Heiny reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Twins 40-Man Roster Crunch? Perhaps Not
The Twins will be faced with several decisions during the offseason concerning the makeup of their roster, beginning with who's placed on and removed from the 40-man. While it may seem as though the team will be confronted with many impossible decisions, the fact of the matter is that the Twins are well-positioned to add critical prospects to the 40-man without losing much in the way of established talent and productivity.
Below is a discussion of the Twins 40-man roster, primarily regarding their top prospects. Twins Daily's most recent Top 30 prospect list was used for reference.
Already on the 40-man
Jordan Balazovic, RHP Jhoan Duran, RHP Drew Strotman, RHP Gilberto Celestino, OF Edwar Colina, RHP Brent Rooker, OF/DH Nick Gordon, UTIL Of the players listed above, only Rooker's future with the team appears to be dubious. Perhaps Gordon's as well. If the Twins were to try to drop them from the 40-man — something that I don't consider to be particularly likely — they both would be claimed. While Rooker and Gordon may not remain as Twins for the long haul, Minnesota likely won't just give them away for free. The remainder of the athletes above will probably fill critical roles with the Twins, if not next summer, then in the summers to follow.
Not eligible for Rule 5 Draft or Minor League Free Agency
Matt Canterino, RHP Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Austin Martin, OF/SS Aaron Sabato, 1B/DH Keoni Cavaco, INF Misael Urbina, OF Matt Wallner, OF/DH Alerick Soulaire, UTIL Will Holland, INF Marco Raya, RHP Spencer Steer, INF Steve Hajjar, LHP Louie Varland, RHP Noah Miller, INF Chase Petty, RHP All of these guys are going to be sticking around for at least one more season, if not longer. To be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, a player must have spent at least five seasons with the same team if they were signed or drafted during or after high school or at least four seasons if drafted out of college. To be eligible for minor league free agency, an athlete must have spent at least six full seasons with the same team. None of the players above meet the criteria, so they aren't going anywhere unless traded.
Additionally, save for perhaps Austin Martin and Matt Canterino, it's unlikely that any of the above athletes will be promoted to the majors at any point next season. The majority are still fairly young or lack professional experience, meaning some more seasoning in the minor leagues is more than warranted.
Jose Miranda, INF Joe Ryan, RHP Josh Winder, RHP Cole Sands, RHP Royce Lewis, SS/OF Jovani Moran, LHP There's no chance that the Twins will risk losing any of these guys. Miranda has been the most impressive minor league player in the system — if not all of MiLB — and will likely slot in somewhere in the infield next season. Joe Ryan and Josh Winder will probably be among those competing for a starting rotation spot next spring. Cole Sands has dominated the minors when healthy. Royce Lewis is a potential franchise cornerstone. Jovani Moran is already an MLB-caliber reliever. While all five athletes may not make the Opening Day roster, they will all accumulate service time beginning next summer, if not sooner.
Blayne Enlow, RHP Chris Vallimont, RHP Yennier Cano, RHP Ian Hamilton, RHP Yunior Severino, INF Jermaine Palacios, INF Here's where the Twins need to make some decisions.
Enlow was a third-round pick in 2017 out of high school and has been phenomenal during his minor league career. However, he will miss a good chunk of next season — if not the entire season — after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this summer. While that may seem to disqualify him from Rule 5 consideration, a team could select Enlow and easily keep him on the 60-day IL for the entire season. Doing so would save his 40-man roster spot for another athlete and effectively eliminate the chance for Enlow to be returned to the Twins. Because of this, I would not be surprised if the Twins placed him on the 40-man rather than risk losing him for nothing.
As I have discussed frequently, Vallimont is an enigma. He has fantastic raw stuff and strikeout numbers, but he lacks command and gives up too many free passes and runs. While he may eventually become an MLB pitcher, he isn't particularly close to being one at the moment. For this reason, I think it would be unlikely that a team would select him in the Rule 5 Draft, and, as such, I could see the Twins keeping him off their 40-man.
Cano is an electric bullpen arm that dominated the lower minor leagues but has struggled a little bit since being promoted to Triple-A. That said, he has the raw stuff to carve out a major league career. He's already 27-years-old, but has only spent two seasons in the minors after signing as a free agent in 2019. So while he isn't eligible for the Rule 5 Draft or minor league free agency, one figures that if he's going to make it to the big leagues, he'll likely have to do it soon. I'd be surprised if we don't see him in Minneapolis at some point next season. Odds are that he won't be added to the 40-man until next season if he isn't by the end of this one.
Both Severino and Palacios were former highly-touted prospects who failed to live up to expectations, though both have been performing exceptionally well as of late. As was the case with Vallimont, neither are ready to face MLB pitchers consistently. However, both still have a fair amount of potential, especially if their recent output remains. Palacios would be eligible for free agency if he is not rostered, while Severino would be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. If I'm the Twins, I place Severino on the 40-man and hope I can re-sign Palacios.
Hamilton's situation is akin to that of Palacios. He's a former highly-regarded prospect who will be eligible for free agency if not added to the 40-man. He's shown promise this season at the Triple-A level, hitting 100 mph with his fastball on multiple occasions. Frankly, it's a little surprising that the Twins haven't given him a shot to this point, and, who knows, maybe they'll do so before the summer is over. Regardless, Hamilton has shown that he still has MLB talent and simply letting him walk could prove to be a poor decision.
Rather Unlikely Notable Prospects
Wander Javier, SS Trey Cabbage, OF/DH Both Javier and Cabbage will be eligible for minor league free agency following the season, though I doubt that the Twins will use that fact as motivation to put them on the 40-man. Javier has been too inconsistent at the plate to justify a roster spot, while Cabbage is a power-hitting corner outfielder/1B/DH-type. Cabbage is in the midst of a career year and does have some value; however, the Twins are loaded with young, power-hitting outfield talent. He could probably fetch something like a potential bullpen arm in a trade, but the odds of a team trading for him when they could try to sign him away from the Twins are low.
Impending Free Agents
Michael Pineda, RHP Alexander Colome, RHP Andrelton Simmons, SS The Twins may try to re-sign Pineda and Colome this coming winter, but Simmons seems highly unlikely to return, especially with Lewis's arrival right around the corner. I'd put the over/under on open 40-man roster spots from this group at 1.5.
40-Man Spots That May Be Up For Grabs
Charlie Barnes, LHP Devin Smeltzer, LHP Beau Burrows, RHP Danny Coulombe, LHP Luke Farrell, RHP Edgar Garcia, RHP Ralph Garza Jr., RHP Juan Minaya, RHP Cody Stashak, RHP Lewis Thorpe, LHP Nick Vincent, RHP Derek Law, RHP Willians Astudillo, UTIL Jake Cave, OF Kyle Garlick, OF Rob Refsnyder, OF The Twins have a bevy of bullpen arms, bench players, and trade candidates that could be on the move this offseason. As such, the team has at least 16 40-man spots — and that may be an underestimate — to play with. Add in the impending free agents, and that number jumps to 19. Subtract the locks, and that number falls to 14. So while it may seem as though the Twins are on the cusp of a roster crunch at first blush, the reality is that the team has plenty of room to play with this coming winter. If the team loses anyone to the Rule 5 Draft or minor league free agency, it's because the team determined that they were of little value to them moving forward.
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Heiny reacted to Matthew Lenz for an article, Twins Options at Shortstop in 2022
When the Twins signed veteran Andrelton Simmons to a one-year, $10.5MM deal last offseason, it seemed like a perfect fit for a club that needed their top prospect to get an extra year of seasoning under his belt. A torn ACL and an anti-vaxxer later and what seemed like a perfect fit has turned into a complete disaster, and that’s before pointing out that Simmons has been one of the worst hitters in the league this year. Based on the latest Twitter mentions of Simmons, it’s pretty clear that the fans are ready to turn the page, although after not being dealt at the deadline, we’re likely stuck with him as there isn’t a suitable option to take his place at the moment.
With Royce Lewis missing two full minor league seasons, he will need to start the year in Wichita or St. Paul and would probably spend the entire season between one of those two spots. Here are the short-term options for the position until he proves he’s ready.
Jorge Polanco - we’re well aware of his recent history with the position, and it’s not pretty. Moreover, I wonder if his 2021 rebound has anything to do with moving to second base. He’s had back-to-back offseasons that required minor ankle surgery but seems to be healthy playing a position that is a little less taxing than shortstop. Based on the season he’s having, I’d hope that Twins don’t push him back to shortstop in 2022, but he also might be the best option currently in the organization. Nick Gordon - after six-plus seasons in the minors, Gordon finally made his Major League debut but didn’t do a great job of taking advantage of the opportunity. In recent years he’s started mixing time in a second, but he does have over 4,500 minor league innings at short. From what we’ve seen so far, he’s not the long-term solution at the position, but he could be an upgrade over Simmons in a season where the Twins likely won’t be competing for a playoff spot. Non-40-man Roster
Jose Miranda - nobody saw this coming from Miranda, but he’s burst onto the scene and is having arguably the best season of any minor leaguer. He’s crushing so much so that you have fans clamoring for him to be with the big league club right now. In the long run, he’s the current heir apparent to Josh Donaldson, but he’s almost forcing the Twins hand to add him to the 40-man and see what he can do in 2022. A lot of greats have moved from short to third...Ripken, Rodriguez, Machado...and in 2024 or 2025, maybe Miranda can add his name to that list. Austin Martin - the Twins shiny new prospect has done well since coming over in the José Berríos trade, but Ken Rosenthal reported that the front office views him as more of an outfield prospect. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get an opportunity in Spring Training next year, but I would be surprised if he were named the everyday shortstop for the big league club. Jermaine Palacios - he’s having a nice little season for AA-Wichita, but I don’t see him being a candidate for this job in 2022. Drew Maggi or JT Riddle - the two minor league veterans are in St. Paul, but like Palacios, I can’t imagine they’ll get much of a look with other, better options to fill in for a year. Free Agents
Marcus Semien - he’s having a great season with Toronto after signing a one-year deal last offseason, and entering his age 32-season, I have to imagine he’ll be looking for a multi-year deal. Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, and Javier Baez - I group these guys because they are the best young shortstops in the game, and all will be looking to cash in. Like Semien, I foresee them wanting a lot of money over multiple years. José Iglesias - if the Twins are going to hit free agency, this might be a good, cheap target. Iglesias has bounced around the league quite a bit with great defense and a passable bat. Andrelton Simmons - LOL. It comes down to the vision for the 2022 season, which I believe to be a rebuild or “retool” year. If that’s the case, it doesn’t make sense to spend in free agency when you have the opportunity to give some of your prospects time at the Major League level. No matter who they go with, they will be downgrading the defense, but that comes with an increase in offense. I think a mixture of Polanco, Gordon, Miranda, and Martin would be an okay choice while they spend money to rebuild their rotation and bullpen.
Heiny reacted to Cody Christie for an article, TD Top Twins Prospect Rankings (Post Draft and Trade Deadline): 1-5
5. RHP Jhoan Duran (23 years old)
Season Stats (AAA): 16.0 IP (5 G), 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 12.4 K/9. 7.3 BB/9
Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 2, 2021 Preseason: 5
Duran is one of the most exciting pitching prospects to come through the Twins system in quite some time. He can consistently hit triple digits with his fastball while mixing in a splitter, curveball, and changeup. One of his pitches sometimes referred to as a splinker, is similar to another big-leaguer. His biggest concerns are control and staying healthy. Currently, he is out with an elbow strain, and he also dealt with a trapezius issue earlier in the year. When he went on the IL at the end of June, the recommendation was for him to be shut down for 5-6 weeks, and surgery will not be needed for the time being. Minnesota can hold its collective breath and hope Duran doesn’t need to go under the knife and miss significant time in 2022.
4. RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson (20 years old)
Season Stats (AA): 45.1 IP (11 G), 5.76 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 13.3 K/9, 5.2 BB/9
Previous Rankings: Joined organization at the trade deadline
There are probably plenty of things you don’t know about Woods-Richardson as he was acquired as part of the José Berríos trade. He showcases a traditional mix of pitches, including a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. According to MLB Pipeline, all four pitches already grade at a 55 (20-80 scale) or higher. Toronto was aggressive with sending him to Double-A as a 20-year old, and the Twins have assigned him to the same level as he returned from the Olympics. Minnesota will be his third organization since being drafted in 2018, and it should be the organization where he will make his big-league debut.
3. RHP Jordan Balazovic (22 years old)
Season Stats (AA): 63.1 IP (13 G), 3.84 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 3.0 BB/9
Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 3, 2021 Preseason: 6
Minnesota snagged Balazovic back in 2016 in the fifth round out of Canada. Balazovic started the year on the IL, so his first game action didn’t come until the beginning of June. After shaking some dust off, he had a terrific month of July as he posted a 2.86 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 31 strikeouts. In nine of his 13 appearances, he has allowed three runs or fewer, including seven appearances with no runs allowed. His strikeout rate is higher than his career mark, and he faces older batters over 80% of the time. Will he get a shot at Triple-A before the season’s done?
2. SS/CF Austin Martin (22 years old)
Season Stats (AA): 62 G, .291/.438/.391 (.829), 2 HR, 12 2B, 2 3B,19.4 K%, 15.2 BB%
Previous Rankings: Joined organization at the trade deadline
While most will have Martin in the #1 spot among Twins prospects, he slots in at #2 here as the organization might have bought low on him. There are a lot of similarities between Lewis and Martin which means they both have immense potential. Since he is new to the organization, here are a few things to learn about him. Martin may be able to play shortstop, but he can also play other infield and outfield positions as needed. He played a lot of third base in college, but the Twins will have him focus on center field. He will hit for average and get on base. The remaining question is how much power he’ll be able to provide.
1. SS Royce Lewis (22 years old)
Season Stats: Out for the season after ACL surgery
Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 1, 2021 Preseason: 2
Eight out of ten Twins Daily Minor League Writers agree, Royce Lewis returns to the #1 spot in our Twins Top Prospect rankings. He made strides in 2020 at the alternate site. He’s begun some baseball activities recently after spring training ACL reconstruction. Lewis has power. He has speed. He has the potential to stick at shortstop but can be versatile. Other players taken in the 2017 MLB Draft have started to perform, so some might question whether Lewis was the right choice. Martin might have a higher floor than Lewis, but Lewis has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in baseball.
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10. SS Keoni Cavaco (20-years-old)
Season Stats (Low-A): .242/.314/.332, 49 G, 7 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 6 SB, 63/18 K:BB
Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: #6
It's been a rough year for the Fort Myers offense. Cavaco's .242 batting average is something that will need to improve. Yet before we double down on the guy, let's remember, he's 20-years-old! While he played 25 games in 2019, this is Cavaco's first 'true' season. The guy is an incredible athlete and has shown moments of brilliance in the field and at the plate.
Plagued by injuries this season, Cavaco's 2022 season will be a big indicator of his future with the Twins. There's a lot of potential if he can stay healthy. Check out his interview with Seth Stohs from earlier this year!
9. RHP Chase Petty (18-years-old)
Season Stats: No Stats
Previous Rankings: Not ranked, Minnesota Twins 2021 Top Draft Pick
Chase Petty may have been the most electrifying pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. The New Jersey-native can hit triple digits, has good off-speed, and name dropped Mike Trout in post-draft interview.
Petty was named Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of New Jersey this past year. His fastball speaks volumes but he's also got an excellent slider in his arsenal.
Yes, Petty is only 18. Yet he has the confidence of an MLB ballplayer and that is going to work miracles for him as he navigates professional baseball. Expect the Jersey boy to climb the ladder quickly.
8. RHP Matt Canterino (23-years-old)
Season Stats (Low-A + High-A): 5 GS, 20 IP, 0.90 ERA, 0.65 ERA, 16.7 K/9, 1.4 BB/9
Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: #4
Matt Canterino didn't drop on our rankings because of poor performance. The Twins' 2019 second-round draft pick was sidelined by an elbow injury for a majority of the summer and just recently hit the bump again. Canterino recently began rehabbing at Low-A Fort Myers. In his August 8th return he was perfect, striking out two and giving up zero hits or walks in two innings.
Prior to his injury Canterino was electric, giving up only two earned runs in 10 innings. In that span, hitters racked up a meager .154 batting average against him. In his young professional career Canterino has a 1.20 ERA and 0.64 WHIP. At 23, the young man has an unbelievable upside and a healthy 2022 season will benefit him as much as anyone on this list.
7. RHP Joe Ryan (25-years-old)
Season Stats (Triple-A): 57 IP, 3.63 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 11.8/1.6 K:BB
Previous Rankings: N/A (previously in Rays organization)
A product of the Nelson Cruz trade with Tampa Bay, Joe Ryan was previously unknown to most Twins fans. That changed when Ryan grabbed the attention of the nation when he helped guide the United States Olympic team to a Silver Medal in Tokyo. Ryan started two games for Team USA, tossing 10 1/3 innings of nine-hit, two-run baseball, while striking out eight and only surrendering one walk.
It's clear that Ryan can deal. The 2018 seventh-round draft pick has touted a sub-four ERA in each season since his professional debut. Before being traded to the Twins the San Francisco native was 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA on the Durham Bulls staff. Ryan has started 11 games this season with opposing batters hitting .175 against him. With the Olympics serving as a confidence booster, it will be exciting to see what Ryan can do with the Saints for the remainder of the season.
6. 3B Jose Miranda (23-years-old)
Season Stats (Double-A + Triple-A): .342/.406/.596, 21 2B, 23 HR, 4 SB, 65 RBI
Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: #5
Don't be fooled that Miranda is a spot lower than he was a few months back. In fact, Miranda has been as good as he's been all season in the past few days. Miranda recorded a multi-hit game on Thursday night and knocked the go-ahead homer to push the Saints to a win in extra-innings on Wednesday.
Miranda has slashed an impressive .338/.402/.606 in just 38 games at Triple-A this season. His numbers were just as strong (if not better) at Double-A Wichita. The best part? Miranda is improving as he increases levels of play. Don't be surprised if the best story of the 2021 Twins organization gets a shot at the MLB level before the 2021 season ends.
Heiny reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Letting Byron Buxton Walk Will Haunt
In Minnesota baseball lore, David Ortiz is the equivalent of Boston's Bambino, or Wrigleyville's billy goat. The very mention of Big Papi causes a visceral shudder for any Twins fan within earshot, surfacing deep feelings of regret and lament. How differently things might have gone for the Twins had Ortiz stayed in Minnesota. (Aaron Gleeman wrote a fun "what if" article about this last year.)
Naturally, the Ortiz example is invoked any time a promising Twins player departs unduly – the sports fan's equivalent of a PTSD reaction. Lingering fear of a recurrence envelopes us, clouding our judgment. In most cases, this apprehension proves unwarranted. Nonetheless, the Curse of Papi persists.
You all know where I'm going with this: Is Byron Buxton the next David Ortiz??
In some ways, it's a fitting parallel. Ortiz left Minnesota in his late 20s, having shown flashes of standout ability, before immediately blossoming elsewhere. In Boston, he emerged as a perennial MVP contender, postseason legend, and franchise icon. It's all too easy to envision the same path for Buxton, except therein lies the difference: you don't need to imagine it. Buxton already IS that guy. He was the AL Player of the Month in April and has been one of the game's best players on a per-game basis for the last three years. After a long and meandering path, he has finally reached his true potential as a top-shelf elite MLB player.
Yes, the injuries have remained a constant. But that's exactly why a long-term extension with Buxton would even be attainable right now for a team like the Twins. If not for the implications and associated risk of his health history, he'd likely be eyeing a deal outside of Minnesota's realistic scope.
It might seem odd when you're talking about offering more than $100 million to a player whose track record is as sparse as Buxton's, but the Twins should theoretically be able to secure a relative bargain here due to the circumstances.
Alas, the front office seems a tad too ambitious in its hunt for a bargain. The allure of signing Buxton long-term is that he can offer a potential impact on the level of a Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, or Fernando Tatis Jr., but at a fraction of the guaranteed commitment.
That said, the clear value needs to be there for Buxton, who knows his level of ability, and it is evidently not. His camp rejected Minnesota's offer, which reportedly elevated from $73 million to $80 million in guaranteed money with a "unique incentive package." Sounds like those incentives were the sticking point. At this juncture we don't what was proposed or countered, so analyzing the negotiation is murky.
Then again, it's also difficult to fathom what kind of request or suggested terms from Buxton's agent would make the Twins balk to the point they're giving up on an opportunity to secure this generational talent, at the precipice of true superstardom.
A somewhat similar dynamic is at play with José Berríos, who was drafted the same year as Buxton and is also looking ahead to free agency at the end of 2022. One can certainly argue that Berríos is more critical to the Twins' future, given their scarcity of high-quality arms.
But in a way, he is the antithesis of Buxton: ultra-reliable with a capped ceiling. Berríos has been one of the most durable and consistent pitchers in the game – steadily very good, just short of great, always available. Meanwhile, Buxton has improved every season in a setback-riddled career that's been full of ups and downs. He's just now reaching his full form, displaying game-changing greatness that is almost unparalleled.
Yes, Berríos will be difficult to replace, in that arms like his don't come along often. The Twins certainly haven't proven adept at finding or developing them. But Buxton is irreplaceable in a more absolute sense. Athletes and human beings like him almost NEVER come along. His speed, power, and defense are off-the-charts good. He's one of the most entertaining players I've ever seen. And he's still getting better.
I can see the rationale in moving on from Berríos. He's clearly intent on testing free agency and maximizing his earnings. There will be no discount or bonus-contingent contract in play there. And it's awfully hard for a mid-market team to build balanced contending rosters when paying one of their five starting pitchers $25+ million annually.
Their everyday center fielder, though? One who's proven to be an MVP-caliber talent while on the field? And who won't even be reaching that salary range unless he's staying on the field enough to trigger incentives?
I'm struggling to understand why the Twins aren't stepping up here. Target Field was ostensibly built for the exact purpose of keeping a player like this. From available evidence, it doesn't seem like the team is making a particularly hearty effort to do what it takes to retain him. Whatever Buxton's side is asking for – $30-plus million in annual achievable salary, an early opt-out clause, lower-than-desired bonus thresholds – none of those should be deal-breakers.
Maybe there's still a way. Buxton said on Monday "it's not the end," leaving some faint cause for hope. But at this point, the outlook is grim.
It's true that signing Buxton long-term would entail some risk. But it pales in comparison to the risk of watching him go elsewhere, shake off the snakebitten injury luck, and emerge as a late-blooming legend while Twins fans spend another decade lamenting the one that got away. In this case, it'd be a much less excusable gaffe than releasing David Ortiz.
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Heiny reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Trading Josh Donaldson Is the Right Call
The Twins have apparently begun to explore Donaldson's trade market, with a report out of SNY last week suggesting "very preliminary talks" have taken place with the Mets. JD makes sense for a team like that: in the championship mix, and capable of benefiting from a brashly confident former MVP who's shown he can still play at a high level.
Donaldson's presence does little for the irrelevant 2021 Twins, so in assessing the sensibility of trading him to New York or elsewhere, the question becomes one of his future fit. Are the Twins doing themselves a great disservice by unloading Donaldson's 2022 and 2023 seasons – along with a 2024 team option – when all they're likely to get back is some level of salary relief and an unspectacular prospect or two?
I would suggest: no, probably not. Let us consider the two aforementioned scenarios.
If the front office decides that its current collection of talent is fundamentally insufficient, and the next wave of prospects won't be ready quickly enough to fuel a return to championship contention within the next two years, then keeping Donaldson and his $21 million annual salary simply doesn't make sense, on any level. Not only is it an illogical expense, begrudged by ownership, but JD himself will likely become discontented by a non-competitive approach in what may be his final productive seasons.
So what if they choose instead to rebuild on the fly and make another go of it in 2022? I think this is the right approach, and the most likely one. Here it becomes a little harder to argue that the Twins are better off without Donaldson, who's been a high-quality player when on the field.
Nonetheless, three reasons I believe it's the right call:
Donaldson is at high risk for injury and regression.
I think we need to divorce ourselves from not only the idea of who Donaldson used to be – a 40-HR MVP-caliber superstar – and maybe even the image of Donaldson as he is now. Turning 36 in December, he's at a stage where rapid physical decline is commonplace, and that's evident enough from what we've witnessed on the field.
His offensive skills are mostly holding up – albeit not at the level of his late-20s prime – but Donaldson's defense has gone from great to good, and his speed from bad to "yikes." The injury issues, recurring and localized in his legs, seem unlikely to dissipate as he ages toward 40.
The nature of a long-term deal for a mid-30s player like Donaldson is that you expect to get the best value up-front, and deal with the likelihood of regression as a cost of doing business. The Twins have already moved past the ostensible good part of JD's contract, with fruitless results for the team. Now they're moving into a back end carrying more risk and less upside.
Granted, these facts are plainly evident to any suitor for Donaldson, which is why the Twins aren't exactly in a position of ideal leverage. But a team like the free-spending Mets is more well-suited to take on that risk and the associated financial commitment than Minnesota.
The Twins have depth at third base.
The indispensability of Donaldson is contingent on the quality of his potential replacements. When they signed him, third base was a position of clear organizational scarcity. Today, that's not quite so true.
First and foremost, you have the emergence of José Miranda as a top prospect. He raked in Double-A, he's now raking in Triple-A, and he's 23. Miranda is on the verge of big-league readiness and his contact-heavy profile lends itself to at least staying afloat in his early exposure to the majors, if not quickly taking off.
It wouldn't be a matter of putting all eggs in the meteoric Miranda's basket, either. Luis Arraez has played 250 career innings at third in the majors. Royce Lewis played primarily there in his last competitive baseball action during the 2019 Arizona Fall League. Miguel Sanó will still presumably be around next year.
The Twins have options. And while none are Donaldson-caliber players, it's not entirely clear that any would be all that drastic a drop-off from the version you're getting at ages 36 and 37, to whatever extent his health makes him available.
The Twins have bigger priorities and JD at third base was always a luxury.
The Twins never needed Josh Donaldson. They signed him late in the 2019-20 offseason because they had spending flexibility, missed out on their free agent pitching targets, and saw an opportunity to level-up an already great offense. He was a luxury they could afford at the time, but much has changed since, and now you really wonder if he's one they can still afford.
Even without Donaldson and Nelson Cruz, the Twins would be poised to field a solid offensive unit next year. The pitching staff is another story. They're going to need all the help and resources they can get. While no other team is going to take on the entirety of Donaldson's remaining ~$60 million commitment, any fraction of that spending flexibility will be useful to the front office as it addresses a needy rotation and bullpen, not to mention shortstop.
In the event he's traded, whatever the Twins are able to get back in exchange for Donaldson is going to look underwhelming on its face. It won't be a fun situation to navigate from a PR perspective. But when you look at the realities of a team that currently figures to have about $40 million in hand for the offseason, the logic of trading Donaldson is difficult to deny. They're staring down a wealth of key vacancies and he's a risk-laden expensive veteran.
The Twins have their work cut out if they want to turn around a last-place team and bring it back to respectability, much less World Series contention, in short order. Popularity can't be the guiding principle in the difficult decisions that lie ahead.
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Heiny reacted to Nash Walker for an article, TD Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospect Rankings: 6-10
KEEP IN MIND: Alex Kirilloff, Ben Rortvedt, Nick Gordon, Ryan Jeffers and Trevor Larnach have or will soon graduate from prospect status.
10. OF Matt Wallner (bats L, throws R)
2021 stats: 17 G, .333/.384/.621 (165 wRC+), 4 HR, 3 2B, 2 3B, 38% K, 6.8% BB
2021 preseason ranking: 13
Wallner’s history already made him a prospect to watch when the Twins selected him with the 39th overall pick in the 2019 draft. He grew up a Twins fan and starred at Forest Lake High School before committing to Southern Mississippi, where he hit a robust .337/.461/.652 in three seasons. Wallner smashed 58 homers and 39 doubles in 189 games for the Golden Eagles, flashing his immense power from the left side.
Wallner, listed at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, has already become a fear bat as a professional. He produced 31 extra-base hits in 65 games with a .357 on-base percentage in 2019 and was crushing before a wrist injury halted his season this summer. Wallner oozes raw pop, but his ability to hit for a high average and draw walks has raised his ceiling as a prospect. He’s hitting .274/.363/.487 in 82 minor-league games.
Spending most of his time in right field, Wallner projects as a middle-of-the-order corner outfielder, perhaps joining his counterparts Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach in the heart of Minnesota’s lineup. Healing from the wrist injury that has held him out since late May is in order first, but if he can return healthy and hitting, Wallner could easily work himself to Wichita (or even St.Paul) by season’s end.
Minnesotans take a certain amount of pride in homegrown players. It remains true that the top six Minnesota-born bWAR leaders since 1961 all played for the Twins at some point. Hopefully Wallner follows that lead!
9. 1B Aaron Sabato (bats R, throws R)
2021 stats: 53 G, .184/.373/.291 (101 wRC+), 10 2B, 3 HR, 21% BB, 31% K
2021 preseason ranking: 8
Sabato fell to the Twins at pick No. 27 in the 2020 draft, perhaps due to questions about his defensive home. The Twins went slightly over slot to land the slugging first baseman, who hit .332/.459/.698 with 25 homers in 83 games at North Carolina. He walked in over 16% of his plate appearances and struck out under 20% of the time for the Heels, solidifying himself as one of the best pure hitters in college baseball.
The Twins certainly have their type: large, powerful, excelling college bats are their M.O., and Sabato fits the bill. The 22-year-old hasn’t lived up to the first-round moxie just yet, as he’s hitting a paltry .184 with a .291 slugging percentage through 53 games for the Mighty Mussels.
It’s hard to get excited about a slugging percentage below .300 in Low-A for such a coveted power bat, but Sabato has shown signs of a breakout. He’s incredible at controlling the strike-zone, evidenced by a tremendous .409 on-base percentage over his last 22 games. Sabato has walked 50 times this season, the most in the Low-A Southeast, tied with teammate Edouard Julien.
Patience is the key here. Sabato is adjusting to professional baseball and everything that comes with it. His walk rate is encouraging and proves he has a strong idea of what to swing at. When he starts hitting those pitches in the zone, look out. Sabato has raw power for days.
8. RHP Josh Winder
2021 stats: 11 GS, 60 ⅓ IP, 1.94 ERA, 0.895 WHIP, 32% K, 5% BB
2021 preseason ranking: N/R
Winder could be the first, long-awaited product of the the Falvine pitching pipeline. Already displaying elite command through the minors, Winder added significant velocity to his fastball. Now throwing 95-97 with his heater and spotting up a great curveball and a developing changeup, Winder has become a legitimate starting pitching prospect.
Winder was outstanding for Cedar Rapids in 2019 with a 2.65 ERA in 21 starts. The difference: a strikeout rate of 24%. The walk rate was remained similarly low, but Winder’s strikeout numbers have soared. He’s punching out 32% of batters at the highest levels in the minors. Winder was the best pitcher in the Double-A Central before his promotion to St.Paul, where he carried a no-hitter into the sixth in his first start.
There’s not much more Winder can do to impress. His ERA is sub-2, his strikeout rate is elite and he’s walked just 12 of 228 batters. He’s completely broken out in an extremely exciting way.
This is how they drew it up. Finding starters with already-great command and helping to increase their velocity is the ticket to building a pipeline of impact pitching. Winder put in the work and is being rewarded in a huge way. There’s a very good chance he’ll get the opportunity to pitch for the Twins later this summer and solidify himself into their plans for 2022. Giddy up.
7. OF Gilberto Celestino (bats R, throws L)
2021 stats: 15 G w/MIN: .163/.200/.349 (46 wRC+), 2 HR, 18% K, 4% BB
2021 preseason ranking: 11
Uniquely, Celestino has moved up our prospect board despite looking mostly overmatched for the Twins. His defense in center is evidently solid-to-elite and his bat has shown signals of life. Celestino is sporting a .963 OPS over his last 19 plate appearances. His promotion was undoubtedly premature, but Celly has steadily improved since getting the call.
Celestino’s right-handed swing packs a lot of punch. He generates power with a large but controlled leg kick, and the ball flys when he makes contact. His upside offensively lies in that deceptive power and a low strikeout rate through the minors. There’s hope that a .265/.325/.400 hitter lies within for Celestino, which would make him a quality regular with great defense in center.
Byron Buxton has treated Twins fans by flashing his unbelievable tools and world-best defense in centerfield for years. Celestino likely won’t reach those heights, but there’s reason to be excited about Celly and his future for the Twins in center and at the plate.
6. SS Keoni Cavaco (bats R, throws R)
2021 stats: 30 G, .259/.331/.339 (90 wRC+), 4 2B, 3B, HR, 8.9% BB, 27% K
2021 preseason ranking: 7
Cavaco has begun a rehab assignment with the FCL Twins after missing nearly a month with a concussion. Cavaco was starting to heat up, hitting .344/.400/.438 with a double and a triple in nine games before the injury.
Drafted out of Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, California in 2019, Cavaco was touted as a high-upside shortstop with tools for days. He struggled in his first taste of pro ball, hitting just .172 with a .470 OPS in 92 plate appearances with the FCL Twins.
Cavaco just turned 20, is incredibly athletic and stands at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds. He’s what you would describe as a “raw” prospect, one that clearly has the attributes to grow into a star. The Twins bought into the tools when they took him with the 13th overall pick.
After Royce Lewis, another first-round high school shortstop, there may not be another player in this system with more upside than Cavaco.
Top prospects 1`6-20
Top prospects 11-15
CHECK BACK FOR THE TOP 5!
Heiny reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Fan Remains Loyal at 105... and Counting
“I know one thing about a birthday,” said Emmy Rosen from her reclining chair in her Perham Living nursing home room. “One year older.”
OK, maybe. However, turning 106 years old is a pretty big milestone!
In 1915, Emmy Matz was born near Perham in west Central Minnesota. She grew up in a farming family and attended a country grade school through the eighth grade. Because their farm was 12 miles from Perham, she was done with school at that point.
She married Herb Rosen and the couple were together for 45 years.
Emmy’s family enjoyed baseball. She has fond memories of playing as a kid. “My dad made us a bat. It was pretty wide so we could hit good.”
Back in the middle years of the 20th century, town team baseball was big. Hundreds if not more than a thousand people would attend the Sunday afternoon Perham Pirates game, especially when the legendary Roy “Fireball” Martin was pitching.
“Even my mom and dad came into town from the country (for Pirates games). My dad would park the car early enough and then walk back to our house. Then mom and dad went with Herb and me.”
Her mother was unable to sit in the bleachers by then, so having the car in a strategic location became very important. Others will tell you, and verify, that some people left their cars around the ball field on Saturday just to make sure that they had a good spot to watch the game.
But Emmy wasn’t always a big fan of watching baseball on TV. If we’re being honest, baseball on TV simply wasn’t available for most people. However, Herb was a big fan and really enjoyed watching the Twins.
“Herb liked to watch baseball, but I was never that interested in them. I thought, well, if Herb liked to watch it, I want him to watch it. He said, ‘Why don’t you just sit down and watch them. You will like them.’ I did it, and I did learn to like them a lot.”
When Herb passed away in the late ‘80s, Emmy continued to watch the Twins and her love for the team only grew.
She pointed out, “Baseball is the only sport I really like. I know the football games are good too, but I don’t understand them enough.”
She has her favorite players over the years. “Oh, (Joe) Mauer. (Justin) Morneau. Torii Hunter. Oh gosh. Kirby Puckett, that was a long time ago. Kent Hrbek. All those guys. Dan Gladden, oh, he helped win the Series.”
She remembers watching both World Series championships (1987 and 1991). “They were very exciting!”
To this day, as Emmy Rosen is about to turn 106 years old young, she watches nearly every Twins game on the TV in her room.
She joked, “How many games are there each year? 162? I watch a lot more than that.”
“I usually watch them play if I have time… (pause for dramatic effect)... as if I’m busy.” she said with a sly chuckle.
On Thursday, the Twins played an afternoon game in Chicago. Emmy likes to walk and still moves around pretty well, especially considering her age. She takes some walks with Fern, who lives across the hall at the nursing home. “I always tell her. There is a game, and when it is over, it might be 4 o’clock.”
Fern is OK with that, and they walk after the game’s final out.
It was surprising to hear that Emmy has only been to one Twins game, and it was over 40 years ago.
As mentioned in the first paragraph, Emmy is not happy with the 2021 Twins season. She said, “I don’t like it. I don’t like that they are not very good right now. No.”
She went on to talk about the tough one-run loss to the White Sox on Tuesday night in detail.
She does like the team’s players though. When I asked who her favorite players on the current Twins roster are, Emmy got a big smile and said, “Oh, I like Buxton!” She just wants him to be healthy and play because she enjoys watching him so much.
She continued, “Oh, and (Alex) Kirilloff. He’s good! Of course, (Nelson) Cruz is good too.”
Again, on Saturday, Emmy Rosen will turn 106 years young. Asked what she would like as a gift from the Twins, she said matter-of-factly, “Win the game!”
We often hear that the Twins are very popular in nursing homes around Twins Territory. I don’t know if that can truly be quantified, but here is one example of how important the Twins are to people who are no longer mobile. From what I am told, she is not the only resident at Perham Living who loves watching the Twins play almost every game. There is a reason that the Twins Winter Caravan holds so many stops at nursing homes.
“The Minnesota Twins are blessed with a loyal and passionate base of fans,” Twins President & CEO Dave St. Peter said. “However no sector of that fandom is more dedicated than our beloved seniors. Simply put, Twins baseball is must-see programming – every day, all season long – in every senior living facility across Twins Territory.”
Happy Birthday Emmy! Let’s hope you celebrate your 106th Birthday with a Win from the Twins!