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  1. The Minnesota Twins' starting rotation is in shambles at this point. Dylan Bundy is the only starter signed before the lockout, and Carlos Rodon is the only realistic upper-tier target that still seems plausible. With those parameters, it seems a good bet that the Twins turn to the trade market, a place they’ve been expected to dabble all along. For Falvey, this is probably the optimal outcome. While free agency has been a malady of misses, the trade front has actually worked out well for this front office. I’m still baffled how an aging Nelson Cruz was parlayed for two legitimate arms, and that was after the Jake Odorizzi trade had already tipped the scales against the Rays for Minnesota. Throw in getting a haul for Jose Berrios when the organization had decided against extending him, and you have to be happy with the results. Looking at the prospect rankings and, more importantly, the organizational location for Minnesota, it’s clear they need external help. The Twins farm system shows up consistently at the bottom of the teens, and outside of Jordan Balazovic, there isn’t an arm on the farm that’s a top 100 talent and ready to immediately contribute. An explanation for much of the feelings regarding the Twins system relates to the missed time the past few seasons. The depth is there, while the floor currently trumps many of the ceilings. Parlaying a few arms into one big one could be the ideal action plan. Oakland has plenty of arms on the block, and stud Frankie Montas is among the best of them. Cincinnati could be a willing partner with either Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, or Tyler Mahle. Houston might be willing to flip Odorizzi back to Minnesota. There is any number of possibilities for the front office to explore. It would be wise to assume that frameworks have been discussed before the lockout, and things should come together quickly when we get a resumption. If and when Minnesota swings a deal, there should be a level of trust built from how Falvey has constructed previous swaps. There’s going to be hurt in prospect capital, especially for a top-level arm, but betting on the Twins knowing their talents and the warts they may have is an earned belief. An ideal trade has both sides winning when the deal is struck, but Minnesota continuing to come out on top, in the long run, is something every fan can get on board with. Derek Falvey needs to keep stacking the positive results in that category. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. What do they have so far? The Twins ended the 2021 season with a depleted starting rotation, especially after the José Berríos trade and the Kenta Maeda season-ending injury. One can argue that it was depleted since the beginning of the season, with J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker being part of it. But from such a dark year on the mound, two seemingly good arms emerged from the minors. Bailey Ober had his ups and downs but, overall, he had a very solid rookie campaign. His most impressive stretch of the season might have been the ten starts in July and August, in which he posted a 3.06 ERA, a 3.87 FIP, with 51 strikeouts and only 11 walks. With less than a hundred innings pitched on the major league level so far, you might argue that he isn’t a very reliable option just yet, but his first impression was not bad at all. Joe Ryan joined the organization in mid-July as part of the Nelson Cruz trade. After a couple of solid starts for St. Paul in August, he got called up in September, making his big league debut, and he probably couldn’t have asked for a better one. In his second start, he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning, on his way to a seven-inning shutout on only 85 pitches. Over his first four starts, Ryan maintained a very impressive 2.45 ERA and 2.49 FIP, keeping opposing batters to a .133 batting average. He struck out batters 25 times while walking them only three times. In his final start of the season, he gave up six earned runs against Detroit, spoiling his final numbers, but not the optimism around him going forward. To quote the great Do-Hyoung Park, from MLB.com, if all had gone according to plan for the Twins this season, they probably wouldn’t have discovered these two exciting, young arms. The third pitcher set to start the season on the Twins rotation is Dylan Bundy, whom Minnesota signed shortly before the league went into lockout. His career numbers aren’t impressive, and in 2021, he was moved to the Angels bullpen after struggling for the first half of the season. He did get back to the rotation in early August and closed out the season with a 3.31 ERA in the final four starts. In the shortened season of 2020, his first year with the Angels, Bundy had his best season in the majors, finishing ninth in the AL Cy Young Award voting after posting 3.29 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 138 ERA+, with 9.9 strikeouts per nine and only 2.3 walks per nine. Did Wes Johnson see anything in Bundy that can be tweaked into a 2020 version of him? How can they realistically fill the remaining gaps? Suppose you consider the aforementioned trio good enough to fill the bottom part of the rotation. In that case, the Twins can very well build a competitive group of starters by making only two additions. Here’s how I would go about filling the two remaining rotation spots. My favorite trade target is Frankie Montas. The A’s are believed to be on the verge of resetting, thus making their veteran starters available for trades. The Dominican righty is coming off a career year, having started 32 games for Oakland and accumulated 3.7 bWAR, both career-best marks for him. Over 187 innings of work in 2021, he was able to maintain a 3.37 ERA and 3.37 FIP, striking out 10.0 batters per nine and walking 2.7 per nine. Such numbers earned him a sixth-place finish in the AL Cy Young Award last season, and he is under team control for two more seasons. He produced at least twice as much bWAR as any Twins pitcher in 2021. In a rebound year for Minnesota, I can see him being the difference-maker for a team that wants to avoid a rebuilding process. Twins Daily’s Nash Walker wrote an in-depth article discussing Montas as a trade target, but not only him. He also wrote about Chris Bassitt and Luis Castillo. Since 2022 is likely not a year the Twins will be competing for a World Series, they should be looking for a proven veteran that can eat up innings and provide them with stability instead of an impact starter. In this scenario, two names come to mind, both of which are former Twins. Jake Odorizzi’s time with Minnesota didn’t end up well. In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he struggled with injuries and missed the first portion of the season. He made only four starts that year and had an awful 6.59 ERA. He signed with the Astros for the 2021 season, and his beginning with the Houston organization was also rough, but he would eventually pick up. After struggling in his first six starts, he posted a 3.74 ERA in the final 18 starts of the season. Those numbers could indicate that he might be back on track and ready to be a reliable contributor once again. Trading for him makes sense, as you can potentially bring back a former All-Star who is still only 31 and is very likely to provide you with 150 innings, if healthy. Michael Pineda is another option I like, but many Twins fans are quick to dismiss. His time with Minnesota was stained by so much time he missed due to injuries and the suspension, but that doesn’t change the fact that he delivered some very solid innings. In 21 starts in 2021, he pitched the second-most innings for the year (106 1/3 innings) and posted a very decent 3.72 ERA. Odorizzi and Pineda aren’t aces you can rely on for years to come, but either of them (or both) could help the Twins not to suck in 2022. The most important aspect of this season is to take pressure off the development of top pitching prospects who have already reached the major league level, like Ober and Ryan. If prospects like Josh Winder and Jordan Balazovic make the leap to the majors this year, they could also benefit from that. Plus, a rotation like this could be considered much better than the one they had last year, so they could have a much better outcome than the one they had in 2021. What do you think? How would you fill those two rotation gaps differently? Share your thoughts in the comment section! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  3. The Astros signed Odorizzi, 31, to a three-year deal following a rough, shortened 2020 season with the Twins. Odorizzi had bypassed free agency by accepting the qualifying offer from Minnesota in 2019, then spent much of 2020 injured. At that time, the Astros had much less certainty in their rotation. They hadn’t yet witnessed the breakouts of José Urquidy, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, or Lance McCullers, Jr. Add in Cristian Javier and a healthy Justin Verlander. That’s a crowded rotation, with Odorizzi on the outside looking in. Odorizzi owns a 4.49 ERA and 4.67 FIP in 118 1/3 innings since he started Game 3 of the 2019 ALDS at Target Field. His strikeout rate is down, he’s getting battered more often, and his splitter is getting bit. But Odorizzi still has an excellent four-seam fastball and an underutilized cutter. He also wasn't shy about his love for the Twins and the mound at Target Field. Right-handed hitters had little chance against Odorizzi in 2019, and he pitched very well at Target Field. With Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, José Abreu, and Franmil Reyes in the division, the Twins could use someone who has gotten them out before. Odorizzi is a luxury starter for Houston. A trade would benefit both him and the Twins and makes a ton of sense on the Astros side. Odorizzi is owed $8 million in 2022 and harnesses an $8.5 million player option for 2023. With the Twins valuing flexibility, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more. If Odorizzi were a free agent today, he’d probably sign a one-year deal in that same range. He needs to build back his value and re-establish mid-rotation status. Starting every fifth day for the Twins could provide that opportunity, with a chance for 2019-like success. Even if he stays within his career numbers, a 3.95 ERA and 105 ERA+, he’d instantly become the Twins’ most experienced and successful starter. MLB Trade Simulator values Odorizzi at negative-7.5, given his recent performance, health, and contract. If that’s the case, this deal should’ve happened before the lockout. There’s an argument that giving up anything for Odorizzi pales in comparison to just signing a bounce-back starter candidate in free agency. The difference: we’ve seen what Odorizzi can be for the Twins. At his best, he’s a fastball-heavy number three in a good rotation. It seems the Twins are keeping rotation spots open for their top pitching prospects to breakthrough. That’s all good and dandy, but you still need innings. If you’re unwilling to commit multiple years in free agency for quality starters, trade for a known person and player in Odorizzi. It benefits all three sides. For an idea of what a deal for Odorizzi could look like: What do you think? Should the Twins trade for Jake Odorizzi? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. There is no question that the Twins will need to make some additions to their starting staff when the offseason comes back, whenever that is. Many of the top free agent starting pitchers are no longer available. The Twins did sign Dylan Bundy to team with Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan in the rotation, but clearly they will add more. They may need to do so with some creative trades. Here are three such options that the Twins might consider. Kyle Freeland Freeland has been a serviceable pitcher throughout his career which is an impressive statement to make considering he’s spent five seasons in Colorado. Freeland owns a career 4.20 ERA which is a fair baseline of what to expect from the southpaw moving forward. He flew under the radar posting a 4.33 ERA in 2021 with 120 innings pitched and had peripherals to match. Even if he doesn’t get a bump from moving out of the worst pitching environment in baseball, Freeland would already slot in nicely as the Twins #3 in the rotation for a bargain in regards to payroll. At 29 years old, Freeland is due $7m in 2022 with another year of control in 2023. For the Rockies who have no shot at contending in the next two years, this is the exact type of player that should be shopped to get a hold of any type of young talent that could be a part of their next contending window while relieving some payroll. The Twins could easily put together a trade package consisting of young players far from the top of their prospect rankings. It may just be a matter of whether the Rockies front office comes to their senses and gets realistic about their future. Luke Weaver Much like Freeland, Weaver would be a multi-year acquisition. The 28-year-old right-hander has had an up-and-down career in terms of performance and health. The former first round pick sports a 4.64 career ERA and has averaged over a strikeout per inning in his six seasons. In those seasons, however, Weaver has eclipsed 65 innings only once and that was in 2018. For the right price, the upside could be worth the gamble. With a fastball averaging around 94 mph, a wipeout changeup, and 60-grade command, finding a way to work a full season out of Luke Weaver could have a huge payoff. The Diamondbacks are likely a bit more realistic than their division mates in Colorado, although it’s worth noting that Weaver is only due $2.4m in 2022. They have some nice pieces but don’t quite have a clear cut core in place to build around. Given Weaver’s injuries and contract status, they may see more upside in taking a few prospects that fit their timeline than gambling on Weaver and potentially losing. Like Freeland, there’s likely a prospect package that makes sense for both teams. Jake Odorizzi Despite his 4.21 ERA in 100+ innings last year, Jake Odorizzi may not have a rotation spot in Houston given their depth of young starting pitching. I can’t blame anyone who wants to turn the page on the Twins teams of the last three Twins seasons, but this former Twin fits right into the next steps of this organization. Odorizzi has shown plenty of signs of being the same pitcher he has been during his whole career. Vintage Jake Odorizzi would go a long way in shoring up a currently rookie-led rotation and provide some much-needed innings. Signed to fill in for an injured Framber Valdez last spring, Odorizzi is set to make a $3.0 million signing bonus and $5.0 million in base salary for 2022. He gets half a million for 100 innings and an extra million for 110, 120, 130, 140 and 150 innings pitched. In 2023, he’s due $6.5 million with a $3.25 million buyout. His stuff would likely play up in a bullpen role in Houston, but it’s likely to cause some waves with a pitcher who wants to start and may have already ruffled some feathers in the organization. It may just be mutually beneficial for all parties. The Astros save some money, the Twins add an arm, and Odorizzi gets to start. It seems like a match made in heaven. People’s interest in bona fide stud pitchers is understandable, but the Twins need quantity just as much as quality. Are there any middle of the rotation arms you’d like to see the Twins pick up before Spring Training? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  5. The last time I filed one of these status update reports was 10 days ago, although it feels like about 10 months in the pacing of this offseason. Back then, we were breaking down the new J.A. Happ signing and wondering when anything of true substance would come. In less than two weeks since, the Twins have signed Andrelton Simmons, Nelson Cruz, and Alex Colomé, committing $30 million in guaranteed money while furiously crossing off boxes on the front office's checklist. Suddenly, they've already surpassed the $125 million threshold that we had set as a reasonable benchmark (a 10% reduction from the planned 2020 payroll). Maeda's very reachable performance incentives, which will likely push his salary into the $10-12 million range, are not reflected in the spreadsheet above. So the effective payroll is about $130 million. That's creeping up on last year's planned commitment (around $138 million, as we had it figured). And it seems highly unlikely they are done. More on that momentarily. But first, let's get caught up on Minnesota's free agency foray. ANDRELTON UPGRADES THE INFIELD The Andrelton Simmons signing is a fascinating one, because it's fundamentally transformative on so many levels. Adding a new shortstop wasn't even a clear-cut need coming into the offseason, but by infusing an elite defender and occasional MVP contender in Simmons, the Twins have essentially upgraded three positions in one fell swoop: short, second base, super utility. A nifty bit of handiwork from the front office, especially given that Simmons' contract is the most palatable among the top three free agent shortstops. Following his signing, our writers explored the many impacts and implications of adding an historically brilliant defensive shortstop to the Twins infield: Cody Pirkl wrote that Simmons is the perfect match for Minnesota – a resounding upgrade on a one-year deal that leaves the door open for Royce Lewis. I dissected the new role of Luis Arráez, who becomes a super-utility sparkplug while returning to somewhat familiar territory. Ted Schwerzler argued that Andrelton's addition gives the Twins baseball's best infield, and if everyone can stay healthy that may well prove true. David Youngs wondered if the Twins might still have a need for a second backup infielder, a la the Ehire Adrianza role. Seth Stohs, Matthew Taylor and Nate Palmer analyzed the Simmons signing right after it happened on Offseason Live: CRUZ AND UNFINISHED BUSINESS Nelson Cruz did just about everything during his first two years as a Twin – other than win a playoff game, that is. The borderline Hall of Famer has enjoyed a beautiful swan song while getting sucked into Minnesota's ugly postseason abyss. Now, in what could well be his final MLB season, it's no mystery where Cruz's sights are set. After months of inertia, the Twins and Cruz reportedly re-engaged in discussions last weekend. From there, the dominoes swiftly fell: universal DH more or less came off the table with MLBPA's rejection of a league proposal, then media reports started to hint at the Twins' growing impatience, and a day later, boom(stick): the deal is done. There's no griping about a one-year, $13 million contract, which left the Twins with flexibility to make the signing we'll discuss next (and maybe more). Cruz was unfortunately leveraged into a corner, but it ends up leaving the team in good shape to optimize around him. In doing so, they increase of odds of him conquering his elusive ultimate goal in a Twins uniform. BULLPEN BOLSTERED BY A FORMER RIVAL Cruz's signing was no big surprise to anyone who's been following the coverage of Dan Hayes of The Athletic this offseason. That move was essentially foretold by his report the preceding weekend, and so was the one that quickly followed. Dan telegraphed the imminent Colomé signing immediately after he broke the Cruz news: https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1356841489351991298 With all due respect to the many people and friends I admire in local media, Hayes is lapping the field with his Twins reporting this offseason. He's been on all these developments like white on ... Dan Hayes. Jokes and groveling aside, the Twins' interest in Colomé has hardly been a secret, dating back months. Securing his buddy Nelly seemingly sealed the deal with Alex as well. The former White Sox closer's contract is downright reasonable considering his immaculately consistent track record. As a former All-Star and routinely high-end closer, he brings a new dimension of legitimacy to the back end of Minnesota's bullpen. The White Sox ponied up a staggering $54 million to acquire Liam Hendriks two weeks ago. In the absolute best-case scenario, Hendriks will equal the results produced by Colomé over the past two years as Chicago closer: 2.27 ERA, 3.43 WPA (almost identical to Hendriks' mark in Oakland), 91% save percentage (superior to Hendriks' mark in Oakland). Is Hendriks a better and vastly more dominant pitcher at this point? No doubt. But our guy Tom Froemming put it well: you don't get style points. Scoreless innings are scoreless innings. Bridged leads and closed-out victories are what they are. Colomé has a far lengthier track record of getting it done than Hendriks, for whom the White Sox paid literally tenfold. This is going to be a fascinating subplot to follow in what promises to be a delightful Twins-Sox rivalry this summer. ODORIZZI STILL IN PLAY? As spring training approaches, Jake Odorizzi remains a free agent. A recent report in the Star Tribune from La Velle E. Neal III indicates that the Twins haven't given up on bringing back the right-hander, although there are no signs of momentum in that report or elsewhere. Every rumor and rumbling I've heard suggests the two sides aren't close on terms. La Velle's article was also published before the Cruz signing, but it's worth noting this nugget he included: "It's not out of the question that the Twins bring back both Cruz and Odorizzi." Which leads us to our final point of discussion for today. WHAT'S NEXT? Even with Colomé added to the mix, the bullpen isn't all that deep with Cody Stashak (who's thrown 40 major-league innings) and "TBD" rounding out the final spots. It feels like there may be another acquisition on tap, as signaled by multiple sources. https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1356997063318396936 https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1357048229486080000 The same can be said for the rotation, which thus far has received only Happ to replace Odorizzi, Rich Hill and Homer Bailey. So, one wonders: how much is left to spend? It seems clear that Minnesota is ready to stretch the budget beyond our historically-conditioned expectations. "None of our objective includes trying to make up for what happened in 2020," said Twins owner Jim Pohlad in Neal's article, published prior to the Cruz and Colomé signings. "It was significant. It was devastating. And you have to accept that as a loss going forward and not make it a goal to recover those losses either from fans or by affecting our payroll. That's not the mind-set we have been in at all." They're backing that up, with a spending projection that is healthily above the league average, and a proven willingness to jump on the right opportunities. Which other ones will emerge? Two weeks until Fort Myers. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. There is no salary cap in baseball, but many teams have a self-imposed limit this winter for a variety of reasons. Revenues were limited in a pandemic shortened 2020 campaign and there are still plenty of questions about how much those revenues will improve in 2021. Minnesota’s current payroll sits around $110-113 million with the team anticipated to spend around $125 million. This leaves room for one more big signing or a pair of smaller additions. Many early reports had Cruz asking for a two-year contract and when looking at his last two seasons, that might seem like a no-brainer. Since joining the Twins, he has hit .308/.394/.626 with 57 home runs and 32 doubles in 173 games. However, his increasing age continues to be the elephant in the room. He turned 40-years-old last July, and he will be 41 about halfway through the 2021 campaign. Does any team want to have significant money tied to a 42-year-old DH? With their remaining payroll, the Twins can go in a few different directions to help the 2021 squad. Many of the players listed below will sign in the coming weeks and Minnesota doesn’t want to be left with money on the table. Adding to the rotation seems like an intriguing option for the Twins and signing Cruz likely means the Twins would enter 2021 with their current rotation. Trevor Bauer won’t exactly fit into the team’s self-imposed payroll restrictions, but names like James Paxton, Jake Odorizzi, and Taijuan Walker are still available. Any of these options can fit into the middle of Minnesota’s rotation and be relied on for starts in the postseason. For designated hitter, the top name left on the market is Marcell Ozuna, who is a decade younger than Cruz. He is coming off a tremendous season with the Braves, but he would likely come with a longer commitment and higher salary than Cruz. Minnesota might not want to invest long-term at DH with many of the team’s top prospects projected to be corner outfielders or first base types (Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, etc.) Adding to the bullpen is also an option, but it remains to be seen if the Twins would consider spending money on relievers when the current regime has found luck in cheap options that turn into valuable assets. Alex Colome and Trevor Rosenthal are the two biggest names available and the Twins might be able to add both players with their remaining payroll flexibility. It still seems likely for Cruz to wind up back in a Twins uniform, especially with no decision yet made about the DH in the National League. However, time is ticking away, and Minnesota might not want to hold out much longer. Will the Twins be forced to move on from Cruz? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Since we last checked in before the New Year, the Twins have made only one major-league addition, although it was a fairly significant one: signing veteran left-hander J.A. Happ last week to a one-year, $8 million deal. Here's how the projected roster and payroll currently shape up with Happ in the mix: Accounting for Kenta Maeda's very achievable incentives ($7-9 million), the Twins are currently slated to spend a little north of $100 million, providing ample flexibility for further additions. With this in mind, let's get up to speed on the latest happenings and rumors. HOPPING ON HAPP The Twins addressed a critical need in their rotation by adding the seasoned southpaw on a one-year contract. He offers plenty of experience and a consistent track record of production, bringing more certainty to the rotation by pushing Randy Dobnak into the fifth spot and unseating Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, or whatever rookie was lined up for it previously. At this point Minnesota has a credible rotation to move forward with, technically speaking, but I very much suspect they'll add one more starting pitcher on a major-league deal (or trade). Top remaining free agent prizes within the Twins' potential range include Masahiro Tanaka (said to be seeking up to $20 million in salary), Jake Odorizzi (said to be seeking a three-year deal), and James Paxton. Plenty of trade possibilities also remain on the table, although one compelling name came off the board in recent days when the Yankees acquired Jameson Taillon from Pittsburgh. Learn more about Happ and the impact of his signing: Report: Twins to Sign LHP J.A. Happ: Seth Stohs and Tom Froemming tag-teamed on this quick reaction piece after Happ signed, sharing some info about the contract, his recent history, and his Statcast data. How the Twins Might Tweak J.A. Happ: Matthew Trueblood dug into trends around pitch usage and effectiveness to analyze how the notoriously tinker-y Twins might help the left-hander optimize his repertoire. 5 Things for Twins Fans to Know About J.A. Happ: I explored five different facts about Happ and his intriguing qualities. The notes about his performance trend coming out of 2020, and Minnesota's track record of reducing HR rates, show there's more than meets the eye. QUALITY FREE AGENCY FITS ARE DWINDLING How quickly has the Hot Stove fired up? One week ago I shared my personal top 10 favorite remaining free agent targets for the Twins. At that point, all were available in a stagnating market. In seven days since, four of those options have been signed away, including my No. 1 choice. 1. Jurickson Profar, UTIL 2. Jake Odorizzi, SP 3. James Paxton, SP 4. Andrelton Simmons, SS 5. Nelson Cruz, DH 6. Trevor Rosenthal, RP 7. Kirby Yates, RP 8. José Quintana, SP 9. Kiké Hernández, UTIL 10. Tyler Clippard, RPBoth Profar and Hernández got the exact AAV projected in the article ($7 million) although Profar's came on a weirdly player-friendly three-year contract with two opt-outs, and Hernández's two-year deal apparently came with the promise of a regular starting role at one position. So I'm not sure the Twins realistically could or should have won either of those biddings. The pool of standout utility options to replace Marwin González in the requisite super utility role is shrinking fast, although there are other free agents out there – Tommy La Stella, Jonathan Villar, Asdrubal Cabrera, etc. – who could still viably fill it. At this point my strong preference is to add a starting shortstop and move Jorge Polanco into the utility role. So if I'm reconfiguring the above list, I now have Simmons at the top. Meanwhile, the bullpen remains an area of need. Hansel Robles is hardly enough to replace all the quality production that's been lost to free agency. I get the sense the Twins were finalists for Kirby Yates, who ended up signing with Toronto for $5.5 million, but were never going to go anywhere near as high as Washington did to get Brad Hand ($10.5 million). Trevor Rosenthal feels unlikely at this point. At that part it's hard to find anything constituting an upgrade in free agency. Maybe Alex Colomé? MORE ON THE FORMER UTILITY MEN A couple of recent rumblings regarding the Twins' previous stable of versatile backups: A report last week via MLB.com's Mark Feinsand and Doh Young Park suggests that the Twins have "expressed interest in a reunion" with González: https://twitter.com/Feinsand/status/1351688079673876481 I'm dubious of how serious this interest is (and wonder if the tip came from agent Scott Boras, in an effort to enliven his client's market). That is in large part because I have enough respect for Minnesota's front office to trust that they know better. González was not especially impressive during his time with the Twins and looked flat-out cooked by the end of it, with his production and athleticism rapidly waning. Even in the lesser secondary utility gig previously filled by Ehire Adrianza, I don't see González as a fit. I'd rather just have Adrianza reprise the role. However, it doesn't sound as though that's going to happen, as Adrianza issued an official farewell to Twins fans on Instagram over the weekend: https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1353056033216708610 UPPING THE ANTE FOR CRUZ The Twins continue to engage with Nelson Cruz, and there's evidence they have heightened their pursuit. Jon Heyman reported on Friday that the Twins have "upgraded the dollars in their 1-year offer," but adds that Cruz remains intent on seeing through the universal DH decision. https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1352682159866318851 It's almost February. Still no clarity from MLB on whether DH will be in place for NL teams. (I would assume no, but can't blame Cruz and his agent for waiting on finality.) Pretty unreal. TWINS OUT ON BAUER? In an interesting series of events, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic published an article on the Mets' pursuit of top free agent Trevor Bauer indicating that the Twins were in his mix, but he updated the piece soon after with a correction: "The Mets are not the only club talking about signing him," Rosenthal wrote. "The Dodgers and Blue Jays are among the other clubs believed to be in the mix. The Twins are not, sources said, in response to an earlier version of this story." Some fans are surely disappointed to hear that Minnesota is likely out on the free agent market's top prize. Not me. Bauer seems like the ultimate buy-high trap, coming off of what technically qualifies as a career year and Cy Young Award. Prior to 2020, his track record was much more good than great. Add in the problematic personality and surely exorbitant price, and Bauer is simply more trouble than he's worth, in my opinion. Do you agree or disagree? What would you like to see the Twins do here in the final weeks of the offseason? Is your confidence wavering or are you keeping the faith? Sound off in the comments. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. There holes left to fill on the Twins roster, but luckily for Twins fans, there are plenty of options still available. Here’s a look at three positions where Minnesota could add the most value. WAR total comparisons are from FanGraphs ZiPS projections for the 2021 season. Designated Hitter It’s ridiculous that the National League still doesn’t know if they will have a designated hitter in 2021. Teams are supposed to proceed as if there won’t be a NL DH, but it makes it tough for free agents like Nelson Cruz to know their market. Cruz and the Twins have been in contact throughout the off-season and the two parties seem like a natural match with the current DH market. However, there are other options for the Twins to consider. If the Twins choose not to sign a DH, the organization’s options to fill the role are Brent Rooker and Alex Kirilloff. Rooker had an impactful debut before being hit with a pitch that ended his season. Kirilloff seems more likely to take over Rosario’s role in the outfield, but he could still get at-bats as the DH. Marcell Ozuna represents Minnesota’s best chance to add the most value at DH. He’s a decade younger than Cruz and he is coming off a tremendous season in Atlanta. Obviously, his price tag is going to include a longer commitment and more money than Cruz. Michael Brantley is a different style hitter than Cruz and Ozuna, but he also offers more defensive flexibility than some of the other DH options. Current DH Options: Rooker (0.5 WAR), Kirilloff (1.5 WAR) Free Agent DH: Ozuna (3.6 WAR), Cruz (3.1 WAR), Brantley (2.9 WAR) Back-End Starting Pitching Minnesota’s top three starters are already penciled in with Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, and Michael Pineda. This means the club is looking for other options to fill out the back half of the rotation. In-house options like Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, and Jhoan Duran could eat innings in the fifth starter spot. However, the team likely doesn’t want to rely on those arms filling in back-end roles. Minnesota isn’t going to spend the money it takes to sign Trevor Bauer, so the Twins are likely looking at the other names at the top of the free agent list. This includes Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Jake Odorizzi, Taijuan Walker, and Jose Quintana. ZiPS loves Dobnak so only the first three free agent pitchers would be an upgrade over him to the Twins rotation. Current 4/5 Starters: Dobnak (1.5 WAR), Smeltzer (0.8 WAR), Thorpe (0.5 WAR), Duran (0.8 WAR) Free Agent Starters: Paxton (2.7 WAR), Tanaka (2.3 WAR), Odorizzi (1.8 WAR), Walker (1.2 WAR), Quintana (1.3 WAR) Infield Depth The Twins need to add infield depth with Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianaza both becoming free agents. Throughout the offseason, there has been talk about moving Jorge Polanco to a super utility role and the Twins acquiring a better defensive shortstop. One option would be to trade for a shortstop with an expiring contract like Javier Baez or Trevor Story, but there are plenty of good free agent options still available that would allow the team to keep prospects. If the Twins want a starting shortstop, there are clearly three players at the top of the free agent market. Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, and Marcus Semien are all very intriguing options and the idea of having Simmons and Donaldson on the same side of the infield is a defensive dream. Semien is projected is the only player projected for a higher WAR than Polanco. Other utility options include Jurickson Profar, Enrique Hernandez, and Tommy La Stella, but none of them are considered everyday shortstops. Current SS/Utility Infielders: Polanco (2.8 WAR), Gordon (1.1 WAR), Miranda (0.8 WAR), Blankenhorn (-0.2 WAR) Free Agent SS/Utility Players: Semien (3.9 WAR), Simmons (2.7 WAR), Gregorius (2.3 WAR), Profar (1.6 WAR), La Stella (0.7 WAR), Hernandez (0.6 WAR) If the Twins want to add the most value, it looks like they should turn to Ozuna, Paxton, and Semien. That trio of players would likely come with a hefty price tag, so the Twins might have to be creative as they complete their roster. Where do you think the Twins can add the most value? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. These rankings take into account the likely price it'll cost to land the free agent in question. If that were not a factor, I'd have guys like Trevor Bauer and Marcell Ozuna at the top. But all things considered, I'm not especially interested in paying Bauer $35 million annually, or committing to Ozuna for three-plus years, so they don't make the cut. Instead, I went with players that I see as strong fits for the Twins' needs – in terms of the roster, payroll, and overall team-building strategy. Here are my picks, with quick explanations. (Contract estimates via MLB Trade Rumors.) Let's hear yours in the comments. 1. Jurickson Profar, UTIL Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million The Twins need to add an impact player in the super-utility role vacated by Marwin González. Generally speaking, my preference would to bring in a new shortstop and slide Jorge Polanco into that role. Unless Minnesota can go and get Jurickson Profar. Functionally, he's a great match. Profar can play second base, left field, third, first, and even short in a pinch (he came up as a shortstop originally). He's a switch-hitter who doesn't strike out much. Most importantly, he seems to be in a state of ascent. The former No. 1 prospect in baseball has been a late bloomer, once considered a bust, but has improved dramatically since arriving in the majors at age 19, and is coming off a career year with the Padres. He turns 28 in February, so he could theoretically become a key part of Minnesota's prime-aged nucleus. I don't think he'll be as cheap as MLBTR projects, but would love to see the Twins land him on a multi-year deal at a similar AAV. 2. Jake Odorizzi, SP Estimated Contract: 3 years, $39 million Aside from Bauer, I'm not convinced any remaining free agent starting pitchers are better than a healthy Jake Odorizzi. That's before you account for the familiarity with a coaching staff that helped the righty unlock his potential and reach the All-Star Game. The Twins need another starting pitcher that at least matches the level of their current top three. Odorizzi checks that box, warranting a "playoff starter" designation, and he's only 30. In 2019, the Twins went 21-9 in his turns. While his 2020 was an injury-ruined mess, there's not much reason to think the health woes will carry forward. Odorizzi could be viewed as the safe and unsexy free agent addition, but I'm not sure why Twins fans would feel that way after seeing what he did two seasons ago. His upside as a borderline ace is hardly theoretical. 3. James Paxton, SP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $10 million There are several intriguing reclamation projects in the starting pitching pool, but Paxton does more for me than others. Though he missed most of 2020 with a flexor strain issue, the lefty reportedly was flashing mid-90s in a December throwing session, and for a 32-year-old his arm has relatively little mileage (750 IP in the majors). Prior to last year, Paxton was a reliable frontline starter, bringing dominant stuff from the left time. He carries his fair share of risk, as someone who's never thrown even 170 innings in a season, but for that reason buying into his potential should be relatively affordable. Plus, the last time he pitched at Target Field a freaking bald eagle landed on his shoulder. If that's not a sign that his future here is written in fate ... I dunno. https://twitter.com/Cut4/status/994026166607663104 4. Andrelton Simmons, SS Estimated Contract: 1 year, $12 million If the Twins are going to add a new starting shortstop, Simmons is easily my favorite option on the free agent market. While the buzz around Marcus Semien is not unexciting, Simmons feels like the safer bet, with a more consistent offensive track record and unparalleled defensive rep. It's hard to overstate the value of having the best fielder in the sport at the most critical position on the diamond. Simmons seems likely to accept a shorter-team deal, which is ideal for the Twins as they spend a year or two assessing what they have in Royce Lewis. 5. Nelson Cruz, DH Estimated Contract: 1 year, $16 million We all know what Nelson Cruz is capable of bringing to the table. We've seen it fully on display over the past two seasons. He has been, by some measures, the second-best hitter in baseball behind Mike Trout, and it's hard to ask for anything more in a DH and No. 3 hitter. The problem of course is that Cruz turns 41 in July and wasn't healthy down the stretch. There's no question that the veteran slugger is valuable to the Twins, both as a thunderous bat in the lineup's No. 3 spot and a cherished leader in the clubhouse. But at this point, the downsides – high regression and injury risks, combined with clogging up the DH spot on a team that could use some flexibility there – weigh heavily enough to keep him from being a top priority in my eyes. 6. Trevor Rosenthal, RP Estimated Contract: 2 years, $14 million On the one hand, it's generally unadvisable to spend big bucks on free agent relievers. On the other hand, the Twins' bullpen is running quite low on proven high-end arms, with both incumbent closer Taylor Rogers and newly signed Hansel Robles looking to bounce back from tough seasons. The loss of Trevor May and his dominant stuff will be felt in this unit, but Trevor Rosenthal could help negate it. (And not just by refilling the "Trevor" quotient.) Rosenthal is coming off a stellar campaign, in which he posted a 1.90 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. He throws in the high 90s and can touch 100. He's one of the league's top strikeout pitchers. Adding him into Minnesota's late-inning mix alongside Rogers, Robles and Tyler Duffey would be a transformative upgrade, greatly lessening the pressure on inexperienced Jorge Alcala to step up in big spots right away. I know some folks fancy Brad Hand for similar reasons, but count me out on him. He's not a great fit in this bullpen functionally to begin with, and moreover, there's something deeply concerning to me about every team in the majors passing up his one-year, $10 million commitment on waivers at a time where Liam Hendriks can score $54 million guaranteed. 7. Kirby Yates, RP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $5 million Much like starting pitching, the free agency market is teeming with interesting rebound candidates with glossy track records. If I'm putting my money on one it is Yates, who offers Hendriks-like upside if healthy and should come at something like 10% of the cost. Instead of making a drawn-out case for the former Padre, I'll simply list his 2019 stats and let you salivate at the thought of adding anything approaching his peak form to the Twins bullpen: 60.2 IP, 1.19 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 2 HR, 15.0 K/9, 1.9 BB/9. 8. José Quintana, SP Estimated Contract: 2 years, $18 million The argument for José Quintana is simple: he's a highly accomplished veteran who raises the rotation's floor. Although a lat injury and thumb laceration limited him to 10 innings in 2020, he'd previously been incredibly durable, making making 31-plus starts and totaling more than 170 innings in seven straight years. He has posted an above-average ERA+ in eight of nine MLB seasons. It's been a while since Quintana has been credibly viewed as a rotation-fronter, but the Twins don't necessarily need one. The left-hander would bring steady stability, and at age 32 a late-career renaissance doesn't seem out of the question. 9. Kiké Hernández, UTIL Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million Many words have been written on why Kiké Hernández is a nice fit for the Twins, and I won't rehash them too much. In short, his defensive versatility, ability to hit left-handed pitching, and experience on a perennial contender and reigning World Series champ all align nicely with Minnesota's circumstances. The reason I don't have him higher on this list is that I'm just not convinced Hernández is all that great of a player. His OPS+ has been lower than 90 in three of the past five seasons and he has only once posted an fWAR higher than 1.5 in the big leagues. I see him more as a fallback option if the Twins miss out on Profar, or a nice asset as the secondary utility piece, rather than being a highly desirable target to fill the Marwin role. Note that the contract estimate above is my own, since MLBTR didn't have Hernández listed. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets less. 10. Tyler Clippard, RP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $3 million Rounding out the list, another player who I see as more of a complementary fit as opposed to a primary target. It'd be disappointing if Clippard was the most prominent remaining addition to this bullpen, but it would also be a little disappointing if he isn't added. He was just so incredibly useful for the 2020 Twins, and the cost to bring him back should be negligible (this, again, is my own estimate since MLBTR didn't list him). Now that May has signed elsewhere, Clippard, Cruz and Odorizzi are the only Twins free agents that I'm particularly keen on bringing back. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. On Thursday night's episode of Offseason Live, I chatted with fellow Twins Daily writers Matthew Taylor and David Youngs about the players hitting free agency this winter. The Twins are facing the prospect of losing eight players to the market, or possibly nine, depending on what they decide to do with Sergio Romo's team option. You can watch the episode below, or scroll down for a quick overview of the nine players in question, their situations, and a key stat to keep in mind for each. Feel free to share your opinions on who should stay or go in the comments. Sergio Romo, RP 2020 Stats: 20 IP, 4.05 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 The Situation: The Twins traded for Romo at the 2019 deadline as a pending free agent, and then brought him back last winter on a one-year deal with a $5 million option for 2021. Activating that option seemed like a no-brainer midway through the season, as he was dominating with his slider and siphoning save opportunities from Taylor Rogers, but Romo faltered down the stretch and in the playoffs. He turns 38 in March, and $5 million is a pretty penny for a relief pitcher if you don't think he'll be a major asset. Declining Romo's option would give the Twins more flexibility to try and retain the following players. Key Stat: 1.03 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 in 51 appearances with Twins Alex Avila, C 2020 Stats: 62 PA, .184/.355/.286, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0.2 fWAR The Situation: The Twins tabbed Avila as Mitch Garver's backup last offseason, signing him to a one-year deal worth $4.75 million. The veteran ended up playing a fairly minor role for the Twins, accruing only 30% of PAs among catchers, and he didn't hit a lick. That said, he was reliable defensively and his .355 OBP tied for fourth-best on the team (50+ PA). If the Twins want to carry three catchers in 2021, they could do a lot worse than bringing Avila back on a cheap one-year deal. Key Stat: Started 19 of 63 games (including playoffs) for Twins and batted .184 Ehire Adrianza, UTIL 2020 Stats: 101 PA, .191/.287/.270, 0 HR, 3 RBI, -0.1 fWAR The Situation: Adrianza heads into free agency for the first time with a thud. He seemed to be shaking his rep as a no-hit utilityman over three seasons in Minnesota, posting a respectable .260/.321/.391 slash line from 2017 through 2019 and enjoying a career year in the latter (.765 OPS). But Adrianza fell apart at the plate in a 2020 season where he appeared in 44 of the team's 60 games. The 31-year-old may struggle to find a major-league league deal, though his ability to play a quality shortstop is a differentiating strength. Key Stat: Career-low .557 OPS in 2020 Marwin Gonzalez, UTIL 2020 Stats: 199 PA, .211/.286/.320, 5 HR, 22 RBI, 0.2 fWAR The Situation: Playing out the last year of his two-year, $21 million contract with the Twins, Gonzalez was an all-out disaster in 2020. Injuries forced the team to lean on him heavily – he started 51 of 60 games, and ranked fifth on the team in PAs – but he let them down in a big way, grading as one of the worst regulars in all of baseball. He turns 32 in March, has seen his OPS+ drop in three consecutive seasons, and his athleticism is rapidly declining (his sprint speed has fallen from the 39th to 27th to 20th percentile). Add in the taint of involvement with the cheating Astros, and it seems very unlikely Gonzalez will have a remotely welcoming offseason market. Key Stat: Ranked 137th out of 142 qualified MLB players in OPS in 2020 Tyler Clippard, RP 2020 Stats: 26 IP, 2.77 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 0.89 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 The Situation: Signed to a $2.75 million deal last offseason, Clippard was an unheralded hero of the Twins bullpen. He led all relievers in innings, started two games as opener, finished another, and was altogether an incredibly versatile and reliable arm. Minnesota signed him to be a weapon against lefties, and he was, but he also shut down right-handed hitters. Given the valuable role he played on this year's club, Clippard would seemingly be very appealing to the Twins (and other teams) on a similar contract. Key Stat: Held LH batters to .213 average (.479 OPS) in 2020. Held RH batters to .191 average (.607 OPS). Trevor May, RP 2020 Stats: 23.1 IP, 3.86 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 14.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 The Situation: In his career as a reliever, May has averaged 12.0 K/9 with a 3.49 ERA over 188 ⅓ innings. He's one of the best strikeout pitchers in the league, and in 2019 he set new personal records for strikeout rate, whiff rate, and fastball velocity. His proneness to home runs (five allowed in 23 ⅓ frames) was the lone blemish on a remarkably dominant season out of the bullpen. A top-tier power arm hitting his stride just as he hits free agency at 31, May is likely to be in high demand. Can the Twins afford to keep him around? ... Can they afford not to? Key Stat: His career 10.5 K/9 rate is 2nd-highest in Twins history (min. 300 IP), behind Joe Nathan Rich Hill, SP 2020 Stats: 38.2 IP, 3.03 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 The Situation: At times, it looked like Hill might not have it anymore. The Twins knew they were gambling on the left-hander, who signed an incentive-laden one-year contract coming off elbow surgery at age 40. He had his rough patches. His control worsened, his strikeout and whiff rates plummeted, and at one point his shoulder acted up. But by the time September rolled around, Hill had rounded into form, looking every bit like the gritty difference-maker of repute. Whether he can do it again, at age 41 in what figures to be a more full-length season, is very much an open question. Key Stat: In 4 September starts, posted 2.38 ERA and .190 BAA Jake Odorizzi, SP 2020 Stats: 13.2 IP, 6.59 ERA, 6.12 FIP, 7.9 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 The Situation: Returning to the Twins after accepting a qualifying offer for $17.8 million a year ago, the 2020 season was a complete wash for Odorizzi. He opened on the Injured List, and saw two attempted comebacks stymied by misfortune: first, a line drive to the ribs, and then a bloody blister opened on his finger. His ability and talent have been plain to see when healthy, but it's going to be hard for Odorizzi to command what he probably deserves coming off a lost season. If the Twins can find a sensible way to bring him back, he'd be a hell of a fourth starter. Key Stat: Holds lowest overall FIP (3.88) of any Twins SP since 2011 Nelson Cruz, DH 2020 Stats: 214 PA, .303/.397/.595, 16 HR, 33 RBI, 2.0 fWAR The Situation: He's been the Twins' best hitter for two years running, and one of the most feared hitters in the major leagues. He's also a clubhouse leader and beloved teammate, credited for helping players around him develop and mature. The thought of losing Cruz is tough, but he'll turn 41 next summer and historically, performance drop-offs have hit rapidly and without warning for players at this age. He also figures to have a fairly favorable offseason market, with the universal DH doubling his potential suitors. If the Twins have ~$30 million to spend this offseason (as our ballparked) can they afford to spend half of it on Cruz with other needs to address? Key Stat: 57 HR and 141 RBIs in 173 games with Twins Offseason Live Schedule Ep 1: (Thurs, 10/8) Ep 2: (Tues, 10/13) Ep 3: (Thurs, 10/15) Ep 4: Twins Arbitration Decisions (Tues, 10/20) Ep 5: Free Agency – Catchers & Infield (Thurs, 10/22) Ep 6: Free Agency – Outfield & DH (Tues, 10/27) Ep 7: Free Agency – Starting Pitchers (Thurs, 10/29) Ep 8: Free Agency – Relief Pitchers (Thurs, 11/5) Ep 9: Twins Trade Targets (Tues, 11/10) Ep 10: Offseason Blueprints (Thurs, 11/12) Follow us on social media to catch the live shows (they're broadcast via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube) and subscribe to our podcast to receive the audio versions of any episodes you miss. We'll also be featuring the content and embedding the videos in articles here on the site. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. Trevor May May will turn 31-years old later this month and this winter will mark his first chance to be a free agent. Over the last two seasons, he has developed into one of the team’s best and most trusted relief arms. In just over 78 innings, he’s posted a 3.22 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP and 101 strikeouts. His high leverage usage also means he is in the top-20 for win probability added among AL relief arms. It stinks that May is hitting free agency for the first time during the current financial situation. He has been one of the league’s best relievers and he deserves to be paid appropriately. Likely, this won’t happen with the way free agency is going to be approached by many front offices. Jake Odorizzi Odorizzi could have been a free agent last off-season, but he decided to take the team’s one-year qualifying offer and head back to Minnesota. He was coming off an All-Star season, so the time seemed right to hit the open market, but last year’s free agent pitching class had a lot of names ahead of Odorizzi. At the time, it seemed like a good decision for him and the Twins with the one-year deal. It would give him the chance to stay with a coaching staff he liked and to build off his 2019 campaign. Unfortunately, he and his agent didn’t have a crystal ball to see everything that would happen in 2020. MLB’s season was delayed, and this gave Odorizzi fewer opportunities to showcase his abilities. He’s also been on the injured list multiple times and he hasn’t performed well on the mound. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong and now free agency is waiting for him. Ehire Adrianza Adrianza is in an interesting spot, because his skill set is readily available on the open market. In fact, Minnesota had a similar player in Ildemaro Vargas on the roster this season before he was claimed by the Cubs. In his first three seasons with the Twins, he averaged 89 games and slashed .260/.321/.391 with decent defense at multiple infield positions. Basically, what a team would want from a utility infielder. The 2020 season hasn’t been kind to Adrianza as he has been limited to a .466 OPS with 14 strikeouts in 59 at-bats. He’s making $1.6 million this season and it seems like his role on the team could be filled by a similar player in the organization like Nick Gordon. Adrianza is a superior defender to other internal options, but his value continues to be limited and he will be 31-years old next season. He seems like a player that might be forced to take a minor league deal before forcing his way onto a big-league roster. What do you think about this free agent trio? What will their market be this winter? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Box Score Odorizzi: 3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Jake Odorizzi -0.259, Eddie Rosario -0.090, Max Kepler -0.068. Odorizzi Struggles; Leaves Early With Injury Jake Odorizzi made his third start of the year tonight and all three starts have come against the Kansas City Royals. Odorizzi ran into trouble in the first inning when he gave up a three-run home run to Jorge Soler. His defense didn’t help him much either. Sano and Vargas misplayed a pop up behind the first base bag, which allowed Whit Merrifield to score the first run of the game. In the fourth inning, Jake Odorizzi was hit in the ribs from a line drive off the bat of Alex Gordon. Odorizzi immediately dropped to all fours and was in obvious pain. He got back to his feet and attempted to stay in the game, but was eventually walked off the field by Minnesota’s head trainer, Michael Salazar. Jorge Alcala came in the game following the injury to Odorizzi and gave up a bunt single to load the bases and walked Merrifield, allowing another Kansas City run to score before recording back-to-back strikeouts against Nicky Lopez and Hunter Dozier to end the inning. Jake ended his night with a final line of 3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 K Jorge Alcala Shines in Emergency Role After struggling early upon entering in relief of the injured Odorizzi, Alcala settled down and worked quickly shutting down the Kansas City lineup. In his second inning of work, Alcala struck out the first two batters of the inning on six pitches and induced a first pitch pop up for the third out. Alcala worked a second scoreless inning in the sixth, striking out two more Royals hitters and keeping the Twins within relative striking distance. Alcala pitched a total of three innings, allowing one hit and striking out six. Also, he throws gas, which is always fun to watch. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1296986951606775809 Injuries Continue to Mount Much like many teams across the league, the 2020 Minnesota Twins have suffered their share of injuries, most notably to this point on the offensive side. Entering tonight, the Twins were without Buxton, Donaldson and Garver due to injury. The injured list got a bit more crowded tonight. As previously noted, Jake Odorizzi left the game in the fourth after being hit in the ribs by a line drive. Later in the game, Zack Littell, who entered the game in relief of Jorge Alcala, also had his night cut short due to injury. After hitting Soler on the hands, Littell signaled to the dugout for pitching coach Wes Johnson and expressed discomfort in his pitching arm. He was removed from the game and relieved by Caled Thielbar. Losing two pitchers to injury in the first game of a 10-game road trip is not an ideal situation. The No Bomba Squad The offensive woes for the 2020 Minnesota Twins have been well documented. We’re now nearly halfway through this shortened season and the lineup is still sputtering and shows very little resemblance to the powerhouse they were a year ago. Tonight was no exception. Through the first seven innings, Minnesota mustered five hits, all of which were singles, and their lone run came courtesy of a fielders’ choice groundout from Ehire Adrianza, scoring Rosario. Their first extra base hit did not come until the eighth inning when Miguel Sano doubled following a walk from Cruz, who later scored on a wild pitch. The good news is the Twins are still in first place and have another game tomorrow. Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs): Full recap coming soon ... Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Postgame Pint Nick, Rena and Nash discussed a bad night for the Twins, both because of the result and the potential injuries that the Twins Daily community witnessed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt9kFiMUGA0&feature=youtu.be Download The Postgame Pint Podcast You can also listen to the Postgame Pint and never miss another one. Just head over to our iTunes page and subscribe. Every morning you'll have a new episode waiting for you. Or listen wherever you download your favorite podcasts.
  13. Thursday’s series finale recap: It’s a Blessed Jose Berrios Day! TODAY Twins @ Royals, 7:05 pm CDT Betting Lines: MIN -180, KC +155, O/U: 9.5 Twins Starter: Jake Odorizzi, RHP 5.14 ERA Jake Odorizzi will be taking the mound for his third start of the season tonight. His first start didn’t go well, but there was good reason for that as he was coming off the injured list. His last start went better, but still not great as he went just four innings giving up two runs on three hits with six strikeouts. Today the Twins will be looking for at least five innings from Odorizzi. It’s early, but the 2019 All Star has dropped his fastball usage by 20% so far since last season. That was his best pitch a year ago so maybe this is just a case of a small sample size not proving anything, but it is certainly odd that he would drop by that much. He is throwing his split finger, changeup, and curveball all at an increased rate so far. Royals Starter: Danny Duffy, LHP 4.44 ERA Danny Duffy, the Royals 2020 Opening Day starter, will be making his sixth start of the season. He has had a pretty solid start to his campaign with a 4.44 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 28 strikeouts in 24.0 innings. This is already his tenth season in the majors and all of them have been in Kansas City. The Twins have seen him a lot, and maybe today they can get him early. Duffy started in game two of the recent double header between these two teams and did very well. He threw five innings of one run ball while allowing just two hits and striking out eight. The lone run came on a sacrifice fly from Marwin Gonzalez to drive in Jorge Polanco. The Twins will have a few new faces since that series so maybe things will go differently. Twins Lineup: Interesting lineup for the Twins today: https://twitter.com/dailyrotonews/status/1296871954855743491 News & Notes: - Ryan Jeffers made his MLB debut last night and looked great. He went two for three and drove in a run in his first MLB at bat. He was also behind the plate for Berrios’ best start of 2020. -It was great to see Jose Berrios on his game yesterday. It was the best we have seen him all season and the Twins will need him to continue to look like that all year. -The Padres are the most fun team in baseball. Last night they had a grand slam for the fourth night in a row and they all came against the Texas Rangers who are known for hating fun. - The AL Central is going to be tight. The Royals and Tigers are at the bottom as expected but the White Sox and Indians are right behind the Twins. Cleveland has won six in a row and Chicago has won five, keeping both teams near the top. AROUND THE AL CENTRAL: -White Sox 9, Tigers 0 -Indians 2, Pirates 0 1. MIN 17-9 (-) 2. CLE 16-9 (0.5 GB) 3. CWS 15-11 (2.0 GB 4. KCR 10-15 (6.5 GB) 5. DET 9-14 (6.5 GB) See Also: Precious Child Thanks Rich Hill for New, Fun Words Jeffers Shines in Big League Debut The One PLayer Minnesota Shouldn’t Trade for MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. Jose Berrios Berrios started the second game of the doubleheader over the weekend and his continued struggles have been well documented at this site. His velocity is up this season with his fastball averaging 94.5 mph in 2020 compared to 93.1 mph last year. But even with the increase in velocity, batters are posting a .414 BA and a .931 OPS when seeing his fastball. Over his last 71 1/3 innings dating back one year ago, Berrios has a 5.30 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP. This isn’t exactly what you want from a number one pitcher. He certainly has the make-up to be a top-tier starter, but the results haven’t been there. Kenta Maeda Since joining the Twins, Maeda has been a breath of fresh air for the starting staff. One of the biggest changes he has made is relying on his off-speed offerings more heavily. Last season, he used his fastball 33.7% of the time and this year he is only using it 19.3% of the time. Batters have only posted a .196 WOBA against him and that ranks in the top-10% in the league. He doesn’t overpower batters, but his off-speed offerings make it tough to make hard contact as his hard hit % ranks in the 81st percentile among MLB pitchers. Every time he pitches, he puts the Twins in position to win and that’s what you want at the top of a team’s rotation. Randy Dobnak Dobnak has been more than a feel-good story for the Twins over the last year and the results are getting hard to ignore. He doesn’t rank highly in any Statcast metric, but he goes out there and makes the other team get themselves in trouble. https://twitter.com/CoopCarlson/status/1295007700221337601?s=20 His strategy is simple. Throw sinkers early in the count to get groundballs and his coaxed grounders in 2/3rds of his at-bats this season. Dobnak doesn’t have the characteristics of a typical ace. He doesn’t get strikeouts, he was never a top prospect, and he had to fight to make the team’s rotation. Now it’s hard to imagine where the Twins would be without him over the last two seasons. Jake Odorizzi Minnesota got off to a terrific start last season and Odorizzi’s performance went a long way in helping the team to their early success. He posted a 3.15 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP and 96 strikeouts in 88 2/3 inning as he was selected for his first All-Star team. He’ll hit the free agent market at season’s end, so it will be imperative for him to show his value in his remaining starts. Following a year with little revenue, teams aren’t going to be throwing around large contracts. Odorizzi still has something to pitch for this season and maybe that’s enough to get an ace level performance from him. Rich Hill Hill came to Minnesota because he believes this team can win a World Series. Even as a 40-year old, Hill might be the team’s best starter and his playoff experience certainly helps to push that narrative forward. The Twins have a little over a month to keep Hill as healthy as possible so he can help the team for however long they are in the postseason. Like many of the names on this list, Hill doesn’t fit the traditional mold of an ace pitcher, but he still might be the arm the Twins turn to in Game 1 of the playoffs. Who do you think is the Twins’ ace? Who would you have start Game 1 of the playoffs? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. The Twins are nearly guaranteed a playoff in MLB’s restructured playoff format. It would take a massive collapse over the rest of the season for the Twins to finish out of the playoff picture. That being said, Minnesota needs to get healthy and be playing well over the course of the next month. Here’s how the Twins rank in relation to their current injury concerns: 5. Homer Bailey, RHP Injury: Biceps Bailey hasn’t pitched over 200 innings since the 2013 campaign as he has dealt with a multitude of injuries. He rebounded last year to post a 4.57 ERA and a 149 to 53 strike out to walk ratio in 163 1/3 innings. As of this weekend, Rocco Baldelli told reporters that Bailey hadn’t resumed throwing. Even with these concerns, Bailey was always going to be penciled in near the back of the Twins rotation. Luckily, Randy Dobnak’s continued success has made it easier to handle Bailey’s absence from the rotation. 4. Jake Odorizzi, RHP Injury: Back Strain Odorizzi made his first start of the season over the weekend and he allowed two earned runs on four hits over three innings. Back injuries can be tricky and it’s certainly easy for them to flare up with little to no notice. Odorizzi will be a free agent at season’s end so he is going to want to prove his value on the field this season. He has already missed multiple starts this season and it will be tough for him to prove his value if his back flares up. 3. Rich Hill, LHP Injury: Shoulder Hill hasn’t been a workhorse in his career as he has only pitch more than 140 innings once in his career. However, he has been one of baseball’s best pitchers when he has been able to be on the mound and he has made 12 postseason starts. Even if he misses multiple starts, Hill might be able to come back and be a strong pitcher down the stretch and help the Twins to win in October. He turned 40 back in March and any injury at his age is a concern. 2. Luis Arraez, 2B Injury: Knee So far this season, Arraez clearly hasn’t been himself at the plate as he is hitting .233/.320/.256 (.576) with one extra-base hit. He left one of the team’s intersquad when his knee was bothering him. He missed two games at the end of last week, but he was back in the line-up over the weekend. Arraez and others talked about the possibility of him hitting .400 this season, but the Twins would likely be happy with him getting closer to where he was hitting in his rookie season. This seems like an injury that could be nagging throughout the season even if he continues to play. 1. Josh Donaldson, 3B Injury: Calf Dondaldson has a history of calf injuries and this might have been one of the reasons more teams weren’t interested in his services on the free agent market. Minnesota was well aware of his previous injury history when they signed him, but that’s the risk a team takes when signing a player his age to a multi-year contract. Donaldson knows his body well and his routines include preparing his calves to be ready for the riggers of the season. The Twins need him ready for the end of September and the team’s possible postseason run. Which injury concerns you the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. Weekly Snapshot: Fri, 7/24 through Sun, 7/26 *** Record Last Week: 2-1 (Overall: 2-1) Run Differential Last Week: +10 (Overall: +10) Standing: Tied for 1st Place in AL Central Bomba Counter: 7 (On Pace for 140) Not everything went to plan for Minnesota in the opening series. Jake Odorizzi was originally expected to start for the Twins in Chicago, and then Rich Hill was, but both pitchers ended up getting pushed back. Byron Buxton missed all three games as his sprained foot heals, though it sounds like there's optimism he'll be out there for the first homestand. Even though they weren't quite at full strength, the Twins still looked plenty strong at Guaranteed Rate Field, taking two of three from the White Sox to kick off their quest for a second straight division title. HIGHLIGHTS The Bomba Squad wasted no time getting back to business, with Max Kepler launching a home run on the first pitch of the season from Lucas Giolito. It sparked a 10-run, 11-hit barrage in Minnesota's 10-5 Opening Day victory over the Sox. Kepler homered again in his next at-bat, and has gone 0-for-12 since. Baseball. Leading the charge in a tremendous series for the Twins was Nelson Cruz, who had himself a hell of a weekend at Guaranteed Rate Field: 7-for-13, three home runs, two doubles, 10 RBIs. If the ageless wonder can stay healthy for the full 60-game sprint, this offense's upside feels almost limitless. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1287505761749409797 While Cruz is a bona fide superstar, the offense's depth and length are what makes it truly special. We saw these strengths come into play already during the first series. Luis Arráez, who batted ninth and seventh in the two games he started, went 4-for-8, delivering a key two-run single in the opener. Jake Cave, who stepped in to make two starts with Buxton unavailable, also had a big two-run hit in the opener, and launched a first-inning grand slam on Sunday that set the tone in 14-2 a laugher. The White Sox pitching staff has already experienced what plenty of others are going to: Facing this relentless Twins lineup is a daunting and draining task. Sunday's 14-run explosion provided plenty of breathing room for Kenta Maeda in his Twins debut, and for his part, the right-hander made things look easy. While Cruz controlled the offense, Maeda went on cruise control, coasting through five innings of two-run ball with six strikeouts, one walk, and four hits. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1287458818423754754 He was one of several players to make their first appearances as Twins over the weekend, and for the most part, all made good first impressions. Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless frame on Friday night, combining with Trevor May, Tyler Duffey and Cody Stashak for five innings of shutout ball from the bullpen. Offseason waiver pickup Matt Wisler is the only Twins pitcher with two appearances thus far, and he's looked filthy: 2.1 IP, two hits, six strikeouts, and 13 swinging strikes on 63 pitches (20.6% whiff rate). The bullpen overall has piled up 19 strikeouts through its first 13 innings of work. And Taylor Rogers hasn't pitched yet. When they come to Target Field to open a two-game series against the Cardinals on Tuesday, the Twins will carry a well-stocked and well-rested relief corps. LOWLIGHTS Not everyone on the Twins saw their season get off to such a smooth start, in large part because Chicago's lineup showed its prowess. They gave José Berríos plenty of trouble on Opening Day, touching him up for five runs on seven hits over four innings. Berríos got just one strikeout and seven swinging strikes on 75 pitches. There didn't seem to be anything wrong with him physically – in fact, his velocity was noticeably up, with his fastball sitting comfortably in the mid-90s touching 97 several times, but the command just wasn't quite there. https://twitter.com/jeffwzimmerman/status/1287002032927375360 It could be construed as a sign that Berríos might've been a little TOO amped up for this highly anticipated start. The righty sacrificed spin for heat and it didn't seem to benefit him as Chicago hitters were on a number of his pitches. He's in line to open a crucial early-season series against Cleveland on Thursday, so hopefully adjustments are made. Count Zack Littell and Devin Smeltzer among other Twins pitchers who didn't have much fun against the Chicago lineup. Saturday's contest spun out of control under their watch. Littell entered in the fifth inning of a one-run game, and allowed home runs to three of the seven batters he faced, with four earned runs coming across in total. In a 60-game season, Littell's implosion will make it extremely tough for him to get his ERA (currently 36.00) to a good place before the finish line. Then again, it bears noting that last year he allowed eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in his second appearance for the Twins, then posted a 0.88 ERA the rest of the way. After Cruz brought the game back within reach on his three-run homer, Smeltzer came in and promptly pushed it back out of reach. In two innings the left-hander allowed five runs on six hits, including two more homers. Smeltzer's outing wasn't quite as bad as it looks on paper – his reworked breaking ball showed some promise, and five of his six outs came on strikeouts – but he looks very much like a work in progress. In such a short season, it can be tough to rely on someone like that. While the offense is mostly clicking out of the gates, Miguel Sanó is still searching for his first hit of the season. He was behind in Spring Training 2.0 after reporting late due to a positive COVID test, and the rust was evident on Friday and Saturday as he went 0-for-8 with four strikeouts. The quality of at-bats has not been good. Sanó got the day off on Sunday but will surely be out there for the home opener. Fellow corner infielder Josh Donaldson was mostly quiet in his first series as a Twin, going just 1-for-10 with an infield single representing the extent of his damage. But on the bright side, he drew four walks, showing the value he can bring beyond slugging, and the Twins scored 27 runs even without getting much of anything from him. Imagine when he heats up. TRENDING STORYLINE When will Odorizzi pitch? His first turn through the rotation is being skipped due to back soreness. He'll face live hitters within the next couple days, and it sounds like the Twins will assess his timeline based on how that goes. https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1287437187902996481 The team has never signaled much concern regarding Odorizzi's status. If things go well in the BP session, he could conceivably start the first game against Cleveland on Thursday, though it's more likely he'd go sometime during the weekend. Then again, as Cody Pirkl wrote here recently, we are wise not to downplay this reportedly "minor" issue because back injuries can be very tricky for pitchers and Odorizzi has a history with them. The 2019 All-Star is a critical piece for this rotation. We'll be keeping a close eye on his health updates. LOOKING AHEAD Two more Twins debuts are on tap in the home-opening series against St. Louis, with Homer Bailey and Hill slated to start for Minnesota. It'll be interesting to see how they fare against Paul Goldschmidt and a pretty good Cards team. Then, the top presumptive challengers in the division come to town, with Cleveland coming for four games. It's tough to overstate the magnitude of this home series for the Twins. A sweep either way would be a seismic development in the division race. This series will feature pennant-race-intensity baseball, played a week into the season before an empty stadium. Gonna be weird. TUESDAY, 7/28: CARDINALS @ TWINS – RHP Homer Bailey v. RHP Carlos Martinez WEDNESDAY, 7/29: CARDINALS @ TWINS – LHP Rich Hill v. RHP Miles Mikolas THURSDAY, 7/30: INDIANS @ TWINS FRIDAY, 7/31: INDIANS @ TWINS SATURDAY, 8/1: INDIANS @ TWINS SUNDAY, 8/2: INDIANS @ TWINS Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 1 | MIN 10, CHW 5: Kepler Blasts 2 Bombas, Twins Outlast White Sox Game 2 | CHW 10, MIN 3: White Sox Hit 5 Homers Off Twins Bullpen Game 3 | MIN 14, CHW 2: Lineup Flexes Early to Aid Maeda in Victorious Twins Debut MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. Like many managers, Rocco Baldelli isn’t always forthcoming with specific information in relation to the strategies his team is employing. However, a picture of Minnesota’s rotational strategy seems to be emerging from the information available. https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1282477071038648321?s=20 Starters won’t likely be able to pitch late into games when the season starts, so pairing pitchers makes strategical sense. Let’s examine the team’s potential pitcher pairings. RHP Jose Berrios/RHP Randy Dobnak Jose Berrios had already been named the team’s Opening Day starter back in spring training, so it makes sense for him to get that opportunity when the shortened season commences. Randy Dobnak was fighting for a rotation spot in the spring, but his pairing with Berrios is intriguing. He surprised a lot of people last season as he pitched at three different minor league levels before making his debut. Berrios and Dobnak were two of the team’s starters during last season’s playoff series with New York and they could help the team get off to a strong start. RHP Jake Odorizzi/LHP Lewis Thorpe Jake Odorizzi accepted the Twins’ qualifying offer this winter and now he has fewer games to prove he is worth a potential long-term deal. There was a lot of buzz surrounding Lewis Thorpe back in spring training, but he left to deal with some personal matters and was eventually sent to minor league camp. With those issues behind him, he has a good chance to be back on the pitching staff. Odorizzi, a right-handed pitcher, and Thorpe, a left-handed pitcher, could make it tougher for opposing teams to create an optimal batting order. RHP Kenta Maeda/LHP Devin Smeltzer Kenta Maeda, Minnesota’s big off-season trade acquisition, has something to prove as a starter after being used as a starter and reliever with the Dodgers. Like Maeda, Devin Smeltzer started his professional career in the Dodgers organization. Smeltzer found success last season even though his pitching repertoire would hardly be called overpowering. He relies on a fastball that ranks in the 6th percentile for velocity and in the 86th percentile for spin. As with Odorizzi and Thorpe, this pairing gives the Twins another righty-lefty pitching combo. LHP Rich Hill/RHP Homer Bailey Following off-season surgery, Rich Hill wasn’t scheduled to be available to start the season. However, the delayed start means he’s ready to join the rotation. A shortened season might be just what the doctor ordered for Hill. He turned 40-years old in March and he’s averaged less than 110 innings pitched over the last four seasons. Over that stretch, he has a 3.00 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and 10.6 SO/9. Homer Bailey is coming off a bounce-back season where he had a 4.57 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP over 163 1/3 innings. Together, they would comprise the team’s third right- and left-handed duo. RHP Jhoulys Chacin/RHP Sean Poppen Both Jhoulys Chacin and Sean Poppen were on the outskirts of the team’s original rotation plans, but expanded rosters to start the season allow for alterations. Chacin struggled last season in Milwaukee and Boston by posting an ERA north of 6.00. From 2015-2018, he posted a 3.97 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP, so he could be a good candidate to bounce-back in 2020. Poppen was the Twins 19th round pick back in 2016. Last season he made his big-league debut, but most of his innings came at Double- and Triple-A. Across 20 minor league appearances, he had a 4.01 ERA with a 10.7 K/9. Minnesota’s two-starter strategy could be key for the team getting off to a good start going into a shortened season where the Twins already have a great chance to win their first championship since 1991, according to the World Series odds we found at SBD. What do you think about this potential strategy? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  18. Projected Rotation: Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey, Jhoulys Chacin Depth: Michael Pineda, Rich Hill, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe Prospects: Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Blayne Enlow THE GOOD The Twins will be at least three-deep with upper-tier starters out of the gates. Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi were All-Stars last year and both ranked among MLB's top 20 starting pitchers in fWAR. Kenta Maeda has a track record as one of the game's premium strikeout pitchers, and was a longtime cog for the always-dominant Dodgers. These are thoroughbreds, and Minnesota's sophisticated coaching infrastructure increases the likelihood of optimal output. As much as folks want to treat last year's rotation as a crippling weak point that doomed the Twins in October, their starters were collectively respectable in 2019. They ranked seventh among MLB teams in fWAR, 11th in ERA, and eighth in FIP. Those numbers were dragged down significantly by Martin Perez and his 4.99 ERA in 29 starts. He's gone, and it's tough to imagine any replacement coming close to his level of ineffectiveness. Kyle Gibson too was a liability down the stretch, diminished by his physical ailment, and he also has moved on. Tentatively slated to replace them in the back half of the rotation are veteran free agent signings Homer Bailey and Jhoulys Chacin. Each one brings a certain element of intrigue: Bailey made major strides late last year with a weaponized splitter, and Chacin has a better career ERA+ than Berrios, Odorizzi and Maeda. That said, the Twins are not beholden to either back-end option, least of all Chacin with his non-guaranteed contract. There are plenty of capable arms vying to take their places, not counting the eventual arrivals of front-end talents in Michael Pineda and Rich Hill. Randy Dobnak pitched exceedingly well as a rookie during the stretch run last year, and made a start in the playoffs. Devin Smeltzer posted a 3.86 ERA over 49 innings, looking very much up to the task as a fill-in. Lewis Thorpe offers the most upside of the three and flashed big strikeout stuff during a bumpy debut. Then you've got top prospects Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran, who are both nearing the point of a potential call-up. I can't ever remember a time where the Twins were this deep on quality options. Even back in the glory days, when boasting one of the league's top overall rotations led by Johan Santana, Minnesota always seemed to have blatant weakness on the back end, with a lack of high-caliber reinforcements to step in. Obviously nothing is guaranteed with the likes of Bailey, or Chacin, or the various mostly-untested minor leaguers, but there are a lot of quality options in this mix, providing the Twins with plentiful contingencies in the inevitability of health and performance setbacks. THE BAD The Twins might now have more depth than those classic Santana-led rotations, but they what they don't have is a Santana. Minnesota has won two of its 21 postseason contests dating back to 2003, and both of those games were started by Johan, underscoring the vital importance of a shutdown No. 1 starter. It's not clear the Twins have one. It's also not clear they don't; Berrios and Odorizzi both bordered on that designation in 2019, and neither has turned 30 yet. Maeda has frequently been dominant on the big stage, and has qualities that put him into the potential ace discussion. Hill has put up stellar numbers when on the mound. Berrios in particular is interesting. He's still only 25. He and the team are fully focused on making the transition from excellent to elite, which would require a sturdier second half. One wonders how a shortened season might affect a pitcher who owned a 2.80 ERA through the end of July last year. But, unless and until such a fortuitous development takes place, the Twins are plainly lacking a prototypical ace to match their contending counterparts in New York and Houston. This may not greatly hinder them in their goal of winning the division, but it's certainly a hurdle for getting over the hump in October (November, December... what have you). THE BOTTOM LINE The Twins have put themselves in very good position with starting pitching. They brought back key pieces from last year's group by re-signing Odorizzi and Pineda, added veteran depth with Bailey and Chacin, placed an exciting wild card in the deck with Hill, and found their impact pitching in the form of Maeda. This plan might not live up to the hopes of those who clamored for the acquisition of a clear-cut No. 1 via trade or free agency, but such assets are in short supply, and Minnesota's front office did a helluva job improvising. This is the deepest Twins starting pitching corps I can ever remember, complete with legitimate upside and high-caliber reinforcements. It's well crafted to support an elite offense and propel the team where it needs to go – especially if the rotation's burden is lessened by a robust bullpen that carries much of the load. ~~~ Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Catcher Twins 2020 Position Analysis: First Base Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Second Base Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Third Base Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Shortstop Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Left Field Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Center Field Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Right Field Twins 2020 Position Analysis: Designated Hitter MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. Jack Morris was the pick for Tom Kelly in this one while Rocco Baldelli turned to Jake Odorizzi. Although Odo gave up five runs (four earned) and failed to make it out of the 5th, that bested the effort from Morris who gave up five and departed in the third. It was a multi-arm approach for TK’s club the rest of the way while Baldelli needed to rely upon only curveball master Ryne Harper, and a surprising appearance from Gabriel Moya. The World Series winning 1991 club tallied the first run when Kirby Puckett raced home from second base on a Chili Davis single to center. Baldelli’s group evened the score in the bottom half when Cruz notched his first RBI of the day, scoring Jorge Polanco on a double. Things remained status quo in the second, and a single run in the top half of the third inning paved way for the original dam to break. A four spot was hung by the Bomba Squad on a pair of two-run dingers from Cruz and Max Kepler. Now with a three-run lead, the newer generation needed to lock things down. That lead would hold until the 5th, at which point the World Series winners hung a crooked number of their own. Chuck Knoblauch stepped in with Greg Gagne at second following a successful steal attempt. He brought him home on a single, and then hulking Minnesota first basemen Kent Hrbek served up some tater salad of his own. The two-run blast put the 1991 club back out in front, this time by a score of 6-5. After drawing back even in the bottom of the 5th, the Bomba Squad was ready to put some distance between them and their opponent. Eddie Rosario scampered home on a wild pitch before Luis Arraez drove in C.J. Cron with a single. Then, bases still chucked, Nelson Cruz stepped to the plate. He blasted his second dinger of the day, this one of the grand variety, to punctuate a six-run rally. Miguel Sano would put a stamp on the inning following a Kepler triple with a ground out to drive him in. When the dust had settled the new score read 2019 Twins 13, 1991 Twins 5. Both teams took a breather in the seventh for just the third scoreless frame of the day. In the 8th however, the 1991 club looked to make it a game again. Davis was looking to make another mark on the action, and he delivered following up a Hrbek single with a two-run shot of his own. Still looking up at their opponents, the runs scratched away making it 13-7. As if the six-run lead wasn’t good enough, Baldelli wanted to make sure his guys kept the gas pedal down. Rosario lifted a solo shot to double up the 1991 squad and send things to the 9th. With such a commanding lead Rocco allowed Moya to trot back out for the final frame after giving up two in the 8th. He promptly plunked Gene Larkin but then bounced back getting Gagne to ground into a 3-6-3 double play. Mike Pagliarulo popped out to right for the final out and this one was over. Target Field fans were sent home happy and will see a Game 6 in the series. Still needing to take another with hopes of evening the series and forcing a decisive game seven, this was the type of performance Rocco Baldelli had to have hoped for from his guys. Nelson Cruz played the leadership role in a big way tonight, and the momentum may be swapping sides. You can find the box score and pitch-by-pitch results for Game One attached below. If you would like to learn more about Out of the Park Baseball 21, please click on this link. If you would like to try it, you can also download it for 10% off the regular price using the code TWINSDAILY. You may also want to read the recaps for: Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 MLB Box Score, Minnesota 2019 Twins at Minnesota 1991 Twins Game 5.pdf Twins series Game 5 Game Log.pdf
  20. “The crowd was crazy,” said 2019 starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. “I played in Tampa Bay, so this was pretty much the polar opposite of that. Not that it bothered me. What bothered me was Herbie. You have to tip your hat to him.” Hrbek had plenty of opportunities to tip his own hat to the 55,426 full-throated fans, most notably after a third inning grand slam put the 1991 Twins up 8-0. “Right place, right time,” laughed Hrbek. Getting Hrbek into the right place at the right time involved juggling the lineup. With Dan Gladden out tonight with an undisclosed leg injury, Kelly shifted some players around – and raised some eyebrows. Kent Hrbek batting second instead of his traditional cleanup spot? What is this? 2020? “We might know a few things in 1991,” smirked Kelly. Like maybe he wanted his best left-handed hitter getting to face the right-handed Odorizzi a few extra times? “Maybe that,” deadpanned Kelly. “Herbie can swing the bat. He can hit anywhere in the lineup.” Last night it could not have worked better. By the time the third inning had ended, Hrbek had three hits, two home runs, six RBI and had scored three runs. He had the first hit of the game - a single - in the first inning and came around to score on a Chili Davis single. In the second inning he blasted a line drive over the left field wall that also brought home Mike Pagliarulo and stretched the lead to 4-0. The big blow came in the third inning. Odorizzi, who struggled with his control the entire night, started the inning by walking Brian Harper and Gene Larkin. After striking out Greg Gagne, he also walked Pagliarulo, loading the bases. That ended his night. Still, the 2019 Twins nearly escaped. Ryne Harper was brought in to face the top of the order and struck out Chuck Knoblauch on three pitches. That brought up the second spot in the order….and Hrbek? “No, I don’t remember ever hitting second, or at least not starting a game there,” Hrbek said when asked about his spot in the order. “Maybe as a pinch-hitter?” But he was there last night, with the bases loaded, two outs, and a chance to turn this first game of the series into a laugher. Turn he did, on a 1-1 pitch, lifting a majestic fly ball over the baggy in right-center field. The party in the Metrodome stands began. It was a little different in the 2019 Twins dugout. “I have never heard sound like that in my life,” said Odorizzi. While he said the crowd noise didn’t bother him, Odorizzi never did get on track. He didn’t give up the backbreaking second home run, but he kept setting the table with walks while falling behind in the count. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings and walked six. He also gave up five hits while striking out two. The first seven runs of the game were charged to him. The early fireworks paved the way for, and overshadowed, a gem by 1991 starting pitcher Keven Tapani. Tapani nearly pitched a complete-game shutout. After striking out the first two batters in the ninth inning, a ground ball to second base should’ve ended his night. But Hrbek dropped a throw from Knoblauch, allowing Jorge Polanco to reach. Luis Arraez followed that with a double, bringing Tapani to 101 pitches and ending his night before the final out. "We'll need to turn to him again soon," said Kelly. David West came in and got the final out, but only after giving up a three-run bomb to Nelson Cruz that provided a little balm to an otherwise shell-shocked 2019 Twins squad. They’ll attempt to rebound tomorrow night with their ace Jose Berrios on the mound. But the 1991 Twins will have their own ace, Jack Morris, attempt to put them up 2-0 before they travel across downtown to Target Field for Game 3. You can find the boxscore and pitch-by-pitch results for Game One attached below. If you would like to learn more about Out of the Park 21, please click on this link. If you would like to try it, you can also download it for 10% off the regular price using the code TWINSDAILY. MLB Box Score, Minnesota 2019 Twins at Minnesota 1991 Twins Game 1.pdf Minnesota 2019 Twins @ Minnesota 1991 Twins Game Log Game 1.pdf
  21. I feel for each of these guys, who will be dealing with shutdown disruption at critical junctures. Nelson Cruz, DH The veteran slugger's 40th birthday, July 1st, is a pretty reasonable over-under at this point for Opening Day – if not a tad optimistic. He looked incredibly good last year, giving no warning of imminent decline, but his age puts him up against the clock. This delay will remove a significant portion of the remaining games Cruz has left in the tank. And given how brilliantly he's still playing (including this spring, where he mashed three homers and two doubles in 23 at-bats), that's a shame. Trevor May, RHP It's been a long journey for May. He was a fourth-round pick of the Phillies in 2008, traded to Minnesota in 2012. He debuted in the majors in 2014 as a starter, transitioned fully to relief in 2016, then lost basically two full seasons to Tommy John surgery. Last year, at age 29, May finally broke through, posting a stellar 2.94 ERA and 11.1 K/9 rate as one of the team's highest-leverage relievers. This included a 1.38 ERA in 23 appearances between August and September. May was carrying a full head of steam into the biggest season of his career, with free agency coming at the end. Due to his ill-timed elbow injury and role-switching, the right-hander has burnt through most of his team service time without truly establishing himself, in spite of his immense talent, dedication, and intelligence. That's why he finds himself looking ahead to the open market already, with fewer than 300 total MLB innings. He's yet to earn a salary over $1 million. The 2020 season represented a huge opportunity for May to make his case on a big stage. And yes, that opportunity should still be awaiting him whenever baseball resumes. But I sure would've liked to see him ride all that built-up momentum. After putting it all together at long last, being forced to wait has gotta be especially painful for him. Rich Hill, LHP One might argue that Hill actually stands to be the beneficiary of a suspended season. He wasn't expected back until June at least, so a months-late start could make him available for the Twins from the jump. And should the season get extended later into the year to include more games, it's possible the Twins could get more starts from Hill than they ever expected upon signing him. It's possible. But any theoretical notion of Hill joining the club midseason, in classic form, was always steeped in hopeful optimism. The reason he and his immaculate track record were available to the Twins at such a fine value is that Hill is a longshot. He turned 40 a week ago and is trying to come back from rarely utilized elbow surgery. In a situation like this, you need a lot to go right. Like all players, Hill will have to deal with the auxiliary impacts of a total league shutdown, including the loss of access to his team's world-class trainers, equipment, and rehab regimens. The southpaw will certainly stick to his own program but there's no replacement for the steady, organized ramp-up process with assorted milestones and benchmarks. If the entire season is lost, this could very well be it for Hill's career. Jake Odorizzi, RHP Much like May, Odorizzi is heading into a pivotal year. In accepting Minnesota's qualifying offer, he opted to bypass a multi-year contract in favor of the short-term payday. Coming off an All-Star campaign, he was set to make $17.8 million and then hit the open market. Now, his plan is in flux. In a shortened season, would players receive prorated salaries? It stands to reason. And in such a scenario, Odorizzi's perfectly logical gamble stands to backfire. He wouldn't earn the full 2020 figure that enticed him, and he would end up auditioning for his next contract in a weird, partial campaign. Maybe that's not how it plays out. Hopefully baseball can find a way to ease the relative burdens for players in such tough positions. While these examples all obviously pale in comparison to the thousands of less-wealthy individuals who work at ballparks and fill their stands, there's an unmistakable difference between a player in Josh Donaldson's position of total security, and one in Odorizzi's. Not to mention a fringe player trying to seize what might be his biggest chance. Randy Dobnak, RHP His 2019 season was one of the best real-life underdog stories in memory, and there was more to Dobnak than just a fun narrative. He pitched extremely well, displaying poise and precision beyond his years. From undrafted independent-leaguer to ALDS starter, the right-hander is on a journey like no other. He was set to continue it under favorable circumstances this spring. A spot in the Twins rotation was for the taking, and his case was strong coming off a dazzling debut. But a delayed start shifts those circumstances. Suddenly, the starting corps could become crowded much more quickly, with Hill and even Michael Pineda potentially entering the fold sooner, and no injuries to open up spots. Minnesota's 2020 roster was meticulously built for the rigors of a 162-game season, loaded with depth and contingencies. A shortening of the season wouldn't negate this strength, but it would be costly for players like Dobnak on the fringes. Everyone knows how difficult it is to carve out a niche at the highest level of this game. Hard-working young men who are at the apex of their opportunities will lose time they can't get back. That's just one of many harsh realities rippling from this occurrence. But to look on the bright side, baseball will be back eventually. And when that happens, so many of its players – these five especially – will be poised for inspiring tales of perseverance and success in the face of adversity. I can't wait to write about them.
  22. Ehire Adrianza Adrianza has been part of three different organization and gotten claimed off waivers multiple times, but he has never been a free agent. He provides an interesting case, because he has mostly served a role player during his Twins tenure. In three seasons in Minnesota he has hit .260/.321/.391 (.711) while averaging 89 games played. His 2018 season might give the best glimpse of how he could produce if he was an everyday player. Adrianza was given the opportunity to man shortstop while Jorge Polanco started the year suspended. He played in 114 games that season and compiled a .680 OPS and this included playing over 750 innings at shortstop and third base. He could possibly serve as an everyday player on a club, but he would need an opportunity to prove himself this season. It would take an injury to Polanco for Adrianza to play every day and the Twins certainly don’t want that to happen. Trevor May May’s transition from starter to reliever came with some growing pains, but he has turned into one of the team’s best late-inning options. Something clicked for him when he came back from Tommy John surgery back in 2018. Since that time, he has held opponents to a .195 average with a terrific 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Outside of Taylor Rogers, May might be Minnesota’s best relief option and that’s saying a lot with the current make-up of the bullpen. He should see plenty of time late in games this year and it will be interesting to see if Rocco Baldelli continues to use him in a similar fashion. He was only used for more than an inning in 10 of his appearances last season. Could that change in 2020? If May continues to pitch like he has over the last two seasons, there’s a chance a team would want to add him as a potential closer, even if the closer role continues to evolve. That could lead to an even bigger payday for the 30-year old free agent-to-be. Jake Odorizzi Odorizzi bet on himself this season by accepting the Twins' one-year qualifying offer. Granted the $17.8 million one-year deal is more money than he has made in his entire career, but now he knows he will be a free agent next winter. He might have been kicking himself for accepting the offer after seeing the contracts being handed out to other starters on the open market. He made his first All-Star team this past season on the heels of a first half where he posted a 3.15 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP. Opponents hit only .214/.285/.335 (.620) against him and he had 96 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings pitched. The second half didn’t go nearly as well as batters' OPS rose 111 points. He finished the year by starting Game 3 of the ALDS by allowed two earned runs on five hits over five innings. In an offensive environment like 2019, Odorizzi’s first half is certainly impressive. If he can put together a full season like he did last year then he will be looking at a handsome free agent contract next winter and this time it will be a multi-year deal. Which player has the most to prove this season? Who will score big next off-season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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