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  1. Over the past couple of weeks, across four installments, we ranked the top 20 players in the Twins organization based on their value toward winning a championship. Today we'll recap that list in search of trends and takeaways, with an eye on assessing how well the franchise is positioned to achieve that ultimate goal with its current collection of assets. The intent of this list was to answer a question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? We ranked current MLB players and prospects based on factors like production, age, upside, pedigree, health, contract, and positional scarcity. Here's how the top 20 shakes out for 2022 (click on the player's name to find his writeup): 20. Matt Canterino, RHP 19. Josh Winder, RHP 18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 17. Gilberto Celestino, CF 16. Chase Petty, RHP 15. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL 10. Ryan Jeffers, C 9. Max Kepler, RF 8. Mitch Garver, C 7. Joe Ryan, RHP 6. Bailey Ober, RHP 5. Austin Martin, OF 4. Royce Lewis, SS 3. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF 2. Jorge Polanco, 2B 1. Byron Buxton, CF If we're treating Kirilloff as an outfielder and Arraez as an infielder, that breaks down to: 8 pitchers 6 outfielders 4 infielders 2 catchers It's not a bad balance, roughly reflecting the proportions of positions on an MLB roster. However, the Twins do have a few clear areas of weakness and scarcity, as well as some areas of abundance that point to possible trade opportunities. We'll explore these along with other noteworthy observations and takeaways as we break down the list, taking stock of the Twins organization as a whole. Return of the King When I first took a shot at compiling this list, ahead of the 2018 season, Byron Buxton was at the top. At that time he was 24 years old, coming off a breakout season in which he was (mostly) healthy, a fringe MVP contender, and recipient of a Platinum Glove. It all seemed to be coming together. If only we knew. Recurring injuries and progressively diminishing team control have kept Buxton's stock in check since then, to the point where he nearly slipped out of the top 10 in last year's rankings. But all that's transpired since has vaulted him back to the #1 spot at last. While still dealing with his share of injuries in 2021, Buxton proved more than ever he's a rare difference-maker, stacking up against any player in franchise history on a per-rate basis. And after the season, Minnesota opportunistically locked him up. The uniquely team-friendly nature of Buxton's contract extension, which takes him through the entirety of his remaining prime, makes him one of the most valuable assets in all of baseball. The Fall of Maeda In last year's rankings, Kenta Maeda ranked #1. He was an accomplished veteran starter coming off a Cy Young runner-up season, with a highly favorable contract to boot. Maeda was the centerpiece around which the rotation would be built. Maeda didn't appear in this year's rankings. His dramatic drop-off encompasses the rotation's downfall as a whole. The 2021 season really couldn't have done much more to tank Maeda's value: he largely struggled through 21 starts, then underwent elbow surgery late in the season. By the time he returns in 2023, he'll be 35 and in his walk year. His team-friendly contract, with only $3M in guaranteed base salary, means Maeda's absence in 2022 won't hurt the team too much resource-wise, which was a big part of his value. But the Twins were counting on his arm for the coming season, and now they'll be without it, as well as that of José Berríos (#4 in last year's rankings). In a nutshell, this tees up the immense challenge of building a new starting rotation – from two starting pitchers among the top five assets to zero. On the bright side, Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan (#6 and #7 this year) are both under control for the next six years, so if either or both can affirm their early promise, they are poised to become premium commodities. Notably, neither one cost this front office very much to acquire. Power and Parity in the Pitching Pipeline This franchise's success over the next 3-4 years will be heavily dependent on the fruits of a pitching pipeline this front office has been cultivating since it arrived. The disruption of a pandemic stalled progress, but the Twins currently have a huge assortment of high-upside arms nearing MLB-readiness. Those arms are all grouped together around the back end of this top 20 list. The last three players we ranked – Simeon Woods Richardson, Josh Winder, Matt Canterino – are all part of this group, and if we extended the list to 30 or 40, several more would show up: Cole Sands, Blayne Enlow, Louie Varland, Chris Vallimont, Drew Strotman. Maybe even Randy Dobnak and Griffin Jax. By passing up the high end of free agent pitching, the front office has essentially made clear that it's staking itself to this group. If next year's rankings are flush with pitchers from it, that'll be a good sign. If not, then that'll be the most damning strike against this regime yet. Short on Shortstops Around the time I first put these rankings together in 2018, people were wondering if the Twins were filling their system with *too many* shortstops. They'd taken Royce Lewis first overall in the previous draft, adding him to a system that already included Jorge Polanco, Nick Gordon, and Wander Javier (all of whom appeared in that inaugural top 20 ranking). What's happened since shows why it's so damn hard to develop shortstops (and why the great ones are such tremendous commodities). Javier flamed out. Polanco and Gordon have moved to different positions. Lewis is still tenuously considered a shortstop, but the jury is out. Outside of him, the cupboard is now bare. With Andrelton Simmons gone, there's no current occupant at the MLB level, though the Twins will presumably sign someone to a short-term deal. In the system, Lewis sorta stands alone as a high-end prospect with legitimate major-league shortstop potential. Lacking Left-handers One commonality among all eight pitchers to appear on this list – and the next handful of honorable mentions – is that they're all right-handers. The most glaring scarcity in this system, without question, is left-handed pitchers. Were we to extend the list, who would be the top-ranked lefty pitcher? It's an interesting question. Without thinking too deeply about it, it's probably a toss-up between their three top bullpen lefties: Taylor Rogers, Caleb Thielbar and Jovani Moran. But they're all relievers with flaws and limited upside. How much does this particular scarcity matter? Hard to say. The Twins aren't short on high-quality arms in their system, but the most valuable and projectable ones are virtually all right-handers. I wonder to what extent this was intentional, and to what extent the team might try to course-correct and add balance going forward. Top Trade Candidates One of the most pertinent insights to emerge through this exercise is a clear understanding of where the logjams exist and which areas of strength the Twins are most likely to trade from. That analysis feels especially meaningful in this offseason, because the front office essentially has no choice but to leverage the trade market in order to acquire impact talent, with free agency now picked at key positions. For me, this is a pretty simple equation: Which players rank lower on this Twins-specific list than they would in other organizations? From this angle, five names stand out (listed roughly in order of what they'd bring back): Austin Martin Max Kepler Luis Arraez Jose Miranda Gilberto Celestino One could theoretically add Mitch Garver or Ryan Jeffers to this list, although I'm not sure I have enough confidence in either one to feel good about trading the other. Kepler and Celestino are both made somewhat more expandable by the Buxton extension, but the most intriguing redundancy from my view is with Martin, Arraez, and Miranda. With Buxton now entrenched in center, Martin's most likely destinations seem to be second, third, or left. The same can basically said for Arraez and Miranda (though I suspect left field is considered much less desirable for both). Second and third are currently occupied by Jorge Polanco and Josh Donaldson, who are under guaranteed contract for two more years. Trading Donaldson would alleviate this logjam in a big way, but the team's opportunities to do so are much more limited. Martin, Arraez and Miranda are all coveted young players with appealing contract situations. If the Twins want to bring in frontline pitching via trade once the lockdown ends, this would appear to be the path. What strikes you as you review this evaluation of players in the Twins system? Are you feeling good about the state of the franchise? Bad? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and feel free to catch up on past lists for a trip down memory lane: Top 20 Twins Assets: 2018 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2019 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2020 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2021 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 View full article
  2. The intent of this list was to answer a question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? We ranked current MLB players and prospects based on factors like production, age, upside, pedigree, health, contract, and positional scarcity. Here's how the top 20 shakes out for 2022 (click on the player's name to find his writeup): 20. Matt Canterino, RHP 19. Josh Winder, RHP 18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 17. Gilberto Celestino, CF 16. Chase Petty, RHP 15. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL 10. Ryan Jeffers, C 9. Max Kepler, RF 8. Mitch Garver, C 7. Joe Ryan, RHP 6. Bailey Ober, RHP 5. Austin Martin, OF 4. Royce Lewis, SS 3. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF 2. Jorge Polanco, 2B 1. Byron Buxton, CF If we're treating Kirilloff as an outfielder and Arraez as an infielder, that breaks down to: 8 pitchers 6 outfielders 4 infielders 2 catchers It's not a bad balance, roughly reflecting the proportions of positions on an MLB roster. However, the Twins do have a few clear areas of weakness and scarcity, as well as some areas of abundance that point to possible trade opportunities. We'll explore these along with other noteworthy observations and takeaways as we break down the list, taking stock of the Twins organization as a whole. Return of the King When I first took a shot at compiling this list, ahead of the 2018 season, Byron Buxton was at the top. At that time he was 24 years old, coming off a breakout season in which he was (mostly) healthy, a fringe MVP contender, and recipient of a Platinum Glove. It all seemed to be coming together. If only we knew. Recurring injuries and progressively diminishing team control have kept Buxton's stock in check since then, to the point where he nearly slipped out of the top 10 in last year's rankings. But all that's transpired since has vaulted him back to the #1 spot at last. While still dealing with his share of injuries in 2021, Buxton proved more than ever he's a rare difference-maker, stacking up against any player in franchise history on a per-rate basis. And after the season, Minnesota opportunistically locked him up. The uniquely team-friendly nature of Buxton's contract extension, which takes him through the entirety of his remaining prime, makes him one of the most valuable assets in all of baseball. The Fall of Maeda In last year's rankings, Kenta Maeda ranked #1. He was an accomplished veteran starter coming off a Cy Young runner-up season, with a highly favorable contract to boot. Maeda was the centerpiece around which the rotation would be built. Maeda didn't appear in this year's rankings. His dramatic drop-off encompasses the rotation's downfall as a whole. The 2021 season really couldn't have done much more to tank Maeda's value: he largely struggled through 21 starts, then underwent elbow surgery late in the season. By the time he returns in 2023, he'll be 35 and in his walk year. His team-friendly contract, with only $3M in guaranteed base salary, means Maeda's absence in 2022 won't hurt the team too much resource-wise, which was a big part of his value. But the Twins were counting on his arm for the coming season, and now they'll be without it, as well as that of José Berríos (#4 in last year's rankings). In a nutshell, this tees up the immense challenge of building a new starting rotation – from two starting pitchers among the top five assets to zero. On the bright side, Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan (#6 and #7 this year) are both under control for the next six years, so if either or both can affirm their early promise, they are poised to become premium commodities. Notably, neither one cost this front office very much to acquire. Power and Parity in the Pitching Pipeline This franchise's success over the next 3-4 years will be heavily dependent on the fruits of a pitching pipeline this front office has been cultivating since it arrived. The disruption of a pandemic stalled progress, but the Twins currently have a huge assortment of high-upside arms nearing MLB-readiness. Those arms are all grouped together around the back end of this top 20 list. The last three players we ranked – Simeon Woods Richardson, Josh Winder, Matt Canterino – are all part of this group, and if we extended the list to 30 or 40, several more would show up: Cole Sands, Blayne Enlow, Louie Varland, Chris Vallimont, Drew Strotman. Maybe even Randy Dobnak and Griffin Jax. By passing up the high end of free agent pitching, the front office has essentially made clear that it's staking itself to this group. If next year's rankings are flush with pitchers from it, that'll be a good sign. If not, then that'll be the most damning strike against this regime yet. Short on Shortstops Around the time I first put these rankings together in 2018, people were wondering if the Twins were filling their system with *too many* shortstops. They'd taken Royce Lewis first overall in the previous draft, adding him to a system that already included Jorge Polanco, Nick Gordon, and Wander Javier (all of whom appeared in that inaugural top 20 ranking). What's happened since shows why it's so damn hard to develop shortstops (and why the great ones are such tremendous commodities). Javier flamed out. Polanco and Gordon have moved to different positions. Lewis is still tenuously considered a shortstop, but the jury is out. Outside of him, the cupboard is now bare. With Andrelton Simmons gone, there's no current occupant at the MLB level, though the Twins will presumably sign someone to a short-term deal. In the system, Lewis sorta stands alone as a high-end prospect with legitimate major-league shortstop potential. Lacking Left-handers One commonality among all eight pitchers to appear on this list – and the next handful of honorable mentions – is that they're all right-handers. The most glaring scarcity in this system, without question, is left-handed pitchers. Were we to extend the list, who would be the top-ranked lefty pitcher? It's an interesting question. Without thinking too deeply about it, it's probably a toss-up between their three top bullpen lefties: Taylor Rogers, Caleb Thielbar and Jovani Moran. But they're all relievers with flaws and limited upside. How much does this particular scarcity matter? Hard to say. The Twins aren't short on high-quality arms in their system, but the most valuable and projectable ones are virtually all right-handers. I wonder to what extent this was intentional, and to what extent the team might try to course-correct and add balance going forward. Top Trade Candidates One of the most pertinent insights to emerge through this exercise is a clear understanding of where the logjams exist and which areas of strength the Twins are most likely to trade from. That analysis feels especially meaningful in this offseason, because the front office essentially has no choice but to leverage the trade market in order to acquire impact talent, with free agency now picked at key positions. For me, this is a pretty simple equation: Which players rank lower on this Twins-specific list than they would in other organizations? From this angle, five names stand out (listed roughly in order of what they'd bring back): Austin Martin Max Kepler Luis Arraez Jose Miranda Gilberto Celestino One could theoretically add Mitch Garver or Ryan Jeffers to this list, although I'm not sure I have enough confidence in either one to feel good about trading the other. Kepler and Celestino are both made somewhat more expandable by the Buxton extension, but the most intriguing redundancy from my view is with Martin, Arraez, and Miranda. With Buxton now entrenched in center, Martin's most likely destinations seem to be second, third, or left. The same can basically said for Arraez and Miranda (though I suspect left field is considered much less desirable for both). Second and third are currently occupied by Jorge Polanco and Josh Donaldson, who are under guaranteed contract for two more years. Trading Donaldson would alleviate this logjam in a big way, but the team's opportunities to do so are much more limited. Martin, Arraez and Miranda are all coveted young players with appealing contract situations. If the Twins want to bring in frontline pitching via trade once the lockdown ends, this would appear to be the path. What strikes you as you review this evaluation of players in the Twins system? Are you feeling good about the state of the franchise? Bad? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and feel free to catch up on past lists for a trip down memory lane: Top 20 Twins Assets: 2018 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2019 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2020 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2021 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Minnesota’s lack of starting pitching has some fans clamoring for the team to tear down the current roster. However, there are multiple reasons why it isn’t a great time to start the rebuilding process. Here are three reasons why the Twins should avoid starting a rebuild in 2022. 1. Rebuilds Don’t Guarantee Future Success Many fan bases love the idea of a rebuild because of the hope it can offer for the future. In recent memory, there have been successful rebuilds in Houston and Chicago as both franchises won a World Series. These success stories are hardly the norm for rebuilds, as many teams struggle to stay relevant in a competitive MLB landscape. For every successful rebuild, plenty of teams never quite make it back over the hump. Philadelphia lost 81 games or more for eight straight seasons from 2012 through 2019. As the team started coming out of the rebuild, they spent big on free agents like Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler. It’s been a decade since they made the playoffs, and they only have one season with a winning season during that stretch. San Diego had high expectations over the last two years after losing 90+ games for four straight seasons. Their rebuild results include one playoff appearance, and no playoff wins since 2006. 2. Twins Trailing Other Teams Already Rebuilding Minnesota can undoubtedly try to rebuild, but it will be tough to field a roster worse than some of the other teams already rebuilding. Last season, seven teams lost 90 games or more, including four that recorded over 100 losses. Franchises like Baltimore, Arizona, and Pittsburgh are stuck in what seems like a yearly rebuilding cycle. Since 1998, Baltimore has had three playoff appearances. Pittsburgh has one playoff appearance that wasn’t in a Wild Card Game since 1993. Over the last decade, Arizona has made two NLDS appearances but never made it out of that round. All of these teams are already ahead in the rebuilding process, and their rosters look worse on paper than the Twins. One of the goals of a rebuild is to build draft capital throughout multiple seasons, but there are few guarantees when it comes to the MLB Draft. Even Houston made drafting mistakes as part of their rebuild. In the last decade, Minnesota drafted highly for multiple years, and there were plenty of players that didn’t pan out, including top-10 picks like Kohl Stewart, Tyler Jay, and Nick Gordon. First-round draft picks are valuable, but teams need to develop players in the organization to rebuild successfully. 3. Minnesota Is Currently In A Winning Window It may be hard to forget, but the Twins just got out of a rebuild and are in the middle of their current winning window. From 2011-2017, Minnesota’s average finish in the AL Central was 23.6 games out of first place. The Twins saw the results of these losing seasons by winning back-to-back AL Central titles in 2019-20, but that can’t be the peak of this current core. With a veteran core, the Twins should be trying to reload the roster and get back to the playoffs. Plus, the AL Central isn’t getting any easier with other teams like the Tigers and the Royals coming out of their own rebuilds. Also, Minnesota signed Byron Buxton to a seven-year contract extension, so it is essential to field competitive rosters when he is in the prime of his career. Age is certainly a risk to consider with a player of Buxton’s skillset, so the team needs to be in win-now mode. A Twins rebuild would take multiple seasons, and then Buxton would be at the back-end of his contract or no longer part of the team. While the winning window is open, Minnesota needs to stay competitive. Do you think the Twins should start a rebuild or try to avoid it? 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 View full article
  4. The Minnesota Twins turned their front office over to Derek Falvey in October of 2016. After participating in his first offseason, the first club of record played during the 2017 season. In five years leading the organization, Falvey has orchestrated three postseason appearances. What are the moves he’s made to get there? Saddled with Paul Molitor to start his tenure, Falvey tabbed Rocco Baldelli as manager before the 2019 season. A breath of fresh air and a new perspective, Baldelli represented a complete change from the Twins' old guard. While the losing in October hasn’t ceased yet, the club has stockpiled a plethora of solid prospects and could be on the verge of another sustained run. Here’s one writer's opinion of the five best moves Minnesota has made during Derek Falvey’s tenure: 5. Nelson Cruz Signing (Twice) Looking to add thump to their lineup, Falvey inked the long-time designated hitter to a one-year deal worth $14 million (and a second-year option at $12 million). At 38-years-old, there was cause for concern, and he was coming off a slide posting just an .850 OPS for the Mariners. His services were hotly contested, and he wound up being a catalyst for the Bomba Squad. Cruz’s 1.031 OPS was a career-best, and he finished 9th in the American League MVP voting after blasting 41 dingers. His value was estimated as being worth more than $34 million that season by Fangraphs. 4. Nelson Cruz Trade After bringing Cruz back on a one-year deal for $13 million, Minnesota saw the writing on the wall as they slipped down the AL Central standings in 2021. Having posted a .907 OPS through 85 games for the Twins, Cruz was still productive at 40. Despite half of the sport not using the designated hitter, and even fewer teams needing one, Falvey orchestrated a coup in a deal from the Tampa Bay Rays. Acquiring Team USA ace and top-100 prospect Joe Ryan for a few months of Cruz would’ve been great on its own. Minnesota also netted Drew Strotman (a recent Twins Spotlight guest), another strong pitching prospect, and despite Cruz’s greatness here, they couldn’t have packed his bags fast enough for that return. 3. Michael Pineda Signing Signing someone while injured is always a tricky situation, but that’s what Falvey opted to do with Michael Pineda. Needing starting arms, the Twins came to an agreement with the former Yankees starter while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2018. Paying him just $10 million over two years, Minnesota got to monitor Pineda’s rehab and set him up to be a rotation mainstay for them in 2019. He turned in a strong 4.01 ERA and was among the many reasons the club was so good. In 2019 alone, Fangraphs valued Pineda’s production north of $20 million. Pineda has been unquestionably the best free-agent move on the pitching front from this front office, taking steps forward in each of the next two seasons. 2. Jorge Polanco Extension After a career-best .773 OPS in 2018, Minnesota decided to lock Polanco up long term. He was signed to a five-year deal with two additional options. The guaranteed portion was for just $25.75 million, or $5.15 million per year. Polanco became a first-time All-Star in 2019, posting an .841 OPS and generating MVP votes for the first time in his career. His 2020 was a slide backward as he dealt with nagging ankle issues, but a switch to second base and a clean bill of health had him rebounding to an .826 OPS in 2021, and he launched a career-best 33 homers. Polanco is among the best second basemen in baseball, and this contract looks like one of the most team-friendly deals across the entire sport. 1. Byron Buxton Extension This one takes the top spot mainly for the impact it could have and would have had it not gotten done. Buxton is a generational talent, and the only thing that has sapped his earning potential is the ability to stay on the field. Now signed to a seven-year, $100 million contract, Buxton looks to expand upon three seasons totaling an .897 OPS. He’s arguably the best defensive outfielder in the game and has come into his power potential; the speed asset to his game is just a cherry on top. Minnesota needed to get this done, and now both parties stand to benefit plenty from one another. What are some of the moves made under Derek Falvey that you would place here? Is there a favorite I missed? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  5. Completing our rankings of the most valuable player assets in the Minnesota Twins organization, we share our picks for one through five. This list attempts to answer a simple question: Which 20 players and prospects are most indispensable in the team's quest to win a championship? Before getting started, you can get up to speed on the ground rules, which were covered in the first installment. Here are the players we've ranked so far: 20. Matt Canterino, RHP 19. Josh Winder, RHP 18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 17. Gilberto Celestino, CF 16. Chase Petty, RHP 15. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL 10. Ryan Jeffers, C 9. Max Kepler, RF 8. Mitch Garver, C 7. Joe Ryan, RHP 6. Bailey Ober, RHP From there, we round it out with the top five. If you haven't yet, be sure to check out the writeups on #6 through #20: Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 16-20 Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 11-15 Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 6-10 Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 1 through 5 5. Austin Martin, OF 2021 Ranking: NR Since I started putting these rankings together after the 2017 season, here's where José Berríos has ranked: #3, #2, #3, #4. Ideally you keep an asset like that, but as it became clear the Twins were not going to be able to extend their two-time All-Star, they opted for the next-best thing: recouping value. By taking advantage of deadline urgency, as well as Berríos' additional year of team control, the Twins were able to extract a premium talent package from Toronto, including Simeon Woods Richardson (#18 on this list) but headlined by Austin Martin. The 22-year-old was one year removed from being the #5 overall draft pick, and recipient of a $7M signing bonus from Toronto. He was unanimously ranked as a Top 25 prospect in the game ahead of 2021, and appeared in the Futures Game in July. An athletic on-base machine who is nearly ready for The Show, Martin is one of baseball's premier young talents. His high floor – reflected by a .414 OBP through 93 minor-league games, all played at Double-A – offsets a ceiling that's uncertain due to his lack of established power or a clear defensive home. There is very realistic star potential here, and that's known around the league. Which is why some folks are wondering if the Twins might look to flip him in a trade for pitching when action resumes this offseason. Although he's played a lot of shortstop in the minors, no one really expects him to end up there. Martin's most valuable positions are likely center field and second base, where the Twins happen to be well set. 4. Royce Lewis, SS 2021 Ranking: 5 Here's an example of the Twins' needs outweighing a neutral assessment of player value. In a vacuum, I would probably rate Martin as a better prospect and player asset than Royce Lewis, who is an unknown commodity after struggling in 2019 and then missing two straight years. In spite of this, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Lewis was a #1 overall draft pick who has been a regular on the top end of prospect rankings since joining the pro ranks. His high character and innate physical gifts lead many to believe he'll find his footing quickly and re-establish himself as an electric difference-maker across multiple phases of the game. Most importantly, for the purposes of this list, you'll notice that Lewis is the only player on it listed as "SS." He's hardly a lock to stick at short, but he's got a better chance than any other player or prospect in the system currently. The Twins seem to firmly believe he can remain there, which may have guided them away from pursuing a free agent on a long-term deal. Unless the situation changes, Minnesota is putting the future of a vital position in Lewis' hands, which makes him one of the organization's most critical players. Here's hoping he can rise to the occasion after a lengthy dormant period. 3. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF 2021 Ranking: 2 Long viewed as one of the most advanced and explosive bats in the minor leagues, Alex Kirilloff arrived in 2021 and affirmed his rep. The overall numbers – .251/.299/.423 with eight homers and 34 RBIs in 59 games – were perfectly solid for a 23-year-old rookie. They also undersell his performance, which was hampered by a flukishly bad 0-for-15 start and then a serious wrist injury he played through for weeks before shutting it down in mid-July. Kirilloff underwent surgery around that time, and is expected to be back at full strength for spring training (whenever it starts). Hopefully he'll pick up where he left off: straight mashing. Kirilloff's xSLG as a rookie, according to Statcast, was .541 – same as Josh Donaldson (who was in the Top 8% of all qualified MLB hitters). With superb plate coverage, Kirilloff drives the ball to all fields and tortures opposing pitchers. Having watched him, I have little doubt he is going to be an offensive force (maybe even an MVP-caliber hitter) so long as he can keep future bouts with injury at bay. Defensively, he was serviceable in left but looked like a natural at first base, with instincts and movements that point to Gold Glove potential. For the time being, he's blocked there by Miguel Sanó, and given the team's current needs, Kirilloff's ability to play in the corners is quite helpful. The Twins still control him for six years (through age 29) after slightly delaying his arrival in 2021. 2. Jorge Polanco, 2B 2021 Ranking: 6 It's been quite the roller coaster for Jorge Polanco over the past few years. Coming off a breakthrough season where he was an All-Star shortstop and credible MVP candidate at age 25, he and his team-friendly contract reached the #1 spot in our rankings heading into 2020. Then, Polanco's performance nosedived in a shortened campaign marred by ankle issues. He dropped back to #6 last year – his more customary range prior to the 2019 glow-up. Unlike Max Kepler, however, Polanco rebounded to prove his star turn with the Bomba Squad was no outlier. In 2021, following a move to second base, Polanco regained his peak offensive form, shaking off a slow start to launch 33 homers and 35 doubles while setting career highs in SLG (.503) and OPS+ (125). He was a consistent centerpiece of the lineup, mashing from both sides of the plate as a switch-hitter. His transition to a new position was rocky at times, but Polanco seemed to get more comfortable as the season went on and showed all the skills to excel. Shifting down the defensive spectrum is theoretically a ding to his value, but sub-par play at shortstop limited his benefit there. He can offer plenty of value as a top-tier offensive second baseman in his prime, with two years of inexpensive team control followed by a pair of reasonable team options. 1. Byron Buxton, CF 2021 Ranking: 9 Byron Buxton's durability issues were hardly erased in 2021, another season cut short by long absences. But while he was on the field for 61 games, the center fielder's brilliance and MVP-caliber impact was more evident than ever before. He won AL Player of the Month in April, and had a 1.180 OPS in early May before back-to-back major injuries (a strained hip and broken hand) cost him nearly four months. When he was able to play, Buxton was a remarkable difference-maker, producing an absurd 4.2 fWAR in less than half a season. But while he was out, the team struggled to counteract his absence. Buxton's reliable unreliability will remain a reality until it's not. But his newly-minted contract extension accounts for that. The stunningly favorable terms of Buxton's deal make him an easy choice for #1 on this list. It's essentially unheard of to be able to lock up an elite talent throughout his prime while largely paying him based on rate of production. Buck's recurring base salary of $15M/year is an absolute bargain for a franchise centerpiece and premier player in the game. His unique contract, driven heavily by MVP voting incentives, is a perpetual self-motivator. Any other team in the league would be thrilled to have this contract. But a no-trade clause ensures none of them can have it. Buxton's here for the long haul, and now the Twins can fully focus on building a championship team around him. With our countdown complete, here's a look at the full list of the top 20 Twins assets of 2022: Byron Buxton, CF Jorge Polanco, 2B Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF Royce Lewis, SS Austin Martin, OF Bailey Ober, RHP Joe Ryan, RHP Mitch Garver, C Max Kepler, RF Ryan Jeffers, C Luis Arraez, UTIL Trevor Larnach, OF Jordan Balazovic, RHP Jhoan Duran, RHP Jose Miranda, 2B/3B Chase Petty, RHP Gilberto Celestino, CF Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Josh Winder, RHP Matt Canterino, RHP Check back next week for a full recap of the list, featuring analysis, takeaways, and more. Thanks for reading, and feel free to share your thoughts on these rankings in the comments below. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  6. Saddled with Paul Molitor to start his tenure, Falvey tabbed Rocco Baldelli as manager before the 2019 season. A breath of fresh air and a new perspective, Baldelli represented a complete change from the Twins' old guard. While the losing in October hasn’t ceased yet, the club has stockpiled a plethora of solid prospects and could be on the verge of another sustained run. Here’s one writer's opinion of the five best moves Minnesota has made during Derek Falvey’s tenure: 5. Nelson Cruz Signing (Twice) Looking to add thump to their lineup, Falvey inked the long-time designated hitter to a one-year deal worth $14 million (and a second-year option at $12 million). At 38-years-old, there was cause for concern, and he was coming off a slide posting just an .850 OPS for the Mariners. His services were hotly contested, and he wound up being a catalyst for the Bomba Squad. Cruz’s 1.031 OPS was a career-best, and he finished 9th in the American League MVP voting after blasting 41 dingers. His value was estimated as being worth more than $34 million that season by Fangraphs. 4. Nelson Cruz Trade After bringing Cruz back on a one-year deal for $13 million, Minnesota saw the writing on the wall as they slipped down the AL Central standings in 2021. Having posted a .907 OPS through 85 games for the Twins, Cruz was still productive at 40. Despite half of the sport not using the designated hitter, and even fewer teams needing one, Falvey orchestrated a coup in a deal from the Tampa Bay Rays. Acquiring Team USA ace and top-100 prospect Joe Ryan for a few months of Cruz would’ve been great on its own. Minnesota also netted Drew Strotman (a recent Twins Spotlight guest), another strong pitching prospect, and despite Cruz’s greatness here, they couldn’t have packed his bags fast enough for that return. 3. Michael Pineda Signing Signing someone while injured is always a tricky situation, but that’s what Falvey opted to do with Michael Pineda. Needing starting arms, the Twins came to an agreement with the former Yankees starter while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2018. Paying him just $10 million over two years, Minnesota got to monitor Pineda’s rehab and set him up to be a rotation mainstay for them in 2019. He turned in a strong 4.01 ERA and was among the many reasons the club was so good. In 2019 alone, Fangraphs valued Pineda’s production north of $20 million. Pineda has been unquestionably the best free-agent move on the pitching front from this front office, taking steps forward in each of the next two seasons. 2. Jorge Polanco Extension After a career-best .773 OPS in 2018, Minnesota decided to lock Polanco up long term. He was signed to a five-year deal with two additional options. The guaranteed portion was for just $25.75 million, or $5.15 million per year. Polanco became a first-time All-Star in 2019, posting an .841 OPS and generating MVP votes for the first time in his career. His 2020 was a slide backward as he dealt with nagging ankle issues, but a switch to second base and a clean bill of health had him rebounding to an .826 OPS in 2021, and he launched a career-best 33 homers. Polanco is among the best second basemen in baseball, and this contract looks like one of the most team-friendly deals across the entire sport. 1. Byron Buxton Extension This one takes the top spot mainly for the impact it could have and would have had it not gotten done. Buxton is a generational talent, and the only thing that has sapped his earning potential is the ability to stay on the field. Now signed to a seven-year, $100 million contract, Buxton looks to expand upon three seasons totaling an .897 OPS. He’s arguably the best defensive outfielder in the game and has come into his power potential; the speed asset to his game is just a cherry on top. Minnesota needed to get this done, and now both parties stand to benefit plenty from one another. What are some of the moves made under Derek Falvey that you would place here? Is there a favorite I missed? 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. Before getting started, you can get up to speed on the ground rules, which were covered in the first installment. Here are the players we've ranked so far: 20. Matt Canterino, RHP 19. Josh Winder, RHP 18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 17. Gilberto Celestino, CF 16. Chase Petty, RHP 15. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL 10. Ryan Jeffers, C 9. Max Kepler, RF 8. Mitch Garver, C 7. Joe Ryan, RHP 6. Bailey Ober, RHP From there, we round it out with the top five. If you haven't yet, be sure to check out the writeups on #6 through #20: Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 16-20 Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 11-15 Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 6-10 Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 1 through 5 5. Austin Martin, OF 2021 Ranking: NR Since I started putting these rankings together after the 2017 season, here's where José Berríos has ranked: #3, #2, #3, #4. Ideally you keep an asset like that, but as it became clear the Twins were not going to be able to extend their two-time All-Star, they opted for the next-best thing: recouping value. By taking advantage of deadline urgency, as well as Berríos' additional year of team control, the Twins were able to extract a premium talent package from Toronto, including Simeon Woods Richardson (#18 on this list) but headlined by Austin Martin. The 22-year-old was one year removed from being the #5 overall draft pick, and recipient of a $7M signing bonus from Toronto. He was unanimously ranked as a Top 25 prospect in the game ahead of 2021, and appeared in the Futures Game in July. An athletic on-base machine who is nearly ready for The Show, Martin is one of baseball's premier young talents. His high floor – reflected by a .414 OBP through 93 minor-league games, all played at Double-A – offsets a ceiling that's uncertain due to his lack of established power or a clear defensive home. There is very realistic star potential here, and that's known around the league. Which is why some folks are wondering if the Twins might look to flip him in a trade for pitching when action resumes this offseason. Although he's played a lot of shortstop in the minors, no one really expects him to end up there. Martin's most valuable positions are likely center field and second base, where the Twins happen to be well set. 4. Royce Lewis, SS 2021 Ranking: 5 Here's an example of the Twins' needs outweighing a neutral assessment of player value. In a vacuum, I would probably rate Martin as a better prospect and player asset than Royce Lewis, who is an unknown commodity after struggling in 2019 and then missing two straight years. In spite of this, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Lewis was a #1 overall draft pick who has been a regular on the top end of prospect rankings since joining the pro ranks. His high character and innate physical gifts lead many to believe he'll find his footing quickly and re-establish himself as an electric difference-maker across multiple phases of the game. Most importantly, for the purposes of this list, you'll notice that Lewis is the only player on it listed as "SS." He's hardly a lock to stick at short, but he's got a better chance than any other player or prospect in the system currently. The Twins seem to firmly believe he can remain there, which may have guided them away from pursuing a free agent on a long-term deal. Unless the situation changes, Minnesota is putting the future of a vital position in Lewis' hands, which makes him one of the organization's most critical players. Here's hoping he can rise to the occasion after a lengthy dormant period. 3. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF 2021 Ranking: 2 Long viewed as one of the most advanced and explosive bats in the minor leagues, Alex Kirilloff arrived in 2021 and affirmed his rep. The overall numbers – .251/.299/.423 with eight homers and 34 RBIs in 59 games – were perfectly solid for a 23-year-old rookie. They also undersell his performance, which was hampered by a flukishly bad 0-for-15 start and then a serious wrist injury he played through for weeks before shutting it down in mid-July. Kirilloff underwent surgery around that time, and is expected to be back at full strength for spring training (whenever it starts). Hopefully he'll pick up where he left off: straight mashing. Kirilloff's xSLG as a rookie, according to Statcast, was .541 – same as Josh Donaldson (who was in the Top 8% of all qualified MLB hitters). With superb plate coverage, Kirilloff drives the ball to all fields and tortures opposing pitchers. Having watched him, I have little doubt he is going to be an offensive force (maybe even an MVP-caliber hitter) so long as he can keep future bouts with injury at bay. Defensively, he was serviceable in left but looked like a natural at first base, with instincts and movements that point to Gold Glove potential. For the time being, he's blocked there by Miguel Sanó, and given the team's current needs, Kirilloff's ability to play in the corners is quite helpful. The Twins still control him for six years (through age 29) after slightly delaying his arrival in 2021. 2. Jorge Polanco, 2B 2021 Ranking: 6 It's been quite the roller coaster for Jorge Polanco over the past few years. Coming off a breakthrough season where he was an All-Star shortstop and credible MVP candidate at age 25, he and his team-friendly contract reached the #1 spot in our rankings heading into 2020. Then, Polanco's performance nosedived in a shortened campaign marred by ankle issues. He dropped back to #6 last year – his more customary range prior to the 2019 glow-up. Unlike Max Kepler, however, Polanco rebounded to prove his star turn with the Bomba Squad was no outlier. In 2021, following a move to second base, Polanco regained his peak offensive form, shaking off a slow start to launch 33 homers and 35 doubles while setting career highs in SLG (.503) and OPS+ (125). He was a consistent centerpiece of the lineup, mashing from both sides of the plate as a switch-hitter. His transition to a new position was rocky at times, but Polanco seemed to get more comfortable as the season went on and showed all the skills to excel. Shifting down the defensive spectrum is theoretically a ding to his value, but sub-par play at shortstop limited his benefit there. He can offer plenty of value as a top-tier offensive second baseman in his prime, with two years of inexpensive team control followed by a pair of reasonable team options. 1. Byron Buxton, CF 2021 Ranking: 9 Byron Buxton's durability issues were hardly erased in 2021, another season cut short by long absences. But while he was on the field for 61 games, the center fielder's brilliance and MVP-caliber impact was more evident than ever before. He won AL Player of the Month in April, and had a 1.180 OPS in early May before back-to-back major injuries (a strained hip and broken hand) cost him nearly four months. When he was able to play, Buxton was a remarkable difference-maker, producing an absurd 4.2 fWAR in less than half a season. But while he was out, the team struggled to counteract his absence. Buxton's reliable unreliability will remain a reality until it's not. But his newly-minted contract extension accounts for that. The stunningly favorable terms of Buxton's deal make him an easy choice for #1 on this list. It's essentially unheard of to be able to lock up an elite talent throughout his prime while largely paying him based on rate of production. Buck's recurring base salary of $15M/year is an absolute bargain for a franchise centerpiece and premier player in the game. His unique contract, driven heavily by MVP voting incentives, is a perpetual self-motivator. Any other team in the league would be thrilled to have this contract. But a no-trade clause ensures none of them can have it. Buxton's here for the long haul, and now the Twins can fully focus on building a championship team around him. With our countdown complete, here's a look at the full list of the top 20 Twins assets of 2022: Byron Buxton, CF Jorge Polanco, 2B Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF Royce Lewis, SS Austin Martin, OF Bailey Ober, RHP Joe Ryan, RHP Mitch Garver, C Max Kepler, RF Ryan Jeffers, C Luis Arraez, UTIL Trevor Larnach, OF Jordan Balazovic, RHP Jhoan Duran, RHP Jose Miranda, 2B/3B Chase Petty, RHP Gilberto Celestino, CF Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Josh Winder, RHP Matt Canterino, RHP Check back next week for a full recap of the list, featuring analysis, takeaways, and more. Thanks for reading, and feel free to share your thoughts on these rankings in the comments below. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. Here are three reasons why the Twins should avoid starting a rebuild in 2022. 1. Rebuilds Don’t Guarantee Future Success Many fan bases love the idea of a rebuild because of the hope it can offer for the future. In recent memory, there have been successful rebuilds in Houston and Chicago as both franchises won a World Series. These success stories are hardly the norm for rebuilds, as many teams struggle to stay relevant in a competitive MLB landscape. For every successful rebuild, plenty of teams never quite make it back over the hump. Philadelphia lost 81 games or more for eight straight seasons from 2012 through 2019. As the team started coming out of the rebuild, they spent big on free agents like Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler. It’s been a decade since they made the playoffs, and they only have one season with a winning season during that stretch. San Diego had high expectations over the last two years after losing 90+ games for four straight seasons. Their rebuild results include one playoff appearance, and no playoff wins since 2006. 2. Twins Trailing Other Teams Already Rebuilding Minnesota can undoubtedly try to rebuild, but it will be tough to field a roster worse than some of the other teams already rebuilding. Last season, seven teams lost 90 games or more, including four that recorded over 100 losses. Franchises like Baltimore, Arizona, and Pittsburgh are stuck in what seems like a yearly rebuilding cycle. Since 1998, Baltimore has had three playoff appearances. Pittsburgh has one playoff appearance that wasn’t in a Wild Card Game since 1993. Over the last decade, Arizona has made two NLDS appearances but never made it out of that round. All of these teams are already ahead in the rebuilding process, and their rosters look worse on paper than the Twins. One of the goals of a rebuild is to build draft capital throughout multiple seasons, but there are few guarantees when it comes to the MLB Draft. Even Houston made drafting mistakes as part of their rebuild. In the last decade, Minnesota drafted highly for multiple years, and there were plenty of players that didn’t pan out, including top-10 picks like Kohl Stewart, Tyler Jay, and Nick Gordon. First-round draft picks are valuable, but teams need to develop players in the organization to rebuild successfully. 3. Minnesota Is Currently In A Winning Window It may be hard to forget, but the Twins just got out of a rebuild and are in the middle of their current winning window. From 2011-2017, Minnesota’s average finish in the AL Central was 23.6 games out of first place. The Twins saw the results of these losing seasons by winning back-to-back AL Central titles in 2019-20, but that can’t be the peak of this current core. With a veteran core, the Twins should be trying to reload the roster and get back to the playoffs. Plus, the AL Central isn’t getting any easier with other teams like the Tigers and the Royals coming out of their own rebuilds. Also, Minnesota signed Byron Buxton to a seven-year contract extension, so it is essential to field competitive rosters when he is in the prime of his career. Age is certainly a risk to consider with a player of Buxton’s skillset, so the team needs to be in win-now mode. A Twins rebuild would take multiple seasons, and then Buxton would be at the back-end of his contract or no longer part of the team. While the winning window is open, Minnesota needs to stay competitive. Do you think the Twins should start a rebuild or try to avoid it? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. In November, the Minnesota Twins finally paid Byron Buxton. That was the right move all along, and it looks the part of a fair deal for both sides. One caveat to the talented centerfielder is his availability. With that in mind, do the Twins have a built-in insurance policy? Leader of the “Pay. The. Man” campaign, I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the Twins locking Buxton up long term. My follow-up to that suggestion has always been the need for a capable fourth outfielder. Jake Cave hasn’t been that for quite some time, and despite a brief renaissance period for Rob Refsnyder, he’s not that guy either. Minnesota needs someone with the ability to start in centerfield over two weeks and hold serve. Currently, there are only two potential options on the 40 man roster: Nick Gordon Earning himself run because of his versatility last season, Gordon played 73 games for the Twins. Despite having played solely on the dirt in the minor leagues, he looked comfortable in the outfield. The defense should improve as he settles into the role, but the bat is where things may break down. His .647 OPS last season isn’t going to get it done, and with minimal power to his credit, he’ll need to expand heavily upon his on-base profile. Steamer projects a .697 OPS in 2021, and while still not good enough, it’s worth noting that he’s improved at every level in year two. I don’t think he’s the guy, but I like the idea of Minnesota rostering him as he brings a speed threat that has otherwise been missing. Gilberto Celestino This is an interesting case in that Celestino was thrust into action during 2021 before being ready. Celestino was promoted as a 22-year-old after just 21 games in Double-A with no centerfield options available. He understandably was overmatched, posting a .466 OPS in 23 MLB games. The defense has always been his calling card, and that too looked out of sorts at times. Settling back in at Triple-A St. Paul, Celestino turned it on. In 49 games, he posted an .827 OPS and was back to being strong in the outfield. The additional time to settle in no doubt helped regain confidence, a talent that can translate to the highest level. Celestino will be just 23-years-old in 2022 and remains someone to watch for the future. Steamer projections have him at a .692 OPS in 2022, which would be a substantial jump from his debut. Handing him the fourth outfielder role on Opening Day may be a bit soon, but a repeat of the Triple-A numbers should suggest he’s ready. This could become an option sooner rather than later. If Derek Falvey wants to go beyond the organization, options exist there as well. Some of that has to do with how the Twins move forward in trading assets. Max Kepler is a defensive stalwart in right field and can undoubtedly cover in center should Buxton go down. That allows the fourth outfielder to be less of a center-mandated role. However, if he’s not in the picture, things get understandably more complicated. The high end of the free-agent market would be signing corner and sometimes center outfielder Kris Bryant. That’s a bat that has fit the Twins for a while but would seem like a longshot at best. The more economical veteran options are a who’s who of retreads. Names such as Kevin Pillar, Jake Marisnick, and Billy Hamilton are all there. However, if there’s someone I’ve got my eye on, it’s another former Cub, Albert Almora. Since his top prospect days, Almora's stock has dropped after playing strong defense and posting a .777 OPS in his first two seasons. He’ll be just 28 in 2022, though, and a trip to the American League could be good for him. With the Mets Triple-A club last season, he owned a .759 OPS, and Steamer projections have him at a .691 OPS in 2022. If there’s a guy with upside to bank on while still having done it already, this is where I’m looking. Minnesota signing Almora to a two-year deal, or one with an option, would make Byron Buxton’s over-under of 120 games less of a gamble. At the end of the day, the Twins should want to get back to an outfield defense similar to 2020. Before being 12th in defensive runs saved a year ago, Minnesota was third in 2020. Defenders that can prevent runs will be at a premium whether the staff lacks top-tier talent or throws out young arms. The more confidence you can feel from the top four outfielders, the better. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  10. Leader of the “Pay. The. Man” campaign, I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the Twins locking Buxton up long term. My follow-up to that suggestion has always been the need for a capable fourth outfielder. Jake Cave hasn’t been that for quite some time, and despite a brief renaissance period for Rob Refsnyder, he’s not that guy either. Minnesota needs someone with the ability to start in centerfield over two weeks and hold serve. Currently, there are only two potential options on the 40 man roster: Nick Gordon Earning himself run because of his versatility last season, Gordon played 73 games for the Twins. Despite having played solely on the dirt in the minor leagues, he looked comfortable in the outfield. The defense should improve as he settles into the role, but the bat is where things may break down. His .647 OPS last season isn’t going to get it done, and with minimal power to his credit, he’ll need to expand heavily upon his on-base profile. Steamer projects a .697 OPS in 2021, and while still not good enough, it’s worth noting that he’s improved at every level in year two. I don’t think he’s the guy, but I like the idea of Minnesota rostering him as he brings a speed threat that has otherwise been missing. Gilberto Celestino This is an interesting case in that Celestino was thrust into action during 2021 before being ready. Celestino was promoted as a 22-year-old after just 21 games in Double-A with no centerfield options available. He understandably was overmatched, posting a .466 OPS in 23 MLB games. The defense has always been his calling card, and that too looked out of sorts at times. Settling back in at Triple-A St. Paul, Celestino turned it on. In 49 games, he posted an .827 OPS and was back to being strong in the outfield. The additional time to settle in no doubt helped regain confidence, a talent that can translate to the highest level. Celestino will be just 23-years-old in 2022 and remains someone to watch for the future. Steamer projections have him at a .692 OPS in 2022, which would be a substantial jump from his debut. Handing him the fourth outfielder role on Opening Day may be a bit soon, but a repeat of the Triple-A numbers should suggest he’s ready. This could become an option sooner rather than later. If Derek Falvey wants to go beyond the organization, options exist there as well. Some of that has to do with how the Twins move forward in trading assets. Max Kepler is a defensive stalwart in right field and can undoubtedly cover in center should Buxton go down. That allows the fourth outfielder to be less of a center-mandated role. However, if he’s not in the picture, things get understandably more complicated. The high end of the free-agent market would be signing corner and sometimes center outfielder Kris Bryant. That’s a bat that has fit the Twins for a while but would seem like a longshot at best. The more economical veteran options are a who’s who of retreads. Names such as Kevin Pillar, Jake Marisnick, and Billy Hamilton are all there. However, if there’s someone I’ve got my eye on, it’s another former Cub, Albert Almora. Since his top prospect days, Almora's stock has dropped after playing strong defense and posting a .777 OPS in his first two seasons. He’ll be just 28 in 2022, though, and a trip to the American League could be good for him. With the Mets Triple-A club last season, he owned a .759 OPS, and Steamer projections have him at a .691 OPS in 2022. If there’s a guy with upside to bank on while still having done it already, this is where I’m looking. Minnesota signing Almora to a two-year deal, or one with an option, would make Byron Buxton’s over-under of 120 games less of a gamble. At the end of the day, the Twins should want to get back to an outfield defense similar to 2020. Before being 12th in defensive runs saved a year ago, Minnesota was third in 2020. Defenders that can prevent runs will be at a premium whether the staff lacks top-tier talent or throws out young arms. The more confidence you can feel from the top four outfielders, the better. 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. FanGraphs’ Steamer projections foresee an elite season from the Twins’ newly-extended, star centerfielder. The tool doesn’t project a rosy picture for the Twins’ rotation in 2022, as expected. It isn’t exceptionally high on many Twins pitching prospects, nor is it fired up about Mitch Garver. But one area that Twins fans can lean on is the Byron Buxton portion. Steamer projects Buxton to hit .268/.316/.514 with 33 doubles, two triples, and 31 homers. Buxton’s projection of 6.5 defensive fWAR is the highest among all American League outfielders. His 4.3 fWAR ranks fourth among AL outfielders, behind only Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, and Luis Robert. Buxton is estimated to produce more value than J.T. Realmuto, George Springer, Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Chapman, Max Muncy, Giancarlo Stanton, and Tim Anderson. Buxton projects as the fourth most valuable player in the AL Central, behind José Ramírez, Robert, and Yasmani Grandal. Most encouragingly, Steamer projects Buxton to appear in 131 games and head to the plate 567 times. Buxton’s projections are even more impressive considering the tool has him playing fewer games than everybody but Grandal among the top-30 in fWAR. Buxton owns a 135 wRC+ over his last 187 games, and Steamer says he’ll surpass Franmil Reyes, Eloy Jiménez, Marcus Semien, Randy Arozarena, Austin Riley, and Nolan Arenado in 2022 wRC+. This offense all while Buxton roams centerfield at the highest level in baseball. None of this comes as a surprise. Buxton is an elite player, evidenced by his $100 million contract extension. It does give a glimpse of how an entire season of Buxton could look. Even these gaudy projections feel conservative for fans who’ve watched him over the last three years. Entering his age-28 season at peak physical shape, the very best could bubble for Buxton in just a few months. That possibility makes it more important for the Twins to invest in the 2022 team. What do you think about Steamer’s 2022 projections for Byron Buxton? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  12. The tool doesn’t project a rosy picture for the Twins’ rotation in 2022, as expected. It isn’t exceptionally high on many Twins pitching prospects, nor is it fired up about Mitch Garver. But one area that Twins fans can lean on is the Byron Buxton portion. Steamer projects Buxton to hit .268/.316/.514 with 33 doubles, two triples, and 31 homers. Buxton’s projection of 6.5 defensive fWAR is the highest among all American League outfielders. His 4.3 fWAR ranks fourth among AL outfielders, behind only Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, and Luis Robert. Buxton is estimated to produce more value than J.T. Realmuto, George Springer, Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Chapman, Max Muncy, Giancarlo Stanton, and Tim Anderson. Buxton projects as the fourth most valuable player in the AL Central, behind José Ramírez, Robert, and Yasmani Grandal. Most encouragingly, Steamer projects Buxton to appear in 131 games and head to the plate 567 times. Buxton’s projections are even more impressive considering the tool has him playing fewer games than everybody but Grandal among the top-30 in fWAR. Buxton owns a 135 wRC+ over his last 187 games, and Steamer says he’ll surpass Franmil Reyes, Eloy Jiménez, Marcus Semien, Randy Arozarena, Austin Riley, and Nolan Arenado in 2022 wRC+. This offense all while Buxton roams centerfield at the highest level in baseball. None of this comes as a surprise. Buxton is an elite player, evidenced by his $100 million contract extension. It does give a glimpse of how an entire season of Buxton could look. Even these gaudy projections feel conservative for fans who’ve watched him over the last three years. Entering his age-28 season at peak physical shape, the very best could bubble for Buxton in just a few months. That possibility makes it more important for the Twins to invest in the 2022 team. What do you think about Steamer’s 2022 projections for Byron Buxton? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. The beginning of a new year allows everyone the chance to reflect on the previous year. For the Twins, signing Byron Buxton was critical, but his contract has multiple risks. In the days leading into MLB’s lockout, Minnesota accomplished one of the organization’s most important tasks this winter by signing Byron Buxton to a long-term extension. Reports had the two sides close to making a deal throughout the summer, but some hurdles remained. Eventually, they found common ground, and Buxton will be wearing a Twins uniform for the next seven seasons. With any eight-figure contract, there are inherent risks involved. For Buxton, fans are more aware of those risks because of the time he has missed throughout his big-league career. On paper, the contract looks like a very team-friendly deal. Still, Minnesota certainly had the opportunity to go in a different direction and allocate Buxton’s contract to other roster pieces. Risk #1: Long-Term Injury Issues Injuries are part of the Buxton equation, and the team can try various strategies to keep him healthy and on the field. As a 28-year-old, Buxton has recovered from every injury he has faced and returned to his previous on-field performance. There is no guarantee that continues to happen, and Buxton is one serious injury away from his contract looking poorly for the Twins. His injury history is well known, and it’s likely one of the biggest reasons Minnesota was able to sign him. A player of Buxton’s caliber with fewer injury concerns probably garners offers near $200 million on the free-agent market. Last season, Buxton was the best hitter on the planet at the season’s start as he hit .370/.408/.772 (1.180) through his first 24 games. A hip injury caused him to miss over six weeks, and his swing didn’t miss a beat. In three games after returning, he went 4-for-11 with two extra-base hits. Then a hit-by-pitch broke his hand, and he missed two more months. He came back from this most recent injury and batted .314/.375/.686 (1.061) over the team’s final 26 games. There’s no question he has been able to bounce back so far in his career, but what if an injury causes some long-term performance issues? Risk #2: Age Buxton will now be under team control throughout the prime of his career. However, a player with his skill set will see natural regression as he ages. Two of Buxton’s most essential skills are his speed and his fielding, but those are skills impacted by age. His extension keeps him under team control through age 34, but some parts of his game will likely need to be adjusted before the contract expires. Former Twins’ great Torii Hunter may give fans some insight into how players like Buxton can change as Father Time wields his ugly head. For instance, Hunter was an elite defender in the first half of his playing career. Age and injuries made him less effective in center field, and he was eventually forced to move to a corner outfield spot. Hunter adjusted his skills and became an improved hitter in the second half of his career as his defensive skills waned. Buxton is considered more of a five-tool talent than Hunter, but fans can see how center fielders age by looking at Hunter’s career. The risks mentioned above seem to be more prominent with Buxton, but any free agent acquisition faces these same kinds of risks. In recent memory, Josh Donaldson, Minnesota’s biggest free-agent signing, had concerns about his health and how his on-field performance would decline with age. Luckily, his offensive performance has been above average, but injuries have been part of his Twins tenure. Overall, Buxton’s contract comes with risks, but he has provided value even when he misses significant time. Are you worried about the risks involved with Buxton’s extension? 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 View full article
  14. In the days leading into MLB’s lockout, Minnesota accomplished one of the organization’s most important tasks this winter by signing Byron Buxton to a long-term extension. Reports had the two sides close to making a deal throughout the summer, but some hurdles remained. Eventually, they found common ground, and Buxton will be wearing a Twins uniform for the next seven seasons. With any eight-figure contract, there are inherent risks involved. For Buxton, fans are more aware of those risks because of the time he has missed throughout his big-league career. On paper, the contract looks like a very team-friendly deal. Still, Minnesota certainly had the opportunity to go in a different direction and allocate Buxton’s contract to other roster pieces. Risk #1: Long-Term Injury Issues Injuries are part of the Buxton equation, and the team can try various strategies to keep him healthy and on the field. As a 28-year-old, Buxton has recovered from every injury he has faced and returned to his previous on-field performance. There is no guarantee that continues to happen, and Buxton is one serious injury away from his contract looking poorly for the Twins. His injury history is well known, and it’s likely one of the biggest reasons Minnesota was able to sign him. A player of Buxton’s caliber with fewer injury concerns probably garners offers near $200 million on the free-agent market. Last season, Buxton was the best hitter on the planet at the season’s start as he hit .370/.408/.772 (1.180) through his first 24 games. A hip injury caused him to miss over six weeks, and his swing didn’t miss a beat. In three games after returning, he went 4-for-11 with two extra-base hits. Then a hit-by-pitch broke his hand, and he missed two more months. He came back from this most recent injury and batted .314/.375/.686 (1.061) over the team’s final 26 games. There’s no question he has been able to bounce back so far in his career, but what if an injury causes some long-term performance issues? Risk #2: Age Buxton will now be under team control throughout the prime of his career. However, a player with his skill set will see natural regression as he ages. Two of Buxton’s most essential skills are his speed and his fielding, but those are skills impacted by age. His extension keeps him under team control through age 34, but some parts of his game will likely need to be adjusted before the contract expires. Former Twins’ great Torii Hunter may give fans some insight into how players like Buxton can change as Father Time wields his ugly head. For instance, Hunter was an elite defender in the first half of his playing career. Age and injuries made him less effective in center field, and he was eventually forced to move to a corner outfield spot. Hunter adjusted his skills and became an improved hitter in the second half of his career as his defensive skills waned. Buxton is considered more of a five-tool talent than Hunter, but fans can see how center fielders age by looking at Hunter’s career. The risks mentioned above seem to be more prominent with Buxton, but any free agent acquisition faces these same kinds of risks. In recent memory, Josh Donaldson, Minnesota’s biggest free-agent signing, had concerns about his health and how his on-field performance would decline with age. Luckily, his offensive performance has been above average, but injuries have been part of his Twins tenure. Overall, Buxton’s contract comes with risks, but he has provided value even when he misses significant time. Are you worried about the risks involved with Buxton’s extension? 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. As the calendar turns to 2022, take a look back at the top stories at Twins Daily over the last calendar year. There were plenty of significant events and a little fun along the way. If you missed the first half of the series, take a look back at some of the year's other top stories. Below is a rundown of the top-10 stories of the year at Twins Daily. 10. Three Starting Pitchers to Trade for this Winter Published: September 19 Author: Cody Pirkl Trading for starting pitching might be the most logical path to building Minnesota's 2022 rotation, and that was even before Minnesota missed out on many of the top-tier free agent arms. There are multiple teams with controllable arms that offer intriguing trade options. Which player makes the most sense for the Twins? 9. Get Ready for the Opposite of Joe Mauer Published: November 18 Author: Ted Schwerzler With Joe Mauer, the Twins paid a premium for one of baseball's best players. He was coming off an MVP season, and his hometown connections were tough to ignore. Like Mauer, Byron Buxton was a homegrown star on the cusp of free agency. Luckily, the Twins didn't bypass a Buxton extension. Fans may continue to connect Mauer and Buxton because of their injury histories, but Twins fans won't have to watch Buxton in another team's uniform. 8. The 10 Best Twins Target Among Remaining Free Agents Published: January 17 Author: Nick Nelson Last winter, multiple free agents seemed like fits for the 2021 Twins. Two of the names identified ended up signing with the Twins, and both players signed for one-year deals. This leaves the Twins looking for replacements for these players during the current off-season. Also on the list, there were some names that Minnesota was lucky to avoid 7. 4 Possible Teams Interested in a Byron Buxton Trade Published: June 15 Author: Cody Christie During the summer, rumors swirled about the Twins and Buxton not reaching an agreement on a contract extension. It seemed like a very real possibility the team would entertain trading their Gold Glove center fielder. Imagining Buxton in a Yankees or Red Sox uniform might have been tough to swallow for Twins Territory. Luckily, fans won't have to worry about that for the foreseeable future. 6. Sano Sets Strikeout Record Published: September 18 Author: Seth Stohs When he was a top prospect, Miguel Sano breaking a record was something all Twins fans hoped for, but this probably isn't the record most fans had in mind. Not only did he set the record for fastest player to 1,000 career strikeouts, but he also smashed the record. The other players on the list aren't exactly a group of Hall of Fame players, but this is the type of player Sano has become throughout his career. 5. Notebook: Twins Have Offer Out to Veteran SP Published: February 11 Author: Matthew Lenz Twins fans were excited about the possibility of adding a veteran pitcher to Minnesota's starting staff. Unfortunately, the signing became one of the worst free-agent moves under the current regime. Other news covered in this story included the Twins claiming Kyle Garlick, who eventually made the team's Opening Day roster over Brent Rooker. 4. Simmons Wants to Know the Real Story Behind Reliever's Broken Hand Published: October 1 Author: Randballs Stu Randballs Stu offers a little humor to the Twins Daily site, and this piece was one of multiple he has in the top stories of the year. After celebrating the team's playoff-clinching victory, Milwaukee's Devin Williams broke his hand. Andrelton Simmons, a player with a known anti-vaccine stance, questions whether fans are getting the full story with the relief pitcher's injury. 3. What Happened Between Josh Donaldson and Luis Arraez? Published: July 18 Author: Tom Froemming There were plenty of frustrations with the Twins in the middle of the season. During the middle of July, Josh Donaldson got frustrated with Luis Arraez during a game in Detroit. Arraez was slow to get his lead off second base with Donaldson batting. This caused Donaldson to call time and step out. Eventually, the two had a heated discussion with Nelson Cruz playing mediator. 2. 5 Things to Know About Twins Deadline Centerpiece Austin Martin Published: July 30 Author: Nick Nelson After his blockbuster trade to the Twins, fans were excited to know more about Austin Martin. Austin Martin immediately entered the conversation as one of the team's top prospects after being a 2020 top draft pick. His college experience and defensive flexibility make him one of the exciting prospects in the Twins farm system. 1. Rare Unwritten Rule Triggers Name Change for Minnesota Twins Published: May 21 Author: Randballs Stu Baseball's unwritten rules can undoubtedly cause some on-field headaches. Randballs Stu painted a satirical picture of how ridiculous these rules can be when teams follow some of these old-school mentalities. It might be fun to have some Minnesota Cocaine Dentist gear. I wonder if MLB.com still has some available? 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 View full article
  16. If you missed the first half of the series, take a look back at some of the year's other top stories. Below is a rundown of the top-10 stories of the year at Twins Daily. 10. Three Starting Pitchers to Trade for this Winter Published: September 19 Author: Cody Pirkl Trading for starting pitching might be the most logical path to building Minnesota's 2022 rotation, and that was even before Minnesota missed out on many of the top-tier free agent arms. There are multiple teams with controllable arms that offer intriguing trade options. Which player makes the most sense for the Twins? 9. Get Ready for the Opposite of Joe Mauer Published: November 18 Author: Ted Schwerzler With Joe Mauer, the Twins paid a premium for one of baseball's best players. He was coming off an MVP season, and his hometown connections were tough to ignore. Like Mauer, Byron Buxton was a homegrown star on the cusp of free agency. Luckily, the Twins didn't bypass a Buxton extension. Fans may continue to connect Mauer and Buxton because of their injury histories, but Twins fans won't have to watch Buxton in another team's uniform. 8. The 10 Best Twins Target Among Remaining Free Agents Published: January 17 Author: Nick Nelson Last winter, multiple free agents seemed like fits for the 2021 Twins. Two of the names identified ended up signing with the Twins, and both players signed for one-year deals. This leaves the Twins looking for replacements for these players during the current off-season. Also on the list, there were some names that Minnesota was lucky to avoid 7. 4 Possible Teams Interested in a Byron Buxton Trade Published: June 15 Author: Cody Christie During the summer, rumors swirled about the Twins and Buxton not reaching an agreement on a contract extension. It seemed like a very real possibility the team would entertain trading their Gold Glove center fielder. Imagining Buxton in a Yankees or Red Sox uniform might have been tough to swallow for Twins Territory. Luckily, fans won't have to worry about that for the foreseeable future. 6. Sano Sets Strikeout Record Published: September 18 Author: Seth Stohs When he was a top prospect, Miguel Sano breaking a record was something all Twins fans hoped for, but this probably isn't the record most fans had in mind. Not only did he set the record for fastest player to 1,000 career strikeouts, but he also smashed the record. The other players on the list aren't exactly a group of Hall of Fame players, but this is the type of player Sano has become throughout his career. 5. Notebook: Twins Have Offer Out to Veteran SP Published: February 11 Author: Matthew Lenz Twins fans were excited about the possibility of adding a veteran pitcher to Minnesota's starting staff. Unfortunately, the signing became one of the worst free-agent moves under the current regime. Other news covered in this story included the Twins claiming Kyle Garlick, who eventually made the team's Opening Day roster over Brent Rooker. 4. Simmons Wants to Know the Real Story Behind Reliever's Broken Hand Published: October 1 Author: Randballs Stu Randballs Stu offers a little humor to the Twins Daily site, and this piece was one of multiple he has in the top stories of the year. After celebrating the team's playoff-clinching victory, Milwaukee's Devin Williams broke his hand. Andrelton Simmons, a player with a known anti-vaccine stance, questions whether fans are getting the full story with the relief pitcher's injury. 3. What Happened Between Josh Donaldson and Luis Arraez? Published: July 18 Author: Tom Froemming There were plenty of frustrations with the Twins in the middle of the season. During the middle of July, Josh Donaldson got frustrated with Luis Arraez during a game in Detroit. Arraez was slow to get his lead off second base with Donaldson batting. This caused Donaldson to call time and step out. Eventually, the two had a heated discussion with Nelson Cruz playing mediator. 2. 5 Things to Know About Twins Deadline Centerpiece Austin Martin Published: July 30 Author: Nick Nelson After his blockbuster trade to the Twins, fans were excited to know more about Austin Martin. Austin Martin immediately entered the conversation as one of the team's top prospects after being a 2020 top draft pick. His college experience and defensive flexibility make him one of the exciting prospects in the Twins farm system. 1. Rare Unwritten Rule Triggers Name Change for Minnesota Twins Published: May 21 Author: Randballs Stu Baseball's unwritten rules can undoubtedly cause some on-field headaches. Randballs Stu painted a satirical picture of how ridiculous these rules can be when teams follow some of these old-school mentalities. It might be fun to have some Minnesota Cocaine Dentist gear. I wonder if MLB.com still has some available? 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
  17. Santa Claus announced via Twitter (Jeff Passan had it first) late last night his nice list for the year. The Twins Daily managed to snag a copy of the list that some say is the modern-day Magna Carta. We don’t really see it. Here is his eponymous list, where some of the names may surprise you. Byron Buxton The man is the definition of nice. It was nice when St. Pohlad pulled through by resigning Buxton to ten more Christmases. Buxton was a lock for the nice list this year. Joe Ryan During the darkest days of doom and gloom, Joe Ryan’s fastball lit up the room. Without Ryan on the team, we may have burst at the seam. We can’t wait for next season, with Ryan’s continued dominance as the main reason. Thank you for coming to Minnesota, Joe. Our favorite starting pitcher with a sick flow. Bailey Ober Uber is often attached to another Twins’ starting pitcher, but now this term also applies to the savior of the Twins’ starting pitching this season. This young rookie stood up to the test when the entire rotation fell to injury. This made Ober a no-brainer as our Rookie of the Year. Justin Morneau No one said they had to be current Twins. Morneau’s soothing voice of reason pacified the crowds during every blowout. Without Morneau behind the booth, chaos may have erupted among Twins fans. Each game without him felt more like a grind than some of the worst games of the season. Even years after retirement, Morneau continues to be the MVP. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen You may be wondering to yourself, where are the Olsen twins? The notoriously anonymous sisters have been quietly building their fashion empire, Elizabeth and James, behind the scenes. We miss seeing the sisters together on screen, but we respect their wishes for confidentiality. Taylor and Tyler Rogers Tyler isn’t a Twin, but it felt appropriate to include him on the list as well. The warm and fuzzies that fans felt watching Taylor and Tyler support each other throughout the season warranted a spot for both twins. In addition, Taylor’s All-Star season and Tyler’s snubbed All-Star season made them a lock on every baseball fan’s list. Jorge Polanco No explanation needed Ralph Garza Jr. He’s simply Santa’s favorite. (Author's Edit: We’re wondering if there’s some nepotism at play.) Gray Duck Tavern at Target Field Maybe not a Twin on paper, but this is Santa’s list, and he will do whatever he darn pleases. Without Gray Duck Tavern, the Twins Daily staff’s summer get-together would’ve been about 100 bomba juices short, which actually might’ve been a good thing. Thank you all for reading this year. May you all have a wonderful holiday and only receive season’s wishes for baseball purposes. View full article
  18. Byron Buxton The man is the definition of nice. It was nice when St. Pohlad pulled through by resigning Buxton to ten more Christmases. Buxton was a lock for the nice list this year. Joe Ryan During the darkest days of doom and gloom, Joe Ryan’s fastball lit up the room. Without Ryan on the team, we may have burst at the seam. We can’t wait for next season, with Ryan’s continued dominance as the main reason. Thank you for coming to Minnesota, Joe. Our favorite starting pitcher with a sick flow. Bailey Ober Uber is often attached to another Twins’ starting pitcher, but now this term also applies to the savior of the Twins’ starting pitching this season. This young rookie stood up to the test when the entire rotation fell to injury. This made Ober a no-brainer as our Rookie of the Year. Justin Morneau No one said they had to be current Twins. Morneau’s soothing voice of reason pacified the crowds during every blowout. Without Morneau behind the booth, chaos may have erupted among Twins fans. Each game without him felt more like a grind than some of the worst games of the season. Even years after retirement, Morneau continues to be the MVP. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen You may be wondering to yourself, where are the Olsen twins? The notoriously anonymous sisters have been quietly building their fashion empire, Elizabeth and James, behind the scenes. We miss seeing the sisters together on screen, but we respect their wishes for confidentiality. Taylor and Tyler Rogers Tyler isn’t a Twin, but it felt appropriate to include him on the list as well. The warm and fuzzies that fans felt watching Taylor and Tyler support each other throughout the season warranted a spot for both twins. In addition, Taylor’s All-Star season and Tyler’s snubbed All-Star season made them a lock on every baseball fan’s list. Jorge Polanco No explanation needed Ralph Garza Jr. He’s simply Santa’s favorite. (Author's Edit: We’re wondering if there’s some nepotism at play.) Gray Duck Tavern at Target Field Maybe not a Twin on paper, but this is Santa’s list, and he will do whatever he darn pleases. Without Gray Duck Tavern, the Twins Daily staff’s summer get-together would’ve been about 100 bomba juices short, which actually might’ve been a good thing. Thank you all for reading this year. May you all have a wonderful holiday and only receive season’s wishes for baseball purposes.
  19. Going into the 2021 Major League Baseball season, the Minnesota Twins were expected to contend for another American League Central Division title. They flopped, and nothing went as expected. What if the front office is leaning on rebuilding the confidence in guys already in the clubhouse? Right now, we sit in the midst of a lockout with no end in sight and no moves on the horizon. Before the shutdown, Minnesota’s only move of consequence was in signing starter Dylan Bundy to a one-year deal. The rotation remains bare, but at this point, the free-agent market could be categorized as roughly the same. Short of signing Carlos Rodon to a deal, Minnesota will get better by swapping assets rather than paying for them. With that in mind, it could be believed that much of the talent at Rocco Baldelli’s disposal in 2022 already has a spot on the roster. Minnesota currently has just two spots open on their 40 man roster, although there’s undoubtedly possible maneuvering that could take place. Those on the 40 man, though, especially on offense, make up a group expected to produce a year ago. Jorge Polanco turned in a strong year in which he bounced back from injuries and looked the part of his 2019 self. Cemented as the second basemen (hopefully), the goal would be for others to join him. Byron Buxton was an MVP candidate but played in just 61 games. Luis Arraez played in only 121 games and hit below .300 for the first time in his three big-league seasons. Miguel Sano started incredibly cold before finding his stride. Although Josh Donaldson produced, his .827 OPS was boosted mainly by a stretch surge. Alex Kirilloff didn’t acclimate as expected, and Trevor Larnach didn’t deliver. Mitch Garver was limited, and Ryan Jeffers took a step backward. Maybe Max Kepler isn’t on the Opening Day roster, but the hope would be that there’s more from him as well. That group of bats is virtually the same core that was a terror to opposing pitching staffs in 2019 and much of 2020. Jose Miranda should be expected to join them at some point in 2022, and while Nelson Cruz is no longer here, freeing up the designated hitter spot should work in favor of Minnesota when it comes to lineup construction. There’s a lot of opportunity for progress there, even if that leaves the door open to uncertainty. The reality is that aside from a shortstop, Falvey had little need to spend on bats. When it comes to pitching, there are certainly roles that need answers. The rotation is incomplete, and while it won’t stay that way, internally, the options are less evident. However, what is worth noting is that the stable of prospects should be near-ready to be unleashed. There are no less than five top options that Falvey has cultivated over the past few years. Nick Nelson recently wrote a great piece exploring why the Twins may be hesitant to spend on pitching. It all comes back to this group. Had 2020 gone off as expected, the injuries to these arms likely would have been less prevalent in 2021, and we’d have seen more opportunity at the highest level for this group. It all amounts to a situation where the front office could be near suggestive of simply running it back. That may not wind up in a dominant season, but it’s also an understandable stance given where internal development lies. There are needs in the middle infield and rotation, but there’s also the expectation of multiple prospect options that should be called upon in a season or less. Without backing yourself into a corner with dollars and long-term deals, there’s a tightrope to walk if the path is playing a waiting game. 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 View full article
  20. Right now, we sit in the midst of a lockout with no end in sight and no moves on the horizon. Before the shutdown, Minnesota’s only move of consequence was in signing starter Dylan Bundy to a one-year deal. The rotation remains bare, but at this point, the free-agent market could be categorized as roughly the same. Short of signing Carlos Rodon to a deal, Minnesota will get better by swapping assets rather than paying for them. With that in mind, it could be believed that much of the talent at Rocco Baldelli’s disposal in 2022 already has a spot on the roster. Minnesota currently has just two spots open on their 40 man roster, although there’s undoubtedly possible maneuvering that could take place. Those on the 40 man, though, especially on offense, make up a group expected to produce a year ago. Jorge Polanco turned in a strong year in which he bounced back from injuries and looked the part of his 2019 self. Cemented as the second basemen (hopefully), the goal would be for others to join him. Byron Buxton was an MVP candidate but played in just 61 games. Luis Arraez played in only 121 games and hit below .300 for the first time in his three big-league seasons. Miguel Sano started incredibly cold before finding his stride. Although Josh Donaldson produced, his .827 OPS was boosted mainly by a stretch surge. Alex Kirilloff didn’t acclimate as expected, and Trevor Larnach didn’t deliver. Mitch Garver was limited, and Ryan Jeffers took a step backward. Maybe Max Kepler isn’t on the Opening Day roster, but the hope would be that there’s more from him as well. That group of bats is virtually the same core that was a terror to opposing pitching staffs in 2019 and much of 2020. Jose Miranda should be expected to join them at some point in 2022, and while Nelson Cruz is no longer here, freeing up the designated hitter spot should work in favor of Minnesota when it comes to lineup construction. There’s a lot of opportunity for progress there, even if that leaves the door open to uncertainty. The reality is that aside from a shortstop, Falvey had little need to spend on bats. When it comes to pitching, there are certainly roles that need answers. The rotation is incomplete, and while it won’t stay that way, internally, the options are less evident. However, what is worth noting is that the stable of prospects should be near-ready to be unleashed. There are no less than five top options that Falvey has cultivated over the past few years. Nick Nelson recently wrote a great piece exploring why the Twins may be hesitant to spend on pitching. It all comes back to this group. Had 2020 gone off as expected, the injuries to these arms likely would have been less prevalent in 2021, and we’d have seen more opportunity at the highest level for this group. It all amounts to a situation where the front office could be near suggestive of simply running it back. That may not wind up in a dominant season, but it’s also an understandable stance given where internal development lies. There are needs in the middle infield and rotation, but there’s also the expectation of multiple prospect options that should be called upon in a season or less. Without backing yourself into a corner with dollars and long-term deals, there’s a tightrope to walk if the path is playing a waiting game. 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
  21. Byron Buxton highlights from the 2021 season, including home runs, diving/leaping catches and his speed on the basepaths.
  22. Byron Buxton highlights from the 2021 season, including home runs, diving/leaping catches and his speed on the basepaths. View full video
  23. The Twins locked up Byron Buxton for the prime of his career, but if history is any indication, the team will need depth behind him in the years ahead. What players can step in for Buxton if the injury bug bites him again? Current Center Fielder: Byron Buxton In the days leading into the MLB lock-out, the Twins signed Byron Buxton to a seven-year, $100 million contract extension to keep him tied to Minnesota until his mid-30s. Buxton has played at a superstar level over the last three seasons when he has been healthy. Unfortunately, he has played 87 games or fewer in all but one of his big-league seasons. The Twins were able to sign Buxton for a relatively cheap deal because of these injury concerns, and he expressed a strong desire to stay in the Twin Cities. Now, Minnesota has to make a plan to keep him healthy, so some of the players below aren't relied on in center field. 40-Man Roster Options The Twins have used Max Kepler as a backup option in center field. He has made 127 starts and logged over 1,100 big-league innings at the position. In the past, Kepler preferred playing in a corner outfield spot because of the increased physical demand from playing in center. Kepler might be one of baseball's most valuable trade assets, and this may result in him being dealt this winter for starting pitching depth. Some younger players on the 40-man roster also fit into the team's center field plans. The Twins rushed Gilberto Celestino to the big leagues last season because the team was out of outfield options on the 40-man roster. Entering last season, he had never appeared above the High-A level. In 70-games between Double- and Triple-A last year, he posted a .795 OPS and combined for 25 extra-base hits. If Buxton gets hurt, Celestino should get some opportunities next season. Royce Lewis is another intriguing option on the 40-man roster that may end up playing center field at the big-league level. Minnesota will give him every opportunity to prove he can be a shortstop before transitioning him to a new defensive position. However, his knee injury last spring means he hasn't been on the field since the 2019 Arizona Fall League, where he was named MVP. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's center field depth. Minnesota has multiple center field options populating the rosters throughout the minor leagues. According to FanGraphs, there are seven players scheduled to be outfielders at Triple-A next season, and all of them have some experience in center field. One of the team's top prospects, Austin Martin, is the most intriguing option as he split time between shortstop and center field after being acquired at last year's trade deadline. Few think he will stick at shortstop, so his eventual defensive home is likely in the outfield or at third base, his college position. Jake Cave is off the 40-man roster, but the team has used him in the center field in the past. His increasing age and more athletic options at Triple-A will likely relegate Cave to a corner outfield spot. Mark Contreras played over 180 innings in center field for St. Paul last season, but he profiles more as a corner outfielder. Last season, he posted an .824 OPS in 114 games with 53 extra-base hits. Jimmy Kerrigan played all three outfield positions for the Saints in 2021 while hitting .260/.330/.478 (.808) with 38 extra-base hits. DaShawn Keirsey was a 4th round pick in 2018 and served as one of the primary center fielders in Cedar Rapids last season. He was over a year and a half older than the average age of the competition at that level, and he posted a .733 OPS. Willie Joe Garry made 32 starts in center field for Fort Myers but only compiled a .601 OPS in 95 games. Misael Urbina was Minnesota's top international signee in the class of 2018. Last season, he made his stateside debut, where he was over two years younger than the competition. In 101 games, he batted .191/.299/.286 (.585) with 21 extra-base hits. One year after Urbina, Emmanuel Rodriguez was Minnesota's top international signee. Last season, he hit .214/.346/.524 (.870) with 17 extra-base hits in 37 games for the FCL Twins. Overall, Minnesota has one of baseball's best players in center field, but depth is critical with his injury history. What do you think about the organization's center field depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catcher — First Base — Second Base — Third Base — Shortstop View full article
  24. Current Center Fielder: Byron Buxton In the days leading into the MLB lock-out, the Twins signed Byron Buxton to a seven-year, $100 million contract extension to keep him tied to Minnesota until his mid-30s. Buxton has played at a superstar level over the last three seasons when he has been healthy. Unfortunately, he has played 87 games or fewer in all but one of his big-league seasons. The Twins were able to sign Buxton for a relatively cheap deal because of these injury concerns, and he expressed a strong desire to stay in the Twin Cities. Now, Minnesota has to make a plan to keep him healthy, so some of the players below aren't relied on in center field. 40-Man Roster Options The Twins have used Max Kepler as a backup option in center field. He has made 127 starts and logged over 1,100 big-league innings at the position. In the past, Kepler preferred playing in a corner outfield spot because of the increased physical demand from playing in center. Kepler might be one of baseball's most valuable trade assets, and this may result in him being dealt this winter for starting pitching depth. Some younger players on the 40-man roster also fit into the team's center field plans. The Twins rushed Gilberto Celestino to the big leagues last season because the team was out of outfield options on the 40-man roster. Entering last season, he had never appeared above the High-A level. In 70-games between Double- and Triple-A last year, he posted a .795 OPS and combined for 25 extra-base hits. If Buxton gets hurt, Celestino should get some opportunities next season. Royce Lewis is another intriguing option on the 40-man roster that may end up playing center field at the big-league level. Minnesota will give him every opportunity to prove he can be a shortstop before transitioning him to a new defensive position. However, his knee injury last spring means he hasn't been on the field since the 2019 Arizona Fall League, where he was named MVP. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's center field depth. Minnesota has multiple center field options populating the rosters throughout the minor leagues. According to FanGraphs, there are seven players scheduled to be outfielders at Triple-A next season, and all of them have some experience in center field. One of the team's top prospects, Austin Martin, is the most intriguing option as he split time between shortstop and center field after being acquired at last year's trade deadline. Few think he will stick at shortstop, so his eventual defensive home is likely in the outfield or at third base, his college position. Jake Cave is off the 40-man roster, but the team has used him in the center field in the past. His increasing age and more athletic options at Triple-A will likely relegate Cave to a corner outfield spot. Mark Contreras played over 180 innings in center field for St. Paul last season, but he profiles more as a corner outfielder. Last season, he posted an .824 OPS in 114 games with 53 extra-base hits. Jimmy Kerrigan played all three outfield positions for the Saints in 2021 while hitting .260/.330/.478 (.808) with 38 extra-base hits. DaShawn Keirsey was a 4th round pick in 2018 and served as one of the primary center fielders in Cedar Rapids last season. He was over a year and a half older than the average age of the competition at that level, and he posted a .733 OPS. Willie Joe Garry made 32 starts in center field for Fort Myers but only compiled a .601 OPS in 95 games. Misael Urbina was Minnesota's top international signee in the class of 2018. Last season, he made his stateside debut, where he was over two years younger than the competition. In 101 games, he batted .191/.299/.286 (.585) with 21 extra-base hits. One year after Urbina, Emmanuel Rodriguez was Minnesota's top international signee. Last season, he hit .214/.346/.524 (.870) with 17 extra-base hits in 37 games for the FCL Twins. Overall, Minnesota has one of baseball's best players in center field, but depth is critical with his injury history. What do you think about the organization's center field depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catcher — First Base — Second Base — Third Base — Shortstop
  25. This lockout has officially put the nail in the coffin for a slow offseason. Never fear, your local internet stalker is still here. Say it with me, your favorite Twins don’t retreat into a Jake cave until spring training. Here are what your favorite Twins’ players have been up to recently. Randy Dobnak was thankful for beans, rice, Jesus Christ, and Byron Who? BYRON! Byron Buxton surprised us with the best early-Christmas gift No one thought the Twins could get it done. Byron Buxton will remain a Twin for a very long time with his 7-year extension. That means we’ll have some of this in our future: And definitely a little bit of this: Buxton’s athleticism is like a perfectly crafted Thanksgiving plate, with the perfect amount of turkey, stuffing, and a heaping side of taters. Josh Donaldson celebrated his 36th birthday The Bringer of Rain celebrated the big 3-6 presumably in style yesterday. The entire staff of Twins Daily celebrated his birthday by joining hands and watching one of his best moments from last season. Happy birthday Josh! Eduardo Escobar broke ground at Citi Field Despite moving on to his third team after the Twins, Eduardo Escobar remains one of the most beloved Twins of all time. We wish him nothing by the best as he moves on to the NL East. Fogo Power, baby! Miguel Sano Took No Days Off Thanksgiving, shmanksgiving. Sano said no to giving up on his quest to prepping for the year ahead. Lewis Thorpe took his horse to the Old Town Road Max Kepler Continues to Live the Good Life We have no idea where Max Kepler spends most of his days. Wherever he is, there will be no grainy photos with poor lighting for Max. Kepler continues to be, what the kids say, ~*a vibe*~ Don’t ask us what that means. Which other players would you like to hear from in the offseason? Comment below! View full article
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