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Cody Pirkl

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  1. Watching the stars shine in the playoffs is fun, especially when they’re approaching free agency. Future pitchers, shortstops, and sluggers are all fun to dream about. A utilityman, however, shouldn’t be in the Twins offseason cards. Let's just be upfront about this. The utilityman market isn’t incredibly ripe with players this winter. This is directly referencing Dodgers star Chris Taylor. After years in the October spotlight with Los Angeles, yet another standout postseason performance in 2021 has Twins fans dreaming, and for good reason. It’s a fun idea and Taylor is a great player who would make any team better, but the Twins shouldn’t be chomping at the bit to bring him in. Taylor was a marginal minor league player in Seattle before being traded to LA for a guy who wound up throwing 12 MLB innings. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto later called the trade “clearly the worst deal I’ve ever made”, as Taylor’s current career line sits at .261/.337/.443, 11% above average offensively. That doesn’t even tell the story of Taylor’s ability to play just about any position on the diamond as needed. So why shouldn’t the Twins plan to bring in such a player? To state the obvious, the team is an absolute mess. I do believe their needs can be addressed this winter in a way that returns them to contention, but a utilityman is far from the top of the list. There are currently two starting pitchers in the 2022 starting rotation. I’d guess the Twins want to bring in at least 4 candidates to fill those vacancies, which is going to cost a decent amount of money if done correctly. In addition, they’ll likely also want at least a proven bullpen arm or two. Taylor Rogers will be a question mark if brought back due to his finger injury and Tyler Duffey’s 2021 made him a much bigger question mark than in years past. You’d have to hope they plan on signing legitimate pieces this winter rather than cheap bounce back candidates and players all 29 other teams have passed on. That’ll cost a good bit of cash as well. It could be argued that the vacancy at shortstop could be filled by the versatile Taylor. He was fine defensively there in 2021 to be fair although at 31 he’s nearing a point where shortstop defense tends to decline rapidly. Taylor has surely earned himself a long term deal, however, which may not be in the Twins best interest in the future. The hope is for someone like Royce Lewis to take the reins at shortstop relatively soon, and what becomes of Taylor then? Sure, he can cover most other positions, but that kind of versatility may be less valuable to the Twins than other teams. People already raise the concern of Luis Arraez getting enough at bats across a full season due to not having a full time spot. He gets his starts spelling Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco or one of the corner outfielders in order to get into the lineup regularly. The only other position Taylor would be truly needed at is backing up in center field, a job that can be filled for much cheaper in free agency. To be clear, Taylor would absolutely make the Twins better. They would likely prefer a stopgap type shortstop, but he would be useful at other positions if their plans with Royce Lewis come to fruition. After all, having too many options is a good problem to have. That being said, I think now is the wrong time to sign a player like Chris Taylor. Nobody can say exactly where this team is in their contention window and there are significant question marks around highly impactful players like Byron Buxton. There are gaping holes across the roster and unless ownership is truly willing to throw down some dollars, it’s not worth shortchanging themselves elsewhere for added versatility. If they run into a 2019 Marwin Gonzalez situation where come Spring Training he’s still looking for a place to go, there would be nothing wrong with being opportunistic if it’s in the budget. The Twins have bigger needs to address on the front end of free agency, however, and Chris Taylor should be nowhere near priority number one. Now just isn’t the right time. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  2. Let's just be upfront about this. The utilityman market isn’t incredibly ripe with players this winter. This is directly referencing Dodgers star Chris Taylor. After years in the October spotlight with Los Angeles, yet another standout postseason performance in 2021 has Twins fans dreaming, and for good reason. It’s a fun idea and Taylor is a great player who would make any team better, but the Twins shouldn’t be chomping at the bit to bring him in. Taylor was a marginal minor league player in Seattle before being traded to LA for a guy who wound up throwing 12 MLB innings. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto later called the trade “clearly the worst deal I’ve ever made”, as Taylor’s current career line sits at .261/.337/.443, 11% above average offensively. That doesn’t even tell the story of Taylor’s ability to play just about any position on the diamond as needed. So why shouldn’t the Twins plan to bring in such a player? To state the obvious, the team is an absolute mess. I do believe their needs can be addressed this winter in a way that returns them to contention, but a utilityman is far from the top of the list. There are currently two starting pitchers in the 2022 starting rotation. I’d guess the Twins want to bring in at least 4 candidates to fill those vacancies, which is going to cost a decent amount of money if done correctly. In addition, they’ll likely also want at least a proven bullpen arm or two. Taylor Rogers will be a question mark if brought back due to his finger injury and Tyler Duffey’s 2021 made him a much bigger question mark than in years past. You’d have to hope they plan on signing legitimate pieces this winter rather than cheap bounce back candidates and players all 29 other teams have passed on. That’ll cost a good bit of cash as well. It could be argued that the vacancy at shortstop could be filled by the versatile Taylor. He was fine defensively there in 2021 to be fair although at 31 he’s nearing a point where shortstop defense tends to decline rapidly. Taylor has surely earned himself a long term deal, however, which may not be in the Twins best interest in the future. The hope is for someone like Royce Lewis to take the reins at shortstop relatively soon, and what becomes of Taylor then? Sure, he can cover most other positions, but that kind of versatility may be less valuable to the Twins than other teams. People already raise the concern of Luis Arraez getting enough at bats across a full season due to not having a full time spot. He gets his starts spelling Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco or one of the corner outfielders in order to get into the lineup regularly. The only other position Taylor would be truly needed at is backing up in center field, a job that can be filled for much cheaper in free agency. To be clear, Taylor would absolutely make the Twins better. They would likely prefer a stopgap type shortstop, but he would be useful at other positions if their plans with Royce Lewis come to fruition. After all, having too many options is a good problem to have. That being said, I think now is the wrong time to sign a player like Chris Taylor. Nobody can say exactly where this team is in their contention window and there are significant question marks around highly impactful players like Byron Buxton. There are gaping holes across the roster and unless ownership is truly willing to throw down some dollars, it’s not worth shortchanging themselves elsewhere for added versatility. If they run into a 2019 Marwin Gonzalez situation where come Spring Training he’s still looking for a place to go, there would be nothing wrong with being opportunistic if it’s in the budget. The Twins have bigger needs to address on the front end of free agency, however, and Chris Taylor should be nowhere near priority number one. Now just isn’t the right time. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  3. Josh Donaldson will be one of the many hot topics among Twins fans this winter. Will he stay or be shipped out? The Twins should be looking to fully commit to whatever decision they settle on. In a vacuum, Josh Donaldson is not overpaid despite what some frustrated fans may tell you. His time missed in 2020 was frustrating albeit not as costly as it appears considering his prorated salary in the 60 game season. In 2021, he was actually one of the regulars in the lineup day in and day out. As a whole, Donaldson has slashed .243/.355/.474 with the Twins, far from the “wasted payroll” reputation some have pinned on him. That being said, he’s 35 years old with a tremendous injury history in addition to having about $50m remaining on his salary over the next two years. The result of all of these factors leave the Twins with a fantastic player with an enormous ceiling and about as low of a floor a player can have. For that very reason, it’s difficult to blame them for at least exploring the trade market given the year they just came off of. They shouldn’t be so quick to pull the trigger on a deal without lining themselves up for a slam dunk however. This was a recently reported idea for a trade between the Twins and Milwaukee who will likely need an impact third base option in 2022. It’s a perfect example of the type of trade the Twins shouldn’t do. There’s almost no scenario where the Twins don’t pay down significant money to get Donaldson’s contract off the books. The issue is trades like this make the Twins worse in the present and offer little payoff for the future. Dumping about $35m in future payroll would likely look appealing to ownership. That being said, doing so probably lands them in a situation like this one where the Twins take on money of their own in Jackie Bradley Jr.’s $9.5m and $6.5m buyout in 2023. JBJ slashed .163/.236/.261 en route to a -0.8 fWAR finish on the season. Worse than Matt Shoemaker, Andrelton Simmons etc. Perhaps taking on money isn’t out of the question, but the younger pieces in the deal have to be at least somewhat appealing. In this scenario, they receive 19 year old RHP Logan Henderson and 22 year old outfielder Joey Wiemer, #21 and 23 in the Brewers system respectively. Prospects from the 20s range aren’t very exciting for most teams, but the Brewers in particular are a bottom 5 system by most prospect sites. So in review, the Twins get to save a bunch of money in the future, although not a ton after taking on a much less valuable player. Their lineup and team as a whole takes a significant downgrade in regards to the 2022 Opening Day lineup. They also get two prospects who have a very insignificant chance of making any impact on the team in the future. This type of trade would be a mistake. The Twins have two options in my opinion. They may very well be gearing up to spend big this winter and acquire some legitimate pieces via free agency and trade. In which case, gamble on the health of Josh Donaldson who will still be one of the premier players on the team if healthy. His salary doesn’t impede their spending plans nearly as much as it gets credit for. The second option is to come to terms with 2022 not being the year. If you don’t want to spend down immediately for a comeback season, paying most if not all of that contract in a trade should be the goal. It’s already on the payroll and one way or another, they’ll pay some sort of price on it. Might as well write a fat check to a competing team in a deal where the recipient gets instantly better and the Twins can command some impactful prospect capital in return. One way or another, the Twins need to commit 100% when it comes to the Josh Donaldson decision. There’s no point in taking half measures for a team whose winter will have an enormous tilt not only on the 2022 season, but the next few years to come. Should they hold onto their star third baseman or sell him off for the best trade package? Let us know below! — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  4. Cody Pirkl

    No Half Measures

    In a vacuum, Josh Donaldson is not overpaid despite what some frustrated fans may tell you. His time missed in 2020 was frustrating albeit not as costly as it appears considering his prorated salary in the 60 game season. In 2021, he was actually one of the regulars in the lineup day in and day out. As a whole, Donaldson has slashed .243/.355/.474 with the Twins, far from the “wasted payroll” reputation some have pinned on him. That being said, he’s 35 years old with a tremendous injury history in addition to having about $50m remaining on his salary over the next two years. The result of all of these factors leave the Twins with a fantastic player with an enormous ceiling and about as low of a floor a player can have. For that very reason, it’s difficult to blame them for at least exploring the trade market given the year they just came off of. They shouldn’t be so quick to pull the trigger on a deal without lining themselves up for a slam dunk however. This was a recently reported idea for a trade between the Twins and Milwaukee who will likely need an impact third base option in 2022. It’s a perfect example of the type of trade the Twins shouldn’t do. There’s almost no scenario where the Twins don’t pay down significant money to get Donaldson’s contract off the books. The issue is trades like this make the Twins worse in the present and offer little payoff for the future. Dumping about $35m in future payroll would likely look appealing to ownership. That being said, doing so probably lands them in a situation like this one where the Twins take on money of their own in Jackie Bradley Jr.’s $9.5m and $6.5m buyout in 2023. JBJ slashed .163/.236/.261 en route to a -0.8 fWAR finish on the season. Worse than Matt Shoemaker, Andrelton Simmons etc. Perhaps taking on money isn’t out of the question, but the younger pieces in the deal have to be at least somewhat appealing. In this scenario, they receive 19 year old RHP Logan Henderson and 22 year old outfielder Joey Wiemer, #21 and 23 in the Brewers system respectively. Prospects from the 20s range aren’t very exciting for most teams, but the Brewers in particular are a bottom 5 system by most prospect sites. So in review, the Twins get to save a bunch of money in the future, although not a ton after taking on a much less valuable player. Their lineup and team as a whole takes a significant downgrade in regards to the 2022 Opening Day lineup. They also get two prospects who have a very insignificant chance of making any impact on the team in the future. This type of trade would be a mistake. The Twins have two options in my opinion. They may very well be gearing up to spend big this winter and acquire some legitimate pieces via free agency and trade. In which case, gamble on the health of Josh Donaldson who will still be one of the premier players on the team if healthy. His salary doesn’t impede their spending plans nearly as much as it gets credit for. The second option is to come to terms with 2022 not being the year. If you don’t want to spend down immediately for a comeback season, paying most if not all of that contract in a trade should be the goal. It’s already on the payroll and one way or another, they’ll pay some sort of price on it. Might as well write a fat check to a competing team in a deal where the recipient gets instantly better and the Twins can command some impactful prospect capital in return. One way or another, the Twins need to commit 100% when it comes to the Josh Donaldson decision. There’s no point in taking half measures for a team whose winter will have an enormous tilt not only on the 2022 season, but the next few years to come. Should they hold onto their star third baseman or sell him off for the best trade package? Let us know below! — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  5. The ongoing joke about the Twins is how often they’re rumored to be in on a player but don’t wind up with them. This winter they have a chance to make good on their past links with three such pitchers. Corey Kluber Kluber was heavily linked to the Twins last winter before the Yankees threw $11m at the right hander. Kluber pitched quite well in his first year in the Bronx with a sub 4.00 ERA. Unfortunately after throwing just one inning in 2020, Kluber missed significant time and only reached 80 frames. Kluber is likely a candidate for another one year deal at age 36. He still looked like a valuable pitcher in a tough stadium and division, and a move back to the soft AL Central would do him wonders. He may not be counted on for a significant amount of innings, but pairing him with a pitcher like Michael Pineda would be valuable. There’s upside to be had similar to the Twins 2020 Rich Hill signing, upside the Twins will surely be looking for in order for a bounce back in their pitching staff. Marcus Stroman The Twins were bullish on Stroman in 2019 when the Blue Jays eventually shipped him to the Mets. The Twins claimed Toronto never returned their call for a counter offer. Stroman wasn’t much help in 2020 but performed exceptionally well in 2021 with a 3.02 ERA in almost 180 innings. Stroman would definitely require a long term deal with some good money attached. He may not be a flat out ace, but he’s a durable, experienced arm. His reliance on movement, location, and weak contact should make him a valuable pitcher for the foreseeable future now that he’s surpassed 30 years of age. He’d also immediately slot in as an Opening Day starter and top of the rotation anchor. Noah Syndergaard Digging way into the well here, remember when the Twins were in on Noah Syndergaard in 2019 and the Mets wanted Byron Buxton in exchange? I’m sure no fans were angry at the Twins for not pulling the trigger, right? Syndergaard has a storied past when it comes to injury, most recently returning from Tommy John just this year. The result of this being there isn’t much of a body of work to see since 2019. It’s hard to forget the arm they call “Thor” throwing one 100 mph fastball after another. While never quite an ace, it’s hard to deny that the upside is there. With Syndergaard's recent history, he’s another candidate for a one year “show me” deal. It may be high risk, but there may not be a pitcher on the market with a higher potential payoff. The Twins will be looking high and low on both the free agent and trade market this winter to try to fix a pitching staff that straight up cost them any shot at contending in 2021. It wouldn’t be the most surprising development to go back to the well and revisit some arms they were previously interested in. Is there any one of this trio that stands above the rest? Should these three be avoided altogether? Let us know below! — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  6. Corey Kluber Kluber was heavily linked to the Twins last winter before the Yankees threw $11m at the right hander. Kluber pitched quite well in his first year in the Bronx with a sub 4.00 ERA. Unfortunately after throwing just one inning in 2020, Kluber missed significant time and only reached 80 frames. Kluber is likely a candidate for another one year deal at age 36. He still looked like a valuable pitcher in a tough stadium and division, and a move back to the soft AL Central would do him wonders. He may not be counted on for a significant amount of innings, but pairing him with a pitcher like Michael Pineda would be valuable. There’s upside to be had similar to the Twins 2020 Rich Hill signing, upside the Twins will surely be looking for in order for a bounce back in their pitching staff. Marcus Stroman The Twins were bullish on Stroman in 2019 when the Blue Jays eventually shipped him to the Mets. The Twins claimed Toronto never returned their call for a counter offer. Stroman wasn’t much help in 2020 but performed exceptionally well in 2021 with a 3.02 ERA in almost 180 innings. Stroman would definitely require a long term deal with some good money attached. He may not be a flat out ace, but he’s a durable, experienced arm. His reliance on movement, location, and weak contact should make him a valuable pitcher for the foreseeable future now that he’s surpassed 30 years of age. He’d also immediately slot in as an Opening Day starter and top of the rotation anchor. Noah Syndergaard Digging way into the well here, remember when the Twins were in on Noah Syndergaard in 2019 and the Mets wanted Byron Buxton in exchange? I’m sure no fans were angry at the Twins for not pulling the trigger, right? Syndergaard has a storied past when it comes to injury, most recently returning from Tommy John just this year. The result of this being there isn’t much of a body of work to see since 2019. It’s hard to forget the arm they call “Thor” throwing one 100 mph fastball after another. While never quite an ace, it’s hard to deny that the upside is there. With Syndergaard's recent history, he’s another candidate for a one year “show me” deal. It may be high risk, but there may not be a pitcher on the market with a higher potential payoff. The Twins will be looking high and low on both the free agent and trade market this winter to try to fix a pitching staff that straight up cost them any shot at contending in 2021. It wouldn’t be the most surprising development to go back to the well and revisit some arms they were previously interested in. Is there any one of this trio that stands above the rest? Should these three be avoided altogether? Let us know below! — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  7. Tyler Duffey was among the best relievers in all of baseball in 2019 and 2020 and was a valuable reliever in 2021 despite a bit of a step back. With one year of control remaining on the home-grown reliever, what does the future look like for the Doof? From 2019 to 2020, Tyler Duffey ranked second in all of baseball in ERA among all pitchers who had thrown at least 80 innings. He struck out over 12 batters per nine innings and became one of the most dominant and underrated bullpen arms in all of baseball. After Taylor Rogers struggled in 2020, some even believed Duffey should have been elevated to closing duties. 2021 hasn’t been quite the same for Duffey, although he’s still been a valuable arm. His strikeouts have dropped to under a batter per inning while his walks have ballooned to a career high of over four per nine innings. In short, Duffey just hasn't been consistent. His 0.7 fWAR in 2021 matches his 2020 mark despite throwing 35 more innings. Now over 30 years old and entering his last ride through arbitration, Duffey becomes an interesting case for 2022. Non-Tender After making a bit over $2m in 2021 it would be surprising to see the Twins scoff at a moderate pay increase for a reliever who’s been so solid. Still, it’s fair to wonder whether the front office has learned a lesson in hubris when it comes to bullpen building. It would raise some eyebrows, but they very well could look at Duffey’s age and stat line and believe there’s better value to be had elsewhere for $3-4m. While I wouldn’t advise non-tendering such a dependable reliever given the year the Twins just had, there’s a scenario where the front office would be correct in this decision. Relievers, in general, are volatile and Duffey is coming off of an inconsistent season with diminished velocity and is now over the age of 30. I think this is the least-likely scenario, but it’s definitely a possibility. Extension One way to avoid having to worry about arbitration and impending free agency is to work on an extension. Duffey and the Twins could hammer out a 2-3 year deal for a fairly insignificant figure that makes sense for both sides. Duffey would get security for the next two years and the Twins get the reassurance of one of their bullpen stalwarts staying for the next two years. Again, I see this as an unlikely scenario. Duffey looked far from on the top of his game throughout all of 2021, and I’d guess the Twins would have liked to see more from him in order to lock him up through his age 32 season. Reach a Deal The likeliest scenario is the Twins find the middle ground on a pre-arbitration one-year deal as they showed they like to do in the 2020 offseason. Duffey gets one last year guaranteed in Minnesota and the Twins get another year of a hopefully-reliable reliever with no further commitment into the future. This also allows the Twins to trade Duffey (something I thought they would have done this year) at the deadline if out of contention or even turn around and trade him before the season begins. The price would be the driving factor, but if a team sees their 2022 setup man and offers a fair price to bring him in, the Twins may just save the money and take the return. I think this outcome is increasingly likely if someone like Donaldson or Buxton are traded during the winter and the team shifts its outlook to 2023. Duffey’s had a storied career in Minnesota, but one way or another it may be nearing its end. The Twins have to assess which route best benefits the team moving forward, and it may not be as easy a decision as it would have been last offseason. How do you think the Twins should handle the Duffey situation? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  8. From 2019 to 2020, Tyler Duffey ranked second in all of baseball in ERA among all pitchers who had thrown at least 80 innings. He struck out over 12 batters per nine innings and became one of the most dominant and underrated bullpen arms in all of baseball. After Taylor Rogers struggled in 2020, some even believed Duffey should have been elevated to closing duties. 2021 hasn’t been quite the same for Duffey, although he’s still been a valuable arm. His strikeouts have dropped to under a batter per inning while his walks have ballooned to a career high of over four per nine innings. In short, Duffey just hasn't been consistent. His 0.7 fWAR in 2021 matches his 2020 mark despite throwing 35 more innings. Now over 30 years old and entering his last ride through arbitration, Duffey becomes an interesting case for 2022. Non-Tender After making a bit over $2m in 2021 it would be surprising to see the Twins scoff at a moderate pay increase for a reliever who’s been so solid. Still, it’s fair to wonder whether the front office has learned a lesson in hubris when it comes to bullpen building. It would raise some eyebrows, but they very well could look at Duffey’s age and stat line and believe there’s better value to be had elsewhere for $3-4m. While I wouldn’t advise non-tendering such a dependable reliever given the year the Twins just had, there’s a scenario where the front office would be correct in this decision. Relievers, in general, are volatile and Duffey is coming off of an inconsistent season with diminished velocity and is now over the age of 30. I think this is the least-likely scenario, but it’s definitely a possibility. Extension One way to avoid having to worry about arbitration and impending free agency is to work on an extension. Duffey and the Twins could hammer out a 2-3 year deal for a fairly insignificant figure that makes sense for both sides. Duffey would get security for the next two years and the Twins get the reassurance of one of their bullpen stalwarts staying for the next two years. Again, I see this as an unlikely scenario. Duffey looked far from on the top of his game throughout all of 2021, and I’d guess the Twins would have liked to see more from him in order to lock him up through his age 32 season. Reach a Deal The likeliest scenario is the Twins find the middle ground on a pre-arbitration one-year deal as they showed they like to do in the 2020 offseason. Duffey gets one last year guaranteed in Minnesota and the Twins get another year of a hopefully-reliable reliever with no further commitment into the future. This also allows the Twins to trade Duffey (something I thought they would have done this year) at the deadline if out of contention or even turn around and trade him before the season begins. The price would be the driving factor, but if a team sees their 2022 setup man and offers a fair price to bring him in, the Twins may just save the money and take the return. I think this outcome is increasingly likely if someone like Donaldson or Buxton are traded during the winter and the team shifts its outlook to 2023. Duffey’s had a storied career in Minnesota, but one way or another it may be nearing its end. The Twins have to assess which route best benefits the team moving forward, and it may not be as easy a decision as it would have been last offseason. How do you think the Twins should handle the Duffey situation? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  9. Brent Rooker finds himself in no man’s land as he finishes his age 26 season for the Twins. On a team with many questions about their future, Rooker has plenty of his own, and the Twins find themselves with a decision to make. Rooker has had an unbelievably up and down season. In March and April the right handed slugger posted a putrid -5 wRC+. After being sent down to AAA for a good while, he came back up in July and posted a 164 wRC+, only to dip back down to an 82 mark in August. Rooker appears to be finishing strong however, as he’s been 44% above league average in September. Rooker has essentially switched off every other month between looking like an unusable player and being a pitcher’s worst nightmare. His final line of .206/.294/.413 is good for a wRC+ of 114, 14% above league average. The nature of how he got there however isn’t so straightforward and leaves the Twins with a few options to choose from. Business as Usual Rooker has cycled in and out of the lineup all season and at no point has really had a starting position. The Twins could continue to pick their spots to get him in the lineup as they have to try to put him in favorable matchups. This issue with this however is Rooker has historically had reverse splits when it comes to hitting lefties and righties. 7 of his 8 home runs in 2021 have come off of right handed pitching and it’s a bit difficult to slot him into a lineup over someone like Kepler, Kirilloff or at some point Larnach against a right handed pitcher when these other bats have such a stark advantage. Furthermore, it’s fair to wonder whether the inconsistent playing time is partially to blame for Brent Rooker’s hot and cold streaks. For a player who has so much swing and miss with such little plate discipline, consistent reps may be keeping him from unlocking his full potential. Hand him the Keys To combat any kind of concerns with splits or reps, the Twins could simply play Rooker nearly everyday. Larnach will likely begin 2021 in the minors and it could create an opening for him to really get a fair shake at showing what he can do between the DH spot and the corner outfield. The down side of this idea has been well documented, as Rooker is far from an even league average defender. In his brief time in the outfield he’s been worth -2 Outs Above Average in left field and -1 in right. The bat would simply have to be unbelievable to make up for the troubles such a defensive downgrade would create. It’s also difficult to envision anything close to a full time DH role. With Kirilloff back and Sano showing little improvement at first base, it’s easy to see the former filling nearly all of the time at first base, leaving Sano to more often than not fill the DH spot. For as frustrated as the fan base is with Sano, Rooker has a long way to go to prove that he deserves those at bats over him. Find a Trade Partner It’s a strong possibility that the National League will be adopting the designated hitter this winter which would create 15 more suitors for a defensively-challenged slugger such as Rooker. While he likely wouldn’t draw much of a return on his own, it’s easy to see him being a nice peripheral piece to a bigger deal with a team that has no immediate options at their newly opened DH spot. While it’s always nerve-racking to part with a prospect who once had such shine, the Twins need to be realistic this winter. At 27 years old headed into 2022, Brent Rooker still has more questions than answers about his future in Major League Baseball. Those answers won’t be found while playing every 3rd or 4th day, and unless the Twins are prepared to provide a real opportunity, it’s really not even fair to him. So which road should the Twins take? Does Brent Rooker need a fair chance at a full time job or has his window with the Twins closed? Let us know below! — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  10. Rooker has had an unbelievably up and down season. In March and April the right handed slugger posted a putrid -5 wRC+. After being sent down to AAA for a good while, he came back up in July and posted a 164 wRC+, only to dip back down to an 82 mark in August. Rooker appears to be finishing strong however, as he’s been 44% above league average in September. Rooker has essentially switched off every other month between looking like an unusable player and being a pitcher’s worst nightmare. His final line of .206/.294/.413 is good for a wRC+ of 114, 14% above league average. The nature of how he got there however isn’t so straightforward and leaves the Twins with a few options to choose from. Business as Usual Rooker has cycled in and out of the lineup all season and at no point has really had a starting position. The Twins could continue to pick their spots to get him in the lineup as they have to try to put him in favorable matchups. This issue with this however is Rooker has historically had reverse splits when it comes to hitting lefties and righties. 7 of his 8 home runs in 2021 have come off of right handed pitching and it’s a bit difficult to slot him into a lineup over someone like Kepler, Kirilloff or at some point Larnach against a right handed pitcher when these other bats have such a stark advantage. Furthermore, it’s fair to wonder whether the inconsistent playing time is partially to blame for Brent Rooker’s hot and cold streaks. For a player who has so much swing and miss with such little plate discipline, consistent reps may be keeping him from unlocking his full potential. Hand him the Keys To combat any kind of concerns with splits or reps, the Twins could simply play Rooker nearly everyday. Larnach will likely begin 2021 in the minors and it could create an opening for him to really get a fair shake at showing what he can do between the DH spot and the corner outfield. The down side of this idea has been well documented, as Rooker is far from an even league average defender. In his brief time in the outfield he’s been worth -2 Outs Above Average in left field and -1 in right. The bat would simply have to be unbelievable to make up for the troubles such a defensive downgrade would create. It’s also difficult to envision anything close to a full time DH role. With Kirilloff back and Sano showing little improvement at first base, it’s easy to see the former filling nearly all of the time at first base, leaving Sano to more often than not fill the DH spot. For as frustrated as the fan base is with Sano, Rooker has a long way to go to prove that he deserves those at bats over him. Find a Trade Partner It’s a strong possibility that the National League will be adopting the designated hitter this winter which would create 15 more suitors for a defensively-challenged slugger such as Rooker. While he likely wouldn’t draw much of a return on his own, it’s easy to see him being a nice peripheral piece to a bigger deal with a team that has no immediate options at their newly opened DH spot. While it’s always nerve-racking to part with a prospect who once had such shine, the Twins need to be realistic this winter. At 27 years old headed into 2022, Brent Rooker still has more questions than answers about his future in Major League Baseball. Those answers won’t be found while playing every 3rd or 4th day, and unless the Twins are prepared to provide a real opportunity, it’s really not even fair to him. So which road should the Twins take? Does Brent Rooker need a fair chance at a full time job or has his window with the Twins closed? Let us know below! — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  11. It absolutely is. The nice thing about these 3 guys is if you doubt the Twins player development program these arms have been developed by other teams. In all 3 cases they've already thrown plenty of innings in the MLB and are ready to throw into a rotation (admittedly on the back end) for relatively cheap. We could still sign or trade for a front line starter or two, these guys are meant to be additional acquisitions that could turn develop more since they're controlled for 3+ years.
  12. Kepler may be disappointing but he's a valuable player on a very affordable contract. He's still a gold glove level defender with the ability to fill CF and he can still hit right handed pitching well. I agree on him not being enough for someone like Javier, but I'd bet he'd easily get us Hernandez and would be close on Toussant.
  13. After almost completely ignoring the trade market last winter, the Twins almost surely won’t be able to afford to do so this year. Luckily for the pitching-needy Twins, there are plenty of controllable arms to target. The Twins could easily patch together a rotation by signing a small army of one-year rentals with an expensive front of the rotation starter for several years. Unfortunately, that may be a bit of a band-aid on their pitching troubles. The Twins should be looking for arms that can immediately take the reins in the rotation with several years of control and plenty of upside to grow. While the Twins can surely find a lengthy list of such arms to choose from, I found three that could be particularly interesting. Elieser Hernandez Hernandez has been far from a star in pitching-rich Miami, likely being their #5 starter at best. At 26 years old, his 4.70 ERA through 210 innings pitched doesn’t tell the whole story. Hernandez has posted a K/9 of 9.0 or better the last three years as well as showing impeccable control. He also has the kind of slider the front office loves, as the pitch has annually generated a whiff rate over 30% with a .158 xBA and .267 xSLG allowed in 2021. He’s also been working on a changeup which has a 34% whiff rate as well this year despite getting hit around a bit. The big red flag on Hernandez is the home run rate which nears 2.0 per 9 innings in his career. His fastball gets crushed which is why he’s been working on the changeup. In short, Hernandez is already in the process of trying to correct his biggest issue and the early results are somewhat encouraging. With a pipeline of upcoming pitching in Miami, Hernandez may be out a spot as soon as opening day and therefore would be a low risk high reward acquisition for the Twins who would control Hernandez for the next three years. Christian Javier This may be shooting for the stars but Javier has the kind of upside the front office should be looking to acquire for this winter. Like Hernandez, Javier finds himself overshadowed in an impressive rotation. In this case, the result was a move to the bullpen. Javier owns a 3.30 ERA in his MLB career through almost 150 innings with a 10+ K/9 so far. Walks and homers have been an issue, but the raw talent far outweighs the red flags for the 24-year-old. Javier is likely in Houston’s rotation plans for the 2022 season although not as the front line starter he could potentially develop into. The price would certainly be high, perhaps involving an already established player such as Max Kepler or Mitch Garver. That being said, it’s a chance to buy low on Javier whose price may never be lower coming off a second half in the bullpen. The Twins can get an established, talented young pitcher to mould into their next stud over the next four years. Touki Toussaint Toussaint is probably the most fun pitcher on this list because of his GIF worthy repertoire. A former first-round pick, it’s easy to see Toussaint’s talent in just about every pitch he throws. Unfortunately, the nasty stuff that leads to his near 10 K/9 also accounts for his 5+ BB/9 in his career. Through 145 innings his 5.46 ERA doesn’t inspire much confidence, though the raw talent is as obvious as can be. The Twins reputation for turning around pitchers took a hit in 2021, but Toussaint isn’t Matt Shoemaker. It may just take a small tweak to turn Toussaint into a legitimate rotation piece, and his success in the MLB thus far is likely holding down his acquisition cost. The Twins can target any number of pitchers on the trade market, but these are just three candidates that can be brought in with a good amount of potential payoff. Do you like any one the three more than the others? Is there another pitcher the Twins should inquire on? Let us know below! — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  14. The Twins could easily patch together a rotation by signing a small army of one-year rentals with an expensive front of the rotation starter for several years. Unfortunately, that may be a bit of a band-aid on their pitching troubles. The Twins should be looking for arms that can immediately take the reins in the rotation with several years of control and plenty of upside to grow. While the Twins can surely find a lengthy list of such arms to choose from, I found three that could be particularly interesting. Elieser Hernandez Hernandez has been far from a star in pitching-rich Miami, likely being their #5 starter at best. At 26 years old, his 4.70 ERA through 210 innings pitched doesn’t tell the whole story. Hernandez has posted a K/9 of 9.0 or better the last three years as well as showing impeccable control. He also has the kind of slider the front office loves, as the pitch has annually generated a whiff rate over 30% with a .158 xBA and .267 xSLG allowed in 2021. He’s also been working on a changeup which has a 34% whiff rate as well this year despite getting hit around a bit. The big red flag on Hernandez is the home run rate which nears 2.0 per 9 innings in his career. His fastball gets crushed which is why he’s been working on the changeup. In short, Hernandez is already in the process of trying to correct his biggest issue and the early results are somewhat encouraging. With a pipeline of upcoming pitching in Miami, Hernandez may be out a spot as soon as opening day and therefore would be a low risk high reward acquisition for the Twins who would control Hernandez for the next three years. Christian Javier This may be shooting for the stars but Javier has the kind of upside the front office should be looking to acquire for this winter. Like Hernandez, Javier finds himself overshadowed in an impressive rotation. In this case, the result was a move to the bullpen. Javier owns a 3.30 ERA in his MLB career through almost 150 innings with a 10+ K/9 so far. Walks and homers have been an issue, but the raw talent far outweighs the red flags for the 24-year-old. Javier is likely in Houston’s rotation plans for the 2022 season although not as the front line starter he could potentially develop into. The price would certainly be high, perhaps involving an already established player such as Max Kepler or Mitch Garver. That being said, it’s a chance to buy low on Javier whose price may never be lower coming off a second half in the bullpen. The Twins can get an established, talented young pitcher to mould into their next stud over the next four years. Touki Toussaint Toussaint is probably the most fun pitcher on this list because of his GIF worthy repertoire. A former first-round pick, it’s easy to see Toussaint’s talent in just about every pitch he throws. Unfortunately, the nasty stuff that leads to his near 10 K/9 also accounts for his 5+ BB/9 in his career. Through 145 innings his 5.46 ERA doesn’t inspire much confidence, though the raw talent is as obvious as can be. The Twins reputation for turning around pitchers took a hit in 2021, but Toussaint isn’t Matt Shoemaker. It may just take a small tweak to turn Toussaint into a legitimate rotation piece, and his success in the MLB thus far is likely holding down his acquisition cost. The Twins can target any number of pitchers on the trade market, but these are just three candidates that can be brought in with a good amount of potential payoff. Do you like any one the three more than the others? Is there another pitcher the Twins should inquire on? Let us know below! — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  15. The difference in Buxton is it looks like he'll be an MVP level player when he's on the field. Now that Pineda is throwing under 90 mph it's fair to wonder whether he can even get by in a rotation at all over the course of a full season.
  16. The Twins are in need of rotation help for 2022 and have a convenient candidate in Saturday-starter Michael Pineda already on the team and likely willing to come back. Perhaps the Twins shouldn’t be so quick on a reunion, however. Pineda has been one of the success stories of the current front office when it comes to free agent acquisitions. In between a suspension and time on the Injured List, he threw 260 innings across three seasons and accumulated a 3.94 ERA. It seemed like it was a given Pineda was on his way out at this July’s trade deadline. Lo and behold, here we are near year’s end and Pineda is still in Minnesota. It was reported that there just wasn’t a whole lot of interest in Big Mike from contenders at the deadline, and for several good reasons. The Twins may be wise to consider these reasons this winter as they weigh the idea of bringing Big Mike back to Target Field. Declining Health It may be jumping the gun to say Pineda’s health is “declining” as he’s had somewhat frequent IL trips for the entirety of his Twins career. The Twins originally signed him coming off of Tommy John surgery. After an expected debut late in the 2018 season was called off due to a torn meniscus, Big Mike was on and off the IL in 2019 with recurring knee issues. He then had a freak forearm injury after being hit with a comebacker earlier this year and just recently was reactivated after missing time due to an oblique strain. Pineda will be 33 years old in 2022. While many pitchers can continue being effective into their early and mid 30s, Pineda’s body has been through a lot in his career. Things like knee injuries and pulled obliques can have long standing repercussions with athletes and can certainly be recurrent injuries. Teams in need of a starting pitcher at the deadline likely weighed the chances of Pineda actually being healthy down the stretch and passed. Rightfully so, as Pineda still didn’t look right and hit the IL shortly thereafter. The Twins have a significant amount of innings to fill in 2022. They may be wise to consider just how many of those innings they can really count on Pineda to fill. Walking the Tightrope For the first time since Pineda became a full time member of the Twins rotation, it’s fair to question just what quality of innings you can expect from him moving forward. Once possessing a mid 90s fastball, Pineda averaged a respectable 92.5 on his heater in 2019 and 92.1 in 2020. In 2021 Pineda is averaging just 90.1 mph, two entire ticks off of his fastball in just one year. More recently it’s been rare to see Pineda even hit 90 mph. This decline in velocity could be tied to the aforementioned injuries he’s dealt with this year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it can be disregarded. Pineda likely isn’t getting any healthier and his fastball has already declined to the point where not being at 100% appears to leave him with a sub 90mph fastball. We’ve seen the high-wire act it takes to succeed in the majors with a fastball that fails to reach 90. Arms like Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe have flashed success but have never been able to fully maintain Major League success for long periods. Pineda, whose repertoire consists of two pitches being thrown near 85% of the time, likely wouldn’t be an exception. Big Mike may not have been on the field as often as the Twins hoped these last three years, but he’s been one of their steadiest arms when healthy. Headed into a season where every pitching acquisition will be incredibly important, Pineda is a risk to both the quantity and quality of innings he can provide. It’s entirely possible that Pineda tries to leverage his successful three years in Minnesota into one last payday. In a vacuum, his previous performance could likely net him another multi-year deal with upwards of $8-10m per year, and it’d be fair to look for good money. I’d argue that in order for Big Mike to return to Minnesota, it likely has to come on a much cheaper deal to account for the risk involved on the Twins end. The Twins need to avoid making such a risky pitcher one of their main additions to a currently bare 2022 starting rotation just because he’s a familiar face. Pineda was passed by at the deadline by contenders for several concerns that still very much exist. The Twins, having several additions to be made and needing to hit on all of them, need to be extremely careful if they want to pursue a reunion. Do you agree? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  17. Pineda has been one of the success stories of the current front office when it comes to free agent acquisitions. In between a suspension and time on the Injured List, he threw 260 innings across three seasons and accumulated a 3.94 ERA. It seemed like it was a given Pineda was on his way out at this July’s trade deadline. Lo and behold, here we are near year’s end and Pineda is still in Minnesota. It was reported that there just wasn’t a whole lot of interest in Big Mike from contenders at the deadline, and for several good reasons. The Twins may be wise to consider these reasons this winter as they weigh the idea of bringing Big Mike back to Target Field. Declining Health It may be jumping the gun to say Pineda’s health is “declining” as he’s had somewhat frequent IL trips for the entirety of his Twins career. The Twins originally signed him coming off of Tommy John surgery. After an expected debut late in the 2018 season was called off due to a torn meniscus, Big Mike was on and off the IL in 2019 with recurring knee issues. He then had a freak forearm injury after being hit with a comebacker earlier this year and just recently was reactivated after missing time due to an oblique strain. Pineda will be 33 years old in 2022. While many pitchers can continue being effective into their early and mid 30s, Pineda’s body has been through a lot in his career. Things like knee injuries and pulled obliques can have long standing repercussions with athletes and can certainly be recurrent injuries. Teams in need of a starting pitcher at the deadline likely weighed the chances of Pineda actually being healthy down the stretch and passed. Rightfully so, as Pineda still didn’t look right and hit the IL shortly thereafter. The Twins have a significant amount of innings to fill in 2022. They may be wise to consider just how many of those innings they can really count on Pineda to fill. Walking the Tightrope For the first time since Pineda became a full time member of the Twins rotation, it’s fair to question just what quality of innings you can expect from him moving forward. Once possessing a mid 90s fastball, Pineda averaged a respectable 92.5 on his heater in 2019 and 92.1 in 2020. In 2021 Pineda is averaging just 90.1 mph, two entire ticks off of his fastball in just one year. More recently it’s been rare to see Pineda even hit 90 mph. This decline in velocity could be tied to the aforementioned injuries he’s dealt with this year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it can be disregarded. Pineda likely isn’t getting any healthier and his fastball has already declined to the point where not being at 100% appears to leave him with a sub 90mph fastball. We’ve seen the high-wire act it takes to succeed in the majors with a fastball that fails to reach 90. Arms like Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe have flashed success but have never been able to fully maintain Major League success for long periods. Pineda, whose repertoire consists of two pitches being thrown near 85% of the time, likely wouldn’t be an exception. Big Mike may not have been on the field as often as the Twins hoped these last three years, but he’s been one of their steadiest arms when healthy. Headed into a season where every pitching acquisition will be incredibly important, Pineda is a risk to both the quantity and quality of innings he can provide. It’s entirely possible that Pineda tries to leverage his successful three years in Minnesota into one last payday. In a vacuum, his previous performance could likely net him another multi-year deal with upwards of $8-10m per year, and it’d be fair to look for good money. I’d argue that in order for Big Mike to return to Minnesota, it likely has to come on a much cheaper deal to account for the risk involved on the Twins end. The Twins need to avoid making such a risky pitcher one of their main additions to a currently bare 2022 starting rotation just because he’s a familiar face. Pineda was passed by at the deadline by contenders for several concerns that still very much exist. The Twins, having several additions to be made and needing to hit on all of them, need to be extremely careful if they want to pursue a reunion. Do you agree? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  18. Bailey Ober wasn’t a top prospect headed into 2021 but now looks like a fixture in the 2022 rotation. While not a highly-touted arm, Ober has vaulted himself into the Twins plans. Who could be the next Bailey Ober in 2022? There appear to be plenty of innings to go around in 2022. While we hope to see prospects such as Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran debut, Bailey Ober is proof that it isn’t always the shiny top prospect that storms into the Major Leagues. The Twins have a few arms in the minors who could be a pleasant surprise to the MLB club next season. Drew Strotman - Twins MLB.com Ranking: 17 The less-hyped player in the Nelson Cruz return this summer, Strotman went straight to St. Paul upon his arrival where it appears he’ll finish his season. Once a strong control pitcher, Strotman has had a walk rate over 12% this year. The Twins may be able to attribute this to his 2018 Tommy John surgery and inability to knock off the last of the rust with the lack of a 2020 season. Still, Strotman has plenty to like. He can hit the mid-90s as a starter with his best offering being a cutter with a decent curveball to pair with it. He was striking out nearly 25% of his hitters faced with a mid-3s ERA with Tampa’s AAA team in Durham before struggling across the board with the Saints, possibly a result of him hitting an innings wall in his first full season back. Strotman will be 25 next season and already possesses a 40-man roster spot. He’s in the most convenient spot of all three of these pitchers to get one of the first calls next season, especially if he comes out on fire to open the season. Cole Sands - Twins MLB.com Ranking: 19 Sands has spent 2021 exclusively at AA after a brief debut there in 2019. Despite his 10.4% walk rate this year, he’s long had the reputation as a strike-thrower, never before walking more than 6.3% of hitters. It’s a safe bet on Sands regaining that control which would bode well for his future considering he’s maintained a strikeout rate of 30% in 2021. Sands has also limited the long ball in his minor league career. 2021 is his career-worst with a still-respectable 0.93 HR/9. With a 2.93 ERA at AA this year, Sands will get the call to the next level sooner rather than later. At that point, his high floor for strikeouts, low walk totals and limiting homers puts him in a great spot to get an opportunity when the Twins need innings filled in 2022. It’s the same baseline of skills that Bailey Ober used to get to the big leagues. Chris Vallimont - Twins MLB.com Ranking: 21 In some ways, 2021 has been a disappointment for Chris Vallimont who’s sporting a 6.00 ERA at the AA level through 78 innings. He hadn’t shown a huge control problem prior to this year but has walked 14.4% of batters faced. He used to limit homers but has allowed a 1.27 per 9 innings this year. Still, that 6.00 ERA indicates a bit of bad luck according to his 4.40 FIP and 4.62 xFIP. Vallimont still shows a strong ability to strike out opponents, and has done so at a 32.1% rate. If he can return to his career norms in terms of walks and homers allowed, he could move aggressively to the MLB level as he’ll be 25 to begin 2022. He seems to have the raw stuff to dominate hitters if he can manage to iron out some kinks. If there’s one thing we can expect from the pitching staff next season, it’s that there will be plenty of opportunities. Bailey Ober appears to be a diamond in the rough, thrown into a trial by fire due to a pitching staff that completely turned over by season’s end. Could one of these three be the next development arm to take this route to success? Could it be one not listed here? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  19. There appear to be plenty of innings to go around in 2022. While we hope to see prospects such as Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran debut, Bailey Ober is proof that it isn’t always the shiny top prospect that storms into the Major Leagues. The Twins have a few arms in the minors who could be a pleasant surprise to the MLB club next season. Drew Strotman - Twins MLB.com Ranking: 17 The less-hyped player in the Nelson Cruz return this summer, Strotman went straight to St. Paul upon his arrival where it appears he’ll finish his season. Once a strong control pitcher, Strotman has had a walk rate over 12% this year. The Twins may be able to attribute this to his 2018 Tommy John surgery and inability to knock off the last of the rust with the lack of a 2020 season. Still, Strotman has plenty to like. He can hit the mid-90s as a starter with his best offering being a cutter with a decent curveball to pair with it. He was striking out nearly 25% of his hitters faced with a mid-3s ERA with Tampa’s AAA team in Durham before struggling across the board with the Saints, possibly a result of him hitting an innings wall in his first full season back. Strotman will be 25 next season and already possesses a 40-man roster spot. He’s in the most convenient spot of all three of these pitchers to get one of the first calls next season, especially if he comes out on fire to open the season. Cole Sands - Twins MLB.com Ranking: 19 Sands has spent 2021 exclusively at AA after a brief debut there in 2019. Despite his 10.4% walk rate this year, he’s long had the reputation as a strike-thrower, never before walking more than 6.3% of hitters. It’s a safe bet on Sands regaining that control which would bode well for his future considering he’s maintained a strikeout rate of 30% in 2021. Sands has also limited the long ball in his minor league career. 2021 is his career-worst with a still-respectable 0.93 HR/9. With a 2.93 ERA at AA this year, Sands will get the call to the next level sooner rather than later. At that point, his high floor for strikeouts, low walk totals and limiting homers puts him in a great spot to get an opportunity when the Twins need innings filled in 2022. It’s the same baseline of skills that Bailey Ober used to get to the big leagues. Chris Vallimont - Twins MLB.com Ranking: 21 In some ways, 2021 has been a disappointment for Chris Vallimont who’s sporting a 6.00 ERA at the AA level through 78 innings. He hadn’t shown a huge control problem prior to this year but has walked 14.4% of batters faced. He used to limit homers but has allowed a 1.27 per 9 innings this year. Still, that 6.00 ERA indicates a bit of bad luck according to his 4.40 FIP and 4.62 xFIP. Vallimont still shows a strong ability to strike out opponents, and has done so at a 32.1% rate. If he can return to his career norms in terms of walks and homers allowed, he could move aggressively to the MLB level as he’ll be 25 to begin 2022. He seems to have the raw stuff to dominate hitters if he can manage to iron out some kinks. If there’s one thing we can expect from the pitching staff next season, it’s that there will be plenty of opportunities. Bailey Ober appears to be a diamond in the rough, thrown into a trial by fire due to a pitching staff that completely turned over by season’s end. Could one of these three be the next development arm to take this route to success? Could it be one not listed here? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  20. The Twins brass has continued to hold the position that the team intends to compete in 2022. Standing in their way is one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball in 2021. Competing in 2022 will take a major rebound, but what might that rebound look like? The Twins had a tall order when it came to the 2022 pitching staff even when Jose Berrios and Kenta Maeda were slotted into the first two spots. Berrios has since been traded and we’ve received word that Maeda has an ominous elbow injury and will have exploratory surgery next week which could turn into Tommy John. Kenta Maeda That brings us to the number one factor in the Twins rotation rebuild in 2022: Kenta Maeda needs to be anchoring it. The Twins can’t really affect whether Maeda is healthy and at this point it appears him being relied on in 2022 is a long shot, but not having a single veteran arm returning creates a scenario in which some might call it nearly impossible to field a reliable 1-5. Even if Maeda isn’t the bona fide ace we hoped, having him at 2 or 3 in the rotation would at least give the Twins something to work with. Without Maeda, the rotation troubles likely become too much to recover from. Build From Within There’s no doubt that the Falvey/Levine pitching pipeline is growing ever closer to MLB ready and some of it has already arrived. Bailey Ober is likely a favorite to shore up the rotation on Opening Day after he put up an ERA around 4.00 in his first 68 innings. Griffin Jax will likely finish the season in the rotation, and Randy Dobnak should be back in the rotation before year’s end. Joe Ryan may be up in short order as well. Additionally, the Twins do have Duran and Winder at the AAA level with newly-acquired Simeon Woods-Richardson, Cole Sands and Jordan Balazovic at AA. The issue with using internal options is it largely depends on youth, much of which hasn’t even pitched in the majors yet. For as talented as many of the Twins young arms might be, there’s no telling how they’ll perform in their first taste of the big leagues. Furthermore, the Twins simply won’t let any of these young arms throw enough innings to take the ball every fifth day through season’s end even if they are effective. Duran threw over 100 innings in 2019, had 2020 off, and has thrown 16 innings this season. Winder followed a similar trend and has thrown 72 innings this season. Bailey Ober, whose fans typically express their disgust with his limited innings in starts, leads this group with 84 innings in 2021. It would be simply shocking to see any of these young arms reach even 150 innings in 2022. Some innings will be filled internally, but it will likely take some of them debuting down the stretch rather than being leaned on throughout the entire season. Outside Help The Twins are going to have a heavy offseason of trying to acquire pitching on the free agent and hopefully trade market. Even coming into this year they preferred to spend $10m on a combination of Happ and Shoemaker to take up two spots rather than spending on a higher quality arm and dedicating a rotation spot to a young arm like Dobnak. Picking up two free agent starters with three already penciled in in 2021 hints that the Twins will likely pursue three to four starting pitchers this winter at the very least. There are some high level free agent arms available this offseason, but it’s hard to see the Twins pursuing any of them. Spending $15-20m on one single pitcher would limit the Twins ability to effectively fill 3-4 other rotation spots. Instead the Twins will likely have to fill their rotation with middling arms that they can try to tweak and unlock something with. Their rotation’s success will likely have everything to do with their ability to effectively identify some under the radar arms and make the necessary tweaks. So essentially the Twins are relying on a miracle when it comes to Maeda and their effectiveness in bringing in outside options when it comes to their pitching rebound. They’ll certainly be counting on some younger pitchers contributing, but they’re almost certainly going to try to make them complementary pieces. In short, the Twins are in a difficult spot no matter how you spin it. They’re likely going to be headed into 2022 with either four or five starting pitchers in the rotation that weren’t there on Opening Day 2021. That’s an incredibly steep mountain to climb for any front office trying to compete, let alone one that missed on nearly every pitching decision they made just last winter. It’s no fun being negative, but 2022 may be a year to just sit back and enjoy whatever positives shake out with this pitching staff rather than having soaring expectations. There will be a fair share of excitement along the way, but it may be wise for Twins fans to temper expectations. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  21. The Twins had a tall order when it came to the 2022 pitching staff even when Jose Berrios and Kenta Maeda were slotted into the first two spots. Berrios has since been traded and we’ve received word that Maeda has an ominous elbow injury and will have exploratory surgery next week which could turn into Tommy John. Kenta Maeda That brings us to the number one factor in the Twins rotation rebuild in 2022: Kenta Maeda needs to be anchoring it. The Twins can’t really affect whether Maeda is healthy and at this point it appears him being relied on in 2022 is a long shot, but not having a single veteran arm returning creates a scenario in which some might call it nearly impossible to field a reliable 1-5. Even if Maeda isn’t the bona fide ace we hoped, having him at 2 or 3 in the rotation would at least give the Twins something to work with. Without Maeda, the rotation troubles likely become too much to recover from. Build From Within There’s no doubt that the Falvey/Levine pitching pipeline is growing ever closer to MLB ready and some of it has already arrived. Bailey Ober is likely a favorite to shore up the rotation on Opening Day after he put up an ERA around 4.00 in his first 68 innings. Griffin Jax will likely finish the season in the rotation, and Randy Dobnak should be back in the rotation before year’s end. Joe Ryan may be up in short order as well. Additionally, the Twins do have Duran and Winder at the AAA level with newly-acquired Simeon Woods-Richardson, Cole Sands and Jordan Balazovic at AA. The issue with using internal options is it largely depends on youth, much of which hasn’t even pitched in the majors yet. For as talented as many of the Twins young arms might be, there’s no telling how they’ll perform in their first taste of the big leagues. Furthermore, the Twins simply won’t let any of these young arms throw enough innings to take the ball every fifth day through season’s end even if they are effective. Duran threw over 100 innings in 2019, had 2020 off, and has thrown 16 innings this season. Winder followed a similar trend and has thrown 72 innings this season. Bailey Ober, whose fans typically express their disgust with his limited innings in starts, leads this group with 84 innings in 2021. It would be simply shocking to see any of these young arms reach even 150 innings in 2022. Some innings will be filled internally, but it will likely take some of them debuting down the stretch rather than being leaned on throughout the entire season. Outside Help The Twins are going to have a heavy offseason of trying to acquire pitching on the free agent and hopefully trade market. Even coming into this year they preferred to spend $10m on a combination of Happ and Shoemaker to take up two spots rather than spending on a higher quality arm and dedicating a rotation spot to a young arm like Dobnak. Picking up two free agent starters with three already penciled in in 2021 hints that the Twins will likely pursue three to four starting pitchers this winter at the very least. There are some high level free agent arms available this offseason, but it’s hard to see the Twins pursuing any of them. Spending $15-20m on one single pitcher would limit the Twins ability to effectively fill 3-4 other rotation spots. Instead the Twins will likely have to fill their rotation with middling arms that they can try to tweak and unlock something with. Their rotation’s success will likely have everything to do with their ability to effectively identify some under the radar arms and make the necessary tweaks. So essentially the Twins are relying on a miracle when it comes to Maeda and their effectiveness in bringing in outside options when it comes to their pitching rebound. They’ll certainly be counting on some younger pitchers contributing, but they’re almost certainly going to try to make them complementary pieces. In short, the Twins are in a difficult spot no matter how you spin it. They’re likely going to be headed into 2022 with either four or five starting pitchers in the rotation that weren’t there on Opening Day 2021. That’s an incredibly steep mountain to climb for any front office trying to compete, let alone one that missed on nearly every pitching decision they made just last winter. It’s no fun being negative, but 2022 may be a year to just sit back and enjoy whatever positives shake out with this pitching staff rather than having soaring expectations. There will be a fair share of excitement along the way, but it may be wise for Twins fans to temper expectations. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  22. The Twins might have a bit of a 40 man roster crunch in 2022. The Rule 5 eligible players are one consideration, but the six players on the 60 day IL are another. Not all of these players should necessarily be back. The 60-Day IL allows teams to stash an injured player away without holding a 40 man spot. The Twins have utilized this six times this season in the way of four pitchers and two hitters. With young players needing 40 man roster spots to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this winter, it’s worth revisiting these players on a case-by-case basis. Alex Kirilloff This is probably the easiest one. The Twins former top prospect should be back with a healthy wrist by Opening Day and likely penciled in at first base. There isn’t anything that would change the Twins minds. Randy Dobnak Despite a nightmare season in which Dobnak put up a 7.83 ERA in 43 innings, he’s an easy add after the Twins extended him through 2026 on a very team-friendly deal. Regarding his role, it’s anyone’s guess at this point how the Twins plan to use him, but he’s been throwing bullpens recently and could even return from a finger injury before the end of 2021. The Twins can’t cut Dobnak loose given their commitment, not to mention his recent success in the MLB. Devin Smeltzer Smeltzer only threw 4 2/3 innings without allowing a run before being put on the IL with an elbow injury. His 2022 may largely depend on the nature of his injury and whether his health can be counted on. Perhaps his lack of ceiling may give the Twins pause, but he has shown to be a competent Major League pitcher and perhaps deserves a little bit of run in a bullpen role. If he’s ready to pitch for opening day in 2022, I’d expect to see Smeltzer get one more look. Edwar Colina Colina got shelled in his lone MLB appearance in 2020 but boasts what some call the best slider in the Twins system to go along with his high-90s fastball. Colina was an arm many were excited to see get some real run this year before he underwent elbow surgery which ended his season before it began. As the Twins look to rebuild a bullpen in 2022, it’s hard to imagine them not gambling on the upside of Edwar Colina assuming his injury appears to be recovering as expected. Cody Stashak It’s possible Stashak was dealing with his back injury longer than the Twins knew, but it was a bit surprising to see him get as much of an opportunity as he did in 2021. With a 91 mph fastball, Stashak’s skillset revolved around his ability to limit walks when he debuted in 2019 which made his 13.3% walk rate this year all the more unacceptable. He upped his strikeout rate to nearly 35% at the expense of every other skill a pitcher could have as he finished with a 6.89 ERA. Stashak will be 28 next year and his ceiling is probably just an okay middle reliever which may make him an easy roster spot to dedicate to protecting another player from the Rule 5 draft. Kyle Garlick Garlick looked like the Twins best offseason acquisition for awhile and slashed .232/.280/.465 before being shut down with a sports hernia. Garlick does one thing well and that’s mash lefties, something the Twins were unable to set him up for consistently as injuries piled up. Unfortunately for Garlick, the Twins just don’t have a lot to gain from keeping a defensively-challenged 30-year-old with such a niche skillset. It’s hard to see the Twins not parting ways with Garlick unfortunately. It’s easy to look at this list of players who haven’t been contributing for quite some time and forget about them, but the Twins do have some solid players coming back off injury next year. The tricky part is trying to balance the roster on who is worthy of a return as they try and protect the necessary players to avoid another Akil Baddoo situation. Should any more of these six be definitively kept or let go this winter? Let us know below. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  23. The 60-Day IL allows teams to stash an injured player away without holding a 40 man spot. The Twins have utilized this six times this season in the way of four pitchers and two hitters. With young players needing 40 man roster spots to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this winter, it’s worth revisiting these players on a case-by-case basis. Alex Kirilloff This is probably the easiest one. The Twins former top prospect should be back with a healthy wrist by Opening Day and likely penciled in at first base. There isn’t anything that would change the Twins minds. Randy Dobnak Despite a nightmare season in which Dobnak put up a 7.83 ERA in 43 innings, he’s an easy add after the Twins extended him through 2026 on a very team-friendly deal. Regarding his role, it’s anyone’s guess at this point how the Twins plan to use him, but he’s been throwing bullpens recently and could even return from a finger injury before the end of 2021. The Twins can’t cut Dobnak loose given their commitment, not to mention his recent success in the MLB. Devin Smeltzer Smeltzer only threw 4 2/3 innings without allowing a run before being put on the IL with an elbow injury. His 2022 may largely depend on the nature of his injury and whether his health can be counted on. Perhaps his lack of ceiling may give the Twins pause, but he has shown to be a competent Major League pitcher and perhaps deserves a little bit of run in a bullpen role. If he’s ready to pitch for opening day in 2022, I’d expect to see Smeltzer get one more look. Edwar Colina Colina got shelled in his lone MLB appearance in 2020 but boasts what some call the best slider in the Twins system to go along with his high-90s fastball. Colina was an arm many were excited to see get some real run this year before he underwent elbow surgery which ended his season before it began. As the Twins look to rebuild a bullpen in 2022, it’s hard to imagine them not gambling on the upside of Edwar Colina assuming his injury appears to be recovering as expected. Cody Stashak It’s possible Stashak was dealing with his back injury longer than the Twins knew, but it was a bit surprising to see him get as much of an opportunity as he did in 2021. With a 91 mph fastball, Stashak’s skillset revolved around his ability to limit walks when he debuted in 2019 which made his 13.3% walk rate this year all the more unacceptable. He upped his strikeout rate to nearly 35% at the expense of every other skill a pitcher could have as he finished with a 6.89 ERA. Stashak will be 28 next year and his ceiling is probably just an okay middle reliever which may make him an easy roster spot to dedicate to protecting another player from the Rule 5 draft. Kyle Garlick Garlick looked like the Twins best offseason acquisition for awhile and slashed .232/.280/.465 before being shut down with a sports hernia. Garlick does one thing well and that’s mash lefties, something the Twins were unable to set him up for consistently as injuries piled up. Unfortunately for Garlick, the Twins just don’t have a lot to gain from keeping a defensively-challenged 30-year-old with such a niche skillset. It’s hard to see the Twins not parting ways with Garlick unfortunately. It’s easy to look at this list of players who haven’t been contributing for quite some time and forget about them, but the Twins do have some solid players coming back off injury next year. The tricky part is trying to balance the roster on who is worthy of a return as they try and protect the necessary players to avoid another Akil Baddoo situation. Should any more of these six be definitively kept or let go this winter? Let us know below. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  24. The Twins pulled off quite the swap to acquire two top 100 prospects for Jose Berrios at the deadline in Simeon Woods-Richardson and Austin Martin. In the case of the latter, however, the front office saw an opportunity to buy at reduced cost and took advantage. Austin Martin is a highly-regarded prospect and has been since well before he was drafted 5th overall by Toronto in 2020. Many evaluators even saw Martin as the top hitter of the entire draft. He was arguably the most talented prospect to change jerseys at this year’s deadline as well. Making it all the more incredible is the Twins not only received Martin in their Berrios deal, but also another top 100 prospect in right handed pitcher Simeon Woods-Richardson. It seemed too good to be true at the time, and it may be worthwhile to consider how the Twins talked the Blue Jays into parting with a player who was drafted 5th overall just a year ago. Contact Concerns In his senior season at Vanderbilt, Austin Martin struck out just twice in 69 plate appearances against some of the best collegiate pitching in the country. It set him apart from the typical college masher as a savant when it came to bat-to-ball skills. Such a skillset comes with a high floor which is likely why Toronto was aggressive enough to assign Martin to AA in his professional debut in 2021. His 2021 season hasn’t been a complete disaster, but it has raised some eyebrows. Martin has struck out over 20% of the time which was an outcome not many scouts saw coming. Some attribute it to his passive approach which while leading him to a near 15% walk rate, may also get him unnecessarily deep into counts that he can’t battle his way out of. Martin may need to find a happy medium between drawing his walks and being just aggressive enough to take advantage of hittable pitches early in counts. Impacting the Baseball: You typically hear of prospects “flashing plus power”, whereas Martin has been cited to flash average power. Given his eye at the plate and impressive bat-to-ball skills, the Twins won’t need him to become a 40 home run hitter in order to be a success. That being said, his .383 slugging % in 2021 paired with an 8 mph drop in average exit velocity has been enough to cause worry among some scouts. It’s easier to develop power as a player ages than it is elite contact ability, and the Twins will be counting on Martin to do so to some extent as he continues to inch closer to the Major League level. Defensive Future: By almost all accounts, Martin is not the Twins shortstop of the future. While athletic and soft handed, his arm may be lacking for the most important position in the infield. While listed as a shortstop, he played third base for much of his senior year before being moved to center field due to throwing issues by year’s end. Scouts have yet to come to much of a conclusion in regards to Austin Martin the center fielder. The Twins will surely get a closer look at their new top two prospect at shortstop, but don’t be surprised to see them pivot to trying him as an heir to the center field position in the case of a Buxton departure. A player of such a skillset just doesn’t slot in well to the traditionally power-heavy corner positions in the outfield. Such a lack of clarity on a defensive future is enough to rub some of the prospect shine away on a 22 year old. Austin Martin is certainly an incredibly exciting prospect and one that isn’t too far off from the Majors in all likelihood. There are further questions that have been raised in the last year about his ceiling however that without a doubt contributed to the Twins ability to receive both him and a highly-regarded pitching prospect. The front office admitted they were enormous fans of Martin during the 2020 draft but had no shot at drafting him. While his stock hasn’t crashed, Falvine and company have bought relatively low on a prospect that caught their eye a year ago and now have the opportunity to develop a possible cornerstone of the next great Minnesota Twins team. Can the Twins come out on the winning end of the gamble they made on trading away their home grown ace? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  25. Austin Martin is a highly-regarded prospect and has been since well before he was drafted 5th overall by Toronto in 2020. Many evaluators even saw Martin as the top hitter of the entire draft. He was arguably the most talented prospect to change jerseys at this year’s deadline as well. Making it all the more incredible is the Twins not only received Martin in their Berrios deal, but also another top 100 prospect in right handed pitcher Simeon Woods-Richardson. It seemed too good to be true at the time, and it may be worthwhile to consider how the Twins talked the Blue Jays into parting with a player who was drafted 5th overall just a year ago. Contact Concerns In his senior season at Vanderbilt, Austin Martin struck out just twice in 69 plate appearances against some of the best collegiate pitching in the country. It set him apart from the typical college masher as a savant when it came to bat-to-ball skills. Such a skillset comes with a high floor which is likely why Toronto was aggressive enough to assign Martin to AA in his professional debut in 2021. His 2021 season hasn’t been a complete disaster, but it has raised some eyebrows. Martin has struck out over 20% of the time which was an outcome not many scouts saw coming. Some attribute it to his passive approach which while leading him to a near 15% walk rate, may also get him unnecessarily deep into counts that he can’t battle his way out of. Martin may need to find a happy medium between drawing his walks and being just aggressive enough to take advantage of hittable pitches early in counts. Impacting the Baseball: You typically hear of prospects “flashing plus power”, whereas Martin has been cited to flash average power. Given his eye at the plate and impressive bat-to-ball skills, the Twins won’t need him to become a 40 home run hitter in order to be a success. That being said, his .383 slugging % in 2021 paired with an 8 mph drop in average exit velocity has been enough to cause worry among some scouts. It’s easier to develop power as a player ages than it is elite contact ability, and the Twins will be counting on Martin to do so to some extent as he continues to inch closer to the Major League level. Defensive Future: By almost all accounts, Martin is not the Twins shortstop of the future. While athletic and soft handed, his arm may be lacking for the most important position in the infield. While listed as a shortstop, he played third base for much of his senior year before being moved to center field due to throwing issues by year’s end. Scouts have yet to come to much of a conclusion in regards to Austin Martin the center fielder. The Twins will surely get a closer look at their new top two prospect at shortstop, but don’t be surprised to see them pivot to trying him as an heir to the center field position in the case of a Buxton departure. A player of such a skillset just doesn’t slot in well to the traditionally power-heavy corner positions in the outfield. Such a lack of clarity on a defensive future is enough to rub some of the prospect shine away on a 22 year old. Austin Martin is certainly an incredibly exciting prospect and one that isn’t too far off from the Majors in all likelihood. There are further questions that have been raised in the last year about his ceiling however that without a doubt contributed to the Twins ability to receive both him and a highly-regarded pitching prospect. The front office admitted they were enormous fans of Martin during the 2020 draft but had no shot at drafting him. While his stock hasn’t crashed, Falvine and company have bought relatively low on a prospect that caught their eye a year ago and now have the opportunity to develop a possible cornerstone of the next great Minnesota Twins team. Can the Twins come out on the winning end of the gamble they made on trading away their home grown ace? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
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