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Andrew Luedtke

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  1. Twins fans were rightfully excited about acquring slick fielding SS Andrelton Simmons last night. If you want to spend a fun 10 mintues, check out his defensive highlight reel . There's no doubt that grabbing the best defensive SS since Ozzie Smith will upgrade the Twins roster. Combine Simmons with already strong defenders in Buxton, Donaldson, Jeffers, and Kepler, you can see how quickly the mind would shift to "well, what does this mean for their pitching?". In my opinion, this means two things: 1) It upgrades the Twins existing staff (and should be helpful to one guy in particular) 2) It might tell us a bit about who the Twins could target next for a SP, given their newly upgraded defense Simmons Impact on Existing Twins Pitchers: Looking purely at GB% (calculated by the number of ground balls induced/number of balls put in play), we know that based on an improved defense, the more balls hit on the ground, the higher chance they have to be converted into outs than they did 24 hours ago (pre-Simmons signing). It's even more fun to look at how much better the Twins defense is than in 2017 when Falvey and Levine took over. JD Cameron takes a look into that here. From Fangraphs, a "ground ball pitcher" is any pitcher who has a GB% over 50%. League wide in 2019 - 2020, the average GB% was 42.8%. Here is how the Twins current staff stacks up by GB% using combined stats from the 2019 and 2020 seasons. For the most part, the majority of the staff has a below average GB% (would love to see what this chart looked like for the 2004 pitch-to-contact Twins). Two names stand out here. 1. Randy Dobnak - GB% of 58.8%*** 2. Taylor Rogers - GB% of 48.2% ***Since he came into the league, Randy Dobnak ranks 7th out of 284 pitchers in GB%. Which SP could the Twins acquire that would benefit most from the Twins defense? Given that any ball hit on the left side of the infield should be vaccumed up quicker than a Dyson, maybe this shifts how the front office approaches filling out the rotation. Ground ball pitchers stand to gain a lot if their infield can consistently convert more ground balls into outs. It's the little things in baseball that make the major differences. From 2019 - 2020, there were 284 pitchers that threw at least 75 IP. Below are the ranks and GB% for the remaining free agents. For this exercise, I only focused on FA that had a GB% at 44% or higher. You can see the entire list from Fangraphs here. Brett Anderson - 55.2% (17th) Jake Arrieta - 51.4% (30th) Adam Wainwright - 47.4% (71st) Cole Hamels - 47.0% (79th) Aaron Sanchez - 46.9% (81st) Homer Bailey - 44% (128th) Below are the ranks for potential trade candidates that have popped up in rumors. Again, I only focused on players with a GB% of 44% or higher. Luis Castillo - 56.1% (13th) Sonny Gray - 50.9% (35th) German Marquez - 49.5% (52nd) Jon Gray - 46.9% (81st) BONUS. Here are a couple bullpen free agents that could benefit from a good defensive infield: Jeremy Jeffress - 50.0% Alex Colome - 47.7% So there you have it. I will be interested to see how the Twins defense positively impacts the pitching staff all year long. Specifically, I am excited to see what this means for Randy Dobnak. For now, I am most interested to see what the Simmons acquisition means in how the Twins front office addresses the rest of their pitching needs. Do any names on this list jump out to you as being good targets for the Twins? Maybe now even moreso with a Simmons addition?
  2. Andrew Luedtke

    FA Pitchers

  3. I think it's pretty clear that biggest way to upgrade this team is to acquiure a SS. I think I'd rather pay Didi/Simmons/Semien on a 1-2 year deal than trade. Marwin makes sense for this team if he is the 2nd UTIL guy, not the 1st guy off the bench like his role was in 2019-2020. A combination of Polanco, Arraez, Marwin, and Simmons/Didi/Semien gives your lineup a lot of flexibility and depth. I'd prefer this route over acquiring a guy like Hernandez, Profar, or LaStella.
  4. Castillo would be fun but if the rumors are true that the Reds asked for Gleyber Torres in return, that would be a haul the Twins would be giving up. Lewis or Kirilloff would be gone. Maybe both. After seeing what Musgrove went for, I am thinking the price for Gray may not be as high. I don't hate Castellanos but feel his contract and what he brings to the table leaves room to be desired. He's not solid defensively so basically he's just a DH. The Twins are better off giving up more in prospect capital to get Gray and just pay Nelson Cruz! Fangraphs projects a 4 year deal for Ozuna and a 2 year for Cruz. All things being equal, you'd take Ozuna on a 2 year deal over Nellie, but I think that's unlikely unless his market falls apart.
  5. It’s no surprise that the Twins have to address their bullpen after the departures of May, Romo, Clippard, and Wisler. So far all they have to show for it is Robles. This blog is part of a collection of other blogs in the "Patching Holes" series. Also check out my thoughts on the SS/Utility, Starting Pitching, and DH positions. Currently, the Twins RP group ranks 11th in MLB. A far fall from their #2 ranking as a core in 2020. There is work to be done. Here is how the Twins RP group projects in 2021. The Twins can do better. In fact, the hope is that they add at minimum two more arms to this bullpen. Here are some RP options. I noted how the Twins would benefit in “net WAR” as well as the 2021 estimated salary of each player (via Fangraphs). “Net WAR” in this scenario is the difference between the Fangraphs Depth Chart projection for each player below and the least valuable option for the RP position on the Twins currently. For this purpose, we will use the WAR for Ian Gibaut who is projected .1 WAR in 2021 and figures to be the last man in the ‘pen. For example: Brad Hand projects .9 WAR so to calculate “net WAR” you subtract .9 from .1 for a net of +.8 WAR. *All WAR projections use Fangraphs Depth Charts Free Agent RP Options: Brad Hand: +.8 WAR ($9.3M) Collin McHugh: +.4 WAR ($2M) Alex Colomé: +.4 WAR ($8M) Joakim Soria: +.3 WAR($7M) Mark Melancon: +.3 WAR ($8M) Trevor Rosenthal: +2. WAR($6.5M) Tyler Clippard: +.2 WAR ($3M) Darren O’Day: +.2 WAR($2M) Keone Kela: +.2 WAR ($4M) Brandon Workman: +.2 WAR($5M) Shane Greene: +.2 WAR ($5M) Jake McGee: +.1 WAR ($4M) Sergio Romo: +.1 WAR($3M) This is not a perfect formula. There are a lot of moving parts in each of these instances due to how each player would impact the rest of the team. Also, Fangraphs Depth Charts is very conservative when projecting the output for relievers. Please keep in mind, I pulled these projections from a website, I didn’t make them myself so don’t shoot the messenger It’s kind of difficult to run these scenarios for the reliever market. It’s not as clear how each individual reliever impacts the rest of the team like it was for SS, DH, and SP. Currently there are really only a few top end guys left (Hand, Colome, and Rosenthal). The rest fall in the middle tier of the market and as you can see, the options are plentiful. In any case, there are opportunities the Twins can pull from to improve their pen. The real value is when you add 2-3 of these guys and can replace Gibaut, Thorpe, and Smeltzer on your RP depth chart. My take: I would love to see the Twins add 2-3 arms here. I am a big fan of Rosenthal, I see value in having Soria’s veteran presence (plus, he’s good), and I want to see Clippard return. That would line the Twins up to have a bullpen of: Rogers Duffey Rosenthal Soria Clippard Thielbar Robles Stashak Alcala Optional/minors: Gibaut, Sparkman, Waddell, Colina, Law, Coulombe That bullpen will absolutely play. Especially in the AL Central. In the comments below, let me know who you think the Twins should sign and why!
  6. It was quite impressive how inept the Twins middle infield was as a whole offensively in 2020. Twins 2B combined to produce a .708 OPS while Twins SS combined for an even worse, .616 OPS. The majority of the at bats at these spots went to Arraez, Polanco, Gonzalez, and Adrianza. Polanco and Arraez were never fully healthy and there is concern for both of them entering this season. For this reason, it makes sense that even after an All-Star game appearance in 2019 for Polanco, the Twins are rumored to be looking at SS. This blog is part of a collection of other blogs in the "Patching Holes" series. Also check out my thoughts on the DH, Starting Pitching, and Reliever positions. Currently, the Twins SS position ranks 17th in MLB. There are a two ways the Twins could go in improving their team: 1) They could keep Polanco as the everyday SS and acquire a utilityman to replace Marwin/Adrianza 2) They could acquire a SS and shift Polanco/Arraez to the utility spot Here is how the Twins SS and 2B project to perform in 2021 based on Fangraphs Depth Charts. The Twins can do better. Here are some SS and utility options for the Twins. I noted both how the Twins would benefit in “net WAR” as well as the 2021 estimated salary of each player (via Fangraphs). “Net WAR” in this scenario is the difference between the Fangraphs Depth Chart projection for each player below and the least valuable options for the 2B/SS positions on the Twins currently. For this purpose, we will use the combined WAR for the non-starters at each position as the “baseline” since adding any player below will raise the floor of the team. So in this case we are using the projected WAR for Royce Lewis (.1) and Luis Arraez (.2) at SS, and Nick Gordon at 2B (.1) for a total of .4 WAR. For example: Jurickson Profar’s Depth Chart projection is 1.6 WAR. So to calculate “net WAR” you subtract 1.6 from .4 and are left with +1.2 wins. *All WAR projections use Fangraphs Depth Charts Free Agent SS Options: Marcus Semien: +2.7 WAR ($17M) Andrelton Simmons: +2.3 WAR ($14M) Didi Gregorius: + 2.1 WAR ($15M) Freddy Galvis: +.4 WAR ($6M) SS Trade Options: Javier Baez: +2.2 WAR ($11.65M) Trevor Story: +3.5 WAR ($17.5M) Free Agent Utilityman Options: Jurickson Profar: +1.2 WAR ($7.5M) Tommy LaStella: +1.1 WAR($7M) Enrique Hernandez: +.5 WAR ($6M) Marwin Gonzalez: +.4 WAR ($5M) Asdrubal Cabrera: +.3 WAR ($3M) This is not a perfect formula. There are a lot of moving parts in each of these instances due to how each player would impact the rest of the team. For example, a SS signing would move the projections for both Arraez and Polanco based on new splits in playing time. The current projections for the utility players like Profar and LaStella assume almost a full-time role. If their role is less than that with the Twins, it obviously hinders some of their overall value. In any case, the additions above would improve the Twins. My take: I think a SS signing makes a ton of sense, especially if the front office believes there is a chance the Arraez, Polanco, or even Donaldson injuries linger into this season. I feel like a guy like Didi or Simmons elevates the floor of this team much higher than a utilityman signing. Polanco can shift to 2B and platoon with Didi or Simmons depending on the matchup. I also view Arraez as the most versatile utility guy since he played 2B, 3B, and even LF in 2019. Also of note, I am dreaming of watching Simmons and Buxton play on the same team. If Baseball Tonight still did nightly “Web Gems”, the Twins would be frequent participants. Matthew Trueblood made a compelling argument for Didi the other day. Here’s how the lineup could look any given day: 2B: Arraez/Polanco SS: Didi or Simmons/Polanco 3B: Arraez/Donaldson LF: Kirilloff/Arraez The other option is to hope Polanco returns close to 2019 form and sign a utilityman that can give you more production than Marwin/Adrianza did in 2020. A very logical path that would be more cost effective, but as you can see, not as impactful as adding a SS. In the comments below, let me know who you think the Twins should sign and why!
  7. It’s no secret that the Twins are keen on bringing back Nelson Cruz. But for now, let’s focus on the moves the team could make that would best maximize both their roster and ability to spend on other free agents. This blog is part of a collection of other blogs in the "Patching Holes" series. Also check out my thoughts on the SS/Utility, Starting Pitching, and Reliever positions. Currently, the Twins DH spot is projected to be a revolving door of players led by Alex Kirilloff and Brent Rooker totaling a WAR of 1.0, 4th worst in the American League. The Twins can do better. Here are some DH options for the Twins. I noted both how the Twins would benefit in “net WAR” as well as the 2021 estimated salary of each player (via Fangraphs). “Net WAR” in this scenario is the difference between the Fangraphs Depth Chart projection for each player below and the current Twins DH starter’s projection. For this purpose, we will use the projections combining Rooker and Kirilloff’s stats - so .5 WAR as the baseline. For example: Nelson Cruz’s Depth Chart projection is 1.9 WAR. So to calculate “net WAR” you subtract 1.9 from .5 and are left with +1.4 wins. *All WAR projections use Fangraphs Depth Charts Free Agents: Marcell Ozuna: +2.8 WAR ($17.5M) Michael Brantley: +1.6 WAR ($15M) *has since signed with the Blue Jays Nelson Cruz: +1.4 WAR ($15M) Eddie Rosario: +.9 WAR ($6M) Trade Options: Kris Bryant: +2.4 WAR ($19.5M) Nick Castellanos: +.3 WAR ($16M) This is not a perfect formula. There are a lot of moving parts in each of these instances due to how each player would impact the rest of the team. For example, signing Ozuna or Brantley would most likely mean their playing time would be spread out between LF and DH with Kirilloff/Rooker rotating in either position. Not to mention, both Brantley and Ozuna’s projections have their defense contributions factored in, that would likely change if they were DH only. In any case, the additions above would improve the Twins. My take: If the Twins can get Ozuna or Brantley on a 2-year deal, the positional flexibility gained from these signings alone might put the Twins in the best spot. Rocco can mix and match the lineup however he sees fit and use the DH spot as a revolving door to give players days off and play matchups. The Twins have done a nice job of developing players to play multiple positions so on any given day the lineup could look like this: 1B: Sano/Kirilloff/Rooker LF: Ozuna or Brantley/Rooker/Kirilloff RF: Kepler/Rooker/Kirilloff DH: Any player I love Nelson Cruz and would love him back but age and lack of a defensive position at times limits the Twins. Kris Bryant is a pipe dream (sorry, everyone) and Castellanos only makes sense in a scenario where the Twins acquire Sonny Gray or Luis Castillo and Castellanos is thrown in as a salary dump. In the comments below, let me know who you think the Twins should sign and why!
  8. Major League Baseball is no longer played with only 5 starting pitchers, and it hasn’t been for awhile. The importance of depth becomes crucial here as teams know that during a season, they will have to use 8, 9, 10+ starters in a given season. Anyone else remember when the 2017 Twins used 16 different starters? With departures of Odorizzi, Hill, and Bailey, the Twins have thus far replaced Hill/Bailey with J.A. Happ. It still feels like they need to add one more SP. I think prospects like Duran and Balazovic are at best not making their debut until later this year. This blog is part of a collection of other blogs in the "Patching Holes" series. Also check out my thoughts on the SS/Utility, DH, and Reliever positions. Here is how the Twins SP group projects in 2021. A total WAR of 12.6 - 13th in baseball. ***This has been updated to reflect the J.A. Happ signing. Previously, the Twins SP group was projected for 12.3 WAR. The Twins can do better. In fact, they need to do better. It is preferred if Dobnak, Smeltzer, and Thorpe are pushed from the 5,6,7 guys in the rotation to the 7,8,9. Dobnak has plenty of value for this team and will be needed plenty as the 6th man. Injuries do happen. Here are some SP options. I noted how the Twins would benefit in “net WAR” as well as the 2021 estimated salary of each player (via Fangraphs). “Net WAR” in this scenario is the difference between the Fangraphs Depth Chart projection for each player below and the least valuable option for the SP position on the Twins currently. For this purpose, we will use the differnece in WAR for Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer who currently project to be the 5/6 starters in the rotation. That difference is .8 WAR for 2021. For example: Rick Porcello projects 2.1 WAR so to calculate “net WAR” you subtract 2.1 from .8 for a net of +1.3 WAR. *All WAR projections use Fangraphs Depth Charts Free Agent SP Options: Tier 1: Trevor Bauer: +3.4 WAR ($29M) Tier 2: James Paxton: +2.1 WAR ($15M) Mashiro Tanaka: +1.9 WAR ($18M) Jake Odorizzi: +1.3 WAR ($13M) Tier 3: Chris Archer: +1.3 WAR ($8M) Garrett Richards: +1.3 WAR ($8M) Rick Porcello: +1.3 WAR ($11M) Taijuan Walker: +.8 WAR ($9M) Tier 4: J.A. Happ: +.6 WAR ($8M) Adam Wainwright: +.6 WAR($7M) Rich Hill: +.6 WAR ($8M) Homer Bailey: +.4 WAR ($5M) Cole Hamels: +.1 WAR($14M) Trade Options: Luis Castillo: +3.1 WAR ($4.2M) German Marquez: +2.9 WAR($7.5M) Sonny Gray: +2.6 WAR ($10M) Jon Gray: +1.5 WAR ($6M) Jameson Taillon: +1.4 WAR ($2.3M) Chad Kuhl: +.2 WAR ($1.4M) This is not a perfect formula. There are a lot of moving parts in each of these instances due to how each player added would impact the rest of the team. Especially in this scenario, I am using “net WAR” to show the difference when adding in a starter to the top-6 spots of the rotation only rather than spread out against the entire group. In any case, there are plenty of opportunities the Twins can pull from to improve their rotation. After going through the exercise, I was actually encouraged at the amount of depth still in the free agent SP market. My take: I think all fans can agree that Bauer to the Twins is a pipe dream (but wow, would that be fun). However, I am hopeful that the Twins can add one more SP that is equal to or better than Michael Pineda (2.1 projected WAR) and a second that acts as a veteran depth signing. Someone on a one-year deal that has a record of success and can pitch in the playoffs or a pennant run. ***This was written before J.A. Happ signing. It is clear now that he is the one year veteran depth piece***. My preferred trade candidate is Sonny Gray. Him and Joe Musgrove had similar value from the site BaseballTradeValues.com. In many circles, the return for Musgrove seemed light, so maybe there is hope the Twins wouldn’t have to give up as much as one would think. I think any combination of: Odorizzi/Tanaka/Paxton/Gray/Richards Paired with a second addition of: Wainwright/Porcello/Walker/Archer/Happ would make for a well rounded and deep rotation grouping. In the comments below, let me know who you think the Twins should sign and why!
  9. As we approach the report date for Spring Training, it’s clear there are some large question marks on the Twins roster. The patience for many Twins fans is growing thin while they wait for some news, any news, to break on social media. Will it be re-signing Nelson Cruz? A trade for Sonny Gray or *cough* Kris Bryant? Whatever it is, one thing is certain - moves are coming… It’s clear that the White Sox have made strides in improving their team this offseason. The National baseball media and some White Sox fans (OK, all) have already handed them the coveted preseason AL Central Championship Title. The narrative has been the Twins need to make additions to “catch the White Sox”. I don’t buy that. As back-to-back division champs with an 0-5 playoff record in those seasons, the Twins know they are making moves with one goal in mind, win a World Series. Not to mention, the gap between the White Sox and the Twins may be narrower than fans think. In the blogs to follow, I will examine the state of the Twins currently and dive into some moves they can make that will immediately improve their positional “holes”. A “hole” in this case is any position that doesn’t give the Twins a projected Top-10 value when compared against the other 29 MLB Teams. As you will find below, the “holes” the Twins need to address are at the following positions: 1) Designated Hitter 2) Shortstop/Utility 3) Starting Rotation 4) Bullpen First things first, in order to understand where you need to go, you need to know where you are. From Fangraphs Depth Charts, you can sort by total projected Wins Above Replacement - the most important stat when discussing team wins. This is broken down for each team, by each positional group. Important Note: Fangraphs Depth Charts calculates positional WAR based on projected playing time for each position, not just for the projected starting player. For example: The 3B position on Fangraphs for the Twins is projected to create 4.2 WAR - 7th best in MLB. Josh Donaldson is projected 3.4 WAR, Luis Arraez is projected .7 WAR, and Travis Blakenhorn is projected .1 WAR. Furthermore, when looking at Josh Donaldson’s WAR, you cannot just use his 3B projection as he also appears in the DH slot where he projects .4 WAR in 98 Plate Appearances for a total of 3.8 WAR. I like the Depth Charts projections when comparing MLB Teams because it takes into account, well organizational depth, in playing time at each position rather than comparing just the teams starter who will get a bulk of the at bats. Here is a quick summary Twins projected positional WAR and their rank across all 30 MLB teams: ***Another note: This was completed on 1/18/21 and will change frequently, especially with so many FA available C - 3.0 WAR (6th) 1B - 2.3 (8th) 2B - 2.6 (10th) 3B - 4.2 (6th) SS - 2.4 (17th) LF - 1.1 (18th) CF - 4.1 (3rd) RF - 3.2 (8th) DH- 1.0 (11th) SP -12.3 (13th) RP - 2.7 (11th) Overall - 38.9 (8th) For comparison’s sake, here is how the Twins stack up to the White Sox. *** For a breakdown of each position’s WAR projection for the Twins, click this link.
  10. I think he makes a ton of sense on the Twins. Vet, can play multiple spots, and the bat is still there. Like I said in the beginning, I would rather pay Clippard and Cabrera a combined $6M on a one year deal than Hernandez $7M/year. Villar is the biggest stretch on this list. His market would really have to fall apart before he ended up here.
  11. Fair. I don't think any of these guys you sign to more than a one-year deal. So there's less risk. I would rather start with a guy like Cabrera and if he isn't doing what they expect, then look to fill the spot with Blankenhorn, Gordon, Lewis, etc. midway through the year. For a team in win-now mode, I would like to see both utility spots go a big leaguer to start the year. If there's a minor league season and someone is playing well, maybe they can bring them in. Injuries will happen too.
  12. I like Schoop! But unless he can play another position, he might not be the best fit. He has only played 2B the last two years. He played a few games at SS in 2018, but I don't think he's considered a SS. If he could play either SS or 3B, I think that would have made some sense.
  13. In my follow-up to the 5 “Under the Radar” Free Agent Pitching Targets blog, I thought it would be fitting to also describe a few key free agent utility players that should come at a bargain. One of the top priorities of the Twins offseason is to find replacements for utilitymen, Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza - both now free agents. In 2020, Marwin and Ehire combined to produce .1 fWAR while costing just north of $10.5M in salary, if it were a normal 162 game season. Injuries to the Twins regular lineup forced Gonzalez and Adrianza to play much more than the Twins would have liked. They appeared in 53 and 44 games, respectively. Gonzalez had a .606 OPS in 199 PA’s while Adrianza produced a .557 OPS in 101 PA’s. Both leaving much to be desired. For this reason, the Twins have to find a way to upgrade their bench in the event of an (inevitable) injury to a starting infielder. But also because Rocco likes to rest starters frequently. A solid utility player will be useful to mix into the lineup on occasion. The two players that they add to the roster need to be able to at minimum play 2B, 3B, and SS. Having one of those players that could also play 1B or OF would be a nice bonus and allow for lineup flexibility. The players below are “value” free agent targets that the Twins could sign to fill one of those needs. Ideally, they would be signed at a low-cost so that the money saved could be applied elsewhere to a payroll that is sure to decrease from 2020. Note: ***Obviously, a player like Kike Hernandez, Jurickson Profar, or Tommy LaStella would be preferred to any of the names on this list. However, signing one of the above names may jeopardize a spot in the lineup elsewhere. Think, “would you rather have Asdrúbal Cabrera and Tyler Clippard for a combined $5M or Kiké Hernandez for $6M?” when going through these names***. Asdrúbal Cabrera Speaking of Asdrúbal Cabera… He could be playing for his 5th team since 2018. Once an All-Star SS for the Cleveland Indians from 2011-2012, Cabrera has spent his last season and a half with the Nationals in an everyday utility role. This has mostly been at 3B, 2B, and 1B. No longer an option at SS (last played there full-time in 2016), Cabrera still offers plenty of positional flexibility and is a switch hitter. Cabrera was basically league average in terms of offensive production in 2019-2020. In a combined 183 games he slashed .254/.331/.443, good for a .774 OPS and also mashed 26 HR’s. While he is not great defensively at any one position, (combined -10 DRS across 1,400 innings in 2019 and 2020) what Cabrera offers you is positional flexibility at 3 infield spots. He is also a fine player if he has to play every day due to an injury. Since 2018, he has started: 120 games at 3B 120 games at 2B 25 games at 1B (22 in 2020 alone) Cabrera could also help the Twins immensely against LHP, which they struggled with in 2020. In 194 PA against southpaws in 2019 & 2020, Cabrera produced a .840 OPS. Cabrera could be a great veteran option on a one-year deal. He also comes with playoff experience, coming off a 2019 World Series championship with the Nationals. Fangraphs projects him for a 1.0 fWAR in 2021 and he shouldn’t cost too much more than his $2.5M salary in 2020. 2018 - '20 stats: Howie Kendrick A fellow Washington teammate to Cabrera, Kendrick does a lot of the same things. Howie Kendrick can play 1B, 2B, and 3B, all exactly fine. He had 0 DRS in 2019 across those positions. The Twins were rumored to be interested in trading for him at the 2020 trade deadline. A hamstring injury, however, ended his 2020 season prematurely. Injuries have always been the question mark for the 37 year old. Kendrick has only played in 100 games once (2019), since 2016. He’s had countless injuries including a torn achilles and a hyper-extended knee. When in the lineup, he is productive. In 630 PA since 2018, Kendrick has produced a line of .322/.367/.516. Good for a .883 OPS and 23 HR’s. He is especially lethal vs LHP where he has posted a 132 wRC+ in 199 PA’s since 2019. His injury concerns, age, and poor showing in 2020 (.705 OPS in 25 games) all are valid question marks. But, if the Twins can find a way to get near his 2019 level performance, they could have a nice value utilityman. He should come at a price tag less than the $6.25M he would have earned in 2020 on a one-year deal. 2018 - '20 stats: Brad Miller Once a SS, definitely not known for his defense in Seattle and Tampa Bay (-36 DRS in 3,300 innings at SS in career), Miller has found a role in the bigs as an “everywhere nowhere man” utilityman. He has played on 5 teams since 2018 and may be looking for his 6th. He has played all over the diamond. Since 2018: 308 innings at 1B 230 innings at 2B 194 innings at 3B 44 innings at SS 102 innings in LF 2 innings in RF As a left-handed hitter, he posted an .853 OPS across 341 PA’s in 2019 and 2020 with 20 HR’s. He has been especially effective vs RHP posting a 131 wRC+ across 299 PA’s but borderline unplayable vs LHP only posting a .619 OPS in a small sample size of 42 PA’s. With two LHH up the middle in Polanco and Arraez, Miller could look to spell Sano or Donaldson on day’s where there is a tough righty on the mound and you need to give those guys a day off. He could also fill in adequately against RHP in case of an injury to Miggy, JD, or Arraez, and in small emergency instances Kirilloff/Cave/Wade in LF. Fangraphs projects Miller for a 1/$2M salary and a .8 fWar in 2021. Both seem like good value. 2018 - '20 stats: Jonathan Villar Villar has played on 4 teams since 2018 (do you sense a theme here?). He’s been an everyday SS/2B his whole career. I almost didn’t put him on this list, but his abysmal 2020 and the pending suppressed free agent market don’t necessarily point to Villar getting a large contract this offseason. Maybe there is a chance he falls to a team like the Twins on an affordable pillow contract. In 303 combined games between 2018 and 2019, Villar produced a line of .268/.333/.424 with 38 HR’s and 75 SB - so he has some speed, something the Twins desperately need. In 2020, he completely imploded. He only slugged .292 in 52 games, producing an OPS south of .600. Since 2018, he has appeared in: 233 games at 2B 136 games at SS As a switch hitter, Villar is more effective from the left side vs RHP where he has produced a .767 OPS in 610 PA’s compared to a .709 OPS vs LHP in 311 PA’s. Villar projects to be the 5th best SS in this year’s FA class behind Semien, Didi, Simmons, and Galvis. Fangraphs projects Villar for a 1/$6M deal and .9 fWAR which seems like overpayment for what the Twins potentially need. But, like I said, the hope is that he could be brought here on a lesser deal. The other hurdle would be convincing him to play a part-time role vs starting which he’s been doing. 2018 - '20 stats: Jedd Gyorko In a somewhat surprising move, the Brewers declined Gyorko’s $4.5M club option two weeks ago making him a free agent. Gyorko was the Brewers best hitter in 2020. Twins fans may remember him from that game-tying homer he hit off Taylor Rogers in Milwaukee earlier this year Gyorko started his career in STL as a 2B but has transitioned into a 3B/1B with the ability to play 2B on a pinch. In 42 G in 2020, Gyorko produced an .838 OPS with 9 HR’s. A big step forward from his 2019 campaign where he produced an OPS under .500 in 62 games. Overall, Gyorko has been a solid offensive producer. Especially vs LHP where he has slugged .480 with 10 HR’s against them in 110 G’s since 2018. With the Twins he would give them flexibility at the corners and injury insurance for Donaldson/Sano. He would make some sense to bring in if the Twins didn’t bring back Cruz at DH but instead keep the DH spot open as a revolving door. Then I could see Gyorko getting starts at all three spots. It’s hard to see him making more than the $4.5M he would have made in this offseason market. He too could make sense on a one-year deal with the Twins. 2018 - '20 stats: Here are stats featuring the 5 players mentioned in this article plus Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza. 2018 - 2020 stats. Please note the two players at the bottom: So, that’s it. Here are a few names that I think would make sense as “bargain” utility options. As you can see from the stats above, each player has provided more offensively than Marwin or Ehire. Honorable mentions: *old friend* Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt, and Eric Sogard Are there any names I am missing that you’d like to see the Twins add in free agency?
  14. I love the idea of a bullpen that features Brad Hand + Taylor Rogers. Or, like someone else mentioned here, is there a possibility to just pay Hand and non-tender Rogers? I was excited about this possibility until I saw that the experts believe Hand will get a 3-year deal. Not sure the Twins will be in on this even if there is a hometown discount. My thought with any of these buy-low targets is not that the Twins should target them solely, but they should be targeted and combined with other signings, otherwise it doesn't make sense. The hope is that they go after a guy like Walker to be their #5 SP because they already signed someone to be their #4 like Gausman or Odorizzi. If they sign Walker hoping he is going to be their #4 and then he gets hurt, well then you're stuck with Dobnak as your #4 and a Thorpe/Smeltzer/(insert other rookie here) combo, which is not ideal.
  15. I am in on a low-risk Kluber deal. I just don't think his market will bear that. I really feel some team is just going to give him a 1/$12-$14M deal which I don't think the Twins should or would do. If he agrees to a $8M deal with incentives for innings pitched (basically a slightly more expensive Rich Hill deal), it would be a good fit. And with Clippard, I think there is a good chance he is back. Maybe another 1/$2.75-$3.5M deal? My point in writing this blog was not that we should soley target these names, but they could be good affordable options so that the Twins can spend their money elsewhere too. For example, wouldn't you rather have Oliver Perez + Tyler Clippard for a total of $5M vs. paying Trevor Rothenthal a 2/$14M deal?
  16. I actually like Justin Wilson too. Solid numbers and can be a good option as the second best LHP in the Twins 'pen behind Rogers and ahead of Thielbar. The problem is, he would cost a bit more. I would rather pay Oliver Perez and Tyler Clippard for the salary that Justin Wilson should command. If that makes sense.
  17. I think I would be OK with that and could totally see it. I just hope that their intention is Wacha would be the #5 SP, not the #4 with giving Dobnak the #5 spot. I really hope they go after two SP. Wacha would be a fun Wes project. In a small sample his K-BB% was best in his career. I think he had a bit of bad luck too. His BABIP in 2020 was .366. Put him in front of a better defense with a better pitching support staff and I think there is something here. If he gives you 150+ innings of a 4.25 - 4.50 ERA, you could do much worse for your #5 with such a low investment. OK, after doing some quick research, I am kind of excited about Wacha's potential.
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