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  1. Byron Buxton’s health will once again play a huge role for the Twins in 2022. Of equal importance, though, is whether it will matter if he does stay healthy. It has to count. Whenever a team signs a star in their prime, the pressure automatically mounts. Not just the stress of success, but the heat on how the team will build around that star. Will the Angels ever give Mike Trout enough pitching to win? Can the Phillies build enough strength around Bryce Harper? There’s a constant clock tick, tick, ticking. Trout, 30, has nine years remaining on his deal. How many more years can the Angels expect healthy, MVP-level production? Harper, 29, just won MVP for a Philadelphia team that missed the playoffs once again. $300+ million contracts considerably impact spending, even for teams like the Phillies, Angels, and Yankees. For one, that’s a lot of money on the books for a long time. Additionally, teams must supplement the stars they sign with other All-Star level players. For the Twins, a club that just handed out the second-largest contract in team history, the situation is the same. On a per-game basis, Byron Buxton is in the same tier as his $300 million counterparts. The only thing keeping him from that status is his injury history. Now that Minnesota decided Buxton is the building block, the front office must work to avoid wasting his prime. Buxton, 27, will never combine his elite speed and power more than now. In other words, this is likely the best version of Buxton we’ll ever see. Consider this scenario. The Twins continue to sit around in free agency and on the trade market and fail to muster enough pitching to compete in 2022. Let’s say, on top of that, Buxton plays 140 games and wins MVP. This situation is plausible. While Buxton is one of the most impactful players in MLB, he is only one player. See Harper, Bryce and Trout, Mike. By signing this deal, Buxton commits to a team coming off a last-place finish with an unknown road ahead. If he’s healthy, a gamble the Twins have already decided to make; they have to make it matter. Here’s how they can: 1. SIGN CARLOS RODÓN Rumored to be involved in his sweepstakes, the Twins have an opportunity to add an ace for a cheaper-than-usual price tag. Rodón’s injury history is enough to scare off even the riskiest of teams. He barely got through the 2021 season with dwindling velocity and more arm problems. The healthy version of Rodón was the best pitcher in the league, posting a 2.37 ERA and 35% strikeout rate in 132 2/3 innings. He’s the exact type of gamble a team like the Twins should make. 2. TRADE FOR CHRIS BASSITT Bassitt has the American League’s lowest ERA over the last two seasons (min. 200 innings) and is reportedly available. He works with a deep repertoire of pitches with clear room for improvement. He’d immediately join Rodón as a duo rivaling Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito as the best in the division. 3. RE-SIGN MICHAEL PINEDA Pineda had some hiccups over his three years with the Twins, but he was rock-solid and often gave them a chance to win. Pineda’s 3.80 ERA since 2019 is enough to run back for more. A top three of Rodón, Bassitt, and Pineda would enter the season as one of the best the Twins have ever had. (at least since the season they had Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda atop their rotation) What do you think? Does the Byron Buxton extension put more pressure on 2022? Do you like these moves? Comment below! 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
  2. Whenever a team signs a star in their prime, the pressure automatically mounts. Not just the stress of success, but the heat on how the team will build around that star. Will the Angels ever give Mike Trout enough pitching to win? Can the Phillies build enough strength around Bryce Harper? There’s a constant clock tick, tick, ticking. Trout, 30, has nine years remaining on his deal. How many more years can the Angels expect healthy, MVP-level production? Harper, 29, just won MVP for a Philadelphia team that missed the playoffs once again. $300+ million contracts considerably impact spending, even for teams like the Phillies, Angels, and Yankees. For one, that’s a lot of money on the books for a long time. Additionally, teams must supplement the stars they sign with other All-Star level players. For the Twins, a club that just handed out the second-largest contract in team history, the situation is the same. On a per-game basis, Byron Buxton is in the same tier as his $300 million counterparts. The only thing keeping him from that status is his injury history. Now that Minnesota decided Buxton is the building block, the front office must work to avoid wasting his prime. Buxton, 27, will never combine his elite speed and power more than now. In other words, this is likely the best version of Buxton we’ll ever see. Consider this scenario. The Twins continue to sit around in free agency and on the trade market and fail to muster enough pitching to compete in 2022. Let’s say, on top of that, Buxton plays 140 games and wins MVP. This situation is plausible. While Buxton is one of the most impactful players in MLB, he is only one player. See Harper, Bryce and Trout, Mike. By signing this deal, Buxton commits to a team coming off a last-place finish with an unknown road ahead. If he’s healthy, a gamble the Twins have already decided to make; they have to make it matter. Here’s how they can: 1. SIGN CARLOS RODÓN Rumored to be involved in his sweepstakes, the Twins have an opportunity to add an ace for a cheaper-than-usual price tag. Rodón’s injury history is enough to scare off even the riskiest of teams. He barely got through the 2021 season with dwindling velocity and more arm problems. The healthy version of Rodón was the best pitcher in the league, posting a 2.37 ERA and 35% strikeout rate in 132 2/3 innings. He’s the exact type of gamble a team like the Twins should make. 2. TRADE FOR CHRIS BASSITT Bassitt has the American League’s lowest ERA over the last two seasons (min. 200 innings) and is reportedly available. He works with a deep repertoire of pitches with clear room for improvement. He’d immediately join Rodón as a duo rivaling Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito as the best in the division. 3. RE-SIGN MICHAEL PINEDA Pineda had some hiccups over his three years with the Twins, but he was rock-solid and often gave them a chance to win. Pineda’s 3.80 ERA since 2019 is enough to run back for more. A top three of Rodón, Bassitt, and Pineda would enter the season as one of the best the Twins have ever had. (at least since the season they had Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda atop their rotation) What do you think? Does the Byron Buxton extension put more pressure on 2022? Do you like these moves? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. The Twins have an extreme need for starting pitching. Could they swing a deal for Athletics starter Chris Bassitt? THE PLAYER The White Sox drafted Bassitt, 32, in the 16th round of the 2011 Draft out of the University of Akron. In what turned out to be a lopsided trade, the White Sox moved Bassitt and Marcus Semien for Jeff Samardzija in December of 2014. Semien and Bassitt combined for 29.7 Wins Above Replacement and counting, while Samardzija barely eclipsed replacement level in his lone season for Chicago. Billy Beane won again. Bassitt has quietly pitched very well for the last four seasons. Among 74 starters who’ve thrown at least 400 innings over that span, Bassitt is tied for 13th in ERA+ (130) and ranks 14th in OPS against (.656). 49 starters have thrown at least 200 innings over the last two seasons. Just six have a lower ERA than Bassitt: Corbin Burnes, Walker Buehler, Brandon Woodruff, Max Scherzer, Zack Wheeler, and Max Fried. Bassitt works with a deep arsenal of offerings and excels at missing barrels. He throws a sinker in the lower-to-mid 90s, an excellent four-seamer with similar velocity, a cutter, changeup, slider, and curveball. The lanky right-hander is an interesting case study. He’s already terrific, but there’s glaring room for improvement in his profile. Bassitt increased his slider usage from 0.1% in 2019 to 10.1% in 2021. My suggestion: bump that up even more. Bassitt’s slider grades as an excellent pitch, with an expected batting average of .127 and a 39% swing-and-miss rate in 2021. Perhaps fewer sinkers (.356 xWOBA) and cutters (.375), and more sliders would help Bassitt miss more bats. This change would significantly help against right-handed batters, who hit just .143 with a .209 wOBA against Bassitt’s slider in 2021. THE COST Bassitt is one year from free agency and will make about $9 million via arbitration in 2022. The Athletics aren’t afraid to trade away their expiring veterans, and there’ve been multiple reports indicating that Bassitt, Sean Manaea, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olson could all be available. According to MLB Trade Simulators, a deal for Bassitt would require quite a bit, but not nearly as much as Luis Castillo. If the Athletics wanted one young player in return, Trevor Larnach holds similar value, according to the simulator. If they seek a package, perhaps Alerick Soularie, Matt Wallner, Blayne Enlow and Drew Strotman could make sense. The Twins certainly value one-year commitments. Because Bassitt is making such a reasonable salary, it’s viable to trade for him and sign a high-priced free agent. The Twins have the depth to swing a deal like this. It’s possible they’d favor Manaea, the younger lefty who may require less in return. Manaea is objectively worse than Bassitt but throws an excellent changeup and costs a projected $10.2 million via arbitration in 2022. Frankie Montas, 28, could be the highest-upside target but also the most expensive with two years remaining on his contract. What do you think? Should the Twins trade for Chris Bassitt? FOR MORE TWINS CONTENT: — 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 PLAYER The White Sox drafted Bassitt, 32, in the 16th round of the 2011 Draft out of the University of Akron. In what turned out to be a lopsided trade, the White Sox moved Bassitt and Marcus Semien for Jeff Samardzija in December of 2014. Semien and Bassitt combined for 29.7 Wins Above Replacement and counting, while Samardzija barely eclipsed replacement level in his lone season for Chicago. Billy Beane won again. Bassitt has quietly pitched very well for the last four seasons. Among 74 starters who’ve thrown at least 400 innings over that span, Bassitt is tied for 13th in ERA+ (130) and ranks 14th in OPS against (.656). 49 starters have thrown at least 200 innings over the last two seasons. Just six have a lower ERA than Bassitt: Corbin Burnes, Walker Buehler, Brandon Woodruff, Max Scherzer, Zack Wheeler, and Max Fried. Bassitt works with a deep arsenal of offerings and excels at missing barrels. He throws a sinker in the lower-to-mid 90s, an excellent four-seamer with similar velocity, a cutter, changeup, slider, and curveball. The lanky right-hander is an interesting case study. He’s already terrific, but there’s glaring room for improvement in his profile. Bassitt increased his slider usage from 0.1% in 2019 to 10.1% in 2021. My suggestion: bump that up even more. Bassitt’s slider grades as an excellent pitch, with an expected batting average of .127 and a 39% swing-and-miss rate in 2021. Perhaps fewer sinkers (.356 xWOBA) and cutters (.375), and more sliders would help Bassitt miss more bats. This change would significantly help against right-handed batters, who hit just .143 with a .209 wOBA against Bassitt’s slider in 2021. THE COST Bassitt is one year from free agency and will make about $9 million via arbitration in 2022. The Athletics aren’t afraid to trade away their expiring veterans, and there’ve been multiple reports indicating that Bassitt, Sean Manaea, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olson could all be available. According to MLB Trade Simulators, a deal for Bassitt would require quite a bit, but not nearly as much as Luis Castillo. If the Athletics wanted one young player in return, Trevor Larnach holds similar value, according to the simulator. If they seek a package, perhaps Alerick Soularie, Matt Wallner, Blayne Enlow and Drew Strotman could make sense. The Twins certainly value one-year commitments. Because Bassitt is making such a reasonable salary, it’s viable to trade for him and sign a high-priced free agent. The Twins have the depth to swing a deal like this. It’s possible they’d favor Manaea, the younger lefty who may require less in return. Manaea is objectively worse than Bassitt but throws an excellent changeup and costs a projected $10.2 million via arbitration in 2022. Frankie Montas, 28, could be the highest-upside target but also the most expensive with two years remaining on his contract. What do you think? Should the Twins trade for Chris Bassitt? FOR MORE TWINS CONTENT: — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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