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  1. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have shown a patience during their tenure with the Twins, and whether picking a right spot for a swap, or jumping in late on a free agent, they’ve been extremely calculated. The market as a whole has really worked to feel players out, and Minnesota’s front office should be expected to continue a similar process. This duo has had success on the trade market though and finding a dance partner matches up in plenty of key areas heading into the 2021 season. Knowing there’s both offense and pitching needs to address, here’s the top five players the Twins could trade for in order of impact. 1. Colorado Rockies Trevor Story Francisco Lindor was going to appear in this space as well, but he's reportedly headed to the New York Mets. A trade within the division of that magnitude always seemed unlikely anyways. Story can come over from the National League however, and would give the Twins one of the best hitting infielders in baseball. He's no slouch with the glove, but it's the power bat that puts up gaudy numbers as well. There's always a slight concern leaving the elevation of Coors Field, but D.J. LeMahieu has certainly had no issues. 2. Cincinnati Reds Luis Castillo or Sonny Gray Both from the same team, but with substantially different ramifications. Luis Castillo looks the part of a Cy Young pitcher waiting to happen. He’s just 28 and should be entering his prime, while having already evolved into a strikeout machine with some of the best peripherals in baseball. He’s under team control through the 2023 season, and you can expect to break the prospect bank in an attempt to acquire him. It seemed likely that a resurgence was to be expected for Gray once he got out of the Cracker Jack box that is Yankee Stadium. He’s ratcheted up the strikeout tallies each of the past two years but has always danced around some free passes. 31 and with a team option in 2023, Gray has more of a monetary commitment but is a pitcher that would see at least an equal payday on the open market. With the Reds clearly motivated to move assets, either option would represent a substantial rotation upgrade for the Twins. 3. Pittsburgh Pirates Joe Musgrove Down in the middle of the list only because of what he’s done thus far, Musgrove looks like a pitcher waiting to be rescued from the Pirates keep. He just recently turned 28 and isn’t a free agent until 2023. The strikeouts took a huge leap in 2020 and his FIP has always outperformed what the defense behind him has allowed. Matched with a mastermind pitching coach in the form of Wes Johnson, I’d hardly be shocked if Musgrove didn’t end up being one of the best arms in baseball. He’s not going to turn into Gerrit Cole, but he may be the next best thing. 4. Chicago Cubs Javier Baez or Kris Bryant If the Twins are intent on dealing for infield help, there’s no reason not to call the Chicago Cubs. Javier Baez had a dreadful 2020, but he was coming off two seasons of a combined .865 OPS prior to that. He’s a premier shortstop with an incredibly high ceiling at the plate. He’s not cheap in that he’ll make somewhere around $11 million in 2021, and he’s set to become a free agent after the year. Still, as a brother-in-law to Jose Berrios, pairing those two together in Minnesota could be a nice bit of roster construction. The allure for Bryant is more based around assumption than present reality. You absolutely have to believe he’s not cooked and that the shoulder will hold up. If that’s true, there’s an offensive stud here and he acts as insurance for both Josh Donaldson at third base, and Alex Kirilloff in left field. Despite seeming to have drawn ire for quite some time, 2020 was his first down year, and his health has been the chief concern. The former Rookie of the Year is a free agent following the season, but the Cubs selloff could make him more available than expected. 5. Colorado Rockies Jon Gray There was some belief that the Rockies may simply non-tender Gray and allow him to be a free agent. That didn’t happen and the former first round pick is back after posting a 6.69 ERA last season. The 4.18 FIP dating back to 2018 isn’t going to open many eyes, but that number was 3.46 through his first 58 MLB starts. Gray has been a consistent strikeout pitcher with a heavy fastball and a change of scenery could be what is necessary to unlock his full potential. German Marquez has figured it out in Colorado while Gray has not, plucking him a year before he heads into free agency could be a nice move with him banking on building value. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. As things stand right now the Minnesota Twins have what can be considered an incomplete 26-man roster. There’s work yet to be done, as there is for most teams in baseball, and the front office may find favor in one-year agreements for 2021. The reality right now is that teams are using the lack of traditional revenues as reasons to spend less for the 2021 Major League Baseball season. On top of that, there’s uncertainty regarding the 2022 season due to an expiring CBA and the previous history between the league and Players Association. While the Twins may see reduced payroll as a way forward in terms of financial flexibility, one-year deals may be an outlier allowing them to still maximize a competitive window. It’s a pretty hard sell for the Pohlad’s to suggest they are committed to winning while instructing Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to take their foot off the gas in the midst of developmental emergence. This organization signed their biggest free agent in history just last offseason, and not pairing him with more talent as the home-grown group has emerged would be a head-scratcher at best. While it wouldn’t necessarily reduce the bill for 2021, removing future monetary commitment is a practice that makes some sense this time around. Think back to 2018 for a moment. Minnesota made a splash with Spring Training already underway. In a less than ideal market for both players, the secured the services of Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison. Both players came in a bit disgruntled at the process they witnessed over the winter, and their output left plenty to be desired. At that time, the suggestion of hired hitman brought forth the discussion as to whether chemistry was ever truly able to be established. With a different set of parameters this time around, a similar plan could be truly beneficial. Thus far the only deal of consequence for Minnesota has been the acquisition of former Angels closer Hansel Robles on a one-year deal. Internally, he joins Michael Pineda as a free agent following the 2021 season. There’s a sunk cost already with Josh Donaldson, and then much of the Twins roster is on team-friendly extensions, or just into the arbitration process. In short, there’s not much of a massive monetary leap year over year from what’s already committed to. Enter the onslaught of one-year deals. Kris Bryant for $18 million, yep, sure. Trevor Story at the same price, why not. How about Sonny Gray for just over $10 million, or Jon Gray coming in just under $6 million. The reality is that while all of those players are substantially more costly than a prospect at the league minimum, the future financial fear is off the table. You could add Nelson Cruz and his $16 million ask to this group as well. The point isn’t that the money is inconsequential, but that you’d be maximizing your opportunity while still having flexibility in the seasons ahead. For years Major League organizations have seen record growth and financial dividends. 2020 provided an unprecedented halt to those trends, but the reality for the vast majority of the league is that a profit was still turned. Having the ability to regain that opportunity in the near future remains a priority for ownership, and this would give them a clear vision to see that come to fruition. Players in the final year of contracts, and especially those with hefty price tags, should not require a ransom be paid in exchange for their services. The Rockies Story is an elite talent, but plenty of Minnesota’s system should stay intact. Bryant would seemingly have even less of a required package, and the same could be said about Colorado’s Gray. I don’t know how Falvey and Levine will navigate these waters when they finally dip their oars in, but this seems like a plausible path forward. In a traditional cycle I’d be less interested in a team full of short-term reinforcements. If it means that talent is bolstered and payroll flexibility is still to be achieved, this could be a blueprint that satisfies all needs. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  3. The 2020 season did not go well for plenty of players as the Twins saw with Jake Odorizzi. With many unique circumstances surrounding a shortened season, it’s going to be tough for teams to evaluate starters on 8-12 appearances. Gray certainly fits that mold as he was limited to eight starts and had a 6.69 ERA and a 5.1 SO/9, both totals were the worst of his career. Gray’s season was cut short after suffering right shoulder inflammation and then he didn’t have time to build back up before season’s end. His 2020 struggles might be tied to him pitching through this injury. Over the last four seasons, he has posted a 4.50 ERA with 1.34 WHIP and 8.9 SO/9, so there have been ups and downs in recent years. Looking into his contract situation, Gray is arbitration eligible for the final time this winter. He made $5.6 million through arbitration last year and MLB Trade Rumors projects him to be in roughly that same range for the coming season ($5.6-6.5 million). To put that in perspective, the Twins paid two members of their rotation more than that last season (Jake Odorizzi, $17.8 million; Michael Pineda, $10 million). Pitching in Coors Field for 50% of a player’s starts can be tough on the overall numbers by the end of multiple seasons. Against Gray, opponents have hit .268/.320/.435 (.755), but within those numbers is a .327 BAbip which means a certain amount of luck might be involved for hitters. His second most starts have come at Petco Park, a pitcher friendly ballpark, and batter’s OPS is over 120 points lower. Putting Gray at Target Field for half his starts likely puts him somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. Another area to consider with Gray is his pitch selection and the possibility of unlocking even more potential. The Twins did this with Kenta Maeda this past season as he saw increased use in his slider and changeup which meant he was using his four seamer less often. Fans saw those positive results as Maeda was the team’s most consistent starting pitcher for the entire season. Gray relies on five pitches, a four seamer (48.3%), a slider (29.2%), a changeup (13.1%), a curve (8.4%) and a sinker (1.1%). His biggest change last season was an increased use of his changeup which increased by over 10% from the 2019 season. His fastball velocity consistently ranks high, but there isn’t a lot of movement on this pitch. Could Wes Johnson work some of his magic and get Gray to rely more on his secondary pitches? Everything with Gray is going to come down to the health of his throwing shoulder. He might be worth the risk if the Twins get a look at his medicals and everything checks out. The cost likely wouldn’t be very high with one arbitration year left and his poor performance in 2020. Do you think the Twins should make a play for Jon Gray? 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
  4. Ted Schwerzler wrote a great article that the Twins need to target the Pirates as a great trade possibility now. I totally agree! But I`d like to present possibly another in the near future & that`s the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies had a losing record last year, well out of contention of any play off possibility. This off season they didn`t do anything but yet they believe they still have a chance to make it this year, so they said they don`t want to trade. Now w/ the Arenado situation, I believe they will have to trade him. I believe Arenado really wants to win it all so he finally woke up & realized that the Rockies aren`t going anywhere therefore he wants out. He has an opt out option after next year & when the FO realizes that he`s going that route they have no choice other than to trade him. W/o Arenado & a very weak farm system they`ll have to take the route of rebuilding. https://www.baseballtradevalues.com/its-time-to-break-up-the-rockies/ That brings up Jon Gray, he`s been compared as the next Gerrit Cole https://bringmethenews.com/minnesota-sports/twins-daily-finding-the-next-gerrit-cole-a-rocky-proposition Since this article I`ve been dreaming of a Jon Gray trade. Gerrit Cole wasn`t that great w/ the Pirates but when he arrived at the Astros his career took off. If we get Gray I believe he`ll become an ace for us. Although I don`t know for sure ,I`ve heard he`s not satisfied at Colorado. I know Colorado is looking for a high prospect catcher but hopefully they`ll get it when they trade Arenado so we don`t have to use our high catching prospect. Then we can trade pitching & outfield prospects. It`ll cost us a couple of high prospects. Many teams will be after him so we need to be ready What do you think?
  5. Twins fans (at least those who read Twins Daily) have known about Jon Gray and his pitching talents since before the Colorado Rockies made him the third overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. The Twins Geek wrote up a Draft Profile on the flame-thrower from Oklahoma. That year, Gray was taken after the Astros took Mark Appel and the Cubs selected Kris Bryant. One pick after the Rockies drafted Gray, the Twins used the fourth overall pick on Kohl Stewart. Gerrit Cole, of course, was the first overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of UCLA. Cole is listed at 6-foot-4. Gray is listed at 6-foot-4. Cole is listed at 225 pounds. Gray is listed at 227 pounds. Of course, height and weight are important in scouting, but in this analysis, it means nothing. There are dozens of MLB (and minor league) pitchers that are 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds or so. I thought it would be interesting to compare more to see how similar the two might be. To do so, I looked at Gerrit Cole in 2017. He was 26 years old and had two more years of arbitration remaining. In 2019, Jon Gray was 27 years old, and as we look forward, he has two more years before he can become a free agent. So let’s take a look at how Gerrit Cole performed for the Pirates in 2017 and compare it to how Jon Gray pitched for the Rockies in 2019. And hey, just for fun, let’s throw Cole’s 2019 numbers in there too. What does it show us? Obviously we know that Win-Loss record doesn’t tell us anything. Gray’s ERA was better, but Cole held a slight advantage in xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). Cole had the better WHIP. It might surprise people to see that Gray actually struck out more batters, though it’s statistically close enough, especially when strikeouts continue to increase across the league. Cole had better control. The biggest difference is that Cole topped 200 innings in 2017 while Gray pitched just 150 innings in 2019. Gray went on the injured list in mid-August with a fractured left foot. He had surgery and should be ready in advance of spring training. He had a similar foot/ankle injury in 2017 that cost him two-and-a-half months. Gray gets more ground balls, though I can’t help but wonder if that’s due to how he chooses to pitch in Colorado.The two had very similar strikeout rates. Again, comparing those numbers to what Cole became in 2019 is more just fun than anything else, something to dream on. Some will say that Gray isn’t as good as Cole was in 2017. I think that the numbers above show that they are more similar statistically than we may have even thought. But I think it’s more important to look at how they pitch to see whether or not they are similar. Is their stuff comparable? Here are some numbers, again comparing Gray in 2019 with Cole in 2017. And, of course, I needed to add Cole in 2019 to the chart for fun, but also for a point. (SETH CORRECTION: Jon Gray threw 33.5% sliders, not 13.5% Sorry if that created confusion.) I happen to think this chart is really interesting. Again, comparing Gray in 2019 with Cole in 2017, there are a lot of similarities. They both had an average fastball of 96 mph. They both throw 88 mph sliders. Gray’s curveball came in just a little slower, and so did his changeup. Cole threw more fastballs. Gray threw a lot of sliders and didn’t throw many changeups. Cole gave up less contact and got a higher percentage of swing-and-misses on strikes. It all speaks to his stuff being right on par with Garret Cole’s in 2017. The Big Question In my mind, the big question is - and should be with any pitcher the Twins consider with trades or free agency: Do the Twins pitching coaches, coordinators and evaluators think that Jon Gray can take it a step up from his 2019 numbers the same way that Cole’s performance jumped from 2017 to 2019? Cole added one mph on his fastball and on his slider. He did so while throwing a fewer fastballs and changeups and a few more sliders and curveballs. Can Jon Gray add a tick or two to his velocity? Can his pitch mix be altered in such a way to reduce his contact rate and improve his swing-and-miss stuff? Ultimately that’s what the Twins brass needs to consider. What Might it Take? If they do consider Gray to be a guy that could take a step forward in performance and possibly be an elite starting pitcher, well, then they need to figure out what they are willing to give up to acquire him from the Rockies. So again, let’s look at Gerrit Cole for a comparison. The Houston Astros acquired Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for four players: RHP Michael Feliz - He was 24 years old and spent two-plus seasons with the Astros before the trade. He had a 5.13 ERA over that time period before the deal. OF Jason Martin - He was a 22-year-old at the time of the deal. He split 2017 between High-A and AA and hit 35 doubles and 18 home runs that season. 1B/3B Colin Moran - He was 25 and had been a high draft pick. He was a Top 100 prospect in previous years but no longer at the time of the deal. RHP Joe Musgrave - He was a 24-year-old, a first-round pick in 2011. He spent time as a part-time starter with the Astros in 2016 and 2017. So what might a similar deal look like for the Twins.Obviously this is a hypothetical, but I think it would take something similar to the below. I think that the package should be similar, but still a little less than what was required to acquire Cole. RHP Fernando Romero - Romero is currently 24-years-old and has spent parts of 2018 and 2019 in the big leagues. While his numbers in 2019, his first year as a bullpen arm, didn’t do great, his potential is still high. IF Travis Blankenhorn - He was just added to the 40-man roster, but like Martin, he split 2019 between High-A and AA and hit 19 home runs despite missing a bit more than a month with a broken finger. OF/1B - Brent Rooker - Can you imagine what Brent Rooker could do to baseballs in the Mile High City? Rooker had been in the Top 100 prospects last year but injuries cost him time in 2019. But his power is legit. RHP Griffin Jax - Now, when I put this together, I wasn’t sure if Jax would be added to the 40-man roster. The Denver (area) native wasn’t added to the 40-man roster, so he’s less likely to be tradable until after the Rule 5 draft. But there are any number of similar pitchers in the organization that the Rockies might have an interest in as well. If I were to keep the theme of Denver-area people, Bailey Ober might be a candidate. Or, might it take a pitcher with some big-league service time like a Devin Smeltzer or even Lewis Thorpe to be a sufficient final piece? Let’s be honest. There’s no way to know what the Rockies would ask for. Maybe instead of four similar prospects, they may ask for one big prospect with one lesser prospect, or maybe the fourth player in this deal could be two other players. SUMMARY The Twins - and every team in baseball - want to find the next Gerrit Cole. Rockies ace Jon Gray has a lot of similarities to Gerrit Cole pre-trade, both statistically and in terms of stuff. The Twins - and every team in baseball - will need to attempt to evaluate if they have ways that could make Gray take the next step toward becoming an elite starter. Determine how much your team is willing to trade in exchange for Jon Gray (and then go-ahead and try to convince the Rockies that it is enough). Hope! Hey, just because there are similarities between pitchers (age, size, stats and stuff) does not necessarily mean that they will have the same success. There is a lot of luck involved. But Derek Falvey has a reputation for developing pitchers. Wes Johnson got a lot of credit for some of the Twins pitching successes and improvements in 2019. If nothing else, it’s fun to think about. Finding the next Gerrit Cole is half the battle. Helping him develop into that pitcher is another thing. Maybe there are red flags, concerns about Jon Gray specifically. Maybe there are other issues that the Twins need to factor and consider. We can’t know it all, but as fans, we’ve been waiting for a true Ace since Johan Santana.
  6. Yesterday, Nick wrote an article talking about how the Twins deserve creditfor acquiring Jake Odorizzi and working with him to find his best self in 2019. Today, I wanted to continue the “Finding the Next Gerrit Cole” theme by literally trying to find someone who could possibly provide the type of impact that Cole had on the Astros. Maybe there is one potential trade candidate out there who fits that mold.Twins fans (at least those who read Twins Daily) have known about Jon Gray and his pitching talents since before the Colorado Rockies made him the third overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. The Twins Geek wrote up a Draft Profile on the flame-thrower from Oklahoma. That year, Gray was taken after the Astros took Mark Appel and the Cubs selected Kris Bryant. One pick after the Rockies drafted Gray, the Twins used the fourth overall pick on Kohl Stewart. Gerrit Cole, of course, was the first overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of UCLA. Cole is listed at 6-foot-4. Gray is listed at 6-foot-4. Cole is listed at 225 pounds. Gray is listed at 227 pounds. Of course, height and weight are important in scouting, but in this analysis, it means nothing. There are dozens of MLB (and minor league) pitchers that are 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds or so. I thought it would be interesting to compare more to see how similar the two might be. To do so, I looked at Gerrit Cole in 2017. He was 26 years old and had two more years of arbitration remaining. In 2019, Jon Gray was 27 years old, and as we look forward, he has two more years before he can become a free agent. So let’s take a look at how Gerrit Cole performed for the Pirates in 2017 and compare it to how Jon Gray pitched for the Rockies in 2019. And hey, just for fun, let’s throw Cole’s 2019 numbers in there too. What does it show us? Obviously we know that Win-Loss record doesn’t tell us anything. Gray’s ERA was better, but Cole held a slight advantage in xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). Cole had the better WHIP. It might surprise people to see that Gray actually struck out more batters, though it’s statistically close enough, especially when strikeouts continue to increase across the league. Cole had better control. The biggest difference is that Cole topped 200 innings in 2017 while Gray pitched just 150 innings in 2019. Gray went on the injured list in mid-August with a fractured left foot. He had surgery and should be ready in advance of spring training. He had a similar foot/ankle injury in 2017 that cost him two-and-a-half months. Gray gets more ground balls, though I can’t help but wonder if that’s due to how he chooses to pitch in Colorado.The two had very similar strikeout rates. Again, comparing those numbers to what Cole became in 2019 is more just fun than anything else, something to dream on. Some will say that Gray isn’t as good as Cole was in 2017. I think that the numbers above show that they are more similar statistically than we may have even thought. But I think it’s more important to look at how they pitch to see whether or not they are similar. Is their stuff comparable? Here are some numbers, again comparing Gray in 2019 with Cole in 2017. And, of course, I needed to add Cole in 2019 to the chart for fun, but also for a point. (SETH CORRECTION: Jon Gray threw 33.5% sliders, not 13.5% Sorry if that created confusion.) I happen to think this chart is really interesting. Again, comparing Gray in 2019 with Cole in 2017, there are a lot of similarities. They both had an average fastball of 96 mph. They both throw 88 mph sliders. Gray’s curveball came in just a little slower, and so did his changeup. Cole threw more fastballs. Gray threw a lot of sliders and didn’t throw many changeups. Cole gave up less contact and got a higher percentage of swing-and-misses on strikes. It all speaks to his stuff being right on par with Garret Cole’s in 2017. The Big Question In my mind, the big question is - and should be with any pitcher the Twins consider with trades or free agency: Do the Twins pitching coaches, coordinators and evaluators think that Jon Gray can take it a step up from his 2019 numbers the same way that Cole’s performance jumped from 2017 to 2019? Cole added one mph on his fastball and on his slider. He did so while throwing a fewer fastballs and changeups and a few more sliders and curveballs. Can Jon Gray add a tick or two to his velocity? Can his pitch mix be altered in such a way to reduce his contact rate and improve his swing-and-miss stuff? Ultimately that’s what the Twins brass needs to consider. What Might it Take? If they do consider Gray to be a guy that could take a step forward in performance and possibly be an elite starting pitcher, well, then they need to figure out what they are willing to give up to acquire him from the Rockies. So again, let’s look at Gerrit Cole for a comparison. The Houston Astros acquired Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for four players: RHP Michael Feliz - He was 24 years old and spent two-plus seasons with the Astros before the trade. He had a 5.13 ERA over that time period before the deal.OF Jason Martin - He was a 22-year-old at the time of the deal. He split 2017 between High-A and AA and hit 35 doubles and 18 home runs that season.1B/3B Colin Moran - He was 25 and had been a high draft pick. He was a Top 100 prospect in previous years but no longer at the time of the deal.RHP Joe Musgrave - He was a 24-year-old, a first-round pick in 2011. He spent time as a part-time starter with the Astros in 2016 and 2017.So what might a similar deal look like for the Twins.Obviously this is a hypothetical, but I think it would take something similar to the below. I think that the package should be similar, but still a little less than what was required to acquire Cole.RHP Fernando Romero - Romero is currently 24-years-old and has spent parts of 2018 and 2019 in the big leagues. While his numbers in 2019, his first year as a bullpen arm, didn’t do great, his potential is still high.IF Travis Blankenhorn - He was just added to the 40-man roster, but like Martin, he split 2019 between High-A and AA and hit 19 home runs despite missing a bit more than a month with a broken finger.OF/1B - Brent Rooker - Can you imagine what Brent Rooker could do to baseballs in the Mile High City? Rooker had been in the Top 100 prospects last year but injuries cost him time in 2019. But his power is legit.RHP Griffin Jax - Now, when I put this together, I wasn’t sure if Jax would be added to the 40-man roster. The Denver (area) native wasn’t added to the 40-man roster, so he’s less likely to be tradable until after the Rule 5 draft. But there are any number of similar pitchers in the organization that the Rockies might have an interest in as well. If I were to keep the theme of Denver-area people, Bailey Ober might be a candidate. Or, might it take a pitcher with some big-league service time like a Devin Smeltzer or even Lewis Thorpe to be a sufficient final piece?Let’s be honest. There’s no way to know what the Rockies would ask for. Maybe instead of four similar prospects, they may ask for one big prospect with one lesser prospect, or maybe the fourth player in this deal could be two other players. SUMMARY The Twins - and every team in baseball - want to find the next Gerrit Cole.Rockies ace Jon Gray has a lot of similarities to Gerrit Cole pre-trade, both statistically and in terms of stuff.The Twins - and every team in baseball - will need to attempt to evaluate if they have ways that could make Gray take the next step toward becoming an elite starter.Determine how much your team is willing to trade in exchange for Jon Gray (and then go-ahead and try to convince the Rockies that it is enough).Hope! Hey, just because there are similarities between pitchers (age, size, stats and stuff) does not necessarily mean that they will have the same success. There is a lot of luck involved. But Derek Falvey has a reputation for developing pitchers. Wes Johnson got a lot of credit for some of the Twins pitching successes and improvements in 2019.If nothing else, it’s fun to think about. Finding the next Gerrit Cole is half the battle. Helping him develop into that pitcher is another thing. Maybe there are red flags, concerns about Jon Gray specifically. Maybe there are other issues that the Twins need to factor and consider. We can’t know it all, but as fans, we’ve been waiting for a true Ace since Johan Santana. Click here to view the article
  7. Every team in baseball should be salivating at the thought of adding either Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg to their starting rotation. Young aces simply don’t hit the free agent market often, and when they do the costs will be substantial. Minnesota can afford either (and even both), but I’d expect Cole to look at the West Coast or New York, while Strasburg returns to D.C. with on a hefty raise. That doesn’t mean all is lost for the Twins, but how they react is where this narrative begins. Going into 2019 the front office suggested a wait and see approach that was built on the premise of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano establishing their value. The former looks the part of a star (when healthy), and the latter showed he’s one of the best power hitters in the game. Neither of them was a linchpin in the 101-win season though, and Rocco Baldelli got strong performance by utilizing the full sum of his parts. Buxton and Sano can be key cogs, but the winning was as much alongside them as opposed to being because of them. Now with an established infrastructure of developmental talent, a big-league roster capable of competing with anyone, and opportunity as abundant as it may ever be, it’s time to follow in the footsteps of recent World Series winners and begin to capitalize on the window. I’d hardly be shocked if the win total takes a slight step backwards, but the goal is an extended presence into October. Here’s how that happens in 2020: 1. Cron is the odd man out in arbitration deals. After a nagging thumb injury in 2019, Cron should be all systems go in 2020. He was great before the thumb issue flared up, and I certainly have no problem with the Twins offering him an arbitration deal. Unfortunately, this projection includes a roster crunch, so C.J. becomes the lone arbitration-eligible player to not be tendered a new deal. 2. Make Anthony Rendon the big splash paying him $33 million for eight years. Last offseason I liked the idea of Josh Donaldson coming to the Twins. He was a former superstar and could be had at a discount. Going home to Georgia he had a very good bounce-back year. With plenty of money to spend, and the top two pitchers likely off the board, the next superstar opportunity is a better one. Anthony Rendon is an MVP-level talent, has been incredibly consistent, and joins one of the best lineups in baseball. I’m not sure Miguel Sano needs to move across the diamond yet, but there’s no reason this isn’t a good enough opportunity for him to do so. 3. Sign Zack Wheeler to a four-year, $72 million contract. At the top of Minnesota’s impact pitching list should be Zack Wheeler. Hiss secondary numbers are drool-inducing, and he’s already got plenty of velocity for Wes Johnson to work with. Allowing the Twins pitching coach to pull more from the 29-year-old and Baldelli would have a very impressive one-two punch at the top of his rotation. 4. Sign Jake Odorizzi to a three-year, $36 million contract. The Twins smartly handed Odorizzi a qualifying offer. He could take that and return at $17.8 million which would be just fine. It may also ward off some competition for his services, keeping the bidding on a longer-term deal. Two-years doesn’t seem enticing for the former Rays hurler if the alternative is a gaudy one-year pact, so go three and bolster the middle of the group. 5. Trade Eddie Rosario and Jhoan Duran to the Colorado Rockies for Jon Gray. Under team control for two more years, the former third overall pick is where I’m setting my sights in a swap for the Minnesota outfielder. Rosario can probably hit a boatload of bombas in the Rockies, while Gray can be expected to build on a career year in 2019. His FIP has suggested there’s more than the ERA has told us for a few years, and while the walks could be reduced, the strikeout stuff is going to play anywhere. At worst you’ve got a number four starter, and the upside is a guy to contend with Wheeler and Jose Berrios at the top. Duran was the main piece in the Eduardo Escobar deal, and he looked impressive during his first full season in the organization. 6. Sign Alex Gordon to a one-year, $2 million contract. Prioritizing defense is a must for the Twins in 2020. With Eddie Rosario gone, adding another plus-glove into the outfield mix as depth makes a lot of sense. Gordon isn’t the player he once was, but he’s still above average in the field and can play left as often as Marwin Gonzalez is elsewhere. Ideally, I’d like some center field depth, but I’d tell Max Kepler and Jake Cave to be as prepared as possible coming into spring training. Gordon is done with his massive Royals payday, and the $4 million buyout should reduce his 2020 ask as well. 7. Sign Robinson Chirinos to a one-year, $6 million contract. I’d be fine with Jason Castro returning on this same exact deal, if he’s open to it. Chirinos is an excellent backstop with a strong bat, and seemingly an impressive clubhouse presence. He recently wrapped up a season coming just shy of winning a World Series and could help push Minnesota toward that same exact goal. 8. Sign Drew Pomeranz and Sergio Romo to one-year deals for $3.5 and $3 million. The former gives Minnesota a second lefty option in the pen, and his former starting experience should allow for some length as well. A reunion with Romo would work in the clubhouse, and his slider is still as devastating as ever. Neither represent earth-shattering pen arms, but this is the easiest avenue toward improvement. Summary The most prolific power offense in the history of baseball returns in 2020, but with an added boost. Eddie Rosario ends up being dangled to acquire pitching but getting the best position player on the market makes up for that and then some. Rendon’s bat plays, and his glove may be even more important. I like Marwin in the outfield more than on the dirt, and Alex Gordon provides a defense-first bench option that the Twins haven’t had. Yes, the outfield prospects are close, but there’s still a clear path to playing time, and the Opening Day roster starts in a very good place. From a pitching perspective it’s a season of change. Odorizzi is back with Berrios, but the impact is felt from outside the organization. Wheeler represents a second bullet for Minnesota to mold into an ace, and he can bolster the top of the staff even if he doesn’t get there. Gray should benefit from leaving the Rockies, and a better organization can most certainly take his stuff up another level. I struggled with the idea of giving Brusdar Graterol a rotation spot out of the gate. He has never pitched more than 102 innings in a season, is coming off just 61 in 2019, and is still just 21-years-old. Ideally, he starts at Triple-A and settles back into starting. That said, I like his arm a good deal better than any fringe fifth starter, and if Minnesota deems that he beats out the likes of Lewis Thorpe then take off the training wheels. If there’s a weak spot to this roster it’s the same area 2019 started out with. The relief corps is composed of internally developed arms, which is only a strength if regression is to be denied. Rogers, May, Duffey, and Littell all return as near certainties. Stashak earned himself an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster, and Devin Smeltzer could be a nice long man in relief. Free agents, one returning, complete the group and Pomeranz looks to have some serious upside. Should the Twins find themselves cycling through arms too often out of the pen, or if there’s a lack of production, relief arms at the deadline are among the most easily acquirable commodities. When the dust settles this puts the Opening Day payroll at $143.4 million. That’s almost a $30 million jump from 2019, and a step up from the previous high-water mark in 2018 as well. This is the time to build, and this plan leaves the Twins with opportunity to add more in 2021 and puts forth a very strong group to defend their AL Central Division title. ~~~ What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long.
  8. There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins greatest need this offseason is pitching. The front office has stated their focus will be on arms defined as “impact” and filling out a rotation that’s virtually empty is a must. With the premiere arms having plenty of suitors, the Twins could turn to what they did best in 2019.Every team in baseball should be salivating at the thought of adding either Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg to their starting rotation. Young aces simply don’t hit the free agent market often, and when they do the costs will be substantial. Minnesota can afford either (and even both), but I’d expect Cole to look at the West Coast or New York, while Strasburg returns to D.C. with on a hefty raise. That doesn’t mean all is lost for the Twins, but how they react is where this narrative begins. Going into 2019 the front office suggested a wait and see approach that was built on the premise of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano establishing their value. The former looks the part of a star (when healthy), and the latter showed he’s one of the best power hitters in the game. Neither of them was a linchpin in the 101-win season though, and Rocco Baldelli got strong performance by utilizing the full sum of his parts. Buxton and Sano can be key cogs, but the winning was as much alongside them as opposed to being because of them. Now with an established infrastructure of developmental talent, a big-league roster capable of competing with anyone, and opportunity as abundant as it may ever be, it’s time to follow in the footsteps of recent World Series winners and begin to capitalize on the window. I’d hardly be shocked if the win total takes a slight step backwards, but the goal is an extended presence into October. Here’s how that happens in 2020: 1. Cron is the odd man out in arbitration deals. After a nagging thumb injury in 2019, Cron should be all systems go in 2020. He was great before the thumb issue flared up, and I certainly have no problem with the Twins offering him an arbitration deal. Unfortunately, this projection includes a roster crunch, so C.J. becomes the lone arbitration-eligible player to not be tendered a new deal. 2. Make Anthony Rendon the big splash paying him $33 million for eight years. Last offseason I liked the idea of Josh Donaldson coming to the Twins. He was a former superstar and could be had at a discount. Going home to Georgia he had a very good bounce-back year. With plenty of money to spend, and the top two pitchers likely off the board, the next superstar opportunity is a better one. Anthony Rendon is an MVP-level talent, has been incredibly consistent, and joins one of the best lineups in baseball. I’m not sure Miguel Sano needs to move across the diamond yet, but there’s no reason this isn’t a good enough opportunity for him to do so. 3. Sign Zack Wheeler to a four-year, $72 million contract. At the top of Minnesota’s impact pitching list should be Zack Wheeler. Hiss secondary numbers are drool-inducing, and he’s already got plenty of velocity for Wes Johnson to work with. Allowing the Twins pitching coach to pull more from the 29-year-old and Baldelli would have a very impressive one-two punch at the top of his rotation. 4. Sign Jake Odorizzi to a three-year, $36 million contract. The Twins smartly handed Odorizzi a qualifying offer. He could take that and return at $17.8 million which would be just fine. It may also ward off some competition for his services, keeping the bidding on a longer-term deal. Two-years doesn’t seem enticing for the former Rays hurler if the alternative is a gaudy one-year pact, so go three and bolster the middle of the group. 5. Trade Eddie Rosario and Jhoan Duran to the Colorado Rockies for Jon Gray. Under team control for two more years, the former third overall pick is where I’m setting my sights in a swap for the Minnesota outfielder. Rosario can probably hit a boatload of bombas in the Rockies, while Gray can be expected to build on a career year in 2019. His FIP has suggested there’s more than the ERA has told us for a few years, and while the walks could be reduced, the strikeout stuff is going to play anywhere. At worst you’ve got a number four starter, and the upside is a guy to contend with Wheeler and Jose Berrios at the top. Duran was the main piece in the Eduardo Escobar deal, and he looked impressive during his first full season in the organization. 6. Sign Alex Gordon to a one-year, $2 million contract. Prioritizing defense is a must for the Twins in 2020. With Eddie Rosario gone, adding another plus-glove into the outfield mix as depth makes a lot of sense. Gordon isn’t the player he once was, but he’s still above average in the field and can play left as often as Marwin Gonzalez is elsewhere. Ideally, I’d like some center field depth, but I’d tell Max Kepler and Jake Cave to be as prepared as possible coming into spring training. Gordon is done with his massive Royals payday, and the $4 million buyout should reduce his 2020 ask as well. 7. Sign Robinson Chirinos to a one-year, $6 million contract. I’d be fine with Jason Castro returning on this same exact deal, if he’s open to it. Chirinos is an excellent backstop with a strong bat, and seemingly an impressive clubhouse presence. He recently wrapped up a season coming just shy of winning a World Series and could help push Minnesota toward that same exact goal. 8. Sign Drew Pomeranz and Sergio Romo to one-year deals for $3.5 and $3 million. The former gives Minnesota a second lefty option in the pen, and his former starting experience should allow for some length as well. A reunion with Romo would work in the clubhouse, and his slider is still as devastating as ever. Neither represent earth-shattering pen arms, but this is the easiest avenue toward improvement. Summary The most prolific power offense in the history of baseball returns in 2020, but with an added boost. Eddie Rosario ends up being dangled to acquire pitching but getting the best position player on the market makes up for that and then some. Rendon’s bat plays, and his glove may be even more important. I like Marwin in the outfield more than on the dirt, and Alex Gordon provides a defense-first bench option that the Twins haven’t had. Yes, the outfield prospects are close, but there’s still a clear path to playing time, and the Opening Day roster starts in a very good place. Download attachment: Lineup.PNG From a pitching perspective it’s a season of change. Odorizzi is back with Berrios, but the impact is felt from outside the organization. Wheeler represents a second bullet for Minnesota to mold into an ace, and he can bolster the top of the staff even if he doesn’t get there. Gray should benefit from leaving the Rockies, and a better organization can most certainly take his stuff up another level. I struggled with the idea of giving Brusdar Graterol a rotation spot out of the gate. He has never pitched more than 102 innings in a season, is coming off just 61 in 2019, and is still just 21-years-old. Ideally, he starts at Triple-A and settles back into starting. That said, I like his arm a good deal better than any fringe fifth starter, and if Minnesota deems that he beats out the likes of Lewis Thorpe then take off the training wheels. Download attachment: Rotation.PNG If there’s a weak spot to this roster it’s the same area 2019 started out with. The relief corps is composed of internally developed arms, which is only a strength if regression is to be denied. Rogers, May, Duffey, and Littell all return as near certainties. Stashak earned himself an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster, and Devin Smeltzer could be a nice long man in relief. Free agents, one returning, complete the group and Pomeranz looks to have some serious upside. Should the Twins find themselves cycling through arms too often out of the pen, or if there’s a lack of production, relief arms at the deadline are among the most easily acquirable commodities. Download attachment: Bullpen.PNG When the dust settles this puts the Opening Day payroll at $143.4 million. That’s almost a $30 million jump from 2019, and a step up from the previous high-water mark in 2018 as well. This is the time to build, and this plan leaves the Twins with opportunity to add more in 2021 and puts forth a very strong group to defend their AL Central Division title. ~~~ What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long. Click here to view the article
  9. The Minnesota Twins are going to have money to spend and will need to spend to replenish the roster. What feels most Minnesotan is that the Twins will stretch those dollars as far as possible and sign a number of mid level free agents. What if they didn’t do that? What if the Twins were the team to bring in big salary and big names in a big trade. Here is what an offseason might look like if the Twins are able to bring in current Red Sox outfielder and former MVP Mookie Betts.This blueprint looks at capitalizing on one team's need to cut salary to avoid the luxury tax threshold and enter into the free agent market themselves. Before going too much further, lets lay out the big move and then explain why it may make any sense for the Twins to attempt to put together an offseason centered around such a move. 1. Trade Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Jordan Balazovic and Nick Gordon to the Boston Red Sox for OF Mookie Betts and LHP David Price Un-Minnesota right? The Twins get a top-10 MLB player in Betts who can hit, field and has an MVP on his resume. The major downside for anyone trading for Betts this offseason is that they will only get him for one season. Price may not be the dominant David Price we remember, but if he is healthy, he still has the ability to contribute to a major league starting staff. While his ERA was 4.28 in 2019 his FIP was 3.62 and still has a swinging strike rate above 11%. The concern with Price is his contract and a decrease in velocity. The biggest return the Red Sox get is nearly $60 million in contracts off the books in 2020 and and additional $32 million per season owed to Price the next two seasons. Boston also gets two major league ready pieces in Rosario, who steps into Betts' role, and Sano, who fills their need at first base. With a vacancy at second, Gordon becomes a candidate there, and Balazovic gives the Red Sox a talented and controllable young arm that they covet. It would be great if the Twins didn’t have to give up both Sano and Rosario, but it sounds like the Red Sox are going to want a good haul for Betts to move him. Now for the rest of the moves that help fit those big contracts into the Twins payroll. A payroll that will obviously need to increase but will try and do so within reason. 2. Tender all arbitration-eligible players This becomes necessary to fill roster spots in a relatively affordable way with the extra salary being brought on board. 3. Sign RHP Jake Odorizzi for three years, $36 million Odorizzi will never be an ace but has proven that he can still be a very valuable part to a playoff rotation. The Twins staff also clearly knows how to get that out of him and to continue to allow them to work with Odorizzi will hopefully help maintain if not improve on those results. 4. Sign RHP Sergio Romo for one year, $3 million At $3 million Romo comes in relatively affordably when it comes to quality playoff caliber arms. His personality and experience is also always welcome and with the bulk of the Twins payroll going elsewhere, Romo can continue to mentor and lead the bullpen. 5. Sign Kyle Barraclough for one year, $1 million I personally highlighted Barraclough last week but didn’t expect to actually use him anywhere in a blueprint. Here I am trying to find a bargain bin arm that could bounce back and have an impact for the Twins in the bullpen. The hope here is that Barraclough would be able to reduce his hard hit rate and continue to create swing and misses but with much better results than he had in 2019. 6. Trade OF Akil Baddoo and 2B/3B/OF Travis Blankenhorn to the Rockies for RHP Jon Gray This trade has the potential to be similar to what the Twins did with Odorizzi. Gray had a better season in 2019 than Odorizzi did before the Twins acquired him which is the reason for two prospects in this deal vs. the one when Odorizzi was acquired. Gray pitches with good velocity (96.1 mph) and induces ground balls at a high rate. He certainly can be a back end of the rotation starter, but hopefully the Twins could find the front-line starter the Rockies once thought they had in the right-hander. Gray has team control through 2021 and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $5.6 million this coming season. SUMMARY The lineup does look to lose a bit in the way of depth in comparison to the 2019 version of the Twins. There is no doubt that Betts makes the top end of the lineup much better. A healthy Cron hopefully contributes more to this lineup than he did down the stretch this past season. If not, there are the likes of Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach that the Twins could figure out how to get in the lineup in his place. Download attachment: Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.19.42 PM.png The starting rotation may still be lacking the true ace that is being sought. Berrios, Price, Odorizzi, and Gray each represent pitchers who have the potential to carry a team. Brusdar Graterol is also a possibility to figure in here. Graterol and Berrios likely represent the best chance for an emerging and dominant ace. Download attachment: Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.34.09 PM.png The hope here is that the bullpen was much better than what we saw of it in the playoffs, whether it was misuse or just bad execution. The 2020 Twins according to this blueprint will mostly need to see continued growth from many of these arms since it is mostly the same group returning. Download attachment: Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.34.19 PM.png Including the $0.5 million buyout for Martin Perez this puts the Twins payroll at $144.8 million. What would make this approach soar is if the front office got permission from ownership to spend even more to make the most of the one year of Betts. Maybe winning baseball for a second season would at least allow for payroll to be added at the trade deadline mid-summer. This approach would admittedly be a gamble. There is a lot going into 2020 and an added contract in Price’s that has the potential to soak up a large chunk of the payroll for the next three seasons. Betts is the type of player that may just be worth the gamble. Check out these other Offseason Blueprints: Building a Bullpenner What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long. Click here to view the article
  10. This blueprint looks at capitalizing on one team's need to cut salary to avoid the luxury tax threshold and enter into the free agent market themselves. Before going too much further, lets lay out the big move and then explain why it may make any sense for the Twins to attempt to put together an offseason centered around such a move. 1. Trade Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Jordan Balazovic and Nick Gordon to the Boston Red Sox for OF Mookie Betts and LHP David Price Un-Minnesota right? The Twins get a top-10 MLB player in Betts who can hit, field and has an MVP on his resume. The major downside for anyone trading for Betts this offseason is that they will only get him for one season. Price may not be the dominant David Price we remember, but if he is healthy, he still has the ability to contribute to a major league starting staff. While his ERA was 4.28 in 2019 his FIP was 3.62 and still has a swinging strike rate above 11%. The concern with Price is his contract and a decrease in velocity. The biggest return the Red Sox get is nearly $60 million in contracts off the books in 2020 and and additional $32 million per season owed to Price the next two seasons. Boston also gets two major league ready pieces in Rosario, who steps into Betts' role, and Sano, who fills their need at first base. With a vacancy at second, Gordon becomes a candidate there, and Balazovic gives the Red Sox a talented and controllable young arm that they covet. It would be great if the Twins didn’t have to give up both Sano and Rosario, but it sounds like the Red Sox are going to want a good haul for Betts to move him. Now for the rest of the moves that help fit those big contracts into the Twins payroll. A payroll that will obviously need to increase but will try and do so within reason. 2. Tender all arbitration-eligible players This becomes necessary to fill roster spots in a relatively affordable way with the extra salary being brought on board. 3. Sign RHP Jake Odorizzi for three years, $36 million Odorizzi will never be an ace but has proven that he can still be a very valuable part to a playoff rotation. The Twins staff also clearly knows how to get that out of him and to continue to allow them to work with Odorizzi will hopefully help maintain if not improve on those results. 4. Sign RHP Sergio Romo for one year, $3 million At $3 million Romo comes in relatively affordably when it comes to quality playoff caliber arms. His personality and experience is also always welcome and with the bulk of the Twins payroll going elsewhere, Romo can continue to mentor and lead the bullpen. 5. Sign Kyle Barraclough for one year, $1 million I personally highlighted Barraclough last week but didn’t expect to actually use him anywhere in a blueprint. Here I am trying to find a bargain bin arm that could bounce back and have an impact for the Twins in the bullpen. The hope here is that Barraclough would be able to reduce his hard hit rate and continue to create swing and misses but with much better results than he had in 2019. 6. Trade OF Akil Baddoo and 2B/3B/OF Travis Blankenhorn to the Rockies for RHP Jon Gray This trade has the potential to be similar to what the Twins did with Odorizzi. Gray had a better season in 2019 than Odorizzi did before the Twins acquired him which is the reason for two prospects in this deal vs. the one when Odorizzi was acquired. Gray pitches with good velocity (96.1 mph) and induces ground balls at a high rate. He certainly can be a back end of the rotation starter, but hopefully the Twins could find the front-line starter the Rockies once thought they had in the right-hander. Gray has team control through 2021 and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $5.6 million this coming season. SUMMARY The lineup does look to lose a bit in the way of depth in comparison to the 2019 version of the Twins. There is no doubt that Betts makes the top end of the lineup much better. A healthy Cron hopefully contributes more to this lineup than he did down the stretch this past season. If not, there are the likes of Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach that the Twins could figure out how to get in the lineup in his place. The starting rotation may still be lacking the true ace that is being sought. Berrios, Price, Odorizzi, and Gray each represent pitchers who have the potential to carry a team. Brusdar Graterol is also a possibility to figure in here. Graterol and Berrios likely represent the best chance for an emerging and dominant ace. The hope here is that the bullpen was much better than what we saw of it in the playoffs, whether it was misuse or just bad execution. The 2020 Twins according to this blueprint will mostly need to see continued growth from many of these arms since it is mostly the same group returning. Including the $0.5 million buyout for Martin Perez this puts the Twins payroll at $144.8 million. What would make this approach soar is if the front office got permission from ownership to spend even more to make the most of the one year of Betts. Maybe winning baseball for a second season would at least allow for payroll to be added at the trade deadline mid-summer. This approach would admittedly be a gamble. There is a lot going into 2020 and an added contract in Price’s that has the potential to soak up a large chunk of the payroll for the next three seasons. Betts is the type of player that may just be worth the gamble. Check out these other Offseason Blueprints: Building a Bullpenner What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long.
  11. Today officially marks the beginning of free agency for the 2020 Major League Baseball season. The Minnesota Twins have some serious work to do with four-fifths of their starting rotation up for grabs, and a 100-win season to replicate. Rocco Baldelli will be angling for a second straight AL Central Division title, and the goal for the foreseeable future in Twins Territory will be Postseason berths. While working through a full blueprint to outline a 25-man roster for the Twins I found myself getting hung up on a few key areas. I think we’re going to see a handful of moves that may come as a surprise, and rather than trying to pinpoint each, a better plan of action seemed to come with a top down view. While remaining somewhat specific, here’s how I’d handle things going into 2020: Start with the Rotation: Jose Berrios is locked in. I’d try to get him extended on a long-term deal again. Minnesota has approached his camp previously, but talks have not moved forward. He’s a few steps from a Cy Young arm, and at that point, he won’t have interest in avoiding the open market. Even if the Twins offer Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg significantly over market rate, I’d imagine both say no. Falvey should be all in on both arms, but the lure of a bigger market or home on the west coast probably proves too strong. This is where you pivot. Zack Wheeler is the best pitcher available in the Twins wheelhouse, and he’s a very good one. Make him a priority and get that done as soon as possible. Two 2019 options should also be leveraged as possible returnees. Minnesota should offer both Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda a qualifying offer. The former could turn that into a two or three year deal while the later could then be had at roughly $13 million accounting for his remaining suspension. The final rotation spot would then be filled out by a trade. There’s too much firepower on the Twins farm not to execute something, and Eddie Rosario represents an expendable big-league asset. Utilize the depth to go and get someone like Jon Gray, Joe Musgrove, or Matt Boyd. Aiming even higher to a proven commodity as Twins Daily’s Nick Nelson suggested might be interesting as well. Add to the Lineup: It’s fair to assume that regression is going to hit for the 2020 Twins. What’s also worth noting is that any changes to the baseball will have a widespread impact. Minnesota hit bombas because of a strong plate approach, and that will play regardless of what composition the baseball encompasses. That being said, a great deterrent to a step backwards offensively is adding more offense. The Twins have a boatload, something like $70 million, to spend this offseason. With Wheeler being the likely high-water mark on the mound, there’s going to be plenty to go around. Instead of overpaying similar candidates on the bump, choose the guy(s) that makes the most financial sense add allocate the funds towards high impact help elsewhere. I’ve talked myself into this, look at Anthony Rendon. The Twins could bring back C.J. Cron, and barring better wrist health, he should see a nice boost. They could also move Miguel Sano across the diamond and angle for a substantial upgrade at the hot corner with some intriguing options. Rendon is an MVP-type superstar and has plenty of good years ahead of him. I’m not as keen on 34-year-old Josh Donaldson as I was last year, because he’ll now want a multi-year deal, but that’s not a bad option either. If the Cubs are truly inclined to move Kris Bryant, and there’s a belief in his health, I’d absolutely explore that scenario as well. At the end of the day it comes down to this; if you can’t spend the money on pitching, you need to spend it elsewhere and aiming high is far better than adding quantity. Rounding out the offense would include an additional outfielder and a catcher. Whether or not Eddie Rosario is traded a guy that could be had on a one-year deal makes sense. I like the idea of Corey Dickerson as a corner outfielder with on-base skills and some pop. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a very strong defender, which is a facet of the game Minnesota needs to improve on. Cameron Maybin is also somewhat intriguing with the ability to play some centerfield. Behind the plate you operate with Mitch Garver as the starter. He needs to play more often than he did in 2019, but there could be a decent amount of truth to him being at his best with significant rest. Pairing him with a nice defender that can also hit makes sense and going the route of former Houston Astro Robinson Chirinos is to my liking. He’s got good on base skills, hits better than a traditional catcher, and isn’t a hack behind the plate. Shore up the Bullpen: Coming out of the winter and into Spring Training there was nothing more problematic than Minnesota’s bullpen. It looked the part of a dumpster fire that was going to struggle getting anyone out. Then the development of some internal arms took place and Baldelli’s group was one of the best in baseball down the stretch. Zack Littell, Tyler Duffey, and Trevor May have all worked their way into a circle of trust. Wes Johnson will still need three or four other arms to complete the group, however. Rather than pushing Lewis Thorpe or Brusdar Graterol to the pen full time, bringing in some hired guns is the way to go. Sergio Romo should be welcomed back, but there’s no reason to pigeonhole that move either. Drew Pomeranz could be a nice second lefty, and any number of arms make sense to round out the group. Will Smith is the cream of the crop, but Will Harris and Jake Diekman types have purpose as well. To summarize how I’d plan I’ll say this: For the first time in a while, spend. The window is open, you know what you have, and the prospect depth is coming close to maturation. Whether you can land the big fish on the mound or not is always going to be tough with plenty of suitors and a less-than-ideal-destination, but those resources need to go elsewhere then. Minnesota should clear $140 million in payroll this winter, and $150 million is far from unrealistic. Do as much as you can on the mound, and then look to make the additional impact throughout the roster. Minnesota is no longer in a wait and see mode. The capability of youth has been understood, the veterans have provided plenty of production, and the circumstances are now on your side. There’s been complaints for years that have been somewhat misguided without that trifecta being a reality. In 2020, there’s nothing holding the organization back but itself, and it’s time to remove that barrier. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  12. If the Minnesota Twins are going to put a focus on adding impact pitching this offseason, the reality is they’ll need to venture outside of free agency to accomplish their goals. Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg represent commodities rarely seen on the open market, and they both could be called home to California. I definitely am in on making Zack Wheeler an offer he can’t turn down, but things get messy from there. With prospect capital and some expendable big leaguers, the time to swing a deal appears ideal as well. There’s little reason for any team to part with their best pitcher regardless of current situation. Luis Castillo is an absolute stud in Cincinnati, but the Reds just made a move to get Trevor Bauer last season. Instead of targeting the slam dunk, Minnesota needs to go and find their version of Cole or Justin Verlander or follow the White Sox footsteps in acquiring a guy like Lucas Giolito. All those arms are among the best in the game, but that same definition couldn’t be applied when they switched teams. So, where do the Twins turn their focus? Colorado Rockies- Jon Gray or German Marquez Under team control for two more seasons, Gray was the third overall pick in the 2013 draft. He has sandwiched two strong seasons around a clunker over the course of the last three. The strikeouts are there, and so too is the velocity. Walks are a bit problematic, and the longball has hurt him while playing at Coors Field. Get him to Target Field and let Wes Johnson work some magic. A teammate of Gray, German Marquez is also very intriguing. He’s younger, under team control for a year longer, and arguably has the better profile. Another strikeout arm, who possesses strong command, has been bit heavily by the longball in Colorado. Despite the 4.76 ERA in 2019, Marquez owned a 3.54 xFIP which followed up a 3.10 mark the year prior. He was my dark horse Cy Young pick this season, and he absolutely looked the part for stretches. Pittsburgh Pirates- Joe Musgrove Another former first round pick, Musgrove would be on his third team if dealt, but he too is not a free agent until 2023. He’s never posted a sub 4.00 ERA and the K/9 has never entered 9.0 territory. He doesn’t issue many walks, is moderate with the home run, and could be just a few tweaks from the next step. His hard-hit rate spiked to a career worst 37% this season, but he’s never generated more whiffs. If the Twins believe in their pitching infrastructure, here’s another arm they could salivate about working with. Detroit Tigers- Matthew Boyd The end result couldn’t be further from where he was at the midway point, but Boyd’s final 11.6 K/9 is nasty. He has yet to put it together over the course of a full season, but 2019 was definitely the closest he’s been, and the 3.88 xFIP tells a fairer story. You may pay a premium dealing within the division, but Detroit isn’t going to be good before Boyd hits free agency in 2023. He was dangled at the deadline, and the winter may provide more opportunity. Atlanta Braves- Max Fried or Mike Foltynewicz Brian Snitker has his ace in the form of Mike Soroka. This team is going to be good for a while, but they also have some very real holes to fill. Fried would have a massive price tag being under team control through 2024, but his first full season as a starter went well. The 4.02 ERA was backed by a 3.72 FIP and 3.32 xFIP. He has strikeout stuff and was able to take a big step forward in the command department. Having been demoted to Triple-A, and roughed up in his final Postseason appearance, Mike Foltynewicz may benefit from a change of scenery. After generating Cy Young votes a season ago, he put up a 4.54 ERA in 2019. After heading to the farm with a 6.37 mark through June, Folty returned to the tune of a 2.65 ERA across his final 10 starts. If there’s an opportunity to take advantage here, Minnesota would be wise to do so. Arizona Diamondbacks- Robbie Ray Another guy that was talked about heavily during the deadline, Ray is entering the final year of arbitration eligibility. He’s posted a 12.0 K/9 or better for the past three seasons, and while durability concerns persist, he’s electric while on the bump. The walk and home run rates aren’t pretty, but given the length of his contract, he could also have one of the lower acquisition costs across moveable assets. This Twins front office is also familiar with Arizona having swung the Eduardo Escobar deal a couple of seasons ago. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  13. The Minnesota Twins are in store for a starting rotation overhaul this offseason with only Jose Berrios and Martin Perez under contract. The free agent market will definitely be explored, but the area the Twins could land a top of the rotation starter might be the trade market. With the opportunity to win wide open along with an abundance of prospects, the time is now for Falvey and Levine to make a trade.I will be listing four starters the Twins could acquire via trade along with their age, team and free agency year. While none of them are Noah Sydergaard or Max Scherzer, the trades I listed would definitely help the team. Detroit Tigers: Matthew Boyd, 28, 2023 Free Agent 2019 statistics: 4.56 ERA, 4.32 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, 4.76 K/BB, 3.3 WARBoyd will be very interesting to monitor over the offseason. He was being shopped at the trade deadline, but Detroit was persistent on wanting major league talent which teams in contention were obviously reluctant to part ways with. The hope is that now, after a rough second half (5.51 ERA), the price will drop enough for a team to acquire him. The Tigers southpaw is extremely talented, but his main problem was giving up the long ball (worst HR/9 in MLB at 1.89). He held an elite 11.56 K/9 while his walk rate dropped from 2018. Boyd would hold a top two or three spot in the rotation until 2023. Now it just depends on what Detroit is asking for. Colorado Rockies: Jon Gray, 27, 2022 Free Agent 2019 statistics: 3.84 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 1.35 WHIP, 2.68 K/BB, 2.9 WARThe Rockies are coming off a 91-loss season and could be looking to part ways with a starting pitcher. Gray would be a nice piece for the middle of the Twins rotation, and the Rockies could be a solid team for Eddie Rosario to potentially join because of Coors Field. A trade for Gray would likely require three players who can contribute now or very soon. Pittsburgh Pirates: Joe Musgrove, 26, 2023 Free Agent 2019 statistics: 4.44 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, 4.03 K/BB, 3.3 WARMusgrove is someone whom no one is really talking about, and I first heard his name from Twins Daily contributor Matt Braun on Twitter. He is coming off his best season and at 26-years-old with three years of control, he would slide right in to the long-term rotation plans. He has a fastball/sinker combo that was hit hard last season, but an excellent slider and changeup make for an interesting Wes Johnson fix. Arizona Diamondbacks: Robbie Ray. 28, 2021 Free Agent 2019 statistics: 4.34 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 1.34 WHIP, 2.4 WARRobbie Ray is interesting because he would be a one-year rental, but if the Diamondbacks are open to selling him for a small price then it would be a solid move. Ray is someone I was really hoping the Twins would acquire at the deadline, but ultimately the price was just too high. Hopefully now that Arizona is unlikely to win in 2020, he will be easier to acquire and could slide in as an excellent number four starter. Click here to view the article
  14. I will be listing four starters the Twins could acquire via trade along with their age, team and free agency year. While none of them are Noah Sydergaard or Max Scherzer, the trades I listed would definitely help the team. Detroit Tigers: Matthew Boyd, 28, 2023 Free Agent 2019 statistics: 4.56 ERA, 4.32 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, 4.76 K/BB, 3.3 WAR Boyd will be very interesting to monitor over the offseason. He was being shopped at the trade deadline, but Detroit was persistent on wanting major league talent which teams in contention were obviously reluctant to part ways with. The hope is that now, after a rough second half (5.51 ERA), the price will drop enough for a team to acquire him. The Tigers southpaw is extremely talented, but his main problem was giving up the long ball (worst HR/9 in MLB at 1.89). He held an elite 11.56 K/9 while his walk rate dropped from 2018. Boyd would hold a top two or three spot in the rotation until 2023. Now it just depends on what Detroit is asking for. Colorado Rockies: Jon Gray, 27, 2022 Free Agent 2019 statistics: 3.84 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 1.35 WHIP, 2.68 K/BB, 2.9 WAR The Rockies are coming off a 91-loss season and could be looking to part ways with a starting pitcher. Gray would be a nice piece for the middle of the Twins rotation, and the Rockies could be a solid team for Eddie Rosario to potentially join because of Coors Field. A trade for Gray would likely require three players who can contribute now or very soon. Pittsburgh Pirates: Joe Musgrove, 26, 2023 Free Agent 2019 statistics: 4.44 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, 4.03 K/BB, 3.3 WAR Musgrove is someone whom no one is really talking about, and I first heard his name from Twins Daily contributor Matt Braun on Twitter. He is coming off his best season and at 26-years-old with three years of control, he would slide right in to the long-term rotation plans. He has a fastball/sinker combo that was hit hard last season, but an excellent slider and changeup make for an interesting Wes Johnson fix. Arizona Diamondbacks: Robbie Ray. 28, 2021 Free Agent 2019 statistics: 4.34 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 1.34 WHIP, 2.4 WAR Robbie Ray is interesting because he would be a one-year rental, but if the Diamondbacks are open to selling him for a small price then it would be a solid move. Ray is someone I was really hoping the Twins would acquire at the deadline, but ultimately the price was just too high. Hopefully now that Arizona is unlikely to win in 2020, he will be easier to acquire and could slide in as an excellent number four starter.
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