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  • Winter Meetings Day 1: What Did We Learn?


    Seth Stohs

    There were only a handful of transactions on Monday as baseball's annual Winter Meetings began in San Diego. However, a couple of interesting moves and rumors may help signal the Twins direction. 

    Image courtesy of Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

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    The Winter Meetings are upon us. While lots of roster cleanup has happened since the World Series ended about a month ago, the offseason really begins with these meetings. To this point, a couple of the top free agent starting pitchers have signed huge deals while several veteran, fifth starter types have signed with new teams. One of the Big Four shortstops has signed. 

    Aaron Judge may or may not show up in San Diego on Tuesday after watching Tom Brady and the Buccaneers get a final-minute win in Tampa. Will he sign? Will he just meet with people? Could he possibly get 10 years and $400 million? Is that really possible? 

    Here are a few themes that I thought of on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings: 

    The Twins Aren't (and Shoudn't) Sign Carlos Rodon
    The Twins clearly want to add a starting pitcher, a veteran who is as good or better than Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle. Carlos Rodon fits that category and the Twins have certainly shown interest in the former White Sox southpaw. So why won't he sign with the Twins?

    Why? 

    Let me count the ways. First, Jacob deGrom inexplicably got a five-year deal with the Rangers for $185 million despite missing more than half of his starts the past two seasons. That said, if he's healthy, he is baseball's best pitcher. On Sunday, news broke that Justin Verlander was signing with the Mets for two years and $86 million.

    The Twins weren't going to be in on either of them. However, certainly in part due to those contracts and especially the length of deGrom's deal, Carlos Rodon is reported to be looking for six or more years and $30-35 million per season. He's right to ask for it, and he will likely get it. The fact that there are reportedly at least eight teams that have had conversations with Rodon's team (including the Twins), the number will jump up. 

    So are Jose Quintana and Andrew Heaney in play for the Twins? Maybe. It was reported on Monday night that Heaney has several three year deals on the table, so now he's looking for four years. You hate to see it, but maybe @Matt Braun was correct. Andrew Heaney may just be the best the Twins can do, and I personally don't think that's a bad thing. 

    We have written for months that the Twins should no longer be signing fifth starter types. And as we have seen this offseason, the money veteran fifth starters are getting is a bit silly. Mike Clevinger signed with the White Sox for $12 million guaranteed. Matthew Boyd somehow got $10 million to return to the Tigers. And over the weekend, former Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson got $10 million from the Orioles. 

    With all that in mind, I'll still say that the Twins would be wise to keep focusing on pitcher development. Instead of signing those guys (like Archer, Bundy, Happ, Shoemaker and many more before that), they should give guys like Louie Varland, Josh Winder, Simeon Woods Richardson, Cole Sands, Jordan Balazovic and others. 

    All-Rise...
    So, how are the Twins going to go about getting a high-quality, ace-like starting pitcher? Well, Twins fans won't want to hear it, but first thing on Monday morning, Dan Hayes posted an article indicating that Luis Arraez's name has been discussed in trade talks for pitching

    Arraez is coming off of a(nother) breakout season. He was an All Star, won his first batting title, won a Silver Slugger and received MVP votes. But again, if we are talking about acquiring a pitcher who would jump right into the top spot in the Twins rotation, they're going to have to give up a painful amount. 

    Also of note, this is approximately the third straight offseason where the Twins have been rumored to be willing to trade Arraez, and as you are fully aware, they are yet to do it. 

    Catching Up... 
    The Twins are reportedly looking for a catcher who can share time with Ryan Jeffers who is currently the lone catcher on the Twins 40-man roster. Two tidbits on that search from Day 1 of the Winter Meetings include: 

    Ken Rosenthal reported that the Twins are one of six teams who that are "in on" Christian Vasquez. The long-time Red Sox backstop was traded to the Astros at the trade deadline and teamed with Martin Maldonado

    There were rumors circulating that A's catcher Sean Murphy might be traded early in the Winter Meetings. It hasn't happened yet. Frankly, it sounds like there are so many teams in on Murphy that the cost probably doesn't make any sense for the Twins. 

    Correa Stuff
    The A-talker of the week for Twins fans is Carlos Correa. Will the Twins be able to bring him back? This is going to be interesting. 

    On Monday, the Phillies grabbed Trea Turner in a deal that will guarantee him $300 million over the next 11 seasons. Why is that noteworthy to Twins fans? Because most evaluators would put Turner and Correa very close to each other in terms of value so this is a good deal to kind of establish a market for Correa. 

    Correa is a year younger than Turner, so is it possible that he could get a 12 year deal, maybe even 13 years? And how much beyond $300 million will Scott Boras help Correa attain. In his press conference on Monday, manager Rocco Baldelli said that he believes that the Twins are well positioned to bring back Correa. He noted that he had a dinner with Correa (and also Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Rodon, all Boras clients) that was very nice. 

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    Darren Wolfson found out that the Twins are willing to offer 10-year deals and include multiple opt-outs. The Twins may have to get creative to make it work, but potentially adding the extra years also brings down the AAV (Average Annual Value). 

    There is a lot of competition. The Cubs are certainly interested, and they reportedly had a meeting with Correa on Monday. There were also indications that the Cubs might try to sign two of the Big Four (3 remaining) shortstops. After losing Turner, the Dodgers likely will want a shortstop. Would the Dodgers bring in Correa after their players and fans, made him the lead target of their post-2017 World Series angst? The Cardinals are rumored to be pursuing Dansby Swanson. If he signed elsewhere, would Atlanta really be willing to go with Vaughn Grissom at shortstop?  

    In reality, it seems to be that if the San Francisco Giants don't sign Aaron Judge, they'll throw all their eggs into the Correa basket. If Judge signs with the Yankees, I do believe that the Twins have at least a real opportunity to bring back Correa. 

    To be honest, this is all on Correa's timeline. He's the lead player available at shortstop and he can play the proverbial field, maybe even encouraged to do so by Boras. Do the Twins need to establish a deadline for Correa before moving on to Bogaerts or another option? Probably not since Boras Agency represents both. 

    And the Twins met with Carlos Correa according to a 2 am Jon Heyman tweet. 

     

    Draft Lottery
    For the first time in baseball history, MLB will have a Draft Lottery and tonight at 7:30 on MLB Network, we will find out if the Twins will be able to move up in the draft. The NBA has done this for a long time. 

    The 18 teams that did not get into the playoffs will all have a chance to move up to the #1 spot in the draft. However, the worse the team's record, the less likely they get the top pick. In an attempt to have teams not intentionally tank for the worst record, the bottom three teams will each have a 16.5% chance of getting the top pick. The Twins odds of jumping to the #1 spot is just 0.9% Yes, I'm saying there is a chance!  The lottery will determine the top six picks of the 2023 draft. Can the Twins jump into the Top 6, or will they stay at the #13 pick? 

    Keep up with Twins-related rumors at our Twins Rumors page here. 

     

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    Considering how much "proven" relievers are getting, I'd be looking for failed (or old, injured, etc) starters to add in bulk.

    Mike Minor, Wade Miley, Rich Hill, Ryan Yarbrough, Aaron Sanchez, etc. Any of them could be the next Jorge Lopez.

    Here's another example: Chad Kuhl. He has been a 5th starter for several seasons and isn't getting any younger. His fastball is well below average in the rotation but could play up in the bullpen if he adds a couple MPH. His slider is decent and he gets a lot of spin on his curveball (though his curve does get hit hard when it is poorly located). Get him to stop throwing his awful sinker (which he threw 44% of the time) and his changeup (which gets hit like crazy) and focus on what he does best.

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    The General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays was interviewed on MLB Radio this morning.  He "suggested" two interesting things.  1)  They are open to trading one of their three young catchers and 2) their biggest needs are one or two left-handed hitting outfielders and better defense in the outfield.  How about opening the negotiations with a straight up Kepler for Danny Jenson trade?  Left handed and great defense.  Not enough for Jensen?  Add Celestino.  A second left hand hitting with above average defense.  Still not enough?  Try Larnach instead of Celestino.  More offense but less defense.  Do something to solve the catching problem.

     

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    IMO Boras is having MN set the floor, then he'll go & touch base with the other big competitive teams, Asking them can you beat this offer? if they can give a signicant amount more then they'll take the highest offer if not they'll circle back to the Twins. I don't believe LAD is not in the running because many fans hate him & the don't want to give him the years.

    Do you think that Turner has set the bar for SS?

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    59 minutes ago, terrydactyls said:

    The General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays was interviewed on MLB Radio this morning.  He "suggested" two interesting things.  1)  They are open to trading one of their three young catchers and 2) their biggest needs are one or two left-handed hitting outfielders and better defense in the outfield.  How about opening the negotiations with a straight up Kepler for Danny Jenson trade?  Left handed and great defense.  Not enough for Jensen?  Add Celestino.  A second left hand hitting with above average defense.  Still not enough?  Try Larnach instead of Celestino.  More offense but less defense.  Do something to solve the catching problem.

     

    Kepler and Celestino yes, Larnach no. I'm not ready to trade Larnach yet.

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    It might be me, but it seems the Twins leadership is often underestimating the #1 SP AAVs.  They say they want to be players for an ACE then they get sticker shock and need to pivot.  Maybe they should put more time into other methods to develop or acquire a future #1 and less time falling into this free agent pothole they keep hitting.  Maybe I'm just getting frustrated.

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    53 minutes ago, rv78 said:

    Kepler and Celestino yes, Larnach no. I'm not ready to trade Larnach yet.

    Looks like Larnach had a cannon and could be a really solid defensive LF. He might also end up a bit of an offensive liability too. It would be great to have two solid defending corner outfielders (especially if Buxton ever ends up actually playing CF), but it would be a shame if both (or all three) outfielders are unable to hit a combined .225. 

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    58 minutes ago, Doctor Gast said:

    IMO Boras is having MN set the floor, then he'll go & touch base with the other big competitive teams,

    That's to start the negotiations. Usually I'm skeptical but I'm inclined to think, from Rocco's comments, that the Twins might actually get the last say, to beat whatever the top offer is, with some kind of creative tweak that splits the difference or whatever at the last minute. I don't know whether FalVine will have to say, "sorry, too rich for our blood," but I do believe the Twins at least have a seat at the table and that the player would like to return.

    I can't believe Turner's deal won't be exceeded in some dimension by Correa's.

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    18 minutes ago, ashbury said:

    That's to start the negotiations. Usually I'm skeptical but I'm inclined to think, from Rocco's comments, that the Twins might actually get the last say, to beat whatever the top offer is, with some kind of creative tweak that splits the difference or whatever at the last minute. I don't know whether FalVine will have to say, "sorry, too rich for our blood," but I do believe the Twins at least have a seat at the table and that the player would like to return.

    I can't believe Turner's deal won't be exceeded in some dimension by Correa's.

    It's comforting at least to know that MN has the last say.

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    We learned that the brief salary escalation pause (COVID, uncertainty over the CBA) is over and without deeper pockets the Twins won't be be able to afford much at the free agent store. But wasn't Plan A always for Falvey and Levine to make the Twins a lot better at talent acquisition and development? (Not saying it is happening, just that I thought it was supposed to be the plan.)

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    I don't think the Twins have a chance in Haties of signing Correa. I think he will sign with an almost guaranteed winning organization and the Twins brass are trying to not have the fan base turn sour on them. I hate being negative but this is the reality I see playing out.

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    40 minutes ago, ziggy said:

    I don't think the Twins have a chance in Haties of signing Correa. I think he will sign with an almost guaranteed winning organization and the Twins brass are trying to not have the fan base turn sour on them. I hate being negative but this is the reality I see playing out.

    I agree. But if Falvine thinks "we tried and tried!" is going to mean jack squat to the fan base, they're more naive than I thought. The Twins are in serious trouble with the fan base both at the gate and in TV/streaming viewership. I'm not sure they realize it or maybe they don't care.

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    12 minutes ago, howeda7 said:

    I agree. But if Falvine thinks "we tried and tried!" is going to mean jack squat to the fan base, they're more naive than I thought. The Twins are in serious trouble with the fan base both at the gate and in TV/streaming viewership. I'm not sure they realize it or maybe they don't care.

    Exactly. I only watch the twins when it's a national game or when they play the White sox because thats the regional sports channel I get. They would have to make some major moves for me to shell out money to watch Bally to see the games.

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    They love and would do anything to keep him.

    Buuuuuut….at the end of the day, it has to make sense.

    Theres it is.  By that he means he has to fall into their lap for peanuts.

    This off-season will end the way it always does.  Some “leaks” to Wolfson or Beat Writer Du Jour that, “honestly serious, guys, we were in second place for Player X by $50….we’re are willing to spend so much money.  The dice just came up snakeyes again….”

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    Now, it might be standard practice to sit down with 3 of the top FA on the market and the #1 agent in the business for a cordial supper, but I find this to be encouraging that the Twins are very sincere about their efforts.

    Do I think the Twins initial multiple offers gets the deal done? No way. But it wasn't some lowball offer either. Do I think the OP Nick presented WOULD get the deal done? IMO, yes. 10yrs and $330M with a pair of player opt outs? I just don't see how Correa and Boras could turn that down. Soo much guaranteed $ and still giving the player control over his future. The only way that deal isn't perfect for Correa is if someone goes nuts and offers $350-$360. At that point, I'd be out too. There's just a point where it doesn't make sense.

     

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    I know there was an OP recently about offering up Arraez. But Seth brought it up again, so I just couldn't help but comment.

    Arraez is a bit of a unicorn in today's game. Defensively he's nothing but average at 2B and 3B. Still, you can win with that. And it's good he can cover those spots. I was generally impressed with his play at 1B and think he has a future there. Who ever decided that a 1B, or a DH for that matter, HAS to be a prolific power hitter? I've seen a lot of 1B over the years who were good with the glove, hit, made contact, got OB, and were more doubles hitters, and clutch hitters, but not power plants. The game has changed.

    Offensively, he does those things very, very well. And at 25yo, adding some muscle and just maturing as a hitter, we're starting to see him turn on the ball a little more. I think more and more with the changes in the game in regard to 3 outcomes, there is room for someone who can HIT, have a high OB and the ability to advance runners and innings, and be CLUTCH. And unlike "yesteryear", where there were defense first/only positions and traditional producers at others, ML baseball hasn't been that way for 30yrs now. Today, and for some time, offense comes from all over the field/lineup. But there remains room, especially now, for a "hitter".

    On the surface, it's massively hyperbolic to compare a 25yo Arraez, as a hitter, to the likes of Carew, Gwynn, and Boggs. But when you look at AVG, OB, clutch hitting, etc, he's really a young and comparable version to those greats at this point in his career. Guy could fall out of bed and hit .300 with a .380 OB%. He keeps working and training like he did last offseason and keep his knees/body healthy, he's a potential .340/400+ hitter. Add in 45-50 XBH and he's a difference maker to almost any lineup, regardless of where he plays. 

    The Twins have him/that. I believe he has significant value, if moved, but the price of acquiring a top SP wouldn't be him alone. Just not enough positional value to get it done. But he MIGHT be a central point of such a deal. But how much more do you have to add? And then you have to detract his presence in the Twins lineup, at least in the short term. Lewis just needs to get 100%. Lee might be ready in a year...maybe sooner. Julien might be a slightly different sequel to Arrzez, though debatable if he's ready just yet.

    I see the value in a trade of Arraez. I would think other teams see just how good he is and what he offers their team/lineup. But I know what he brings to the Twins and I would only move him as part of a deal if it brought a difference maker with 2-3yrs of team control.

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    6 hours ago, ashbury said:

    We don't and won't know, but we can find it comforting to think that. ?

    Boras will have the last say as he always does (part of the understanding if he becomes a player's agent)... players take on Boras as an agent to get the most money possible (Boras is not interested otherwise). The only reason the Twins were in last year is because Boras was not willing to sign a multi-year contract because he had to share his fee with Correa's previous representation. There is no such limitation this time around

    Correa is going to go where his is offered the most Guaranteed money... it's that simple. It will likely not be offered by the Twins. I don't intend to piss in people's cereal but that is how Boras works and way Correa hired him. 

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    4 hours ago, ziggy said:

    I don't think the Twins have a chance in Haties of signing Correa. I think he will sign with an almost guaranteed winning organization and the Twins brass are trying to not have the fan base turn sour on them. I hate being negative but this is the reality I see playing out.

     

    3 hours ago, howeda7 said:

    I agree. But if Falvine thinks "we tried and tried!" is going to mean jack squat to the fan base, they're more naive than I thought. The Twins are in serious trouble with the fan base both at the gate and in TV/streaming viewership. I'm not sure they realize it or maybe they don't care.

     

    3 hours ago, adorduan said:

    Exactly. I only watch the twins when it's a national game or when they play the White sox because thats the regional sports channel I get. They would have to make some major moves for me to shell out money to watch Bally to see the games.

     

    3 hours ago, Beast said:

    They love and would do anything to keep him.

    Buuuuuut….at the end of the day, it has to make sense.

    Theres it is.  By that he means he has to fall into their lap for peanuts.

    This off-season will end the way it always does.  Some “leaks” to Wolfson or Beat Writer Du Jour that, “honestly serious, guys, we were in second place for Player X by $50….we’re are willing to spend so much money.  The dice just came up snakeyes again….”

    On a Thanksgiving many many years ago. We were all sitting down stairs when we heard a horrible scream from Mom upstairs in the kitchen. It was the type of scream were everybody gets up immediately and runs up stairs because there was no doubt that something seriously bad happened. In our haste to quickly get up the stairs at the same time as a group, my younger sister knocked my older sister down the stairs. 

    One by one we (except my older sister lying at the bottom of the stairs) filed into the kitchen and saw Mom on the floor in tears.  

    One of my sisters brought her dog (just a young pup at the time) and it had eaten significant portions of 3 of the 4 pies that Mom baked and scarfed some of the freshly baked buns with no telling how many were licked in the process. There was no need for a trial, the dog was still chewing on a bun with pie all over her fur as Mom sat on the floor convinced that all of her hard work preparations as well as Thanksgiving itself were ruined. 

    My sister brought the dog every Thanksgiving after and every Thanksgiving Mom worried about the food and that dog. The dog had matured and was no longer doing such things. It didn't even beg at the table. It didn't matter... once impressions are formed... they are hard to shake. A narrative gets built and it echoes every single year without fail. The dog was in the doghouse with Mom and nothing would change that. 

    It didn't matter that the Dog had signed Correa to 3 year 105.3 million dollar deal last Thanksgiving. Here comes the narrative again. 

    Moral to the Story: The untouched pie was Raisin. Need I say more.  

     

     

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    What I see is that teams need to be proactive if their finances are limited. This is certainly difficult but looking back is pointless in frustrating ways. What was Sano worth after 2019? So what is the market for Ryan, Arraez, or Miranda in 2022? I'm not suggesting that the Twins should necessarily trade any or all of these guys but the Twins need to think about what they want their team to look like going forward and be active. I do think that Falvey and Sons do look forward and think about the team but their actions are also somewhat hesitant and less than bold. The strategy of waiting has not been so kind to the team except in the case of landing Correa, which I believe to be an anomaly. I'm hoping for a signing, maybe two and a couple of good trades. 

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    1 hour ago, D.C Twins said:

    It's interesting that the path may be different each off season, but we always seem to end up digging around in the SP bargain bin eventually.... sigh.... 

    Three or four good to great pitchers have signed. There were three great ones available. What, realistically, do you expect? Did you expect the Mets not to sign one? 

    They acquired a number two in a trade last year......

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    2 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

    Three or four good to great pitchers have signed. There were three great ones available. What, realistically, do you expect? Did you expect the Mets not to sign one? 

    They acquired a number two in a trade last year......

    I never expected them to go after or sign top FA pitching. And after seeing what DeGrom got? Yeah, nope, not happening. I'm still hoping for Correa, though ... 

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