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  1. The Minnesota Twins are entering the 2022 Major League Baseball offseason with somewhere between $45-65 million at their disposal just to reach last year’s payroll. With plenty of the roster penciled, how much of that can be ticketed for pitching, and who makes the most sense? Image courtesy of Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports Last season, there was hand-wringing virtually every time Rocco Baldelli took a stroll out to the mound. No matter the circumstance, it was often seen as a quick hook and undeserving for the starting pitcher to be lifted. At the end of the summer, I took a look at why short starts aren’t really just a Minnesota thing, and the greatest difference maker being the acquisition of better starters. You can expect Kenta Maeda, Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, and Joe Ryan all to be in Pete Maki’s Opening Day rotation for 2023. What they do from there though is where this discussion begins. After opting for the likes of Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer last season, there was very little upside to the back of Minnesota’s rotation. Ryan was named the Opening Day starter despite having made just five turns in the big leagues. Bailey Ober looked the part but had been an injury concern previously, and it didn’t take long for that to manifest again in 2022. Realistically speaking, Minnesota has no room for another middling type. It’s necessary for them to go get a top-of-the-rotation arm and use the likes of Josh Winder, Louie Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson, and others as depth. So, where could that lead them? Starting with the free agent market, there are more than a few names to rule out. I don’t foresee Minnesota as a landing spot for Jacob deGrom and Clayton Kershaw probably doesn’t ever want a new uniform. Justin Verlander has a player option, and Chris Sale continues to be unhealthy. The most logical option is probably Carlos Rodon, who the Twins were in on before he signed with the San Francisco Giants. Coming off another dominant season, and one of health, he’s in line for a payday and will have plenty of suitors. Both Noah Syndergaard and Nathan Eovaldi could fit the bill as well, though their effectiveness is questionable to varying degrees. Sean Manaea, Chris Bassitt, Tyler Anderson, and Mike Clevinger could all also be of intrigue. Looking at the trade landscape, a team Minnesota seems to matchup well with is the Miami Marlins. If they are open to moving Pablo Lopez, it’s hard to argue that Max Kepler wouldn’t be a fit there. Maybe the Diamondbacks are willing to part with Zac Gallen (who the Marlins once traded), or the Padres could be amenable to finding someone willing to take on Blake Snell’s contract. Merrill Kelly is another Arizona arm that should draw intrigue, and if Derek Falvey wants to gamble on an aging friend, Corey Kluber may be worth a shot. Realistically, the names above all provide differing levels of expected production. What the Twins will be tasked with is deciding who they think can surpass the bar set by Sonny Gray. Maeda is a question mark coming off of Tommy John surgery, but we’ve seen him throw at a very high level previously. Mahle looks the part of a breakout star waiting to happen, and it’s no doubt part of the reason he was targeted from the Reds. Ryan has been fine, but the numbers against quality opponents are reason for concern. If he’s the 5th starter though, the quality of the rotation goes up substantially. An overhaul at the back of the bullpen can help to supplement what the Twins want to do in 2023, but the more they can rely on their starters, the better the staff as a whole will be. Even if the Twins find a way to bring Carlos Correa back on a big-time contract, they’ll have money to spend on pitching, and doing so while so much of the nucleus is in a cost-controlled situation makes plenty of sense. Falvey was brought in to develop pitching, and while we haven’t seen it in droves, there are success stories. Paying for top starters is tough, so is acquiring them, but it may be more straightforward than waiting for the next breakout to come. View full article
  2. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine swung a deal with San Diego the day before Opening Day when they sent closer Taylor Rogers (and Brent Rooker) to the Bay Area in exchange for Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan. The former looked the part of a strong asset until he underwent Tommy John surgery early in the year, while the latter was held onto through a season of ineffectiveness. I’d assume both parties still have each others’ numbers, and with the Twins needing high-end starting pitching, it makes sense to call a team with excess in that category. Truly it’s too bad that Joe Musgrove got paid this season with the Padres. Dating back to his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he should’ve been one of the most coveted arms in baseball. The stuff has always been amazing and he simply needed someone to unlock it. Regardless, I digress. Both Mike Clevinger and Sean Manaea will be free agents following the World Series. Both would represent an upgrade for the Twins, and either could’ve been a trade deadline target should the team have opted for it. Obviously Falvey has a substantial amount of familiarity with Clevinger due to their shared time in Cleveland, and he could be willing to reunite. Manaea was among the two pieces (alongside Frankie Montas) that Oakland was always expected to move, and they did so in early April. Money is the only thing necessary to negotiate terms with either of those two arms. Prospect capital could be used on either Yu Darvish or Blake Snell. San Diego’s depth this offseason won’t look like what it did over the summer, but maybe they’re still willing to part with one of their highly paid arms. Darvish is entering the final year of a deal he signed with the Chicago Cubs. In 2023 he’ll make $18 million, and Minnesota general manager Thad Levine is plenty familiar due to their time together with Texas. Darvish lost most of his first year with the Cubs to injuries, but has been great since then. Similar to Darvish, Snell will be entering the final year of a five-year deal he initially signed with Tampa Bay. Snell does have incentives tied to his contract, but the former Cy Young winner is set to make just $16.6 million in 2023. That number is likely well below what he’d get on the open market, and is someone the Twins could have interest in an extension with as he’ll be just 30-years-old next season. Although neither price tag will rival that of what top starters receive in 2023 on the open market, the dollar amount is enough that it should demand a prospect return. The Padres will be looking to reload following an NLCS exit in the postseason. They now have Juan Soto to lock up, and will return Fernando Tatis Jr. next season. Minnesota has ample opportunity to add top pitching talent this winter, and one of the questions they face is how they'd most like to do that. The farm system isn't loaded with elite prospects, but taking on salary could help to make quantity type trades more feasible. Money is also there to be spent, even if it's on a contract they didn't negotiate.
  3. Last season, there was hand-wringing virtually every time Rocco Baldelli took a stroll out to the mound. No matter the circumstance, it was often seen as a quick hook and undeserving for the starting pitcher to be lifted. At the end of the summer, I took a look at why short starts aren’t really just a Minnesota thing, and the greatest difference maker being the acquisition of better starters. You can expect Kenta Maeda, Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, and Joe Ryan all to be in Pete Maki’s Opening Day rotation for 2023. What they do from there though is where this discussion begins. After opting for the likes of Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer last season, there was very little upside to the back of Minnesota’s rotation. Ryan was named the Opening Day starter despite having made just five turns in the big leagues. Bailey Ober looked the part but had been an injury concern previously, and it didn’t take long for that to manifest again in 2022. Realistically speaking, Minnesota has no room for another middling type. It’s necessary for them to go get a top-of-the-rotation arm and use the likes of Josh Winder, Louie Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson, and others as depth. So, where could that lead them? Starting with the free agent market, there are more than a few names to rule out. I don’t foresee Minnesota as a landing spot for Jacob deGrom and Clayton Kershaw probably doesn’t ever want a new uniform. Justin Verlander has a player option, and Chris Sale continues to be unhealthy. The most logical option is probably Carlos Rodon, who the Twins were in on before he signed with the San Francisco Giants. Coming off another dominant season, and one of health, he’s in line for a payday and will have plenty of suitors. Both Noah Syndergaard and Nathan Eovaldi could fit the bill as well, though their effectiveness is questionable to varying degrees. Sean Manaea, Chris Bassitt, Tyler Anderson, and Mike Clevinger could all also be of intrigue. Looking at the trade landscape, a team Minnesota seems to matchup well with is the Miami Marlins. If they are open to moving Pablo Lopez, it’s hard to argue that Max Kepler wouldn’t be a fit there. Maybe the Diamondbacks are willing to part with Zac Gallen (who the Marlins once traded), or the Padres could be amenable to finding someone willing to take on Blake Snell’s contract. Merrill Kelly is another Arizona arm that should draw intrigue, and if Derek Falvey wants to gamble on an aging friend, Corey Kluber may be worth a shot. Realistically, the names above all provide differing levels of expected production. What the Twins will be tasked with is deciding who they think can surpass the bar set by Sonny Gray. Maeda is a question mark coming off of Tommy John surgery, but we’ve seen him throw at a very high level previously. Mahle looks the part of a breakout star waiting to happen, and it’s no doubt part of the reason he was targeted from the Reds. Ryan has been fine, but the numbers against quality opponents are reason for concern. If he’s the 5th starter though, the quality of the rotation goes up substantially. An overhaul at the back of the bullpen can help to supplement what the Twins want to do in 2023, but the more they can rely on their starters, the better the staff as a whole will be. Even if the Twins find a way to bring Carlos Correa back on a big-time contract, they’ll have money to spend on pitching, and doing so while so much of the nucleus is in a cost-controlled situation makes plenty of sense. Falvey was brought in to develop pitching, and while we haven’t seen it in droves, there are success stories. Paying for top starters is tough, so is acquiring them, but it may be more straightforward than waiting for the next breakout to come.
  4. Just prior to Opening Day 2022 the Minnesota Twins shuffled their roster when they got together with the San Diego Padres for a trade. Over the winter, these two could again match up as partners swapping assets. Image courtesy of © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports Derek Falvey and Thad Levine swung a deal with San Diego the day before Opening Day when they sent closer Taylor Rogers (and Brent Rooker) to the Bay Area in exchange for Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan. The former looked the part of a strong asset until he underwent Tommy John surgery early in the year, while the latter was held onto through a season of ineffectiveness. I’d assume both parties still have each others’ numbers, and with the Twins needing high-end starting pitching, it makes sense to call a team with excess in that category. Truly it’s too bad that Joe Musgrove got paid this season with the Padres. Dating back to his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he should’ve been one of the most coveted arms in baseball. The stuff has always been amazing and he simply needed someone to unlock it. Regardless, I digress. Both Mike Clevinger and Sean Manaea will be free agents following the World Series. Both would represent an upgrade for the Twins, and either could’ve been a trade deadline target should the team have opted for it. Obviously Falvey has a substantial amount of familiarity with Clevinger due to their shared time in Cleveland, and he could be willing to reunite. Manaea was among the two pieces (alongside Frankie Montas) that Oakland was always expected to move, and they did so in early April. Money is the only thing necessary to negotiate terms with either of those two arms. Prospect capital could be used on either Yu Darvish or Blake Snell. San Diego’s depth this offseason won’t look like what it did over the summer, but maybe they’re still willing to part with one of their highly paid arms. Darvish is entering the final year of a deal he signed with the Chicago Cubs. In 2023 he’ll make $18 million, and Minnesota general manager Thad Levine is plenty familiar due to their time together with Texas. Darvish lost most of his first year with the Cubs to injuries, but has been great since then. Similar to Darvish, Snell will be entering the final year of a five-year deal he initially signed with Tampa Bay. Snell does have incentives tied to his contract, but the former Cy Young winner is set to make just $16.6 million in 2023. That number is likely well below what he’d get on the open market, and is someone the Twins could have interest in an extension with as he’ll be just 30-years-old next season. Although neither price tag will rival that of what top starters receive in 2023 on the open market, the dollar amount is enough that it should demand a prospect return. The Padres will be looking to reload following an NLCS exit in the postseason. They now have Juan Soto to lock up, and will return Fernando Tatis Jr. next season. Minnesota has ample opportunity to add top pitching talent this winter, and one of the questions they face is how they'd most like to do that. The farm system isn't loaded with elite prospects, but taking on salary could help to make quantity type trades more feasible. Money is also there to be spent, even if it's on a contract they didn't negotiate. View full article
  5. San Diego acquired the former Cy Young Award winner from the Tampa Bay Rays in a 4-for-1 swap. Blake Snell has been with the Padres for two seasons now, but is a free agent after the 2023 campaign. While he wasn’t one of the 49 names previously discussed as a trade candidate, it’s becoming more evident that even a winner like San Diego may be open to moving him. Dennis Lin covers the Padres for The Athletic and had this to say in his latest mailbag, “If the Padres trade a starting pitcher, they likely would prefer to move Blake Snell. He’s making $5 million more than Mike Clevinger, and unsurprisingly, the team has been frustrated with the left-hander’s lack of performance. It would be selling low on Snell, but the Padres want to clear payroll for other needs.” After posting a 1.89 ERA with the Rays during his Cy Young season in 2018, he’s since failed to post an ERA below 3.00. With the Padres, Snell has made 36 starts and owns a 4.32 ERA. His ERA+ in that time sits at only 90. The good news is that Snell has continued to be a dominant strikeout arm, and he’s actually been better at limiting the longball. His 3.75 FIP also suggests that he’s also a bit better than the ERA picture paints. San Diego has an embarrassment of riches on the mound right now, and that affords them the luxury of moving someone like Snell. While he’s not in a great place from a production standpoint, he’s still plenty capable of being a top-of-the-rotation arm. Mike Clevinger could be a name teams are interested in as well, but San Diego dumping Snell’s salary would be a benefit to a team dealing with Luxury Tax ramifications. Looking at Snell’s advanced analytics and underlying numbers, much of what made him a Cy Young winner still remains. His hard hit rate hasn’t fluctuated, and he’s actually shaved roughly eight percent from his line drive rate. The velocity is as good as it’s ever been and his swing rates are also strong. By virtually all measurements, there’s no reason why Snell can’t contribute to a higher level than he has been. Although San Diego would be selling low given the current performance, I’d imagine much of a return for Snell would be reflective of the money a team needs to take on. Under contract for $13.1 million this season, Snell is set to be paid $16.6 million next year. That’s a good amount of salary to take on in the middle of the season, and is also a motivating factor for him to be moved by the Padres. The more San Diego eats, the better their expected return should be. That works on the flip side too, however, in that an acquiring team like the Twins may need to give up considerably less if they take on the entirety of his bill. The reality is that high-level starters are going to be highly-coveted on the trade market and there aren’t a ton of options to work with. Luis Castillo remains amazing for the Reds, but teammate Tyler Mahle is now on the injured list. Frankie Montas had a scare for Oakland, and his arm now has plenty of questions around it. Teams could dip down a level to the Pirates Jose Quintana, but the emergence of other options is beneficial. The Twins dealt with San Diego prior to Opening Day this season when they acquired Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan for Taylor Rogers. Maybe the two front offices get together again and can work out another pact for a second starter. What do you think? Would you be interested in the Twins adding Blake Snell? What level of a prospect are you comfortable giving up?
  6. The Minnesota Twins will need to be buyers during this trade deadline season, and their chief concern comes on the mound. While there’s any number of names they could target, working with a contender may actually be an avenue as well. What if the San Diego Padres are willing to move Blake Snell? San Diego acquired the former Cy Young Award winner from the Tampa Bay Rays in a 4-for-1 swap. Blake Snell has been with the Padres for two seasons now, but is a free agent after the 2023 campaign. While he wasn’t one of the 49 names previously discussed as a trade candidate, it’s becoming more evident that even a winner like San Diego may be open to moving him. Dennis Lin covers the Padres for The Athletic and had this to say in his latest mailbag, “If the Padres trade a starting pitcher, they likely would prefer to move Blake Snell. He’s making $5 million more than Mike Clevinger, and unsurprisingly, the team has been frustrated with the left-hander’s lack of performance. It would be selling low on Snell, but the Padres want to clear payroll for other needs.” After posting a 1.89 ERA with the Rays during his Cy Young season in 2018, he’s since failed to post an ERA below 3.00. With the Padres, Snell has made 36 starts and owns a 4.32 ERA. His ERA+ in that time sits at only 90. The good news is that Snell has continued to be a dominant strikeout arm, and he’s actually been better at limiting the longball. His 3.75 FIP also suggests that he’s also a bit better than the ERA picture paints. San Diego has an embarrassment of riches on the mound right now, and that affords them the luxury of moving someone like Snell. While he’s not in a great place from a production standpoint, he’s still plenty capable of being a top-of-the-rotation arm. Mike Clevinger could be a name teams are interested in as well, but San Diego dumping Snell’s salary would be a benefit to a team dealing with Luxury Tax ramifications. Looking at Snell’s advanced analytics and underlying numbers, much of what made him a Cy Young winner still remains. His hard hit rate hasn’t fluctuated, and he’s actually shaved roughly eight percent from his line drive rate. The velocity is as good as it’s ever been and his swing rates are also strong. By virtually all measurements, there’s no reason why Snell can’t contribute to a higher level than he has been. Although San Diego would be selling low given the current performance, I’d imagine much of a return for Snell would be reflective of the money a team needs to take on. Under contract for $13.1 million this season, Snell is set to be paid $16.6 million next year. That’s a good amount of salary to take on in the middle of the season, and is also a motivating factor for him to be moved by the Padres. The more San Diego eats, the better their expected return should be. That works on the flip side too, however, in that an acquiring team like the Twins may need to give up considerably less if they take on the entirety of his bill. The reality is that high-level starters are going to be highly-coveted on the trade market and there aren’t a ton of options to work with. Luis Castillo remains amazing for the Reds, but teammate Tyler Mahle is now on the injured list. Frankie Montas had a scare for Oakland, and his arm now has plenty of questions around it. Teams could dip down a level to the Pirates Jose Quintana, but the emergence of other options is beneficial. The Twins dealt with San Diego prior to Opening Day this season when they acquired Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan for Taylor Rogers. Maybe the two front offices get together again and can work out another pact for a second starter. What do you think? Would you be interested in the Twins adding Blake Snell? What level of a prospect are you comfortable giving up? View full article
  7. Update: It appears that the Padres will be also landing Yu Darvish from the Cubs. While that takes a target away from the Twins, they have less competition on the Reds front. Arms like Joe Musgrove and Jon Gray also remain enticing. Late on Sunday night the market for starting pitching pursuits took a drastic change. After the Tampa Bay Rays had announced they’d make Blake Snell available, the San Diego Padres decided to cap off their Christmas weekend with a blockbuster trade. This provides a blueprint for the Minnesota Twins, and also removes some potential competition. Thus far during the offseason things have been quit from the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine camp. Minnesota has made a few smaller moves on the reliever front, but they have not addressed their rotation or lineup. For what seems like weeks we’ve now heard about the Twins being a team potential waiting in the weeds and ready to strike. One big name discussed has been that of Marcus Semien, but it remains true that starting pitching is a must. You can probably bet on veteran Rich Hill not being a guy brought back for 2021, and while Jake Odorizzi looks like one of the best arms not named Trevor Bauer, he will have some options. For Minnesota, sustainability could be the key and finding a trade partner with an arm having some team control could be as enticing as anything. Although it’s not known to what extent Minnesota may have been intrigued by Snell, the reality is he’s a good pitcher and was available. At the very least that made the two organizations a match. Following that logic, the Cubs and Yu Darvish as well as the Reds and their arms Luis Castillo or Sonny Gray could all be fits. Darvish comes with the hefty price tag, while both Gray and Castillo are more affordable options that should command a premium in prospect capital. It’s fine to still call this relatively early in the offseason, but the reality is that we’re over the halfway point. Despite the fact that Rob Manfred still hasn’t solidified the 2021 Major League Baseball schedule and we still have no idea what the exact set of rules are going to be, time is not waiting, and Spring Training will soon be around the corner. Minnesota’s front office hasn’t been afraid of being a last-minute suitor, but getting guys acclimate could hold some weight given how the Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison moves ultimately worked out. When the Padres decided to spring for Snell with a package centered around their second-best pitching prospect, they effectively took themselves out of any discussion regarding another deal. The money is still there for them to target Trevor Bauer, but they don’t seem likely to move Mackenzie Gore or C.J. Abrams, so swapping for another top arm would be difficult. This benefits the Twins as it’s one less club vying for the same prizes. Given the organization he played for it was probably a near-guarantee that Snell would be moved. I think Chicago still flips Darvish, but Jed Hoyer will want to get his first big move right. Castillo and Gray don’t necessarily need to be shipped out, but Cincinnati appears intent on tearing it down after a one-year run at going for it. Asking Minnesota to be engaged on all of those fronts is hardly a leap. It’s not yet clear where the Twins will turn, but I’d bet a decent amount that they have plenty of irons in the fire, and it’s clear there’s a decent amount of smoke. Having a better bargaining position than they did yesterday, and also a representative idea of a framework, Falvey and Levine have more clarity now than they may have a few days ago. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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