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  1. The Minnesota Twins have a need for starting pitching entering the 2023 Major League Baseball season. If that feels like an evergreen statement, it’s because it is, but basically for every organization across the sport. For Minnesota, however, they need a frontline arm and they’ve never paid for one before. Image courtesy of Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports With Kenta Maeda returning to Rocco Baldelli’s starting rotation early next season, Minnesota should have a solid trio including former Cincinnati Reds, Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle. They should get Chris Paddack back late in the summer, but will have 2022 Opening Day starter Joe Ryan until then. If Minnesota adds, and they need to, it must be an impact arm. We saw plenty of depth emerge with Minnesota blowing through a franchise-record 38 pitchers this season. Bailey Ober and Josh Winder showed up as expected. Cole Sands had his ups and downs, but Louie Varland and Simeon Woods Richardson emerged maybe more quickly than assumed. There are guys that have experience and will be called upon. Knowing the window paired with youth is now, the best arms available should be on the table. Unfortunately, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have never shown a willingness to spend on starting pitching. Truthfully, Minnesota’s current front office has never spent on pitching at all. They’ve opted for reclamation projects in the bullpen, and largely looked to cut corners relying on coaching to get the best from those acquired. Lance Lynn begrudgingly agreed to a one-year deal in Minnesota following a standoff prior to his decision in 2018, and that was only for $12 million. The most this front office has ever paid in a single season was Jake Odorizzi during 2020, which was a $17.8 million qualifying offer that was worth less than half of the money due to a truncated season. In short, Falvey and Levine’s greatest expense for a pitcher on a deal they negotiated was Addison Reed’s $16.75 million in 2018. He owned a 4.50 ERA across 56 innings and never pitched again after his first season with the Twins. Maybe it’s that signing where the front office soured on paying for pitching. Maybe they didn’t like that Lynn clearly exhibited not wanting to be here after signing late in spring training. Perhaps it’s just been bad luck missing out on arms like Yu Darvish, Zack Wheeler, and Charlie Morton. Whatever it is, if paying for pitching isn’t ever going to happen, what are we doing here? Falvey was brought in to develop a pitching pipeline akin to what he was known for with Cleveland. The depth has started to rear its head, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a Twins prospect currently projected to be a Number One starter. That’s where the focus has to be, and thus far dollars haven't been allocated for one. Falvey and Levine have taken swings on the trade market when looking to foot the bill. Gray has the chops to be a frontline starter (and he has been in the past), and development (and now health) from Mahle could put him there as well. Maybe this duo sees another arm they like enough to trade for, and acquire dollars on the payroll rather than negotiating it themselves. Either way, it is worth wondering if a big payday for a starter will ever come under this regime. Terry Ryan’s $54 million pact with Ervin Santana is still looking to be topped, and now seems as good of a time as ever. View full article
  2. With Kenta Maeda returning to Rocco Baldelli’s starting rotation early next season, Minnesota should have a solid trio including former Cincinnati Reds, Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle. They should get Chris Paddack back late in the summer, but will have 2022 Opening Day starter Joe Ryan until then. If Minnesota adds, and they need to, it must be an impact arm. We saw plenty of depth emerge with Minnesota blowing through a franchise-record 38 pitchers this season. Bailey Ober and Josh Winder showed up as expected. Cole Sands had his ups and downs, but Louie Varland and Simeon Woods Richardson emerged maybe more quickly than assumed. There are guys that have experience and will be called upon. Knowing the window paired with youth is now, the best arms available should be on the table. Unfortunately, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have never shown a willingness to spend on starting pitching. Truthfully, Minnesota’s current front office has never spent on pitching at all. They’ve opted for reclamation projects in the bullpen, and largely looked to cut corners relying on coaching to get the best from those acquired. Lance Lynn begrudgingly agreed to a one-year deal in Minnesota following a standoff prior to his decision in 2018, and that was only for $12 million. The most this front office has ever paid in a single season was Jake Odorizzi during 2020, which was a $17.8 million qualifying offer that was worth less than half of the money due to a truncated season. In short, Falvey and Levine’s greatest expense for a pitcher on a deal they negotiated was Addison Reed’s $16.75 million in 2018. He owned a 4.50 ERA across 56 innings and never pitched again after his first season with the Twins. Maybe it’s that signing where the front office soured on paying for pitching. Maybe they didn’t like that Lynn clearly exhibited not wanting to be here after signing late in spring training. Perhaps it’s just been bad luck missing out on arms like Yu Darvish, Zack Wheeler, and Charlie Morton. Whatever it is, if paying for pitching isn’t ever going to happen, what are we doing here? Falvey was brought in to develop a pitching pipeline akin to what he was known for with Cleveland. The depth has started to rear its head, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a Twins prospect currently projected to be a Number One starter. That’s where the focus has to be, and thus far dollars haven't been allocated for one. Falvey and Levine have taken swings on the trade market when looking to foot the bill. Gray has the chops to be a frontline starter (and he has been in the past), and development (and now health) from Mahle could put him there as well. Maybe this duo sees another arm they like enough to trade for, and acquire dollars on the payroll rather than negotiating it themselves. Either way, it is worth wondering if a big payday for a starter will ever come under this regime. Terry Ryan’s $54 million pact with Ervin Santana is still looking to be topped, and now seems as good of a time as ever.
  3. Tampa Bay has an intelligent front office known for identifying players from other organizations that help them “win” almost every trade they complete. So, how have the Twins fared in trades with the Rays? November 28, 2007 Tampa Bay Received: Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, Eddie Morlan Minnesota Received: Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, Jason Pridie Minnesota’s first trade with Tampa Bay was its biggest as it included vital pieces from both teams’ rosters. The Twins acquired Delmon Young to be a right-handed bat to slide in between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. He never lived up to his potential as the number one overall pick, but he played parts of ten big-league seasons. Minnesota was his only stop where he posted an OPS+ over 100, and he finished in the top-10 for the AL MVP in 2010. Pridie only got six plate appearances with the Twins and never recorded a hit. Harris posted a .669 OPS in three years with the Twins before being packaged with JJ Hardy in the infamous trade for Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey. Tampa ended up getting the two best players in this trade. Matt Garza pitched over 1700 big-league innings and accumulated a 12.5 WAR. Garza won the 2008 ALCS MVP for Tampa, his first season with the club. Jason Bartlett played three seasons in Tampa, including his lone All-Star season, where he had a 132 OPS+ and a 6.2 WAR. Morlan topped out at Double-A, but it’s clear the Rays ended up with the better package of players. Winner: Tampa Bay July 31, 2015 Tampa Bay Received: Alexis Tapia, Chih-Wei Hu Minnesota Received: Kevin Jepsen At the trade deadline, Minnesota found themselves in contention and wanted to add a late-inning bullpen arm. Kevin Jepsen posted a 1.61 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP in 29 appearances through the rest of the 2015 season. Unfortunately, Minnesota fell short of qualifying for the playoffs, but Jepsen couldn’t have pitched much better in his first season for the Twins. Alexis Tapia never made it out of High-A in the Rays system, while Chih-Wei Hu was limited to 11 big-league appearances. In his second season with the Twins, Jepsen pitched horribly, and the team released him on July 11, 2016. Even with this poor ending, Jepsen provided the 2015 Twins with solid innings for a contending team. Winner: Minnesota June 24, 2016 Tampa Bay Received: Oswaldo Arcia Minnesota Received: Cash Considerations Oswaldo Arcia was supposed to be part of the first wave of prospects that helped turn things around for the Twins. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as he posted a .732 OPS in over 250 games for the club. In June 2016, the Twins sent Arcia to the Rays for cash considerations. He’d only play in 21 games for Tampa as he appeared in games for four different big-league clubs that season. Minnesota shed Arcia, and Tampa got a player that accumulated negative value while playing for them. Winner: Minnesota February 17, 2018 Tampa Bay Received: Jermaine Palacios Minnesota Received: Jake Odorizzi This trade was a slam dunk win for the Twins. Jake Odorizzi pitched parts of three seasons in Minnesota with a 107 ERA+ and an All-Star appearance in 2019. Jermaine Palacios topped out at Double-A in the Rays organization before resigning with the Twins. His unique prospect journey has come full circle this year as he made his big-league debut for the Twins. Winner: Minnesota July 22, 2021 Tampa Bay Received: Nelson Cruz, Calvin Faucher Minnesota Received: Joe Ryan, Drew Strotman Last summer’s blockbuster trade looks to be working out significantly in favor of the Twins. Nelson Cruz played 55 games for the Rays and posted a .725 OPS. Since rookie ball, Calvin Faucher has yet to post a sub-4.00 ERA at any level. Minnesota received six years of team control over Joe Ryan, an AL Rookie of the Year contender, and Drew Strotman, a solid organizational depth piece. Even if Ryan regresses, the Twins are still getting more value from him than what the Rays got from Cruz. Winner: Minnesota Do you agree with the winners named above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  4. November 28, 2007 Tampa Bay Received: Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, Eddie Morlan Minnesota Received: Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, Jason Pridie Minnesota’s first trade with Tampa Bay was its biggest as it included vital pieces from both teams’ rosters. The Twins acquired Delmon Young to be a right-handed bat to slide in between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. He never lived up to his potential as the number one overall pick, but he played parts of ten big-league seasons. Minnesota was his only stop where he posted an OPS+ over 100, and he finished in the top-10 for the AL MVP in 2010. Pridie only got six plate appearances with the Twins and never recorded a hit. Harris posted a .669 OPS in three years with the Twins before being packaged with JJ Hardy in the infamous trade for Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey. Tampa ended up getting the two best players in this trade. Matt Garza pitched over 1700 big-league innings and accumulated a 12.5 WAR. Garza won the 2008 ALCS MVP for Tampa, his first season with the club. Jason Bartlett played three seasons in Tampa, including his lone All-Star season, where he had a 132 OPS+ and a 6.2 WAR. Morlan topped out at Double-A, but it’s clear the Rays ended up with the better package of players. Winner: Tampa Bay July 31, 2015 Tampa Bay Received: Alexis Tapia, Chih-Wei Hu Minnesota Received: Kevin Jepsen At the trade deadline, Minnesota found themselves in contention and wanted to add a late-inning bullpen arm. Kevin Jepsen posted a 1.61 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP in 29 appearances through the rest of the 2015 season. Unfortunately, Minnesota fell short of qualifying for the playoffs, but Jepsen couldn’t have pitched much better in his first season for the Twins. Alexis Tapia never made it out of High-A in the Rays system, while Chih-Wei Hu was limited to 11 big-league appearances. In his second season with the Twins, Jepsen pitched horribly, and the team released him on July 11, 2016. Even with this poor ending, Jepsen provided the 2015 Twins with solid innings for a contending team. Winner: Minnesota June 24, 2016 Tampa Bay Received: Oswaldo Arcia Minnesota Received: Cash Considerations Oswaldo Arcia was supposed to be part of the first wave of prospects that helped turn things around for the Twins. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as he posted a .732 OPS in over 250 games for the club. In June 2016, the Twins sent Arcia to the Rays for cash considerations. He’d only play in 21 games for Tampa as he appeared in games for four different big-league clubs that season. Minnesota shed Arcia, and Tampa got a player that accumulated negative value while playing for them. Winner: Minnesota February 17, 2018 Tampa Bay Received: Jermaine Palacios Minnesota Received: Jake Odorizzi This trade was a slam dunk win for the Twins. Jake Odorizzi pitched parts of three seasons in Minnesota with a 107 ERA+ and an All-Star appearance in 2019. Jermaine Palacios topped out at Double-A in the Rays organization before resigning with the Twins. His unique prospect journey has come full circle this year as he made his big-league debut for the Twins. Winner: Minnesota July 22, 2021 Tampa Bay Received: Nelson Cruz, Calvin Faucher Minnesota Received: Joe Ryan, Drew Strotman Last summer’s blockbuster trade looks to be working out significantly in favor of the Twins. Nelson Cruz played 55 games for the Rays and posted a .725 OPS. Since rookie ball, Calvin Faucher has yet to post a sub-4.00 ERA at any level. Minnesota received six years of team control over Joe Ryan, an AL Rookie of the Year contender, and Drew Strotman, a solid organizational depth piece. Even if Ryan regresses, the Twins are still getting more value from him than what the Rays got from Cruz. Winner: Minnesota Do you agree with the winners named above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. The Minnesota Twins' starting rotation is in shambles at this point. Dylan Bundy is the only starter signed before the lockout, and Carlos Rodon is the only realistic upper-tier target that still seems plausible. With those parameters, it seems a good bet that the Twins turn to the trade market, a place they’ve been expected to dabble all along. For Falvey, this is probably the optimal outcome. While free agency has been a malady of misses, the trade front has actually worked out well for this front office. I’m still baffled how an aging Nelson Cruz was parlayed for two legitimate arms, and that was after the Jake Odorizzi trade had already tipped the scales against the Rays for Minnesota. Throw in getting a haul for Jose Berrios when the organization had decided against extending him, and you have to be happy with the results. Looking at the prospect rankings and, more importantly, the organizational location for Minnesota, it’s clear they need external help. The Twins farm system shows up consistently at the bottom of the teens, and outside of Jordan Balazovic, there isn’t an arm on the farm that’s a top 100 talent and ready to immediately contribute. An explanation for much of the feelings regarding the Twins system relates to the missed time the past few seasons. The depth is there, while the floor currently trumps many of the ceilings. Parlaying a few arms into one big one could be the ideal action plan. Oakland has plenty of arms on the block, and stud Frankie Montas is among the best of them. Cincinnati could be a willing partner with either Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, or Tyler Mahle. Houston might be willing to flip Odorizzi back to Minnesota. There is any number of possibilities for the front office to explore. It would be wise to assume that frameworks have been discussed before the lockout, and things should come together quickly when we get a resumption. If and when Minnesota swings a deal, there should be a level of trust built from how Falvey has constructed previous swaps. There’s going to be hurt in prospect capital, especially for a top-level arm, but betting on the Twins knowing their talents and the warts they may have is an earned belief. An ideal trade has both sides winning when the deal is struck, but Minnesota continuing to come out on top, in the long run, is something every fan can get on board with. Derek Falvey needs to keep stacking the positive results in that category. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. When Derek Falvey was brought into the Twins organization, it was with a belief he would develop a pitching pipeline similar to what he did in Cleveland. While we haven’t yet seen that bear fruit, this front office has seen success on the trade market. A perfect storm post-lockout could be brewing, knowing what the organization needs, and seeing where we’re at this offseason. The Minnesota Twins' starting rotation is in shambles at this point. Dylan Bundy is the only starter signed before the lockout, and Carlos Rodon is the only realistic upper-tier target that still seems plausible. With those parameters, it seems a good bet that the Twins turn to the trade market, a place they’ve been expected to dabble all along. For Falvey, this is probably the optimal outcome. While free agency has been a malady of misses, the trade front has actually worked out well for this front office. I’m still baffled how an aging Nelson Cruz was parlayed for two legitimate arms, and that was after the Jake Odorizzi trade had already tipped the scales against the Rays for Minnesota. Throw in getting a haul for Jose Berrios when the organization had decided against extending him, and you have to be happy with the results. Looking at the prospect rankings and, more importantly, the organizational location for Minnesota, it’s clear they need external help. The Twins farm system shows up consistently at the bottom of the teens, and outside of Jordan Balazovic, there isn’t an arm on the farm that’s a top 100 talent and ready to immediately contribute. An explanation for much of the feelings regarding the Twins system relates to the missed time the past few seasons. The depth is there, while the floor currently trumps many of the ceilings. Parlaying a few arms into one big one could be the ideal action plan. Oakland has plenty of arms on the block, and stud Frankie Montas is among the best of them. Cincinnati could be a willing partner with either Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, or Tyler Mahle. Houston might be willing to flip Odorizzi back to Minnesota. There is any number of possibilities for the front office to explore. It would be wise to assume that frameworks have been discussed before the lockout, and things should come together quickly when we get a resumption. If and when Minnesota swings a deal, there should be a level of trust built from how Falvey has constructed previous swaps. There’s going to be hurt in prospect capital, especially for a top-level arm, but betting on the Twins knowing their talents and the warts they may have is an earned belief. An ideal trade has both sides winning when the deal is struck, but Minnesota continuing to come out on top, in the long run, is something every fan can get on board with. Derek Falvey needs to keep stacking the positive results in that category. 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
  7. The upcoming MLB season – whenever it happens – is likely not one in which the Twins will be contenders. But that doesn’t mean they are destined to be terrible. Here’s how Minnesota can fix their rotation and have a competitive team in 2022. What do they have so far? The Twins ended the 2021 season with a depleted starting rotation, especially after the José Berríos trade and the Kenta Maeda season-ending injury. One can argue that it was depleted since the beginning of the season, with J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker being part of it. But from such a dark year on the mound, two seemingly good arms emerged from the minors. Bailey Ober had his ups and downs but, overall, he had a very solid rookie campaign. His most impressive stretch of the season might have been the ten starts in July and August, in which he posted a 3.06 ERA, a 3.87 FIP, with 51 strikeouts and only 11 walks. With less than a hundred innings pitched on the major league level so far, you might argue that he isn’t a very reliable option just yet, but his first impression was not bad at all. Joe Ryan joined the organization in mid-July as part of the Nelson Cruz trade. After a couple of solid starts for St. Paul in August, he got called up in September, making his big league debut, and he probably couldn’t have asked for a better one. In his second start, he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning, on his way to a seven-inning shutout on only 85 pitches. Over his first four starts, Ryan maintained a very impressive 2.45 ERA and 2.49 FIP, keeping opposing batters to a .133 batting average. He struck out batters 25 times while walking them only three times. In his final start of the season, he gave up six earned runs against Detroit, spoiling his final numbers, but not the optimism around him going forward. To quote the great Do-Hyoung Park, from MLB.com, if all had gone according to plan for the Twins this season, they probably wouldn’t have discovered these two exciting, young arms. The third pitcher set to start the season on the Twins rotation is Dylan Bundy, whom Minnesota signed shortly before the league went into lockout. His career numbers aren’t impressive, and in 2021, he was moved to the Angels bullpen after struggling for the first half of the season. He did get back to the rotation in early August and closed out the season with a 3.31 ERA in the final four starts. In the shortened season of 2020, his first year with the Angels, Bundy had his best season in the majors, finishing ninth in the AL Cy Young Award voting after posting 3.29 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 138 ERA+, with 9.9 strikeouts per nine and only 2.3 walks per nine. Did Wes Johnson see anything in Bundy that can be tweaked into a 2020 version of him? How can they realistically fill the remaining gaps? Suppose you consider the aforementioned trio good enough to fill the bottom part of the rotation. In that case, the Twins can very well build a competitive group of starters by making only two additions. Here’s how I would go about filling the two remaining rotation spots. My favorite trade target is Frankie Montas. The A’s are believed to be on the verge of resetting, thus making their veteran starters available for trades. The Dominican righty is coming off a career year, having started 32 games for Oakland and accumulated 3.7 bWAR, both career-best marks for him. Over 187 innings of work in 2021, he was able to maintain a 3.37 ERA and 3.37 FIP, striking out 10.0 batters per nine and walking 2.7 per nine. Such numbers earned him a sixth-place finish in the AL Cy Young Award last season, and he is under team control for two more seasons. He produced at least twice as much bWAR as any Twins pitcher in 2021. In a rebound year for Minnesota, I can see him being the difference-maker for a team that wants to avoid a rebuilding process. Twins Daily’s Nash Walker wrote an in-depth article discussing Montas as a trade target, but not only him. He also wrote about Chris Bassitt and Luis Castillo. Since 2022 is likely not a year the Twins will be competing for a World Series, they should be looking for a proven veteran that can eat up innings and provide them with stability instead of an impact starter. In this scenario, two names come to mind, both of which are former Twins. Jake Odorizzi’s time with Minnesota didn’t end up well. In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he struggled with injuries and missed the first portion of the season. He made only four starts that year and had an awful 6.59 ERA. He signed with the Astros for the 2021 season, and his beginning with the Houston organization was also rough, but he would eventually pick up. After struggling in his first six starts, he posted a 3.74 ERA in the final 18 starts of the season. Those numbers could indicate that he might be back on track and ready to be a reliable contributor once again. Trading for him makes sense, as you can potentially bring back a former All-Star who is still only 31 and is very likely to provide you with 150 innings, if healthy. Michael Pineda is another option I like, but many Twins fans are quick to dismiss. His time with Minnesota was stained by so much time he missed due to injuries and the suspension, but that doesn’t change the fact that he delivered some very solid innings. In 21 starts in 2021, he pitched the second-most innings for the year (106 1/3 innings) and posted a very decent 3.72 ERA. Odorizzi and Pineda aren’t aces you can rely on for years to come, but either of them (or both) could help the Twins not to suck in 2022. The most important aspect of this season is to take pressure off the development of top pitching prospects who have already reached the major league level, like Ober and Ryan. If prospects like Josh Winder and Jordan Balazovic make the leap to the majors this year, they could also benefit from that. Plus, a rotation like this could be considered much better than the one they had last year, so they could have a much better outcome than the one they had in 2021. What do you think? How would you fill those two rotation gaps differently? Share your thoughts in the comment section! 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
  8. What do they have so far? The Twins ended the 2021 season with a depleted starting rotation, especially after the José Berríos trade and the Kenta Maeda season-ending injury. One can argue that it was depleted since the beginning of the season, with J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker being part of it. But from such a dark year on the mound, two seemingly good arms emerged from the minors. Bailey Ober had his ups and downs but, overall, he had a very solid rookie campaign. His most impressive stretch of the season might have been the ten starts in July and August, in which he posted a 3.06 ERA, a 3.87 FIP, with 51 strikeouts and only 11 walks. With less than a hundred innings pitched on the major league level so far, you might argue that he isn’t a very reliable option just yet, but his first impression was not bad at all. Joe Ryan joined the organization in mid-July as part of the Nelson Cruz trade. After a couple of solid starts for St. Paul in August, he got called up in September, making his big league debut, and he probably couldn’t have asked for a better one. In his second start, he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning, on his way to a seven-inning shutout on only 85 pitches. Over his first four starts, Ryan maintained a very impressive 2.45 ERA and 2.49 FIP, keeping opposing batters to a .133 batting average. He struck out batters 25 times while walking them only three times. In his final start of the season, he gave up six earned runs against Detroit, spoiling his final numbers, but not the optimism around him going forward. To quote the great Do-Hyoung Park, from MLB.com, if all had gone according to plan for the Twins this season, they probably wouldn’t have discovered these two exciting, young arms. The third pitcher set to start the season on the Twins rotation is Dylan Bundy, whom Minnesota signed shortly before the league went into lockout. His career numbers aren’t impressive, and in 2021, he was moved to the Angels bullpen after struggling for the first half of the season. He did get back to the rotation in early August and closed out the season with a 3.31 ERA in the final four starts. In the shortened season of 2020, his first year with the Angels, Bundy had his best season in the majors, finishing ninth in the AL Cy Young Award voting after posting 3.29 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 138 ERA+, with 9.9 strikeouts per nine and only 2.3 walks per nine. Did Wes Johnson see anything in Bundy that can be tweaked into a 2020 version of him? How can they realistically fill the remaining gaps? Suppose you consider the aforementioned trio good enough to fill the bottom part of the rotation. In that case, the Twins can very well build a competitive group of starters by making only two additions. Here’s how I would go about filling the two remaining rotation spots. My favorite trade target is Frankie Montas. The A’s are believed to be on the verge of resetting, thus making their veteran starters available for trades. The Dominican righty is coming off a career year, having started 32 games for Oakland and accumulated 3.7 bWAR, both career-best marks for him. Over 187 innings of work in 2021, he was able to maintain a 3.37 ERA and 3.37 FIP, striking out 10.0 batters per nine and walking 2.7 per nine. Such numbers earned him a sixth-place finish in the AL Cy Young Award last season, and he is under team control for two more seasons. He produced at least twice as much bWAR as any Twins pitcher in 2021. In a rebound year for Minnesota, I can see him being the difference-maker for a team that wants to avoid a rebuilding process. Twins Daily’s Nash Walker wrote an in-depth article discussing Montas as a trade target, but not only him. He also wrote about Chris Bassitt and Luis Castillo. Since 2022 is likely not a year the Twins will be competing for a World Series, they should be looking for a proven veteran that can eat up innings and provide them with stability instead of an impact starter. In this scenario, two names come to mind, both of which are former Twins. Jake Odorizzi’s time with Minnesota didn’t end up well. In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he struggled with injuries and missed the first portion of the season. He made only four starts that year and had an awful 6.59 ERA. He signed with the Astros for the 2021 season, and his beginning with the Houston organization was also rough, but he would eventually pick up. After struggling in his first six starts, he posted a 3.74 ERA in the final 18 starts of the season. Those numbers could indicate that he might be back on track and ready to be a reliable contributor once again. Trading for him makes sense, as you can potentially bring back a former All-Star who is still only 31 and is very likely to provide you with 150 innings, if healthy. Michael Pineda is another option I like, but many Twins fans are quick to dismiss. His time with Minnesota was stained by so much time he missed due to injuries and the suspension, but that doesn’t change the fact that he delivered some very solid innings. In 21 starts in 2021, he pitched the second-most innings for the year (106 1/3 innings) and posted a very decent 3.72 ERA. Odorizzi and Pineda aren’t aces you can rely on for years to come, but either of them (or both) could help the Twins not to suck in 2022. The most important aspect of this season is to take pressure off the development of top pitching prospects who have already reached the major league level, like Ober and Ryan. If prospects like Josh Winder and Jordan Balazovic make the leap to the majors this year, they could also benefit from that. Plus, a rotation like this could be considered much better than the one they had last year, so they could have a much better outcome than the one they had in 2021. What do you think? How would you fill those two rotation gaps differently? Share your thoughts in the comment section! 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
  9. The Astros signed Odorizzi, 31, to a three-year deal following a rough, shortened 2020 season with the Twins. Odorizzi had bypassed free agency by accepting the qualifying offer from Minnesota in 2019, then spent much of 2020 injured. At that time, the Astros had much less certainty in their rotation. They hadn’t yet witnessed the breakouts of José Urquidy, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, or Lance McCullers, Jr. Add in Cristian Javier and a healthy Justin Verlander. That’s a crowded rotation, with Odorizzi on the outside looking in. Odorizzi owns a 4.49 ERA and 4.67 FIP in 118 1/3 innings since he started Game 3 of the 2019 ALDS at Target Field. His strikeout rate is down, he’s getting battered more often, and his splitter is getting bit. But Odorizzi still has an excellent four-seam fastball and an underutilized cutter. He also wasn't shy about his love for the Twins and the mound at Target Field. Right-handed hitters had little chance against Odorizzi in 2019, and he pitched very well at Target Field. With Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, José Abreu, and Franmil Reyes in the division, the Twins could use someone who has gotten them out before. Odorizzi is a luxury starter for Houston. A trade would benefit both him and the Twins and makes a ton of sense on the Astros side. Odorizzi is owed $8 million in 2022 and harnesses an $8.5 million player option for 2023. With the Twins valuing flexibility, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more. If Odorizzi were a free agent today, he’d probably sign a one-year deal in that same range. He needs to build back his value and re-establish mid-rotation status. Starting every fifth day for the Twins could provide that opportunity, with a chance for 2019-like success. Even if he stays within his career numbers, a 3.95 ERA and 105 ERA+, he’d instantly become the Twins’ most experienced and successful starter. MLB Trade Simulator values Odorizzi at negative-7.5, given his recent performance, health, and contract. If that’s the case, this deal should’ve happened before the lockout. There’s an argument that giving up anything for Odorizzi pales in comparison to just signing a bounce-back starter candidate in free agency. The difference: we’ve seen what Odorizzi can be for the Twins. At his best, he’s a fastball-heavy number three in a good rotation. It seems the Twins are keeping rotation spots open for their top pitching prospects to breakthrough. That’s all good and dandy, but you still need innings. If you’re unwilling to commit multiple years in free agency for quality starters, trade for a known person and player in Odorizzi. It benefits all three sides. For an idea of what a deal for Odorizzi could look like: What do you think? Should the Twins trade for Jake Odorizzi? 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
  10. Jake Odorizzi made his mark on the Twins in just a few seasons, and a reunion with the right-hander would benefit all three sides. The Astros signed Odorizzi, 31, to a three-year deal following a rough, shortened 2020 season with the Twins. Odorizzi had bypassed free agency by accepting the qualifying offer from Minnesota in 2019, then spent much of 2020 injured. At that time, the Astros had much less certainty in their rotation. They hadn’t yet witnessed the breakouts of José Urquidy, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, or Lance McCullers, Jr. Add in Cristian Javier and a healthy Justin Verlander. That’s a crowded rotation, with Odorizzi on the outside looking in. Odorizzi owns a 4.49 ERA and 4.67 FIP in 118 1/3 innings since he started Game 3 of the 2019 ALDS at Target Field. His strikeout rate is down, he’s getting battered more often, and his splitter is getting bit. But Odorizzi still has an excellent four-seam fastball and an underutilized cutter. He also wasn't shy about his love for the Twins and the mound at Target Field. Right-handed hitters had little chance against Odorizzi in 2019, and he pitched very well at Target Field. With Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, José Abreu, and Franmil Reyes in the division, the Twins could use someone who has gotten them out before. Odorizzi is a luxury starter for Houston. A trade would benefit both him and the Twins and makes a ton of sense on the Astros side. Odorizzi is owed $8 million in 2022 and harnesses an $8.5 million player option for 2023. With the Twins valuing flexibility, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more. If Odorizzi were a free agent today, he’d probably sign a one-year deal in that same range. He needs to build back his value and re-establish mid-rotation status. Starting every fifth day for the Twins could provide that opportunity, with a chance for 2019-like success. Even if he stays within his career numbers, a 3.95 ERA and 105 ERA+, he’d instantly become the Twins’ most experienced and successful starter. MLB Trade Simulator values Odorizzi at negative-7.5, given his recent performance, health, and contract. If that’s the case, this deal should’ve happened before the lockout. There’s an argument that giving up anything for Odorizzi pales in comparison to just signing a bounce-back starter candidate in free agency. The difference: we’ve seen what Odorizzi can be for the Twins. At his best, he’s a fastball-heavy number three in a good rotation. It seems the Twins are keeping rotation spots open for their top pitching prospects to breakthrough. That’s all good and dandy, but you still need innings. If you’re unwilling to commit multiple years in free agency for quality starters, trade for a known person and player in Odorizzi. It benefits all three sides. For an idea of what a deal for Odorizzi could look like: What do you think? Should the Twins trade for Jake Odorizzi? 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
  11. The Twins may very well need an ace to feel good about competing in 2022, but they need quality innings as a baseline above all else. There are several interesting options that may be on the trade market that the team could check in on when the offseason resumes. There is no question that the Twins will need to make some additions to their starting staff when the offseason comes back, whenever that is. Many of the top free agent starting pitchers are no longer available. The Twins did sign Dylan Bundy to team with Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan in the rotation, but clearly they will add more. They may need to do so with some creative trades. Here are three such options that the Twins might consider. Kyle Freeland Freeland has been a serviceable pitcher throughout his career which is an impressive statement to make considering he’s spent five seasons in Colorado. Freeland owns a career 4.20 ERA which is a fair baseline of what to expect from the southpaw moving forward. He flew under the radar posting a 4.33 ERA in 2021 with 120 innings pitched and had peripherals to match. Even if he doesn’t get a bump from moving out of the worst pitching environment in baseball, Freeland would already slot in nicely as the Twins #3 in the rotation for a bargain in regards to payroll. At 29 years old, Freeland is due $7m in 2022 with another year of control in 2023. For the Rockies who have no shot at contending in the next two years, this is the exact type of player that should be shopped to get a hold of any type of young talent that could be a part of their next contending window while relieving some payroll. The Twins could easily put together a trade package consisting of young players far from the top of their prospect rankings. It may just be a matter of whether the Rockies front office comes to their senses and gets realistic about their future. Luke Weaver Much like Freeland, Weaver would be a multi-year acquisition. The 28-year-old right-hander has had an up-and-down career in terms of performance and health. The former first round pick sports a 4.64 career ERA and has averaged over a strikeout per inning in his six seasons. In those seasons, however, Weaver has eclipsed 65 innings only once and that was in 2018. For the right price, the upside could be worth the gamble. With a fastball averaging around 94 mph, a wipeout changeup, and 60-grade command, finding a way to work a full season out of Luke Weaver could have a huge payoff. The Diamondbacks are likely a bit more realistic than their division mates in Colorado, although it’s worth noting that Weaver is only due $2.4m in 2022. They have some nice pieces but don’t quite have a clear cut core in place to build around. Given Weaver’s injuries and contract status, they may see more upside in taking a few prospects that fit their timeline than gambling on Weaver and potentially losing. Like Freeland, there’s likely a prospect package that makes sense for both teams. Jake Odorizzi Despite his 4.21 ERA in 100+ innings last year, Jake Odorizzi may not have a rotation spot in Houston given their depth of young starting pitching. I can’t blame anyone who wants to turn the page on the Twins teams of the last three Twins seasons, but this former Twin fits right into the next steps of this organization. Odorizzi has shown plenty of signs of being the same pitcher he has been during his whole career. Vintage Jake Odorizzi would go a long way in shoring up a currently rookie-led rotation and provide some much-needed innings. Signed to fill in for an injured Framber Valdez last spring, Odorizzi is set to make a $3.0 million signing bonus and $5.0 million in base salary for 2022. He gets half a million for 100 innings and an extra million for 110, 120, 130, 140 and 150 innings pitched. In 2023, he’s due $6.5 million with a $3.25 million buyout. His stuff would likely play up in a bullpen role in Houston, but it’s likely to cause some waves with a pitcher who wants to start and may have already ruffled some feathers in the organization. It may just be mutually beneficial for all parties. The Astros save some money, the Twins add an arm, and Odorizzi gets to start. It seems like a match made in heaven. People’s interest in bona fide stud pitchers is understandable, but the Twins need quantity just as much as quality. Are there any middle of the rotation arms you’d like to see the Twins pick up before Spring Training? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  12. There is no question that the Twins will need to make some additions to their starting staff when the offseason comes back, whenever that is. Many of the top free agent starting pitchers are no longer available. The Twins did sign Dylan Bundy to team with Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan in the rotation, but clearly they will add more. They may need to do so with some creative trades. Here are three such options that the Twins might consider. Kyle Freeland Freeland has been a serviceable pitcher throughout his career which is an impressive statement to make considering he’s spent five seasons in Colorado. Freeland owns a career 4.20 ERA which is a fair baseline of what to expect from the southpaw moving forward. He flew under the radar posting a 4.33 ERA in 2021 with 120 innings pitched and had peripherals to match. Even if he doesn’t get a bump from moving out of the worst pitching environment in baseball, Freeland would already slot in nicely as the Twins #3 in the rotation for a bargain in regards to payroll. At 29 years old, Freeland is due $7m in 2022 with another year of control in 2023. For the Rockies who have no shot at contending in the next two years, this is the exact type of player that should be shopped to get a hold of any type of young talent that could be a part of their next contending window while relieving some payroll. The Twins could easily put together a trade package consisting of young players far from the top of their prospect rankings. It may just be a matter of whether the Rockies front office comes to their senses and gets realistic about their future. Luke Weaver Much like Freeland, Weaver would be a multi-year acquisition. The 28-year-old right-hander has had an up-and-down career in terms of performance and health. The former first round pick sports a 4.64 career ERA and has averaged over a strikeout per inning in his six seasons. In those seasons, however, Weaver has eclipsed 65 innings only once and that was in 2018. For the right price, the upside could be worth the gamble. With a fastball averaging around 94 mph, a wipeout changeup, and 60-grade command, finding a way to work a full season out of Luke Weaver could have a huge payoff. The Diamondbacks are likely a bit more realistic than their division mates in Colorado, although it’s worth noting that Weaver is only due $2.4m in 2022. They have some nice pieces but don’t quite have a clear cut core in place to build around. Given Weaver’s injuries and contract status, they may see more upside in taking a few prospects that fit their timeline than gambling on Weaver and potentially losing. Like Freeland, there’s likely a prospect package that makes sense for both teams. Jake Odorizzi Despite his 4.21 ERA in 100+ innings last year, Jake Odorizzi may not have a rotation spot in Houston given their depth of young starting pitching. I can’t blame anyone who wants to turn the page on the Twins teams of the last three Twins seasons, but this former Twin fits right into the next steps of this organization. Odorizzi has shown plenty of signs of being the same pitcher he has been during his whole career. Vintage Jake Odorizzi would go a long way in shoring up a currently rookie-led rotation and provide some much-needed innings. Signed to fill in for an injured Framber Valdez last spring, Odorizzi is set to make a $3.0 million signing bonus and $5.0 million in base salary for 2022. He gets half a million for 100 innings and an extra million for 110, 120, 130, 140 and 150 innings pitched. In 2023, he’s due $6.5 million with a $3.25 million buyout. His stuff would likely play up in a bullpen role in Houston, but it’s likely to cause some waves with a pitcher who wants to start and may have already ruffled some feathers in the organization. It may just be mutually beneficial for all parties. The Astros save some money, the Twins add an arm, and Odorizzi gets to start. It seems like a match made in heaven. People’s interest in bona fide stud pitchers is understandable, but the Twins need quantity just as much as quality. Are there any middle of the rotation arms you’d like to see the Twins pick up before Spring Training? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  13. Teams are often considered to be on the losing end of trades when dealing with the Tampa Bay Rays. The brass in St. Pete does more with less, and players seem to get better when going to Florida. Did the Twins just get them for a second time though? Derek Falvey and Thad Levine made a deal with Tampa prior to the 2018 season. They sent infield prospect Jermaine Palacios out in exchange for starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. After a solid but mediocre debut season, Odorizzi was an All-Star in 2019 and posted a career best 10.1 K/9 bolstering his 3.51 ERA. Palacios had a .575 OPS as a 21-year-old during his debut season in the Tampa organization, and dropped to a .542 OPS as a 22-year-old repeating Double-A. Now back at Double-A for Minnesota, he’s 24 and owns a .745 mark at the level. Regardless of what happens with Palacios, it’s hard not to see how Odorizzi worked out a win. Could that be happening again in terms of Nelson Cruz and Joe Ryan? The Twins had to deal their designated hitter. Cruz is 41-years-old and it’s more than evident this season was lost for Minnesota. Despite his .907 OPS here, Cruz needed to be flipped for any semblance of a return at the deadline. Getting a pitcher like Ryan, capable of fitting into the top-half of a rotation, seemed like a coup for the front office. It’s far too early to make determinations on what Ryan will be, but Tampa has to be underwhelmed in what they received. Cruz just recently surpassed the .700 OPS mark (thanks in part to facing his former club), and has just a .219 average with a .273 on-base percentage. It plays for a team that needed a big bat, but Nelson hasn’t been close to the Boomstick the Twins knew him as. Minnesota must be pleased with what they’ve seen from Ryan. In 9.0 IP for St. Paul he had a 17/2 K/BB and allowed just two earned runs. After returning from the Olympics as Team USA’s ace, that was enough to earn his first big league promotion. Across five innings he surrendered three runs while punching out five and walking one. The book that was suggested at Triple-A continued to read correctly at the Major League level, and it’s a step away from what has become tradition. Ryan is not a fireballer. His average fastball velocity for the Twins sat at just 90.8 mph. In a league focused on hitting triple-digits, it’s an uphill battle for a ball like that to play. His four-seam generated an average of 2,100 RPM and is used up in the zone. Twins Daily’s Parker Hagemen broke down the success of locating that pitch, and why it should be believed that the lesser velocity can still have a tremendous effect at the highest level. One start is entirely too soon to crown Ryan as Minnesota’s next ace. From my vantage point, I’m not even sure his stuff has that type of ceiling. What I do know is that the Twins getting this much control over Ryan in exchange for two month of an aging Cruz on a bad big league team is a steal in every sense of the word. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine don’t have a good track record on the free agent market, and their trades could even be questioned at times. When they’ve dealt with Tampa though, it’s hard not to consider the front office a resounding two-for-two. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  14. Since the beginning there was a lot of FA talk surrounding Jake & that there was a lot of interest from various teams. Thought he'd be gone by now but so far nothing. Is he waiting for a bigger haul? Now there are a lot of trade rumors for starters w/ already some deals. Where does that leave our friend Odo? The way things are going, it doesn't look good for him. Will he have to settle for less than what he deserves? Does the Twins have a shot at him? Please share your thoughts.
  15. The last time I filed one of these status update reports was 10 days ago, although it feels like about 10 months in the pacing of this offseason. Back then, we were breaking down the new J.A. Happ signing and wondering when anything of true substance would come. In less than two weeks since, the Twins have signed Andrelton Simmons, Nelson Cruz, and Alex Colomé, committing $30 million in guaranteed money while furiously crossing off boxes on the front office's checklist. Suddenly, they've already surpassed the $125 million threshold that we had set as a reasonable benchmark (a 10% reduction from the planned 2020 payroll). Maeda's very reachable performance incentives, which will likely push his salary into the $10-12 million range, are not reflected in the spreadsheet above. So the effective payroll is about $130 million. That's creeping up on last year's planned commitment (around $138 million, as we had it figured). And it seems highly unlikely they are done. More on that momentarily. But first, let's get caught up on Minnesota's free agency foray. ANDRELTON UPGRADES THE INFIELD The Andrelton Simmons signing is a fascinating one, because it's fundamentally transformative on so many levels. Adding a new shortstop wasn't even a clear-cut need coming into the offseason, but by infusing an elite defender and occasional MVP contender in Simmons, the Twins have essentially upgraded three positions in one fell swoop: short, second base, super utility. A nifty bit of handiwork from the front office, especially given that Simmons' contract is the most palatable among the top three free agent shortstops. Following his signing, our writers explored the many impacts and implications of adding an historically brilliant defensive shortstop to the Twins infield: Cody Pirkl wrote that Simmons is the perfect match for Minnesota – a resounding upgrade on a one-year deal that leaves the door open for Royce Lewis. I dissected the new role of Luis Arráez, who becomes a super-utility sparkplug while returning to somewhat familiar territory. Ted Schwerzler argued that Andrelton's addition gives the Twins baseball's best infield, and if everyone can stay healthy that may well prove true. David Youngs wondered if the Twins might still have a need for a second backup infielder, a la the Ehire Adrianza role. Seth Stohs, Matthew Taylor and Nate Palmer analyzed the Simmons signing right after it happened on Offseason Live: CRUZ AND UNFINISHED BUSINESS Nelson Cruz did just about everything during his first two years as a Twin – other than win a playoff game, that is. The borderline Hall of Famer has enjoyed a beautiful swan song while getting sucked into Minnesota's ugly postseason abyss. Now, in what could well be his final MLB season, it's no mystery where Cruz's sights are set. After months of inertia, the Twins and Cruz reportedly re-engaged in discussions last weekend. From there, the dominoes swiftly fell: universal DH more or less came off the table with MLBPA's rejection of a league proposal, then media reports started to hint at the Twins' growing impatience, and a day later, boom(stick): the deal is done. There's no griping about a one-year, $13 million contract, which left the Twins with flexibility to make the signing we'll discuss next (and maybe more). Cruz was unfortunately leveraged into a corner, but it ends up leaving the team in good shape to optimize around him. In doing so, they increase of odds of him conquering his elusive ultimate goal in a Twins uniform. BULLPEN BOLSTERED BY A FORMER RIVAL Cruz's signing was no big surprise to anyone who's been following the coverage of Dan Hayes of The Athletic this offseason. That move was essentially foretold by his report the preceding weekend, and so was the one that quickly followed. Dan telegraphed the imminent Colomé signing immediately after he broke the Cruz news: https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1356841489351991298 With all due respect to the many people and friends I admire in local media, Hayes is lapping the field with his Twins reporting this offseason. He's been on all these developments like white on ... Dan Hayes. Jokes and groveling aside, the Twins' interest in Colomé has hardly been a secret, dating back months. Securing his buddy Nelly seemingly sealed the deal with Alex as well. The former White Sox closer's contract is downright reasonable considering his immaculately consistent track record. As a former All-Star and routinely high-end closer, he brings a new dimension of legitimacy to the back end of Minnesota's bullpen. The White Sox ponied up a staggering $54 million to acquire Liam Hendriks two weeks ago. In the absolute best-case scenario, Hendriks will equal the results produced by Colomé over the past two years as Chicago closer: 2.27 ERA, 3.43 WPA (almost identical to Hendriks' mark in Oakland), 91% save percentage (superior to Hendriks' mark in Oakland). Is Hendriks a better and vastly more dominant pitcher at this point? No doubt. But our guy Tom Froemming put it well: you don't get style points. Scoreless innings are scoreless innings. Bridged leads and closed-out victories are what they are. Colomé has a far lengthier track record of getting it done than Hendriks, for whom the White Sox paid literally tenfold. This is going to be a fascinating subplot to follow in what promises to be a delightful Twins-Sox rivalry this summer. ODORIZZI STILL IN PLAY? As spring training approaches, Jake Odorizzi remains a free agent. A recent report in the Star Tribune from La Velle E. Neal III indicates that the Twins haven't given up on bringing back the right-hander, although there are no signs of momentum in that report or elsewhere. Every rumor and rumbling I've heard suggests the two sides aren't close on terms. La Velle's article was also published before the Cruz signing, but it's worth noting this nugget he included: "It's not out of the question that the Twins bring back both Cruz and Odorizzi." Which leads us to our final point of discussion for today. WHAT'S NEXT? Even with Colomé added to the mix, the bullpen isn't all that deep with Cody Stashak (who's thrown 40 major-league innings) and "TBD" rounding out the final spots. It feels like there may be another acquisition on tap, as signaled by multiple sources. https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1356997063318396936 https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1357048229486080000 The same can be said for the rotation, which thus far has received only Happ to replace Odorizzi, Rich Hill and Homer Bailey. So, one wonders: how much is left to spend? It seems clear that Minnesota is ready to stretch the budget beyond our historically-conditioned expectations. "None of our objective includes trying to make up for what happened in 2020," said Twins owner Jim Pohlad in Neal's article, published prior to the Cruz and Colomé signings. "It was significant. It was devastating. And you have to accept that as a loss going forward and not make it a goal to recover those losses either from fans or by affecting our payroll. That's not the mind-set we have been in at all." They're backing that up, with a spending projection that is healthily above the league average, and a proven willingness to jump on the right opportunities. Which other ones will emerge? Two weeks until Fort Myers. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. There is no salary cap in baseball, but many teams have a self-imposed limit this winter for a variety of reasons. Revenues were limited in a pandemic shortened 2020 campaign and there are still plenty of questions about how much those revenues will improve in 2021. Minnesota’s current payroll sits around $110-113 million with the team anticipated to spend around $125 million. This leaves room for one more big signing or a pair of smaller additions. Many early reports had Cruz asking for a two-year contract and when looking at his last two seasons, that might seem like a no-brainer. Since joining the Twins, he has hit .308/.394/.626 with 57 home runs and 32 doubles in 173 games. However, his increasing age continues to be the elephant in the room. He turned 40-years-old last July, and he will be 41 about halfway through the 2021 campaign. Does any team want to have significant money tied to a 42-year-old DH? With their remaining payroll, the Twins can go in a few different directions to help the 2021 squad. Many of the players listed below will sign in the coming weeks and Minnesota doesn’t want to be left with money on the table. Adding to the rotation seems like an intriguing option for the Twins and signing Cruz likely means the Twins would enter 2021 with their current rotation. Trevor Bauer won’t exactly fit into the team’s self-imposed payroll restrictions, but names like James Paxton, Jake Odorizzi, and Taijuan Walker are still available. Any of these options can fit into the middle of Minnesota’s rotation and be relied on for starts in the postseason. For designated hitter, the top name left on the market is Marcell Ozuna, who is a decade younger than Cruz. He is coming off a tremendous season with the Braves, but he would likely come with a longer commitment and higher salary than Cruz. Minnesota might not want to invest long-term at DH with many of the team’s top prospects projected to be corner outfielders or first base types (Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, etc.) Adding to the bullpen is also an option, but it remains to be seen if the Twins would consider spending money on relievers when the current regime has found luck in cheap options that turn into valuable assets. Alex Colome and Trevor Rosenthal are the two biggest names available and the Twins might be able to add both players with their remaining payroll flexibility. It still seems likely for Cruz to wind up back in a Twins uniform, especially with no decision yet made about the DH in the National League. However, time is ticking away, and Minnesota might not want to hold out much longer. Will the Twins be forced to move on from Cruz? 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. Since we last checked in before the New Year, the Twins have made only one major-league addition, although it was a fairly significant one: signing veteran left-hander J.A. Happ last week to a one-year, $8 million deal. Here's how the projected roster and payroll currently shape up with Happ in the mix: Accounting for Kenta Maeda's very achievable incentives ($7-9 million), the Twins are currently slated to spend a little north of $100 million, providing ample flexibility for further additions. With this in mind, let's get up to speed on the latest happenings and rumors. HOPPING ON HAPP The Twins addressed a critical need in their rotation by adding the seasoned southpaw on a one-year contract. He offers plenty of experience and a consistent track record of production, bringing more certainty to the rotation by pushing Randy Dobnak into the fifth spot and unseating Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, or whatever rookie was lined up for it previously. At this point Minnesota has a credible rotation to move forward with, technically speaking, but I very much suspect they'll add one more starting pitcher on a major-league deal (or trade). Top remaining free agent prizes within the Twins' potential range include Masahiro Tanaka (said to be seeking up to $20 million in salary), Jake Odorizzi (said to be seeking a three-year deal), and James Paxton. Plenty of trade possibilities also remain on the table, although one compelling name came off the board in recent days when the Yankees acquired Jameson Taillon from Pittsburgh. Learn more about Happ and the impact of his signing: Report: Twins to Sign LHP J.A. Happ: Seth Stohs and Tom Froemming tag-teamed on this quick reaction piece after Happ signed, sharing some info about the contract, his recent history, and his Statcast data. How the Twins Might Tweak J.A. Happ: Matthew Trueblood dug into trends around pitch usage and effectiveness to analyze how the notoriously tinker-y Twins might help the left-hander optimize his repertoire. 5 Things for Twins Fans to Know About J.A. Happ: I explored five different facts about Happ and his intriguing qualities. The notes about his performance trend coming out of 2020, and Minnesota's track record of reducing HR rates, show there's more than meets the eye. QUALITY FREE AGENCY FITS ARE DWINDLING How quickly has the Hot Stove fired up? One week ago I shared my personal top 10 favorite remaining free agent targets for the Twins. At that point, all were available in a stagnating market. In seven days since, four of those options have been signed away, including my No. 1 choice. 1. Jurickson Profar, UTIL 2. Jake Odorizzi, SP 3. James Paxton, SP 4. Andrelton Simmons, SS 5. Nelson Cruz, DH 6. Trevor Rosenthal, RP 7. Kirby Yates, RP 8. José Quintana, SP 9. Kiké Hernández, UTIL 10. Tyler Clippard, RPBoth Profar and Hernández got the exact AAV projected in the article ($7 million) although Profar's came on a weirdly player-friendly three-year contract with two opt-outs, and Hernández's two-year deal apparently came with the promise of a regular starting role at one position. So I'm not sure the Twins realistically could or should have won either of those biddings. The pool of standout utility options to replace Marwin González in the requisite super utility role is shrinking fast, although there are other free agents out there – Tommy La Stella, Jonathan Villar, Asdrubal Cabrera, etc. – who could still viably fill it. At this point my strong preference is to add a starting shortstop and move Jorge Polanco into the utility role. So if I'm reconfiguring the above list, I now have Simmons at the top. Meanwhile, the bullpen remains an area of need. Hansel Robles is hardly enough to replace all the quality production that's been lost to free agency. I get the sense the Twins were finalists for Kirby Yates, who ended up signing with Toronto for $5.5 million, but were never going to go anywhere near as high as Washington did to get Brad Hand ($10.5 million). Trevor Rosenthal feels unlikely at this point. At that part it's hard to find anything constituting an upgrade in free agency. Maybe Alex Colomé? MORE ON THE FORMER UTILITY MEN A couple of recent rumblings regarding the Twins' previous stable of versatile backups: A report last week via MLB.com's Mark Feinsand and Doh Young Park suggests that the Twins have "expressed interest in a reunion" with González: https://twitter.com/Feinsand/status/1351688079673876481 I'm dubious of how serious this interest is (and wonder if the tip came from agent Scott Boras, in an effort to enliven his client's market). That is in large part because I have enough respect for Minnesota's front office to trust that they know better. González was not especially impressive during his time with the Twins and looked flat-out cooked by the end of it, with his production and athleticism rapidly waning. Even in the lesser secondary utility gig previously filled by Ehire Adrianza, I don't see González as a fit. I'd rather just have Adrianza reprise the role. However, it doesn't sound as though that's going to happen, as Adrianza issued an official farewell to Twins fans on Instagram over the weekend: https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1353056033216708610 UPPING THE ANTE FOR CRUZ The Twins continue to engage with Nelson Cruz, and there's evidence they have heightened their pursuit. Jon Heyman reported on Friday that the Twins have "upgraded the dollars in their 1-year offer," but adds that Cruz remains intent on seeing through the universal DH decision. https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1352682159866318851 It's almost February. Still no clarity from MLB on whether DH will be in place for NL teams. (I would assume no, but can't blame Cruz and his agent for waiting on finality.) Pretty unreal. TWINS OUT ON BAUER? In an interesting series of events, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic published an article on the Mets' pursuit of top free agent Trevor Bauer indicating that the Twins were in his mix, but he updated the piece soon after with a correction: "The Mets are not the only club talking about signing him," Rosenthal wrote. "The Dodgers and Blue Jays are among the other clubs believed to be in the mix. The Twins are not, sources said, in response to an earlier version of this story." Some fans are surely disappointed to hear that Minnesota is likely out on the free agent market's top prize. Not me. Bauer seems like the ultimate buy-high trap, coming off of what technically qualifies as a career year and Cy Young Award. Prior to 2020, his track record was much more good than great. Add in the problematic personality and surely exorbitant price, and Bauer is simply more trouble than he's worth, in my opinion. Do you agree or disagree? What would you like to see the Twins do here in the final weeks of the offseason? Is your confidence wavering or are you keeping the faith? Sound off in the comments. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  18. Yes, this article's title is a play on the name of Minnesota's latest free agent signing. But it's also a way to say that this slow-moving offseason is starting to heat up. It's time for the Twins to get moving.Since we last checked in before the New Year, the Twins have made only one major-league addition, although it was a fairly significant one: signing veteran left-hander J.A. Happ last week to a one-year, $8 million deal. Here's how the projected roster and payroll currently shape up with Happ in the mix: Download attachment: twinsroster12221.png Accounting for Kenta Maeda's very achievable incentives ($7-9 million), the Twins are currently slated to spend a little north of $100 million, providing ample flexibility for further additions. With this in mind, let's get up to speed on the latest happenings and rumors. HOPPING ON HAPP The Twins addressed a critical need in their rotation by adding the seasoned southpaw on a one-year contract. He offers plenty of experience and a consistent track record of production, bringing more certainty to the rotation by pushing Randy Dobnak into the fifth spot and unseating Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, or whatever rookie was lined up for it previously. At this point Minnesota has a credible rotation to move forward with, technically speaking, but I very much suspect they'll add one more starting pitcher on a major-league deal (or trade). Top remaining free agent prizes within the Twins' potential range include Masahiro Tanaka (said to be seeking up to $20 million in salary), Jake Odorizzi (said to be seeking a three-year deal), and James Paxton. Plenty of trade possibilities also remain on the table, although one compelling name came off the board in recent days when the Yankees acquired Jameson Taillon from Pittsburgh. Learn more about Happ and the impact of his signing: Report: Twins to Sign LHP J.A. Happ: Seth Stohs and Tom Froemming tag-teamed on this quick reaction piece after Happ signed, sharing some info about the contract, his recent history, and his Statcast data.How the Twins Might Tweak J.A. Happ: Matthew Trueblood dug into trends around pitch usage and effectiveness to analyze how the notoriously tinker-y Twins might help the left-hander optimize his repertoire.5 Things for Twins Fans to Know About J.A. Happ: I explored five different facts about Happ and his intriguing qualities. The notes about his performance trend coming out of 2020, and Minnesota's track record of reducing HR rates, show there's more than meets the eye.QUALITY FREE AGENCY FITS ARE DWINDLING How quickly has the Hot Stove fired up? One week ago I shared my personal top 10 favorite remaining free agent targets for the Twins. At that point, all were available in a stagnating market. In seven days since, four of those options have been signed away, including my No. 1 choice. 1. Jurickson Profar, UTIL 2. Jake Odorizzi, SP 3. James Paxton, SP 4. Andrelton Simmons, SS 5. Nelson Cruz, DH 6. Trevor Rosenthal, RP 7. Kirby Yates, RP 8. José Quintana, SP 9. Kiké Hernández, UTIL 10. Tyler Clippard, RP Both Profar and Hernández got the exact AAV projected in the article ($7 million) although Profar's came on a weirdly player-friendly three-year contract with two opt-outs, and Hernández's two-year deal apparently came with the promise of a regular starting role at one position. So I'm not sure the Twins realistically could or should have won either of those biddings. The pool of standout utility options to replace Marwin González in the requisite super utility role is shrinking fast, although there are other free agents out there – Tommy La Stella, Jonathan Villar, Asdrubal Cabrera, etc. – who could still viably fill it. At this point my strong preference is to add a starting shortstop and move Jorge Polanco into the utility role. So if I'm reconfiguring the above list, I now have Simmons at the top. Meanwhile, the bullpen remains an area of need. Hansel Robles is hardly enough to replace all the quality production that's been lost to free agency. I get the sense the Twins were finalists for Kirby Yates, who ended up signing with Toronto for $5.5 million, but were never going to go anywhere near as high as Washington did to get Brad Hand ($10.5 million). Trevor Rosenthal feels unlikely at this point. At that part it's hard to find anything constituting an upgrade in free agency. Maybe Alex Colomé? MORE ON THE FORMER UTILITY MEN A couple of recent rumblings regarding the Twins' previous stable of versatile backups: A report last week via MLB.com's Mark Feinsand and Doh Young Park suggests that the Twins have "expressed interest in a reunion" with González: It's almost February. Still no clarity from MLB on whether DH will be in place for NL teams. (I would assume no, but can't blame Cruz and his agent for waiting on finality.) Pretty unreal. TWINS OUT ON BAUER? In an interesting series of events, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic published an article on the Mets' pursuit of top free agent Trevor Bauer indicating that the Twins were in his mix, but he updated the piece soon after with a correction: "The Mets are not the only club talking about signing him," Rosenthal wrote. "The Dodgers and Blue Jays are among the other clubs believed to be in the mix. The Twins are not, sources said, in response to an earlier version of this story." Some fans are surely disappointed to hear that Minnesota is likely out on the free agent market's top prize. Not me. Bauer seems like the ultimate buy-high trap, coming off of what technically qualifies as a career year and Cy Young Award. Prior to 2020, his track record was much more good than great. Add in the problematic personality and surely exorbitant price, and Bauer is simply more trouble than he's worth, in my opinion. Do you agree or disagree? What would you like to see the Twins do here in the final weeks of the offseason? Is your confidence wavering or are you keeping the faith? Sound off in the comments. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  19. This afternoon the Minnesota Twins made their first big splash of the winter in signing former Yankees starter J.A. Happ. He’s nothing flashy by any means, but the $8 million pact will move the salary needle. Here’s the deal with Happ, he was passable in 2020 and his Baseball Savant metrics paint a prettier picture than a 4.57 FIP can (even with a 3.47 ERA). He was victimized by the longball at Yankee Stadium more often than he has been previously in his career, but he’s just a modest strikeout pitcher. Ultimately, he takes the place of Rich Hill on the 2021 Twins club and there’s nothing wrong with that. If Wes Johnson can utilize Happ as a 5th starter that eats innings and keeps the offense within striking distance, he’ll make turns all season long. If he posts a 5.00+ FIP a la 2019 he could be a candidate to be bumped when Randy Dobnak or one of the other prospects force their way into the picture. It’s not glamorous, but it doesn’t preclude them from making any other moves. Minnesota still needs a better arm in the rotation, and I have made the point since the beginning of winter that a trade seemed likely for a rotation arm. With Happ in the fold, I’m more confident than ever it will happen. Assuming Nelson Cruz is eventually brought back as the team’s designated hitter, plopping down $12 million or so on Jake Odorizzi becomes less feasible. A controllable starter still in arbitration can be had for less, and the prospect capital is where the spend comes. I don’t think Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will fill out their bench solely with internal options, and at least one other relief arm still needs to be acquired. By allowed something like $14 million after a Cruz deal, there’s enough left on the bone to make a handful of different directions work. Right now, just one of the four open spots on the 40-man roster has been utilized, and there could be more opened up with a player in that group sent as part of any package. There’s less than a month until Spring Training is supposed to kick off, and I told you it would be busy. For more from Off the Baggy, click her. Follow @tlschwerz
  20. There holes left to fill on the Twins roster, but luckily for Twins fans, there are plenty of options still available. Here’s a look at three positions where Minnesota could add the most value. WAR total comparisons are from FanGraphs ZiPS projections for the 2021 season. Designated Hitter It’s ridiculous that the National League still doesn’t know if they will have a designated hitter in 2021. Teams are supposed to proceed as if there won’t be a NL DH, but it makes it tough for free agents like Nelson Cruz to know their market. Cruz and the Twins have been in contact throughout the off-season and the two parties seem like a natural match with the current DH market. However, there are other options for the Twins to consider. If the Twins choose not to sign a DH, the organization’s options to fill the role are Brent Rooker and Alex Kirilloff. Rooker had an impactful debut before being hit with a pitch that ended his season. Kirilloff seems more likely to take over Rosario’s role in the outfield, but he could still get at-bats as the DH. Marcell Ozuna represents Minnesota’s best chance to add the most value at DH. He’s a decade younger than Cruz and he is coming off a tremendous season in Atlanta. Obviously, his price tag is going to include a longer commitment and more money than Cruz. Michael Brantley is a different style hitter than Cruz and Ozuna, but he also offers more defensive flexibility than some of the other DH options. Current DH Options: Rooker (0.5 WAR), Kirilloff (1.5 WAR) Free Agent DH: Ozuna (3.6 WAR), Cruz (3.1 WAR), Brantley (2.9 WAR) Back-End Starting Pitching Minnesota’s top three starters are already penciled in with Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, and Michael Pineda. This means the club is looking for other options to fill out the back half of the rotation. In-house options like Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, and Jhoan Duran could eat innings in the fifth starter spot. However, the team likely doesn’t want to rely on those arms filling in back-end roles. Minnesota isn’t going to spend the money it takes to sign Trevor Bauer, so the Twins are likely looking at the other names at the top of the free agent list. This includes Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Jake Odorizzi, Taijuan Walker, and Jose Quintana. ZiPS loves Dobnak so only the first three free agent pitchers would be an upgrade over him to the Twins rotation. Current 4/5 Starters: Dobnak (1.5 WAR), Smeltzer (0.8 WAR), Thorpe (0.5 WAR), Duran (0.8 WAR) Free Agent Starters: Paxton (2.7 WAR), Tanaka (2.3 WAR), Odorizzi (1.8 WAR), Walker (1.2 WAR), Quintana (1.3 WAR) Infield Depth The Twins need to add infield depth with Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianaza both becoming free agents. Throughout the offseason, there has been talk about moving Jorge Polanco to a super utility role and the Twins acquiring a better defensive shortstop. One option would be to trade for a shortstop with an expiring contract like Javier Baez or Trevor Story, but there are plenty of good free agent options still available that would allow the team to keep prospects. If the Twins want a starting shortstop, there are clearly three players at the top of the free agent market. Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, and Marcus Semien are all very intriguing options and the idea of having Simmons and Donaldson on the same side of the infield is a defensive dream. Semien is projected is the only player projected for a higher WAR than Polanco. Other utility options include Jurickson Profar, Enrique Hernandez, and Tommy La Stella, but none of them are considered everyday shortstops. Current SS/Utility Infielders: Polanco (2.8 WAR), Gordon (1.1 WAR), Miranda (0.8 WAR), Blankenhorn (-0.2 WAR) Free Agent SS/Utility Players: Semien (3.9 WAR), Simmons (2.7 WAR), Gregorius (2.3 WAR), Profar (1.6 WAR), La Stella (0.7 WAR), Hernandez (0.6 WAR) If the Twins want to add the most value, it looks like they should turn to Ozuna, Paxton, and Semien. That trio of players would likely come with a hefty price tag, so the Twins might have to be creative as they complete their roster. Where do you think the Twins can add the most value? 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
  21. Despite being less than a month from Spring Training (or at least as it’s presently scheduled) there’s still something like 75% of eligible free agents unsigned across baseball. Huge names like Bauer and Springer are homeless, and the Minnesota Twins specifically have four empty spots on their 40-man roster. Moves are coming, but who and when? I’ve thrown out a handful of names in this space as well as on Twitter this offseason, and now I’ll put some pen to paper. Using the Twins Daily created TwinsPayroll.com I plugged in names to a roster matrix. This would probably be a mix of what I’d like to see happen, and what I think is feasible. Starting Lineup Ultimately, I believe Nelson Cruz is back as the Twins designated hitter. That worries me as time is undefeated and he struggled down the stretch against fastballs in 2020. However, the fit is there, and I don’t know that we see a universal DH in 2021 (which is too bad). I’m hoping Minnesota avoids a two-year deal, and maybe an option for 2022 is enough to get that done. If it’s not Cruz, I’d prefer a two- or three-year pact with Marcel Ozuna or Michael Brantley. Both of them have positional flexibility, and a bit more long-term belief. It should be a no-brainer that Alex Kirilloff will take over for Eddie Rosario in left field. Sure, the Twins could play the service time game, but that would be short-sighted given their window of contention right now. Allow him to make his $600k and roll with your best option out there. There’s still plenty of reason to believe that Trevor Story could be a very good fit for this club through trade, and someone from the pool of Gregorious, Semien, or Simmons makes sense as well. I like the idea of one-year deals with the current roster construction, and there’s no reason why moving Jorge Polanco off of shortstop is a bad thing. Bench Ryan Jeffers is about the only player I’m confident in from this group. He and Mitch Garver should create a very solid backstop tandem, even if they’re both right-handed hitters. Jake Cave would make sense as the fourth outfielder, although I’d like to see Brent Rooker’s bat somewhere. Minnesota needs a utility player and signing either Kike Hernandez or Tommy La Stella is a good get there. I like Jurickson Profar the most of that group, but think he’ll get paid more than he’s ultimately worth. If you’re filling out the roster with an additional utility type, Travis Blankenhorn makes a lot of sense internally. I have no idea how this front office views former first-round pick Nick Gordon, but it would make sense for him to be in the conversation as well after a solid second season at Triple-A. The missed time in 2020 did him no favors, however. Starting Rotation There should be no pushback on Minnesota needing to acquire a fourth starter. The top three are solid and set, but another arm is a must. From the jump Jake Odorizzi looked like the second-best starter behind Trevor Bauer on the free agent market. He’s still out there, and there’s been buzz from other organizations having interest, but it would be nice to see him return healthy to the Twins. I still wonder if there’s not a good bit of reason to believe this arm could be acquired via trade, and anyone from Jon Gray to Sonny Gray could be exciting. Randy Dobnak has pitched himself into the conversation for earned starts, and whether that begins 2021 in the big-league rotation or as a first man up type, he should see plenty of work. Minnesota will likely unveil one or both of Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran this season but pushing all of those arms back a bit with starting depth seems necessary. Bullpen Although he’s the hometown guy, I’m not necessarily particular to Brad Hand. I do think someone of that ilk is a must though, and Trevor Rosenthal fits the bill. There are probably just three spots left to fill out the relief corps, and Cody Stashak should absolutely claim one of them. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have targeted a few waiver claims in the form of Ian Gibault and Brandon Waddell but there may only be room for one. Looking for this year’s Matt Wisler, the spring slate should sort that out. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  22. These rankings take into account the likely price it'll cost to land the free agent in question. If that were not a factor, I'd have guys like Trevor Bauer and Marcell Ozuna at the top. But all things considered, I'm not especially interested in paying Bauer $35 million annually, or committing to Ozuna for three-plus years, so they don't make the cut. Instead, I went with players that I see as strong fits for the Twins' needs – in terms of the roster, payroll, and overall team-building strategy. Here are my picks, with quick explanations. (Contract estimates via MLB Trade Rumors.) Let's hear yours in the comments. 1. Jurickson Profar, UTIL Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million The Twins need to add an impact player in the super-utility role vacated by Marwin González. Generally speaking, my preference would to bring in a new shortstop and slide Jorge Polanco into that role. Unless Minnesota can go and get Jurickson Profar. Functionally, he's a great match. Profar can play second base, left field, third, first, and even short in a pinch (he came up as a shortstop originally). He's a switch-hitter who doesn't strike out much. Most importantly, he seems to be in a state of ascent. The former No. 1 prospect in baseball has been a late bloomer, once considered a bust, but has improved dramatically since arriving in the majors at age 19, and is coming off a career year with the Padres. He turns 28 in February, so he could theoretically become a key part of Minnesota's prime-aged nucleus. I don't think he'll be as cheap as MLBTR projects, but would love to see the Twins land him on a multi-year deal at a similar AAV. 2. Jake Odorizzi, SP Estimated Contract: 3 years, $39 million Aside from Bauer, I'm not convinced any remaining free agent starting pitchers are better than a healthy Jake Odorizzi. That's before you account for the familiarity with a coaching staff that helped the righty unlock his potential and reach the All-Star Game. The Twins need another starting pitcher that at least matches the level of their current top three. Odorizzi checks that box, warranting a "playoff starter" designation, and he's only 30. In 2019, the Twins went 21-9 in his turns. While his 2020 was an injury-ruined mess, there's not much reason to think the health woes will carry forward. Odorizzi could be viewed as the safe and unsexy free agent addition, but I'm not sure why Twins fans would feel that way after seeing what he did two seasons ago. His upside as a borderline ace is hardly theoretical. 3. James Paxton, SP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $10 million There are several intriguing reclamation projects in the starting pitching pool, but Paxton does more for me than others. Though he missed most of 2020 with a flexor strain issue, the lefty reportedly was flashing mid-90s in a December throwing session, and for a 32-year-old his arm has relatively little mileage (750 IP in the majors). Prior to last year, Paxton was a reliable frontline starter, bringing dominant stuff from the left time. He carries his fair share of risk, as someone who's never thrown even 170 innings in a season, but for that reason buying into his potential should be relatively affordable. Plus, the last time he pitched at Target Field a freaking bald eagle landed on his shoulder. If that's not a sign that his future here is written in fate ... I dunno. https://twitter.com/Cut4/status/994026166607663104 4. Andrelton Simmons, SS Estimated Contract: 1 year, $12 million If the Twins are going to add a new starting shortstop, Simmons is easily my favorite option on the free agent market. While the buzz around Marcus Semien is not unexciting, Simmons feels like the safer bet, with a more consistent offensive track record and unparalleled defensive rep. It's hard to overstate the value of having the best fielder in the sport at the most critical position on the diamond. Simmons seems likely to accept a shorter-team deal, which is ideal for the Twins as they spend a year or two assessing what they have in Royce Lewis. 5. Nelson Cruz, DH Estimated Contract: 1 year, $16 million We all know what Nelson Cruz is capable of bringing to the table. We've seen it fully on display over the past two seasons. He has been, by some measures, the second-best hitter in baseball behind Mike Trout, and it's hard to ask for anything more in a DH and No. 3 hitter. The problem of course is that Cruz turns 41 in July and wasn't healthy down the stretch. There's no question that the veteran slugger is valuable to the Twins, both as a thunderous bat in the lineup's No. 3 spot and a cherished leader in the clubhouse. But at this point, the downsides – high regression and injury risks, combined with clogging up the DH spot on a team that could use some flexibility there – weigh heavily enough to keep him from being a top priority in my eyes. 6. Trevor Rosenthal, RP Estimated Contract: 2 years, $14 million On the one hand, it's generally unadvisable to spend big bucks on free agent relievers. On the other hand, the Twins' bullpen is running quite low on proven high-end arms, with both incumbent closer Taylor Rogers and newly signed Hansel Robles looking to bounce back from tough seasons. The loss of Trevor May and his dominant stuff will be felt in this unit, but Trevor Rosenthal could help negate it. (And not just by refilling the "Trevor" quotient.) Rosenthal is coming off a stellar campaign, in which he posted a 1.90 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. He throws in the high 90s and can touch 100. He's one of the league's top strikeout pitchers. Adding him into Minnesota's late-inning mix alongside Rogers, Robles and Tyler Duffey would be a transformative upgrade, greatly lessening the pressure on inexperienced Jorge Alcala to step up in big spots right away. I know some folks fancy Brad Hand for similar reasons, but count me out on him. He's not a great fit in this bullpen functionally to begin with, and moreover, there's something deeply concerning to me about every team in the majors passing up his one-year, $10 million commitment on waivers at a time where Liam Hendriks can score $54 million guaranteed. 7. Kirby Yates, RP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $5 million Much like starting pitching, the free agency market is teeming with interesting rebound candidates with glossy track records. If I'm putting my money on one it is Yates, who offers Hendriks-like upside if healthy and should come at something like 10% of the cost. Instead of making a drawn-out case for the former Padre, I'll simply list his 2019 stats and let you salivate at the thought of adding anything approaching his peak form to the Twins bullpen: 60.2 IP, 1.19 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 2 HR, 15.0 K/9, 1.9 BB/9. 8. José Quintana, SP Estimated Contract: 2 years, $18 million The argument for José Quintana is simple: he's a highly accomplished veteran who raises the rotation's floor. Although a lat injury and thumb laceration limited him to 10 innings in 2020, he'd previously been incredibly durable, making making 31-plus starts and totaling more than 170 innings in seven straight years. He has posted an above-average ERA+ in eight of nine MLB seasons. It's been a while since Quintana has been credibly viewed as a rotation-fronter, but the Twins don't necessarily need one. The left-hander would bring steady stability, and at age 32 a late-career renaissance doesn't seem out of the question. 9. Kiké Hernández, UTIL Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million Many words have been written on why Kiké Hernández is a nice fit for the Twins, and I won't rehash them too much. In short, his defensive versatility, ability to hit left-handed pitching, and experience on a perennial contender and reigning World Series champ all align nicely with Minnesota's circumstances. The reason I don't have him higher on this list is that I'm just not convinced Hernández is all that great of a player. His OPS+ has been lower than 90 in three of the past five seasons and he has only once posted an fWAR higher than 1.5 in the big leagues. I see him more as a fallback option if the Twins miss out on Profar, or a nice asset as the secondary utility piece, rather than being a highly desirable target to fill the Marwin role. Note that the contract estimate above is my own, since MLBTR didn't have Hernández listed. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets less. 10. Tyler Clippard, RP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $3 million Rounding out the list, another player who I see as more of a complementary fit as opposed to a primary target. It'd be disappointing if Clippard was the most prominent remaining addition to this bullpen, but it would also be a little disappointing if he isn't added. He was just so incredibly useful for the 2020 Twins, and the cost to bring him back should be negligible (this, again, is my own estimate since MLBTR didn't list him). Now that May has signed elsewhere, Clippard, Cruz and Odorizzi are the only Twins free agents that I'm particularly keen on bringing back. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. Among free agents that have yet to sign (and there are plenty), these 10 are the best fits for the Minnesota Twins. In one man's opinion.These rankings take into account the likely price it'll cost to land the free agent in question. If that were not a factor, I'd have guys like Trevor Bauer and Marcell Ozuna at the top. But all things considered, I'm not especially interested in paying Bauer $35 million annually, or committing to Ozuna for three-plus years, so they don't make the cut. Instead, I went with players that I see as strong fits for the Twins' needs – in terms of the roster, payroll, and overall team-building strategy. Here are my picks, with quick explanations. (Contract estimates via MLB Trade Rumors.) Let's hear yours in the comments. 1. Jurickson Profar, UTIL Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million The Twins need to add an impact player in the super-utility role vacated by Marwin González. Generally speaking, my preference would to bring in a new shortstop and slide Jorge Polanco into that role. Unless Minnesota can go and get Jurickson Profar. Functionally, he's a great match. Profar can play second base, left field, third, first, and even short in a pinch (he came up as a shortstop originally). He's a switch-hitter who doesn't strike out much. Most importantly, he seems to be in a state of ascent. The former No. 1 prospect in baseball has been a late bloomer, once considered a bust, but has improved dramatically since arriving in the majors at age 19, and is coming off a career year with the Padres. He turns 28 in February, so he could theoretically become a key part of Minnesota's prime-aged nucleus. I don't think he'll be as cheap as MLBTR projects, but would love to see the Twins land him on a multi-year deal at a similar AAV. 2. Jake Odorizzi, SP Estimated Contract: 3 years, $39 million Aside from Bauer, I'm not convinced any remaining free agent starting pitchers are better than a healthy Jake Odorizzi. That's before you account for the familiarity with a coaching staff that helped the righty unlock his potential and reach the All-Star Game. The Twins need another starting pitcher that at least matches the level of their current top three. Odorizzi checks that box, warranting a "playoff starter" designation, and he's only 30. In 2019, the Twins went 21-9 in his turns. While his 2020 was an injury-ruined mess, there's not much reason to think the health woes will carry forward. Odorizzi could be viewed as the safe and unsexy free agent addition, but I'm not sure why Twins fans would feel that way after seeing what he did two seasons ago. His upside as a borderline ace is hardly theoretical. 3. James Paxton, SP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $10 million There are several intriguing reclamation projects in the starting pitching pool, but Paxton does more for me than others. Though he missed most of 2020 with a flexor strain issue, the lefty reportedly was flashing mid-90s in a December throwing session, and for a 32-year-old his arm has relatively little mileage (750 IP in the majors). Prior to last year, Paxton was a reliable frontline starter, bringing dominant stuff from the left time. He carries his fair share of risk, as someone who's never thrown even 170 innings in a season, but for that reason buying into his potential should be relatively affordable. Plus, the last time he pitched at Target Field a freaking bald eagle landed on his shoulder. If that's not a sign that his future here is written in fate ... I dunno. 4. Andrelton Simmons, SS Estimated Contract: 1 year, $12 million If the Twins are going to add a new starting shortstop, Simmons is easily my favorite option on the free agent market. While the buzz around Marcus Semien is not unexciting, Simmons feels like the safer bet, with a more consistent offensive track record and unparalleled defensive rep. It's hard to overstate the value of having the best fielder in the sport at the most critical position on the diamond. Simmons seems likely to accept a shorter-team deal, which is ideal for the Twins as they spend a year or two assessing what they have in Royce Lewis. 5. Nelson Cruz, DH Estimated Contract: 1 year, $16 million We all know what Nelson Cruz is capable of bringing to the table. We've seen it fully on display over the past two seasons. He has been, by some measures, the second-best hitter in baseball behind Mike Trout, and it's hard to ask for anything more in a DH and No. 3 hitter. The problem of course is that Cruz turns 41 in July and wasn't healthy down the stretch. There's no question that the veteran slugger is valuable to the Twins, both as a thunderous bat in the lineup's No. 3 spot and a cherished leader in the clubhouse. But at this point, the downsides – high regression and injury risks, combined with clogging up the DH spot on a team that could use some flexibility there – weigh heavily enough to keep him from being a top priority in my eyes. 6. Trevor Rosenthal, RP Estimated Contract: 2 years, $14 million On the one hand, it's generally unadvisable to spend big bucks on free agent relievers. On the other hand, the Twins' bullpen is running quite low on proven high-end arms, with both incumbent closer Taylor Rogers and newly signed Hansel Robles looking to bounce back from tough seasons. The loss of Trevor May and his dominant stuff will be felt in this unit, but Trevor Rosenthal could help negate it. (And not just by refilling the "Trevor" quotient.) Rosenthal is coming off a stellar campaign, in which he posted a 1.90 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. He throws in the high 90s and can touch 100. He's one of the league's top strikeout pitchers. Adding him into Minnesota's late-inning mix alongside Rogers, Robles and Tyler Duffey would be a transformative upgrade, greatly lessening the pressure on inexperienced Jorge Alcala to step up in big spots right away. I know some folks fancy Brad Hand for similar reasons, but count me out on him. He's not a great fit in this bullpen functionally to begin with, and moreover, there's something deeply concerning to me about every team in the majors passing up his one-year, $10 million commitment on waivers at a time where Liam Hendriks can score $54 million guaranteed. 7. Kirby Yates, RP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $5 million Much like starting pitching, the free agency market is teeming with interesting rebound candidates with glossy track records. If I'm putting my money on one it is Yates, who offers Hendriks-like upside if healthy and should come at something like 10% of the cost. Instead of making a drawn-out case for the former Padre, I'll simply list his 2019 stats and let you salivate at the thought of adding anything approaching his peak form to the Twins bullpen: 60.2 IP, 1.19 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 2 HR, 15.0 K/9, 1.9 BB/9. 8. José Quintana, SP Estimated Contract: 2 years, $18 million The argument for José Quintana is simple: he's a highly accomplished veteran who raises the rotation's floor. Although a lat injury and thumb laceration limited him to 10 innings in 2020, he'd previously been incredibly durable, making making 31-plus starts and totaling more than 170 innings in seven straight years. He has posted an above-average ERA+ in eight of nine MLB seasons. It's been a while since Quintana has been credibly viewed as a rotation-fronter, but the Twins don't necessarily need one. The left-hander would bring steady stability, and at age 32 a late-career renaissance doesn't seem out of the question. 9. Kiké Hernández, UTIL Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million Many words have been written on why Kiké Hernández is a nice fit for the Twins, and I won't rehash them too much. In short, his defensive versatility, ability to hit left-handed pitching, and experience on a perennial contender and reigning World Series champ all align nicely with Minnesota's circumstances. The reason I don't have him higher on this list is that I'm just not convinced Hernández is all that great of a player. His OPS+ has been lower than 90 in three of the past five seasons and he has only once posted an fWAR higher than 1.5 in the big leagues. I see him more as a fallback option if the Twins miss out on Profar, or a nice asset as the secondary utility piece, rather than being a highly desirable target to fill the Marwin role. Note that the contract estimate above is my own, since MLBTR didn't have Hernández listed. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets less. 10. Tyler Clippard, RP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $3 million Rounding out the list, another player who I see as more of a complementary fit as opposed to a primary target. It'd be disappointing if Clippard was the most prominent remaining addition to this bullpen, but it would also be a little disappointing if he isn't added. He was just so incredibly useful for the 2020 Twins, and the cost to bring him back should be negligible (this, again, is my own estimate since MLBTR didn't list him). Now that May has signed elsewhere, Clippard, Cruz and Odorizzi are the only Twins free agents that I'm particularly keen on bringing back. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  24. On Thursday night's episode of Offseason Live, I chatted with fellow Twins Daily writers Matthew Taylor and David Youngs about the players hitting free agency this winter. The Twins are facing the prospect of losing eight players to the market, or possibly nine, depending on what they decide to do with Sergio Romo's team option. You can watch the episode below, or scroll down for a quick overview of the nine players in question, their situations, and a key stat to keep in mind for each. Feel free to share your opinions on who should stay or go in the comments. Sergio Romo, RP 2020 Stats: 20 IP, 4.05 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 The Situation: The Twins traded for Romo at the 2019 deadline as a pending free agent, and then brought him back last winter on a one-year deal with a $5 million option for 2021. Activating that option seemed like a no-brainer midway through the season, as he was dominating with his slider and siphoning save opportunities from Taylor Rogers, but Romo faltered down the stretch and in the playoffs. He turns 38 in March, and $5 million is a pretty penny for a relief pitcher if you don't think he'll be a major asset. Declining Romo's option would give the Twins more flexibility to try and retain the following players. Key Stat: 1.03 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 in 51 appearances with Twins Alex Avila, C 2020 Stats: 62 PA, .184/.355/.286, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0.2 fWAR The Situation: The Twins tabbed Avila as Mitch Garver's backup last offseason, signing him to a one-year deal worth $4.75 million. The veteran ended up playing a fairly minor role for the Twins, accruing only 30% of PAs among catchers, and he didn't hit a lick. That said, he was reliable defensively and his .355 OBP tied for fourth-best on the team (50+ PA). If the Twins want to carry three catchers in 2021, they could do a lot worse than bringing Avila back on a cheap one-year deal. Key Stat: Started 19 of 63 games (including playoffs) for Twins and batted .184 Ehire Adrianza, UTIL 2020 Stats: 101 PA, .191/.287/.270, 0 HR, 3 RBI, -0.1 fWAR The Situation: Adrianza heads into free agency for the first time with a thud. He seemed to be shaking his rep as a no-hit utilityman over three seasons in Minnesota, posting a respectable .260/.321/.391 slash line from 2017 through 2019 and enjoying a career year in the latter (.765 OPS). But Adrianza fell apart at the plate in a 2020 season where he appeared in 44 of the team's 60 games. The 31-year-old may struggle to find a major-league league deal, though his ability to play a quality shortstop is a differentiating strength. Key Stat: Career-low .557 OPS in 2020 Marwin Gonzalez, UTIL 2020 Stats: 199 PA, .211/.286/.320, 5 HR, 22 RBI, 0.2 fWAR The Situation: Playing out the last year of his two-year, $21 million contract with the Twins, Gonzalez was an all-out disaster in 2020. Injuries forced the team to lean on him heavily – he started 51 of 60 games, and ranked fifth on the team in PAs – but he let them down in a big way, grading as one of the worst regulars in all of baseball. He turns 32 in March, has seen his OPS+ drop in three consecutive seasons, and his athleticism is rapidly declining (his sprint speed has fallen from the 39th to 27th to 20th percentile). Add in the taint of involvement with the cheating Astros, and it seems very unlikely Gonzalez will have a remotely welcoming offseason market. Key Stat: Ranked 137th out of 142 qualified MLB players in OPS in 2020 Tyler Clippard, RP 2020 Stats: 26 IP, 2.77 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 0.89 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 The Situation: Signed to a $2.75 million deal last offseason, Clippard was an unheralded hero of the Twins bullpen. He led all relievers in innings, started two games as opener, finished another, and was altogether an incredibly versatile and reliable arm. Minnesota signed him to be a weapon against lefties, and he was, but he also shut down right-handed hitters. Given the valuable role he played on this year's club, Clippard would seemingly be very appealing to the Twins (and other teams) on a similar contract. Key Stat: Held LH batters to .213 average (.479 OPS) in 2020. Held RH batters to .191 average (.607 OPS). Trevor May, RP 2020 Stats: 23.1 IP, 3.86 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 14.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 The Situation: In his career as a reliever, May has averaged 12.0 K/9 with a 3.49 ERA over 188 ⅓ innings. He's one of the best strikeout pitchers in the league, and in 2019 he set new personal records for strikeout rate, whiff rate, and fastball velocity. His proneness to home runs (five allowed in 23 ⅓ frames) was the lone blemish on a remarkably dominant season out of the bullpen. A top-tier power arm hitting his stride just as he hits free agency at 31, May is likely to be in high demand. Can the Twins afford to keep him around? ... Can they afford not to? Key Stat: His career 10.5 K/9 rate is 2nd-highest in Twins history (min. 300 IP), behind Joe Nathan Rich Hill, SP 2020 Stats: 38.2 IP, 3.03 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 The Situation: At times, it looked like Hill might not have it anymore. The Twins knew they were gambling on the left-hander, who signed an incentive-laden one-year contract coming off elbow surgery at age 40. He had his rough patches. His control worsened, his strikeout and whiff rates plummeted, and at one point his shoulder acted up. But by the time September rolled around, Hill had rounded into form, looking every bit like the gritty difference-maker of repute. Whether he can do it again, at age 41 in what figures to be a more full-length season, is very much an open question. Key Stat: In 4 September starts, posted 2.38 ERA and .190 BAA Jake Odorizzi, SP 2020 Stats: 13.2 IP, 6.59 ERA, 6.12 FIP, 7.9 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 The Situation: Returning to the Twins after accepting a qualifying offer for $17.8 million a year ago, the 2020 season was a complete wash for Odorizzi. He opened on the Injured List, and saw two attempted comebacks stymied by misfortune: first, a line drive to the ribs, and then a bloody blister opened on his finger. His ability and talent have been plain to see when healthy, but it's going to be hard for Odorizzi to command what he probably deserves coming off a lost season. If the Twins can find a sensible way to bring him back, he'd be a hell of a fourth starter. Key Stat: Holds lowest overall FIP (3.88) of any Twins SP since 2011 Nelson Cruz, DH 2020 Stats: 214 PA, .303/.397/.595, 16 HR, 33 RBI, 2.0 fWAR The Situation: He's been the Twins' best hitter for two years running, and one of the most feared hitters in the major leagues. He's also a clubhouse leader and beloved teammate, credited for helping players around him develop and mature. The thought of losing Cruz is tough, but he'll turn 41 next summer and historically, performance drop-offs have hit rapidly and without warning for players at this age. He also figures to have a fairly favorable offseason market, with the universal DH doubling his potential suitors. If the Twins have ~$30 million to spend this offseason (as our ballparked) can they afford to spend half of it on Cruz with other needs to address? Key Stat: 57 HR and 141 RBIs in 173 games with Twins Offseason Live Schedule Ep 1: (Thurs, 10/8) Ep 2: (Tues, 10/13) Ep 3: (Thurs, 10/15) Ep 4: Twins Arbitration Decisions (Tues, 10/20) Ep 5: Free Agency – Catchers & Infield (Thurs, 10/22) Ep 6: Free Agency – Outfield & DH (Tues, 10/27) Ep 7: Free Agency – Starting Pitchers (Thurs, 10/29) Ep 8: Free Agency – Relief Pitchers (Thurs, 11/5) Ep 9: Twins Trade Targets (Tues, 11/10) Ep 10: Offseason Blueprints (Thurs, 11/12) Follow us on social media to catch the live shows (they're broadcast via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube) and subscribe to our podcast to receive the audio versions of any episodes you miss. We'll also be featuring the content and embedding the videos in articles here on the site. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. Aaron and John walk through each of the Twins' impending free agents and discuss whether or not a path exists in which they return to the team. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Listen Now Here Click here to view the article
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