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  1. Time is running out for the Twins to add to the team's 2023 roster. So, do any of the top remaining free agents fit with the Twins? Image courtesy of Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports Ranking free agents can be a challenging exercise, especially at this point in the off-season when many of the top names are off the board. On Sunday, MLB Trade Rumors updated their list of the best remaining free agents at each position, which includes some players that are potential fits for the Twins. Here is a rundown of that list and how each player fits with Minnesota's 2023 roster. Starting Pitcher: Johnny Cueto Minnesota showed some interest in Cueto last winter but went in a different direction to sign Chris Archer. At the time, the Twins wanted someone ready to jump into the rotation, and Cueto didn't make an appearance until May 16. In 2022, he made 25 starts for the White Sox and posted a 3.35 ERA with a 1.23 WHIP. There are rumors the Twins might be interested in Michael Wacha, who would be the next best free-agent starter. Teams can never have too much starting pitching, but the club's younger arms offer more upside. Relief Pitcher: Andrew Chafin The Twins have done little to add to the bullpen, and a few reliable relievers are left on the market. Chafin is intriguing because he is left-handed, and Minnesota's only lefty relievers are Caleb Thielbar and Jovani Moran. He posted a 10.5 K/9 last season with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. He's shown the ability to be effective against righties and lefties, which should secure him a late-inning role with a contending club. Former Twin Michael Fulmer is the best right-handed reliever, and that move makes sense for Minnesota if Chafin signs elsewhere. Catcher: Gary Sanchez Catcher was one of Minnesota's most significant needs this winter, but the club already signed Christian Vazquez to a multi-year deal. The Twins saw plenty of Sanchez during the 2022 campaign, and the team was looking for a better defensive option. It seems highly unlikely for Sanchez to be back in a Twins uniform. First Base: Trey Mancini Last week, I wrote about Mancini being a target for the Twins because he gets some time in the outfield and bats right-handed. However, he posted reverse splits last season, so he might not be the best candidate for this role. Minnesota likely has enough options for first base, with Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff getting most of the reps and other players filling in as needed. Signing Mancini makes more sense if the Twins traded any of their other first-base options. Second Base: Josh Harrison Harrison posted a 94 OPS+ in 119 games for the White Sox last season while providing plenty of value on the defensive side. He can fill a veteran utility player role, especially since he ranked in the 84th percentile for Outs Above Average. Minnesota's second base depth chart is already full with Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez, and Edouard Julien. Shortstop: Elvis Andrus Obviously, Carlos Correa is not officially signed with the New York Mets, and MLBTR was assuming his deal will have a pen to paper. Andrus might be a slight upgrade over current Twins shortstop Kyle Farmer, but they offer similar overall value. Andrus likely wants to play for a team where he will get regular playing time, and the Twins might not be that place for him. Minnesota can add him as another infield option if his market continues to be cold, but that seems unlikely. Third Base: Brian Anderson Earlier this winter, the Twins traded Gio Urshela to open up a regular third base job for Jose Miranda. Anderson's defense declined at third base last season, and he's averaged a 90 OPS+ over the last two seasons. He has some experience in the outfield, so the Twins may be interested in him being a right-handed bench bat. Corner Outfield: Jurickson Profar Besides Correa, Profar is the best free agent left on the market. Last season, he hit .243/.331/.391 (.723) with a 111 OPS+ and a career-high 36 doubles. Profar could fit with the Twins because he is a switch hitter and played exclusively in left field last season. Minnesota has Byron Buxton and Joey Gallo penciled into two outfield spots, while Profar could occupy left. It seems more likely for the Twins to use other internal options in the outfield, with the club already having too many corner outfield options. Center Field: Albert Almora Almora is tremendous as a defensive center fielder, but he is substantially below average at the plate. The Twins hope to have Byron Buxton start more than 51 games in center this year. Also, Gilberto Celestino has plenty of upside, even though he still needs to put it all together at the big-league level. Almora isn't signing with the Twins. Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz Twins fans can dream of Cruz returning to the middle of the team's line-up, but he isn't the same hitter he was two years ago. In 2022, he hit .234/.313/.337 (.651) with a 90 OPS+. He's also entering his age 42 season, so there are no guarantees he will rediscover his swing. Cruz had plenty of memorable moments for the Twins, but the club was lucky to move on from him. Which of these players is the best fit with the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  2. Ranking free agents can be a challenging exercise, especially at this point in the off-season when many of the top names are off the board. On Sunday, MLB Trade Rumors updated their list of the best remaining free agents at each position, which includes some players that are potential fits for the Twins. Here is a rundown of that list and how each player fits with Minnesota's 2023 roster. Starting Pitcher: Johnny Cueto Minnesota showed some interest in Cueto last winter but went in a different direction to sign Chris Archer. At the time, the Twins wanted someone ready to jump into the rotation, and Cueto didn't make an appearance until May 16. In 2022, he made 25 starts for the White Sox and posted a 3.35 ERA with a 1.23 WHIP. There are rumors the Twins might be interested in Michael Wacha, who would be the next best free-agent starter. Teams can never have too much starting pitching, but the club's younger arms offer more upside. Relief Pitcher: Andrew Chafin The Twins have done little to add to the bullpen, and a few reliable relievers are left on the market. Chafin is intriguing because he is left-handed, and Minnesota's only lefty relievers are Caleb Thielbar and Jovani Moran. He posted a 10.5 K/9 last season with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. He's shown the ability to be effective against righties and lefties, which should secure him a late-inning role with a contending club. Former Twin Michael Fulmer is the best right-handed reliever, and that move makes sense for Minnesota if Chafin signs elsewhere. Catcher: Gary Sanchez Catcher was one of Minnesota's most significant needs this winter, but the club already signed Christian Vazquez to a multi-year deal. The Twins saw plenty of Sanchez during the 2022 campaign, and the team was looking for a better defensive option. It seems highly unlikely for Sanchez to be back in a Twins uniform. First Base: Trey Mancini Last week, I wrote about Mancini being a target for the Twins because he gets some time in the outfield and bats right-handed. However, he posted reverse splits last season, so he might not be the best candidate for this role. Minnesota likely has enough options for first base, with Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff getting most of the reps and other players filling in as needed. Signing Mancini makes more sense if the Twins traded any of their other first-base options. Second Base: Josh Harrison Harrison posted a 94 OPS+ in 119 games for the White Sox last season while providing plenty of value on the defensive side. He can fill a veteran utility player role, especially since he ranked in the 84th percentile for Outs Above Average. Minnesota's second base depth chart is already full with Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez, and Edouard Julien. Shortstop: Elvis Andrus Obviously, Carlos Correa is not officially signed with the New York Mets, and MLBTR was assuming his deal will have a pen to paper. Andrus might be a slight upgrade over current Twins shortstop Kyle Farmer, but they offer similar overall value. Andrus likely wants to play for a team where he will get regular playing time, and the Twins might not be that place for him. Minnesota can add him as another infield option if his market continues to be cold, but that seems unlikely. Third Base: Brian Anderson Earlier this winter, the Twins traded Gio Urshela to open up a regular third base job for Jose Miranda. Anderson's defense declined at third base last season, and he's averaged a 90 OPS+ over the last two seasons. He has some experience in the outfield, so the Twins may be interested in him being a right-handed bench bat. Corner Outfield: Jurickson Profar Besides Correa, Profar is the best free agent left on the market. Last season, he hit .243/.331/.391 (.723) with a 111 OPS+ and a career-high 36 doubles. Profar could fit with the Twins because he is a switch hitter and played exclusively in left field last season. Minnesota has Byron Buxton and Joey Gallo penciled into two outfield spots, while Profar could occupy left. It seems more likely for the Twins to use other internal options in the outfield, with the club already having too many corner outfield options. Center Field: Albert Almora Almora is tremendous as a defensive center fielder, but he is substantially below average at the plate. The Twins hope to have Byron Buxton start more than 51 games in center this year. Also, Gilberto Celestino has plenty of upside, even though he still needs to put it all together at the big-league level. Almora isn't signing with the Twins. Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz Twins fans can dream of Cruz returning to the middle of the team's line-up, but he isn't the same hitter he was two years ago. In 2022, he hit .234/.313/.337 (.651) with a 90 OPS+. He's also entering his age 42 season, so there are no guarantees he will rediscover his swing. Cruz had plenty of memorable moments for the Twins, but the club was lucky to move on from him. Which of these players is the best fit with the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  3. Going into the 2023 Major League Baseball season the Minnesota Twins need to find an answer at shortstop. With a departing superstar and a questionable prospect, plenty of options will be at their disposal. How likely are they to rely on a former Rangers, A's and White Sox slugger? Image courtesy of Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports There were rumors and reports prior to the 2022 MLB season that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine may entertain Billy Beane’s Oakland Athletics in hopes of dealing for Frankie Montas. The popular “Where’s Frankie” monkey reared its head all over Twitter. One avenue toward making that happen seemed to be acquiring Elvis Andrus’s $14.25 million deal. As you all know, it never happened. Eventually, the Athletics released Andrus after the 33-year-old posted a .673 OPS across 106 games. That equated to just a 96 OPS+ in a year in which Major League Baseball saw offense down as a whole, but the terrible Athletics had no use for an aging veteran posting numbers below the league average. When Tim Anderson was injured, the Chicago White Sox signed Andrus and made him their starting shortstop. In 43 games, Andrus posted a .271/.309/.464 slash line with 17 extra-base hits including nine home runs. He’s a free agent coming off an eight-year, $120 million deal signed by the Texas Rangers, and now there’s the question as to whether he can (or should) be a stopgap option with any remaining upside for a team like the Twins. Although the Twins' best bet for production is a new contract with Carlos Correa, they’ll likely explore all options. Andrus could be an answer until Royce Lewis returns midseason, and he won’t block the likes of Austin Martin or Brooks Lee. In his time with the White Sox, Andrus was largely the same player. His 30/9 K/BB was still far too out of whack when it comes to getting on base, and the .464 slugging was hardly an overwhelming tradeoff. Despite being a 14-year veteran, Andrus has never hit more than 20 homers in a season, and his 17 this year seems relatively uncharacteristic. After launching just eight homers in more than 100 games with the Athletics, Andrus somehow blasted another nine dingers with Chicago in just 43 contests. To categorize Andrus’ season as positive offensively, you have to look at his numbers with the White Sox in a vacuum. They aren’t in line with his career norms from a power perspective, and you’d be kidding yourself to suggest a 34-year-old is now entering his prime having reinvented himself. The last time Andrus posted a positive Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) was 2018, but his Outs Above Average (OAA) do equate to him being above average. Realistically, the offensive production shouldn’t be expected to continue, and while he can be average or slightly above defensively, that’s where the payday needs to derive from. When it comes to aging veteran stopgap options for the Twins, Andrus will be among them. They simply can’t get drawn into what he should ask for from his time with the White Sox, and must instead pay for what remains likely based on the workload as a whole. View full article
  4. There were rumors and reports prior to the 2022 MLB season that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine may entertain Billy Beane’s Oakland Athletics in hopes of dealing for Frankie Montas. The popular “Where’s Frankie” monkey reared its head all over Twitter. One avenue toward making that happen seemed to be acquiring Elvis Andrus’s $14.25 million deal. As you all know, it never happened. Eventually, the Athletics released Andrus after the 33-year-old posted a .673 OPS across 106 games. That equated to just a 96 OPS+ in a year in which Major League Baseball saw offense down as a whole, but the terrible Athletics had no use for an aging veteran posting numbers below the league average. When Tim Anderson was injured, the Chicago White Sox signed Andrus and made him their starting shortstop. In 43 games, Andrus posted a .271/.309/.464 slash line with 17 extra-base hits including nine home runs. He’s a free agent coming off an eight-year, $120 million deal signed by the Texas Rangers, and now there’s the question as to whether he can (or should) be a stopgap option with any remaining upside for a team like the Twins. Although the Twins' best bet for production is a new contract with Carlos Correa, they’ll likely explore all options. Andrus could be an answer until Royce Lewis returns midseason, and he won’t block the likes of Austin Martin or Brooks Lee. In his time with the White Sox, Andrus was largely the same player. His 30/9 K/BB was still far too out of whack when it comes to getting on base, and the .464 slugging was hardly an overwhelming tradeoff. Despite being a 14-year veteran, Andrus has never hit more than 20 homers in a season, and his 17 this year seems relatively uncharacteristic. After launching just eight homers in more than 100 games with the Athletics, Andrus somehow blasted another nine dingers with Chicago in just 43 contests. To categorize Andrus’ season as positive offensively, you have to look at his numbers with the White Sox in a vacuum. They aren’t in line with his career norms from a power perspective, and you’d be kidding yourself to suggest a 34-year-old is now entering his prime having reinvented himself. The last time Andrus posted a positive Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) was 2018, but his Outs Above Average (OAA) do equate to him being above average. Realistically, the offensive production shouldn’t be expected to continue, and while he can be average or slightly above defensively, that’s where the payday needs to derive from. When it comes to aging veteran stopgap options for the Twins, Andrus will be among them. They simply can’t get drawn into what he should ask for from his time with the White Sox, and must instead pay for what remains likely based on the workload as a whole.
  5. The Twins expect Carlos Correa to opt out of his contract, which leaves the team searching for a replacement. Here are the top available shortstops expected to be on the free-agent market. Image courtesy of Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Minnesota is in an interesting situation looking at the 2023 roster. How should the team approach the shortstop position? The Twins expect Royce Lewis to return in the middle of next season, and there’s hope he can be the team’s long-term answer at shortstop. Lewis’ presence leaves the Twins with two options. The team can sign one of the top available shortstops or look for a stop-gap player until Lewis is ready. 5. Elvis Andrus, SS Age: 34 2022 Stats: .249/.303/.404 (.707), 103 OPS+, 32 2B, 17 HR, 18 SB, 3.0 WAR Andrus has a $15 million option that he can exercise since he had more than 550 plate appearances this season, so there is no guarantee that he will hit the open market. He seems like a solid stop-gap option for the Twins if he is available. His OPS improved by 100 points after leaving Oakland last season, and he finished with an above-average OPS+. He may have lost a step defensively, but that’s expected as someone heads into their mid-30s. SABR’s Defensive Index had Andrus ranked as the ninth-best shortstop in the American League. Andrus and his representatives need to gauge the market to decide if he can get more than $15 million in guaranteed money. 4. Dansby Swanson, SS Age: 29 2022 Stats: .277/.329/.447 (.776), 115 OPS+, 32 2B, 25 HR, 18 SB, 5.7 WAR Swanson is hitting the free-agent market at the perfect time. He was a first-time All-Star in 2022 and has a World Series title on his resume. Some of the other players on this list will get more significant deals, but Swanson will be able to cash in on a tremendous 2022 season. Even with his breakout season, Swanson has a career OPS+ (95) that is below average. He makes up for his offensive flaws with tremendous defense, with only two NL shortstops ranking higher than him in SDI. Teams need to decide if the 2022 version of Swanson is real before handing him a blank check. 3. Xander Bogaerts, SS Age: 30 2022 Stats: .307/.377/.456 (.833), 131 OPS+, 38 2B, 15 HR, 8 SB, 5.7 WAR Bogaerts has the resume every team wants from a free agent. He plays a premium position, is a four-time All-Star, has two World Series titles, and has four Silver Sluggers. He does have three years remaining on his current contract, but many expect him to opt-out. The one knock against Bogaerts is that he is older than the other top players on this list. Only two AL shortstops ranked higher than him, according to SDI. He will get paid like a top-tier player by one of the teams in the free-agent shortstop market. 2. Carlos Correa, SS Age: 28 2022 Stats: .291/.366/.467 (.834), 140 OPS+, 24 2B, 22 HR, 0 SB, 5.4 WAR Correa made his opt-out decision clear as the season ended. He is heading back to the free agent market for the second straight offseason in an attempt to sign a long-term deal. Last winter, Corey Seager received the largest free agent shortstop contract at ten years and $325 million. Correa is likely searching for a similar amount. Twins fans may feel underwhelmed by Correa’s performance this season with the Twins, but his season totals were similar to other years in his career. He was a tremendous hitter with plus defense. However, he failed to produce in some clutch situations and his best offensive months were near the season’s end when the team fell out of the race. Minnesota has payroll flexibility to sign Correa, but it would be out of character for the front office to make that type of commitment. 1. Trea Turner, SS Age: 29 2022 Stats: .298/.343/.466 (.809), 121 OPS+, 39 2B, 21 HR, 27 SB, 4.9 WAR Outside of Aaron Judge, Turner is likely to get the biggest free-agent contract. He is a true five-tool talent with skills on both sides of the ball and elite speed. He’s stolen 30 or more bases in five seasons, even in an era when teams are less inclined to run. Plenty of front offices will be willing to throw piles of money at Turner to a top-of-the-order hitter that takes their team to the next level. He’s won a batting title, he’s won a World Series, and he’s a multi-time All-Star. Minnesota isn’t going to sign Turner, but his contract will likely point to how much it will cost to sign Correa long-term. Do you see any of these shortstops as fits for the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  6. Minnesota is in an interesting situation looking at the 2023 roster. How should the team approach the shortstop position? The Twins expect Royce Lewis to return in the middle of next season, and there’s hope he can be the team’s long-term answer at shortstop. Lewis’ presence leaves the Twins with two options. The team can sign one of the top available shortstops or look for a stop-gap player until Lewis is ready. 5. Elvis Andrus, SS Age: 34 2022 Stats: .249/.303/.404 (.707), 103 OPS+, 32 2B, 17 HR, 18 SB, 3.0 WAR Andrus has a $15 million option that he can exercise since he had more than 550 plate appearances this season, so there is no guarantee that he will hit the open market. He seems like a solid stop-gap option for the Twins if he is available. His OPS improved by 100 points after leaving Oakland last season, and he finished with an above-average OPS+. He may have lost a step defensively, but that’s expected as someone heads into their mid-30s. SABR’s Defensive Index had Andrus ranked as the ninth-best shortstop in the American League. Andrus and his representatives need to gauge the market to decide if he can get more than $15 million in guaranteed money. 4. Dansby Swanson, SS Age: 29 2022 Stats: .277/.329/.447 (.776), 115 OPS+, 32 2B, 25 HR, 18 SB, 5.7 WAR Swanson is hitting the free-agent market at the perfect time. He was a first-time All-Star in 2022 and has a World Series title on his resume. Some of the other players on this list will get more significant deals, but Swanson will be able to cash in on a tremendous 2022 season. Even with his breakout season, Swanson has a career OPS+ (95) that is below average. He makes up for his offensive flaws with tremendous defense, with only two NL shortstops ranking higher than him in SDI. Teams need to decide if the 2022 version of Swanson is real before handing him a blank check. 3. Xander Bogaerts, SS Age: 30 2022 Stats: .307/.377/.456 (.833), 131 OPS+, 38 2B, 15 HR, 8 SB, 5.7 WAR Bogaerts has the resume every team wants from a free agent. He plays a premium position, is a four-time All-Star, has two World Series titles, and has four Silver Sluggers. He does have three years remaining on his current contract, but many expect him to opt-out. The one knock against Bogaerts is that he is older than the other top players on this list. Only two AL shortstops ranked higher than him, according to SDI. He will get paid like a top-tier player by one of the teams in the free-agent shortstop market. 2. Carlos Correa, SS Age: 28 2022 Stats: .291/.366/.467 (.834), 140 OPS+, 24 2B, 22 HR, 0 SB, 5.4 WAR Correa made his opt-out decision clear as the season ended. He is heading back to the free agent market for the second straight offseason in an attempt to sign a long-term deal. Last winter, Corey Seager received the largest free agent shortstop contract at ten years and $325 million. Correa is likely searching for a similar amount. Twins fans may feel underwhelmed by Correa’s performance this season with the Twins, but his season totals were similar to other years in his career. He was a tremendous hitter with plus defense. However, he failed to produce in some clutch situations and his best offensive months were near the season’s end when the team fell out of the race. Minnesota has payroll flexibility to sign Correa, but it would be out of character for the front office to make that type of commitment. 1. Trea Turner, SS Age: 29 2022 Stats: .298/.343/.466 (.809), 121 OPS+, 39 2B, 21 HR, 27 SB, 4.9 WAR Outside of Aaron Judge, Turner is likely to get the biggest free-agent contract. He is a true five-tool talent with skills on both sides of the ball and elite speed. He’s stolen 30 or more bases in five seasons, even in an era when teams are less inclined to run. Plenty of front offices will be willing to throw piles of money at Turner to a top-of-the-order hitter that takes their team to the next level. He’s won a batting title, he’s won a World Series, and he’s a multi-time All-Star. Minnesota isn’t going to sign Turner, but his contract will likely point to how much it will cost to sign Correa long-term. Do you see any of these shortstops as fits for the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  7. It's hard to erase the mess that was the 2021 Minnesota Twins from our collective memories. It was bad. The 2022 Minnesota Twins have a chance to be great. In this piece, we lay out some pathways for the Twins to finish their roster construction ahead of a new season and the outcomes they might produce. The availability heuristic is humanities’ tendency to use information that comes to mind quickly when making decisions, inferences, or predictions. Also known as recency bias, the concept is pervasive in sports. Try, for example, convincing yourself that the Vikings could do anything except sign a defensive tackle the minute free agency opens, it’s almost impossible. Baseball is no different than other sports in this regard. Consider the Twins' win-loss record over the last decade and it's easy to see why fans take a ‘what have you done for me lately’ approach to the team. This applies in numerous ways to Minnesota. It’s easy to assume that the White Sox will run away with a poor AL Central in 2022 after the Twins collapse in 2021, and they might. Take a peek under the hood, however, and the Twins are poised to compete. Let’s dig in. Baseball Prospectus dropped its initial PECOTA standings on Tuesday. If you’re not familiar, PECOTA is Baseball Prospectus’ projection system, that is used to simulate end-of-season records for all 30 teams. As of March 15th, PECOTA has the Twins finishing second in the Central at 84-78, not so terribly far behind the 91-71 White Sox. First of all, wow. I am deep in the weeds on Twins Twitter. It’s been understandably sour this offseason. Let’s ground ourselves in the fact that this team, as currently constructed, is a .500 team. Even though a large part of this stems from the Twins getting to play a lot of games against pretty bad teams, it still feels pretty hard to accept, given the Twins have just traded their best two right-handed hitters in Josh Donaldson and Mitch Garver. Garver was a fan favorite and will be sorely missed. Donaldson was divisive and is probably undergoing mediation with Gerritt Cole in the parking lot of the Yankees spring training complex in Tampa. Jokes aside, we know the Twins still have plenty of work to do this offseason. I wrote this winter about the Twins' pursuit of a 40-WAR team in 2022, so let’s look at some possible remaining paths and what outcomes they might result in. The Twins currently sit in 16th with a cumulative fWAR of 36.3 (although this is changing by minute). Let’s examine some possible next steps for the Twins and how they might us towards that magical 40 fWAR mark. For the purposes of these pathways, I’m ignoring the bullpen for a couple of reasons; relief pitching doesn’t lend itself well to fWAR, and I ain’t got time for that. So, here goes. Pathway 1: Acquire an Elite Shortstop and an Elite Starting Pitcher Twins sign SS Trevor Story: 4.5 fWAR Twins trade for SP Frankie Montas: 3.2 fWAR This would net the Twins around 7 additional fWAR and bring them to around a 43 fWAR projection. That’s well within playoff range, but also still a distance from the White Sox mark of 47 fWAR. This is a team ready to challenge for the division and certainly compete for a wild card spot. Pathway 2: Acquire an Elite Starting Pitcher and Mediocre Shortstop Twins trade for SP Frankie Montas: 3.2 fWAR Twins trade for SS Elvis Andrus: 0.9 fWAR In this package trade, the Twins acquire Montas and Andrus together, Andrus as a salary dump for Oakland. This would bring the Twins to a 40.5 fWAR and they likely compete for a wild card spot. Pathway 3: Acquire a Mediocre Starting Pitcher and Elite Shortstop The Twins sign SP Michael Pineda: 1.8 fWAR The Twins sign SS Trevor Story: 4.5 fWAR This is where we see the value of potentially adding Story for the Twins. This path would bring the Twins to a projection of 42.6 fWAR before any additional outfield, right-handed bat, and bullpen enhancements. In short, Trevor Story is by far the highest leverage player the Twins have a realistic chance of adding. Pathway 4: Mediocre Everything The Twins sign SP Michael Pineda: 1.8 fWAR The Twins trade for SS Elvis Andrus: 0.9 fWAR I’m not suggesting the Twins would or should do this, I’m merely using it as an example as Andrus offers very little for 2022. In the ‘bare minimum’ pathway, the Twins get to 39.0 fWAR. After the tumult of trading Garver, flipping Kiner-Falefa to the Yankees, and trading away Donaldson, combined with the acquisition of Gray, this would be a brutal disappointment. Again, it’s just an example to underscore the divergence of the paths ahead for the Twins. The Twins are in a much better spot for 2022 than we are conditioned to think. How much they are willing to risk moving forwards will determine if this years’ team is likely to be average, or has a chance to be great. View full article
  8. The availability heuristic is humanities’ tendency to use information that comes to mind quickly when making decisions, inferences, or predictions. Also known as recency bias, the concept is pervasive in sports. Try, for example, convincing yourself that the Vikings could do anything except sign a defensive tackle the minute free agency opens, it’s almost impossible. Baseball is no different than other sports in this regard. Consider the Twins' win-loss record over the last decade and it's easy to see why fans take a ‘what have you done for me lately’ approach to the team. This applies in numerous ways to Minnesota. It’s easy to assume that the White Sox will run away with a poor AL Central in 2022 after the Twins collapse in 2021, and they might. Take a peek under the hood, however, and the Twins are poised to compete. Let’s dig in. Baseball Prospectus dropped its initial PECOTA standings on Tuesday. If you’re not familiar, PECOTA is Baseball Prospectus’ projection system, that is used to simulate end-of-season records for all 30 teams. As of March 15th, PECOTA has the Twins finishing second in the Central at 84-78, not so terribly far behind the 91-71 White Sox. First of all, wow. I am deep in the weeds on Twins Twitter. It’s been understandably sour this offseason. Let’s ground ourselves in the fact that this team, as currently constructed, is a .500 team. Even though a large part of this stems from the Twins getting to play a lot of games against pretty bad teams, it still feels pretty hard to accept, given the Twins have just traded their best two right-handed hitters in Josh Donaldson and Mitch Garver. Garver was a fan favorite and will be sorely missed. Donaldson was divisive and is probably undergoing mediation with Gerritt Cole in the parking lot of the Yankees spring training complex in Tampa. Jokes aside, we know the Twins still have plenty of work to do this offseason. I wrote this winter about the Twins' pursuit of a 40-WAR team in 2022, so let’s look at some possible remaining paths and what outcomes they might result in. The Twins currently sit in 16th with a cumulative fWAR of 36.3 (although this is changing by minute). Let’s examine some possible next steps for the Twins and how they might us towards that magical 40 fWAR mark. For the purposes of these pathways, I’m ignoring the bullpen for a couple of reasons; relief pitching doesn’t lend itself well to fWAR, and I ain’t got time for that. So, here goes. Pathway 1: Acquire an Elite Shortstop and an Elite Starting Pitcher Twins sign SS Trevor Story: 4.5 fWAR Twins trade for SP Frankie Montas: 3.2 fWAR This would net the Twins around 7 additional fWAR and bring them to around a 43 fWAR projection. That’s well within playoff range, but also still a distance from the White Sox mark of 47 fWAR. This is a team ready to challenge for the division and certainly compete for a wild card spot. Pathway 2: Acquire an Elite Starting Pitcher and Mediocre Shortstop Twins trade for SP Frankie Montas: 3.2 fWAR Twins trade for SS Elvis Andrus: 0.9 fWAR In this package trade, the Twins acquire Montas and Andrus together, Andrus as a salary dump for Oakland. This would bring the Twins to a 40.5 fWAR and they likely compete for a wild card spot. Pathway 3: Acquire a Mediocre Starting Pitcher and Elite Shortstop The Twins sign SP Michael Pineda: 1.8 fWAR The Twins sign SS Trevor Story: 4.5 fWAR This is where we see the value of potentially adding Story for the Twins. This path would bring the Twins to a projection of 42.6 fWAR before any additional outfield, right-handed bat, and bullpen enhancements. In short, Trevor Story is by far the highest leverage player the Twins have a realistic chance of adding. Pathway 4: Mediocre Everything The Twins sign SP Michael Pineda: 1.8 fWAR The Twins trade for SS Elvis Andrus: 0.9 fWAR I’m not suggesting the Twins would or should do this, I’m merely using it as an example as Andrus offers very little for 2022. In the ‘bare minimum’ pathway, the Twins get to 39.0 fWAR. After the tumult of trading Garver, flipping Kiner-Falefa to the Yankees, and trading away Donaldson, combined with the acquisition of Gray, this would be a brutal disappointment. Again, it’s just an example to underscore the divergence of the paths ahead for the Twins. The Twins are in a much better spot for 2022 than we are conditioned to think. How much they are willing to risk moving forwards will determine if this years’ team is likely to be average, or has a chance to be great.
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