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  1. Like
    Thebigalguy reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Should the Twins Gamble on Carlos Rodón or Noah Syndergaard?   
    Injuries are certainly part of baseball’s landscape, and pitchers seem more prone to injuries. That being said, teams can find players looking to rebuild value because of their previous injury history. In recent Twins history, Michael Pineda comes to mind as a player the team signed, knowing he would miss an entire season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. Flash forward a couple of seasons, and some key free-agent pitchers are looking to return from injury. 

    Noah Syndergaard has spent his entire career in the Mets organization, and he has been on the injured list multiple times throughout his career. Back in 2017, he missed time with a torn lateral muscle. In 2018, he had a torn ligament in his finger, and he contracted hand, foot, and mouth disease. In May 2020, Syndergaard underwent Tommy John surgery, and he had setbacks along the way. He was finally able to make two appearances as a reliever at the end of the 2021 campaign. 
    For his career, Syndergaard has posted a 3.32 ERA with 1.16 WHIP and a 119 ERA+. He gets some of the highest velocity of any starting pitcher since the implementation of StatCast. In each of his first three seasons, he averaged over 10 strikeouts per nine innings, and he has struck out more than 150 batters in four different seasons. When healthy, he is among baseball’s best pitchers. 

    Carlos Rodón is in a slightly different position than Syndergaard. He was non-tendered last winter by the White Sox after dealing with various injuries throughout his career. Some of those injuries included shoulder surgery in 2017 and Tommy John surgery in 2019. Chicago re-signed him last winter, and he earned his first All-Star selection after a tremendous start to the year. However, shoulder soreness knocked him out of the rotation near the season’s end. 

    The 2021 season marked only the third time Rodón has pitched more than 125 innings in a season, and it was his fourth season where he made more than 20 starts. For his career, he has posted a 3.79 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP and a 110 ERA+. His 5.1 WAR from 2021 nearly doubled his career WAR entering last season. Injuries have impacted his entire career, but he has provided value when healthy.
    Besides their current health, there are other unknowns with both of these players entering the offseason. MLB and the Player’s Union are working on a new collective bargaining agreement. Under the old CBA, teams can make a qualifying offer to players for a one-year contract worth north of $18 million. Players like Syndergaard or Rodón may be willing to accept a deal like that in hopes that they can receive an even bigger free-agent contract following the 2022 season. 

    If Syndergaard wants to sign a multi-year deal this winter, he will likely be getting more than $100 million. In the 2022 Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, he is projected to make $20 million per season. Rodon is projected to earn slightly less per year at $18 million. Syndergaard seems like the safer bet when comparing the two players, but he may also want to sign a one-year deal so he can hit the open market next winter in search of a $200 million contract. 

    Which player do you think the Twins are more likely to target, or do you think the Twins should shy away from the risk? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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  2. Like
    Thebigalguy reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, 6 Questions that Will Determine the Twins' Offseason Course   
    In the Offseason Handbook (reaching your inbox in ONE WEEK if you preorder now!), we cover a wide array of options to address various needs via free agency and trade. However, before perusing these options, it's necessary to take a step back and figure out what the objectives are.
    Here are six questions the team must ask itself. The answers will bring focus to a presently hazy offseason agenda.
    #1: Are we grooming Royce Lewis to take over at shortstop, or do we need a long-term solution?
    With Andrelton Simmons' one-year deal expiring, the Twins are back to square one at shortstop. They seem disinclined to move Jorge Polanco back there, and Nick Gordon isn't a legit full-time option, so they'll be shopping this winter. The question is: to what degree?
    If they still believe in Lewis and his viability at the position, they'll likely aim at the lower end of free agency, seeking a short-term stopgap. In the Handbook, we divide the Free Agent SS class into two tiers, with the second featuring players who'd fit this purpose. But be warned: with the exception of Dodgers utilityman Chris Taylor, the second-tier names are not very appealing targets. 
    If the Twins don't feel Lewis is the ultimate solution at short – either because his defense there isn't up to par or because his long layoff produces too much overall uncertainty – then they could try to get in on the high-end free agent action, with five different All-Star caliber shortstops hitting the market. It's rare that you see ever see this kind of talent up for grabs, which is why the Twins are under some pressure to make a call on Lewis. If he's not the guy, they might not get another chance like this to procure their next fixture on the open market.
    #2: Are we attempting to build a credible contending rotation, or are we intent on developing the pitching pipeline?
    There are plenty of intriguing names in the free agent starter class (we profile more than 50 in the Handbook), and the Twins will surely sign at least a couple. But again, the external approach here will be contingent on an internal decision, which directly links back to the overarching question cited at the outset.
    If the Twins are serious about investing and contending, they could be in play for someone like Justin Verlander or Noah Syndergaard, who offer proven ace potential and relative affordability coming off lost seasons. But they also carry a ton of risk. Only if guided by an adamant intention to contend would the Twins make a splash like that.
    Should they commit to a transitional year, it's very possible someone like Michael Pineda could be Minnesota's biggest rotation signing – more of a steady innings eater than a high-upside replacement for José Berríos and Kenta Maeda. In this scenario, the strategy would be more oriented toward building from within around Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. The Twins do happen to have a ton of near-ready prospects to sort out, although health is a question mark with nearly all of them.
    Speaking of health question marks:
    #3: Do we trust Taylor Rogers to bounce back from his finger injury?
    In the Arbitration Decisions section of the Handbook, we break down a dozen different cases for arbitration-eligible players this year. No decision is tougher than Rogers, who's coming off an All-Star season that ended with a scary middle finger injury. 
    He's projected to make around $7 million in his final year before free agency – a rather exorbitant price for a reliever, even without the looming uncertainty. If they're going to tender him, the Twins better have every confidence he can return to form next year, because that expense would deplete a sizable chunk of their resources.
    For a similar salary, you could likely land a more reliable closer from the free agent pool, such as Raisel Iglesias or Mark Melancon. And if Rogers is moving on, you almost need to go get a guy like that, because without him, the back end of this bullpen becomes a glaring weakness.
    #4: How much confidence do we have in controllable relievers who performed well last year?
    Lowering our gaze from the closer role, decisions around what's keepable from the 2021 mix will dictate the broader bullpen strategy. If the Twins have faith in a series of second-half performances that helped propel the Twins relief corps to a surprising 2.0 fWAR (11th in MLB) and 5.82 WPA (3rd in MLB) after the break, turnover in this unit could be fairly light.
    Alex Colomé is a critical crux point in this scenario. He posted a 3.51 ERA and 3.86 FIP after his nightmarish April, including 3.51/3.71 after the All-Star break. Not exactly a no-brainer to bring back on his $5.5 million option for 2022, even if you disregard the first month, but it's really a $4.25 million decision when you account for his buyout.
    If the Twins decide to move on from Rogers, they could theoretically just activate Colomé's option and plug him into the closer spot, although that's surely not a move that would generate much enthusiasm with fans.
    Then you've got Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar and Jorge Alcalá. All three seem likely to return (Duffey and Thielbar are arbitration-eligible, Alcalá is still pre-arb so he'll cost around the minimum). But how will they be slotted into the hierarchy? 
    Duffey was rather unreliable for much of the season but turned a corner after the trade deadline, posting a 2.05 ERA, 2.17 FIP and 28-to-6 K/BB ratio in 22 innings between August and September. The same pattern played out to a greater extreme with Alcalá, who entered August with a 5.27 ERA before putting up a 0.96 ERA, 1.78 FIP and 24-to-3 K/BB ratio in 18 ⅔ IP the rest of the way.  
    Finally, there's Juan Minaya and Danny Coulombe. Both were minor-league signings who took opportunities and ran with them this year. Minaya posted a 2.48 ERA and 9.7 K/9 in 40 innings. Coulombe turned in a 3.67 ERA and 4.7 K/BB ratio in 34 ⅓. Each has a history of big-league success, so they're not total flashes in the pan. Each will also arbitration-eligible for the first time; it'll cost about $2 total million to bring both back.
    Theoretically, if the Twins decide to bring back all of the above players (Rogers, Colomé, Duffey, Thielbar, Minaya, Coulombe) they'd have six of eight bullpen spots filled, greatly reducing the work to be done this offseason. However, it's pretty easy to envision only three or four being retained, which would lead to a heightened reliance on the utter crapshoot known as relief free agency.
    #5: How will the designated hitter position be utilized going forward?
    For most of the past three years, the Twins have had a full-time DH in Nelson Cruz. He'll be available this winter (likely at a reduced cost following his post-trade drop-off in Tampa), as will a few other primary DH types like Kyle Schwarber. Internally, someone like Miguel Sanó or Brent Rooker might make sense.
    Of course, the Twins can also steer away from a regular designated hitter and leverage the position rotationally. This would open up a world of different possibilities, such as using Mitch Garver or Josh Donaldson as part-time DH, thus reducing their likelihood of getting injured while opening up more playing time for young players behind them (i.e., Jose Miranda and Ryan Jeffers). Using Luis Arraez there semi-regularly would be another option, protecting his balky knees and limiting his defensive exposure.
    #6: What to do with Byron Buxton?
    This is the biggest question of the coming offseason, no doubt. The Twins have three paths forward with regards to Buxton: trade him, extend him, or retain him with one year of service remaining. The last of those three seems least likely and the first seems most likely, based on the indicators we've received. But it's all on the table.
    Within the trade scenario, there is another decision that correlates directly with the "retool or rebuild" ultimatum: Are we looking to get back MLB-ready talent (maybe even a replacement center fielder) or seeking to increase the upside with younger, rawer prospects?
    Cody Christie has a feature story in the Handbook that breaks down the Buxton decision in depth. Suffice to say that it's a pivotal moment for the franchise and its future.
    Let's hear from y'all. Which way do you lean on these six questions, and which important ones did I miss? Share your thoughts in the comments. 
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  3. Like
    Thebigalguy reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Buyer Beware: Flaws with the Top-5 Free Agent Shortstops   
    Minnesota has the opportunity to make a big splash this winter by jumping in on (arguably) the best free-agent shortstop class in baseball history. It will cost the team a lot of money to be in the mix for the top-tier players. To put that in perspective, Francisco Lindor was supposed to be part of this free agent group, but he signed a 10-year, $341 million deal with the Mets. Each of these players comes with some red flags that interested clubs will need to consider. 

    Carlos Correa (2022 Age: 27)
    2021 Stats: 7.2 WAR, .279/.366/.485 (.850), 26 HR, 34 2B, 131 OPS+
    As a 27-year old, Correa is reaching free agency at the prime of his career, and he is the top free agent in this winter’s crop of available players. It’s likely going to take $30 million per season for six years or more to sign Correa. Injuries have been part of his professional career, but he has played 99 games or more in five of his seven big-league seasons. There’s also a good chance he will need to move off shortstop as he continues to age.
    Flaws: Injury history
    Corey Seager (2022 Age: 28)
    2021 Stats: 3.7 WAR, .306/.394/.521 (.915), 16 HR, 22 2B, 145 OPS+
    Like Correa, injuries have been part of Seager’s story, including missing a good chunk of 2021 with a hand fracture. He’s played over 130 games in three of his six full big-league seasons. His 2020 playoff run was outstanding as he won the World Series and NLCS MVP. Teams that miss out on Correa will likely turn to Seager, but he is a year older and has missed more time in his big-league career. 
    Flaws: Injury history

    Marcus Semien (2022 Age: 31)
    2021 Stats: 7.1 WAR, .265/.334/.538 (.873), 45 HR, 39 2B, 133 OPS+
    Minnesota was interested in signing Semien last winter, but he decided to go to Toronto. His season north of the border was memorable as he will likely finish in the top-5 for the AL MVP. He is the oldest shortstop among the top-tier free agents, and he played all of last year at second base. Last winter, he signed a one-year deal for $18 million, and he will be getting a pay raise in the months ahead. 
    Flaws: Age

    Javier Baez (2022 Age: 29)
    2021 Stats: 4.5 WAR, .265/.319/.494 (.813), 31 HR, 18 2B, 117 OPS+
    Baez is certainly an exciting player, but he swings and misses a lot. He led the National League with 184 strikeouts, and he has struck out 144 or more times in each of the last four full seasons. As far as contracts go, he is projected to get a lower average value than the names above because his personality can rub people the wrong way. Can Josh Donaldson and Baez coexist in the same clubhouse? That might not be an experiment a team wants to explore.  
    Flaws: Strikeouts, Volatility 

    Trevor Story (2022 Age: 29)
    2021 Stats: 4.2 WAR, .251/.329/.471 (.801), 24 HR, 34 2B, 103 OPS+
    Story has been a 20-20 player throughout his professional career. He is also hitting free agency at a tough time as he is coming off a poor campaign by his standards. There are also concerns about how he will fare outside of Coors Field. At home, he hit .303/.369/.603 (.972) while on the road, he was limited to a .752 OPS.  
    Flaws: Home/Road Splits

    To read more about these shortstops and other off-season options, make sure to pre-order your copy of the 2022 Offseason Handbook. Designed to serve as an essential companion for the Twins offseason ahead, this digital Handbook places you in the shoes of the general manager, equipping you with all the information you need to construct your own team-building blueprint (or predict what the real front office will do).

    Which flaws worry you the most? Will the Twins make offers to any of these players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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