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Nick Nelson

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Everything posted by Nick Nelson

  1. I’m pretty sure the only player I ever fully dedicated a preseason MVP prediction article to is Miguel Sano (2016, let’s not talk about it). But the sentiment is valid for sure.
  2. Great rec! Posnanski is one of my all-time favorite baseball writers
  3. From books to clothing to memorabilia, you'll find options below covering the gamut. For transparency, none of the authors or companies featured here are sponsors of this guide, nor are they even aware we're putting it together, although many have partnered with Twins Daily in the past. We're recommending them because we like the products, and many of the folks behind them are locals, small business owners. and fellow Twins fans. BOOKS The Big 50: The Men and Moments that Made the Minnesota Twins by Aaron Gleeman Aaron is a phenomenal writer, diligent researcher, and lifelong Twins fan, making him the perfect fit to write this expansive journey through the franchise's history. With stat-centric slant, AG counts down the 50 most important players and milestones since the team moved to Minnesota. Minnesota Twins: The Complete Illustrated History by Dennis Brackin, Patrick Reusse I received this as a gift some years ago and I love it. It's the perfect coffee table book: a big glossy hardcover full of colorful photos and nostalgic memories. If you've read his columns in the past or listened to his recent appearance on Gleeman and the Geek, you know how good a storyteller Reusse is. Game Used: My Life in Stitches With the Minnesota Twins by Dick Bremer With help from co-author Jim Bruton, Bremer shares more than 100 anecdotes drawn from a 30-plus year run as Twins TV play-by-play announcer. Dick spoke a little bit about the book during a "Minnesota Made" interview with David Youngs for Twins Daily earlier this year. Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie by Stew Thornley A must-have for any baseball history buff. Thornley is an official scorekeeper for the Twins and also one of the premier Minnesota sports historians around. If your gift recipient is familiar with much of the mainstream Twins history – Killebrew, Carew, Oliva, et al – but interested in learning about some of the lesser-known wrinkles of the franchise's legacy, this is a great choice. ATTIRE Baseball Shirts from Pick & Shovel Wear A locally-owned company featuring fun, creative designs oriented toward the realm of nerds and diehards. They have a bunch of great nostalgic throwbacks, from the "RBI Baseball" themed World Series moments to the "Walks Will Haunt" Metrodome nod. I personally might recommend the "Sota Pop" shirt. Baseball Shirts from Sota Stick Similar to the above, Sota Stick offers a variety of clever designs spanning multiple Minnesota sports, and is run by side-hustling Twins fans. You've likely seen players wearing their shirts (such as "Hip Hip Jorge" and "La Tortuga") during press conferences and warm-ups. I think their Hormel Row of Fame "Weiner Winner" shirt is my personal fave. One thing I'll emphasize is that the shirts from both Pick & Shovel Wear and Sota Stick are very high-quality: comfortable, well-fitting, durable. I have tees from both companies that are multiple years old and I still wear frequently. Twins Official Online Shop Naturally, you can also hit up the team's official store for licensed gear and replica jerseys. The price points will be higher. COLLECTIBLES AND MEMORABILIA Browse Fan HQ You'll find a wide variety of autographed items, from baseballs to photos to cards and more, on Fan HQ's website. You can even submit your own item to get it signed directly by someone like Kent Hrbek, Justin Morneau, and newly-minted Hall of Famer Tony Oliva. Browse AME Sports The AME shop features many framed photos and plaques, often with autographs. High-class memorabilia for adorning a basement wall or den. Have any favorites we missed, or under-the-radar gifts that you'd recommend for a Twins fan this holiday season? Share it in the comments!
  4. There's no place like home for the holidays. Home plate, that is. If you've got any hardcore Twins fans on your list and are looking for a gift that will delight them this year, we've got some recommendations to help make shopping easier. From books to clothing to memorabilia, you'll find options below covering the gamut. For transparency, none of the authors or companies featured here are sponsors of this guide, nor are they even aware we're putting it together, although many have partnered with Twins Daily in the past. We're recommending them because we like the products, and many of the folks behind them are locals, small business owners. and fellow Twins fans. BOOKS The Big 50: The Men and Moments that Made the Minnesota Twins by Aaron Gleeman Aaron is a phenomenal writer, diligent researcher, and lifelong Twins fan, making him the perfect fit to write this expansive journey through the franchise's history. With stat-centric slant, AG counts down the 50 most important players and milestones since the team moved to Minnesota. Minnesota Twins: The Complete Illustrated History by Dennis Brackin, Patrick Reusse I received this as a gift some years ago and I love it. It's the perfect coffee table book: a big glossy hardcover full of colorful photos and nostalgic memories. If you've read his columns in the past or listened to his recent appearance on Gleeman and the Geek, you know how good a storyteller Reusse is. Game Used: My Life in Stitches With the Minnesota Twins by Dick Bremer With help from co-author Jim Bruton, Bremer shares more than 100 anecdotes drawn from a 30-plus year run as Twins TV play-by-play announcer. Dick spoke a little bit about the book during a "Minnesota Made" interview with David Youngs for Twins Daily earlier this year. Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie by Stew Thornley A must-have for any baseball history buff. Thornley is an official scorekeeper for the Twins and also one of the premier Minnesota sports historians around. If your gift recipient is familiar with much of the mainstream Twins history – Killebrew, Carew, Oliva, et al – but interested in learning about some of the lesser-known wrinkles of the franchise's legacy, this is a great choice. ATTIRE Baseball Shirts from Pick & Shovel Wear A locally-owned company featuring fun, creative designs oriented toward the realm of nerds and diehards. They have a bunch of great nostalgic throwbacks, from the "RBI Baseball" themed World Series moments to the "Walks Will Haunt" Metrodome nod. I personally might recommend the "Sota Pop" shirt. Baseball Shirts from Sota Stick Similar to the above, Sota Stick offers a variety of clever designs spanning multiple Minnesota sports, and is run by side-hustling Twins fans. You've likely seen players wearing their shirts (such as "Hip Hip Jorge" and "La Tortuga") during press conferences and warm-ups. I think their Hormel Row of Fame "Weiner Winner" shirt is my personal fave. One thing I'll emphasize is that the shirts from both Pick & Shovel Wear and Sota Stick are very high-quality: comfortable, well-fitting, durable. I have tees from both companies that are multiple years old and I still wear frequently. Twins Official Online Shop Naturally, you can also hit up the team's official store for licensed gear and replica jerseys. The price points will be higher. COLLECTIBLES AND MEMORABILIA Browse Fan HQ You'll find a wide variety of autographed items, from baseballs to photos to cards and more, on Fan HQ's website. You can even submit your own item to get it signed directly by someone like Kent Hrbek, Justin Morneau, and newly-minted Hall of Famer Tony Oliva. Browse AME Sports The AME shop features many framed photos and plaques, often with autographs. High-class memorabilia for adorning a basement wall or den. Have any favorites we missed, or under-the-radar gifts that you'd recommend for a Twins fan this holiday season? Share it in the comments! View full article
  5. Last week, Major League Baseball's Collective Bargain Agreement officially expired, triggering a lockout and dousing the excitement of a stunningly active early offseason. While the Twins weren't major players in that action, they were able to get in a couple of key moves before the clock struck midnight, so fans aren't left completely hanging in the wind. Let's cover where things stand heading into this dark and desolate winter. BIG BUX: Buxton Signs $100M Extension Not so long ago, reports cast a bleak light on Byron Buxton's future with the Twins. Extension talks appeared to be mired in a futile standstill. A trade sounded more likely than not. Fanbase morale was nosediving, if my interactions with others and my own internal feelings were any indication. Alas, to their immense credit, ownership and the front office got it done. Last Wednesday, Buxton inked a historic seven-year, $100 million contract that will keep him in Minnesota through 2028. He said all along he wanted to stick with the club that drafted and developed him, in the place he'd come to call home. Last week Buxton made good on his word. It's a unique deal that balances risk with reward for both sides. While the guaranteed base numbers are relatively low ($9M in 2022 and $15M in the following years), Buxton can boost his annual salaries – modestly by staying on the field, and massively by ranking near the top of AL MVP voting. Talk about betting on yourself. We all know Buxton is an MVP-caliber player when on the field. For teams, the luxury of needing to pay for only a fraction of that potential if it doesn't come to fruition is basically unheard of. This was truly a no-brainer for the Twins, and a vitally-needed salve for a wounded fanbase. While sticking to their strategic scruples, the front office managed to craft a creative framework that Buxton can feel good about. All he really asked for was a two-way commitment, which came in the form of a no-trade clause. There's simply no knocking this amazing deal. Beyond the sheer baseball logic of such a team-friendly arrangement, there are deeper factors at play. Buxton is a world-class athlete and person whose actions convey his character. His loyalty to this franchise is no lip service, in spite of past friction and a surrounding roster that's currently in disrepair. To let such a homegrown generational talent and spectacular ballpark attraction blossom elsewhere, despite this expression of loyalty, would've been unforgivable. The risk that Buxton comes up short of delivering on the guaranteed value of this contract is vastly outweighed by the specter of him making everyone forget about David Ortiz (and not in a good way). The Twins needed to get this done and they did. It was such a pivotal and overwhelming big-picture priority for me that – and I know some will disagree – I won't be able to view this offseason as a complete failure regardless of what else happens from here. Twins Add Bundy to Fill Rotation Spot With all that said, the state of the pitching staff is a proverbial fly in the ointment. As Thursday's lockout loomed, teams went into a free agent frenzy for starting pitching, and the Twins were mostly left out in the cold. Mostly, but not entirely. The club did sign right-hander Dylan Bundy to hopefully fill a spot in the middle or back of their rotation. As lower-tier flyers go, he's a respectable one – still under 30 with an intriguing history. Formerly a top draft pick and top prospect, Bundy flashed his upside in 2020 before turning in a total clunker last year. While your mileage may vary on him as a player, no one can deny the contract is interesting. Bundy will earn $4 million next year, with an $11 million team option for 2023. Much like the Buxton deal, here we have a player betting on himself in a bold way. If Bundy can bounce back and pitch well enough to sell the Twins on picking up his option, he can more than triple the total value of the deal. Motivation will not be an issue. In many ways, this is a very typical veteran pitching target for the Twins front office, so we probably shouldn't be too surprised. Bundy has some success in his track record, but wasn't in high demand, in large part because of his proneness to home runs. We've seen this story before. In some cases, the Twins have seen good results with this approach (Michael Pineda and Jake Odorizzi). In other cases, not so good (J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker). We'll see which way this one goes, but to suggest it's inherently doomed hints at a lot of recency bias. Regardless, Minnesota has plenty of work left to do on the pitching front. With the upper tiers of the free agency mostly cleared out, they'll almost have to turn to the trade market in order to make at least one truly impactful splash in the rotation. Newly re-signed Jake Cave was dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Bundy. Minaya, Coulombe, Megill Non-tendered The bullpen, too, still needs plenty of attention. Minnesota is keeping its options open for relief pitching, and cleared some room last week on the roster. Juan Minaya and Danny Coulombe were both arbitration-eligible and slated to earn about $1 million next year. Instead, they were both non-tendered, although Coulombe was quickly re-signed to a minor-league deal. Also non-tendered and re-signed was right-hander Trevor Megill, who had been claimed off waivers the same day. It sounds like this was merely a procedural move to keep him in the organization but off the 40-man. His big fastball will likely get a shot in spring training. Joining Coulombe and Megill as likely spring non-roster invites is righty Jake Faria, who signed a minors deal. Faria was once highly thought of as a prospect in the Rays system, and had a nice rookie season back in 2017, but hasn't had much success to speak of since. I suspect the Twins are keying on his split-finger fastball, which held opponents to a .156 average and generated a 33.8% whiff rate amidst his struggles last year, while being thrown only 20% of the time. Rounding out the arbitration picture, the Twins did tender a contract to Taylor Rogers (along with Mitch Garver and Luis Arraez), while striking deals with Tyler Duffey ($3.8M), Caleb Thielbar ($1.3M) and Jharel Cotton ($700K). Almost $50 Million Left to Spend? Whenever baseball ramps up again, the Twins will theoretically have quite a bit of spending money in hand, unless they intend to cut down payroll dramatically from where it stood in 2021. As you can see in the updated payroll projection below, they're currently about $48 million short of that figure. (Salaries for Garver, Arraez, and Rogers are still estimates since no agreements have yet been reached.) The 40-man roster has two open spots following the addition of Bundy, and removals of Minaya, Coulombe, and Cave. The Twins still have several critical holes to address, so they'll need all the flexibility they can get. This front office seems to operate best as stakes heighten in the late weeks of the offseason (many of their biggest moves have come in late January and February) so maybe they'll be in their element during a potential crunch time for roster-building if the lockout ends a few weeks ahead of spring training. Then again, with the top-shelf supply from the free agent pitching and shortstop markets getting decimated over the past couple weeks, the Twins have really seen their spectrum of options shrink. The work is going to be cut out for them. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  6. BIG BUX: Buxton Signs $100M Extension Not so long ago, reports cast a bleak light on Byron Buxton's future with the Twins. Extension talks appeared to be mired in a futile standstill. A trade sounded more likely than not. Fanbase morale was nosediving, if my interactions with others and my own internal feelings were any indication. Alas, to their immense credit, ownership and the front office got it done. Last Wednesday, Buxton inked a historic seven-year, $100 million contract that will keep him in Minnesota through 2028. He said all along he wanted to stick with the club that drafted and developed him, in the place he'd come to call home. Last week Buxton made good on his word. It's a unique deal that balances risk with reward for both sides. While the guaranteed base numbers are relatively low ($9M in 2022 and $15M in the following years), Buxton can boost his annual salaries – modestly by staying on the field, and massively by ranking near the top of AL MVP voting. Talk about betting on yourself. We all know Buxton is an MVP-caliber player when on the field. For teams, the luxury of needing to pay for only a fraction of that potential if it doesn't come to fruition is basically unheard of. This was truly a no-brainer for the Twins, and a vitally-needed salve for a wounded fanbase. While sticking to their strategic scruples, the front office managed to craft a creative framework that Buxton can feel good about. All he really asked for was a two-way commitment, which came in the form of a no-trade clause. There's simply no knocking this amazing deal. Beyond the sheer baseball logic of such a team-friendly arrangement, there are deeper factors at play. Buxton is a world-class athlete and person whose actions convey his character. His loyalty to this franchise is no lip service, in spite of past friction and a surrounding roster that's currently in disrepair. To let such a homegrown generational talent and spectacular ballpark attraction blossom elsewhere, despite this expression of loyalty, would've been unforgivable. The risk that Buxton comes up short of delivering on the guaranteed value of this contract is vastly outweighed by the specter of him making everyone forget about David Ortiz (and not in a good way). The Twins needed to get this done and they did. It was such a pivotal and overwhelming big-picture priority for me that – and I know some will disagree – I won't be able to view this offseason as a complete failure regardless of what else happens from here. Twins Add Bundy to Fill Rotation Spot With all that said, the state of the pitching staff is a proverbial fly in the ointment. As Thursday's lockout loomed, teams went into a free agent frenzy for starting pitching, and the Twins were mostly left out in the cold. Mostly, but not entirely. The club did sign right-hander Dylan Bundy to hopefully fill a spot in the middle or back of their rotation. As lower-tier flyers go, he's a respectable one – still under 30 with an intriguing history. Formerly a top draft pick and top prospect, Bundy flashed his upside in 2020 before turning in a total clunker last year. While your mileage may vary on him as a player, no one can deny the contract is interesting. Bundy will earn $4 million next year, with an $11 million team option for 2023. Much like the Buxton deal, here we have a player betting on himself in a bold way. If Bundy can bounce back and pitch well enough to sell the Twins on picking up his option, he can more than triple the total value of the deal. Motivation will not be an issue. In many ways, this is a very typical veteran pitching target for the Twins front office, so we probably shouldn't be too surprised. Bundy has some success in his track record, but wasn't in high demand, in large part because of his proneness to home runs. We've seen this story before. In some cases, the Twins have seen good results with this approach (Michael Pineda and Jake Odorizzi). In other cases, not so good (J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker). We'll see which way this one goes, but to suggest it's inherently doomed hints at a lot of recency bias. Regardless, Minnesota has plenty of work left to do on the pitching front. With the upper tiers of the free agency mostly cleared out, they'll almost have to turn to the trade market in order to make at least one truly impactful splash in the rotation. Newly re-signed Jake Cave was dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Bundy. Minaya, Coulombe, Megill Non-tendered The bullpen, too, still needs plenty of attention. Minnesota is keeping its options open for relief pitching, and cleared some room last week on the roster. Juan Minaya and Danny Coulombe were both arbitration-eligible and slated to earn about $1 million next year. Instead, they were both non-tendered, although Coulombe was quickly re-signed to a minor-league deal. Also non-tendered and re-signed was right-hander Trevor Megill, who had been claimed off waivers the same day. It sounds like this was merely a procedural move to keep him in the organization but off the 40-man. His big fastball will likely get a shot in spring training. Joining Coulombe and Megill as likely spring non-roster invites is righty Jake Faria, who signed a minors deal. Faria was once highly thought of as a prospect in the Rays system, and had a nice rookie season back in 2017, but hasn't had much success to speak of since. I suspect the Twins are keying on his split-finger fastball, which held opponents to a .156 average and generated a 33.8% whiff rate amidst his struggles last year, while being thrown only 20% of the time. Rounding out the arbitration picture, the Twins did tender a contract to Taylor Rogers (along with Mitch Garver and Luis Arraez), while striking deals with Tyler Duffey ($3.8M), Caleb Thielbar ($1.3M) and Jharel Cotton ($700K). Almost $50 Million Left to Spend? Whenever baseball ramps up again, the Twins will theoretically have quite a bit of spending money in hand, unless they intend to cut down payroll dramatically from where it stood in 2021. As you can see in the updated payroll projection below, they're currently about $48 million short of that figure. (Salaries for Garver, Arraez, and Rogers are still estimates since no agreements have yet been reached.) The 40-man roster has two open spots following the addition of Bundy, and removals of Minaya, Coulombe, and Cave. The Twins still have several critical holes to address, so they'll need all the flexibility they can get. This front office seems to operate best as stakes heighten in the late weeks of the offseason (many of their biggest moves have come in late January and February) so maybe they'll be in their element during a potential crunch time for roster-building if the lockout ends a few weeks ahead of spring training. Then again, with the top-shelf supply from the free agent pitching and shortstop markets getting decimated over the past couple weeks, the Twins have really seen their spectrum of options shrink. The work is going to be cut out for them. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Some would say their comfort level with him is exactly the problem. It led them to part ways with LaMonte Wade Jr. last offseason. It led them to give him 300 PAs the past two seasons while he hit like trash. It leads them to treat him as their primary backup CF even though he's not good there. Now it's leading them to give him a 40-man roster spot during the offseason, which has plenty of opportunity cost on its own, never mind the contract. Why are the Twins so "comfortable" with Jake Cave? That's what many of us have trouble understanding.
  8. I can say with confidence Cave is not popular, neither with the casual nor hardcore crowd. That's not an assumption. I interact with a lot of fans here and on Twitter. Why would he be? He's been a terrible player receiving an inordinate amount of playing time (when healthy) for two years.
  9. Thought I was being pretty clear in referencing the lockout, which is expected by essentially everyone involved with the sport. For the Twins to go into such a hiatus while surrounded by several unfavorable storylines would not be great for their brand. I didn't think it to be very controversial.
  10. And guess what's going to be happening during those months? This comment seems entirely oblivious of the reality that is about to materialize. It would be nice to have any semblance of good news or encouragement before the baseball world shuts down completely.
  11. As mentioned, I understand they can do this. But might you name some examples of past players they tendered arbitration contracts and then cut in spring training (or before)? I'm having a hard time thinking of a single one. Let's not act like it's a common occurrence.
  12. The Minnesota Twins have yet to make any significant additions this offseason, but that's not to say the league as a whole has been standing still. As we await an impending lockout, let's get up to speed on the state of the Twins, recapping the latest roster moves, an unpopular retention decision, and key pitching targets coming off the board. Twins Protect Prospects, Fill 40-Man Roster Last Friday marked the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man rosters in order to block them from being claimed in the Rule 5 draft. Minnesota elected to protect six prospects. IN: Royce Lewis, SS Jose Miranda, 3B Josh Winder, RHP Cole Sands, RHP Blayne Enlow, RHP Chris Vallimont, RHP While the first four adds above were essentially considered locks, the Twins went the extra mile by adding Enlow (recovering from Tommy John surgery) and Vallimont (24-year-old with no success yet above Single-A). After getting burned on the loss of Akil Baddoo last year, it seems Minnesota wanted to take no undue risks this time around, especially when it comes to their critical minor-league pitching depth. In order to facilitate this wave of additions, the team also cleared room by offloading four players. OUT: Devin Smeltzer, LHP (Outrighted) Kyle Garlick, OF (Outrighted) Charlie Barnes, LHP (DFA) Willians Astudillo, UTIL (DFA) These moves leave the 40-man roster full, with 17 position players and 23 pitchers. Here's the makeup as it currently stands. From here on out, the Twins will need to remove a player and risk losing him for each new addition. Any of Danny Coulombe, Ralph Garza Jr., Juan Minaya, Cody Stashak, Drew Strotman, and Lewis Thorpe could be on the chopping block. It's hard to envision any more drops on the positional side (barring trades), after one clear candidate got himself a controversial new contract for 2022. Cave Lands Deal for 2022 It was widely expected the Twins would move on from Jake Cave this offseason. He produced a total of 0.2 fWAR in 118 games over the past two seasons, his performance progressively worsening. Alas, the team agreed to terms with him Friday on a one-year, $800K contract. It's a bit less than Cave was projected to earn in arbitration this winter, but still could hardly be considered much of a value, considering how awful his play has been. My read on this is that the Twins are simply trying to preserve some experienced outfield depth, with both Byron Buxton and Max Kepler ranking among their most likely players to be traded this offseason. Still, Jake Cave? It bears noting that arbitration contracts are not guaranteed. The Twins can still cut Cave before the next season starts while shedding most of his salary commitment. That rarely happens, but it may be somewhat more likely in this case given the circumstances. Here's a look at the updated 2022 roster and payroll projection, with Cave (for now) penciled in as fourth outfielder: Rotation Options Fly Off the Free Agency Board Free agent starters Noah Syndergaard, Justin Verlander and Eduardo Rodriguez have all signed with aspiring 2022 contenders from the American League. None of those teams are the Twins. Detroit made an emphatic statement about its status as a reborn legit player in the AL Central, signing Rodriguez to a five-year, $77 million contract. Not only is E-Rod a quality arm added atop a talented young Tigers rotation, but he was also one of the more realistic high-end starter targets for the Twins. (Though they reportedly were not in on him.) Syndergaard got a one-year, $21.5 million contract from the Angels, while Verlander re-signed with Houston on a one-year deal worth $25 million, plus a 2023 player option. It's likely that neither of these ace-caliber hurlers had much interest in signing with the reigning last-place finishers in the Central, but those kinds of short-term commitments are in the wheelhouse of the flexibility-focused Twins. With that trio off the board, here's what remains at the top end of the free agent starting pitching market (* denotes QO and draft pick compensation): Max Scherzer, RHP Kevin Gausman, RHP Robbie Ray, LHP* Marcus Stroman, RHP Clayton Kershaw, LHP Carlos Rodón, LHP Anthony DeSclafani, RHP Steven Matz, LHP Zack Greinke, RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Yusei Kikuchi, LHP Jon Gray, RHP Alex Wood, LHP Still plenty of quantity out there, but if the Twins want to score a name from this list they might want to act quickly, because other clubs aren't wasting time. One lower-level name also came off the board on Sunday when José Quintana signed with the Pirates for $2 million. Winter of Discontent? We all knew this was likely to be an unusual offseason, given the looming labor strife. Plenty of organizations seem to be biding their time. The Twins front office, especially, has had a habit of waiting out the market and treating patience as an asset, so their general lack of activity comes as no big surprise. With that said, the early events of this offseason have done nothing but fuel the sour vibes of frustrated fans who are eager for a turnaround, and a showing of intention. Since wrapping up one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, here's what we've witnessed: Three top free agent starters signing with other teams, including one with a division rival. An unpopular player in Cave re-signing for 2022. José Berríos signing a long-term extension with Toronto, and more or less indicating that his prior dedication to reaching free agency was largely due to Minnesota never making an offer that seriously tempted him. Reports of Buxton negotiations inexplicably remaining fruitless despite the apparent presence of a reasonable framework, with a trade considered likely. None of these are necessarily unforgivable offenses on their own (the Buxton thing might be, if it plays out like it's trending). But they all feed into negative narratives around the Twins: a team that is unwilling to do what it takes to keep premier homegrown talent, or to sign high-end free agent pitching. A team that's overly committed to perceived "bargains," and maintaining the status quo rather than taking bold action. There's time to turn the tides on these narratives yet, but if the Twins stand still until the CBA expires midway through next week, they're staring down the prospect of letting this sourness and discontent fester through an extended lockout, which will already be alienating enough for fans on its own. If that's the case, well... good luck with those season ticket sales. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  13. Twins Protect Prospects, Fill 40-Man Roster Last Friday marked the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man rosters in order to block them from being claimed in the Rule 5 draft. Minnesota elected to protect six prospects. IN: Royce Lewis, SS Jose Miranda, 3B Josh Winder, RHP Cole Sands, RHP Blayne Enlow, RHP Chris Vallimont, RHP While the first four adds above were essentially considered locks, the Twins went the extra mile by adding Enlow (recovering from Tommy John surgery) and Vallimont (24-year-old with no success yet above Single-A). After getting burned on the loss of Akil Baddoo last year, it seems Minnesota wanted to take no undue risks this time around, especially when it comes to their critical minor-league pitching depth. In order to facilitate this wave of additions, the team also cleared room by offloading four players. OUT: Devin Smeltzer, LHP (Outrighted) Kyle Garlick, OF (Outrighted) Charlie Barnes, LHP (DFA) Willians Astudillo, UTIL (DFA) These moves leave the 40-man roster full, with 17 position players and 23 pitchers. Here's the makeup as it currently stands. From here on out, the Twins will need to remove a player and risk losing him for each new addition. Any of Danny Coulombe, Ralph Garza Jr., Juan Minaya, Cody Stashak, Drew Strotman, and Lewis Thorpe could be on the chopping block. It's hard to envision any more drops on the positional side (barring trades), after one clear candidate got himself a controversial new contract for 2022. Cave Lands Deal for 2022 It was widely expected the Twins would move on from Jake Cave this offseason. He produced a total of 0.2 fWAR in 118 games over the past two seasons, his performance progressively worsening. Alas, the team agreed to terms with him Friday on a one-year, $800K contract. It's a bit less than Cave was projected to earn in arbitration this winter, but still could hardly be considered much of a value, considering how awful his play has been. My read on this is that the Twins are simply trying to preserve some experienced outfield depth, with both Byron Buxton and Max Kepler ranking among their most likely players to be traded this offseason. Still, Jake Cave? It bears noting that arbitration contracts are not guaranteed. The Twins can still cut Cave before the next season starts while shedding most of his salary commitment. That rarely happens, but it may be somewhat more likely in this case given the circumstances. Here's a look at the updated 2022 roster and payroll projection, with Cave (for now) penciled in as fourth outfielder: Rotation Options Fly Off the Free Agency Board Free agent starters Noah Syndergaard, Justin Verlander and Eduardo Rodriguez have all signed with aspiring 2022 contenders from the American League. None of those teams are the Twins. Detroit made an emphatic statement about its status as a reborn legit player in the AL Central, signing Rodriguez to a five-year, $77 million contract. Not only is E-Rod a quality arm added atop a talented young Tigers rotation, but he was also one of the more realistic high-end starter targets for the Twins. (Though they reportedly were not in on him.) Syndergaard got a one-year, $21.5 million contract from the Angels, while Verlander re-signed with Houston on a one-year deal worth $25 million, plus a 2023 player option. It's likely that neither of these ace-caliber hurlers had much interest in signing with the reigning last-place finishers in the Central, but those kinds of short-term commitments are in the wheelhouse of the flexibility-focused Twins. With that trio off the board, here's what remains at the top end of the free agent starting pitching market (* denotes QO and draft pick compensation): Max Scherzer, RHP Kevin Gausman, RHP Robbie Ray, LHP* Marcus Stroman, RHP Clayton Kershaw, LHP Carlos Rodón, LHP Anthony DeSclafani, RHP Steven Matz, LHP Zack Greinke, RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Yusei Kikuchi, LHP Jon Gray, RHP Alex Wood, LHP Still plenty of quantity out there, but if the Twins want to score a name from this list they might want to act quickly, because other clubs aren't wasting time. One lower-level name also came off the board on Sunday when José Quintana signed with the Pirates for $2 million. Winter of Discontent? We all knew this was likely to be an unusual offseason, given the looming labor strife. Plenty of organizations seem to be biding their time. The Twins front office, especially, has had a habit of waiting out the market and treating patience as an asset, so their general lack of activity comes as no big surprise. With that said, the early events of this offseason have done nothing but fuel the sour vibes of frustrated fans who are eager for a turnaround, and a showing of intention. Since wrapping up one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, here's what we've witnessed: Three top free agent starters signing with other teams, including one with a division rival. An unpopular player in Cave re-signing for 2022. José Berríos signing a long-term extension with Toronto, and more or less indicating that his prior dedication to reaching free agency was largely due to Minnesota never making an offer that seriously tempted him. Reports of Buxton negotiations inexplicably remaining fruitless despite the apparent presence of a reasonable framework, with a trade considered likely. None of these are necessarily unforgivable offenses on their own (the Buxton thing might be, if it plays out like it's trending). But they all feed into negative narratives around the Twins: a team that is unwilling to do what it takes to keep premier homegrown talent, or to sign high-end free agent pitching. A team that's overly committed to perceived "bargains," and maintaining the status quo rather than taking bold action. There's time to turn the tides on these narratives yet, but if the Twins stand still until the CBA expires midway through next week, they're staring down the prospect of letting this sourness and discontent fester through an extended lockout, which will already be alienating enough for fans on its own. If that's the case, well... good luck with those season ticket sales. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. Byron Buxton has been the fastest player in major-league baseball. He has the highest SB percentage in MLB history (min 50 attempts). He won a Platinum Glove in CF at age 23 -- one year older than Lewis (who still hasn't settled on a position) will be next year. He ranks 4th among all MLB players in SLG over the past 3 years (min 600 PA). He's played at a pace of 6.5 fWAR/150G over the past 3 seasons. Royce Lewis may turn out to be an amazing player but he's not going to do these things. Nobody's doing these things. Nobody possesses this combination of elite skills. In your attempt to prove a point you've only proven the opposite, and pinpointed exactly what makes Buxton so different and special. "Tools projections" for prospects are subjective, somewhat arbitrary, and often wildly optimistic. Buxton has fulfilled the most lofty interpretations of his potential. That is why the Twins cannot let him leave. That said, I will echo the sentiment of @USAFChief... I hope your highly favorable estimation of Lewis comes to fruition!
  15. No one anointed him as a god. People rightfully said Royce Lewis's talent and tools are not on the same plane as Byron Buxton, which is very obviously true and quite silly to argue with (nor is it insult to Lewis). Then you went on some long hyperbolic rant in response, invoking Barry Bonds. Tell me again what's far fetched?
  16. I mean, Buxton has had like multiple career-threatening injuries within the past couple years. He's had several concussions. He has to understand as well as anyone that nothing is guaranteed. Safety and security are factors here, right? There is something to be said for locking down $80 million and setting your family up for generations, and not needing to worry about it anymore. I'm not sure I quite buy into the idea that this is a "cut-rate contract" he'd be moronic to sign, although obviously I find it very favorable to the Twins.
  17. That's because Byron Buxton legitimately has a Trout-like skill set, which was on display in April when he managed to out-play peak form Mike Trout. I'm not sure you quite understand the extent of Buxton's tools? You can't just compare him to other players because others can run, hit, and field. He's off the charts in these categories.
  18. You don't have to break the bank, that's the whole point! A deal that maxes out at $14M/yr is absurdly reasonable and affordable for a player of Buxton's caliber, and the only reason he'd conceivably be available at such a rate is BECAUSE of the injury history. That's why this is such a momentous opportunity for the Twins, and why fans are almost unanimously baffled and infuriated by these stalled negotiations. If Buxton were demanding to be paid like the MVP-caliber player he is when fully healthy and producing, I think there'd be a lot more room for disagreement and more understanding of the team's position. From all indications that does not appear to be the case, or even close.
  19. I think it's a combination of #1 (inaccurate numbers -- I find it impossible to believe a deal wouldn't be done if those terms were legit as we're perceiving them) and #3 (Buxton doesn't want to sign an extension). I mentioned this on Twitter but will add it here too: If Buxton's traded, you'd like to think the Twins find a way to get their side of the story out there, because if we're left to believe they passed on a chance to extend him on a deal that would've *maxed out* at 100M over 7 years, some of us will never forgive them
  20. In many cases, getting more information about a situation brings clarity. But in the case of the Minnesota Twins and their negotiations with star center fielder Byron Buxton, emerging details only generate further confusion. Based on what's been reported, it's really hard to make sense of what the team is doing here. On Tuesday, Dan Hayes and Ken Rosenthal bylined a report in The Athletic with the headline: Byron Buxton’s future with the Twins remains in limbo as team gauges trade interest, potential extension offers. The article depicts a team struggling to decide whether it should trade its best player with one year remaining under contract, or hold him for the 2022 season. The option that seems most obvious and desirable — striking a long-term extension with this generational talent in his prime — doesn't really seem to be on the table, even if it hasn't been ruled out. "Chairman Jim Pohlad, according to major-league sources, is reluctant to move Buxton, knowing such a decision potentially would upset a fan base tired of seeing the team part with homegrown stars," per The Athletic. Pohlad's absolutely right in his assessment of how trading Buxton will be perceived by Twins fans, who just watched Jose Berrios sign an extension with Toronto. Fortunately, it would seem nobody is in better position than he to ensure Buxton sticks around. Pohlad and his ownership group have the power to greenlight an offer that keeps Buxton in Minnesota long-term, and such a framework — from all indications — is extremely achievable under team-friendly terms. The article from Hayes and Rosenthal reiterates that a 7-year, $80 million offer was extended in July, which we've heard before, but later offers up this detail: "Sources said talks about an incentive-laden extension in July broke down because of the Twins’ unwillingness to push the potential total value to $100 million." Back in July, reports indicated Buxton's side was amenable to that guaranteed amount of $80 million (which surprised me), but that an agreement couldn't be reached over the incentive structure. In my mind, I figured Buxton's camp must have been demanding some extravagant bonuses that could've done something like double the base amount. Yet, the wording of this new report — talks about an incentive-laden extension in July broke down because of the Twins’ unwillingness to push the potential total value to $100 million — well, that sure sounds like the team was not open to a contract that would maximize at $100 million. And if true, that's nothing short of embarrassing. Shameful. And egregiously foolish. I mean, come on, that would average out to about $14 million per year. That's Ricky Nolasco money, for a homegrown MVP-caliber player in his prime years. I'm having a really hard time connecting the dots here. If Twins ownership is adamant about keeping Buxton, and the center fielder's side is open to a reasonable deal, then what is the hold-up? Why are the Twins mired in internal debate over whether to trade Buxton or let him leave as a free agent, rather than opting for the best choice, which is neither of those? Here are a few possibilities I can conjure. If you have others, I'd love to hear them in the comments. The reported numbers are inaccurate. Hayes and Rosenthal are two of the more respected writers in the biz, and I trust they're providing a realistic view of the overall dynamic, but that doesn't mean every single detail is spot-on. Perhaps there are some specifics getting obscured in the communication loop. Or maybe they're receiving false info from a biased source with an agenda. (Ostensibly, this would be Buxton's agent, but I'm not sure what their end-game would be in leaking a low-ball offer?) Also: the numbers that've been reported would have be a loooong ways off to not make sense for the Twins. The Twins front office doesn't believe in Buxton. Or at least doesn't have enough confidence in his durability and aging regression to feel that a long-term extension is in their interest. I find this kind of hard to believe, but when you look at the evidence available to us — an owner expressing his desire to retain a player who is seemingly open to reasonable terms, and a front office that isn't making it happen — it's a plausible explanation. Buxton has no interest in signing an extension in Minnesota. This would run contrary to what he's said publicly, but it'd hardly be the first time a pro athlete gave lip service to appease fans. Maybe the bridge truly was burned when the Twins held Buxton in the minors in September of 2018. Or maybe Buck has a yearning to return to the South where he was raised. Or maybe he simply recognizes an opportunity to earn a much bigger payday one year from now if he can deliver in 2022. Sadly, I think this is probably the most likely answer behind everything, and also the only one that completely ties the Twins' hands. Pohlad is bluffing, and doesn't really want to pay up. It's the favored explanation for many, I'm sure. Maybe it's true, and Pohlad is portraying himself to media as the good guy who fought for Buxton before an inevitable trade. But if the reported number he's targeting is anywhere close to correct, there's no reason that Twins shouldn't be able to keep Buxton while building a quality team around him under the payroll parameters that have become standard under this ownership. One thing I will say: if Pohlad is pushing to prevent a Buxton trade solely to mitigate fan blowback, knowing the team won't be able to re-sign him (which is one way to read the opening in the Athletic article), the front office needs to shut him out and not listen. Team strategy cannot be dictated by such factors. Trading Buxton will be a bitter pill to swallow, but it may result in making the best of a bad situation. A totally self-inflicted bad situation, if reports around these negotiations are to be believed. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  21. On Tuesday, Dan Hayes and Ken Rosenthal bylined a report in The Athletic with the headline: Byron Buxton’s future with the Twins remains in limbo as team gauges trade interest, potential extension offers. The article depicts a team struggling to decide whether it should trade its best player with one year remaining under contract, or hold him for the 2022 season. The option that seems most obvious and desirable — striking a long-term extension with this generational talent in his prime — doesn't really seem to be on the table, even if it hasn't been ruled out. "Chairman Jim Pohlad, according to major-league sources, is reluctant to move Buxton, knowing such a decision potentially would upset a fan base tired of seeing the team part with homegrown stars," per The Athletic. Pohlad's absolutely right in his assessment of how trading Buxton will be perceived by Twins fans, who just watched Jose Berrios sign an extension with Toronto. Fortunately, it would seem nobody is in better position than he to ensure Buxton sticks around. Pohlad and his ownership group have the power to greenlight an offer that keeps Buxton in Minnesota long-term, and such a framework — from all indications — is extremely achievable under team-friendly terms. The article from Hayes and Rosenthal reiterates that a 7-year, $80 million offer was extended in July, which we've heard before, but later offers up this detail: "Sources said talks about an incentive-laden extension in July broke down because of the Twins’ unwillingness to push the potential total value to $100 million." Back in July, reports indicated Buxton's side was amenable to that guaranteed amount of $80 million (which surprised me), but that an agreement couldn't be reached over the incentive structure. In my mind, I figured Buxton's camp must have been demanding some extravagant bonuses that could've done something like double the base amount. Yet, the wording of this new report — talks about an incentive-laden extension in July broke down because of the Twins’ unwillingness to push the potential total value to $100 million — well, that sure sounds like the team was not open to a contract that would maximize at $100 million. And if true, that's nothing short of embarrassing. Shameful. And egregiously foolish. I mean, come on, that would average out to about $14 million per year. That's Ricky Nolasco money, for a homegrown MVP-caliber player in his prime years. I'm having a really hard time connecting the dots here. If Twins ownership is adamant about keeping Buxton, and the center fielder's side is open to a reasonable deal, then what is the hold-up? Why are the Twins mired in internal debate over whether to trade Buxton or let him leave as a free agent, rather than opting for the best choice, which is neither of those? Here are a few possibilities I can conjure. If you have others, I'd love to hear them in the comments. The reported numbers are inaccurate. Hayes and Rosenthal are two of the more respected writers in the biz, and I trust they're providing a realistic view of the overall dynamic, but that doesn't mean every single detail is spot-on. Perhaps there are some specifics getting obscured in the communication loop. Or maybe they're receiving false info from a biased source with an agenda. (Ostensibly, this would be Buxton's agent, but I'm not sure what their end-game would be in leaking a low-ball offer?) Also: the numbers that've been reported would have be a loooong ways off to not make sense for the Twins. The Twins front office doesn't believe in Buxton. Or at least doesn't have enough confidence in his durability and aging regression to feel that a long-term extension is in their interest. I find this kind of hard to believe, but when you look at the evidence available to us — an owner expressing his desire to retain a player who is seemingly open to reasonable terms, and a front office that isn't making it happen — it's a plausible explanation. Buxton has no interest in signing an extension in Minnesota. This would run contrary to what he's said publicly, but it'd hardly be the first time a pro athlete gave lip service to appease fans. Maybe the bridge truly was burned when the Twins held Buxton in the minors in September of 2018. Or maybe Buck has a yearning to return to the South where he was raised. Or maybe he simply recognizes an opportunity to earn a much bigger payday one year from now if he can deliver in 2022. Sadly, I think this is probably the most likely answer behind everything, and also the only one that completely ties the Twins' hands. Pohlad is bluffing, and doesn't really want to pay up. It's the favored explanation for many, I'm sure. Maybe it's true, and Pohlad is portraying himself to media as the good guy who fought for Buxton before an inevitable trade. But if the reported number he's targeting is anywhere close to correct, there's no reason that Twins shouldn't be able to keep Buxton while building a quality team around him under the payroll parameters that have become standard under this ownership. One thing I will say: if Pohlad is pushing to prevent a Buxton trade solely to mitigate fan blowback, knowing the team won't be able to re-sign him (which is one way to read the opening in the Athletic article), the front office needs to shut him out and not listen. Team strategy cannot be dictated by such factors. Trading Buxton will be a bitter pill to swallow, but it may result in making the best of a bad situation. A totally self-inflicted bad situation, if reports around these negotiations are to be believed. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. As we all know, the current Twins front office has had some whiffs when it comes to offseason pitching pickups. Addison Reed, Lance Lynn, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker and Alex Colomé are names that come to mind. While recency bias – primed by those last three names – might lead one to believe this leadership can do no right, that isn't the case. In looking at some of their most successful acquisitions, perhaps we can identify a formula for getting back on track this offseason. With a lens on 2022, we're judging these acquisitions in terms of immediate impact, so we'll rank them by the fWAR (Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement) in their first season after coming aboard. These are the seven names that stand out. 1. Michael Pineda, 2019 (2.6 fWAR) Signed as a free agent (2 years, $10M) This wasn't actually the first year after Pineda came aboard, because Minnesota signed him ahead of the 2018 season, knowing he'd miss most or all of it while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Once Big Mike was ready to get rolling in 2019, he was every bit the rock-solid mid-rotation starter they sought, posting a 4.01 ERA over 146 innings while leading the team to a 16-10 record in his starts. His PED suspension in September soured the overall season, especially because it prevented him from being able to make an impact in the playoffs (and led to Randy Dobnak starting Game 2). But all that aside, he was a key part of the team's success in 2019, and continued to provide value to the team after re-signing on another two-year deal, posting a 3.57 ERA between 2020 and '21. Takeaway: Patience is a virtue. The Twins were willing to commit money up-front and wait out Pineda's surgery rehab, and it has paid dividends for three years since. 2. Jake Odorizzi, 2018 (2.5 fWAR) Acquired from Tampa Bay in trade The Rays were looking to unload Odorizzi's salary ahead of the 2018 season. Finding a lack of demand in the market, they settled for a trade with Minnesota that brought back middling shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios. It was a mystery to me why Tampa couldn't get more for Odorizzi, who posted solid numbers in 2017 and had two years of control remaining. Maybe it was the timing of the move, just before spring training. One could purport he fell into the Twins' laps, but alas, they made the move and no one else did. They were glad it was them. Odorizzi was once again solid in 2018, becoming a much-needed veteran fixture in a rotation that ended up getting nothing from Ervin Santana in the final year of his deal. (In fact, the condition of Santana's surgically-repaired finger when he showed up in camp was likely the primary driver of this move in the first place.) Of course, the real value in Odorizzi's acquisition came the following year, when he blossomed as an All-Star with 4.3 fWAR. Takeaway: If you're willing to take on salary from a small-market team, you can sometimes take advantage of weird desperation moves late in the offseason. 3. Kenta Maeda, 2020 (2.1 fWAR) Acquired from Los Angeles in trade Ranking Maeda third on this list doesn't do him justice. He is easily the most successful pitching acquisition by this front office. If you extrapolate his performance from the pandemic-shortened 2020 season into a 162-game sample, he'd have registered a 5.7 fWAR, which is Cy Young territory. (Accordingly, he finished runner-up in the AL Cy Young voting.) But to keep things consistent, we'll place him here, and it's fitting in a way, because he wasn't as much of a pure value-add as the two above. Whereas the additions of Pineda and Odorizzi cost the Twins only a bit of money and a dispensable minor-leaguer, acquiring Maeda required the organization to part with its top pitching prospect, Brusdar Graterol. Takeaway: Pay to play. The Twins' most impactful pitching acquisition during this regime has also required the greatest sacrifice. 4. Martin Perez, 2019 (1.9 fWAR) Signed as a free agent (1 year, $3.5 million) I know, I know. Many of you are rolling your eyes and scoffing at the notion of Perez as a "successful" acquisition. For what it's worth, I'd agree with you, and so would Baseball Reference's WAR calculation would agree with you (it had him at 0.1). For whatever reason, FanGraphs' version of the metric is charitable toward his 2019 season even though he posted a 5.12 ERA and 4.66 FIP, unraveling after a strong start. I will say this much: Perez took the ball every fifth day and did enough for an offense-driven club to go 17-12 behind him in 29 starts. Realistically that's probably the kind of thing we need to hope for from a Twins fourth or fifth starter next year. Moreover, while his poor results in 2019 were plain to see, Perez nevertheless found a new home in Boston the following offseason, and has made 48 appearances (34 starts) for the Red Sox over the past two years, not including his four appearances in the most recent ALCS (!). The Twins saw something in Perez and it's hard to say they were entirely wrong. Takeaway: This was an analytics play. The Twins were intrigued by Perez's late-season velocity jump in 2018, and by his experimentation with a cutter. They were onto something – his cutter held opponents to a .269 wOBA in 2019, during which he posted career-high strikeout and swing-and-miss rates. That just didn't end up being enough to offset his shortcomings. 5. Tyler Clippard, 2020 (0.8 fWAR) Signed as a free agent (1 year, $2.75 million) The last three names on this last will have the same caveat applied as Maeda: their performances came in a shortened season, so the cumulative WAR comparison is not apples to apples. Clippard's 0.8 fWAR would've been pretty decent for a regular full season (Tyler Duffey was worth 0.8 fWAR this year), but when projected to 162 games he'd have been at 2.2, which is like, prime Joe Nathan territory. Clippard did everything for this bullpen. He opened, he closed. He was effective against righties and lefties. He threw strikes, he limited hits, he kept the ball in the yard. Clippard was everything you could ever want from a free agent reliever signing, albeit in an abbreviated sample. Takeaway: The free agent relief market is volatile, but sometimes when you take an inexpensive flier on a veteran who's been consistently good for many years, it works out. 6. Rich Hill, 2020 (0.7 fWAR) Signed as a free agent (1 year, $3 million plus incentives) We can't fairly extrapolate Hill's 2020 season in quite the same way as we can the others. He was recovering from elbow surgery and wouldn't have been available until June or July even if the season started on time. The late start enabled him to join the rotation out of the gates, and he proved to be a quality asset at the back end, posting a 3.03 ERA in eight starts. Nothing special, but for such a low-cost investment, this is exactly what you hope to extract. Takeaway: Like with Pineda, the Twins were rewarded for their patience. They were willing to pay up-front and wait out an elbow rehab. Sometimes that type of willingness can be a differentiator for mid-market teams seeking impact pitching talent. 7. Matt Wisler, 2020 (0.6 fWAR) Claimed off waivers from Seattle Wisler was waived by Seattle after posting a 5.61 ERA in 2019, then the Twins snagged him and watched him put up a 1.07 ERA over 25 ⅓ innings in 2020. It's the kind of fix-up we were hoping to see frequently from this front office, and seemingly a recipe they tried to replicate in 2021 with pickups like Brandon Waddell, Ian Gibaut and Shaun Anderson – to little success. Takeaway: The Twins love to find a slider they feel they can unlock and unleash. In this case, they were right on the money. In others, maybe not so much. This speaks to the hazardous nature of gambling on fringy talent discarded by other organizations. ~~~ So what did we learn here? What kind of insight can we extract from looking at these seven acquisitions from the past four offseasons? A few things strike me. Patience reaps rewards. The Twins were willing to wait on Pineda and Hill. This played to their advantage. Looking at the current market, one could apply this thinking to someone like Kirby Yates (rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last March) or James Paxton (TJ surgery in April). Either one of these free agents could offer massive upside at a relatively low price. By the way, the patience factor also applies to the rhythm of the offseason itself, because this front office pulled off two of its best trades (Odorizzi and Maeda) in February. Rely on analytics to fill the fringes. Say what you will about Perez, but there was validity to the uptick detected in his arsenal. As a low-cost addition at the back of the rotation, he worked out fine. Wisler was a lower-tier bullpen cog, so his emergence was more of a luxury than a necessity, but it sure helped. So long as the Twins are making these kinds of bets in non-essential roles, I hope they'll keep making them. Go big or go home. While this front office has made several good pitching acquisitions, only one could be described as a true immediate slam dunk, and that's Maeda. The Twins needed an ace to slot in front of José Berríos – a monumentally tall task – and they managed to do it. The cost was a brilliant young arm in Graterol. We haven't seen this regime make such an aggressive bid for high-end starting pitching outside of that trade. The only starter they've signed to a multi-year deal is Pineda, which has turned out pretty well but was altogether low-stakes (in both cases). Their interest in Zack Wheeler was well known, and that obviously would've been a big hit if they could've made it happen. Will the Twins find a way to entice a top-tier target of their choosing this winter? The need has never been greater. Hopefully this front office can learn from what's worked – and what hasn't worked – during their first five years, and course-correct after a failed previous offseason. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  23. With a lens on 2022, we're judging these acquisitions in terms of immediate impact, so we'll rank them by the fWAR (Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement) in their first season after coming aboard. These are the seven names that stand out. 1. Michael Pineda, 2019 (2.6 fWAR) Signed as a free agent (2 years, $10M) This wasn't actually the first year after Pineda came aboard, because Minnesota signed him ahead of the 2018 season, knowing he'd miss most or all of it while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Once Big Mike was ready to get rolling in 2019, he was every bit the rock-solid mid-rotation starter they sought, posting a 4.01 ERA over 146 innings while leading the team to a 16-10 record in his starts. His PED suspension in September soured the overall season, especially because it prevented him from being able to make an impact in the playoffs (and led to Randy Dobnak starting Game 2). But all that aside, he was a key part of the team's success in 2019, and continued to provide value to the team after re-signing on another two-year deal, posting a 3.57 ERA between 2020 and '21. Takeaway: Patience is a virtue. The Twins were willing to commit money up-front and wait out Pineda's surgery rehab, and it has paid dividends for three years since. 2. Jake Odorizzi, 2018 (2.5 fWAR) Acquired from Tampa Bay in trade The Rays were looking to unload Odorizzi's salary ahead of the 2018 season. Finding a lack of demand in the market, they settled for a trade with Minnesota that brought back middling shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios. It was a mystery to me why Tampa couldn't get more for Odorizzi, who posted solid numbers in 2017 and had two years of control remaining. Maybe it was the timing of the move, just before spring training. One could purport he fell into the Twins' laps, but alas, they made the move and no one else did. They were glad it was them. Odorizzi was once again solid in 2018, becoming a much-needed veteran fixture in a rotation that ended up getting nothing from Ervin Santana in the final year of his deal. (In fact, the condition of Santana's surgically-repaired finger when he showed up in camp was likely the primary driver of this move in the first place.) Of course, the real value in Odorizzi's acquisition came the following year, when he blossomed as an All-Star with 4.3 fWAR. Takeaway: If you're willing to take on salary from a small-market team, you can sometimes take advantage of weird desperation moves late in the offseason. 3. Kenta Maeda, 2020 (2.1 fWAR) Acquired from Los Angeles in trade Ranking Maeda third on this list doesn't do him justice. He is easily the most successful pitching acquisition by this front office. If you extrapolate his performance from the pandemic-shortened 2020 season into a 162-game sample, he'd have registered a 5.7 fWAR, which is Cy Young territory. (Accordingly, he finished runner-up in the AL Cy Young voting.) But to keep things consistent, we'll place him here, and it's fitting in a way, because he wasn't as much of a pure value-add as the two above. Whereas the additions of Pineda and Odorizzi cost the Twins only a bit of money and a dispensable minor-leaguer, acquiring Maeda required the organization to part with its top pitching prospect, Brusdar Graterol. Takeaway: Pay to play. The Twins' most impactful pitching acquisition during this regime has also required the greatest sacrifice. 4. Martin Perez, 2019 (1.9 fWAR) Signed as a free agent (1 year, $3.5 million) I know, I know. Many of you are rolling your eyes and scoffing at the notion of Perez as a "successful" acquisition. For what it's worth, I'd agree with you, and so would Baseball Reference's WAR calculation would agree with you (it had him at 0.1). For whatever reason, FanGraphs' version of the metric is charitable toward his 2019 season even though he posted a 5.12 ERA and 4.66 FIP, unraveling after a strong start. I will say this much: Perez took the ball every fifth day and did enough for an offense-driven club to go 17-12 behind him in 29 starts. Realistically that's probably the kind of thing we need to hope for from a Twins fourth or fifth starter next year. Moreover, while his poor results in 2019 were plain to see, Perez nevertheless found a new home in Boston the following offseason, and has made 48 appearances (34 starts) for the Red Sox over the past two years, not including his four appearances in the most recent ALCS (!). The Twins saw something in Perez and it's hard to say they were entirely wrong. Takeaway: This was an analytics play. The Twins were intrigued by Perez's late-season velocity jump in 2018, and by his experimentation with a cutter. They were onto something – his cutter held opponents to a .269 wOBA in 2019, during which he posted career-high strikeout and swing-and-miss rates. That just didn't end up being enough to offset his shortcomings. 5. Tyler Clippard, 2020 (0.8 fWAR) Signed as a free agent (1 year, $2.75 million) The last three names on this last will have the same caveat applied as Maeda: their performances came in a shortened season, so the cumulative WAR comparison is not apples to apples. Clippard's 0.8 fWAR would've been pretty decent for a regular full season (Tyler Duffey was worth 0.8 fWAR this year), but when projected to 162 games he'd have been at 2.2, which is like, prime Joe Nathan territory. Clippard did everything for this bullpen. He opened, he closed. He was effective against righties and lefties. He threw strikes, he limited hits, he kept the ball in the yard. Clippard was everything you could ever want from a free agent reliever signing, albeit in an abbreviated sample. Takeaway: The free agent relief market is volatile, but sometimes when you take an inexpensive flier on a veteran who's been consistently good for many years, it works out. 6. Rich Hill, 2020 (0.7 fWAR) Signed as a free agent (1 year, $3 million plus incentives) We can't fairly extrapolate Hill's 2020 season in quite the same way as we can the others. He was recovering from elbow surgery and wouldn't have been available until June or July even if the season started on time. The late start enabled him to join the rotation out of the gates, and he proved to be a quality asset at the back end, posting a 3.03 ERA in eight starts. Nothing special, but for such a low-cost investment, this is exactly what you hope to extract. Takeaway: Like with Pineda, the Twins were rewarded for their patience. They were willing to pay up-front and wait out an elbow rehab. Sometimes that type of willingness can be a differentiator for mid-market teams seeking impact pitching talent. 7. Matt Wisler, 2020 (0.6 fWAR) Claimed off waivers from Seattle Wisler was waived by Seattle after posting a 5.61 ERA in 2019, then the Twins snagged him and watched him put up a 1.07 ERA over 25 ⅓ innings in 2020. It's the kind of fix-up we were hoping to see frequently from this front office, and seemingly a recipe they tried to replicate in 2021 with pickups like Brandon Waddell, Ian Gibaut and Shaun Anderson – to little success. Takeaway: The Twins love to find a slider they feel they can unlock and unleash. In this case, they were right on the money. In others, maybe not so much. This speaks to the hazardous nature of gambling on fringy talent discarded by other organizations. ~~~ So what did we learn here? What kind of insight can we extract from looking at these seven acquisitions from the past four offseasons? A few things strike me. Patience reaps rewards. The Twins were willing to wait on Pineda and Hill. This played to their advantage. Looking at the current market, one could apply this thinking to someone like Kirby Yates (rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last March) or James Paxton (TJ surgery in April). Either one of these free agents could offer massive upside at a relatively low price. By the way, the patience factor also applies to the rhythm of the offseason itself, because this front office pulled off two of its best trades (Odorizzi and Maeda) in February. Rely on analytics to fill the fringes. Say what you will about Perez, but there was validity to the uptick detected in his arsenal. As a low-cost addition at the back of the rotation, he worked out fine. Wisler was a lower-tier bullpen cog, so his emergence was more of a luxury than a necessity, but it sure helped. So long as the Twins are making these kinds of bets in non-essential roles, I hope they'll keep making them. Go big or go home. While this front office has made several good pitching acquisitions, only one could be described as a true immediate slam dunk, and that's Maeda. The Twins needed an ace to slot in front of José Berríos – a monumentally tall task – and they managed to do it. The cost was a brilliant young arm in Graterol. We haven't seen this regime make such an aggressive bid for high-end starting pitching outside of that trade. The only starter they've signed to a multi-year deal is Pineda, which has turned out pretty well but was altogether low-stakes (in both cases). Their interest in Zack Wheeler was well known, and that obviously would've been a big hit if they could've made it happen. Will the Twins find a way to entice a top-tier target of their choosing this winter? The need has never been greater. Hopefully this front office can learn from what's worked – and what hasn't worked – during their first five years, and course-correct after a failed previous offseason. 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