are there other veterans that could be traded? Maybe even Jorge Polanco
    • Will the team add some solid veteran relievers? Adding even just one more reliable arm for the late innings would help and provide depth for the unforeseen. Or, could they move some of their intriguing starting pitcher prospects to the bullpen to work in roles where they can pitch 2-4 innings at a time? 
    • The Twins tendered a 2023 contract to Emelio Pagan, but they will certainly try to trade him during the offseason. Can they get anything for him? 
    • Do the Twins need to add speed to their roster in the offseason to take advantage of some of the new rules coming in 2023? 
    • Will the Twins make a Rule 5 draft pick? Could they potentially lose players in the Rule 5 draft? They protected four players - and traded one of them - but there are players that the Twins could lose. 

    To this point, the Twins have added a solid MLB shortstop (and a potentially very nice utility piece) in Kyle Farmer. They have a lot of work to do and a lot of difficult questions to answer. Shortstop will certainly be the focus, but will any of the Big 4 free agent shortstops look to sign this early in the offseason? The Twins should also be looking at high-level starting pitching, and they would be wise to add at least one more reliable reliever. Finally, they need to add a reliable catcher to team with Ryan Jeffers. 

    Of course, the Winter Meetings are often more of a time for rumors and conversations to set things up for the next few weeks. The Twins did already make one move this offseason that we all hope will have a huge impact on the organization. In hiring head athletic trainer Nick Paparest, the hope is that the Twins will be able to avoid the massive amount of lost time due to injuries. If that can happen, it could play a huge role in the Twins success in 2023. 

    Some of this may be answered over the coming days in San Diego, and talks will continue right through spring training. It should be a lot of fun. 

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    Perhaps the most shocking statement you made, Seth, is that the Front Office has a strong relationship with the Boras agency.  Wasn’t that long ago that our front office cringed when hearing his name.  
     

    I am not a huge fan of Jeffers and am hopeful they sign a starter so Jeffers only plays 70 games a year.  Hopefully they will leave San Diego with a catcher, even if it is a vet like Leon on a minor league contract as injury insurance and to work with the young pitchers at St Paul.  Really want to also see them add a good catching prospect who is at least at AA.  Doubt he could be a Rule 5 guy, so may need to be a trade.

    To answer some of your questions, if they don’t sign Correa I don’t see their payroll anywhere near $150M.  I pray they don’t trade either Polo or Keps.  I do hope they sign a stud short reliever to shut down games from the 7th inning on.  Expect we will lose someone in Thursday’s draft.  Fortunately, the guys that would hurt were either added or traded in July.

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    Thanks Seth again for giving us an idea of what to expect. All our eyes are on FO to see what they'll do to solve our SS problem. Talk is there's a lot of activity in the Trea Turner & Bogaert camp & they supposingly be the 1st to go. 

    I disagee with you that SP is #2 priority, catching IMO is a big #2 priority. Sano has great potential but he couldn't utilize it, I see Jeffers in the same boat but to a lesser degree, I've never seen Jeffers as our primary catcher & I don't have much patience w/ him because Jeffers arm, Since we don't have anyone close to MLB, we have a very big long term problem that needs to be dealt with.

    In years '06, '07 & so we had SPs Johan Santana, Francisico Liriano, Brad Radke, Carlo Silva, Scott Baker, Boof Bonser, Matt Garza and they had Pat Nesek in long relief. Even with this wonderful rotation they were able to utilize a pitcher like Nesek in long relief, Nesek had a successful career as a long RP.

    We have a big gap between SP to closer, This gap can be effeciently fill with long relief and we have a few excellent candidates in house. Probably managent will chose to ignore long relief again and choose to depend exclusively on short relief again. That has resulted overstretching both SPs & short relief leading to ineffeciency & injuries, Anticipating this then yes need more  front line SPing & high leverage RPs. But it need not be so.

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    3 hours ago, RpR said:

    If the Twin lose Polanco and Kepler and rely on Jeffers, they are no where team, with 3rd place at best.

    Would really depend on what they got back for them. Kepler has yearly underperformed... Polanco has some good trade value with his manageable contract ... Moving both would open up spots for Gordon to play second as he has proved he can play.. Kepler very good on defense but... They CLEARLY will add a catcher so that is a mute point. 

     

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    1 hour ago, specialiststeve said:

    Would really depend on what they got back for them. Kepler has yearly underperformed... Polanco has some good trade value with his manageable contract ... Moving both would open up spots for Gordon to play second as he has proved he can play.. Kepler very good on defense but... They CLEARLY will add a catcher so that is a mute point. 

    Go from a -1  Rdrs/yr to a -9 Rdrs/yr not wise or needed.

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    C: Ryan Jeffers
    1B: Alex Kirilloff  
    2B: Jorge Polanco 
    3B: Jose Miranda 
    SS: Kyle Farmer   
    LF: Trevor Larnach 
    CF: Byron Buxton
    RF: Max Kepler 
    DH: Luis Arraez 
    Jeffers isn’t a MLB hitter. Kiriloff may never play again. Polanco is in decline both O and D. Miranda solid O, average D. Farmer will be fine.  Larnach has injury history and has never proven he belongs. Buxton is Buxton, but CF is average with Celestino backing up 2/3 of games. Kepler is a 5th OF defensive replacement type player. Arraez will be ok if he’s here. Five large question marks out of starting nine. Getting to .500 will be very difficult. I would say impossible with this lineup. 

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    Thanks for the note and the excellent recap.  I appreciated seeing all the pieces in one  place.  The winter meetings have disappointed more than they have met expectations.  Let's see what Boras and his waiting game does to the timing of FA signings.  

    Personally I am not interested in any of the top dollar guys.  Just build a strong overall team.  I have commented in many threads that one great player does not make a great team. 

    Houston built its team from within and most of us had never heard of their players before they appeared on the ASTROS.  We need to continue to build our own pitchers up to meet the challenge and hold on to promising prospects.  

    The real question is - will the FO be able to do something during this time that will give us some new articles on TD?

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    18 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

    In years '06, '07 & so we had SPs Johan Santana, Francisico Liriano, Brad Radke, Carlo Silva, Scott Baker, Boof Bonser, Matt Garza and they had Pat Nesek in long relief. Even with this wonderful rotation they were able to utilize a pitcher like Nesek in long relief, Nesek had a successful career as a long RP.

    We have a big gap between SP to closer, This gap can be effeciently fill with long relief and we have a few excellent candidates in house. Probably managent will chose to ignore long relief again and choose to depend exclusively on short relief again. That has resulted overstretching both SPs & short relief leading to ineffeciency & injuries, Anticipating this then yes need more  front line SPing & high leverage RPs. But it need not be so.

    Pat Neshek was not a long reliever. Did he have a few games early where he went more than 1 inning? Yes. But he was no long reliever. In '06 he had 37 innings in 32 games. In '07 he had 70.1 innings in 74 games. In '08 he had 13.1 innings in 15 games. In '10 he had 9 innings in 11 games. 3 of his 4 seasons here he averaged less than an inning per outing.

    He wasn't a long reliever after he left, either. In fact, he never averaged even 1 inning per outing in any year after his rookie year. He threw 488 innings in 544 appearances in his career. That's .9 innings per appearance.

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    16 hours ago, RpR said:

    Go from a -1  Rdrs/yr to a -9 Rdrs/yr not wise or needed.

    Defense is important, but your blind love for it feels a little extreme. The Phillies made the world series this year with the 25th best defense in baseball. The Diamondbacks were 74-88 with the 6th best defense. The Padres were one of the best teams in baseball, and had the 19th best defense. In 2021 the Yankees won 92 games with the 29th best defense. White Sox won 93 games with the 28th best defense. Phillies won 82 with the 30th ranked defense. Rangers went 60-102 with the best defense in baseball in 2021. Rockies were 74-87 with the 5th best defense. Marlins had 7th best defense and won 67 games.

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    13 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

    Defense is important, but your blind love for it feels a little extreme. The Phillies made the world series this year with the 25th best defense in baseball. The Diamondbacks were 74-88 with the 6th best defense. The Padres were one of the best teams in baseball, and had the 19th best defense. In 2021 the Yankees won 92 games with the 29th best defense. White Sox won 93 games with the 28th best defense. Phillies won 82 with the 30th ranked defense. Rangers went 60-102 with the best defense in baseball in 2021. Rockies were 74-87 with the 5th best defense. Marlins had 7th best defense and won 67 games.

    Twins have lost far, far too many games due to amateurish defense.

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    5 minutes ago, RpR said:

    Twins have lost far, far too many games due to amateurish defense.

    The Twins had the 12th best defense in baseball last year. 11th in 2021. Can they improve? 100%. But suggesting their defense has been the main contributor in them losing too many games the last 2 years simply isn't correct. Their defense should be their 3rd highest concern out of offense, pitching, and defense concerns moving into 2023.

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    3 hours ago, chpettit19 said:

    The Twins had the 12th best defense in baseball last year. 11th in 2021. Can they improve? 100%. But suggesting their defense has been the main contributor in them losing too many games the last 2 years simply isn't correct. Their defense should be their 3rd highest concern out of offense, pitching, and defense concerns moving into 2023.

    One run games are often due to poor defense; Twins have lost a LOT of one run games.

    Also, I remember well when some here were moaning about TOO MANY home runs, and no small ball, they should be happy now, the bomba squad is gone; other teams beat the Twins with small ball, defense put the brakes on small ball.

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    1 hour ago, chpettit19 said:

    You have any proof of this? I don't see any reason to believe this.

    It is either poor defense or poor pitching, you take your pick, but then the MINUS runs per game/year number on a fielder  point to defense , not pitching

    You do not believe them , fine; I do.

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    21 minutes ago, RpR said:

    It is either poor defense or poor pitching, you take your pick, but then the MINUS runs per game/year number on a fielder  point to defense , not pitching

    You do not believe them , fine; I do.

    Or it's poor offense. Each game is different. The Twins had the 12th and 11th best defenses the last 2 seasons. So, yes, they can absolutely improve. But your constant pointing to a player's defensive capabilities as the be all end all of where they belong in the organization is extreme. You wouldn't even have Wallner in AAA because of his defense. That's extreme. I gave you a whole list of really good defensive teams that lose and really bad defensive teams that win. You put too much emphasis on defense when baseball is more so about hitting and pitching. Yes, the Twins have some bad defenders, and could improve overall as a team. But simply pointing to a player's defensive stats and saying whether or not he should be on the Twins is extreme.

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    Then you think it was stupid to dump Rosario, his batting numbers were very good and they still dumped  him. 

    You have to if hitting is so important plus if hitting is that important then the rookies who have put up lousy numbers should go back to AAA till they prove then deserve to be up, not floating around the Mendoza line, or traded for veterans whoes already have shown what they can do .

    The latter is how they got a top line team in 2019,

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    4 minutes ago, RpR said:

    Then you it was stupid to dump Rosario, his batting numbers were very good and they still dumped  him. 

    You have to if hitting is so important plus if hitting is that important then the rookies who have put up lousy numbers should go back to AAA till they prove then deserve to be up, not floating around the Mendoza line, or traded for veterans whoes already have shown what they can do .

    The latter is how they got a top line team in 2019,

    Rosario wasn't a good hitter. Also, I'm not sure we'll ever agree on how to develop and manage people.....

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    13 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

    Rosario wasn't a good hitter. Also, I'm not sure we'll ever agree on how to develop and manage people.....

    Eddie Rosario with the Twins

    image.png.4114335a1ee550ae0de8dcb73c0df56d.png

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    3 hours ago, RpR said:

    One run games are often due to poor defense; Twins have lost a LOT of one run games.

    Also, I remember well when some here were moaning about TOO MANY home runs, and no small ball, they should be happy now, the bomba squad is gone; other teams beat the Twins with small ball, defense put the brakes on small ball.

    A lot of those 1 run games were because of pitching not defense.

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    38 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

    I'm not sure your point......he was meh in 2020.....and bad in 2021.....and bad in 2022. To be clear, I think O, D, and baserunning all matter.......all of them. 

    He was not good in cleveland, good in Atlanta, and God like in the playoffs in 2021. 2022 he had vision problems that required surgery.

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