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Blog Entries posted by Mill1634

  1. Mill1634
    Welcome back to another Mill1634 blog entry. I've been away for a while as I just finished up my degree and started out my first job, but I've still been hanging around in the game threads. Like many Twins'' fans, I am thrilled with the way things have gone so far but am also realistic that this team is not in a position to threaten the true top teams in the league. However, I do not believe that they are all that far away. It's no secret that the bullpen has been horrendous outside of Griffin Jax and Jhoan Duran, and the rotation has been surprisingly productive despite being with Bailey Ober, Chris Paddack, and Kenta Maeda for a large portion of the year while also getting poor performance from Dylan Bundy and losing Sonny Gray to the IL twice. Part of the reason that the starting pitcher's have performed so well is because of the leash Rocco has had on his pitchers. However, this isn't as effective when the bullpen is terrible. Today, I'll attempt to fix both the rotation and the bullpen. I believe that it is realistic for the Twins to trade for two relievers and one starter, but today I'm going to be aggressive and add two starters and three relievers. I'll also add a surprising bat that would have many Twins fans excited. 
    Identifying the Sellers
    The first thing to do as the fake front office is to identify the sellers. I've put these teams into three separate categories: Will sell, should sell, and could sell. The first category is the true bottom teams in the league that I would be shocked if they don't have a selloff. The middle category are teams that are sticking around but don't have enough talent to really go for it. The final category, could sell, features a small set of teams that are either near or above .500 but are either over performing or play in a great division. 
    Will Sell 
    I don't think that any of this list is shocking or controversial at all. None of these teams have a shot at the playoffs, and a fair amount of them are at least another year from competing. The one team on here who will maybe hold onto some pieces is the Orioles, who have been playing good baseball as of late and are nearing a contention window. For that reason, I would be uber shocked if they trade someone with team control like reliever Felix Bautista. However, I think players that are expiring can be had.
    Should sell
    Again, this is a small set of teams that I think should sell, and probably will end up selling. The Marlins feature a great rotation and are near .500 for the first time in forever, but are in 4th place in the NLE, and really have no path to the playoffs. The DBacks are another team similar to the Orioles, where they are playing better baseball than they have in a long time, but have some pieces that can be sold off to future on 2023 and beyond. The final team, the Rangers, spent a ton of money this off-season but still aren't in a position to push for the playoffs. 
    Could sell
    White Sox 
    Two AL central foes here in the final section in the White Sox and Guardians. I do not expect either of these teams to sell, but could see it. The White Sox have been playing poorly all year and certainly have some pieces that would get a haul at the deadline like Liam Hendricks or Lucas Giolito. The Guardians, who got insanely hot last month, have settled back to earth and aren't really a true thread in my mind. Their owner refuses to spend money which is the main reason that I have them in this section, but I think it would take a run of poor play leading up to the trade deadline to truly see a sell off. The Angels, who have been terrible despite having two of the best players on the planet, are a prime team that should sell but I don't think they will. 
    The Goal
    The goal of this trade deadline is to make the team a true contender. This is going to be tough for some fans as I am going to trade some prospects that are highly thought of, including by myself. However, I believe that this may be the best team the Twins will have with Byron Buxton on it, as Carlos Correa is unlikely to stick around. The goal is to add one starter that is better than both Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray, and another starter that I am comfortable starting in game 4 of the divisional series. As far as the bullpen, I want to add an arm that I am comfortable throwing in the 8th or 9th inning, and arm that is in the Griffin Jax/Caleb Thielbar tier, and a left handed pitcher, as I'm not uber high on Jovani Moran's control issues playing out well in the playoffs.
    Acquire RH SP Tyler Mahle from Cincinnati for IF Austin Martin, IF Keoni Cavaco, and IF Yunior Severino 

    This is clearly the biggest acquisition I'll be making as the GM of the Twins, acquiring Tyler Mahle from the Reds. Mahle has great stuff and another year of team control remaining. He's certainly better than Joe Ryan, and is probably a half-step up from Sonny Gray. Mahle is likely to be one of the more sought after pitchers at the deadline, but isn't even the best starter the Reds will trade this deadline, as that title belongs to Luis Castillo. However, I prefer Mahle as I believe the cost will be a lot less. In the deal, we give up Austin Martin, who has struggled this year but still has all the talent in the world. The Reds may not view Martin as a centerpiece, but there is a chance that they do. Keoni Cavaco was a first round pick a few years ago and has finally started to come around for Fort Myers this year. Severino is a young middle infield prospect who is thrown is a lottery ticket. Predicting these types of guys is nearly impossible as all organizations value different things. 
    Acquire RH SP Merrill Kelly and LH RP Joe Mantiply from Arizona for SP Blayne Enlow, OF Matt Wallner, IF/OF Edouard Julien, and OF Mark Contreras
    Kelly, who dominated the Twins earlier this year, is one of the least talked about names at the deadline. He doesn't have elite stuff and he probably isn't going to dominate a playoff caliber lineup, but he's a veteran that knows how to pitch similar to Sonny Gray. He's signed through 2024, although that may not be a great negotiation tool for the DBacks as he's likely not going to age all that well. He has an ERA in the mid-3's with the FIP numbers to back that up. Mantiply is another pitcher that isn't talked about nearly enough, and is the left hander that I would be seeking out if I was in an MLB front office. Mantiply has an ERA below 2 and isn't arb eligible until 2027. However, he's already 31 years old and with the volatility of relievers I would expect the DBacks to strike while the iron is hot. The headliner in this deal is Matt Wallner, who's been crushing the baseball at Wichita and is likely MLB ready. Blayne Enlow and Mark Contreras are both included to clear space off the 40 man, but both does have a small amount of value. Enlow is working his way back from injury, and Contreras is probably a 4th OF. Edouard Julien has an OPS of .876 for Wichita and has an OBP in the .420s. 
    Acquire RH RP Daniel Bard from Colorado for RHP Ronny Henriquez
    Daniel Bard is one of the better stories in baseball. He left the game for quite some time but returned last season and is now a fireballing reliever who has found success in Colorado, which is not something to take for granted. The main reason the return on Bard is so light is because he is already 37 years old and is expiring after this season is over. He's struck out 38 hitters in just 30.2 innings of work, and has 16 saves with an ERA of 2.35. Bard would immediately slot in as the teams 2nd best reliever behind Jhoan Duran, and could slide everyone down in the pecking order. Henqiuez was acquired in the Mitch Garver trade and has had an up and down season for St Paul. I believe that he is destined for the bullpen, and could maybe even help the Twins, but I'd rather acquire someone who I know can help the Twins in the year we're "going for it."
    Acquire RH RP David Robertson from Chicago for OF Yesser Mercedes
    Similar to Bard, Robertson is a 37 year old reliever on a bad team that was out of baseball for a year and came back as a lights out bullpen weapon. He too becomes a free agent after this season. This is your classic lottery ticker prospect in Yesser Mercedes, who was an IAFA signing a few years ago and not much is known about him, although he is a top 30 prospect in the Twins system. Robertson too would become one of the better arms in the Twins bullpen, although I would have him 4th in the hierarchy behind Duran, Bard, and Jax. 
    Acquire 1B/DH S Josh Bell from Washington for IF Spencer Steer, 1B Aaron Sabato, and RHP Drew Strotman

    This would easily be the 2nd biggest trade pulled off with myself in the GM chair, adding a game changing bat in Josh Bell. Bell boast in OPS+ of 158 this season in his expiring contract year, and will be one of the most sought after bats on the market. He hits for average and power and would provide power from both sides of the plate and would hit in the middle of the order. Of course, this requires us to give up rising prospect Spencer Steer, who I think should've been included on the top 100 prospects list at mid-season update. We also include former first rounder Aaron Sabato, who has huge power and draws walks, but also has a ton of swing and miss stuff. We also send back Drew Strotman who is a lottery type of guy in this deal as the Nats may believe he can still start, or be a weapon out of a terrible Nationals bullpen.
    The Results
    Now let's take a look at where the pitching staff as a whole stands assuming we are in the playoffs. I'll assume we're only going to use 4 starters in the playoffs, as most teams do. I will also assume that everyone is healthy, but I am assuming that Jorge Alcala does not make a comeback this year. I am also assuming that Kenta Maeda does not show enough to make an impact on the staff so he will be left off of this hypothetical playoff pitching staff, as well as what the lineup would look like with Josh Bell in the middle of it. 
    Starting Rotation
    1. Tyler Mahle
    2. Sonny Gray
    3. Joe Ryan
    4. Merrill Kelly
    CL - RH Jhoan Duran
    SU - RH Daniel Bard
    SU - RH Griffin Jax
    MR - LH Joe Mantiply
    MR - LH Caleb Thielbar
    MR - RH Emilio Pagan
    MR - RH David Roberson 
    LR - RH Josh Winder
    LR/Spot Starter - RH Chris Archer
    Left off: RH Dylan Bundy, LH Jovani Moran, RH Bailey Ober, RH Kenta Maeda, RH Trevor Megill, RH Jharrel Cotton, RH Jorge Alcala, RH Tyler Duffey 
    This gives us a 9 man bullpen and a 13 man pitching staff with a great mix of right handed relievers that can blow hitters away. It also features two crafty lefties in Joe Mantiply and Caleb Thielbar, both of whom are deadly against left handed hitters. It also slides Emilio Pagan way down in the pecking order where I think he's best suited, and allows Tyler Duffey to throw mop up duty. Josh Winder can come in in the playoffs and give you multiple innings of effective relief. Chris Archer is a guy who can do similar things to Winder. I left off Bundy because he isn't playoff quality, Moran because I don't see the club carrying 3 lefties, Ober because he isn't good enough for the rotation and don't think his stuff plays up out of the bullpen, and Kenta because I don't know how his rehab will shake out so we won't count on him, as well as Jorge Alcala for similar reason. Megill and Cotton are both left off as I do not see them remaining on the 40 man roster if all these moves were to come to fruition.
    The Lineup
    DH Luis Arraez
    CF Byron Buxton
    SS Carlos Correa
    1B Josh Bell
    LF Alex Kirilloff
    2B Jorge Polanco
    3B Jose Miranda
    RF Max Kepler
    C Ryan Jeffers
    Bench: C Gary Sanchez, 3B Gio Urshella, IF/OF Nick Gordon, OF Kyle Garlick
    Left off: 1B Miguel Sano, OF Gilberto Celestino, OF Trevor Larnach
    This gives the Twins a potent lineup with that adds depth in Josh Bell pushing Jorge Polanco to the 6 spot with Alex Kirilloff being the lefty that hits in the middle of the order, and Jose Miranda getting the start at 3rd over Urshella because he is such a better hitter than Gio. Jeffers gets the start at catcher as he's much better defensively, but both would play in the playoffs. Nick Gordon is taken on the playoff roster over Trevor Larnach as he provides speed off the bench and also the ability to play CF without Gilberto Celestino on the roster, whos off because of Josh Bell's arrival. Kyle Garlick is obviously kept on the roster to start against left handed pitchers.
    How would you grade this deadline? Drop a comment below! Thanks for reading, and Go Twins!

  2. Mill1634
    The first two parts of this series have seen the Twins clear room on the 40 man for an active off-season in hopes of bouncing back to challenge the Chicago White Sox for a division title, and even farther if the Twins were to make it there. In part 2, we signed Eduardo Rodriguez from the Boston Red Sox, former Angel Alex Cobb, and journeymen Michael Wacha to varying sorts of deals. However, I promised that I was not happy with this rotation and that more would be done to finish it out. As promised, that's how we will kick off part 3 to the off-season blueprint. 
    Trade OF Max Kepler, C Ryan Jeffers, and RHP Drew Strotman to Miami for RHP Pablo Lopez

    We still need another top of the rotation starter for this squad, and that is exactly what we add in Pablo Lopez from the Marlins. The Marlins are looking for outfield help, and they get a guy in Max Kepler who many Twins fans have soured on over the past few seasons. Kepler took off in 2019, but since then has struggled with super low batting averages in part because he pulls the ball on the ground much too frequently.  However, with a move to Miami, Kepler has a chance to reconnect with former hitting coach James Rowson and can attempt to rekindle that magic. The Marlins are also reportedly looking for a catcher for the future as we've seen in talks with the Blue Jays, and we provide them that in Ryan Jeffers. This allows Mitch Garver to take a lions share of the catching duties behind the plate, but he can still split time with Ben Rortvedt against right handed pitchers. Drew Strotman, a DFA canidate for the Twins, is a lottery ticket for the Marlins who may be a decent reliever.  Lopez, 26 years old next year, has steadily improved under Miami, and is coming off a year where he was worth 2.7 WAR in 102 innings. Lopez has steadily improved in his career, and struck out over 10 batters per 9 in 2021. Lopez features 5 pitches, with his changeup being the most effective. He also works a curveball off of his cutter/sinker/4-seam combination. Lopez may not be an ace, but he is a surefire #2 starter who I am comfortable starting in the playoffs. Lopez is under team control for a few more years, and becomes a free agent in 2025. This move sets us up for both the present and future, which is why I am comfortable trading both Kepler and Jeffers.
    Following this move we have around 20-25 million to spend on the lineup.
    Re-Sign SS Andrelton Simmons to a 1 year, 5M deal
    Listen, I don't love this much more than anyone else. Simmons did absolutely nothing with his bat, had some controversial opinions about things off the field, and was a disappointing signing.  However, Simmons still played very good shortstop defense which is exactly what we're paying him to do. Anything that he provides us at the plate is just a plus. I do think that there is more in the bat than we saw last year, but he isn't going to be a great hitter. Also, as much as some fans didn't like Simmons, he seemed to be held in high regard by both players and coaches in the clubhouse. That accounts for something. 
    Sign OF Mark Canha to a 1 year, 10M deal
    I was all aboard the Michael Brantley train last year, and this year the outfielder that I would like to see the Twins target is former A Mark Canha. Canha isn't a great defender, so there will be a step back in right field with the loss of Kepler, but Canha is very, very underrated at the plate. In the past 3 seasons, Canha has had OBP's of .396, .387, and .358. We all know that the Twins lineup is filled with players who will crush the baseball, but outside of Luis Arraez, who I don't think you can rely as an everyday player, they don't have a prototypical leadoff hitter. Canha fits that bill. He can also swipe bags if you give him a chance. Canha is also capable of playing first base if Sano finds himself injured or just not playing well, and is a fine candidate to rotate through DH. 
    Sign OF Odubel Herrera to a 1 year, 5M deal
    Herrera, once a top prospect, hasn't quite lived up to the hype in Philadelphia, but he is still a quality outfielder, and is an overqualified 4th outfielder. Herrera isn't the defensive wizard that he was when he first came up, but he is still capable of playing centerfield a few times a week, or weeks at a time if there is an unfortunate injury to Byron Buxton. Herrera has a lifetime OPS+ of 101, which is 1% better than league average, but paired with the defense is a perfect fit for our 4th outfielder. Yes, I would prefer to have a right hander in this role, but the lower tier of the CF market is pretty bleak. 
    Extend OF Byron Buxton to a 5 year, 90M deal + incentives
    This deal would not kick in until the following year, but a decision needs to be made this off-season, because if Buxton isn't re-signing, he's getting traded. However, we aren't letting the most talented player to ever put on a Twins uniform to walk away. We give him 18 million dollars a year in base salary starting in the 2023 season, and we apply the incentives like this:
    50 games played: 500K
    75 games played: 750K
    100 games played: 2.5M
    130 games played: 6M 
    These incentives of course stack on each other, so if Buxton were to find himself playing 130 or more games in a year, the total year salary for Buxton would be 27.75M dollars. That may seem like a lot, but if Buxton is playing 130 games in a season, he's probably finishing top 5 in the MVP voting and is surely worth more money than that. However, if he is injured in a season, Buxton is still taking home a solid chunk of change, but it isn't absolutely breaking the bank on the Twins. If Buxton were to hit these incentives every year, the deal could be worth 138M dollars. 
    The Verdict
    1. RHP Pablo Lopez
    2. LHP Eduardo Rodreguiez
    3. RHP Joe Ryan
    4. RHP Alex Cobb
    5. RHP Bailey Ober
    Closer - RHP Corey Knebel
    SU - LHP Taylor Rogers
    SU - RHP Tyler Duffey
    MR - RHP Adam Ottavino
    MR - LHP Caleb Thielbar
    MR - RHP Jorge Alcala
    MR - RHP Jovani Moran
    LR - RHP Michael Wacha
    The rotation is vastly improved on last year with the additions of Pablo Lopez, Eduardo Rodreguiez, and Alex Cobb. All 3 arms are quality arms who I would feel comfortable starting in the playoffs. This also gives the ability for Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan to go through a little bit of a sophomore slump if it were to happen. Michael Wacha shifts to the bullpen with the addition of Pablo Lopez, but he's the 6th starter when it is inevitably needed. After that, you have various arms like Randy Dobnak, Griffin Jax, Jordan Balazovic, Cole Sands, and a handful of others signed to MiLB deals The bullpen features new additions of right handers Corey Knebel and Adam Ottavino, which supplised more right handed power to a bullpen featuring 3 good lefties. Thielbar, Alcala, Moran, and Wacha are all capable of going multiple innings which is the way baseball is going, and the other 4 provide electric stuff to shut a game down. If the Twins are in it at the hunt, I would expect another reliever to be added at the deadline.
    Lineup vs RHP
    1. RF Mark Canha
    2. CF Byron Buxton
    3. 2B Jorge Polanco (S)
    4. 3B Josh Donaldson 
    5. LF Alex Kiriloff (L)
    6. C Mitch Garver
    7. 1B Miguel Sano
    8. SS Andrelton Simmons
    9. DH Luis Arraez (L)
    Bench: C Ben Rortvedt (L), IF Jose Miranda, OF/1B Trevor Larnach (L), OF Odubel Herrera (L)
    The lineup features new addition Mark Canha leading off, with Buxton, Polanco, and Donaldson following them. I believe that this top of the lineup could be as good as any in baseball. The middle of the order features Alex Kiriloff, who we are relying on bouncing back after an inspiring few weeks before needing wrist surgery. Garver and Sano provide thump, but we know they have their warts. It doesn't matter in the bottom portion of the lineup. Simmons is easily the weak spot, but Arraez rounds out the order to potentially set up the table with 2 back to back .370+ OBP batters. Rortvedt is the backup catcher, with Miranda being the backup infielder. Larnach can fill in as a pinch hitter, and Herrera is a late inning pinch running or defensive replacement.
    1. RF Mark Canha 
    2. CF Byron Buxton
    3. 3B Josh Donaldson
    4. C Mitch Garver
    5. 1B Miguel Sano
    6. SS Jorge Polanco
    7. LF Alex Kiriloff (L)
    8. 2B Jose Miranda
    9. DH Luis Arraez (L)
    Bench: C Ben Rortvedt (L), SS Andrelton Simmons, OF/1B Trevor Larnach (L), OF Odubel Herrera (L)
    There are a few changes in this lineup in regards to who bats where, but the players are basially the same. The only change I made to this lineup was inserting Jose Miranda at 2nd base, sending Andrelton Simmons to the bench, and sliding Jorge Polanco over to shortstop. Donaldson, Garver, and Sano all slide up in the lineup as we shift Jorge Polanco down a few spots as he is not nearly as good against left handed pitchers as he is against righties, while the hitters we slid up thrive against left handers. Miranda is intriguing at the bottom of the lineup, splitting to two lefties to make sure they can't bring in a lefty reliever to face exclusively left handed hitters. 
    Well Twins fans, this has been Mill1634's off-season blueprint. What do you think? 
  3. Mill1634

    2022 Off-Seaon Blueprint
    In part one of my off-season blueprint, I took a look at the 40 man roster and made some changes. The headliners were waiving players such as Lewis Thorpe and Brent Rooker, while adding on prospects like Royce Lewis and Jose Miranda. These things aren't exciting, but they are necessary steps to go through to create a true off-season blueprint. Now we're on to the fun stuff. Adding on to our hypothetical Twins roster. The current payroll sits at 76.85M dollars after arbitration, which were pulled from MLB Trade Rumors. I have given myself the same budget as last year, 130M dollars. This means we have around 53M to spend either via trade or free agency. Of course, we could trade someone off the major league roster to clear up even more space. But for now, lets add on.
    Team Needs - Pitching
    As of now, our current rotation features Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan. These names aren't bad, and both guys performed well in 2021, but they aren't going to be able to be our best pitchers to have a real shot to contend. Having them in the rotation is fine, but we're going to need to add at least 3 starters via trade or free agency, and likely a few more on MiLB deals. The bullpen, while not good, does have a base to work with. Rogers, Thielbar, and Moran are more than enough from the left side, so we won't be targeting any left handed relievers. However, we need to add at least 2 right handed relievers are our current options are Jorge Alcala, Tyler Duffey, and Juan Minaya. 
    Sign LHP Eduardo Rodriguez to a 4 year, 60M deal

    Eduardo Rodriguez has spent his entire MLB career with the Boston Red Sox, and is coming off of a weird year. He was given a qualifying offer by Boston, so signing him would cost us our third highest draft pick, but that's something I am okay with. Of course, I would much rather sign a front line starter like Kevin Gausman or Max Scherzer, but I simply don't see the Twins being able to swing that in reality, so we're going to keep it realistic here as well. Eduardo gets less than the QO, but gets long term stability with the Twins making 15M AAV. Eduardo has had a FIP under 4 for the past 4 seasons, including a career best 3.32 this past season. He strikes out 10 batter per 9 innings, and provides a lefty arm in the rotation. He does have some injury history, but did pitch 157 innings after opting out of the 2020 season. He features a 5 pitch mix which can keep hitters off-balance, and I'm comfortable starting him in a playoff series. Do I want him to start game one? Probably not. But do I feel better about him starting game one than Joe Ryan or Bailey Ober? Absolutely. 
    Sign RHP Alex Cobb to a 2 year, 18M deal
    Alex Cobb isn't the most healthy pitcher on the market, but when he pitches he's been as good as anyone. Cobb has never thrown more than 200 innings in his career, and pitched only 93.1 in 2020, but he was worth 1.7 WAR, and had his highest K/9 in his career at 9.5. If he didn't have health concerns, he's a guy who is getting similar money to Eduardo, but he is not. This keeps him as a good option for the Twins because he can provide mid-rotation stability, and again, I am comfortable starting him in a playoff series. Cobb features a 4 pitch mix with his best put-away pitch being his split-finger which ties him closely to former Twins starter Jake Odorizzi. We know the current FO targeted Jake, so targeting Cobb would not be a surprise. 
    Sign RHP Michael Wacha to a 1 year, 3M deal
    This is the exact deal that Wacha took with the Rays in 2021, and the performance was mixed. Wacha showed the he could still strike batters out at a decent clip, which he has done throughout his career, but still found himself being bit by the gopher ball. Wacha fits the bill of last years Matt Shoemaker addition, who is a potential upside starter for cheap, and at minimum will provide stability to the backend of the rotation. You aren't going to want to start him in a playoff series, but I have no issue giving him the ball once every 5 days during the regular season. Wacha, like Eduardo, features a 5 pitch mix that relies heavily on a changeup that had a whiff rate of 34% in 2021. He also features a seldom used curveball which had a whiff rate of 44%. This is something the Twins could look to get more out of, and more frequently.
    That's it for the starters, at least on the free agency front. However, I promise you that I'm not happy with this rotation yet. A trade is coming...but not until the final part of this series, part 4. 
    After signing three starters, we currently have 26 million dollars to work with for the bullpen and hitting side of things, and we'll be sure to spend it all. 
    Sign RHP Corey Knebel to a 2 year, 14M deal
    This hypothetical deal isn't an actual 2 year deal, but instead a 1+1 deal with the second year being a team option with a buyout. Knebel is coming off an injured year, so we can get him for cheaper than if he was healthy, and is another reason to add the team option in case we run into a similar situation in 2022. Knebel is a two pitch pitcher, who throws extremely hard, something that is currently lacking in the Twins bullpen sans Jorge Alcala. Knebel would immediately be the best right hander out of the Twins bullpen, and sets them up much better and much more balanced. 
    Sign Adam Ottavino to a 1 year, 3.5M deal
    If there was ever a signing to predict, I think this is it. Ottavino is coming off of a very bad September for the Boston Red Sox, but was still a weapon throughout the regular season with a 4.21 ERA, which was inflated by his 8+ ERA in September. Ottavino features a wipeout slider, which as we know, is something that the Twins have targeted around the edges of their staff. His slider put away 25 hitters in 2021, but did surrender 5 home runs. He also works a cutter off the slider, which is his other main pitch. Ottavino likely won't be a late inning option, but I would be super comfortable going to him in the mid innings. 
    This sets up the current staff and rotation to look like this
    Starting Rotation
    1. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez
    2. RHP Alex Cobb
    3. RHP Joe Ryan
    4. RHP Bailey Ober
    5. RHP Michael Wacha
    As I said earlier, the rotation isn't complete yet as there is one more move that's coming, but it won't be until the final part of this series where I put the finishing touches on things with some trades. However, the current state of the rotation is much improved to what we saw last year. Eduardo may not be a household name, but he's a very good arm. Cobb has an injury history, but is coming off of a successful year. Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober are both in house names that every Twins fan knows at this point. Wacha rounds out the rotation with a veteran arm.
    Closer - RHP Corey Knebel
    Set-up - LHP Taylor Rogers
    Set-up - RHP Tyler Duffey
    MR - RHP Adam Ottavino
    MR - LHP Caleb Thielbar
    MR - LHP Jovani Moran
    MR - RHP Jorge Alcala
    LR - RHP Juan Minaya
    The bullpen features some familiar names, but we added a real back end weapon this year in free agency with Corey Knebel. I don't actually believe in having a true closer, but for the purposes of acting as the GM, we have listed Knebel there. You can mix and match Knebel, Rogers, Duffey, and Ottavino however you want in the late innings and I would feel good about it. Thielbar and Moran are both really good lefties, and Jorge Alcala is a wildcard. Minaya takes the first stab at the front end of the bullpen, but he will be cycled through like we've seen every year.
    And with that, the pitching portion of free agency is done. We have roughly 15 million dollars left on the table, but there may be more room to add with some trades off of the roster.
    Stay tuned, and let me know your thoughts below!
  4. Mill1634

    2022 Off-Seaon Blueprint
    The 2021 baseball season has come and gone, and thankfully the Dodgers, Yankees, Astros, or White Sox did not win the world series. Eddie Rosario lit the baseball world on fire, the Cardinals had 5 players win a gold glove, and the Twins yet again did not win a playoff series. However, myself, Mill1634, is going to change that with this off-season blueprint. Last season, my off-season blueprint was much better than the actual Twins off-season simply by one player -- Robbie Ray, who I brought in on a hypothetical 1 year, 6 million dollar deal. In reality, Ray re-signed with the Jays for 8 million dollars, and is potentially the AL Cy Young winner. We'll look to see if I can recreate that magic this year.

    40 Man Removals
    The Twins have already taken care of the majority of the legwork for me, as there was a batch of removals at the start of the off-season. SP Michael Pineada, RP Alex Colome (option declined) and SS Andrelton Simmons had their contracts expire which made them free agents which obviously removes them from the 40 man roster. OF Kyle Garlick, OF Rob Refsnyder, and P John Gant were waived from the 40 man, went unclaimed, and elected free agency. They are no longer our worry, or taking up space on the 40 man. However, they claimed P Jharel Cotton off waivers from the Texas Rangers, so there is a spot taken again. They also activated P Lewis Thorpe, P Cody Stashak, P Kenta Maeda, OF Alex Kiriloff, P Devin Smeltzer, P Taylor Rogers, and P Randy Dobnak. As of writing this piece, the Twins have 37 names on the 40 man roster. This number needs to get a lot smaller, and that's exactly what we're going to do.
    - Jharel Cotton
    - Danny Coulombe
    - Ralph Garza Jr.
    - Devin Smeltzer
    - Lewis Thorpe
    I do not think any of these names are particularly surprising, and there are two more names that are on the fence, for me at least. Those two names are Cody Stashak and Juan Minaya, but they'll stay for now, but if we find ourselves making a big trade, or with leftover money late in the spring, we'll have no problem cutting bait. Cotton was just claimed, but he likely isn't a stud reliever, and I'll risk passing him through waivers once again. Coulombe was okay as a lefty reliever, but we have 3 stud lefties -- Taylor Rogers, Caleb Thielbar, and Jovani Moran. We can sign 5 more Danny Coulombe's to MiLB deals following the R5 draft if we're really missing him. Garza, a mid-year waiver claim, pitched okay out of the bullpen, but only struck out 7 per 9 innings. We saw how pitch to contact relievers can bite you, didn't we Alex? Smeltzer and Thorpe are both often injured, and not very good. They will be sandwhiched by off-season signings, and the next wave of Twins pitching prospects. 
    - Willians Astudillo
    - Jake Cave
    - Brent Rooker
    Look, I love La Tortuga as much as anyone does, but he simply isn't a very good baseball player. The Twins certainly don't trust him at catcher anymore, and he doesn't have a natural position in the field. His bat, while exciting and maybe even much watch, are not good at-bats most of the time. Jake Cave is as frustrating of a player as I can remember, and I don't think I need to say anything more. Rooker is probably a controversial waive, and I would be somewhat surprised if the actual Twins front office decides to make this move, but the former 1st rounder had a rough 60 game stretch, and he doesn't have a spot on the field. You could rotate him through the DH position, but there are other Twins players I'd much rather give those at-bats to. Of course I would try to trade him first, but I am not going through the work to find a random A- reliever that I really love!  Much like the pitching side of things, there is one other player who I was on the fence about, but for now we'll keep him. That player is Nick Gordon, but he may not be here through the (hypothetical) winter.
    The 40 man roster now sits at 28 players. 
    - P Caleb Thielbar - 1.2M (Tender)
    - OF Byron Buxton - 7.3M (Tender, work on a long-term extension)
    - P Tyler Duffey - 3.7M (Tender)
    - P Juan Minaya - 1.1M (Tender)
    - P Taylor Rogers - 6.7M (Tender)
    - C Mitch Garver - 3.1M (Tender)
    - IF Luis Arraez - 2M (Tender)
    That is that. We tender every single player who is eligible that is still on my 40 man. Of course, you may see the Twins non-tender a player like Jake Cave or Willians Astudillo, but we already took care of that by waving them from the 40-man roster. At the end of the day, it's the same difference. 
    Here in Mill1634's world, we try to avoid Akil Baddoo situations, and I'll attempt to take care of that again right now. There are a handful of players who need to be added to the 40 man roster, or you risk losing them to the rule 5 draft. 
    - SS Royce Lewis
    - P Josh Winder
    - IF Jose Miranda
    - P Cole Sands
    - P Blayne Enlow
    These 5 names bring us to 33 names on the 40 man roster, which gives us room for 7 additions through trade or free agency, which should be enough, but as I previously mentioned, there are still some names that can be removed from the 40 man if needed. Royce Lewis is a no brianer protection, as are Josh Winder and Jose Miranda. Cole Sands is not a top pitching prospect, but he just posted fantastic numbers in the minors, and we'll protect him for now. Blayne Enlow is injured, so a team could nab him and place him on the injured list when eligible next year, but we can do that ourselves, and there is no reason to lose him for nothing.
    - IF Yunior Severino
    - P Chris Vallimont
    - P Jordan Gore
    - OF Mark Contreras 
    None of these names are top prospects, but they've been mentioned plenty of times on Twins Daily. Severino is coming off an okay year, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see a claim him in the R5 draft, but I'm not overly worried about that possibility. Vallimont, acquired in the Sergio Romo trade a few years ago, has fantastic stuff but doesn't have the control needed to make a difference right now. If someone wants to give him a shot in a major league bullpen, fine. I'd expect him to be returned if his BB/9 is above 6 again. Gore, a former hitting prospect, is intriguing but is 27 years old and only has 70 innings pitched in the minors. I don't think too many teams will be interested. Contreras, an outfielder, is in a similar situation to Gore. He is a great outfielder, and finally broke out at the plate, but is already 27 years old. Again, I'm not too worried about losing him.
    And with that, part 1 of my off-season blueprint has come to an end. In the next few days, part 2 will come to fruition where we make some fun additions to the squad with the hope of competing in 2022. 
  5. Mill1634

    Offseason Bleuprint
    As we all know, the Twins season has been a disaster almost immediately from the get go. The first seven games went as expected, and the Twins saw themselves with a 5-2 record through a weeks worth of games. However, they are now 2 months into the season, and through the entirety of last seasons total games played, and find themselves sitting 13 games below .500 at 24-37. I don't think anybody, even models that predict the bottoming out of a team, saw them playing at this pace. There are many different reasons for the Twins poor start, including the bullpen, injuries to key hitters when they are needed the most, and bounce-back candidates simply not rebounding like many had hoped. Another issue that has set the Twins back is the offseason acquisitions. On paper, the class of Alex Colome, Hansel Robles, J.A. Happ, and Matt Shoemaker on the pitching side appeared to do a sufficient job. However, only Robles of this group has even returned moderate value, and Colome and Shoemaker should likely be DFA'd in the upcoming days. The hitting side didn't see the signings that the pitching side did, with only Andrelton Simmons being brought in to bolster the infield defense, and Kyle Garlick, who was claimed on the waiver wire, and may actually be the best move they made all winter. With that said, let me go down the alternate rode of myself being the GM, and taking a look at how things may be going if they made the moves I mapped out in my offseason blueprint.
    SP Jose Berrios - 5.3M (Tender)
    CF Byron Buxton - 4.4M (Tender)
    RP Tyler Duffey - 1.7M (Tender)
    C Mitch Garver - 1.8M (Tender)
    RP Taylor Rogers - 5.5M (Tender)
    LF Eddie Rosario - 10M (Non-Tender)
    RP Matt Wisler - 1.4M (Tender)
    The real life Twins' front office made very similar choices to myself, which all seemed pretty obvious. There was no world where any of the top 4 names on the list were going to become free agents, and although there was some questioning around Taylor Rogers, I never believed the Twins would let him walk. The first real decision came on fan favorite Eddie Rosario, who like the Thad Levine and Derek Falvey, I let walk away. I had no issues with it at the time, and in retrospect still have no issues with the move. Rosario is slashing .244/..294/.356 for an OPS+ of 79. The batting average and on base percentage are near career norms, but the slugging percentage is at a career low, and it isn't close. One bright spot to Eddie is that he's been aggressive on the base paths with Cleveland, totaling 7 steals in 56 games. The first differing decision I made was the decision to tender Matt Wisler, who was just waived by the San Fransisco Giants after signing a one year deal. Wisler was very, very bad this year, so that was a swing and a miss in this hypothetical offseason, but at just a projected 1.4 million dollars, it was a risk I was willing to take. 
    Following arbitration and the guaranteed salaries that we all knew were going to be on the book, I gave myself around 40 million dollars to spend to fill out the rest of the roster. So, how did I spend it? Let's take a look.
    Free Agency
    Robbie Ray - 1 year, 6M dollars
    In the real universe of the MLB, Robbie Ray signed a 1 year, 8 million dollar deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Ray was an intriguing bounce back candidate who at the minimum could fill the back end of the rotation with higher upside. Even at 8 million dollars that he got in real life, it would be a risk that I would take. Ray was one of the first players to sign this winter, and it has paid off huge for the Toronto Blue Jays. Ray has made 11 starts and compiled 2 WAR on 81 strikeouts in only 64.1 innings pitched, and has an ERA of 3.36, a number he hasn't posted since he was an all-star with Arizona in 2017.  Ray does have a FIP of nearly 4.40, and negative regression will likely come at some point, but Ray would've been a huge success for the 2021 Minnesota Twins.
    Tyler Clippard - 1 year, 2.5M dollars
    The Twins chose not to bring back Tyler Clippard in 2021, and it turns out that it was the correct move. Clippard pitched 26 innings of 2.77 ERA baseball for the Twins in the shortened 2020 season, and I thought he was perfect as the first or second guy out of the bullpen in the 5th or 6th inning. However, he's been dealing with an injury that will likely keep him out for the rest of the year. Obviously he isn't to worthwhile to a bullpen when he's on the IL.
    Joakim Soria - 1 year, 6.25M dollars
    Soria only got half of the money I was willing to give him in my offseason blueprint, signing with the Oakland Athletics on a one year, 3.25 million dollar contract. Soria was an arm who I believed in as he's always posted great numbers, and has experience closing ball games. Things haven't gone as planned for Soria in Oakland, throwing 13 innings of 4.85 ERA baseball. The surface numbers are ugly, but Soria appears to being unlucky with a HR/9 innings of 2.5, a number which sits at 0.8 throughout his career. The strikeouts are in line with where they've always been for the 37 year old, and he still rarely gives up the free pass. Would Soria have been a late inning weapon for the Twins in his current form? Probably not. Would he have been better than Alexander Colome? Absolutely.
    Ehire Adrianza - 1 year, 1.5M dollars
    The second re-signing that I mapped out for the Twins was bringing back utility infielder Ehire Adrianza. In this universe, Jorge Polanco was given the ability to stay as the shortstop because I believed the bounceback year was coming at the dish, and I simply didn't care as much about the defense as the real life Twins front office did. Adrianza would serve as the 6th infielder and fill in once a week, and provide late inning defense. The real life Adrianza signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves, but has been on the major league ballclub the entire year. He still isn't hitting with an OPS+ of 78, which is just a few points lower than his career norms, but that isn't what I resigned him to do. We know he can field wherever you put him, and that is where the value is. The Twins chose to bring in Andrelton Simmons, and that was a fine move too. This role was never filled for the Twins by Falvey and Levine.
    Jonathan Schoop - 1 year, 6M dollars
    I already signed one backup infielder for my hypothetical squad, but still felt like I needed another as I wasn't a huge believer of Luis Arraez defense at second base, and knew that the Twins needed a right handed bat to face off with southpaws. Schoop got a 1 year, 4.5 million dollar deal with the Detroit Tigers. Our old friend has had a solid year manning second and first for the Tigers, with an OPS+ of 104, which is 4 percent higher than league average, and has also batted 9 balls over the wall in a stadium where it isn't easy to do so. On my 2021 Twins team, Schoop would primarily hit against left handed pitchers only, but also have the ability to fill in with injuries to Luis Arraez, Miguel Sano, or Josh Donaldson. Schoop has 59 at bats against left handed pitchers, and has 7 extra base hits including 3 homers for an OPS of .840. This would give him an OPS+ of 130 if he were to only hit against lefties, while filling the role that Willians Astudillo currently finds himself in. I think this is an easy upgrade that the Twins executives missed out on.  
    Kevin Pillar - 2 year, 12.5M dollars
    The last signing in my hypothetical offseason was outfielder Kevin Pillar, who was the only player I was willing to give 2 years to. However, I went way higher on the money than was really needed, as he signed a 2 year deal totaling 6M dollars with the New York Mets, but that doesn't really matter here in La-La Land. Pillar wore a fastball off the face earlier this season, but with that non-withstanding, has been about as advertised for the Mets. Pillar plays good outfield defense, although he is a bit stretched in center field, and is a league average hitting with an OPS+ of 101. On my Twins team, Pillar would split time with Jake Cave in left field in a platoon until Trevor Larnach was ready to be called up, and then would be the fourth outfielder on the team. In real life, the Twins opted to claim Kyle Garlick for a similar role, and he has certainly worked out just fine. However, Garlick is nowhere near the defender that Pillar is, so we'll call this one a wash.
    SP - Kenta Maeda
    SP - Jose Berrios
    SP - Michael Pineda
    SP - Robbie Ray
    SP - Randy Robnak
    RP - Taylor Rodgers (L)
    RP - Tyler Duffey
    RP - Matt Wisler
    RP - Jorge Alcala
    RP - Cody Stashak 
    RP- Tyler Cippard
    RP - Joakim Soria
    RP - Caleb Thielbar (L)
    Much like the real life Twins, I was counting on Kenta Maeda having a similar season that he had in 2020. Obviously I wasn't expecting a cy young season, but I thought he was a #2 starter, much like Berrios. We know Kenta has struggled, but Berrios has been about as advertised. Pineda has continued to stay consistent, and the presence of Robbie Ray in this rotation is gamechanging.  The Twins are currently handing the ball to JA Happ every 5th day, who has been mediocre, when in this universe they're using a potential all-star. I also gave the 5th rotation spot to Randy Dobnak instead of signing a Matt Shoemaker type, which is an easy upgrade no matter who you give the ball to. 
    The bullpen would face similar struggles that they've seen in 2021, as the only real change here is Joakim Soria. We know that Matt Wisler has been bad, and Tyler Clippard hasn't even thrown a pitch. Much like the Twins brass, I was counting on Rogers, Duffey, and Soria to close out games with the rest of the guys being able to get me through the middle innings. I think the Twins addition of Hansel Robles puts their bullpen on par with the one I drew up here, which isn't good news for either of us.
    C - Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers
    1B - Miguel Sano
    2B - Luis Arraez (L), Jonathan Schoop
    SS - Jorge Polanco (S), Ehire Adrianza (S)
    3B - Josh Donaldson
    LF - Jake Cave (L)
    CF - Byron Buxton, Kevin Pillar
    RF - Max Kepler (L)
    DH: Alex Kiriloff (L)
    I opted to split catching time behind the dish much like the Twins planned on doing before Ryan Jeffers stumbled out of the gate and sent him down. We have seen Jeffers bounceback as he's been getting every day starts. The infield is the biggest difference on this team, with Jorge Polanco staying at shortstop, and Jonathan Schoop and Ehire Adrianza coming off the bench. Schoop fills in for Willians Astudillo, which I would consider an upgrade, and I think many others would as well. The Adrianza role wasn't filled in real life, and that's fine because they signed a defensive wizard in Andrelton Simmons and had the luxury of Jorge Polanco being the second string shortstop. Kevin Pillar fills the role of Kyle Garlick, which is a wash. The biggest change I made was not re-signing Nelson Cruz, as I had questions about him after seeing him struggle to end the 60 game season. Through nearly the same amount of games in 2021, Cruz has slowed down from his early years in Minnesota, and is potentially playing in his "swan song" season. I would've given the role to Alex Kiriloff from day one, and I think that would've been a potential upgrade over the 40 year old slugger if the wrist injury never came for AK. 
    Obviously it is hard to grade my offseason because there is no way of telling which players do or don't get hurt, but on paper I think that with the addition of Robbie Ray, the starting rotation is a lot deeper and a lot better. The lineup is largely the same with Alex Kiriloff instead of Nelson Cruz, and in retrospect the bullpen would face many of the same issues here that we've seen on the field in 2021.
    Rotation: A-
    Bullpen: C-
    Lineup: B
    Bench: B+
    Overall: B
  6. Mill1634

    Let the Kids Play
    I wrote a few days ago on starting pitchers that we are likely to see in the dog days of summer. This of course assumes that the Twins are going to continue down the horrid path that they've gotten off to in the first 40 games of the season, and expiring deals like Michael Pineda and J.A. Happ are moved. The bullpen also contains two names who were brought in on one year deals, one throwing very well, and the other getting off to a horrid start. If someone told you that one would be good and one would be bad, you may not be shocked, but the fact that Robles has outperformed Colome is surprising. If the Twins do decide that they are going to sell, those two will certainly be moved. Some other names like Tyler Duffey or Taylor Rogers could also find themselves being traded, but as I'm writing this I don't foresee it happening. Either way, with injuries, taxing bullpen arms, or relievers not performing, there will be plenty of chances for the Twins brass to bring up some young, intriguing arms. 
    RHP Yennier Cano
    Cano was signed as an older international free agent in 2018 for 750,000 dollars, just before the international period was about to end. The Twins essentially traded OF Zack Granite to the Rangers for Cano, as 750,000 in international money is what the Twins received in compensation. Cano was ranked as the #2 player in the international class, behind OF Victor Victor Mesa. Cano features a unique three-quarters delivery in which he features a fastball sitting in the mid-90's, topping out at 97 MPH. Cano also features a heavy sinker which induces a lot of ground balls, and works a slider and splitter for strikeouts. Cano is currently in AA Wichita, and has gotten off to a torrid start. At the time of this writing, he's worked 6.2 innings with 12 strikeouts, no walks, and no home runs. Cano is likely going to be called up to Saint Paul in the near future, and if things go well, there is no doubt that the 27 year old will be up with the Twins. Due to his age, the ceiling is limited, but Cano could prove to be a useful middle reliever on a team the could badly use one.
    RHP Dakota Chalmers
    Chalmers was acquired as a lottery ticket arm in the 2018 trade that sent Fernando Rodney to the Oakland A's, after being a 3rd round pick in the 2015 draft, being signed way over slot at 1.2M. Chalmers battled injury issues early in his career, and received the dreaded Tommy John Surgery in 2018. Due to Chalmers missing much of the 2018 season, the Twins sent Chalmers to the Arizona Fall League in 2019, where things didn't go according to plan. Chalmers made 6 starts, totaling 17.2 IPs, allowing 17 hits and 12 walks. However, Chalmers, who has always had 80 grade stuff, struck out 25 batters. Despite the rough outing in 2019, the Twins added Chalmers to the 40 man roster. Chalmers has continued to work as a starter in 2021 at AA Wichita, but the results still haven't turned around. Chalmers has walked 4 in 8.2 innings, and given up 8 hits, including 4 home runs. Due to Chalmers having 20 or 25 grade control, his chances at starting seem slim to none. Getting Chalmers in the bullpen as an effectively wild pitcher is the best hope for both him and the Twins brass.
    RHP Tom Hackimer

    Hackimer is an under the radar pitcher within the Twins organization, not appearing on any top prospect list on any site. However, Hackimer has been a very effective reliever in the minors, largely due to his unique delivery.  The Twins righty throws with a submarine type wind-up, which he compares to former Astros reliever Joe Smith.  Hackimer doesn't have blow you away type stuff, with a fastball that sits around 90 MPH, topping out at 94 MPH, but due to the spin rate and unique arm angle, it plays faster than it is. He also features a big, sweeping slider that can get right handed hitters out. He is also working on developing a changeup in order to get left handed hitters out more effectively, but it's a work in progress. If Hackimer is ever going to crack the big leagues, at least with the Twins, this is going to be the year he does so. He is not on the 40 man roster as of now, but with the expected trades, the Twins can make a move to get him a look if they feel like he can succeed. Hackimer is currently at AAA Saint Paul, putting up a scoreless 7.1 innings pitched, and 11 strikeouts. During his minor league career, he's thrown 176.1 innings of 2.65 ERA, while striking out 204 batters. 
  7. Mill1634

    Let the Kids Play
    The Minnesota Twins find themselves doubled up in the loss column at the time of this post, at 13-26, and the biggest controversy is whether Yermin Mercedes should be able to swing 3-0 against Willians Astudillo. If that doesn't tell you how this season has gone, I'm not sure what will. I've already wrote about players that we could see traded, as well as ranked all the Twins MLB roster by trade value. I expect many of those moves to be made in July, although some could roll in earlier, especially with all of the injuries around Major League Baseball. When all of these expected moves come around, the Twins are going to have to fill these holes with players from the minor leagues, or possibly by players coming in from the trades. This series will take a look at the players the Twins front office will want to take a longer look at come late July, August, and September in order to put themselves in a position to succeed in 2022.
    RHP Randy Dobnak

    Dobnak came into the Twins organization as a feel good story, and even started a playoff game for the Twins. He also signed a 5 year extension this past offseason, which locked in financial security for the former Uber driver, and gave the Twins a cheap depth option for the foreseeable future. However, there is questions around Twins territory on whether Dobnak is an MLB starter, or more of a long man. With expected trades of JA Happ and Michael Pineda, and the likely DFA or move to the bullpen for Matt Shoemaker, the Twins will have plenty of chances to evaluate some of the AAA starters. Dobnak should, and likely will be, the first option to fill the hole. Dobnak relies on pinpoint control over his sinker, and a very good slider to pair with the sinker. In order to be an effective MLB starter, Dobnak will have to develop a reliable third pitch, with the changeup being the most likely. Even if Dobnak isn't a long term starter, he will be on the opening day roster in 2022.
    LHP Lewis Thorpe
    Lewis Thorpe is a former top prospect out of Australia, but certainly hasn't met those expectations thus far. The key to Thorpe being a useful arm in the major leagues all rely on his fastball velocity. Last season we saw Thorpe's velocity fall below 90, which was not the norm for him, and unsurprisingly, he got shelled. However, there were signs of hope for the southpaw during spring training, where he said he "refocused mentally and physically" and the results backed it up. Thorpe was sitting in the low 90's during spring training, but that has suddenly disappeared. During Thorpe's two spot starts thus far, he's once again sitting 89.7 MPH on the fastball, and shared that he's going through a dead arm phase. If Thorpe snaps out of his dead arm, and regains his velo, he has a chance at a starter to pair with his very good slider. However, if the fastball velo is only sustainable in short stints, a move to the pen seems inevitable. We'll get an answer on this question during the dog days of the 2021 summer. 
    RHP Bailey Ober
    As I'm writing this article, Bailey Ober is pitching the first inning of his MLB debut. Ober is a big, right handed arm who stands at 6 feet 9 inches, but doesn't have the velo that matches the body. The Twins drafted Ober in the 12th round in 2017, which is the same draft where Royce Lewis was the #1 pick. The fact that Ober has already made his MLB debut, despite being a 12th round pick, means he's outperformed expectations. Bailey was added to the 40 man roster this past offseason, despite not throwing in a live game since 2019. Ober has four quality pitches, with the fastball sitting in the upper 80's, and the lower 90's on occasion. His best putaway pitch is a changeup, which moves with a lot of armside run. He also features a slider and curveball, but neither project as anything more than an average pitch. Despite the fastball not cracking 90, it has a lot of carry on it which allows him to successfully pitch in the upper part of the zone. With the next wave of top arms coming to Target Field soon in Johan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, Ober will have to perform well to stay apart of Minnesota's long term plans, as he is a starter or bust.  
  8. Mill1634
    Today I wrap up the final piece in my mini-blog series where I ranked the Minnesota Twins roster by trade value, as this season has gone downhill quickly. Things haven't gotten any better, as they've just been swept by the division leading White Sox, and now find themselves down 10 games of ChiSox just 35 games into the 2021 campaign. If things continue to travel down this road, which it seems like they will, the Twins may have the most talent of any seller come July. In part 1, I took a look at players who have regressed or have massive contracts. Part 2 featured some names that carried the Twins in 2019, as well as a few players who will see their contract expire after this season. Today, we take a look at the final 6 players in the ranking.

    6. RH DH Nelson Cruz 
    If I was simply ranking the talent on the Minnesota Twins, there is no doubt that Nelson Cruz would be in the top 3, but that isn't what these rankings are. Nelson Cruz is without a doubt one of the top hitters in the MLB, despite being nearly 40 years old. However, he plays at a non-premium position, and there aren't many teams that are in need of a DH. Going through the list of the contenders, you have the Houston Astros who have Yordan Alverez. Cross them off. The White Sox have rookie of the year contender Yermin Mercedes. I don't see it. The New York Yankees have Stanton, the Red Sox have JD Martinez, and the Blue Jays have Rowdy Tellez and a handful of outfielders who can fill in at DH when George Springer is healthy. That leaves me with two teams: Oakland and Tampa Bay. Neither of these teams are known to be big spenders, and I'm not real confident that they'd have DH as their top need come July.  I think the most likely scenario sees Nelson Cruz staying put in Minnesota, and reevaluating his options in the off-season, when the NL is likely to add the DH
    Prediction: Not Moved
    5. LH RP Taylor Rogers
    Taylor Rogers has been one of the best relievers over the past 4 seasons, despite his struggles in 2020, the advanced metrics still love Taylor Rogers. I agree with these numbers. Like any reliever, Rogers is violate and certainly prone to going through a rough stretch, but there aren't many who are prone to this. If the Twins decided to move Rogers, I think he would be the best reliever moved mid-season. Rogers is due for his 4th and final year of arbitration in 2022, and then becomes a free agent in 2023. If the Twins decide that they are simply retooling, I think Rogers sticks around. However, if they decide to commit to a rebuild, I think Rogers is certainly moved. However, I'm hesitant to saying the front office will, or should, commit to a rebuild. This is especially true on May 14th. With an already bad bullpen, trading Rogers would make 2022s bullpen abysmal. 
    Prediction: Not Moved
    4. RH SS Andrelton Simmons
    Andrelton Simmons was brought in on a one year contract to improve the Minnesota Twins infield defense, and he has certainly succeed at that. Simmons has been credited with saving 2 runs in 200 innings at SS, which puts him on pace to finish the year with between 10-12. We know Simmons isn't a great hitter, but he doesn't need to be to have a positive impact on a game. Much like Byron Buxton of the past, who won games despite struggling mightily at the plate, Simmons is the best of the best at his position, and teams know that. Simmons contract is set to expire at the end of the season, and that makes him attractive to a potential buyer. The Twins could negotiate an extension, but I'm not sure I see that, especially with a loaded free agent class at the position. I'm almost certain that Simba will be moved before the July 30th trade deadline. 
    Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers
    Potential Prospects: RH OF Tristen Lutz (3, AA), LHP Aaron Ashby (5, AAA), RH SS Eduardo Garcia (8, R)
    3. RH SP Kenta Maeda
    Kenta Maeda was one of the best starting pitchers in all of the MVP in the 60 game season, and looked like an absolute steal after being brought over for Brusadar Graterol in the 3-team trade which sent Mookie Betts to LA. However, Maeda has been roughed up in his first few starts in 2021, and doesn't look like the same pitcher we saw last season. The most notable difference between his great year last year, and the struggles this year is his control and command. We saw Maeda dissect lineups by throwing pitches exactly where the catcher was set up, and rarely leaving a hittable pitch over the plate. That has all turned on its head this year, and Kenta looks like the same version LA saw. Everyone knew regression was likely, but I don't think Kenta is this bad. Kenta is a top 3 arm on a playoff rotation, with potential to be higher. Kenta is signed for the next 2 years, but at only 3M per. This is a steal of a deal, and I see no reason for the Twins to sell low on King Kenta.
    Prediction: Not Moved
    2. RH SP Jose Berrios
    Jose Berrios has been near the top of the Twins rotation for the past 3 years, and has been a top 50 starter every season. He hasn't taken the step from being TOR to an ace that many Twins fans hoped he would, but he's still very, very valuable. Berrios is set for his final year in arbitration following this season, which will likely see him making between 8-10 million. Again, this is a steal for the quality of pitcher Berrios is. We know the Twins have made an offer to extend Berrios contract in the past, but clearly that hasn't come to fruition. I suspect a Berrios extension to be somewhere in the ballpark of 100-110 million dollars over 4 years, which I would offer if I was the Twins. If an extension can't be worked out this offseason, and the Twins are in this same boat next year, it's likely Berrios would be moved at the deadline. However, I see no reason to sell on him now.
    Prediction: Not Moved
    1. RH CF Byron Buxton
    The list rounds out with one of the most exciting players in baseball with Byron Buxton. We saw Byron take the MVP-level step forward through a month this season, but like years past, Buxton found himself on the injured list. I don't think you can fault Byron for being an often injured player, nor can you blame the Twins. It's simply part of the game. Some are prone, and some aren't. In a similar boat to Berrios, we know a contract extension has been offered to Buxton, but he felt it was too low. Sitting on top of baseball references leaderboard for WAR 35 games into the season, despite only playing in 24 games, certainly isn't going to make him any cheaper. I hesistate to speculate on what an extension for Buxton would look like, as he's likely a player who won't age well as he relies on both speed, and bat speed to be effective. He doesn't draw walks (nor should he, crushing pitches he can hit is better than trying to draw a walk), and he gets hurt a lot. I think the Twins would want an extension with multiple team options thrown in, and I'm not sure Buck would want that. However, it's a season too early to consider trading Byron.
    Prediction: Not Moved
    Below I have listed the players that I expect to be traded, as well as who the logical replacement is the rest of the way in what appears to be a "figure out what we have for the future" type of year, rather than a contend for the World Series year. All in all, I expect 7 trades to be made, at least based on these rankings. However, I would be fairly shocked if the Twins traded 7 MLB players off their roster. If I was setting the over/under on such a thing, I would set it at 4.5. 
    Andrelton Simmons - Brewers (Nick Gordon)
    Michael Pineda - Yankees (Randy Dobnak)
    Tyler Duffey - Phillies (Edwar Colina)
    Mitch Garver - Braves (Ryan Jeffers)
    J.A. Happ - Brewers (Lewis Thorpe)
    Hansel Robles - A's (Dakota Chalmers)
    Alex Colome - Giants (Yennier Cano)
    Note: All prospect rankings come from Fangraphs.
  9. Mill1634
    The Twins have just fallen to 11-19 on the season, including going 2-5 against arguably the two worst teams in baseball, the Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates. It's no secret that this season has not gone according to plan for anyone following the Twins, and unless a drastic turnaround is coming, which I'm not expecting, but certainly could happen, this team is going to find themselves as sellers come late July. it was debated last year whether the Twins should keep the core group of hitters in Polanco, Kepler, Garver, and Sano. Thirty games into the season, the answers seems to have been no, but we know that the Twins did. Of course everyone on this list isn't going to be traded, but I am willing to bet that a handful of them will be. I am only ranking players on the 40 man roster, so you won't see any Royce Lewis or Trevor Larnach's in here.
    Honorable Mentions
    RHP Matt Shoemaker
    Matt Shoemaker is more likely headed to the waiver wire rather than the tradeblock, but there is a route where Shoemaker stays healthy and starts to pitch well for the Twins. I'm not counting on it. Shoemaker has struggled with availability in years passed, but still been a decent back end of the rotation option. If he gets back to throwing with an ERA in the mid-4's, and the HR rate stabilizes, there may be a team willing to take a shot.
    LHP Caleb Thielbar
    Thielbar has been a nice success story since coming back for round two with the Twins. It appeared that he was going to retire from Major League Baseball, but instead he's turn into a nice niche weapon for Rocco. Thielbar relies on a mid-90's fastball, and a curveball below the speed limit. He isn't going to get much of a prospect return at all, but if he keeps his strikeout rate at 50% (he won't, but I do think 30% is possible), there will certainly be a team or two willing to trade for the southpaw.
    UT Willians Astudillo
    Say it ain't so! La Tortuga is a jack of all trades type of player who has a profile so far away from the average MLB hitter, that he's almost valuable. I don't think any MLB team is going to trust him to play behind the plate, and he certainly isn't a plus in the field, but an NL team could have interest in La Tortuga's bat to ball skills as a pinch hitter late in ball games. Much like Thielbar and Shoemaker, the prospect return is going to be almost nonexistent, but he has more than waiver wire value.
    16. RH RP Alex Colome
    There's no doubt that the signing of Alex Colome has been a failure thus far. We've seen him blow multiple saves and get hit hard, and Rocco has recently used AAAA arms like Brandon Waddell in extra innings over an overly rested Colome. However, there is still plenty of time until July, and Colome can certainly up his value. He has closer experience, and front offices love that even if us fans think that saves are a useless stat. Colome isn't going to get much more than a flier type prospect, but he has value assuming he finds some sort of his pre-2021 version
    Prediction: San Fransisco Giants
    15. RH 1B Miguel Sano
    Former top 10 prospect Miguel Sano came bursting onto the seen in Minnesota, and even made an ASG appearance in his third year with the ballclub, and had all-star level numbers in 2019. However, we've seen him struggle mightily the past year and change, especially with the strikeout. When Miggy is going well, he's crushing fastballs, but right now his timing is off. It's likely that Sano will find his timing eventually and go on one of his hot streaks, but they may be on another ball club, especially if Alex Kiriloff is back sooner than expected. I do think the leash is longer than some Twins fans hope, and the trade value is as low as it's ever been when you take into the fact that he's owed 11 million dollars next year, but a team could fall in love with the power Sano provides.
    Prediction: Not moved
    14. S MIF Jorge Polanco
    In order for the Twins to be the contenders that we all hoped they would be this year, a lot hinged on this mans shoulders. We know that Jorge struggled with an ankle injury in 2020, but we all naturally assumed that the ankle would be ready to roll in 2021, and with that the gap power would come back. As we now know, Polanco still looks like he has the same bad habits that stemmed from the 2020 injury, and the contact rate has fallen. He's already struck out 22 times in 113 at bats. When Polanco made the ASG in 2019, he struck out only 18 percent of the time. We also know that he was moved from the SS position, and the advanced numbers don't like him at 2nd anymore than they did at SS. Fangraphs has him on pace to finish with a -5.0 UZR, assuming he fields 1,000 innings at 2nd.
    Prediction: Not moved
    13. RH 3B Josh Donaldson
    The Bringer of Rain has been a quality player when he's on the field for the Twins, but the fact of the matter is that that is no given. Donaldson plays a great third base, and provides pop in the middle of the lineup, but we've already seen him hit the IL once this year with leg problems, which also caused him to miss a majority of the shortened 2020 season. Donaldson also has his contract hanging over his head, which is guaranteed for at least 2 more seasons at 21 million per year, with a team option in the 2025 season for 16 million. When you combine the health issues with the contract, I think it's very unlikely that a club takes a risk with JD, unless the Twins are willing to eat some salary.
    Prediction: Not moved
    12. RH RP Hansel Robles
    Hansel Robles was brought in on a cheap prove it deal this past offseason, and so far this year the results are about as expected. Robles had the role of the closer position in Los Angeles the past few years, but he lost some fastball velo which limited his effectiveness. So far into 2021, the velo has came back to Robles, and he's been effective. Robles is likely a middle reliever on a world series contender due to the fact that he gives up the free pass too often, but he can thrive in his role while bringing that closer experience to the table. Robles advanced numbers from baseball savant are very inspiring, which give him a sub-.200 xBA, and an expected ERA of 3.44. Out of all the names on the list, I think Robles is the most likely, and the first of any Twin player to be traded.
    Prediction: Oakland A's
  10. Mill1634
    Following the disappointing series loss to the Texas Rangers,
    I released part one of my trade value rankings of current Major Leaguers on the Twins roster. The first part of this series was littered with names that are either unlikely to be moved, like Josh Donaldson, or by players who wouldn't fetch much in return like Alex Colome. However, the Twins have plenty of talent on this team that have the potential to get a good haul of prospects or young MLB talent in return, and you will start to see some of those names today. As I said a few days ago, there is a chance that the Twins turn it around, but going 1-1 against Detroit doesn't help.  
    11. LH SP J.A. Happ
    Happ was signed on a one year deal this past offseason, and the salary is modest at only 8 million dollars. By the time Happ will be moved, there will be less than five million left on the hook for the southpaw. Much like Robles, the odds that Happ is moved if the Twins continue down this path is extremely likely. Happ has pitched very well thus far, earning 0.8 WAR in 28.1 IP. Happ isn't getting the strikeouts that he has in the past at only 5.1 per 9 innings, but he's limiting hard contact, and doesn't give away free passes. He can fit in as a number three or four starter for a playoff team, and the prospect return would be modest, likely between 15-20 MLB pipeline ranking, depending on the farm system strength.
    Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers
    Possible Prospects: SS Eduardo Garcia (8, instructional league)
    10. LH RF Max Kepler
    Kepler was another rebound hopefully that the front office had faith in, and rightfully so. Kepler had a breakout year in 2019, and was a main cog at the top of the order. However, he fell off in 2020, OPSing only .760, which is only a hair above league average. 2021 hasn't been any kinder to the German outfielder, hitting only .213. Another issue with Max is that his strikeout rate has climbed 3% since 2019 to 21%. Max is still a very good corner outfielder, and has been using his legs on the base-path more than we've seen in the past with four stolen bases. However, Kepler is signed through 2023, and has a team option in the 2024 season. The money isn't outrageous at an average of of 8.5M, but the length may scare some teams away if he truly is only a league average outfielder.
    Prediction: Not moved
    9. RH C Mitch Garver
    Mitch Garver was an MVP candidate in 2019 due to his rare power behind the plate. Garver had an insane home run per at bat rate at 9.9%, while being an above average pitch framer. He also took home the Silver Slugger award for his prowess at the plate. However, much like many other Twins on this list, Garver struggled in 2020. We know Garver was battling an injury, and much like Jorge Polanco, we assumed that all would be fine in 2021. While the power has reappeared for the right hander, he is still swinging and missing a lot, and the pitch framing is more average than good now. When Garver hits the ball, he hits it extremely hard, but at this point he is more of a boom or bust type of hitter than anything else. Garver is still under team control in 2022 and 2023 at a cheap salary, which makes him more valuable to buying teams. I believe that if the Twins continue to struggle this season, Garver will be moved and the Twins will attempt to build around Ryan Jeffers.
    Prediction: Atlanta Braves
    Possible Prospects: LHP Tucker Davidson (7, AAA), LHP Kyle Muller (10, AAA), S OF Michael Harris (13, A+)
    8. RH RP Tyler Duffey
    Duffey was one of the best relievers in baseball the past few years and had the trust of manager Rocco Baldelli as the 'fireman' arm. We often saw Duffey come into high leverage spots in the middle of games, and Duffey would get out of the inning without allowing a run. We've seen Tyler get the same opportunities into 2021, but like the rest of the Twins bullpen arms, he is not having the same success at stranding inherited runners. Duffey has one more year of team control remaining, so it is possible that the Twins take this up as a 'retooling" year, as Duffey would only be in line to make between 3-4 million dollars in 2022. However, this extra year of team control makes him more attractive to a potential buyer. I think if the Twins can fight back to a few games below .500 by the ASG, the Twins will opt to keep Duffey, but if they're 5+ games out, he'll be moved.
    Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies
    Possible Prospects: RH OF Yhoswar Garcia (14, R), RHP Eduar Segovia (21, A)
    7. RH SP Michael Pineda
    (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
    The final player on the second edition of this list is Michael Pineda, better known around Twins territory as Big Mike. Pineda was brought in while recovering from an arm injury, and then was hit with a PED suspension, but Pineda has been as consistent of a mid-rotation starter as you'll find. He's not going to get a ton of strikeouts, but you know he's going to give you at least five good innings and keep your team in the ballgame. Pineda is on an expiring deal which will limit the prospect return, but he's a definite playoff starter on any rotation in the league (besides the Dodgers, doesn't count). Much like J.A. Happ, I expect Pineda to be dealt barring a drastic turnaround.
    Prediction: New York Yankees
    Possible Prospects: RH P Luis Medina (6, A+), RH 2B Ezequiel Duran (8, A+), RH SS Anthony Volpe (14, A)
    Note: All prospect rankings come from Fangraphs.
  11. Mill1634

    Trade Targets
    The Twins 2021 season has gotten off to a slow start to say the least. Between early injuries to Josh Donaldson and Byron Buxton, COVID-19 IL stinks from Andrelton Simmons and Max Kepler, among others, and slow starts from Miguel Sano, Jake Cave, and Jorge Polanco. However, the hot stove is always on, even if we are only in April. I fully expect the Twins to turn it around at some point and to be buyers at the deadline like we thought they would be. We will see names emerge, and I'm going to identify some early names to keep an eye on, in part 1 of a 3 part blog post.
    Eduardo Escobar - Arizona Diamondbacks - 1yr/7M
    (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
    I've seen old friend Eduardo Escobar brought up a few times by Twins fans on Twitter, and it makes a lot of sense. He is beloved by Twins fans everywhere, and had the best farewell post I've ever seen. That said, he is a great fit on the diamond as well. The DBacks are going to struggle in 2021, and Escobar has an expiring deal and will be traded prior to the deadline. His days of playing shortstop are over, but thats okay. He's been a league average second basemen in 2021, and has filled in at 3rd sparingly, but hasn't done so well. Eduardo already has 6 homers and 4 doubles for Arizona, and is crushing left handed pitching -- something the Twins have struggled at thus far. Escobar would start at 2nd base against LHP, and can fill in at 2nd or 3rd if injuries happen (hint: they will).
    Miguel Andújar - New York Yankees - Arb Eligible 2022
    There were a fair amount of baseball fans who were in Andjuar's corner for the AL ROY voting in 2018. Andújar put up a solid slash line of .297/.328/.527. He hit 27 home runs and drove in 97 runs, but things have gone downhill for Miguel since. He has only played 33 games since finishing second in the 2018 ROY voting, and has only homered once. He's yet to appear in a 2021 game as he is sidelined with an injury, and the defense is limited. He's a poor thir basemen, and has appeared in a handful of innings in left field, also not going well. One could assume he could also play first, but thats it. The Yankees' seem to have spoiled on the thought of giving him everyday playing time, but he could fill a role for the Twins as someone who hits lefties.
    Wilmer Flores - San Fransisco Giants - 1yr/3M, 2022 option for 3.5M
    Flores is best known among baseball fans for his on-field crying moment when everyone was certain he was being traded from the Mets. However, a deal never came to fruition. Flores is another infielder who would be brought in to crush left handed pitching. Flores has a career OPS of .813 against left handed arms, including 40 homers. Flores has been a rollercoaster in the field, but at best is nothing more than an average second basemen. He does have experience playing first base, as well as third, but is best fit at 2nd. Much like Eduardo Escobar, he would fill in as the everyday 2B against LHP, and can fill in around the infield when an injury happens.
    Who are your favorite targets in the early going?
  12. Mill1634

    Player Spotlight
    It's no secret that the Twins lineup has been struggling as of late. Outside of the game where the Twins put up 12 runs on Oakland, and lost, the lineup that most thought would be a top unit in the American League has been dead silent. When the Twins were rolling in 2019, they did so with a lot of Bombas, breaking the MLB record. One player that helped the Twins achieve this milestone was Mitch Garver, who had a coming out party. Mitch hit 31 home runs, and OPS'd nearly 1.000, which is great for any position, but nearly MVP level for a catcher. However, in 2021, the 2019 version of Mitch Garver is nowhere to be found, and he may have just hit the lowest of lows, wearing the Golden Sombrero.
    What's Went Wrong?
    When Garver broke out in 2019, he did so by crushing the fastball. However, in 2020 and thus far in 2021 we haven't seen him hitting fastballs hard, or at all. in his breakout year Garver hit fastballs at a .337 clip and only swung and missed at fastballs 15.7% of the time. However, in 2020 and 2021, he's swinging through the heater around 32% of the time. Swinging and missing at a pitch you crushed in your breakout year is a huge reason for regression. Even when he does hit the fastball, he isn't squaring it up. Garver's average launch angle on fastballs is 35 degrees, which is simply too much to get down for a base hit or over the fence for a homer. Garver had an expected slugging percentage of .723 in 2019, and an actual slugging percentage of .829. Either number you look at tells you he was dominant. However, his struggles have the slugging percentage on fastballs down to .359 and .375 in the past 2 seasons.
    You may think that teams have started to throw Garver less fastballs, but that actually isn't true. He saw nearly the same percentage of fastballs in 2020 as he did in 2019, a 56.3 and 56.4% respectively. He's even seeing more in 2021, as nearly 60% of pitches Garver sees have been fastballs.
    Garver has never been one to hit offspeed or breaking pitches well, but things have gotten even worse during Garver's slump. He's only seen 25 offspeed pitches thus far, but he's swung and missed on 50% of his swings. However, there is hope for Garver hitting offspeed pitches, as he has an expected slugging percentage of .787 on offspeed pitches in the short term. Take that stat with a grain of salt though, as he's only hit 5 offspeed pitches in 2021. Even when Garver was rolling, he had an expected slugging of .301 on the offspeed.
    Breaking balls aren't any better for Mitch, as he's swinging and missing at 30% of them. Pitchers are also going to the breaking ball late in counts to get strike 3, as it's the putaway pitch 36.4% of the time. He's never hit breaking balls well, as 2019 he posted a 42.5 swing and miss rate, and 51.6 in 2020.
    The Fix?
    Obviously the clear answer here is to start hitting the fastball like he did in 2019. The whiff rate probably isn't going to go back to his career low of 15.7 that we saw in 2019, but it certainly doesn't have to be around the 32 percent mark that we've seen lately. It also may be a matter of timing, as a 35 degree launch angle isn't sustainable or realistic over 162 games. If the timing gets back on track on the fastball, everything will come from there. The small sample size of being able to hit the offspeed hard is a good step in the right direction. Going off the timing note, we've seen Garver pop up at an 11.5 percent rate in 2021, which is up 4% from 2019. If he starts squaring up the fastball, the pop-out numbers should fall. As a final note, Garvers pitch framing has stayed good despite the offensive struggles, as he rates in the 78th percentile of catchers.
  13. Mill1634
    What's up everyone? You may know me from the forums as I have created and introduced multiple game threads throughout my time spent at TwinsDaily, and have also created offseason blueprints in the past. This year is the hardest one I will have done, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and it's affect on spending both on the Minnesota Twins, as well as baseball as a whole.
    The Twins spent what would have been 135M on their payroll in 2020, before being prorated. I am going to assume that that numbers stays fairly steady, but to be on the safe side, am going to project between 125-130M for the 2021 payroll.
    First thing first, and that is arbitration estimates, which come from MLB trade rumors.
    SP Jose Berrios - 5.3M (Tender)
    CF Byron Buxton - 4.4M (Tender)
    RP Tyler Duffey - 1.7M (Tender)
    C Mitch Garver - 1.8M (Tender)
    RP Taylor Rogers - 5.5M (Tender)
    LF Eddie Rosario - 10M (Non-Tender)
    RP Matt Wisler - 1.4M (Tender)
    Total - 20.1M
    I don't think any of these decisions will shock you, and I don't think very many are up for debate besides Eddie Rosario and Taylor Rogers. Rosario is an above-average OF who swings at a TON of pitches out of the zone, and doesn't provide + defense in left field. In a normal year I think Eddie is non-tendered, and in this messed up year I can almost promise you that he will be non-tendered. Rogers struggled throughout the year, but his peripherals looked good, which is promising. The only hesitation on this is what we saw Cleveland do with Brad Hand. However, Taylor is due almost half his salary, and is a better pitcher. Sign me up.
    Guaranteed Salaries:
    Donaldson - 21M
    Sano - 11M
    Pineda - 10M
    Kepler - 6.5M
    Polanco - 4.3M
    Maeda - 2.5M
    23 players making the league min. -13.2M
    Total - 88.9M
    To spend - 36.1M
    Now lets project the locks to make the roster (pending trade):
    C - Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers
    1B - Miguel Sano
    2B - Luis Arraez (L)
    3B - Josh Donaldson
    SS - Jorge Polanco (S)
    LF - Jake Cave (L)
    CF - Byron Buxton
    RF - Max Kepler (L)
    This leaves us with the following holes in the lineup:
    Backup SS
    Utility IF
    Right Handed OF
    Designated Hitter
    Now for the pitching side:
    SP - Kenta Maeda
    SP - Jose Berrios
    SP - Michael Pienda
    SP -
    SP -
    RP - Taylor Rodgers (L)
    RP - Tyler Duffey
    RP - Matt Wisler
    RP - Jorge Alcala
    RP - Cody Stashak
    RP -
    RP -
    This leaves us needing:
    Reminder, we have between 36-41M to spend on these holes.
    Now for the fun part; lets spend some money and fill in some holes!
    Starting Pitcher (2)
    Internal options:
    Randy Dobnak - I think Randy Dobnak slots somewhere into the Major League club, and that is exactly what I am going to do. We saw him start off real strong, being on the leaderboard for ERA. However, he faltered quickly, and lost his job. I believe he has what it takes to bounce back, and we're going to make him the #5 starter on the squad.
    Devin Smeltzer - I don't think Smeltzer is a MLB starter, and has a career ahead of him being a long guy out of the bullpen. He'll start at AAA.
    Lewis Thorpe - Thorpe seemed to have issues with the front office, being sent down with the first waive of players in ST 1.0, but eventually got a shot at the club. He did not pitch well, and I see him filling a role similar to Smeltzer
    Jhoan Duran - Duran is an intriguing young arm, but for a club wanting to contend, not the type of guy you can roll into the year with. He'll start at AA or AAA.
    Sign Robbie Ray to a One Year, 6M dollar deal
    Robbie Ray was widely regarded as one of the best SP's hitting the market this year, but then his 2020 season happened, which was not pretty. However, I think Ray has the potential to be an upside signing for a team with good pitching development, which is what the Twins have in place. If they can harness the control (7.1 BB/9 in 2020, 4.6 career), he can be a good starter in the Central. If he doesn't work out as a starter, he can fall back to a bullpen role, and pitch well from the left side.
    That brings the rotation to:
    SP - Kenta Maeda
    SP - Jose Berrios
    SP - Michael Pineda
    SP - Robbie Ray
    SP - Randy Robnak
    Remaining budget: 30M
    Relievers (3)
    Internal options:
    Brandon Waddell (L) - Just claimed on waivers from the Pirates, a Matt Wisler type arm from the left side. I don't see him breaking North on opening day.
    Ian Gibaut - Another waiver claim, this time from the Texas Rangers. Ian also comes from the Matt Wisler mold, and throws plenty hard to compliment his breaking ball. I think he finds a role on the opening day roster, and we will slot him into the front end of the bullpen.
    Edward Colina - We saw him debut in his only game of the year for the Twins, going very poorly. I think he is probably starting the year off at AAA, but we will see him sometime in 2021.
    Dakota Chalmers - Has yet to see MLB action, acquired along with Sergio Romo in the 2019 trade. AAA to start the year.
    Pending free agents:
    Sergio Romo - We've seen Romo's wicked slider do his tricks for the Minnesota Twins, but his option was declined by the FO. There could be interest in bringing him back, but combine his age with his antics, and I think it's time to move on.
    Tyler Clippard - Clippard was effective for the Twins in 2020, and I see no reason to not bring him back.
    Trevor May - I love May, but I think he will probably find a spot where he can have a cemented late inning bullpen role. The Twins can't offer that, and for good reason.
    Resign Tyler Clippard to a 1 year, 2.5M dollar deal
    Clippard was set to make 2.7M with the Twins his first go around, and I am willing to give him a very similar deal. He is aging, but he has a pitch profile that doesn't rely on velocity, and can get both righties and lefties out.
    Sign Joakim Soria to a 1 year, 6.5M dollar deal
    Take the money that you had set aside for Sergio Romo, give it to Soria, and add a little bit on to sweeten the pot. Soria throws an effective slider similar to Romo, getting a whiff rate of over 30% in 2020. He doesn't rely on his fastball, which averaged between 92-93 MPH in 2020. He adds a veteran presence to the bullpen, and can pitch in high leverage innings as the setup man.
    That gives us a bullpen of:
    RP - Taylor Rodgers (L)
    RP - Tyler Duffey
    RP - Matt Wisler
    RP - Jorge Alcala
    RP - Cody Stashak (L)
    RP- Tyler Cippard
    RP - Joakim Soria
    RP - Ian Gibaut
    Remaining budget: 21M
    Now onto the hitters, where the holes are backup SS, Utility IF, Right handed OF, and DH.
    Backup SS
    There is really only one option here for me, and that is resigning Ehire Adrianza to fill in this role again for the Minnesota Twins. He is cheap, good on defense, and can hit enough for his role. This is an easy choice.
    Resign Ehire Adrianza to a 1 year, 1.5M dollar deal
    This is a nearly identical deal to what Ehire got in 2020, and should suffice for both sides. The only holdup is if Ehire believes that he is good enough to start somewhere in the MLB. If this is the route that Ehire chooses to take, then a clear internal option is either Royce Lewis (not happening), or Nick Gordon.
    Utility Infielder
    Internal options:
    Travis Blankenhorn (L) - We saw Travis a lot during the Summer Ball scrimmages, and also saw him for a brief time with the Twins in 2020. He looks like a tank, and can play 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. However, he hits from the left side, which is not what the Twins need.
    Royce Lewis - Former #1 pick who is widely regarded as a top 50 prospect around the league. I think Royce needs more seasoning, and when he is brought up, it will be as an every day role.
    Nick Gordon - Lost an entire year of playing time due to COVID-19, which makes him hard to evaluate. Just to be on the safe side, I am going to assume he either a. starts in the minors, or b. is DFA'd.
    Sign Jonathan Schoop to a 1 year, 6M dollar deal
    I would love to see the former Twin back in town as a utility infielder, and he fits the exact mold of what the Twins need. He has a strong arm at 2nd base, which should allow him to play 15-20 games at third base if the Twins need him to. He has a career OPS vs lefties of .726, and can hold his own against righties.
    That bring us to an infield of:
    C - Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers
    1B - Miguel Sano
    2B - Luis Arraez (L), Jonathan Schoop
    3B - Josh Donaldson
    SS - Jorge Polanco (S), Ehire Adrianza (S)
    Remaining Budget - 13.5M
    Right Handed OF
    Internal options:
    Brent Rooker - We saw Rooker come up and mash in his first stint with the Twins before breaking a bone in his forearm, which is not exactly an easy injury for a hitter to overcome. If he recovers fully, I expect him to break North with the Twins. However, we are the Twins, so I am going to plan for the worst case scenario.
    Sign Kevin Pillar to a 2 year, 12.5M Dollar deal
    Kevin Pillar plays great outfield defense, and hits lefties well. In 2020, he had an OPS of .969 vs LHP, but was abysmal vs right handed pitchers, OPS less than .700. However, that is fine, as he is one of the better Center Fielder's on the defensive side of the ball, and has experience playing the corner outfield. He is a dream fit for the Twins, which makes me willing to give him a 2 year deal.
    Remaining Budget - 7.25M
    That's it, we did it, and we spared some extra cash. Now lets break things down.
    C - Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers
    1B - Miguel Sano
    2B - Luis Arraez (L), Jonathan Schoop
    SS - Jorge Polanco (S), Ehire Adrianza (S)
    3B - Josh Donaldson
    LF - Jake Cave (L)
    CF - Byron Buxton, Kevin Pillar
    RF - Max Kepler (L)
    DH: One of Alex Kiriloff or Brent Rooker
    SP - Kenta Maeda
    SP - Jose Berrios
    SP - Michael Pineda
    SP - Robbie Ray
    SP - Randy Robnak
    RP - Taylor Rodgers (L)
    RP - Tyler Duffey
    RP - Matt Wisler
    RP - Jorge Alcala
    RP - Cody Stashak (L)
    RP- Tyler Cippard
    RP - Joakim Soria
    RP - Ian Gibaut
    This blueprint largely brings back the squad from 2020, with exceptions to Eddie Rosario, Jake Odorizzi, and Nelson Cruz + players around the margin. I think that this group has what it takes to win the Central, and win a playoff series (gasp). The rotation has a wildcard in it, but for a reasonable amount. The bullpen was largely kept in tact, but replaced one veteran presence with another. The lineup loses Nelson Cruz, but adds in young guys like AK and Brent Rooker, and expects bounce back years from some of: Mitch Garver, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, JD, and Max Kepler. They are supplemented with 2 lefty killers in Kevin Pillar and Jonathan Schoop.
    Let me know your thoughts on this blueprint below!
  14. Mill1634
    Good afternoon everyone,
    The off-season is officially here, and that means it is time for us to put ourselves into the shoes of Falvine and tell him what to do with this off-season so we can have a successful 2019, and get back to the playoffs. So, without further ado here is what I would do with the Twins off-season.
    Arbitration Decisions (numbers from Matt Swartz, MLB Trade Rumors)
    Jake Odorizzi - $9.4 million (tender)
    Kyle Gibson - $7.9 million (tender)
    Eddie Rosario - $5.0 million (tender)
    Robbie Grossman - $4.0 million (non-tender)
    Max Kepler - $3.2 million (tender)
    Miguel Sano - $3.1 million (tender)
    Ehire Adrianza - $1.8 million (tender)
    Taylor Rogers - $1.6 million (tender)
    Byron Buxton - $1.2 million (tender)
    Trevor May - $1.1 million (tender)
    I believe that all of these choices are fairly easy. Robbie Grossman is a fine player, but on no world is he worth 4 million dollars. Everyone else is worth it, but I do think ODO's number is a little high. Is he worth 9.4 million dollars? Probably not, but you have to offer it to him if you are the Twins.
    I am going to go into this blueprint giving the Twins 70 million dollars to spend, which would put them about at the same opening day payroll as they had last year. First, lets get to the needs of the Twins, in order of importance
    Backend reliever
    Second Basemen
    First Base
    Starting Pitcher
    Right Handed OF
    Next, let's get onto who I believe is a lock for the opening day roster in 2019:
    Catcher Jason Castro (either on the 25 man, or on the DL)
    IF Jorge Polanco
    IF Miguel Sanor
    OF Eddie Rosario
    OF Byron Buxton
    SP Jose Berrios
    SP Kyle Gibson
    SP Jake Odorizzi
    SP Michael Pineda (either 25 man, or on the DL)
    RP Trevor Hildenberger
    RP Trevor May
    RP Taylor Rogers
    RP Addison Reed
    Those are the locks to be on the roster. I don't think there is any chance any of the above are left off for any reason other than injury, even Sano and Buxton. Now let's get into the next bunch, of near locks
    Catcher Mitch Garver (If I ran the organization, he would be the everyday guy, but I am not. I think there is a chance a veteran gets the backup job over him if Castro is healthy to start the year)
    IF Ehire Adrianza (He was good last year, and once again I would have him on the roster. However, utility positions are always hard to predict because so many guys fit the bill)
    IF Tyler Austin (Austin certainly helped his chances to make the roster with his showing in Minnesota. I would think he gets the first crack at the 1st base/DH job)
    OF Jake Cave (I could see the team bringing in a more proven right-handed bat to balance out the OF, but I think he makes it)
    OF Max Kepler (I think there is a fairly good chance that we see Max traded this offseason, but if he isn't he will obviously be on the club)
    RP Tyler Duffey (Another position that is hard to predict. I would think Duffey gets a shot though)
    RP Gabriel Moya (I think as of now he is the #2 LHRP, but they could always bring someone else in)
    This leaves us a roster of:
    C: Jason Castro, Mitch Garver
    1B: Tyler Austin
    2B: OPEN
    SS: Jorge Polanco, Ehire Adrianza
    3B: Miguel Sano
    LF: Eddie Rosario
    CF: Byron Buxton, Jake Cave
    RF: Max Kepler
    Total: 10
    Needs: 2B, a right-handed OF, DH, and a potential catcher
    SP: Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi, and Michael Pineda (4)
    RP: Trevor Hildenberger, Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, Addison Reed, Tyler Duffey, Gabriel Moya (6)
    Total: 10
    Needs: Another starter, 2 relievers
    I am going to assume we see a 13 man pitching staff come opening day.
    Now, here are some internal candidates that fit the mold:
    Starting Pitcher:
    Kohl Stewart: Stewart was impressive at the MLB level, but it was a SSS, and he didn't strike anyone out. I think the front office goes a different direction
    Aaron Sleegers: Another starter that doesn't strike anyone out. I have a feeling Sleegers is waived from the 40 man purge this off-season. He is a dime-a-dozen arm.
    Chase De Jong: He was just acquired this past season, but isn't going to blow anyone away on the mound. More of a depth piece in my mind. Not someone you want to run out there for long stretches.
    Zack Littell: He has bounced between the bullpen and starting rotation since being acquired from the rotation. The front office seems to like him. I would say he has a better chance than the previously listed names to head north, but still not great.
    Fernando Romero: Romero looked great when he first debuted, and then teams started to adjust. Has the highest ceiling of anyone on this list. I still think the FO takes someone more established
    Stephen Gonsalves: He destroyed AAA ball last year, but struggled at the show. Not sure what to think of him. I believe he starts in AAA working on some things.
    Adalberto Mejia: Just before he got injured he looked real good, but then he did end up getting injured. Him or Romero has the best chance out of this bunch.
    Relief Pitcher:
    John Curtiss: Looked real good at AAA, as a lot of these guys that will be on this list can say.
    Andrew Vasquez: Is a left-hander, so has a better chance than some listed. Was a surprise September callup, but I think if the Twins take three lefties north it is Rogers, Moya, and a veteran.
    Alan Busenitz: Looked really good at AAA as well, but didn't get a fair shot, so I wonder how much the FO likes him.
    Oliver Drake: I think he gets waived from the 40 man, but if he doesnt he probably finds himself in the pen.
    Matt Magill: A great find for the Twins, but I have no idea if he is back. I think the Twins would like to upgrade his spot in the pen, if they can.
    1st base:
    Joe Mauer: If, and that is a big IF, Mauer wants to come back the job is his. However, I do believe that he is going to call it quits and retire.
    Brent Rooker: Rooker started off slow, but really came on strong in AA. Some think he could be up this year, and I do agree, but I don't think it will be on opening day.
    2nd base:
    Nick Gordon: Gordon is a top prospect, although he really struggled at AAA. I expect the Twins to bring someone in on a one year deal for a stop gap. Let Gordon prove himself at AAA. Eventually there will be an injury in the infield to get him up if he does perform.
    Lamonte Wade: He comes from the Robbie Grossman mold. However, he is left handed, so I believe that hurts his chances.
    Johnny Field: I believe Field will be waived this off-season.
    Now, let's get onto the moves I would make if I were the Twins
    Milldaddy35's Moves
    -Swap Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler
    This moves only makes sense from the way I view it. Maybe there are numbers that disagree with me, but from the eye test, I would think Eddie Rosario belongs in right field. He has a cannon for an arm.
    -DON'T sign a 1st basemen, even if it is Mauer
    I know, I know, Mauer is beloved. However, there is no need to carry two first basemen types on the roster. We have Tyler Austin, we don't need another. Here are some other names that can play first for when Austin DH's: Max Kepler, Mitch Garver, Ehire Adrianza, Miguel Sano, Brent Rooker. There is no need to bring in another player that can only play first base.
    -Sign D.J LeMahieu to a 2 year, 27 million dollar deal
    This may be a bit pricey for D.J., but in my opinion, he is the best 2nd basemen option out there. He does get help from playing at Coors Field. However, he does play with an above average glove, and only struck out 14% of the time last year.
    -Sign Marwin Gonzalez to a 3 year, 33 million dollar deal
    Marwin Gonzalez is the ultimate utility man. Here, you hit 4 birds with one stone as Marwin appeared at 4 different positions last year. You can plug him in as a backup infielder, and outfielder, making both Ehire Adrianza and Max Kepler expandable if you see that as a possibility. He is also a switch hitter, so he isn't limited to a platoon role.
    -Trade Max Kepler + prospects for Raiseil Iglesias
    Iglesias fits the role as the shutdown reliever that I was talking about earlier. I think the price here would look something like Max Kepler and Nick Gordon, Wander Javier, or Stephen Gonsalves. This is something I would be willing to do, being under team control for the next 2 years.
    -Sign Nelson Cruz to a 1 year, 16 Million dollar deal
    Cruz immediately fills in as an impact right-handed designated hitter who can also go into the group of potential first basemen. He is a veteran leader who knows how to hit the cover off the baseball. He could also play corner outfield when needed. This gives you an outfield of Cave, Buxton, Rosario, Gonzalez, Cruz
    -Sign Jerry Blevins to a 1 year, 6 million dollar deal
    Blevins is a great LOOGY, and with a new manager in place I am confident that we will actually see the LOOGY be used correctly. Yes, we already have Rogers, but having two lefties doesn't hurt, especially when you go with an 8 man pen.
    That is what I would do with my offseason. That gives you a potential roster of (Players listed in parenthesis are who I see as the next man up if an injury happens.
    C: Jason Castro, Mitch Garver (Willians Astudillo)
    1B: Tyler Austin (Brent Rooker)
    2B: D.J Lemahieu (Nick Gordon)
    SS: Jorge Polanco, Ehire Adrianza (some random waiver claim or MiLB signing)
    3B: Miguel Sano (Ehire Adrianza)
    LF: Jake Cave, Marwin Gonzalez (Lamonte Wade)
    CF: Byron Buxton (Jake Cave)
    RF: Eddie Rosario (Lamonte Wade)
    DH: Nelson Cruz
    Obviously, the lineup still depends on the growth of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, but the addition of Nelson Cruz should help with consistency. Lemahieu is a gamble in a bunch of unproven 2nd basemen, but he does provide positive defense. Gonzalez provides flexibility and a switch-hitting presents that can hit both sides of the plate.
    SP: Jose Berrios
    SP: Kyle Gibson
    SP: Jake Odorizzi
    SP: Michael Pineda
    SP: Fernando Romero
    I would head up north with Romero, although I think that the front office will opt to sign a veteran with more of a track record to a small one year deal and give them the first shot on the 25 man roster.
    RP Trevor Hildenberger
    RP Trevor May
    RP Taylor Rogers (L)
    RP Addison Reed
    RP Rasiel Iglesias
    RP Jerry Blevins (L)
    RP Tyler Duffey
    RP Gabriel Moya (L)
    If the front office decided to only send two lefties up to Minnesota for opening day I think Buesnitz would get the spot of Moya, but other than that all other pieces would be set in stone. I think this would be a better bullpen than last year. If Reed could return to prior form they could be real good.
    So, there you have it. This is what I would do if I was in charge of the Twins front office.
  15. Mill1634

    Let the Kids Play
    The Twins have started to turn things around as of late, but are still 11 games below .500 nearly a third of the way through the season. Certainly there is a chance for the squad to go on a long win streak, which features the next 12 games against the lowly Orioles and the free falling Kansas City Royals, but injuries are still piling up, and we've seen the Twins play just as bad as the two aforementioned squads. As of now, I still firmly sit in my stance that the front office would be best suited to have a fire-sale at the deadline, moving every expiring deal, and taking offers on players with only one year of team control left. This group of players is highlighted by Jose Berrios, Byron Buxton, and Taylor Rogers. If they get a 'blow your socks off" offer, I see no reason not to take it. Today we take a look at some infielders that the Twins should get an extended look at in the second half of 2021.
    RH C Ryan Jeffers
    Jeffers was fantastic as a rookie, featuring a fantastic defensive game behind the dish, and was part of what appeared to be a two-headed monster catching duo headed into the 2021 season. However, Garver got off to a slow start, and Jeffers was flat out bad. Jeffers was performing so poorly in limited at bats that the front office sent him down to AAA Saint Paul where he's been given the opportunity to start nearly every day, whether behind the dish or as the DH. Jeffers has returned to form at the plate, OPSing .753 for the Saints, including three home runs and four doubles. Jeffers is also using a patient approach, drawing 10 walks in 77 PA. He is still having trouble with strikeouts, with a K rate of 25 percent, but hitting the ball hard while playing fantastic defense at a premium position is worth giving a look at. When Jeffers was up, he was only starting against RH which puts him in a hole. If the Twins are out of things come July, I'd like to see Jeffers split time with Garver, including against southpaws. 
    MIF S Nick Gordon

    Nick Gordon isn't the top 50 prospect that he was a few years ago, and he hasn't put up great numbers in the high minor leagues, but I believe that Gordon can be a utility infielder at a minimum. The one thing holding back Gordon right now are the facts that he struggles against left handed pitchers, which is a bad thing for a platoon bat, and can no longer play shortstop, at least over a full season. However, Gordon has succeed in the young campaign with the Saints, hitting .393, including a homer and a triple. He has also added four stolen bags, which we saw on display in Gordon's MLB debut, where he stole second base twice. If Gordon can play a strong second base, and potentially develop an average glove at third, and fill in in left field a few times a year, which with his speed I think is a possibility, he is an MLB bench bat. There is a very strong chance we see a ton of Nick Gordon, and the front office either commits to him as an MLB utility player, or removes him from the 40 man roster.
    3B/2B RH Jose Miranda
    At only 22 years old and no spot on the 40 man roster, I don't think it's too likely that we see Miranda in Minnesota this year, but I don't think that should be the case. Miranda was mediocre in the low minors, but started the season at AA Wichita, and has gotten off to a blazing hot start. Miranda has hit .309, and has an OBP of .372 in 18 games. Jose has shown the pop that we've seen in the past with 5 homers in 68 at-bats, as well as 3 doubles. Fangraphs had Miranda ranked as the 20th Twins' prospect heading into the year, with a game power grade of 50, and a hit tool of 55, but doesn't love the defense as they note he's likely a "shift-enabled" 2nd or 3rd basemen. Miranda has good bat to ball skills which have shown well in AA, with only 10 strikeouts in 78 plate apperances. It is worth noting that Miranda is rule-5 eligible this upcoming off-season, and will have to be added to the 40 man, as he will certainly be taken if not added. I hope the Twins get out in front of things with Miranda, and see what he can do in 2021 at the big league level. 
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