The conversation on this site as of late has been centered around should we trade player X, should we keep player Y, etc.
We don’t have much else to talk about.
If we are talking about trading assets, especially ones that are controllable and add value to your club next year and beyond, it raises the question – are you re-tooling or are you re-building?
Now I know that a lot of people might say its too early to even think about what next years team might look like, it might be. But if your argument is “re-tool” then we need to look at what that might look like.
We all are aware that Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, and Taylor Rogers are set to become free agents following next season.
Contract extensions for both Buxton and Berrios seems incredibly unlikely at this point. Both players have their flaws but are absolutely pieces you can build around. Taylor Rogers is one of the best relievers in the game, but is set to become a free agent, is going on age 32, and the front office has never paid more than 6.5 million for a reliever aside from two occasions (Reed and Colome)
But throw all that out the window.
What if they decide to give next year a go with Buxton, Berrios, and Rogers?
What does a retool look like?
I am ignoring the return that the pending free agents might be able to get you at the upcoming deadline, mostly because It’s not a given that can contribute next year. It could be a few low A prospects for all we know.
I will also be using John Bonnes’s article on how much the Twins might have to potentially spend next year, that you can read here, as reference for my spending – 45 million dollars.
The lineup, bench, and pitching staff I have put together is just a projection and very well could be different then what the Twins or you think it might look like. Please don’t roast me too harshly in the comments.
Andrelton Simmons SS
Nelson Cruz DH
Here are the holes the Twins are going to need to fill entering 2022 season.
I am spending most of my 45 million dollar budget I have available on the rotation, as I view that as the biggest need the Twins have if they hope to compete in 2022. So, forgive me for slightly skimming over DH and Shortstop.
Let’s start with how the Twins can round out the empty spots in the rotation and bullpen with what they presently have in the organization and who they could potentially add from outside the organization.
Jhoan Duran *
Matt Canterino *
Blayne Enlow *
These are the Twins top 5 pitching prospects
Duran is currently on the shelf with elbow soreness, something you never want to hear. The Twins shut him down for 6 weeks and we have 4 weeks remaining. To this point control has been a huge issue at AAA for him. Josh Winder has been fantastic. One of the lone bright spots for the Twins pitching prospects this season and I think you could expect him to contribute on some level in 2022. Balazovic has only made 6 starts this season working back from injury. Currently at AA, he has yet to make it through 6ip in any start this season. Canterino has not pitched since May but was having a great year at A+. I have not seen any reports on what a timetable looks like for his return. Enlow was off to a great start as well, but elbow soreness led to Tommy John so he’s out for the foreseeable future.
It is only July, so things can change. But the top pitching prospects the Twins have are all dealing with stunted development timelines due to injuries. Duran is not coming back till August and has the dreaded elbow soreness so who knows what that means long term. He has not pitched more than 16 innings at AAA. Balazovic is still at AA and has only thrown 24 innings. Canterino has not pitched since May and Enlow is done for 2022 and 2023.
Josh Winder is the only prospect you have of the 5 that has pitched well above the AA level in 2021.
That's 1/5 of your top 5 pitching prospects you can truly count on to make some sort of impact in 2022 for the Twins. I do want to say that I believe in this group a lot, I think they all will be assets the Twins can count on for years to come. But is that in 2022? Don’t bank on it.
This was worse than I thought. Not really prospects, more so “candidates” to fill out spots for the 2022 Twins pitching staff. Anyways, I just went with their career numbers because all 4 players have been hurt throughout the 2021 season. I don’t even want to write out the numbers they have posted thus far, it’s painful.
If you confidently think one of these guys will help you win games during the 2022 season, I’d love to hear why in the comments below. Anyways, moving on.
Here is a look at what the Twins could bring in from outside the organization for pitching help.
The old fellas (37+)
Highly, highly doubt any of these guys have interest in signing with the Twins. Aside from Scherzer, do you want the Twins to make a run at them? Pass, and they all say no thanks too.
Tier 1 does not make much sense to me. None of them are better than Berrios and if you are not going to pay him the 5 / 115mil we all expect him to get, why would you pay Marcus Stroman or Kevin Gausman somewhere in the range of 5 / 90mil? I think the sox can and will retain both Rondon and Lynn as well.
Not super inspiring. Jon Gray and Robbie Ray are probably the most appealing options. Pineda’s recent arm injury puts things up in the air for his future.
We can skip the Martin Perez option as I cannot imagine the Twins getting back into that.
Danny Duffy would be nice, but do you really want to commit something like 3 / 40mil to a guy going on 35?
None of them are currently healthy, nor have they been the past 2 years. Syndergaard is interesting but even he is a question mark going into next year as he’s on the IL right now after issues following TJ.
The Rockies, Orioles, and Diamondbacks are all rebuilding. They are not moving assets for someone like Max Kepler or Jorge Polanco. So, what can you offer up?
Royce Lewis? Then your selling low on your best prospect. Balazovic or Duran? Welp, that would be, um, something when your desperate for pitching. Arraez? Jose Miranda? One of Jeffers / Garver? Not sure that moves the needle, nor are they prospects teams would covet…. After that, nothing is getting you a Marquez, Means, or Gallen.
Now how about one of Trevor Larnach or Alex Kirilloff for pitching? It is an interesting idea and could dramatically change the Twins long term question mark at the position. You would have to be really sold on Max Kepler bouncing back.
Let’s fill out the rotation with 2 players from each tier 1 & 2 of starting pitchers.
Gray/ /Ray/ /Duffy
Ok that realistically will command something in the range of 28 million. Take your pick of who that may be.
I do want to point this out, you are not going to be able to sign anyone from Tier 1 to a 1-year deal. You will have to sign them to multiyear commitments with real money involved.
Even Tier 2, id imagine most players will take no less than 2-year deals.
You could sign 3 players from tier 2. Go a similar direction as they have in the past bargain shopping (Happ, Lynn, Shoemaker, etc.)
Though that has not really worked out, so I am switching things up in my scenario.
As for the bullpen. It is anyone’s best guess. They are not signing Craig Kimbrel and after that its just a bunch of names to be quite honest. You can check out the list here.
For the sake of the “re-tool” argument
I am committing 3 million to signing 2 no name relievers like the front office has done every year.
We have now committed something in the ballpark of 31 million to revamp the pitching staff, with 2 new starters and 2 no name relievers (it’s anyone’s guess).
They now have 14 million remaining to fill the holes at Shortstop and DH.
The Designated Hitter class, surprise, is also poor.
Nelson Cruz is going to probably be too expensive and may even retire. Id love him back though. But we have more pressing needs.
After that, we can choose between Jorge Soler or Khris Davis. But why sign either of those guys when you have Miguel Sano on the roster?
Brent Rooker? You could let em duke it out in Spring Training.
Lets scratch signing a DH.
On to Shortstop. They could move Jorge Polanco from 2nd base back to short and slide Luis Arraez in at 2nd. But I am not sure they want that defensive plan up the middle again.
Nick Gordon, who was drafted as a shortstop, does not seem to be viewed as shortstop anymore. Other than Royce Lewis, who has question marks already staying at short long-term, has never played above AA, and coming off an ACL injury, the Twins lack internal options.
We do not have the money to sign one of the crown jewels of the class so you can forget about Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story and Brandon Crawford.
I do think Javier Baez is a notch below those guys and he probably would be open to a shorter-term deal. Maybe something like 1 / 14 mil? He has a .282 OBP to this point, though slugging .778. It will be interesting to see what the market is for him.
The 2nd Tier in the SS class consists of Freddy Galvis, Alcides Escobar, Andrelton Simmons and Jose Iglesias.
As for trade options, Dansby Swanson could be available if the Braves decide to go after a big name. Other than that, I do not see a ton being available or frankly anything that intriguing.
I am rolling with Javy Baez on the 1yr / 14 mil deal. Twins get lucky, sign Berrios’s brother in-law, and see how it plays out. It is a nice bridge while we wait for Royce Lewis.
We have run through the options, lets look at what we got to compete in 2022.
No Name #1
No Name #2
Again, this is in no way what the Twins are going to do, merely an idea of what a “re-tool” might look like. So, before you rip me in the comments for signing the wrong guys or not doing what you think they should or should not do, this exercise gives you a glimpse into the options the Twins have both internally and externally to build a competitive team in 2022 for one last run with Buxton, Berrios, and Rogers all together.
So now you can ask yourself the questions that matter.
Does that team win the central? Does it win a wild card berth?
Are you putting the organization in the best possible to position to compete with the White Sox the next 4-5 years?
Do we have a pipeline of pitching prospects we are confident in?
I think that this team can be competitive. 85-88 wins? thats barring everyone being healthy. This is all hinging on Polanco continuing to swing the bat well, Kepler being more consistent, Maeda returning somewhat to his old self, Bailey Ober continuing to pitch as well as he has, Thielbar, Duffey, and Alcala continue being trusted options, etc.
There's a lot of question marks. My concerns mainly start with depth of the minor league system, specifically pitching.
Where do they stand with Berrios and Buxton on extensions? If I'm either player, im a year away from free agency, why would I take an extension now? If you sign the players to help you compete in 2022, do you even have enough money left to try and pay them?
At the end of the day the front office’s job is to do what’s best for the organization. The last thing any GM wants to do is plays catch up because they were not proactive. If you have doubts about any of those questions you need to shift your focus to 2023 and beyond.
That might mean moving Jose Berrios and Taylor Rogers at the deadline.
Which is a hard pill to swallow for some fans, but it is the smart thing and the right thing to do.