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  1. This offseason the Minnesota Twins shocked the baseball world when an early-morning deal was reached with superstar Carlos Correa. The three-year contract features an opt-out, but both sides could be amenable to a longer term situation. What would that look like? Carlos Correa’s current contract is a three-year deal for $105.3 million. The deal is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First, the opt-out comes after year one, in which Correa could look for another payday on the open market with a different group of shortstop competition. The other level of intrigue comes from the $35.1 annual amount, which checks in $100,000 more than Anthony Rendon’s deal. That $100,000 put him above the other Scott Boras client and made Correa the highest-paid infielder in Major League history. Of course, the expectation has always been that Correa would opt out with Minnesota and look for a bigger payday. He did indicate there was interest in a long-term deal with the Twins though, and the second ACL tear for Royce Lewis could clear the way for a stable need at shortstop. Assuming both sides are interested in finding a workable future, the one-up of this contract may also come into play. Rendon’s deal was signed with the third basemen at the age of 30. He was paid $245 million for seven years. It’s been a colossal disaster in that he’s played just 155 games over his first three seasons with the Angels. Correa will be just 28 years old next season, a notably younger age than that of Rendon. It would hardly be shocking if the desire was for any extension to be something in the neighborhood of 10 years. Minnesota has not previously gone long term with pitchers under this regime, but they have shown an inclination to spend. Getting the Twins to hand out a ten-year deal to Correa seems unlikely from both a term and financial perspective. Knowing that a deal of that size would be something like $350 million probably takes it off the table. If Correa was open to a seven-year pact, however, this front office may find value in paying a superstar at an integral position something like $250 million. If Correa was open to a $35.5 million annual number, he’d be at $248.5 million over the life of the deal. Maybe that’s not enough of a step up from what Rendon got given the two years of age to his credit, but that’s probably a ballpark worth hypothesizing about. No matter what the eventual number winds up being, it’s hard to wrap your mind around the Twins being the team to dole out that cash. On the flip side, this is a player they will have gotten to know for a full season, and has been lauded for his leadership and ability throughout the organization. With no surefire answer at the shortstop position for 2023, the alternative is likely a much lesser stopgap option. This core of Twins talent is exciting and seems to mesh well together. Putting Lewis and Correa on the same side of the infield for the next handful of years is something everyone in Twins Territory could get behind. Like Buxton before him, Correa would be in a place providing Minnesota sole negotiating opportunity. They aren’t going to get the discount afforded them by their other superstar, but this one stays on the field and should be worth every penny as well. Some deadline additions and a postseason run could continue to help Minnesota make its case as a compelling suitor for Correa. So far they've put the right feet forward. The next one will be to present the bag. View full article
  2. Carlos Correa’s current contract is a three-year deal for $105.3 million. The deal is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First, the opt-out comes after year one, in which Correa could look for another payday on the open market with a different group of shortstop competition. The other level of intrigue comes from the $35.1 annual amount, which checks in $100,000 more than Anthony Rendon’s deal. That $100,000 put him above the other Scott Boras client and made Correa the highest-paid infielder in Major League history. Of course, the expectation has always been that Correa would opt out with Minnesota and look for a bigger payday. He did indicate there was interest in a long-term deal with the Twins though, and the second ACL tear for Royce Lewis could clear the way for a stable need at shortstop. Assuming both sides are interested in finding a workable future, the one-up of this contract may also come into play. Rendon’s deal was signed with the third basemen at the age of 30. He was paid $245 million for seven years. It’s been a colossal disaster in that he’s played just 155 games over his first three seasons with the Angels. Correa will be just 28 years old next season, a notably younger age than that of Rendon. It would hardly be shocking if the desire was for any extension to be something in the neighborhood of 10 years. Minnesota has not previously gone long term with pitchers under this regime, but they have shown an inclination to spend. Getting the Twins to hand out a ten-year deal to Correa seems unlikely from both a term and financial perspective. Knowing that a deal of that size would be something like $350 million probably takes it off the table. If Correa was open to a seven-year pact, however, this front office may find value in paying a superstar at an integral position something like $250 million. If Correa was open to a $35.5 million annual number, he’d be at $248.5 million over the life of the deal. Maybe that’s not enough of a step up from what Rendon got given the two years of age to his credit, but that’s probably a ballpark worth hypothesizing about. No matter what the eventual number winds up being, it’s hard to wrap your mind around the Twins being the team to dole out that cash. On the flip side, this is a player they will have gotten to know for a full season, and has been lauded for his leadership and ability throughout the organization. With no surefire answer at the shortstop position for 2023, the alternative is likely a much lesser stopgap option. This core of Twins talent is exciting and seems to mesh well together. Putting Lewis and Correa on the same side of the infield for the next handful of years is something everyone in Twins Territory could get behind. Like Buxton before him, Correa would be in a place providing Minnesota sole negotiating opportunity. They aren’t going to get the discount afforded them by their other superstar, but this one stays on the field and should be worth every penny as well. Some deadline additions and a postseason run could continue to help Minnesota make its case as a compelling suitor for Correa. So far they've put the right feet forward. The next one will be to present the bag.
  3. After grabbing Cron following his DFA from the Tampa Bay Rays last offseason, Minnesota got a tale of two halves from their first basemen. Through May Cron had an .866 OPS and that number was still .833 at the end of June. He went on the injured list for the first time on July 7. At that point he had an .821 OPS and he returned nine days later only to make a second IL trip on the 22nd on July. From the time he returned on August 3, he posted just a .702 OPS and seven homers across 149 plate appearances. Gone was the power hitter that started the year so well for Minnesota. Having undergone offseason surgery to address the issue with his thumb, something he has done previously in his career, the health status of the California native will remain largely up in the air until spring training begins. Judging by their decision to non-tender, it seems that was a risk that the Twins were unwilling to take. But what do they do now? Well, if there was one thing that substantially failed the Twins down the stretch last year it was defense. Byron Buxton being on the shelf didn’t help the outfield at all, but the infield struggled to stay above water as well. Miguel Sano proved limited in his lateral movement, Jorge Polanco’s throws were often erratic, and Luis Arraez posted negative defensive numbers despite being otherworldly at the dish. If Rocco Baldelli wants that to take a step forward, shuffling some pieces on the dirt makes some sense. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1201521805829320709 The growing sentiment is that Miguel Sano can slide over to first base. That seems like his most likely position long-term unless he’s going to be a designated hitter. He would need to put in significant work to be capable there given the number of scoops Cron saved for his fielders in 2019. Footwork is also a drastic change across the diamond, and while Sano is plenty good enough as an athlete to do this, it would absolutely be a work in progress. From a net gain perspective for the team however, there’s probably the most room for growth by acquiring an elite third basemen. On this year’s market there are just two players that fit the bill: Josh Donaldson and Anthony Rendon. They couldn’t be more different from a compensation and future perspective and they offer drastically differing opportunities. Donaldson is a larger risk due to age and injury but comes at a muted cost. Rendon has the probability of being a perennial MVP candidate, but will be close to breaking the bank for years to come. Should Minnesota venture down either of these paths, the substantial step forward at third would likely boost Polanco on that side as well. You acquire a plus bat with a glove that plays well above average at the hot corner and the defensive acumen begins to turn up. I’m not suggesting that it’s Donaldson, Rendon, or bust for the Twins. Maybe they have an eye on a non-tender like Travis Shaw, maybe they believe Alex Kirilloff or Brent Rooker is ready, or maybe someone not currently on the radar becomes an option. It does seem logical to believe that with Cron being moved on from, a shift on the infield dirt is coming. I’d bet on regression for almost all lineups across baseball in 2020, so how you handle the other facets of the game will wind up being the difference in who sinks or swims. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY - Minnesota’s Internal First Base Options - Twins Offseason Trade Target: Matt Chapman - What the Early Twins Offseason Rumblings Tell Us
  4. Every team in baseball should be salivating at the thought of adding either Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg to their starting rotation. Young aces simply don’t hit the free agent market often, and when they do the costs will be substantial. Minnesota can afford either (and even both), but I’d expect Cole to look at the West Coast or New York, while Strasburg returns to D.C. with on a hefty raise. That doesn’t mean all is lost for the Twins, but how they react is where this narrative begins. Going into 2019 the front office suggested a wait and see approach that was built on the premise of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano establishing their value. The former looks the part of a star (when healthy), and the latter showed he’s one of the best power hitters in the game. Neither of them was a linchpin in the 101-win season though, and Rocco Baldelli got strong performance by utilizing the full sum of his parts. Buxton and Sano can be key cogs, but the winning was as much alongside them as opposed to being because of them. Now with an established infrastructure of developmental talent, a big-league roster capable of competing with anyone, and opportunity as abundant as it may ever be, it’s time to follow in the footsteps of recent World Series winners and begin to capitalize on the window. I’d hardly be shocked if the win total takes a slight step backwards, but the goal is an extended presence into October. Here’s how that happens in 2020: 1. Cron is the odd man out in arbitration deals. After a nagging thumb injury in 2019, Cron should be all systems go in 2020. He was great before the thumb issue flared up, and I certainly have no problem with the Twins offering him an arbitration deal. Unfortunately, this projection includes a roster crunch, so C.J. becomes the lone arbitration-eligible player to not be tendered a new deal. 2. Make Anthony Rendon the big splash paying him $33 million for eight years. Last offseason I liked the idea of Josh Donaldson coming to the Twins. He was a former superstar and could be had at a discount. Going home to Georgia he had a very good bounce-back year. With plenty of money to spend, and the top two pitchers likely off the board, the next superstar opportunity is a better one. Anthony Rendon is an MVP-level talent, has been incredibly consistent, and joins one of the best lineups in baseball. I’m not sure Miguel Sano needs to move across the diamond yet, but there’s no reason this isn’t a good enough opportunity for him to do so. 3. Sign Zack Wheeler to a four-year, $72 million contract. At the top of Minnesota’s impact pitching list should be Zack Wheeler. Hiss secondary numbers are drool-inducing, and he’s already got plenty of velocity for Wes Johnson to work with. Allowing the Twins pitching coach to pull more from the 29-year-old and Baldelli would have a very impressive one-two punch at the top of his rotation. 4. Sign Jake Odorizzi to a three-year, $36 million contract. The Twins smartly handed Odorizzi a qualifying offer. He could take that and return at $17.8 million which would be just fine. It may also ward off some competition for his services, keeping the bidding on a longer-term deal. Two-years doesn’t seem enticing for the former Rays hurler if the alternative is a gaudy one-year pact, so go three and bolster the middle of the group. 5. Trade Eddie Rosario and Jhoan Duran to the Colorado Rockies for Jon Gray. Under team control for two more years, the former third overall pick is where I’m setting my sights in a swap for the Minnesota outfielder. Rosario can probably hit a boatload of bombas in the Rockies, while Gray can be expected to build on a career year in 2019. His FIP has suggested there’s more than the ERA has told us for a few years, and while the walks could be reduced, the strikeout stuff is going to play anywhere. At worst you’ve got a number four starter, and the upside is a guy to contend with Wheeler and Jose Berrios at the top. Duran was the main piece in the Eduardo Escobar deal, and he looked impressive during his first full season in the organization. 6. Sign Alex Gordon to a one-year, $2 million contract. Prioritizing defense is a must for the Twins in 2020. With Eddie Rosario gone, adding another plus-glove into the outfield mix as depth makes a lot of sense. Gordon isn’t the player he once was, but he’s still above average in the field and can play left as often as Marwin Gonzalez is elsewhere. Ideally, I’d like some center field depth, but I’d tell Max Kepler and Jake Cave to be as prepared as possible coming into spring training. Gordon is done with his massive Royals payday, and the $4 million buyout should reduce his 2020 ask as well. 7. Sign Robinson Chirinos to a one-year, $6 million contract. I’d be fine with Jason Castro returning on this same exact deal, if he’s open to it. Chirinos is an excellent backstop with a strong bat, and seemingly an impressive clubhouse presence. He recently wrapped up a season coming just shy of winning a World Series and could help push Minnesota toward that same exact goal. 8. Sign Drew Pomeranz and Sergio Romo to one-year deals for $3.5 and $3 million. The former gives Minnesota a second lefty option in the pen, and his former starting experience should allow for some length as well. A reunion with Romo would work in the clubhouse, and his slider is still as devastating as ever. Neither represent earth-shattering pen arms, but this is the easiest avenue toward improvement. Summary The most prolific power offense in the history of baseball returns in 2020, but with an added boost. Eddie Rosario ends up being dangled to acquire pitching but getting the best position player on the market makes up for that and then some. Rendon’s bat plays, and his glove may be even more important. I like Marwin in the outfield more than on the dirt, and Alex Gordon provides a defense-first bench option that the Twins haven’t had. Yes, the outfield prospects are close, but there’s still a clear path to playing time, and the Opening Day roster starts in a very good place. From a pitching perspective it’s a season of change. Odorizzi is back with Berrios, but the impact is felt from outside the organization. Wheeler represents a second bullet for Minnesota to mold into an ace, and he can bolster the top of the staff even if he doesn’t get there. Gray should benefit from leaving the Rockies, and a better organization can most certainly take his stuff up another level. I struggled with the idea of giving Brusdar Graterol a rotation spot out of the gate. He has never pitched more than 102 innings in a season, is coming off just 61 in 2019, and is still just 21-years-old. Ideally, he starts at Triple-A and settles back into starting. That said, I like his arm a good deal better than any fringe fifth starter, and if Minnesota deems that he beats out the likes of Lewis Thorpe then take off the training wheels. If there’s a weak spot to this roster it’s the same area 2019 started out with. The relief corps is composed of internally developed arms, which is only a strength if regression is to be denied. Rogers, May, Duffey, and Littell all return as near certainties. Stashak earned himself an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster, and Devin Smeltzer could be a nice long man in relief. Free agents, one returning, complete the group and Pomeranz looks to have some serious upside. Should the Twins find themselves cycling through arms too often out of the pen, or if there’s a lack of production, relief arms at the deadline are among the most easily acquirable commodities. When the dust settles this puts the Opening Day payroll at $143.4 million. That’s almost a $30 million jump from 2019, and a step up from the previous high-water mark in 2018 as well. This is the time to build, and this plan leaves the Twins with opportunity to add more in 2021 and puts forth a very strong group to defend their AL Central Division title. ~~~ What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long.
  5. There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins greatest need this offseason is pitching. The front office has stated their focus will be on arms defined as “impact” and filling out a rotation that’s virtually empty is a must. With the premiere arms having plenty of suitors, the Twins could turn to what they did best in 2019.Every team in baseball should be salivating at the thought of adding either Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg to their starting rotation. Young aces simply don’t hit the free agent market often, and when they do the costs will be substantial. Minnesota can afford either (and even both), but I’d expect Cole to look at the West Coast or New York, while Strasburg returns to D.C. with on a hefty raise. That doesn’t mean all is lost for the Twins, but how they react is where this narrative begins. Going into 2019 the front office suggested a wait and see approach that was built on the premise of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano establishing their value. The former looks the part of a star (when healthy), and the latter showed he’s one of the best power hitters in the game. Neither of them was a linchpin in the 101-win season though, and Rocco Baldelli got strong performance by utilizing the full sum of his parts. Buxton and Sano can be key cogs, but the winning was as much alongside them as opposed to being because of them. Now with an established infrastructure of developmental talent, a big-league roster capable of competing with anyone, and opportunity as abundant as it may ever be, it’s time to follow in the footsteps of recent World Series winners and begin to capitalize on the window. I’d hardly be shocked if the win total takes a slight step backwards, but the goal is an extended presence into October. Here’s how that happens in 2020: 1. Cron is the odd man out in arbitration deals. After a nagging thumb injury in 2019, Cron should be all systems go in 2020. He was great before the thumb issue flared up, and I certainly have no problem with the Twins offering him an arbitration deal. Unfortunately, this projection includes a roster crunch, so C.J. becomes the lone arbitration-eligible player to not be tendered a new deal. 2. Make Anthony Rendon the big splash paying him $33 million for eight years. Last offseason I liked the idea of Josh Donaldson coming to the Twins. He was a former superstar and could be had at a discount. Going home to Georgia he had a very good bounce-back year. With plenty of money to spend, and the top two pitchers likely off the board, the next superstar opportunity is a better one. Anthony Rendon is an MVP-level talent, has been incredibly consistent, and joins one of the best lineups in baseball. I’m not sure Miguel Sano needs to move across the diamond yet, but there’s no reason this isn’t a good enough opportunity for him to do so. 3. Sign Zack Wheeler to a four-year, $72 million contract. At the top of Minnesota’s impact pitching list should be Zack Wheeler. Hiss secondary numbers are drool-inducing, and he’s already got plenty of velocity for Wes Johnson to work with. Allowing the Twins pitching coach to pull more from the 29-year-old and Baldelli would have a very impressive one-two punch at the top of his rotation. 4. Sign Jake Odorizzi to a three-year, $36 million contract. The Twins smartly handed Odorizzi a qualifying offer. He could take that and return at $17.8 million which would be just fine. It may also ward off some competition for his services, keeping the bidding on a longer-term deal. Two-years doesn’t seem enticing for the former Rays hurler if the alternative is a gaudy one-year pact, so go three and bolster the middle of the group. 5. Trade Eddie Rosario and Jhoan Duran to the Colorado Rockies for Jon Gray. Under team control for two more years, the former third overall pick is where I’m setting my sights in a swap for the Minnesota outfielder. Rosario can probably hit a boatload of bombas in the Rockies, while Gray can be expected to build on a career year in 2019. His FIP has suggested there’s more than the ERA has told us for a few years, and while the walks could be reduced, the strikeout stuff is going to play anywhere. At worst you’ve got a number four starter, and the upside is a guy to contend with Wheeler and Jose Berrios at the top. Duran was the main piece in the Eduardo Escobar deal, and he looked impressive during his first full season in the organization. 6. Sign Alex Gordon to a one-year, $2 million contract. Prioritizing defense is a must for the Twins in 2020. With Eddie Rosario gone, adding another plus-glove into the outfield mix as depth makes a lot of sense. Gordon isn’t the player he once was, but he’s still above average in the field and can play left as often as Marwin Gonzalez is elsewhere. Ideally, I’d like some center field depth, but I’d tell Max Kepler and Jake Cave to be as prepared as possible coming into spring training. Gordon is done with his massive Royals payday, and the $4 million buyout should reduce his 2020 ask as well. 7. Sign Robinson Chirinos to a one-year, $6 million contract. I’d be fine with Jason Castro returning on this same exact deal, if he’s open to it. Chirinos is an excellent backstop with a strong bat, and seemingly an impressive clubhouse presence. He recently wrapped up a season coming just shy of winning a World Series and could help push Minnesota toward that same exact goal. 8. Sign Drew Pomeranz and Sergio Romo to one-year deals for $3.5 and $3 million. The former gives Minnesota a second lefty option in the pen, and his former starting experience should allow for some length as well. A reunion with Romo would work in the clubhouse, and his slider is still as devastating as ever. Neither represent earth-shattering pen arms, but this is the easiest avenue toward improvement. Summary The most prolific power offense in the history of baseball returns in 2020, but with an added boost. Eddie Rosario ends up being dangled to acquire pitching but getting the best position player on the market makes up for that and then some. Rendon’s bat plays, and his glove may be even more important. I like Marwin in the outfield more than on the dirt, and Alex Gordon provides a defense-first bench option that the Twins haven’t had. Yes, the outfield prospects are close, but there’s still a clear path to playing time, and the Opening Day roster starts in a very good place. Download attachment: Lineup.PNG From a pitching perspective it’s a season of change. Odorizzi is back with Berrios, but the impact is felt from outside the organization. Wheeler represents a second bullet for Minnesota to mold into an ace, and he can bolster the top of the staff even if he doesn’t get there. Gray should benefit from leaving the Rockies, and a better organization can most certainly take his stuff up another level. I struggled with the idea of giving Brusdar Graterol a rotation spot out of the gate. He has never pitched more than 102 innings in a season, is coming off just 61 in 2019, and is still just 21-years-old. Ideally, he starts at Triple-A and settles back into starting. That said, I like his arm a good deal better than any fringe fifth starter, and if Minnesota deems that he beats out the likes of Lewis Thorpe then take off the training wheels. Download attachment: Rotation.PNG If there’s a weak spot to this roster it’s the same area 2019 started out with. The relief corps is composed of internally developed arms, which is only a strength if regression is to be denied. Rogers, May, Duffey, and Littell all return as near certainties. Stashak earned himself an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster, and Devin Smeltzer could be a nice long man in relief. Free agents, one returning, complete the group and Pomeranz looks to have some serious upside. Should the Twins find themselves cycling through arms too often out of the pen, or if there’s a lack of production, relief arms at the deadline are among the most easily acquirable commodities. Download attachment: Bullpen.PNG When the dust settles this puts the Opening Day payroll at $143.4 million. That’s almost a $30 million jump from 2019, and a step up from the previous high-water mark in 2018 as well. This is the time to build, and this plan leaves the Twins with opportunity to add more in 2021 and puts forth a very strong group to defend their AL Central Division title. ~~~ What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long. Click here to view the article
  6. Today officially marks the beginning of free agency for the 2020 Major League Baseball season. The Minnesota Twins have some serious work to do with four-fifths of their starting rotation up for grabs, and a 100-win season to replicate. Rocco Baldelli will be angling for a second straight AL Central Division title, and the goal for the foreseeable future in Twins Territory will be Postseason berths. While working through a full blueprint to outline a 25-man roster for the Twins I found myself getting hung up on a few key areas. I think we’re going to see a handful of moves that may come as a surprise, and rather than trying to pinpoint each, a better plan of action seemed to come with a top down view. While remaining somewhat specific, here’s how I’d handle things going into 2020: Start with the Rotation: Jose Berrios is locked in. I’d try to get him extended on a long-term deal again. Minnesota has approached his camp previously, but talks have not moved forward. He’s a few steps from a Cy Young arm, and at that point, he won’t have interest in avoiding the open market. Even if the Twins offer Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg significantly over market rate, I’d imagine both say no. Falvey should be all in on both arms, but the lure of a bigger market or home on the west coast probably proves too strong. This is where you pivot. Zack Wheeler is the best pitcher available in the Twins wheelhouse, and he’s a very good one. Make him a priority and get that done as soon as possible. Two 2019 options should also be leveraged as possible returnees. Minnesota should offer both Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda a qualifying offer. The former could turn that into a two or three year deal while the later could then be had at roughly $13 million accounting for his remaining suspension. The final rotation spot would then be filled out by a trade. There’s too much firepower on the Twins farm not to execute something, and Eddie Rosario represents an expendable big-league asset. Utilize the depth to go and get someone like Jon Gray, Joe Musgrove, or Matt Boyd. Aiming even higher to a proven commodity as Twins Daily’s Nick Nelson suggested might be interesting as well. Add to the Lineup: It’s fair to assume that regression is going to hit for the 2020 Twins. What’s also worth noting is that any changes to the baseball will have a widespread impact. Minnesota hit bombas because of a strong plate approach, and that will play regardless of what composition the baseball encompasses. That being said, a great deterrent to a step backwards offensively is adding more offense. The Twins have a boatload, something like $70 million, to spend this offseason. With Wheeler being the likely high-water mark on the mound, there’s going to be plenty to go around. Instead of overpaying similar candidates on the bump, choose the guy(s) that makes the most financial sense add allocate the funds towards high impact help elsewhere. I’ve talked myself into this, look at Anthony Rendon. The Twins could bring back C.J. Cron, and barring better wrist health, he should see a nice boost. They could also move Miguel Sano across the diamond and angle for a substantial upgrade at the hot corner with some intriguing options. Rendon is an MVP-type superstar and has plenty of good years ahead of him. I’m not as keen on 34-year-old Josh Donaldson as I was last year, because he’ll now want a multi-year deal, but that’s not a bad option either. If the Cubs are truly inclined to move Kris Bryant, and there’s a belief in his health, I’d absolutely explore that scenario as well. At the end of the day it comes down to this; if you can’t spend the money on pitching, you need to spend it elsewhere and aiming high is far better than adding quantity. Rounding out the offense would include an additional outfielder and a catcher. Whether or not Eddie Rosario is traded a guy that could be had on a one-year deal makes sense. I like the idea of Corey Dickerson as a corner outfielder with on-base skills and some pop. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a very strong defender, which is a facet of the game Minnesota needs to improve on. Cameron Maybin is also somewhat intriguing with the ability to play some centerfield. Behind the plate you operate with Mitch Garver as the starter. He needs to play more often than he did in 2019, but there could be a decent amount of truth to him being at his best with significant rest. Pairing him with a nice defender that can also hit makes sense and going the route of former Houston Astro Robinson Chirinos is to my liking. He’s got good on base skills, hits better than a traditional catcher, and isn’t a hack behind the plate. Shore up the Bullpen: Coming out of the winter and into Spring Training there was nothing more problematic than Minnesota’s bullpen. It looked the part of a dumpster fire that was going to struggle getting anyone out. Then the development of some internal arms took place and Baldelli’s group was one of the best in baseball down the stretch. Zack Littell, Tyler Duffey, and Trevor May have all worked their way into a circle of trust. Wes Johnson will still need three or four other arms to complete the group, however. Rather than pushing Lewis Thorpe or Brusdar Graterol to the pen full time, bringing in some hired guns is the way to go. Sergio Romo should be welcomed back, but there’s no reason to pigeonhole that move either. Drew Pomeranz could be a nice second lefty, and any number of arms make sense to round out the group. Will Smith is the cream of the crop, but Will Harris and Jake Diekman types have purpose as well. To summarize how I’d plan I’ll say this: For the first time in a while, spend. The window is open, you know what you have, and the prospect depth is coming close to maturation. Whether you can land the big fish on the mound or not is always going to be tough with plenty of suitors and a less-than-ideal-destination, but those resources need to go elsewhere then. Minnesota should clear $140 million in payroll this winter, and $150 million is far from unrealistic. Do as much as you can on the mound, and then look to make the additional impact throughout the roster. Minnesota is no longer in a wait and see mode. The capability of youth has been understood, the veterans have provided plenty of production, and the circumstances are now on your side. There’s been complaints for years that have been somewhat misguided without that trifecta being a reality. In 2020, there’s nothing holding the organization back but itself, and it’s time to remove that barrier. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  7. Obviously, this all hinges on how the organization views the immediate future of Miguel Sano. He’s the current starter at the hot corner and is coming off a .923 OPS during his age-26 season. The Dominican native is under team control for each of the next two seasons, and the expectation would be that his salary remains under $10 million before hitting the open market. Rocco Baldelli has an opening at first base if the club decides to non-tender C.J. Cron, and it’s always been assumed that Sano would be better off switching sides on the diamond. Assume Miguel moves and vacates the hot corner, the timing may never be better. Rendon will play 2020 as a 30-year-old and is coming off an MVP caliber season. He posted a 1.010 OPS and launched a career high 34 home runs. Even with some regression, Rendon hasn’t posted an OPS below .900 since 2016. He’s consistently been a 6 WAR player and generates production through both offensive and defensive excellence. In his final year of arbitration Rendon made $18.8 million for the Nationals. Fangraphs has valued his production as being worth roughly $50 million annually since 2016, and he hasn’t been worth less than $34 million since 2015. The open market isn’t going to pay him that handsomely but expecting a 5-7 year deal that checks in between $25-30 million on a yearly basis seems more than doable. Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado would be the only third basemen paid above Rendon, and that seems like a pretty fair place for him to slot into the leaderboard. The downside to this argument is that Minnesota should be throwing a good deal of their cash at arms. If we assume they have something like $70 million to spend, chopping that almost in half by inking a position player isn’t a great use of funds. However, there’re only so many pitchers on the open market worthy of the big-time payday. Should Minnesota miss on Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, I’d expect only Zack Wheeler to surpass the $20 million mark. That means the Twins could sign a very good arm and still accommodate a contract enticing to Rendon. By no means should the assumption or expectation be that the front office prioritizes a third basemen. Even if there’s a desire to move Sano defensively, other more economical options exist. If the goal is to raise the overall talent level to the highest possible extent though, adding a superstar like Rendon certainly bridges the gap between a superstar pitcher and just a middle of the rotation arm. It’s hard to project the Twins as a serious player any time we’re talking about the best player on the market types, but we’ve entered the territory where the organization is ready to compete and do so at a World Series worthy level.
  8. Brief Overview: As is to be expected from any National League club, the Nationals are relative strangers to Target Field. This will be their first visit without Bryce Harper, and thankfully for the Twins, Max Scherzer is not scheduled to pitch in this set either. Washington is wrapping up a brief two-city road trip and is just 1-3 after leaving Atlanta with a series loss. What They Do Well: You have to start this section with their resolve and resilience. Expected to be a postseason team when 2019 began, the Washington Nationals raced out to an awful 20-31 start. By the beginning of June it looked like Davey Martinez’s squad was left for dead owning a 24-33 record and trailing in the NL East by nine full games.Since that point they have gone 55-30 being one of the hottest teams in the sport, and are now firmly entrenched in the first wild card spot. It’s not a surprise that a team with Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin in its rotation would pitch well. At fifth in overall fWAR as a staff, it’s the rotation that does the heavy lifting on this club. Washington’s starters own the best fWAR in baseball and have generated a full win more than the second-place Dodgers. Just because they can pitch doesn’t mean they don’t hit as well. Bryce Harper’s departure wasn’t ever going to be inconsequential but the lineup has had plenty of players step up. The lineup has produced a top third fWAR and they’ve scored the seventh most runs in all of baseball. What They Do Not Do Well: Technically we could put fielding in this category as the Nationals own the 19th-rated team in terms of defensive WAR. That’s essentially middle of the pack though, and it’s only two spots shy of the Minnesota Twins. Relief pitching has been atrocious. Washington owns the 25th overall fWAR from a relief perspective, and the poor performances have come from all over the place. Sean Doolittle looked like a lock-down lefty until just shy of the trade deadline, and now he’s got a 4.09 ERA. Tanner Rainey is the only arm with an ERA south of 4.00 to pitch more than 25 innings for the Nationals, and they’ve turned to Oakland Athletics castoff Fernando Rodney as a steadying presence. The bullpen is a hodgepodge of no-names and has-beens, while the group as a whole has hardly lived up to expectations (or performed right on par with them depending on how you look at it.) Individuals of Note: You know all about Strasburg, Scherzer, and Corbin. You probably know that Juan Soto is one of the best young players in the game right now. The outfielder has a .968 OPS through 131 games and he’s making it look incredibly easy. Former divisional foe Yan Gomes is on this club, and previous fan favorite Brian Dozier comes back to town for the first time as well. The most important individual, and one that flies under the radar most often, is none other than Anthony Rendon. Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger have gotten all of the NL MVP hype in 2019, but you best believe the Nationals third baseman is deserving of consideration as well. Rendon is just 29, has a 1.047 OPS and has blasted 32 dingers this season. He hits for average, he hits for power, and he does it all while playing a strong third base. If it’s Gerrit Cole being handed a blank check on the bump this free agency cycle, teams should be lining up to pay Rendon whatever he wants to join their lineup. Recent History: Minnesota last played Washington in 2016 going 0-3 against them. The last time the Nationals were in Minnesota the Twins still played at the Metrodome. In 2008 the Twins swept the Nats over a three-game series in June. Recent Trajectories: Minnesota has gone 6-4 over their last ten games but are coming off a dropped series to begin this six game home swing. The Nats are 5-5 in their last 10 and went 1-4 against the Braves to start this trip. Pitching Matchups: Tuesday: Berrios vs Sanchez Wednesday: Perez vs Strasburg Thursday: Gibson vs Corbin Ending Thoughts: For whatever reason I was convinced that the Twins were scheduled to play the Nationals in 2020. That isn’t the case though, and Stephen Strasburg will be making his Target Field debut this week. Juan Soto was all of 9-years-old when Washington last came to Minnesota. This is going to be a clash of two good, likely playoff-bound, clubs. The Twins need to get healthy, and showing a lineup that resembles that during this series is a must. With the starter tipped in their favor just once, the Twins are in an uphill battle, but this team has risen to the occasion often in 2019. I’ll say the Fightin’ Rocco’s take two and keep the train moving.
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