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  1. Last season the front office decided against extending Berrios and flipped him to the Toronto Blue Jays for Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson. Getting two-top 100 prospects for a guy under team control for just one more year was an excellent come-up for Minnesota. If they had decided against paying him, that level of return is certainly a welcomed one. They had to replace Berrios, though. Going back to 2019, Berrios owns a 3.66 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9. He’d put up dominant outings at times and then see late-season slides. Home runs got him every once in a while, but he was every bit a staff ace for Minnesota. After passing on virtually all of the free-agent starting pitching market, they found something of a clone. Looking back to 2019 for Gray, the Reds hurler owns a 3.49 ERA, 10.6 K/9, and 3.5 BB/9. It's almost as if the Twins had determined they had a "type" when it comes to a frontline starter. Minnesota had squeezed more out of Berrios under pitching coach Wes Johnson, and while Grady is older, it's not crazy to think they may be able to teach him some new tricks. Gray exits a Reds team looking to tear everything down, and he also has the benefit of escaping a hitters paradise in Cincinnati. Berrios is the slightly harder thrower of the two, averaging 94 mph on his fastball. Gray has seen diminished velocity as he ages but still sits at 92.6 mph. Gray gives up less hard contact, but we’re splitting hairs on the differences between the two when it comes to whiff rates as well as CSW% (Called+Swinging Strike Percentage). Looking at each of their Statcast profiles from 2021, it’s actually Gray that sees the scales tilted his way when diving into more analytically based outputs. Another interesting note on Gray is that while he has seen diminished velocity, his stuff ranks extremely well. Highlighted multiple times by Rob Friedman's Pitching Ninja account, and noted in a tweet by The Athletic's Eno Sarris, there's more to pitching than simply pumping velocity. For Gray, as the fastball might have dipped, he's added substantial shape through movement to his pitches. In attempting to keep batters off balance Gray has worked on crafting pitches that miss bats. Although Minnesota's Johnson is seen as a velocity guru, it's the analytical additions to pitching development that have pushed guys to get more from their overall repertoire. Gray will have a whole new pool of information to work with. At the end of the day, Minnesota accomplished a few things in the entirety of their starting pitching scenario. They dealt a guy they weren’t going to pay and got peak value for him. They then acquired an older starter for a highly volatile return and have to pay him substantially less. All of that takes place while the on-field returns could very comfortably be projected to be even. Fangraphs’ ZiPS projects Gray for a 3.78 ERA and 9.8 K/9 in 2022. The same projection system has Berrios at a 3.84 ERA and 9.3 K/9. If the track records of similarity don't provide something to key in on, there's at least an upcoming season in which both are expected to provide similar levels of value. What do you think about the Twins swap of top starters? Would you rather have Berrios purely from a pitching perspective, or are you good with Gray, the similarities, and all of the additional prospect capital? 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. Age: 23 (DOB: 9/17/1998) 2021 Stats: (Double-A): 97 IP, 3.62 ERA, 1.402 WHIP, 102 K, 38 BB ETA: 2022 2021 Ranking: 3rd National Top 100 Rankings BA: 85 | MLB: 95 | ATH: 43 | BP: 78 What’s To Like Velocity has long been the name of the game on the mound, and it’s something the Twins haven’t seen from a starter they developed in a long time, maybe ever. Balazovic was sitting at 95 mph last year on his fastball, even after missing time to start the season due to injury. He pushed it up to 97 mph at times, and the electricity behind the pitch is something to drool over. With a starter’s mix, Balazovic also has a strong slider and has turned the changeup into an out pitch as well. Double-A was a new test for Balazovic last season, and he did take a slight step backward in terms of numbers, but the elite stuff is still all there. A rough three-start stretch at the end of July made things look more mediocre than they were. Over his final eight starts, Balazovic posted a 2.72 ERA allowing just a .672 OPS against. What’s Left To Work On It’s not to say that Balazovic is a finished product, but he’s very close. Even with the time missed due to the pandemic, the Canadian is knocking on the door to the big leagues. A return to Double-A could be in the cards at the beginning of 2022, but he should quickly move up to Triple-A St. Paul. Balazovic has done a good job repeating his delivery, and continuing down a path of sustained success is a must for him. Minnesota would probably like to see a trend back towards the 2019 numbers, but that’s also not a showstopper. The strikeouts were down slightly, and the walks rose, but both happened in minor increments. Settling back in with a clean bill of health should lead to more dominating performances than not. What’s Next It would be far from shocking if Balazovic was pitching for the Twins by mid-summer. He’s near ready as a prospect, and while he’s probably not the type to be called upon before ready in a spot-start role, he’s got the talent to force his way into sustained action. Minnesota should have a middle-of-the-rotation arm at worst here, and seeing him add even more would be a welcomed sight. The Twins have been longing for a guy that can mow down the opposition, and Balazovic has the makings of someone capable of doing just that. If he can be a staff ace, the organization will have its next piece to build around. Previous Rankings Honorable Mentions Prospects 16-20 Prospects 11-15 #10: Josh Winder, RHP #9: Chase Petty, RHP #8: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP #7: Jhoan Duran, RHP #6: Matt Canterino, RHP #5: Joe Ryan, RHP #4: Jordan Balazovic, RHP #3: Coming tomorrow
  3. It’s reasonable to look at Austin Martin and see a valuable piece that the Twins could use to acquire some pitching, but there are several reasons they shouldn’t be looking to do so. Redundancy is Overrated One argument that can be made is that Martin doesn’t appear to be a future shortstop and his future in center field is blocked by the Buxton extension. This could wind up leaving Martin in a utility role. The Twins already have Luis Arraez in a similar position, however, with other players like Jose Miranda and Royce Lewis coming up who could find themselves in a similar spot. It makes sense to deal from a place of depth, but Martin could bring a lot of value backing up Byron Buxton in center field and Jorge Polanco at second, two players with significant injury histories who could very well miss time at any point moving forward. Luis Arraez can’t fill in for Buxton in center and is stretched at second, not to mention his own injury worries as well. Martin is a younger, healthier, higher floor and likely higher ceiling option than most players that find themselves in a possible platoon role. Not to mention these issues that involve “too much depth” always find a way to work themselves out when it comes to baseball. His Value Isn’t That High Potential MLB caliber shortstops are one of the more valuable assets a team can have in their farm system. It’s a big part of what led to Martin being chosen so high in the draft and what could make him an enormous trade piece moving forward. Tom makes a good point in regards to Martin’s trade value: Tom’s reasoning behind this is solid. Austin Martin’s 2021 has gone a long way in proving he’s not a future shortstop. Twins fans should be on board with trading him if a team still looks at him as one, as the return would be that much better for a player that’s unlikely to reach that ceiling. Martin was a longshot to be a future shortstop at the trade deadline, however, and didn't do much to change that idea after the fact. I’d be shocked if a team is still all in on this idea. A team such as the Reds who are in need of a shortstop of the future would likely be more open to paying a higher price to gamble on Royce Lewis panning out at the position because he hasn’t proven otherwise yet. Trading Austin Martin to a team that believes him to be an outfielder or second baseman wouldn’t bring back all that much relative value. Musical Chairs There isn’t a lot of baseball logic that goes into this one, but it just feels unproductive to trade the Twins best pitcher for two prospects and turn around and trade the biggest name for a different pitcher who likely won’t be any better than Berrios. Sure, the Twins will have gotten Simeon Woods-Richardson out of the deal, but it’ll cost other prospects in addition to Austin Martin to acquire any of the big names on the market. If there was any enthusiasm about extending one of these arms after acquiring them then it could be worth the price. It’s hard to find that enthusiasm however and the likelier outcome is trading such a pitcher away at the 2022 trade deadline if the team finds themselves in a similar situation as last year. It runs the risk of beginning a cycle that doesn’t sound all that fun to be honest. The Twins liked Martin enough to acquire him as a big piece of the Jose Berrios trade and he’s been about as advertised since then. To turn around and trade him for another pitcher with two years of control (the majority of the high-end pitchers on the market) just seems like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. It essentially just swaps out a couple of prospects for a new pitcher who’s likely on Berrios’ level and still leaves a gaping hole in the rotation. It’s possible Austin Martin doesn’t become the star he was projected to be when drafted. He’s still an MLB-bound player with incredible pure hitting skills and versatility. He could easily settle into a position for the next 5-6 years and be an example of how not quite everything in 2021 went wrong. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Twins front office tries to wriggle out of their own self-inflicted mess with the pitching staff. Players on the verge of bringing some much needed excitement to Twins Territory such as Martin should be off the table unless there are extenuating circumstances. Austin Martin should be wearing a Twins jersey by 2022 season’s end. — 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
  4. Below is a rundown of the back half of the top-20 stories here at Twins Daily over the last calendar year. Take a look back at some of the most significant events and stop back later to look at the top-10 stories. 20. José Berríos Traded to Blue Jays Published: July 30 Author: Matthew Taylor After the season went south, the José Berríos trade was one of the biggest stories of the year. Not only did it impact the second half of the 2021 season, but the trade also has ramifications felt into the current off-season as the team looks to rebuild the pitching staff. Minnesota was able to get two top-100 prospects, and the Blue Jays eventually signed Berríos to a long-term deal. 19. Trade Deadline Tracker: Twins' News and Rumor Roundup Published: July 29 Author: Matthew Taylor There's no question that Twins fans were interested in the 2021 trade deadline as Minnesota had multiple big-league assets tied into the rumor mill. One of the day's biggest stories was the Brewers trading for old friend Eduardo Escobar. Rumors also swirled about a potential José Berríos trade that happened the next day. 18. Nelson Cruz Saga Illuminates Shrewdness of Falvine Published: February 5 Author: Nash Walker Last winter, one of the team's most significant decisions was whether or not to bring back Nelson Cruz. Minnesota's front office was patient, and the National League never added the designated hitter. This left few contending teams in need of Cruz's services. Falvine got Cruz to sign on their terms, and he'd be part of another big story later in the year. 17. Potential Trade Packages for José Berríos Published: May 29 Author: Matthew Lenz Even at the end of May, it was clear the Twins would be in sell mode before the trade deadline. Not only did Matthew connect the Blue Jays as a potential suitor for a Berríos trade, but he also hit on one of the prospects the team got as part of the return. 16. Are the Twins About to Build a Radically Unconventional Pitching Staff? Published: November 11 Author: Nick Nelson The Twins didn't sign any of the top-tier free-agent starting pitchers, and this article gives insight into what the team might be planning. Thad Levine and the front office may consider a nontraditional approach to filling the rotation. When the lockout ends, this approach will be something to keep an eye on as the roster comes together. 15. End of the Line for Brent Rooker? Published: September 25 Author: Cody Pirkl Brent Rooker finished his age-26 season, and he has yet to put it all together at the big-league level. He has little left to prove at Triple-A, and now the question remains as to what his future may hold with the Twins moving forward. Can he be a bench option for the Twins in 2022, or has he reached the end of the line? 14. Twins Trade Nelson Cruz to the Rays for Two AAA Starting Pitchers Published: July 22 Author: Seth Stohs Tampa Bay didn't wait around until the trade deadline to make their move as they wanted Cruz on their roster for an extra week and a half. Even with Cruz on an expiring deal, the Twins acquired two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. It was Minnesota's first big trade before the deadline, and it wouldn't be their last move. 13. Do the Twins Already Have the Next Brian Dozier? Published: March 1 Author: Cody Christie Brian Dozier was a late bloomer that came through the Twins system to have some monster seasons at the plate. Nick Gordon made his debut in 2021, and he also fits into the late-bloomer category. He may never develop Dozier's power, but he seemed to fit nicely into a utility role in the season's second half. 12. Twins Finalize Opening Day Roster Published: March 29 Author: Seth Stohs Minnesota was coming off of back-to-back AL Central titles, so there was plenty of hope associated with the Opening Day roster. One of the team's final decisions was to keep Kyle Garlick over Rooker. Garlick led the team in home runs throughout the spring, so it took an impressive showing for him to make the squad. 11. Ranking the Top-5 Remaining Free Agent Starters Published: December 1 Author: Cody Christie Minnesota had yet to acquire any starting pitching outside of Dylan Bundy, with the lockout looming. There were some clear names at the top of the free-agent rankings, but things dropped off in a hurry. One of the players has already signed, but the other four players are still available if Minnesota wants to pursue them for 2022. Stop back and check out the top stories of the year. Which of these stories will you remember 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
  5. If you’ve been reading Twins Daily lately, I hope you haven’t missed Nick Nelson's piece on the front office avoiding free-agent starters. Derek Falvey has largely missed on the names he’s targeted, and he’s sat out on most of them. Length has been this club’s sticking point, and as Nick points out, it’s also been the track record of this front office. Cleveland sustained winning through pitching. The arms were developed internally, inexpensively, and near-peak of their projections. Given the success Falvey has seen using this blueprint and operating with the same parameters that Minnesota is not a sought-after destination, it’s understandable for him to get creative. That leaves opportunity on the trade market, like sending a high-end reliever in Brusdar Graterol to the Dodgers for an established arm like Kenta Maeda. I believe at least one trade will bring in a top-of-the-rotation starter, but dollars still need to be allocated. How about looking at this route. Come on down, Kris Bryant. Going into 2021, I had made a couple of points to suggest dealing for the former Cubs third basemen made a lot of sense. He can play left field and first base and had just a year left on his deal while fully intending to hit free agency. Minnesota declined, and the San Francisco Giants utilized him for their stretch run. Now a free agent, Bryant is a better fit for the Twins than you imagine. Even with the Cubs manipulation of the Vegas natives’ service time, Bryant will play 2022 at just 30 years old. His “injuries” have been largely overstated in that he’s missed significant time in just two of his seven big league seasons. When healthy, he’s been among the best in the sport. Coming off a 2021 in which he posted an .835 OPS with 25 homers, Bryant flashed his versatility played every position except for second base and catcher. He’s best suited on the corners, either in the infield or outfield, and that’s where the fit lies with the Twins. Josh Donaldson was mostly fine last season, posting an .827 OPS. He played in 135 games but was immediately on the Injured List with a leg issue to start the season. Donaldson needed significant time in the designated hitter spot to be eased back in, and he’s now another year older. Luis Arraez plays second base for Minnesota, but not well, and has bulky knees. Jose Miranda has forced his way into time, but that could come anywhere. What version of Miguel Sano shows up in his final contract year remains to be seen. Alex Kirilloff figures to play more first base than anything, and Trevor Larnach’s rebound is uncertain. Maybe the most significant linchpin here is if and when Max Kepler is moved. That’s a ton of moving pieces, but just one (with Kepler being the most likely), needs to be moved for a perfect set of musical chairs. Spending on bats seems to be much more fruitful on the free-agent market, and giving Bryant a three-to-five-year deal may be enough to have him call Twins Territory home. This lineup should already do plenty of damage when on, and adding Bryant to it only helps to supplement a pitching staff that would leave plenty to be desired. Spending dollars on his bat gets easier as the top of the Twins farm assumes rotation spots, and his versatility doesn’t hamstring any single player. With the Giants interested in retaining his services, the Seattle Mariners lurking, and Scott Boras angling for the biggest deal, there’s plenty of reasons this won’t happen before even considering the Twins. That all being said, the fit is there, and spending needs to happen regardless. Rather than continuing to do nothing with the funds freed up in trading Jose Berrios, it certainly makes sense to grab a player of impact instead of spreading them out between roster filler. Kris Bryant doesn’t pitch, and he isn’t a shortstop, but somehow this still seems to work. 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
  6. There’s no denying that Derek Falvey has a ton of work to do when filling out Rocco Baldelli’s pitching staff. Jose Berrios has been traded. Kenta Maeda is on the shelf. Michael Pineda is gone. Bundy joins holdovers Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan as the only arms currently penciled into the big league rotation. Minnesota needs someone to own the designation of staff ace. The Twins also currently have a projected payroll of just $91 million. Put those two realities together, and you get an equation that results in needing to spend something like $40 million and find a top-tier arm. Come on down Carlos Rodon. The former Chicago White Sox lefty has been through quite the past few seasons. After pitching just seven and ⅔ innings in 2020, the White Sox non-tendered their former third overall pick. His season-best innings total came way back in 2016 when he threw 165. Often injured, Rodon has thrown just an average of 58 innings per season from 2017-2020. Then came 2021, and Rodon responded by putting up a breakout campaign. Named to his first All-Star Game, Rodon also finished 5th in the Cy Young voting. His 2.37 ERA was bolstered by a 2.65 FIP and a 0.957 WHIP. Dropping a full walk per nine off his career average and jumping his strikeouts per nine by more than three, it was every bit the dominant performance you’d hope to see. Rodon got there by allowing the lowest hard-hit rate of his career and gave up his second-lowest home run rate. Looking through his peripherals, there’s plenty to be excited about as well. Rodon generated a career-best 34% chase rate and another career-best 14.9% whiff rate. He’d never generated a CSW% (called and swinging strikes) better than 29.3% until he hit 30.3% last season. Those realities coincide with a velocity boost that Rodon saw an average fastball sitting at 95.4 mph, nearly a mile and a half bump on his career average. That’s where things also get sticky for Rodon. Dealing with a shoulder injury defined simply as “fatigue” in August, his velocities saw a decline down the stretch. Following a return from the IL, Rodon worked five games for Chicago, going 23 total innings, or an average of roughly four and ⅔ per start. The results were promising in that he posted a 2.35 ERA and held opposing batters to a .536 OPS with a 25/6 K/BB. An average fastball velocity that sat at 96-97 mph from June 8 through July 18 got back above 95 mph just once the rest of the way and averaged just 93.3 mph once he returned from the Injured List. Therein lies the rub and why Rodon is both available and a perfect fit for the Twins. This front office has avoided being locked into long-term pacts, especially with pitchers. They wanted no part of a seven-year deal with Jose Berrios, and even Kevin Gausman’s five-year contract may have been too much. There’s no denying they should’ve been a big player for Marcus Stroman on a three-year deal, but this is a spot to right that. Because Rodon has been hurt and Minnesota likes to keep risk relatively low, the two should be made for each other. Rather than getting the $20+ million annually or five-year deal Rodon may have earned in a normal situation, he likely should be available for something around $30 million on a two-year deal. The contention has remained that if the Twins want to avoid the market trends of length, they must be willing to spend above value on shorter-term opportunities. This is a perfect spot for Minnesota to strike, whether a one or two-year deal. Rodon gives the club an ace, and if the injuries persist, there’s no real setback with the short agreement. We won’t know how things work out for Rodon or Minnesota until the lockout is lifted. The landscape could change for players and ownership going forward, but it’s hard to see these two sides fitting any less perfect than they appear at this moment. Leaving just one option on the table gives Derek Falvey little room for error, but this is a situation where he needs to put his best foot forward and not miss. 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. After signing Dylan Bundy to a one-year deal with a 2023 option, Minnesota effectively has three of the five spots filled in their rotation. Kenta Maeda will be out for the season due to Tommy John surgery, and Jose Berrios is long gone. This group includes Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan, but it was intended to be more flush with homegrown talent. The 2020 Minor League Baseball season being non-existent was always going to hurt the development of prospects, but the ripple effect that lacking game action had on injuries was crippling. All of the Twins top arms dealt with time on the shelf last season, which halted any of them being options for the 2022 Opening Day roster. Derek Falvey is supposed to be a pitching guru, and developing arms was his calling card with the Cleveland Guardians. That’s yet to bear any fruit in Minnesota, but there’s a group very close to bursting through. Take your pick from this lot: Jhoan Duran, Jordan Balazovic, Matt Canterino, Josh Winder, Cole Sands, and Blayne Enlow. All of them are expected to provide varying degrees of rotational talent. Each of them has also been on the injured list during the past year, and whatever projection for a debut is further away than it once seemed. This is where opportunity presented itself for the Twins. In 2021 the big league roster was intended to again compete for an AL Central Division title. That fell flat because the pitching wasn’t good. With essentially the same roster intact, a re-do on the rotation is a quick way for Rocco Baldelli’s club to regain its status among the best in the sport. Bundy isn’t enough to do that on his own, and the options left available are now bare. Carlos Rodon is essentially a must for Minnesota. His shoulder issues are concerning, but there’s no denying he’s the ace-level pitching that could anchor the rotation. If the front office wants to play in those waters, they have to be willing to outspend the competition, especially when they shy away from duration. Trades also make sense for this club and worrying about how all the arms fit shouldn’t be part of the equation. As we just established, there’s been a run on injuries throughout the system and last year's depth was hardly the asset it once seemed. Much like position prospect Royce Lewis, the pitchers being shelved for long enough to delay debuts changed the plans for Minnesota. However, that’s been established for months, and the club did little to play in the free-agent waters. It’s now time that a substantial step forward is taken on pitching, spending and dealing, to establish a group capable of supporting what should be a strong lineup. It’s too bad that Falvey’s farm system hasn’t yet developed from the top group, but there are plenty of names that could stick. In the meantime, giving the big league club the additional firepower should be of the utmost importance. MORE TWINS CONTENT — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine needed to extend Byron Buxton. It was paramount for the franchise. The organization preached Target Field being a vehicle to keep homegrown talent, and Jose Berrios had already departed. Losing Buxton would’ve opened the door to the flip side of Joe Mauer’s situation, and having the power to negotiate singularly with a mega-talent on depressed dollars was unfathomable. Thankfully they pulled through and agreed. Seven years, $100 million. He’s here to stay. Now, what’s next? I’m the “freaking offseason” guy, and if there’s a way for Minnesota to have anything but this winter, it’s by failing to complete these two tasks: 1. Spending Must Remain Constant Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over the Twins front office for the 2017 Major League Baseball season. The 2016 Twins were coming off a disastrous 103-loss campaign, and organizational upheaval was afoot. Roster turnover immediately began, and despite being saddled with Paul Molitor as an incumbent manager, the front office spent to the tune of $100.7 million, slightly behind the $104 million a year prior. A step backward is expected when competitiveness wanes. However, the opposite is true when you’re on an upswing, even when results are not necessarily indicative of expectations. After winning 85 games in 2017 and finishing second in the AL Central, Minnesota spent roughly $125 million for the 2018 season. A new franchise record payroll had been established. That team failed to live up to expectations. Despite finishing second in the division, they were 78-84 on the year. Falvey and Levine saw what they had and needed to push forward. Welcome to the Bomba Squad. The 2019 Twins pushed the payroll north of $125 million and were one of the best teams in franchise history. Setting a single-season record for home runs, this group was bounced early from the Postseason but looked poised for more. Covid then gave us a truncated 2020 season, and owners suggested revenues were down. While they may not have turned the same profit, the assumption should be that many organizations still operated in the green. The Twins signed veteran Josh Donaldson to a $100 million contract before Spring Training and essentially held serve from where their 2019 spend ended. For 2021 the commentary was about decreased payrolls for owners to make up the lost dollars. The Twins cut back to $118 million, just over a 5% decrease from the year prior. Regardless of the misstep in record, it’s clear that this club is on the precipice. Donaldson is here for two more seasons. Buxton has been locked up to a ridiculously affordable pact. The prospects are near the top of the system, and the graduations have all been meaningful ones. It’s time to take another step forward this season and push the bottom line. A bare minimum spend for Minnesota this season should be $130 million. Going to $135 or even $140 million makes a good deal of sense as well. They’d have to splurge pretty heavily to account for that amount, but the rotation remains bare, and a top free agent could certainly be had. That brings us to the second point. 2. Allocate the Berrios Dollars There’s no denying that Minnesota easily could’ve matched the seven-year, $131 million deal that Jose Berrios just got from the Toronto Blue Jays. That’s hardly bank-breaking and would’ve been an excellent opportunity to keep their homegrown talent. The problem seems to be in length; this front-office isn’t giving a pitcher anything over five years. So be it, that’s a fine and understandable stance considering the uncertainty that comes with arms (even if Berrios has been an incredibly durable one). What that means is the money needs to be ticketed elsewhere and on the same scale. $18 million per year is roughly what Berrios got from Toronto. I’m not interested in types like J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda combining to make that money. A true frontline starter has to be acquired in hopes of carrying Berrios’ load. Understandably, the name may come via trade, be under team control, and cost more in prospect capital than dollars. Should that be the case, a strong foot forward for starters number two and three should be shown. This front office has to be willing to overpay on shorter deals if they’re unwilling to hand out the length of their competitors. Last season the largest misstep was acquiring arms filling the back of the rotation rather than finding a middle-to-upper tier talent that could bolster the top half. Pineda would be a nice get to return, but he should be the worst starter they acquire. The goal needs to be setting Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan up for no more than a 4th and 5th option in a competition as we careen towards Opening Day. Falvey has established an infrastructure that supports talented arms when they’re available. Minnesota’s starters ranked 5th and 7th in 2020 and 2019 by fWAR, and that was without a splash for Wes Johnson. Go get him a great piece or two and let him work. Is there’s another area that’s a must this offseason for you to believe in the 2022 Twins chances? Any deal breakers for you? 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. The Twins find themselves in a difficult situation this winter. After trading their #1 starting pitcher in Jose Berrios, they’re left with only two rotation spots tentatively spoken for, each by a rookie. A pitching staff that sunk the former back-to-back AL Central champs has to be completely reworked on the front end with significant needs in a bullpen that struggled as well. Shortstop, the quarterback of the infield, is also vacant and will require a legitimate impact addition in order to help propel the team back into contention. In addition to on-field tangibles, they’ve also lost the leader of their pitching staff in Berrios, as well as the leader of the team as a whole in Nelson Cruz. A path to a comeback in 2022 is a bumpy one, but it could certainly be done. What can’t be recovered from, however, is adding center field to the list of vacancies. Center field is one of the most important everyday players on any baseball team. In Minnesota, the player manning the position has been the reason the team has sunk or swam. Since the Twins rise to success in 2019, they’ve been 100-64 with Buxton on the field and 106-106 without him. Correlation does not equal causation, but there’s no denying those numbers are indicative of Buxton’s impact when you watch him on the field. Some have called for Buxton to be traded in the past, mainly due to his long list of injuries. There’s no stopping such an opinion, but those who hold it have to realize what they’re advocating. The Twins almost certainly surpass the point of no return if they choose to field a team without Byron Buxton. The best case scenario following a Buxton trade, regardless of the return, is to sell off literally everyone else. Pay part of Josh Donaldson’s contract to get the best possible return. Take advantage of the need for catchers across the league and get a haul for Mitch Garver. See if anyone is willing to make an offer for Taylor Rogers. 2022 will certainly be a wash, and these players would offer more value on the trade market than on a losing team. Does that reality sound painful? Try the alternative where the Twins trade one of the best players in baseball and try to compete in 2022. The path to doing so without emptying the farm system or spending an unrealistic amount in free agency simply doesn’t exist. Pretending that the team marches into the playoffs in 2022 without Buxton manning center field would set Twins baseball back years. At least Option A gives full attention to collecting young talent to try to develop a new core for the near future. The team still has a path to contention in 2022, and even if that doesn’t work out, their upcoming prospects should position them well for 2023. Extending Byron Buxton is a vote of confidence not only in the front office's ability to rebound, but in the current core that’s in place. Trading Byron Buxton is waving a white flag on both fronts. The next move by the front office won’t be forced. It’s a choice. Byron Buxton isn’t asking for anything near record-setting money. There is no better player they’ll ever find to man center field, and the one they have is a home-grown fan favorite. Such a move by the front office would be giving up on a two-year window that earned them so much praise despite it never having been capitalized on. In six years this front office has inherited a stinker of a team and converted it into a core of players that once had fans thinking the stars are the limit. Now they sit on the edge of a decision that would rightfully leave fans wondering “What was it all for?”. For more Twins content: — 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
  10. In March of 2010, Minnesota inked hometown hero Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million contract extension. He’d played in 699 games to that point and tallied three batting titles along with an MVP. With free agency looming, the Twins did the right thing and signed him to a deal that kept him from being paid by the Boston’s or New York’s of the baseball world. Because we know that we can’t have nice things as Twins fans, Mauer’s career would be forever changed due to injuries. He’s still a Hall of Famer, and he was still underpaid, but what could’ve been is something we can always wonder about. Due to those injuries changing production Mauer’s contract was long a point of consternation for fans. Working through revisionist history, detractors will often suggest a desire to have let Mauer walk and watch larger markets pay him more. As luck would have it, those same people may now have their day. Coming into 2022, Byron Buxton will have played 493 games for the Minnesota Twins. He’s owned an .897 OPS over the past three seasons and has a Platinum Glove to his credit before turning 28-years-old. An expected prime still ahead of him, this is a player that’s one of the ten best in the sport when he’s healthy. That’s where we pick up this story. Unlike Mauer, Buxton has experienced injury issues early on in his career. Also, unlike Joe, those injuries are the only reason Minnesota has a chance to sign the superstar in the first place. Reportedly offering an $80 million deal, Minnesota has not yet pushed to the $100 million asking price even with a valuation that would far exceed that number with an average bill of health. Instead of being asked to pay $250 million or more to keep their home-grown talent, the Twins are being asked to pay pennies on the dollar to factor in the availability, or lack thereof, that comes with Buxton. Instead of jumping at that chance, they are said to be leaning in the opposite direction. This isn’t a scenario in which history can be aligned to Terry Ryan’s ultimate gaffe regarding David Ortiz. No one is getting released, and the Twins will undoubtedly get something in exchange for Byron. The problem is that no player as valuable can be had for the same dollar amount, and a move regarding someone so intertwined with the fan base will forever cause ripple effects that only Mauer could’ve mirrored. We should know soon how the front office is going to play this situation. Maybe they’ve purposely been leaking misinformation to increase their negotiating stance. However, time is running out on wondering what may happen as we are less than a year from knowing what will. Byron Buxton might not be from St. Paul, Minnesota. Still, the Baxley, Georgia, native is every bit as Twins Territory as it gets and there isn’t an opportunity to put the band-aid back on this bullet wound once the trigger is pulled. Target Field was sold as an opportunity to keep the internal stars. That rung hollow when flipping Jose Berrios, and it hits rock bottom in moving on from Buxton. Whether he stays healthy or not isn’t the question for now. It’s whether or not you are willing to keep your best talent or continually recycle it. 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. For years the Minnesota Twins organization has suggested that the goal would be to keep homegrown stars. Yes, they paid Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, and Miguel Sano. None of those deals were substantial, however. Instead of paying Jose Berrios, who was reportedly intent on reaching free agency, they flipped him for two top-100 prospects. Now with the Blue Jays handing out a seven-year deal worth $140 million, it’s clear that it wasn’t about paying Berrios, but probably more about how long they would. Despite Berrios suggesting he wanted to reach free agency, he was perhaps more interested in finding a deal that compensated him correctly. That’s where this begins to break down. Before getting into what the front office is trying to do, or more appropriately failing to do, we need to look at Buxton. Dan Hayes and Ken Rosenthal reported, “Talks about an incentive-laden extension in July broke down because of the Twins’ unwillingness to push the potential total value to $100 million.” That’s an awful look for the front office as well. Seven years or not, Minnesota is looking to nickel and dime a superstar they are only invited to the table because he’s been injured. Assuming Buxton was a free agent, Minnesota wouldn’t be in the realm of his possible destinations, and if an injury bug hadn’t hit him, the price tag would be well north of $250 million. Trying to piece together a salary that goes long on years and short on average annual value for a talent like Buxton is the exact opposite of the message sent to Berrios. The needle Falvey and Levine are trying to thread is a seemingly hopeless one. They appear intent on avoiding long-term deals but also are expecting to play at or below market value. There’s no give and take in that negotiating style, and the alternative is one we’ve yet to hear them dabble in. Should you opt to avoid length, the result has to be higher than the market average annual value. No player will take fewer years for the same amount of money, but they might be lured by a more lucrative deal that makes up for the lacking security. There’s no denying that this front office has done a great job establishing a strong culture and organizational structure. Minnesota’s farm system may not be as loaded as it’s ever been, but it’s undoubtedly as deep. The developmental talent is there to push players towards realizing their potential, but there has not been a good enough job done supplementing the talent at the top. Now faced with the opportunity to keep some of their best, Falvey already chose to forgo length on one and is seemingly leaning towards passing up on dollars for the other. Should Minnesota sign a top-tier pitcher with the money ticketed for Berrios, then the addition of two top prospects makes a ton of sense as an alternative. There isn’t a situation where Buxton will be replaceable at a similar valuation, though, and skimping on dollars to contradict their length stance could be something that looks like a David Ortiz-esque mistake. It’s time to stop stepping toes in the water when filling out the roster and make more than one splash move, then suggesting it’s enough. 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. The Toronto Blue Jays are a team on the rise in one of baseball’s toughest divisions. On Tuesday, they committed to keeping José Berríos in their starting rotation for most of the next decade. For the 2022 season, his $18.71 million average salary would rank 13th in baseball among all starting pitchers currently under contract. He was due to make around $11 million in arbitration this winter, so this is essentially a 6-year, $120 million extension. Since 2017, Berríos has been one of the American League’s best and most durable pitchers. He ranks fourth in fWAR over the last five seasons as he trails only Gerrit Cole, Chris Sale, and Justin Verlander. He’s started 12 more games than any other AL pitcher during that time and pitched nearly 100 more innings. That kind of reliability is valuable to teams as starting pitcher usage continues to evolve. At July’s trade deadline, the Twins had a choice to make when it came to Berríos as he had a year and a half left of team control. Minnesota had the option to hang on to him for 2022 hoping that the team rebounded from a poor 2021. Instead, the Twins were overwhelmed with an offer by the Blue Jays that included top prospects Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson. Minnesota is in an interesting position looking back on the type of deal Berríos was able to secure from Toronto. Berríos wanted to be paid like a front-line starter, and the Twins disagreed on his value. Much of the narrative in Minnesota was that Berríos and his representatives wanted him to be able to reach the open market. Toronto paid him market value without other teams competing for his services. Because of the Berríos trade, the Twins are in the market for multiple starting pitchers this winter. Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober are the two names penciled into next year’s rotation, but fans may need to temper their expectations when it comes to these young pitchers. If Minnesota is going to sign any of the top-tier free agents, it will likely take more money per year than Berríos received from Toronto. For the Twins, they will hope that they were right regarding their evaluation of Martin and Woods Richardson, but it may be years before they know that answer. In the end, maybe the Twins weren’t willing to go to seven years, or they possibly didn’t want to pay Berríos as much as he thought he was worth.
  13. Over at the Athletic, Eno Sarris wrote about an intriguing pitch being used more regularly across the league. Some people call it the Dodger Slider, while others refer to it as the Sweeper. A sweeper is a breaking pitch that is thrown faster than 77 mph with more than 6.5 inches of glove side movement and -2 inches of depth from 40 feet. Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson is known for his focus on sliders, and this might be one reason the Twins have been so successful with this pitch. So how do the Twins compare to the rest of the league? Los Angeles is the clear leader when it comes to using the Sweeper, but the Twins rank as the second-best AL team when it comes to this pitch usage. The Yankees are not far behind the Twins, but the AL Central is much further behind. No other AL Central clubs rank in baseball's top-15. To rank this highly, Minnesota has seen multiple pitchers evolve their slider over the last handful of seasons. Jorge Alcala ranks as the Twins' best pitcher when it comes to Stuff+, where he ranks higher than Shohei Ohtani, Julio Urias, and Max Scherzer. Also, his slider ranks better than league average when it comes to horizontal movement. He uses his slider more than any of his other pitches, and he held batters to a .181 batting average and .277 slugging percentage on that pitch. His slider will be critical if Alcala is going to be part of the long-term bullpen solution. Taylor Rogers is another Twins pitcher that threw his slider more this season. He increased his slider usage from 43.3% to 54%. Both of his primary pitches, his sinker, and slider, rank well above the league average when it comes to horizontal movement. His unique arm action allows for a lot of natural horizontal movement, but what about a more obvious name? One name fans might expect to use a Dodger Slider is Kenta Maeda since he spent the majority of his career in the Dodgers organization. Three of his primary pitches get more horizontal movement than average, including his sinker, splitter, and four-seamer. However, his slider ranks below average (-2.5 inches) compared to the rest of the league. Former Twin Jose Berrios is known for the movement he can generate on his pitches, so he impacted the team's overall numbers this season. Three of his pitches (four-seamer, sinker, and curveball) all get more horizontal movement than the league average, with his curveball getting 5.2 more inches than average. Griffin Jax is one name that might surprise fans to appear on the leaderboards. When it comes to Stuff+, they rank ahead of Shane Bieber, Lucas Giolito, and Madison Bumgarner. Jax saw his slider and four-seamer get four more inches of horizontal movement compared to the average. Jax may also have seen some bad luck this year as his xBA and xSLG were both lower than the batting average and slugging percentage he allowed. There were plenty of reasons to criticize Minnesota's pitching staff this season, but there may be a silver lining beneath it all. If the Twins focus on developing the Sweeper, the highly anticipated pitching pipeline might finally arrive at Target Field. Do you think the Twins can continue to use the Sweeper? 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
  14. Minnesota will need to hit on some cheaper rotation options to be competitive in 2022, and these buy-low candidates all fit that bill. However, affordable rotation options aren't going to help the team to contend. In recent years, the current front office has targeted some of the top free-agent pitchers, but none have accepted Minnesota's offer. Leading into the 2019 season, Minnesota targeted Zach Wheeler and offered him a contract north of $100 million. He eventually signed with Philadelphia for $118 million. Minnesota looked into Madison Bumgarner that same winter, but he took a below-market deal to pitch close to his ranch in Arizona. The Twins had to pivot that winter and ended up signing Josh Donaldson, but that didn't help their starting pitching deficiency. Trading for Kenta Maeda was undoubtedly a move that bolstered the rotation for multiple seasons. Unfortunately, he is likely out for all of 2022 following Tommy John surgery. Minnesota signed Randy Dobnak to a unique contract extension last winter, and he followed that up with the worst season of his career. The front office has tried different avenues to build the starting staff even if they haven't worked out. Some fans may point to Jose Berrios as one player the Twins could have overpaid to stay at the top of the team's rotation. Some of the top-tier starting pitchers this year compare very similarly to Berrios. However, he and his team have gone through the arbitration process with the goal of him hitting free agency and capitalizing on his value. Minnesota was right to trade him away when his value was highest, and they have the same opportunity as the other clubs to sign him following the 2022 campaign. Free-agent starting pitching is something the Twins haven't spent a lot on in the past, and now the timing may be right. Some of the available veteran starting pitchers aren't going to consider Minnesota as a viable option. They see their careers as coming to a close, and there's no guarantee the Twins will be relevant in 2022. This crosses Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw off the list, but there are other names to consider. Two other top-tier free agents, Carlos Rodon and Noah Syndergaard have injury concerns that teams will want to avoid. There is certainly the upside potential with these two players, but the risk may not be worth the reward. This leaves players like Kevin Gausman, Robbie Ray, and Marcus Stroman as the remaining top tier starting pitcher targets. Based on Minnesota's previous track record, the only way to get an ace to Minnesota is to overpay. All three of the pitchers mentioned above will cost over $20 million per season, with Gausman and Ray having the potential to make even more. Even if the Twins are out of contention in 2022, these three players can be part of the franchise's next winning window. Other pitching will be needed, but Minnesota needs to outbid other teams to get a name penciled at the top of the rotation. To read more about this year's crop of free-agent pitchers, make sure to order your copy of the 2022 Offseason Handbook. If you order today, it will be sent directly to your email. Which pitcher do you think the Twins are most likely to target? 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. Considerations: Expectations Projections Results Injury Leverage/Value *MINIMUM 50 INNINGS TO QUALIFY* KENTA MAEDA 2021: 21 starts, 106 1/3 IP, 4.66 ERA (91 ERA+), 25% K, 7% BB After a career year in 2020, expectations were through the roof for Kenta Maeda in 2021. He was now the clear No. 1 on the staff, with PECOTA projecting him to be the third most valuable pitcher (by WARP) in the American League, behind only Shane Bieber and Gerrit Cole. PECOTA cast him as a top-six starter in all of baseball, ahead of aces Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler, and Corbin Burnes. It was apparent from Opening Day that wasn’t going to happen. Maeda’s command was faulty for much of the first half, contributing to a 5.56 ERA in his first 12 starts. His fastball velocity was down an entire tick from 2020, a key warning sign for his eventual elbow surgery. Before he was pulled for good at Yankee Stadium, Maeda was on an eight-start stretch where he posted a 2.98 ERA, 3.08 FIP, and a 4:1 strikeout-to-walk rate, in line with 2020. He was replicating the dominance, but it wouldn’t last long. Maeda underwent Tommy John surgery on September 1st, knocking him out until next June at the absolute earliest. It was an injury-riddled, forgettable season for Maeda, although he did pitch well for much of his second half. GRADE: C- JOSÉ BERRÍOS 2021 (with Twins): 20 starts, 121 2/3 IP, 3.48 ERA (122 ERA+), 25.7% K, 6.5% BB For the first time since his breakout in 2017, Berríos entered the season as the Twins’ second-best starter. He dazzled the Milwaukee Brewers in the second game of the year, pitching six perfect innings and further flashing his immense talent. Would this be his Cy Young tour? It wasn’t, but Berríos was still very good for the Twins. He replicated his numbers to this point of his career, which paints him as one of the best 20 or 30 starters in baseball. Berríos carried the Twins’ rotation through injuries and ineffectiveness, leading the team in innings despite being traded in July. José’s 2021 season, along with his career as a Twin, will be remembered in a very positive way. He’s the Twins’ best homegrown pitcher since Johan Santana, and he regularly gave them a chance to win. GRADE: B+ MICHAEL PINEDA 2021: 21 starts, 109 1/3 IP, 3.62 ERA (117 ERA+), 19.2% K, 4.6% BB We won’t know the full effects of the 2020 Covid season for quite some time, but it impacted Pineda. Because of his suspension, he pitched only 26 2/3 game innings from September of 2019 to April of 2021. On the one hand, Pineda barely surpassed 100 innings and required numerous IL stints throughout the year. His fastball velocity was down, and his strikeout rate was the lowest of his career. But here’s the beauty with him: it often doesn’t matter. He gets outs. Pineda was solidly above league-average with depleted stuff and ranked 20th in ERA+ (117) among 64 American League pitchers who threw at least 100 innings. Pineda was also outstanding in September, posting a 1.85 ERA in five Twins wins. The righty could return for another run if both sides see fit. GRADE: B MATT SHOEMAKER 2021: 11 starts, 60 1/3 IP, 8.06 ERA (53 ERA+), 14.1% K, 9.5% BB It may be hard to believe, but Shoemaker’s $2 million deal with the Twins initially looked savvy. He had a track record of injuries but also of success. Shoemaker entered the year with a career 103 ERA+, placing him above league average in over 600 innings. It was a reasonable plan: get as many quality innings as possible from Shoemaker and replace him with Randy Dobnak if need be. Great in theory, awful in practice. Shoemaker exploded after a strong debut in Detroit, allowing 53 runs over his next 54 1/3 innings. Shoemaker allowed opponents to hit .297/.367/.537 with 15 homers in just over 60 innings. His opponent’s OPS of .903 matches Kirby Puckett’s All-Star campaign in 1986, when he won the Silver Slugger award and finished sixth for MVP. Woof. GRADE: F- J.A. HAPP 2021: 19 starts, 98 1/3 IP, 6.77 ERA (63 ERA+), 17.3% K, 7% BB The J.A. Happ signing is an excellent example of ceiling and floor. The Twins inked Happ with an expectation of 150 innings of decent ball. Happ owned a 3.74 ERA in over 900 innings since 2015, so the veteran seemed like a sure thing. “Happer" was off and running with a sterling 1.91 ERA and .509 opponent’s OPS over his first five starts. With Alexander Colomé struggling, Matt Shoemaker matching him, and Andrelton Simmons middling, did the Twins make the right call on Happ? Oh, no, no, no. Unfortunately, the declining strikeout rates and fastball velocity were indeed an omen. The towering lefty got crushed by the White Sox in his next start and never looked back. From that point on, Happ allowed 92 runs in 124 innings. The Twins needed him, and he responded by allowing 28 homers, or over two per nine innings. Happ was slightly better than Shoemaker but did his damage over a larger sample. He was traded for RHP John Gant at the deadline. GRADE: F- BAILEY OBER 2021: 20 starts, 92 1/3 IP, 4.19 ERA (102 ERA+), 25.3% K, 5% BB Let’s get back on track with a promising rookie. Any reasonable expectation for Ober’s 2021 likely involved a late-September call-up, despite awe-inspiring numbers in the minors and increased velocity. Ober blew that out of the water. He had a 5.84 ERA after six starts, but his response was everything. Ober emerged as the Twins’ best starter with a 3.59 ERA and .282 opponent’s On-Base Percentage over his final 14 starts. Ober shut down prolific offenses along the way. He held the Red Sox scoreless at Fenway, stymied the White Sox at Target Field, and finished his campaign with five-plus great innings against a desperate and outstanding Blue Jays lineup. For someone who very few even mentioned among the Twins’ best handful of pitching prospects, he did pretty well. Most impressively, Ober still posted a better-than-average ERA despite allowing more homers (20) than walks (19). There’s room for growth. GRADE: A RANDY DOBNAK 2021: 6 starts, 14 games, 50 2/3 IP, 7.64 ERA (56 ERA+), 11.8% K, 5.3% BB "Dobber" signed an extension after shining for much of his first two seasons as a Twin. He posted a 3.12 ERA and 3.56 FIP in a combined 75 innings. In 2020, Dobnak’s sinker had more horizontal movement than any sinker in baseball (min. 300 pitches). You’d have to double the 3.4 inches of break on second-placed Adrian Houser’s sinker (3.4) to even get near Dobnak (7.8). Due to his finger injury or strange usage patterns early in the season, Dobnak never got on track in 2021. He was largely poor out of the bullpen and equally struggled as a starter. He got crushed with a declining groundball and strikeout rate. Hope for Dobnak remains. His sinker movement was still in elite territory but was down significantly from 2020. If he can get healthy and shore up his command, a bounce back in 2022 is definitely in the cards. GRADE: F GRIFFIN JAX 2021: 14 starts, 82 IP, 6.37 ERA (67 ERA+), 18.1% K, 8.1% BB Jax, like Ober, carried little expectations going into the season. He’d posted solid minor league numbers but remained under the radar due to less-than-stellar velocity or strikeout rates. Called up in early June, Jax entered his first four games as a reliever before making his first start on July 3rd in Kansas City. He became a fixture in the rotation, starting 14 games and working through massive home run issues (23 allowed in 82 IP). It’s hard to post a 6.37 ERA and *increase* your stock, but Jax had drastic splits. He held opponents to a .175 average and .597 OPS the first time through the order. This shows that Jax’s stuff can play, just maybe not as a starter. With a slider averaging nearly 3,000 RPMs of spin and a fastball that can reach 95, a future bullpen role looks promising. Spot him up against mostly righties with an exclusive fastball-slider combo and enjoy the results. GRADE: D+ 2021 MINNESOTA TWINS GRADES Starting Pitchers Infielders - Coming Soon! Relief Pitchers - Coming Soon! Outfielders - Coming Soon! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — For The Locked On Twins Podcast, Click Here
  16. Before diving into Berrios as the award winner, let’s take a look at some of those that finished just short. Nearly Beat Him Bailey Ober 3-3, 4.19 ERA, 92.1 IP, 9.4 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 9.0 H/9, 1.9 HR/9 Coming up just short of picking up a second award in this cycle, Bailey Ober finished only three points behind Berrios in the voting. While the Puerto Rican is no longer with the organization, Ober coincidentally finished 2021 with the same amount of starts, 20. Ober was not a top prospect at any point during his run on the farm, and enough can't be said about the work he put in with no minor league season a year ago. Ober made just four starts for Triple-A St. Paul before being called up by the Twins, and those were to the tune of a 2.81 ERA. Always a high strikeout guy, Ober punched out 11.8 per nine in his 16 innings to earn the big league call. With the Twins, his numbers didn’t slide substantially as he still struck out 9.4 per nine and dropped the walk rate down to 1.9. If there was a bugaboo in his debut season, it was the 1.9 HR/9 that was compiled by allowing 20 dingers in just north of 90 innings pitched. Going into 2022, it’s hard not to look at Ober as the current ace of the staff. With Kenta Maeda on the shelf and Berrios since departed, Ober will be relied on internally when it comes to immediately present options. He put forth an excellent rookie showing, and while the 4.19 ERA may be uninspiring, a guy who’s dealt with injuries looking this good and this healthy is plenty to drool on for Twins brass. Out Of Nowhere Caleb Thielbar 7-0, 3.23 ERA, 64.0 IP, 10.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 7.7 H/9, 1.1 HR/9 In this space, it’s probably a bit weird to see a reliever’s name show up. Someone pitching out of the pen being present probably speaks volumes to the impact starting pitching ultimately had. That said, Thielbar didn’t back in to this space by any means. Nearly retired from baseball and coaching a college team, the Minnesota native emerged in 2020 and substantiated his place this season. Across 64 innings, Thielbar posted a 3.23 ERA and a career-best 10.8 K/9. The soft-tossing lefty became one of Minnesota’s best relief arms and routinely was a guy Rocco Baldelli could turn to in critical spots. Despite never owning a blistering fastball, his stuff produced a career-best 32.3% whiff rate. The eight homers were a bit uncharacteristic for him when considering the career as a whole, but if there’s a step forward taken there in 2022, Minnesota will have created one of baseball’s best relief arms. And The Winner Jose Berrios 7-5, 3.48 ERA, 121.2 IP, 9.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 7.0 H/9, 1.0 HR/9 It’s hard to write about an award that a guy wins when he’s no longer with the organization. It stings a bit more when it’s Jose Berrios. A fan favorite who was drafted, developed and grew up with the Twins. That’s where we are, though, and there’s no denying that he was the best pitcher to throw for Minnesota in 2021. Evidenced by the return Derek Falvey got from the Toronto Blue Jays, it’s plenty apparent that the league thinks highly of the former Twins ace as well. Across 121 2/3 innings, compiled in 20 starts, Berrios posted a 3.48 ERA. His 9.3 K/9 was a slight step backward from 2020, but he remained a pillar of consistency. The 1.04 WHIP was a career-best, and so was the 7.0 H/9. Combined with his time in a Blue Jays uniform, Berrios’ 204 strikeouts were a new career-high, and he was once again in consideration for the American League All-Star team. Although the season didn’t go as planned for the Twins, and that was by no fault of Berrios, he started things well during his debut against Milwaukee. One of the season highlights, Jose punched out 12 Brewers in six no-hit innings. That was quite the opening act and a number he would never match again on the year. Berrios recorded double-digits again when he notched ten strikeouts against the White Sox on July 6. Entering the final season of arbitration eligibility, Berrios is in line for a big payday. Whether that comes with the Blue Jays or someone else on the open market, a season like this will set him up nicely at the negotiating table. As hard as it was to see him go, Berrios being worthy of this honor on the way out means he leaves on the highest of notes. Others Receiving Votes: Taylor Rogers, Michael Pineda, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, Joe Ryan MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Preorder the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. Box Score Ober: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (71.9% strikes) Home Runs: Buxton (15) Top 3 WPA: Ober .202, Arráez .156, Buxton .106 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Twins welcome Berríos with a three-run third For the first time, José Berríos took the mound at Target Field as the visiting pitcher, five days after earning a win in Toronto against his former team. Back in Canada on Sunday, the Twins offense couldn’t produce much against “La Makina,” scoring three runs on only four hits. Could tonight’s outcome be different? After Bailey Ober tossed a scoreless top of the first, pitching around a Marcus Semien double, Minnesota posed an immediate threat to Berríos. Luis Arráez singled on the very first pitch, moments before Byron Buxton drew a five-pitch walk, putting two men on with no outs. But José responded by shutting down the Twins lineup, retiring the next six batters. But in the third inning, the offense ambushed their former teammate. Andrelton Simmons worked a leadoff walk, and Arráez got his second hit of the night, scoring Simba on an RBI-triple down the right field line. In the very next at-bat, Buxton took Berríos deep, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead. Ober cruises through four, pulled early after a home run Perhaps Ober took advantage of the fact that all eyes were on the visiting starter, putting together a brilliant start. He did give up a couple of doubles, one in the first and another one in the third. But, other than that, he retired every other batter he faced, completing four innings on only 51 pitches – exactly twenty pitches fewer than Berríos, in case you were wondering. Ober pitched into the sixth very economically. He stranded yet another runner to deliver a scoreless fifth. But after giving up a one-out solo home run to Marcus Semien in the sixth, Rocco Baldelli removed him from the game at only 82 pitches (59 strikes). As he walked away from the mound, his body language indicated that he might not have been happy with the decision. This was Ober’s 20th start of the season and only once this year was he allowed to toss more than 82 pitches in a game (Jul 5, against the White Sox). Has Rocco’s approach towards him been too conservative throughout the season? After hitting back-to-back singles to open the fourth, the offense really quieted down. The bats went 1-for-15 with a walk to close out this game. That could’ve put a lot of pressure on the bullpen, who needed to take care of the slim two-run lead the rest of the way. But that wasn’t a problem for Minnesota’s relievers, who are having a fantastic month of September. Coming into tonight’s game, the Twins bullpen were posting a 2.82 ERA in September, which ranks second in baseball. Jorge Alcalá, Juan Minaya, Tyler Duffey dominated one of MLB’s strongest lineups, holding them scoreless and hitless for 2 2/3 innings. Alexander Colomé was even more effective, closing out the game on only five pitches, all for strikes. With tonight’s outing, the Twins bullpen ERA in September is now down to 2.70. After taking the first two games, the Twins go for a series win tomorrow. They take on Toronto tomorrow at 6:10 pm CDT on Justin Morneau’s Twins Hall of Fame induction night. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SUN TUE WED THU FRI TOT Minaya 36 0 13 0 19 68 Vincent 40 0 0 13 0 53 Farrell 34 0 0 19 0 53 Thielbar 22 16 0 14 0 52 Duffey 0 11 12 0 17 40 Colomé 0 7 24 0 5 36 Barraclough 0 35 0 0 0 35 Alcalá 0 10 10 0 6 26 Coulombe 0 17 0 0 0 17 Garza Jr. 0 0 0 16 0 16 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0
  18. Some of these players had memorable Twins tenures, while others might not have gotten a full opportunity. Either way, they are in the thick of the playoff hunt as their team’s search for October glory. Division Leaders Tampa Bay: Nelson Cruz, DH Nelson Cruz was dealt at the trade deadline in a move that brought back two top pitching prospects, including Joe Ryan. Since the trade, Cruz has posted a .776 OPS, which is 130 points lower than he had with the Twins this year. He still has a 117 OPS+, and he has some big hits in a Rays uniform. Tampa looks to go back to the World Series with Cruz as their veteran leader. Chicago: Liam Hendriks, RP Chicago paid Liam Hendriks a ton of money this winter to bring him to the Southside, and he has lived up to the hype. He leads the American League in Saves, and he has a career-high strikeout rate. Minnesota never gave Hendriks a chance in the bullpen, and some question the team’s decision to let him go. Either way, Chicago paid him to perform like this and to help the team in October. Houston: Ryan Pressly, RP Pressly was dealt to the Astros back in 2018 for Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino. Both of these players have impacted the 2021 Twins, and they look to have bright futures. Ryan Pressly is in the midst of a tremendous season at the backend of the Astros bullpen. He has a sub 1.00 WHIP for the second time in his career, and his chase rate ranks in the 94th percentile. Wild Card Contenders Boston: Martin Perez, SP Twins fans may not have fond memories of Martin Perez as he posted a 5.12 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in over 165 innings back in 2019. His time in Boston has only been slightly better. In the season’s first half, he posted a 4.04 ERA, which isn’t easy to do in the AL East. His average exit velocity and BB% both rank in the 60th percentile or higher. Toronto: Jose Berrios, SP On Sunday, Jose Berrios made his first career start against the Twins, and the Blue Jays walked away with the win. Berrios was part of a blockbuster deadline deal that brought Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson to Minnesota. Toronto didn’t need Berrios to be an ace, and he has posted a 130 OPS+. Also, he has been worth more win probability added for the Blue Jays this season than with the Twins. New York: Luis Gil, SP In 2018, Gil was sent to the Yankees for Jake Cave, but he was a long way from making an impact at the big-league level. He’s been impressive across six big-league starts this season by posting a 3.07 ERA and 11.7 SO/9. Right now, the Yankees are on the outside of the playoffs, but Luis Gil might be one of the pieces to get them back into the postseason. Oakland: Deolis Guerra, RP Deolis Guerra was part of the Johan Santana trade, and Oakland is his sixth organization since leaving Minnesota. Oakland also has former Twin Sergio Romo, but Guerra has been the more valuable player this season. He ranks in the 84th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, xwOBA, xSLG, hard-hit %, and chase rate. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? 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
  19. When the Minnesota Twins traded away José Berríos they gave away their most durable, consistent and talented pitcher they’ve had since Johan Santana. While the Twins will look to their farm system to fill in the gaps of the depleted rotation that Berríos left behind, they should also look to free agency to replace as much of the consistent, veteran arm of Berríos that they can. When looking for a replacement for José Berríos, the Minnesota Twins will need to look for a pitcher who mirrors the age and upside of José Berríos. The Twins should be targeting a pitcher better than impending free agent names like Vincent Velasquez and Aaron Sanchez, but at the same time avoiding aging stars that do not fit the Twins’ timeline such as Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer. In looking at replacements for Berríos, let’s look at pitchers aged 30 or younger who have shown flashes of excellence. Acquiring a pitcher in this mold would ideally allow the Twins to replace ~85% of Berríos’s production on a cheaper contract than the Puerto Rican right hander will command after the 2022 season. Let’s get to the list... Marcus Stroman RHP 30 years old 2019 - 2021: 306.1 IP, 3.06 ERA, 7.6 K/9 Marcus Stroman was a name that many Twins fans wanted Minnesota to sign at the 2019 trade deadline and again in free agency last offseason. Stroman ended up being traded to the Mets in 2019 and then signed the qualifying offer last offseason, but will finally be a fully unrestricted free agent this winter. Stroman is currently having the best season of his young career with a 2.80 ERA in 122 innings with the Mets. Stroman is not a lights-out pitcher with top-notch velocity, but he limits damage extremely well with pinpoint control and a sinker that induces ground balls more than 50% of the time. Stroman is still only 30 years old and has the type of profile that figures to age well. Stroman will command some big-time offers in free agency but with numbers similar to José Berríos, the Twins have a unique opportunity to replace their former ace with a new one. Kevin Gausman RHP 30 years old 2019 - 2021: 288.1 IP, 3.81 ERA, 10.7K/9 Kevin Gausman was another name that Twins fans were looking at as a potential free agent option last offseason, only to miss out on him via the qualifying offer. Similar to Stroman, Gausman is in the midst of the best season of his career, with a 2.35 ERA and a 10.6 K/9. Gausman has a nasty pitch arsenal and the type of stuff that could play over the life of a 5 year contract. Noah Syndergaard RHP 28 years old 2019 - 2021: 197.2 IP, 4.28 ERA, 9.2 K/9 Another name that was once linked to the Minnesota Twins, Syndergaard was talked about as a potential trade return for Byron Buxton when the Twins were looking for a starting pitcher at the 2019 trade deadline. Now a free agent, Syndergaard figures to be a name that will draw interest from many clubs. Syndergaard has elite stuff, highlighted by his fastball that can reach triple digits. What has held “Thor” back is injury, as he is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery he underwent at the end of the 2019 season. When healthy, Syndergaard can be one of the premier starting pitchers in baseball, and while his injury presents risk, it could also present an opportunity to get value on a potential contract. Eduardo Rodriguez LHP 28 years old 2019 - 2021: 303.0 IP, 4.40 ERA, 9.9 K/9 Moving to the southpaws, Eduardo Rodriguez has been an underrated starting pitcher with the Boston Red Sox over the past number of years. Rodriguez is having a tough 2021 season, with an ERA of 5.60, but his underlying statistics show that he has been pitching much better than that. Rodriguez would bring a left handed pitcher to a rotation and farm system full of righties, and at just 28-years-old it’s fair to wonder if the Minnesota Twins could add some MPH to his low-90s fastball and unlock even more from the promising lefty. Robbie Ray LHP 29 years old 2019 - 2021: 350.1 IP, 4.21 ERA, 11.7 K/9 After a miserable 2020 season, Robbie Ray has rebounded in 2021 and is having a career year. After always having the strikeout arsenal, Ray has found his control and is walking a career-low 2.4 batters per 9 innings. Ray is only 29 years old, and if he has truly turned a corner in terms of his command, he could be an ace for the next half-decade and a great candidate to replace José Berríos. Which of these impending free agent pitchers would be the best replacement for José Berríos? Which do you think will command the least and most money on the free agent market? Leave a comment below and start the conversation! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. Jose Berrios has been traded. There have been rumors and now there are confirmations. Jose Berrios will be joining the Toronto Blue Jays as they head back to Canada to play for the first time in a long time. No doubt Berrios will be missed. He is a leader, a two-time All Star, and competitor. In return, the Twins received highly-touted prospects, SS Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson. Martin was the #5 overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Vanderbilt. Martin is a consensus Top 25 overall prospect in baseball. He should soon join the Wichita Wind Surge. He is ranked #21 by Baseball America and #16 by MLB Pipeline. Martin made his professional debut this year, and he has played in 55 games for Double-A New Hampshire. He has hit .281/.424/.383 (.807) with ten doubles, two triples and two home runs. He also has nine stolen bases. Woods-Richardson was traded two years ago from the Mets to the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman deal. The hard-thrower is currently in Tokyo with fellow newly-acquired Twins prospect Joe Ryan at the Olympics. He is ranked #68 by MLB Pipeline. He was the Mets second-round pick in 2018 out of high school in Texas. The 20-year-old is also at Double-A New Hampshire. He is 2-4 with a 5.76 ERA in 11 starts. Over 11 starts and 45 1/3 innings, he has walked too many (26) and struck out a ton (67, 13.3 K/9). On MLB Network, former GM Dan O'Dowd said, "In surplus value, the Twins won this deal. In present value, the Blue Jays get what they need." Once the Washington Nationals traded Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers on Thursday night, Berrios became the best pitcher on the trade market, and the Twins took advantage. The Blue Jays are working to stay in playoff contention in a division currently led by the Red Sox and Rays. They are also trying to keep up with the Yankees who have added sluggers Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo the past two days. A two-time All Star, Berrios will certainly help Toronto down the stretch and, the reason they got such a big return, will help them in 2022 as well. Are the Twins done??? Don't count on it! Story will be updated as we learn more information. You can also add to the story in the comments below.
  21. The month of July featured some turnover that was long overdue with the demotion of Matt Shoemaker at the beginning of month and trading J.A. Happ at the end of the month. We saw seven different starting pitchers and seventeen pitchers get innings altogether. Here are the four I thought did the best. Do you agree? Honorable Mention #3: Bailey Ober This spot was really a toss up between a couple guys, but I went Bailey Ober because I think he faired well given the circumstances. If you had told me, or anyone, that by the end of July Bailey Ober would have 47 1/3 big league innings I would have told you something went terribly wrong. Welp...here we are. Regardless, Ober has responded well and July was no exception. Over 22 2/3 innings and five starts, Ober had a 3.97 ERA while striking out more than one batter per inning, and earning his first major league victory against the Chicago White Sox. His downfall was walks (3.18 per nine) and the long ball (1.59 per nine) which hadn’t been problems in nearly 200 minor league innings. Ober will use the rest of the 2021 season to showcase his talents for the 2022 starting rotation which currently has four open spots. Honorable Mention #2: Danny Coulombe Coulombe has quietly been one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen in his short time with the Twins. He dominated the month of July in particular by striking out 10.64 batters per nine innings, boasting an ERA of 1.64, and ISSUING ZERO WALKS throughout the entire month. I would expect the walk rate to increase as that’s always been an issue for him, but it will be interesting to see how the rest of the season pans out for Coulombe. Despite being 31-years-old, he still has three years of team control remaining which could be significant if he turns into a passable or better reliever for the Minnesota Twins. Honorable Mention #1: José Berríos For the third consecutive month, ‘La Makina’ is the runner up to the Pitcher of the Month and it actually was his worst month of the season. Now, when you’re having the season that Berríos is having, saying it was his worst month is hardly a knock. In the month of July he threw 32 innings over five starts with an ERA of 3.66 and a K/9 of 8.44. If it weren’t for one really bad inning against the Chicago White Sox in the nightcap of a doubleheader, Berríos's July would have been nearly on par with the rest of his season. Of course, the month of July ended the Berríos era with the Minnesota Twins when he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. In his time with the Minnesota Twins, he was one of the most durable pitchers in all of baseball throwing 781 and ⅓ innings, striking out 779 batters, and a 4.08 ERA. Pitcher of the Month: Kenta Maeda It took three months, but we finally got a glimpse of the 2020 Kenta Maeda who finished 2nd in Cy Young voting. It’s been a rough go in 2021, but in July Maeda had an era of just 2.15 while striking out 11.05 batters per nine innings and walking 1.84 batters per nine innings. Despite his efforts, he only earned a decision in two of his five outings, winning one of them. On top of his effectiveness on the mound, he also scored the game winning run when he pinch ran in extra innings against the Detroit Tigers. Currently, Maeda is the only starter that is locked into the rotation for 2022 so regaining his 2020 form will be important to follow over the next two months of the season. How do you feel about these rankings? How would you rank them?
  22. DH Nelson Cruz to Rays for RHPs Joe Ryan and Drew Stotman Many of the Twins' moves project to have positive results. On an expiring contract, Nelson Cruz was dealt for two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. There are plenty of questions about the team’s rotation for 2022, so adding two more pitchers to the mix can only help the organization’s pitching depth. The Cruz deal was far from the only one that made headlines. RHP Jose Berrios to Blue Jays for SS/OF Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson José Berríos was dealt for a pair of top-100 prospects, which seems like a high price to pay for just over a year of Berríos. The Dodgers traded for starting pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner and received a similar trade package in return. Even the website, Baseball Trade Values believes the Blue Jays overpaid. LHP J.A. Happ to Cardinals for RHP John Gant and LHP Evan Sisk Speaking of teams that overpaid, the Twins found a taker for JA Happ, as the Cardinals were willing to trade for him. He’s been bad for most of the season, and his recent numbers don’t point to him improving. It seemed more likely for the Twins to designated him for assignment instead of finding a trade partner, but it was a crazy trade deadline, to say the least. RHP Hansel Robles to Red Sox for RHP Alex Scherff Robles, like Cruz, was on an expiring contract and plenty of contenders were looking for relief help. Minnesota signed Robles for $2 million this off-season and he's had some up-and-down moments as part of a Twins bullpen that has struggled for the majority of the season. Relief pitching can be fickle and Boston hopes Robles can find some of his previous successes. From Minnesota's perspective, the front office has to be happy to get any value back for a player that wasn't part of the team's long-term plans. Who Wasn't Traded? Not every part of the trade deadline was positive for the Twins. Minnesota had multiple players on expiring contracts that stayed with the team, including Michael Pineda and Andrelton Simmons. Pineda is the biggest head-scratcher as the trade market seemed hot for starting pitching. As the smoke cleared, the front office said the right things, but there doesn’t seem to be much value in keeping him around until season’s end. There were plenty of other rumors circulating on Friday, including some big names for the Twins. There was a chance of a Byron Buxton deal with multiple teams interested in the centerfielder. For good reasons, Minnesota’s price was likely high, and there will still be an opportunity to revisit trades this winter. There may also be a chance to revisit a contract extension with Buxton, especially with the young core the organization has built in the minor leagues. Another missed opportunity was parting ways with Josh Donaldson, as his name had been out in the rumor mill throughout the last few weeks. Minnesota signed Donaldson to his four-year deal, knowing that he may decline toward the backend of the contract. He has been relatively healthy this year and producing as one of the league’s best third basemen. This trade deadline might have been his peak trade value, especially since it’s tough to imagine the Twins contending in 2022. Overall, this might go down as a franchise-altering day in Twins history. However, there were some missed opportunities along the way. Now it might be a couple of years before fans know if the team indeed won or lost the 2021 trade deadline. Do you think the Twins were winners or losers at the trade deadline? 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
  23. Please, calm down. I’m not at all saying Berríos is, today, similar to what Santana was when the Mets acquired him from Minnesota. Nor that he will be nearly as good as the Venezuelan. But bear with me, while I look at what those two deals have in common. Their role in the Twins After the 2007 season, Santana was already one of baseball’s greatest pitchers, if not the best one. Mentioning his accolades up until that moment has no use here. They couldn’t afford him, so they found themselves forced to trade him. Berríos, right now, may not be the ace Johan was, but he is certainly one of baseball’s most reliable arms. Especially, you know, health-wise. So far in his career, Berríos hasn’t had any serious injury that cost him relevant playing time. His injury history is immaculate. Minus 2016, the year he got called up for the first time, and 2020, the 60-game season, Berríos has logged at least 145 innings in each season of his career. He’s having career numbers this year, which indicates that he’s only getting better. So he may not be as talented as Santana, but he’s a solid piece of this rotation. A player who could easily be a number three starter for the vast majority of MLB teams. And, at 27, which is two years younger than Santana when he was dealt, you just have to assume he’s just entering his prime. What if they stayed? My main point here is this. What could’ve happened if the Twins could afford Santana and signed him to an extension? And what may happen if they decide to hold on to José now? Everything from now on will be hypothetical, so get ready for many ‘what ifs.’ When Minnesota traded Santana, they knowingly gave up on a two-time Cy Young Award winner, the best starter they had since… Blyleven? Viola in ‘91? Or the best one ever? You decide. If he had stayed, he would’ve made that phenomenal Twins team even better. After a disappointing 79-83 record in 2007, Minnesota went on to win at least 87 games in each of the following three seasons, including a 94-win season in 2010, capping a second consecutive AL Central title. However good they were, those teams could never get past the Yankees in their trips to the ALDS. How much closer to winning a World Series would that particular team be, had Santana stayed? No one will ever know. But I think it’s fair to assume they would have much, much better odds. In conclusion, trading away Johan, even though it was the only logical solution given the club’s financial reality at that point, undeniably made the Twins a worse team. With that being said, let’s shift to Berríos’ case now. Realistically speaking, the Twins are a much better team with him around. No pitcher within the organization brings to the table, today, the same productivity from Berríos. Kenta Maeda bounced back very nicely, but there’s no way he’s had a better season than José so far. If you’re not looking at the prospect of a two or three-year rebuilding process, there’s no way you trade Berríos now. Minnesota’s chances of having a competitive rotation in 2022 are not better at all with the absence of Berríos. Unless, of course, they pull a huge free agent signing during the winter, which is very unlikely. Let me repeat myself: Berríos is no ace (yet), and he doesn’t bring to the table the same as Santana 13 years ago. But if you keep him, adding one or two good free agent arms during the winter could turn this rotation around next year. If you don’t, you’re considerably further along. What is the big difference? Like I said before, the Twins had no alternatives but to trade Santana. Revenue wasn’t the same, so it’s understandable. What you can question is how bad the return for Santana was. That deal turned out to be one of the worst in club history. But, yeah, trading him was a must. On the other hand, that certainly doesn’t seem to be the same case with Berríos now. First, a contract extension to José wouldn’t be nearly as expensive. Twins Daily’s Ted Schwerzler believes that a Berríos contract would look similar to those of Luis Severino, Aaron Nola, and Lance McCullers, ranging around the $12-15M AAV and going for four or five years. We don’t know the complete picture of Minnesota’s financial reality, but that doesn’t seem like a very expensive ask. The aftermath While the return for Santana was suboptimal, sadly, the remainder of Santana’s career was severely affected by injuries. While still a fine pitcher and pitching an amazing 2008 season, he needed to go through two season-ending surgeries in 2009 and 2010, the latter one also removing him from the entirety of 2011. Again turning to hypotheticals, if he had been healthy in New York, watching him pitch at a high level for a different team could be somewhat similar to watch David Ortiz slug his way into the Hall of Fame in a Red Sox uniform. What aggravates Ortiz’s case is the fact that no one saw that coming, unlike Santana. Still, it wouldn’t feel nice. Thinking about the comparison with Berríos, how frustrating would it be to see him actually become an ace for a different team? Many Twins fans don’t consider him ace material up until now. But are you willing to bet money that this will never change? How certain are you that he won’t be one of the league’s top starters two or three years from now? Offering a more optimistic perspective: how amazing would it be if Berríos actually becomes an ace and the Twins had already locked him up long-term with a ‘bargain’ of $15M AAV? He would not only be the cornerstone of the Twins rotation, but he would also serve as a mentor to all the exciting arms coming up from the farm. Just picture, three years from now, a rotation containing Berríos and names like Josh Winder, Jordan Balazovic, Griffin Jax, and Bailey Ober. Assuming the financial aspect isn’t an issue, the only thing standing between Berríos and a future with the Twins is whether the club wants him around or not – unlike Santana. A haul in exchange for him would obviously look nice. But keeping him may potentially be even more profitable. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  24. With virtually every top prospect, the intrigue surrounds what they’ll become at the next level. Berrios was a wiry kid from Puerto Rico. He became a workout warrior known for posting videos of flipping tires and pulling cars during winters on the island. There was not a consensus view on what type of pitcher he’d slot in as in the big leagues, but it’s hard to say he’s been anything but a success story for the Twins. He finishes his time in Minnesota having pitched 781 ⅓ innings across 136 games. His 4.08 ERA is weighed down by the 8.02 mark he put up during his rookie campaign, but he racked up 779 strikeouts and recorded 55 wins. Berrios pitched for some terrible Twins teams and some outstanding ones. He drew some huge Postseason starts, and his last turn against the Houston Astros in 2020 may have been his best. During his Twins tenure Berrios made two All-Star teams and could’ve been in line for another had this season been more competitive. He’s shown Gold Glove-worthy fielding prowess, and he’s revamped that workout routine seen so often in tweets to sustain effectiveness and increase velocity. Jose has always been a humble human being, but he’s grown maturity wise as well handling interviews with increasing confidence. Both on and off the field, Berrios has embodied a consistent and commendable amount of transformation. It’s hard to fault a player like Berrios for wanting to see that massive payday. He’ll enter free agency as one of the premier talents available, and pitching is always something that gets paid for. After playing through arbitration to this point, maximizing his value makes a lot of sense and is also an avenue the Twins may be right in avoiding. Although Minnesota won’t see the end of Berrios’ team control, it’s hard not to look at the life cycle of this player as a big win for them. He was drafted, developed, performed at or above expectations, and now has become a transferable asset. The hope would be that Derek Falvey executes a move bringing back a pitching-laden haul to help the club compete in 2022 and beyond. Maybe Berrios never became the ace that the Twins had hoped for, but he has been their number one starter for virtually the entirety of his time as an established big league veteran. Maybe there’s another step for him to unlock in the years ahead, and this is absolutely a guy that Twins fans can cheer for well beyond his time in the hometown threads. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. Nick, Seth and Matthew break down a busy trade deadline, sharing thoughts on the José Berríos, J.A. Happ and Hansel Robles deals. You can catch future live streams by following our YouTube, Twitter and Facebook channels.
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