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  1. This offseason, after dealing Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers, Minnesota flipped Josh Donaldson and Ben Rortvedt to the New York Yankees for Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez. They filled two starting lineup spots with the trade, but there’s yet to be production from either player. In 2019 and 2020 the former Guardians veteran became one of baseball’s best at the hot corner. Gio Urshela posted a .310/.359/.523 slash line and hit 27 homers across 175 games. The Yankees made him a fixture in their lineup and he was seen as a key contributor after taking the position from Miguel Andujar. Urshela went through it for the first time since his breakout last year. After posting a 134 OPS+ in 2019 and 2020, he contributed a below league-average 95 OPS+. Given his dealings with Covid multiple times, as well as suffering injury, it was explainable why the production had dipped. The hope for Minnesota was undoubtedly that a change of scenery and clean bill of health would result in rebounding to where he was at his peak. Now 30-years-old, Urshela is 27 games into his Twins career and the 83 OPS+ is a bottoming out of sorts. He hasn’t dropped to the irrelevance of his time in Cleveland, but at a time when offense is down across the board, he’s finding ways to contribute even less. Urshela is not a hulking slugger by any means, but across nearly 100 plate appearances he has just three extra-base hits and only one homer. If there’s a silver lining for Urshela, it’s that we may just be dealing with a small sample. His expected batting average is 30 points higher at .263 and his xwOBA sits near the 2019 mark at .338. He’s at his career average when it comes to hard-hit rate, and Urshela still has a good process at the plate posting just a 12/9 K/BB. Rocco Baldelli is certainly hoping his third basemen figures it out, otherwise, that could be an avenue for someone like Royce Lewis or Luis Arraez to steal playing time. Behind the dish was never going to be a calling card for Gary Sanchez, regardless of a new change in scenery. He’s a rough backstop, but his bat used to carry him. Coincidentally, Sanchez’s 83 OPS+ is the exact same mark as his trade partner, Urshela. There was a time the Dominican native was competing for Rookie of the Year awards and picking up All-Star game selections. 2019 and his .841 OPS seem like a distant memory at this point, however. The last two seasons in New York equated to a 90 OPS+ for Sanchez, and he’s now dipped well below. Across 80 plate appearances, Sanchez owns a .203/.263/.338 slash line. He is a power producer but has homered only once while tacking on seven doubles. Unlike Urshela, Sanchez’s expected batting average is actually worse than what he’s generated and although the xwOBA is better, it’s insignificant with just an eight-point swing. Sanchez is still hitting with a similar hard-hit rate to when he was at his best in 2019, but he’s bumped the fly all rate up to 53% and halved a very solid 20% line drive rate from that season. Getting too far under the baseball, and being bit by a ball that’s deadened, Sanchez has just a 3.6% HR/FB ratio after seeing a whopping 26.4% ratio in 2019. Although he’s making the most contact of his career, pitchers are also forcing him to chase at a career-worst rate. For Sanchez the bat has to play for there to be any value. He’s been worth -0.3 fWAR because it hasn’t and his time behind the dish will always be flawed. Minnesota doesn’t have other options at catcher and that makes the leash extremely long here. Still, getting him anything more than rotational at-bats becomes unnecessary if this is the production Baldelli can expect. It was a fine move to swap out Josh Donaldson. His place in the clubhouse may not have been ideal, and the move freed up the opportunity to sign Carlos Correa. That said, the Twins can’t afford to have a lineup with two players producing so little offensively. New York has bit Minnesota plenty over the years, and right now it’s happening from within. How long are you willing to wait and find out if these two find it? View full article
  2. In 2019 and 2020 the former Guardians veteran became one of baseball’s best at the hot corner. Gio Urshela posted a .310/.359/.523 slash line and hit 27 homers across 175 games. The Yankees made him a fixture in their lineup and he was seen as a key contributor after taking the position from Miguel Andujar. Urshela went through it for the first time since his breakout last year. After posting a 134 OPS+ in 2019 and 2020, he contributed a below league-average 95 OPS+. Given his dealings with Covid multiple times, as well as suffering injury, it was explainable why the production had dipped. The hope for Minnesota was undoubtedly that a change of scenery and clean bill of health would result in rebounding to where he was at his peak. Now 30-years-old, Urshela is 27 games into his Twins career and the 83 OPS+ is a bottoming out of sorts. He hasn’t dropped to the irrelevance of his time in Cleveland, but at a time when offense is down across the board, he’s finding ways to contribute even less. Urshela is not a hulking slugger by any means, but across nearly 100 plate appearances he has just three extra-base hits and only one homer. If there’s a silver lining for Urshela, it’s that we may just be dealing with a small sample. His expected batting average is 30 points higher at .263 and his xwOBA sits near the 2019 mark at .338. He’s at his career average when it comes to hard-hit rate, and Urshela still has a good process at the plate posting just a 12/9 K/BB. Rocco Baldelli is certainly hoping his third basemen figures it out, otherwise, that could be an avenue for someone like Royce Lewis or Luis Arraez to steal playing time. Behind the dish was never going to be a calling card for Gary Sanchez, regardless of a new change in scenery. He’s a rough backstop, but his bat used to carry him. Coincidentally, Sanchez’s 83 OPS+ is the exact same mark as his trade partner, Urshela. There was a time the Dominican native was competing for Rookie of the Year awards and picking up All-Star game selections. 2019 and his .841 OPS seem like a distant memory at this point, however. The last two seasons in New York equated to a 90 OPS+ for Sanchez, and he’s now dipped well below. Across 80 plate appearances, Sanchez owns a .203/.263/.338 slash line. He is a power producer but has homered only once while tacking on seven doubles. Unlike Urshela, Sanchez’s expected batting average is actually worse than what he’s generated and although the xwOBA is better, it’s insignificant with just an eight-point swing. Sanchez is still hitting with a similar hard-hit rate to when he was at his best in 2019, but he’s bumped the fly all rate up to 53% and halved a very solid 20% line drive rate from that season. Getting too far under the baseball, and being bit by a ball that’s deadened, Sanchez has just a 3.6% HR/FB ratio after seeing a whopping 26.4% ratio in 2019. Although he’s making the most contact of his career, pitchers are also forcing him to chase at a career-worst rate. For Sanchez the bat has to play for there to be any value. He’s been worth -0.3 fWAR because it hasn’t and his time behind the dish will always be flawed. Minnesota doesn’t have other options at catcher and that makes the leash extremely long here. Still, getting him anything more than rotational at-bats becomes unnecessary if this is the production Baldelli can expect. It was a fine move to swap out Josh Donaldson. His place in the clubhouse may not have been ideal, and the move freed up the opportunity to sign Carlos Correa. That said, the Twins can’t afford to have a lineup with two players producing so little offensively. New York has bit Minnesota plenty over the years, and right now it’s happening from within. How long are you willing to wait and find out if these two find it?
  3. Over the weekend, Gio Urshela played his first game for the Minnesota Twins. After being acquired alongside Gary Sanchez in a deal with the New York Yankees, Minnesota pivoted towards a fresh face at the hot corner. Under team control through 2023, he could present a stabilizing force for the Twins. It was never going to make sense for Minnesota’s front office to push Josh Donaldson out solely to reduce payroll. Despite his flaws, he was still relatively healthy last season and posted good numbers. Heeding the advice of avoiding a salary dump, the Twins netted Urshela in exchange. Coming off a down 2021, it’s fair to temper expectations, but there’s plenty of reason to be excited. There was never any real belief that Urshela had somehow lost it last season. He dealt with Covid and injury despite still playing over 100 games. However, his .720 OPS was well off the .881 mark that saw him find a home in New York. Brought into a clubhouse where enjoyment seems high, Urshela creating a home with the Twins wouldn’t be surprising. Before Opening Day, Byron Buxton called the atmosphere in the clubhouse “night and day” different as opposed to last season. That may not be directly tied to Donaldson, but there’s no shortage of instances where he’s been seen as someone who could rub people the wrong way. Urshela taking over at the same position gives a reason to compare numbers, and his production may have been lost in the shuffle during the opening weekend. Ceding paying time to Luis Arraez against righties, Urshela drew two starts and had seven plate appearances. He walked twice while also picking up his first blast at Target Field. Even with a friendlier home field last season, Urshela didn’t go yard until his sixth game of the season in 2021. Obviously, there isn’t much to draw from such a small sample size, but it stands to reason that Urshela may see the same bounceback as the guy he was dealt with. Sanchez lifted the Twins in a big way providing a grand slam during their first win, and Urshela settling into a different market may be a significant narrative to come out of this season as well. Minnesota certainly has prospects that could push for Urshela’s job if he struggles, but seeing the former Cleveland third basemen contribute so quickly was exciting, to say the least. While Urshela is already 30-years-old, he was a late bloomer and really didn’t come on until his age-27 season. He’s not going to be a franchise cornerstone by any means, but you have to be excited about the opportunity to create consistency with him. Miguel Sano could never hold the hot corner down, and Minnesota fans never knew when Donaldson would wind up on the Injured List. Consistency is something Urshela has shown previously, and if the maladies can stay behind him, seeing him re-establish himself would be great news for Rocco Baldelli’s lineup. It’s too early to draw conclusions, but the opening impression has been a good one. Urshela will continue to mix spots with Arraez, but finding regular opportunity shouldn't be hard if the Twins unlock the hitter that destroyed every arm he faced just a couple of seasons ago. View full article
  4. It was never going to make sense for Minnesota’s front office to push Josh Donaldson out solely to reduce payroll. Despite his flaws, he was still relatively healthy last season and posted good numbers. Heeding the advice of avoiding a salary dump, the Twins netted Urshela in exchange. Coming off a down 2021, it’s fair to temper expectations, but there’s plenty of reason to be excited. There was never any real belief that Urshela had somehow lost it last season. He dealt with Covid and injury despite still playing over 100 games. However, his .720 OPS was well off the .881 mark that saw him find a home in New York. Brought into a clubhouse where enjoyment seems high, Urshela creating a home with the Twins wouldn’t be surprising. Before Opening Day, Byron Buxton called the atmosphere in the clubhouse “night and day” different as opposed to last season. That may not be directly tied to Donaldson, but there’s no shortage of instances where he’s been seen as someone who could rub people the wrong way. Urshela taking over at the same position gives a reason to compare numbers, and his production may have been lost in the shuffle during the opening weekend. Ceding paying time to Luis Arraez against righties, Urshela drew two starts and had seven plate appearances. He walked twice while also picking up his first blast at Target Field. Even with a friendlier home field last season, Urshela didn’t go yard until his sixth game of the season in 2021. Obviously, there isn’t much to draw from such a small sample size, but it stands to reason that Urshela may see the same bounceback as the guy he was dealt with. Sanchez lifted the Twins in a big way providing a grand slam during their first win, and Urshela settling into a different market may be a significant narrative to come out of this season as well. Minnesota certainly has prospects that could push for Urshela’s job if he struggles, but seeing the former Cleveland third basemen contribute so quickly was exciting, to say the least. While Urshela is already 30-years-old, he was a late bloomer and really didn’t come on until his age-27 season. He’s not going to be a franchise cornerstone by any means, but you have to be excited about the opportunity to create consistency with him. Miguel Sano could never hold the hot corner down, and Minnesota fans never knew when Donaldson would wind up on the Injured List. Consistency is something Urshela has shown previously, and if the maladies can stay behind him, seeing him re-establish himself would be great news for Rocco Baldelli’s lineup. It’s too early to draw conclusions, but the opening impression has been a good one. Urshela will continue to mix spots with Arraez, but finding regular opportunity shouldn't be hard if the Twins unlock the hitter that destroyed every arm he faced just a couple of seasons ago.
  5. With one stunning and historic move, the Minnesota Twins completely flipped the script on an underwhelming offseason, acquiring a superstar in his prime with an unprecedented free agency splash. Let's get up to speed on where things stand and what's still ahead. Spring training is fully underway but that doesn't mean Hot Stove SZN is over. The Twins made a huge addition over the weekend and seemingly have at least one more on tap. Pressure is building to check off the final boxes ahead of the season opener in just 18 days. What does the front office still need to accomplish and what are their options? Donaldson Trade Clears the Books I posted the last of these offseason status updates last Sunday night, figuring that at 9:22 PM I could safely assume the news cycle had settled, and the whirlwind weekend's moves were finished. But if there's been one lesson from the past week, it's that the news cycle never sleeps. Literally minutes after clicking publish on an article reviewing the Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Sonny Gray trades, I learned of another blockbuster going down: the Twins dealt Josh Donaldson, along with Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt, to the Yankees in exchange for Gary Sánchez, Gio Urshela, and a bunch of salary relief. With that, Minnesota's short-lived and unfulfilling engagement with Donaldson came to an end. It was a signing that ultimately illustrated the hazards of spending big on aging veteran talent. The Twins can consider themselves lucky to get out of the last two years, even though they had to actively worsen their roster to do it. In the wake of this shakeup, many unknowns were in play. But among the few things we DID know: "The Twins now have all kinds of flexibility to make at least one HUGE move." What would it be? Twins Shock the World with Correa Signing For five days, we all sat mired in uncertainty, wondering how the Twins planned to flex their newfound financial clout. As reports emerged of Trevor Story leaning toward other destinations, anxiety started to rise. Had the front office boxed itself into a corner? Nah. They went out and signed the No. 1 free agent on the entire market, landing Carlos Correa in an absolute game-changing stunner. The three-year, $105.3 million contract makes Correa the highest-paid infielder in the game, and addresses the club's need at shortstop decisively. (For now.) In all likelihood, it'll end up being a one-year deal, as Correa has the ability to opt out following either the 2022 or 2023 season. His aim is clearly to put together a good year, return to a less-crowded FA shortstop market next year, and score the $300+ million payday he desired. But that's okay. Getting an MVP-caliber player at age 27 on a one-year pact is a win, even if the framework of the deal creates a bit of team risk. On Sunday, Story signed with the Red Sox for six years and $140 million, prioritizing length of the deal over AAV. Meanwhile, the Yankees were basically left out in the cold. You hate to see it. Still in Need of a Starter Perhaps New York can still claim a victory in all of this late offseason action. They are reportedly among the teams in on Oakland's Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea. With so much steam around the two front-line starters and their availability, that situation feels like the last big domino yet to fall. The Twins have also been repeatedly connected to the Athletics in rumors, which only makes sense because they let every free agent starter come off the board while failing to adequately address their starting pitching needs. Even fallback mid-tier options like Michael Pineda and Tyler Anderson are now gone, and Minnesota has a glaring hole after (or ahead of?) Gray atop their rotation. Chi Chi Gonzalez might add some welcome veteran depth on a minors deal, but he's not moving the MLB needle in any way. The Twins almost HAVE to make a trade in order to put the finishing touches on a complete offseason. Are they willing to meet the extraordinary price that extracting Montas will surely require? Or will they opt instead for Manaea, who has only one year of team control left but will command a lesser return? Could they acquire ... both? Given how the Twins have operated this offseason – conditioning us to expect the unexpected – something tells me the most likely outcome is none of the above. They'll find a way to surprise us by zagging while everyone anticipates the zig. Stay tuned. Bullpen Gets a Veteran Boost With all the attention being paid to starting pitchers and shortstops, the team's bullpen needs have been more or less on the backburner. Outside of grabbing Jharel Cotton before the lockout, and bringing back the likes of Juan Minaya and Danny Coulombe on minors deals, the Twins hadn't taken much action to offset their various question marks in relief. On Saturday they did something about that, signing veteran right-hander Joe Smith to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. I would describe this as a low-wattage signing; the sidearmer, who turns 38 on Tuesday, hasn't put together a complete quality season since 2017. But he's been a pretty reliable righty specialist throughout his career and that was a need. We'll see if the front office has anything else in store for the bullpen. Remaining options are limited. I wouldn't be the least surprised to see them lean primarily on internal arms in rounding out this unit. Griffin Jax looked really good in his first spring appearance and is one to watch. Lewis Thorpe is out of options. Roster & Payroll Projection Accounting for all of this wheeling and dealing, here's an updated look at the Twins' projected roster and spending commitments for this season. The payroll currently stands at about $122.5M, which is $7.5M short of their baseline target. With the news that Randy Dobnak is still bothered by his finger and unlikely for Opening Day, I've moved him out of the bullpen picture and added his (meager) guaranteed salary to the "Dead Money" section." I still see opportunities to add a fourth outfielder and one or two bullpen arms, though each of those needs could reasonably be filled with existing options. The remaining hole in the rotation, however, needs an external fix. For what it's worth, Montas is expected to earn around $5.5M via arbitration this year, and Manaea $10.2M. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Become a Twins Daily caretaker View full article
  6. Spring training is fully underway but that doesn't mean Hot Stove SZN is over. The Twins made a huge addition over the weekend and seemingly have at least one more on tap. Pressure is building to check off the final boxes ahead of the season opener in just 18 days. What does the front office still need to accomplish and what are their options? Donaldson Trade Clears the Books I posted the last of these offseason status updates last Sunday night, figuring that at 9:22 PM I could safely assume the news cycle had settled, and the whirlwind weekend's moves were finished. But if there's been one lesson from the past week, it's that the news cycle never sleeps. Literally minutes after clicking publish on an article reviewing the Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Sonny Gray trades, I learned of another blockbuster going down: the Twins dealt Josh Donaldson, along with Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt, to the Yankees in exchange for Gary Sánchez, Gio Urshela, and a bunch of salary relief. With that, Minnesota's short-lived and unfulfilling engagement with Donaldson came to an end. It was a signing that ultimately illustrated the hazards of spending big on aging veteran talent. The Twins can consider themselves lucky to get out of the last two years, even though they had to actively worsen their roster to do it. In the wake of this shakeup, many unknowns were in play. But among the few things we DID know: "The Twins now have all kinds of flexibility to make at least one HUGE move." What would it be? Twins Shock the World with Correa Signing For five days, we all sat mired in uncertainty, wondering how the Twins planned to flex their newfound financial clout. As reports emerged of Trevor Story leaning toward other destinations, anxiety started to rise. Had the front office boxed itself into a corner? Nah. They went out and signed the No. 1 free agent on the entire market, landing Carlos Correa in an absolute game-changing stunner. The three-year, $105.3 million contract makes Correa the highest-paid infielder in the game, and addresses the club's need at shortstop decisively. (For now.) In all likelihood, it'll end up being a one-year deal, as Correa has the ability to opt out following either the 2022 or 2023 season. His aim is clearly to put together a good year, return to a less-crowded FA shortstop market next year, and score the $300+ million payday he desired. But that's okay. Getting an MVP-caliber player at age 27 on a one-year pact is a win, even if the framework of the deal creates a bit of team risk. On Sunday, Story signed with the Red Sox for six years and $140 million, prioritizing length of the deal over AAV. Meanwhile, the Yankees were basically left out in the cold. You hate to see it. Still in Need of a Starter Perhaps New York can still claim a victory in all of this late offseason action. They are reportedly among the teams in on Oakland's Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea. With so much steam around the two front-line starters and their availability, that situation feels like the last big domino yet to fall. The Twins have also been repeatedly connected to the Athletics in rumors, which only makes sense because they let every free agent starter come off the board while failing to adequately address their starting pitching needs. Even fallback mid-tier options like Michael Pineda and Tyler Anderson are now gone, and Minnesota has a glaring hole after (or ahead of?) Gray atop their rotation. Chi Chi Gonzalez might add some welcome veteran depth on a minors deal, but he's not moving the MLB needle in any way. The Twins almost HAVE to make a trade in order to put the finishing touches on a complete offseason. Are they willing to meet the extraordinary price that extracting Montas will surely require? Or will they opt instead for Manaea, who has only one year of team control left but will command a lesser return? Could they acquire ... both? Given how the Twins have operated this offseason – conditioning us to expect the unexpected – something tells me the most likely outcome is none of the above. They'll find a way to surprise us by zagging while everyone anticipates the zig. Stay tuned. Bullpen Gets a Veteran Boost With all the attention being paid to starting pitchers and shortstops, the team's bullpen needs have been more or less on the backburner. Outside of grabbing Jharel Cotton before the lockout, and bringing back the likes of Juan Minaya and Danny Coulombe on minors deals, the Twins hadn't taken much action to offset their various question marks in relief. On Saturday they did something about that, signing veteran right-hander Joe Smith to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. I would describe this as a low-wattage signing; the sidearmer, who turns 38 on Tuesday, hasn't put together a complete quality season since 2017. But he's been a pretty reliable righty specialist throughout his career and that was a need. We'll see if the front office has anything else in store for the bullpen. Remaining options are limited. I wouldn't be the least surprised to see them lean primarily on internal arms in rounding out this unit. Griffin Jax looked really good in his first spring appearance and is one to watch. Lewis Thorpe is out of options. Roster & Payroll Projection Accounting for all of this wheeling and dealing, here's an updated look at the Twins' projected roster and spending commitments for this season. The payroll currently stands at about $122.5M, which is $7.5M short of their baseline target. With the news that Randy Dobnak is still bothered by his finger and unlikely for Opening Day, I've moved him out of the bullpen picture and added his (meager) guaranteed salary to the "Dead Money" section." I still see opportunities to add a fourth outfielder and one or two bullpen arms, though each of those needs could reasonably be filled with existing options. The remaining hole in the rotation, however, needs an external fix. For what it's worth, Montas is expected to earn around $5.5M via arbitration this year, and Manaea $10.2M. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Become a Twins Daily caretaker
  7. An eventful weekend receives a stunning final twist. According to multiple reports, the Twins are sending Josh Donaldson and newly-acquired shortstop Isiah Kinfer-Falefa to the New York Yankees in exchange for catcher Gary Sanchez and infielder Gio Urshela. Talk about a blockbuster. Jon Heyman was first to break the news that Gary Sanchez was heading to Minnesota. Jeff Passan quickly followed up with an elaboration: Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa are headed to New York in the deal. We soon learned the Twins are also giving up catcher Ben Rortvedt and getting infielder Gio Urshela, who will presumably be the Twins' new third baseman or shortstop. There's a lot going on here, and we'll surely spend the next several days unpacking it, but let's try and wrap our arms around this thing. To summarize the move, Yankees get: 3B Josh Donaldson, SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa, C Ben Rortvedt Twins get: C/DH Gary Sánchez, 3B/SS Gio Urshela It was already a whirlwind weekend before this move. Now the roster has been completely uprooted and transformed over a span of two days. Donaldson's presence and salary both looked like odd fits with the Twins seemingly entering a transitional year. Shipping him to the Yankees makes sense in terms of their contention status and spending capabilities. Donaldson also feels like a proper personality fit in the Bronx. Kiner-Falefa's inclusion in the deal is stunning. The Twins acquired him from Texas on Saturday in exchange for Mitch Garver. Were they setting up this deal all along? Did the acquisition pique New York's interest? Either way, the brevity of his Minnesota career would make Jaime Garcia blush (he was also instantly flipped to the Yankees in 2017, incidentally). Between Garver and now Rortvedt, the Twins have completely wiped out their pre-existing catching depth around Ryan Jeffers. However, they added some back in the form of Sánchez, who's coming off two tough seasons but is a two-time All-Star with 138 career home runs at age 29. He's due for free agency after the 2022 season. Urshela, who is two years from free agency (like Kiner-Falefa was) started 28 games at shortstop for the Yankees last year, and 96 at third base. He had started only 13 total games at short in his previous five seasons. Do the Twins envision him playing there, with Jose Miranda taking over at third? Or are they clearing salary room for Trevor Story? This feels like a stepping stone to something else. For now, it feels confusing and pretty overwhelming. Share your thoughts in the comments section. 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
  8. Though Josh Donaldson’s time with the Twins was cut short and was polarizing to some, his time in Minnesota merits some further evaluation to gain the full picture. Monumental franchise signing The Twins made a big free-agent splash in January 2020 when they signed then-34-year-old Donaldson to a four-year deal worth $92 million guaranteed. Donaldson, the 2015 AL Most Valuable Player Award winner and a three-time All-Star at third base, represented a major commitment on behalf of the Twins organization to bolster its largely-intact and record-setting 2019 “Bomba Squad” lineup. The 2019 Twins set a Major League record with 307 home runs, but their offense sputtered in the postseason and they were swept by the Yankees in the playoffs. The Twins front office hoped the "Bringer of Rain" could bring them some hits and help get them over the hump. Though the Twins primarily signed Donaldson for his bat, the Donaldson signing also gave the Twins a needed defensive boost in the infield, as Donaldson was considered one of the best third basemen in the game at the time. During his 2019 season with the Braves, his glove was worth eight outs above average, per Statcast, ranking him third among all third basemen that year. Donaldson’s contract was historic both on a franchise and league-level. The contract remains the second-largest in MLB history for a player age 33 or older, behind only Kevin Brown's seven-year, $105 million deal with the Dodgers in 1998. The contract also represented a departure from the Twins’ previous hesitation to spend big money on free agents: it greatly surpassed the Twins’ previous record free-agent signing, which was 4 years and $55 million to pitcher Ervin Santana before the 2015 season. For a franchise that had up until that point earned a reputation of not pursuing big-ticket item free agents, the Donaldson signing was a major departure from business as usual at 1 Twins Way. Hampered by injuries but effective when in the lineup Josh Donaldson has struggled with recurring calf issues throughout his career and they continued during his tenure with the Twins. In a July 2020 Instagram post, Donaldson acknowledged that he’s torn “both of my calves a total of seven times in two years.” Calf issues held Donaldson to 28 games in his first season with the Twins in 2020 and forced him to sit out of the Twins playoff series against the Astros that year. During the full 2021 season, Donaldson got in 135 games but was bothered by hamstring issues. However, when Donaldson was in the lineup, he was impactful. During the 2021 season, he hit .247 with 72 RBIs and 26 home runs. He was near the top of the team in almost all hitting categories, including second on the Twins in plate appearances and runs, and third on the Twins for at-bats, RBI, hits, slugging percentage, and home runs. Traditionally a third baseman, in 2021 Donaldson found himself playing in the DH role more than ever before following the departure of DH Nelson Cruz to the Tampa Bay Rays and Donaldson’s continued dealings with injury. In 135 game appearances, Donaldson had 91 starts at third base and 34 at DH. How exactly he will be used for the Yankees appears to be up in the air, but because they are taking on the entire $50 million remaining on the now-36-year-old Donaldson's Twins contract, they clearly think he has more left in the tank. Locker room leader and league-wide presence After the Twins failed 2019 Bomba Squad campaign, the Twins front office was looking to change up the locker room dynamic and try something different. They decided they were “too nice,” according to Sports Illustrated, and wanted to seek out a leader who could help push the team in a different direction. In signing Donaldson, the Twins sought and ultimately found an outspoken leader and voice not only within the locker room, but on a league-wide level. Donaldson is known for having a brash, fiery personality, and is someone who Twins staff, including former Twins pitcher and current Special Assistant to Baseball Operations LaTroy Hawkins, credit as pushing teammates to be better. He is known to some in the league as being a player who teams love having on their team but hate to play against because of his tendency to get under their skin. Playing only 28 games in his first season with the Twins did not prevent Donaldson from having some memorable 2020 moments, including when he bought his teammates customized robes that were affectionately deemed “Bomba Robes,” or when he was ejected after he had a mid-at bat spat with an umpire, hit a home run on the next pitch, and then dragged and kicked dirt across home plate when he came in to score. During the 2021 season, Donaldson appeared in national headlines on multiple occasions when he was one of the more outspoken players in the league regarding the MLB’s sticky substance saga. Donaldson publicly criticized now-Yankee teammate pitcher Gerrit Cole, insinuating that Cole was among the pitchers benefiting from the use of illegal foreign substances to increase pitch spin rates. A few days later on June 10, all eyes were on the Cole– Donaldson matchup as the Twins traveled to the Bronx to take on the Yankees, where Cole ultimately struck out Donaldson twice. Later that month, Donaldson ruffled feathers again by taunting White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito, another player who Donaldson accused of using sticky substances. On June 29, Donaldson rubbed his hands together while crossing home plate after hitting a home run off Giolito and said, “Hand’s not sticky anymore!" After the game, Giolito called Donaldson “classless,” among other colorful things, and Donaldson said he subsequently confronted Giolito in the parking lot. Donaldson also had some entertaining, and at times, controversial moments on the internet during his time with the Twins. During the 2021 postseason, Donaldson drew attention for his both insightful and humorous live tweeting of the MLB playoffs and the World Series in which he offered his thoughts and opinions on the games and exchanged both humorous jabs and insults with fans and other players. Ultimately, though Donaldson’s Twins tenure was polarizing to some, he was without a doubt one of the most fiery, passionate, and unique personalities the Twins have had in their clubhouse in years- maybe ever. His passion and antics, even when the Twins were in last place, arguably showed he cared. Usually, a team that keeps a lower profile, he interjected the Twins into the national eye with his outspoken nature and confidence. Donaldson will likely fit in in his new home in the Bronx just fine. So farewell to the Bringer of Rain from Twins Territory, and we will see what the forecast for New York City holds. What was your impression of Josh Donaldson’s tenure as a Twin? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  9. The stormy skies have cleared over Target Field, and Josh Donaldson is now a Yankee. On March 13, news broke that the Twins had traded third baseman Josh Donaldson, newly-acquired shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and catcher Ben Rortvedt to the Yankees for catcher Gary Sánchez and third baseman Gio Urshela. Though Josh Donaldson’s time with the Twins was cut short and was polarizing to some, his time in Minnesota merits some further evaluation to gain the full picture. Monumental franchise signing The Twins made a big free-agent splash in January 2020 when they signed then-34-year-old Donaldson to a four-year deal worth $92 million guaranteed. Donaldson, the 2015 AL Most Valuable Player Award winner and a three-time All-Star at third base, represented a major commitment on behalf of the Twins organization to bolster its largely-intact and record-setting 2019 “Bomba Squad” lineup. The 2019 Twins set a Major League record with 307 home runs, but their offense sputtered in the postseason and they were swept by the Yankees in the playoffs. The Twins front office hoped the "Bringer of Rain" could bring them some hits and help get them over the hump. Though the Twins primarily signed Donaldson for his bat, the Donaldson signing also gave the Twins a needed defensive boost in the infield, as Donaldson was considered one of the best third basemen in the game at the time. During his 2019 season with the Braves, his glove was worth eight outs above average, per Statcast, ranking him third among all third basemen that year. Donaldson’s contract was historic both on a franchise and league-level. The contract remains the second-largest in MLB history for a player age 33 or older, behind only Kevin Brown's seven-year, $105 million deal with the Dodgers in 1998. The contract also represented a departure from the Twins’ previous hesitation to spend big money on free agents: it greatly surpassed the Twins’ previous record free-agent signing, which was 4 years and $55 million to pitcher Ervin Santana before the 2015 season. For a franchise that had up until that point earned a reputation of not pursuing big-ticket item free agents, the Donaldson signing was a major departure from business as usual at 1 Twins Way. Hampered by injuries but effective when in the lineup Josh Donaldson has struggled with recurring calf issues throughout his career and they continued during his tenure with the Twins. In a July 2020 Instagram post, Donaldson acknowledged that he’s torn “both of my calves a total of seven times in two years.” Calf issues held Donaldson to 28 games in his first season with the Twins in 2020 and forced him to sit out of the Twins playoff series against the Astros that year. During the full 2021 season, Donaldson got in 135 games but was bothered by hamstring issues. However, when Donaldson was in the lineup, he was impactful. During the 2021 season, he hit .247 with 72 RBIs and 26 home runs. He was near the top of the team in almost all hitting categories, including second on the Twins in plate appearances and runs, and third on the Twins for at-bats, RBI, hits, slugging percentage, and home runs. Traditionally a third baseman, in 2021 Donaldson found himself playing in the DH role more than ever before following the departure of DH Nelson Cruz to the Tampa Bay Rays and Donaldson’s continued dealings with injury. In 135 game appearances, Donaldson had 91 starts at third base and 34 at DH. How exactly he will be used for the Yankees appears to be up in the air, but because they are taking on the entire $50 million remaining on the now-36-year-old Donaldson's Twins contract, they clearly think he has more left in the tank. Locker room leader and league-wide presence After the Twins failed 2019 Bomba Squad campaign, the Twins front office was looking to change up the locker room dynamic and try something different. They decided they were “too nice,” according to Sports Illustrated, and wanted to seek out a leader who could help push the team in a different direction. In signing Donaldson, the Twins sought and ultimately found an outspoken leader and voice not only within the locker room, but on a league-wide level. Donaldson is known for having a brash, fiery personality, and is someone who Twins staff, including former Twins pitcher and current Special Assistant to Baseball Operations LaTroy Hawkins, credit as pushing teammates to be better. He is known to some in the league as being a player who teams love having on their team but hate to play against because of his tendency to get under their skin. Playing only 28 games in his first season with the Twins did not prevent Donaldson from having some memorable 2020 moments, including when he bought his teammates customized robes that were affectionately deemed “Bomba Robes,” or when he was ejected after he had a mid-at bat spat with an umpire, hit a home run on the next pitch, and then dragged and kicked dirt across home plate when he came in to score. During the 2021 season, Donaldson appeared in national headlines on multiple occasions when he was one of the more outspoken players in the league regarding the MLB’s sticky substance saga. Donaldson publicly criticized now-Yankee teammate pitcher Gerrit Cole, insinuating that Cole was among the pitchers benefiting from the use of illegal foreign substances to increase pitch spin rates. A few days later on June 10, all eyes were on the Cole– Donaldson matchup as the Twins traveled to the Bronx to take on the Yankees, where Cole ultimately struck out Donaldson twice. Later that month, Donaldson ruffled feathers again by taunting White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito, another player who Donaldson accused of using sticky substances. On June 29, Donaldson rubbed his hands together while crossing home plate after hitting a home run off Giolito and said, “Hand’s not sticky anymore!" After the game, Giolito called Donaldson “classless,” among other colorful things, and Donaldson said he subsequently confronted Giolito in the parking lot. Donaldson also had some entertaining, and at times, controversial moments on the internet during his time with the Twins. During the 2021 postseason, Donaldson drew attention for his both insightful and humorous live tweeting of the MLB playoffs and the World Series in which he offered his thoughts and opinions on the games and exchanged both humorous jabs and insults with fans and other players. Ultimately, though Donaldson’s Twins tenure was polarizing to some, he was without a doubt one of the most fiery, passionate, and unique personalities the Twins have had in their clubhouse in years- maybe ever. His passion and antics, even when the Twins were in last place, arguably showed he cared. Usually, a team that keeps a lower profile, he interjected the Twins into the national eye with his outspoken nature and confidence. Donaldson will likely fit in in his new home in the Bronx just fine. So farewell to the Bringer of Rain from Twins Territory, and we will see what the forecast for New York City holds. What was your impression of Josh Donaldson’s tenure as a Twin? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  10. Late on Sunday night, the Twins traded Josh Donaldson, Ben Rortvedt, and newly-acquired shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa to the Yankees in exchange for Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela. Fans were blindsided and bewildered by this move, which upended the team's entire offseason. We don't know much right now, and probably won't get the full picture until more moves are made. But here are four things we DO know. 1. The Twins REALLY wanted to get out from under Josh Donaldson's contract. I'm not at all surprised that the Twins were looking to trade Donaldson. Personally I've been on board with that course of action for some time, and wrote as much last July. At the time, I hoped they might be able to leverage the trade deadline or cover some of his remaining salary to lessen the blow of unloading such an undesirable contract. Alas, they did not. The front office was able to eventually finder a taker for Donaldson, and New York even took on the full remainder of his deal – all $50 million in guaranteed money. To make it happen, the Twins needed to part with Mitch Garver (via Isiah Kiner-Felafa) and Ben Rortvedt in addition to Donaldson, decimating their catching depth while reopening a total vacancy at shortstop. Minnesota also brought on two buy-low reclamation projects in the swap. It's hard to imagine that either Gio Urshela or Gary Sanchez were players the Twins coveted, coming off bad years with dwindling team control. But that was part of the deal. It's a deal the Twins made purely out of eagerness to escape Donaldson's contract. And I get it. He didn't fit here anymore and his big salaries at 36 and 37 were likely to be a hindrance. Now the Twins are free of that commitment, albeit at the expense of clearly downgrading the current roster. To what end? 2. They Twins now have, like, no catching depth. Garver, gone. Rortvedt, gone. Even our sweet baby boy Willians Astudillo is gone. It was notable that the our recent top 20 prospects breakdown included zero catchers, and now the Twins have suddenly parted with two of their three big-leaguers in one fell swoop. What are we doing here? This system has no depth to be wiping out the top shelf like that. Yes, Sanchez is here, but we're talking about a guy who's widely regarded as one of the worst defensive catchers in baseball. He's a terrible pitch-framer and borderline DH. Did the Twins just abandon their whole philosophy around the value of defense and catching depth? Oh, and: 3. They also have no shortstop (again). We'd all spent about 24 hours talking ourselves into Kiner-Falefa. "Yeah, the Andrelton Simmons thing didn't work out, but that doesn't mean the concept of a glove-first shortstop was bad. IKF is young and hungry! He's gritty!" And then, poof. The solution at shortstop was gone nearly as fast as he arrived, and thus, the Twins are back to square one. Meanwhile, every free agent option has dried up – Simmons and Jose Iglesias both signed over the weekend. The middle tier is gone. I mean, there are still a couple of big names out there. And, the biggest takeaway from all this is... 4. The Twins now have all kinds of flexibility to make at least one HUGE move. The front office freed up $50 million in future payroll commitments, on the same day they traded their 2021 first-round draft pick for a veteran front-line starter. These signs clearly point toward the Twins setting up for one or more extremely significant moves. It's fascinating to think about what that might look like. By this point all high-end free agent pitchers are gone. Two big-name shortstops remain, and I'm confident Minnesota is not signing Carlos Correa. So, are they going to sign Trevor Story? They are reportedly in contact with his camp, so it's definitely a possibility. But it can hardly be considered a lock, right? If the Twins don't land Story, what's the backup plan? And even if they do, how will they address their multiple remaining needs in the rotation, bullpen, and outfield? How are the Twins going to spend all this newly freed up money, with spring training already underway and Opening Day bearing down fast? Like I said, a lot of unknowns. But it's gonna be fun to find out. 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
  11. Just when you thought the Twins had done enough this weekend to keep us on our toes, Derek Falvey went ahead and blew the roof off. A blockbuster with the Yankees started as Jon Heyman suggested a catcher was coming to Minnesota. Then the bomb dropped that Josh Donaldson was moving, and things got crazy. Another deal in which the player totals aren’t even; the Twins sent the additional talent this time. Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ben Rortvedt are going to New York. In exchange, Minnesota gets catcher Gary Sanchez and third basemen Gio Urshela. There’s no level of this deal that shouldn’t make your head spin, so let’s break it down into smaller pieces. Third Base This is straightforward. Josh Donaldson is moved off the position, and Minnesota is no longer on the hook for his contract's remaining $50 million. Set to make $21.75 million in 2022, a team with something like $35 million in payroll flexibility just pushed that number over $50 million. Donaldson wound up playing just 163 games across two seasons with Minnesota. The shortened pandemic season didn’t help the longevity, but his nagging calf issues were present the first season. There was never a reason why the Twins should’ve considered a cash dump regarding Donaldson and his salary. Still playing at a high level in 2022, any move needed to come with a certain level of return. Ultimately, that’s what ended up happening. Gio Urshela debuted with Cleveland back in 2015 but posted just a .587 OPS through his first 148 Major League games. After a short stint in Toronto, he wound up in New York, and boy did Gio arrive in a big way. During 2019 Urshela posted an .889 OPS with 21 homers. He all but replicated that in 2020 before lacking power production last season. His 96 OPS+ basically was league average, however, and he’s just 30-years-old. He’s not the defensive stalwart Donaldson is at the hot corner, but he’s hardly a butcher either. What Urshela does offer is an easier path to playing time for the likes of Jose Miranda. Should the newly acquired piece continue to decline or start slow, Minnesota won’t hesitate to promote the 2021 standout prospect. Urshela is owed just $6.55M this season, and Miranda will get his opportunity to push for playing time at the hot corner. This is also another area that Luis Arraez could contribute. Shortstop Minnesota had its Opening Day shortstop for something like 35 hours. After acquiring Kiner-Falefa, he was sent to New York, who has been tied to the biggest names at the position. Kiner-Falefa was basically a replica of Andrelton Simmons, minus the weirdness, and now Falvey will go back on the hunt there. Urshela has accumulated just over 200 innings at shortstop, but he shouldn’t be considered an option there. Jorge Polanco is not moving back across the diamond, which again turns us back to the market. With so much cash while both Carlos Correa and Trevor Story are still on the market, there’s reasonable speculation that Minnesota could have their sights set there. Both presumably want long-term contracts, and neither Royce Lewis nor Austin Martin are slam dunks to remain at short. Catcher A former All-Star and Silver Slugger, Gary Sanchez joins the Twins as a backup for Ryan Jeffers. He’s not good defensively, and his bat has been lost since 2019, but maybe Minnesota can turn it around for the 29-year-old. Sanchez has solid on-base skills and does show a good amount of discipline in the box. His power potential is immense, with two 30+ home run seasons to his credit, but the key will be finding consistency. If it wasn’t apparent when the Twins dealt Mitch Garver, it’s certainly clear now that they’ve leaned all the way into Jeffers as their regular. Ben Rortvedt also went to the Yankees, and he’d be considered the most well-rounded defender of that trio. Jeffers obviously has made enough strides to feel comfort in pairing him with Sanchez, and there shouldn’t be an emphasis on splitting time evenly. Removing Donaldson opened up a rotational designated hitter spot for Minnesota, but it should be immediately accounted for by Sanchez, who will see regular starts there as well. It’s clear that Minnesota has solidified their plan at catcher, however. This was a huge move, the second of the day for Minnesota. Now with so much payroll flexibility and an arrow pointed towards competing, there’s no guessing how crazy this front office will get next. 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
  12. Jon Heyman was first to break the news that Gary Sanchez was heading to Minnesota. Jeff Passan quickly followed up with an elaboration: Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa are headed to New York in the deal. We soon learned the Twins are also giving up catcher Ben Rortvedt and getting infielder Gio Urshela, who will presumably be the Twins' new third baseman or shortstop. There's a lot going on here, and we'll surely spend the next several days unpacking it, but let's try and wrap our arms around this thing. To summarize the move, Yankees get: 3B Josh Donaldson, SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa, C Ben Rortvedt Twins get: C/DH Gary Sánchez, 3B/SS Gio Urshela It was already a whirlwind weekend before this move. Now the roster has been completely uprooted and transformed over a span of two days. Donaldson's presence and salary both looked like odd fits with the Twins seemingly entering a transitional year. Shipping him to the Yankees makes sense in terms of their contention status and spending capabilities. Donaldson also feels like a proper personality fit in the Bronx. Kiner-Falefa's inclusion in the deal is stunning. The Twins acquired him from Texas on Saturday in exchange for Mitch Garver. Were they setting up this deal all along? Did the acquisition pique New York's interest? Either way, the brevity of his Minnesota career would make Jaime Garcia blush (he was also instantly flipped to the Yankees in 2017, incidentally). Between Garver and now Rortvedt, the Twins have completely wiped out their pre-existing catching depth around Ryan Jeffers. However, they added some back in the form of Sánchez, who's coming off two tough seasons but is a two-time All-Star with 138 career home runs at age 29. He's due for free agency after the 2022 season. Urshela, who is two years from free agency (like Kiner-Falefa was) started 28 games at shortstop for the Yankees last year, and 96 at third base. He had started only 13 total games at short in his previous five seasons. Do the Twins envision him playing there, with Jose Miranda taking over at third? Or are they clearing salary room for Trevor Story? This feels like a stepping stone to something else. For now, it feels confusing and pretty overwhelming. Share your thoughts in the comments section. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. 1. The Twins REALLY wanted to get out from under Josh Donaldson's contract. I'm not at all surprised that the Twins were looking to trade Donaldson. Personally I've been on board with that course of action for some time, and wrote as much last July. At the time, I hoped they might be able to leverage the trade deadline or cover some of his remaining salary to lessen the blow of unloading such an undesirable contract. Alas, they did not. The front office was able to eventually finder a taker for Donaldson, and New York even took on the full remainder of his deal – all $50 million in guaranteed money. To make it happen, the Twins needed to part with Mitch Garver (via Isiah Kiner-Felafa) and Ben Rortvedt in addition to Donaldson, decimating their catching depth while reopening a total vacancy at shortstop. Minnesota also brought on two buy-low reclamation projects in the swap. It's hard to imagine that either Gio Urshela or Gary Sanchez were players the Twins coveted, coming off bad years with dwindling team control. But that was part of the deal. It's a deal the Twins made purely out of eagerness to escape Donaldson's contract. And I get it. He didn't fit here anymore and his big salaries at 36 and 37 were likely to be a hindrance. Now the Twins are free of that commitment, albeit at the expense of clearly downgrading the current roster. To what end? 2. They Twins now have, like, no catching depth. Garver, gone. Rortvedt, gone. Even our sweet baby boy Willians Astudillo is gone. It was notable that the our recent top 20 prospects breakdown included zero catchers, and now the Twins have suddenly parted with two of their three big-leaguers in one fell swoop. What are we doing here? This system has no depth to be wiping out the top shelf like that. Yes, Sanchez is here, but we're talking about a guy who's widely regarded as one of the worst defensive catchers in baseball. He's a terrible pitch-framer and borderline DH. Did the Twins just abandon their whole philosophy around the value of defense and catching depth? Oh, and: 3. They also have no shortstop (again). We'd all spent about 24 hours talking ourselves into Kiner-Falefa. "Yeah, the Andrelton Simmons thing didn't work out, but that doesn't mean the concept of a glove-first shortstop was bad. IKF is young and hungry! He's gritty!" And then, poof. The solution at shortstop was gone nearly as fast as he arrived, and thus, the Twins are back to square one. Meanwhile, every free agent option has dried up – Simmons and Jose Iglesias both signed over the weekend. The middle tier is gone. I mean, there are still a couple of big names out there. And, the biggest takeaway from all this is... 4. The Twins now have all kinds of flexibility to make at least one HUGE move. The front office freed up $50 million in future payroll commitments, on the same day they traded their 2021 first-round draft pick for a veteran front-line starter. These signs clearly point toward the Twins setting up for one or more extremely significant moves. It's fascinating to think about what that might look like. By this point all high-end free agent pitchers are gone. Two big-name shortstops remain, and I'm confident Minnesota is not signing Carlos Correa. So, are they going to sign Trevor Story? They are reportedly in contact with his camp, so it's definitely a possibility. But it can hardly be considered a lock, right? If the Twins don't land Story, what's the backup plan? And even if they do, how will they address their multiple remaining needs in the rotation, bullpen, and outfield? How are the Twins going to spend all this newly freed up money, with spring training already underway and Opening Day bearing down fast? Like I said, a lot of unknowns. But it's gonna be fun to find out. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. The Minnesota Twins have had a busy few days, completing trades with the Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees. The motivations of those trades haven't exactly followed a common logic, so it's easy to wonder what the front office is trying to achieve. While the picture is definitely still in the process of developing, here are my thoughts on what they're up to.
  15. The Minnesota Twins have had a busy few days, completing trades with the Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees. The motivations of those trades haven't exactly followed a common logic, so it's easy to wonder what the front office is trying to achieve. While the picture is definitely still in the process of developing, here are my thoughts on what they're up to. View full video
  16. Another deal in which the player totals aren’t even; the Twins sent the additional talent this time. Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ben Rortvedt are going to New York. In exchange, Minnesota gets catcher Gary Sanchez and third basemen Gio Urshela. There’s no level of this deal that shouldn’t make your head spin, so let’s break it down into smaller pieces. Third Base This is straightforward. Josh Donaldson is moved off the position, and Minnesota is no longer on the hook for his contract's remaining $50 million. Set to make $21.75 million in 2022, a team with something like $35 million in payroll flexibility just pushed that number over $50 million. Donaldson wound up playing just 163 games across two seasons with Minnesota. The shortened pandemic season didn’t help the longevity, but his nagging calf issues were present the first season. There was never a reason why the Twins should’ve considered a cash dump regarding Donaldson and his salary. Still playing at a high level in 2022, any move needed to come with a certain level of return. Ultimately, that’s what ended up happening. Gio Urshela debuted with Cleveland back in 2015 but posted just a .587 OPS through his first 148 Major League games. After a short stint in Toronto, he wound up in New York, and boy did Gio arrive in a big way. During 2019 Urshela posted an .889 OPS with 21 homers. He all but replicated that in 2020 before lacking power production last season. His 96 OPS+ basically was league average, however, and he’s just 30-years-old. He’s not the defensive stalwart Donaldson is at the hot corner, but he’s hardly a butcher either. What Urshela does offer is an easier path to playing time for the likes of Jose Miranda. Should the newly acquired piece continue to decline or start slow, Minnesota won’t hesitate to promote the 2021 standout prospect. Urshela is owed just $6.55M this season, and Miranda will get his opportunity to push for playing time at the hot corner. This is also another area that Luis Arraez could contribute. Shortstop Minnesota had its Opening Day shortstop for something like 35 hours. After acquiring Kiner-Falefa, he was sent to New York, who has been tied to the biggest names at the position. Kiner-Falefa was basically a replica of Andrelton Simmons, minus the weirdness, and now Falvey will go back on the hunt there. Urshela has accumulated just over 200 innings at shortstop, but he shouldn’t be considered an option there. Jorge Polanco is not moving back across the diamond, which again turns us back to the market. With so much cash while both Carlos Correa and Trevor Story are still on the market, there’s reasonable speculation that Minnesota could have their sights set there. Both presumably want long-term contracts, and neither Royce Lewis nor Austin Martin are slam dunks to remain at short. Catcher A former All-Star and Silver Slugger, Gary Sanchez joins the Twins as a backup for Ryan Jeffers. He’s not good defensively, and his bat has been lost since 2019, but maybe Minnesota can turn it around for the 29-year-old. Sanchez has solid on-base skills and does show a good amount of discipline in the box. His power potential is immense, with two 30+ home run seasons to his credit, but the key will be finding consistency. If it wasn’t apparent when the Twins dealt Mitch Garver, it’s certainly clear now that they’ve leaned all the way into Jeffers as their regular. Ben Rortvedt also went to the Yankees, and he’d be considered the most well-rounded defender of that trio. Jeffers obviously has made enough strides to feel comfort in pairing him with Sanchez, and there shouldn’t be an emphasis on splitting time evenly. Removing Donaldson opened up a rotational designated hitter spot for Minnesota, but it should be immediately accounted for by Sanchez, who will see regular starts there as well. It’s clear that Minnesota has solidified their plan at catcher, however. This was a huge move, the second of the day for Minnesota. Now with so much payroll flexibility and an arrow pointed towards competing, there’s no guessing how crazy this front office will get next. 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. Although MLB is in the middle of a lockout, that doesn’t mean baseball as a whole is shut down. If you find yourself missing baseball, I would highly suggest getting into college baseball. There are nearly 300 Division I baseball programs in the country, so you surely should be able to find a team to root for, wherever you may live. On the Twins 40-man roster, there are five position players who played college baseball. All five of these players had great success in college, leading them to get drafted in the top ten rounds of the MLB draft. Josh Donaldson, C/IF, Auburn After hitting .515 as a senior in high school, the future Twins third baseman decided to take his talents to Auburn University. In Donaldson's freshman year, he immediately made an impact on the Tigers. After seeing limited playing time for the first month of the season, he became their everyday third baseman in their series against Arkansas and never looked back. Donaldson finished his freshman campaign hitting .294/.347/.477 (.824) with seven doubles, seven home runs, and 26 RBI. Donaldson came into his sophomore year with increased responsibilities, as he was asked to catch. He made 56 starts (every game), with 36 being behind the dish and 20 being at third base. He once again was a very solid bat for the Tigers, hitting .276/.331/.487 (.818) with 16 doubles, ten home runs, and 42 RBI. This season earned him Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American status heading into his junior year. In Donaldson's junior year, he was stellar in all facets of the game. He hit .349/.444/.591 (1.035) with 19 doubles, 11 home runs, and 54 RBI. He also walked 38 times compared to only 27 strikeouts. One aspect of Donaldson’s game that really came into fruition was his baserunning. Donaldson stole 17 bases after only stealing one base between his first two years. It was clear from this standout season that Donaldson was ready for the big leagues, so he got drafted with the 48th overall pick by the Chicago Cubs after his junior season. Donaldson finished his career hitting .307/.378/.522 (.900) with 42 doubles, 28 home runs, and 122 RBI in 158 career games with the Tigers. Mitch Garver, C, University of New Mexico In 2013, the Twins used their ninth-round pick on a bat-first catcher out of the University of New Mexico by the name of Mitch Garver. A hometown kid, Garver grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was lucky enough to be able to stay at his hometown university for college at UNM. As a freshman, Garver served as the backup catcher to former Brewers farmhand Rafael Neda. He made 11 starts and hit .277/.351/.385 (.736) with five doubles and 15 RBI. Neda got drafted after this year, and Garver took the reins his sophomore year in which he started all 61 games. He improved at the plate, hitting .300/.380/.400 (.780) with 13 doubles, two home runs, 28 walks (led team), and 27 RBI. Garver went from a solid hitter his first two years to an absolute powerhouse his junior year. In his junior year, Garver once again started all 61 games, hitting .377/.438/.612 (1.050) with 27 doubles (led team), ten home runs, and 57 RBI. He earned Co-Mountain West Player of the Year honors, was named a national finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, and was named a second-team All-American by Louisville Slugger. Defensively, he was great, throwing out 39.6 percent of base stealers In his senior year, Garver once again started every game. He set the record for most consecutive games started at UNM with 181. He also hit .390/.458/.589 with 21 doubles, five triples, and six home runs. He also drove in 68 runs and was once again named a Johnny Bench finalist, Co-MW Player of the Year, and an Academic All-American for the fourth straight year. He finished his Lobo career 5th all-time in doubles and had the most career hits as a catcher in Lobo history. Ryan Jeffers, C, UNC Wilmington When Ryan Jeffers decided to go to UNC Wilmington, he would only be heading about two hours south from his hometown of Raleigh, NC. The three-time all-conference player in high school would go on to have an unbelievable career at Wilmington where he was one of the best catchers in the country. His freshman year, he served as the backup catcher behind future Diamondback farmhand Gavin Stupienski. Jeffers appeared in 13 games as a freshman, going 8-for-23 (.348) at the plate with three doubles and a home run. Although he did not see a whole lot of action in his freshman year of 2016, Jeffers showed a lot of promise and it was clear that he would be one of their best guys going forward, with Stupienski getting drafted following the 2016 season. In Jeffers’ sophomore campaign, he started 52 games and proved his success in 2016 was no fluke. He hit .328/.422/.604 (1.026) with 19 doubles, ten home runs, and 32 RBI. He also received a variety of honors, including NCCSIA First-Team All-State, ABCA All-East First-Team, and First-Team All-CAA. His third and final year at UNC Wilmington, he started all 62 games, hitting .315/.460/.635 (1.095) with 22 doubles, 16 home runs, 59 RBI, and 51 walks. He led the Colonial Athletic Association in doubles, home runs, OBP, and slugging percentage. He was once again named First-Team All-CAA and to the NCAA Greenville All-Regional team. Jeffers was rewarded for his great season by being drafted in the second round with the 59th pick by the Twins in the 2018 draft. Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State Despite being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the MLB Draft out of high school, Trevor Larnach opted not to sign and headed up to Corvallis, Oregon to start his college baseball career. Larnach’s freshman season at Oregon State was quite unremarkable. In 28 games (12 starts), Larnach hit a measly .157/.271/.176 (.447) with one double and three RBI. In increased playing time sophomore year (58 starts), Larnach hit .303/.421/.429 (.850) with 16 doubles, three home runs, 39 walks (led team), and 48 RBI (led team). He was named All-Pac-12 Conference Honorable Mention and was also named to the Corvallis Regional All-Tournament Team. The Oregon State Beavers made it to the semifinals of the College World Series before falling to LSU. In 2018, Larnach’s junior year, he was one of the best players in the country. Larnach hit .344/.458/.648 (1.106) with 18 doubles, 19 home runs, and 76 RBI. He was named to the All-American team, PAC-12 All-Conference Team, and received many other prestigious awards. On top of all of that, Larnach’s Beavers won the College World Series, much to his help. In the College World Series, Larnach hit .417/.447/.694 (1.142) with five doubles, one home run, and nine RBI. He also had the biggest hit of the World Series, a tie-breaking two home run in Oregon State’s elimination game with two outs in the top of the ninth. Larnach was drafted by the Twins in the first round (20th overall) in 2018. Larnach is a legend in Corvallis, and hopefully he can bring some of that playoff magic to the Minnesota Twins in the near future. Brent Rooker, OF, Mississippi State Rooker, unlike Larnach, was relatively unknown going into his freshman year at Mississippi State. Rooker did not see any action in his first year as a Bulldog, taking a redshirt year. His sophomore year, he played in 34 of the team’s 54 games, making 20 starts. He hit .257/.325/.378 (.703) with three doubles, two home runs, and 12 RBI. He primarily served as the team’s designated hitter and played a couple of games in left field. In Rooker's junior year, he took a major step forward. He hit .324/.376/.578 (.954) and had a team-best 11 home runs and 54 RBI. For this effort, Rooker was named to the All-SEC second team and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 38th round. However, Rooker opted not to sign and came back to Mississippi State for his senior season. Rooker just did that, having a historic 2017 for the Bulldogs. Rooker absolutely mashed, hitting .387/.495/.810 (1.305!!!). Rooker set the single-season Mississippi State record for doubles in a season with 30. He led the SEC in doubles, home runs (23), batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, and RBI (82). He even stole 18 bases. He was named All-SEC first team, All-American, SEC player of the year, and National Player of the Year. Rooker’s 2017 season is one of the best seasons by any college player in recent history, and he was drafted in the first round by the Twins with the 35th overall pick. Had Rooker signed in 2016, he would have received a $1,000 signing bonus. In 2017, he received a $1.935 million dollar signing bonus. Rooker bet on himself and it paid off. Who had the best college career out of these five? Which current Twins prospects that attended college are you most excited for? Leave a comment below and start a discussion Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! 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
  18. On the Twins 40-man roster, there are five position players who played college baseball. All five of these players had great success in college, leading them to get drafted in the top ten rounds of the MLB draft. Josh Donaldson, C/IF, Auburn After hitting .515 as a senior in high school, the future Twins third baseman decided to take his talents to Auburn University. In Donaldson's freshman year, he immediately made an impact on the Tigers. After seeing limited playing time for the first month of the season, he became their everyday third baseman in their series against Arkansas and never looked back. Donaldson finished his freshman campaign hitting .294/.347/.477 (.824) with seven doubles, seven home runs, and 26 RBI. Donaldson came into his sophomore year with increased responsibilities, as he was asked to catch. He made 56 starts (every game), with 36 being behind the dish and 20 being at third base. He once again was a very solid bat for the Tigers, hitting .276/.331/.487 (.818) with 16 doubles, ten home runs, and 42 RBI. This season earned him Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American status heading into his junior year. In Donaldson's junior year, he was stellar in all facets of the game. He hit .349/.444/.591 (1.035) with 19 doubles, 11 home runs, and 54 RBI. He also walked 38 times compared to only 27 strikeouts. One aspect of Donaldson’s game that really came into fruition was his baserunning. Donaldson stole 17 bases after only stealing one base between his first two years. It was clear from this standout season that Donaldson was ready for the big leagues, so he got drafted with the 48th overall pick by the Chicago Cubs after his junior season. Donaldson finished his career hitting .307/.378/.522 (.900) with 42 doubles, 28 home runs, and 122 RBI in 158 career games with the Tigers. Mitch Garver, C, University of New Mexico In 2013, the Twins used their ninth-round pick on a bat-first catcher out of the University of New Mexico by the name of Mitch Garver. A hometown kid, Garver grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was lucky enough to be able to stay at his hometown university for college at UNM. As a freshman, Garver served as the backup catcher to former Brewers farmhand Rafael Neda. He made 11 starts and hit .277/.351/.385 (.736) with five doubles and 15 RBI. Neda got drafted after this year, and Garver took the reins his sophomore year in which he started all 61 games. He improved at the plate, hitting .300/.380/.400 (.780) with 13 doubles, two home runs, 28 walks (led team), and 27 RBI. Garver went from a solid hitter his first two years to an absolute powerhouse his junior year. In his junior year, Garver once again started all 61 games, hitting .377/.438/.612 (1.050) with 27 doubles (led team), ten home runs, and 57 RBI. He earned Co-Mountain West Player of the Year honors, was named a national finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, and was named a second-team All-American by Louisville Slugger. Defensively, he was great, throwing out 39.6 percent of base stealers In his senior year, Garver once again started every game. He set the record for most consecutive games started at UNM with 181. He also hit .390/.458/.589 with 21 doubles, five triples, and six home runs. He also drove in 68 runs and was once again named a Johnny Bench finalist, Co-MW Player of the Year, and an Academic All-American for the fourth straight year. He finished his Lobo career 5th all-time in doubles and had the most career hits as a catcher in Lobo history. Ryan Jeffers, C, UNC Wilmington When Ryan Jeffers decided to go to UNC Wilmington, he would only be heading about two hours south from his hometown of Raleigh, NC. The three-time all-conference player in high school would go on to have an unbelievable career at Wilmington where he was one of the best catchers in the country. His freshman year, he served as the backup catcher behind future Diamondback farmhand Gavin Stupienski. Jeffers appeared in 13 games as a freshman, going 8-for-23 (.348) at the plate with three doubles and a home run. Although he did not see a whole lot of action in his freshman year of 2016, Jeffers showed a lot of promise and it was clear that he would be one of their best guys going forward, with Stupienski getting drafted following the 2016 season. In Jeffers’ sophomore campaign, he started 52 games and proved his success in 2016 was no fluke. He hit .328/.422/.604 (1.026) with 19 doubles, ten home runs, and 32 RBI. He also received a variety of honors, including NCCSIA First-Team All-State, ABCA All-East First-Team, and First-Team All-CAA. His third and final year at UNC Wilmington, he started all 62 games, hitting .315/.460/.635 (1.095) with 22 doubles, 16 home runs, 59 RBI, and 51 walks. He led the Colonial Athletic Association in doubles, home runs, OBP, and slugging percentage. He was once again named First-Team All-CAA and to the NCAA Greenville All-Regional team. Jeffers was rewarded for his great season by being drafted in the second round with the 59th pick by the Twins in the 2018 draft. Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State Despite being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the MLB Draft out of high school, Trevor Larnach opted not to sign and headed up to Corvallis, Oregon to start his college baseball career. Larnach’s freshman season at Oregon State was quite unremarkable. In 28 games (12 starts), Larnach hit a measly .157/.271/.176 (.447) with one double and three RBI. In increased playing time sophomore year (58 starts), Larnach hit .303/.421/.429 (.850) with 16 doubles, three home runs, 39 walks (led team), and 48 RBI (led team). He was named All-Pac-12 Conference Honorable Mention and was also named to the Corvallis Regional All-Tournament Team. The Oregon State Beavers made it to the semifinals of the College World Series before falling to LSU. In 2018, Larnach’s junior year, he was one of the best players in the country. Larnach hit .344/.458/.648 (1.106) with 18 doubles, 19 home runs, and 76 RBI. He was named to the All-American team, PAC-12 All-Conference Team, and received many other prestigious awards. On top of all of that, Larnach’s Beavers won the College World Series, much to his help. In the College World Series, Larnach hit .417/.447/.694 (1.142) with five doubles, one home run, and nine RBI. He also had the biggest hit of the World Series, a tie-breaking two home run in Oregon State’s elimination game with two outs in the top of the ninth. Larnach was drafted by the Twins in the first round (20th overall) in 2018. Larnach is a legend in Corvallis, and hopefully he can bring some of that playoff magic to the Minnesota Twins in the near future. Brent Rooker, OF, Mississippi State Rooker, unlike Larnach, was relatively unknown going into his freshman year at Mississippi State. Rooker did not see any action in his first year as a Bulldog, taking a redshirt year. His sophomore year, he played in 34 of the team’s 54 games, making 20 starts. He hit .257/.325/.378 (.703) with three doubles, two home runs, and 12 RBI. He primarily served as the team’s designated hitter and played a couple of games in left field. In Rooker's junior year, he took a major step forward. He hit .324/.376/.578 (.954) and had a team-best 11 home runs and 54 RBI. For this effort, Rooker was named to the All-SEC second team and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 38th round. However, Rooker opted not to sign and came back to Mississippi State for his senior season. Rooker just did that, having a historic 2017 for the Bulldogs. Rooker absolutely mashed, hitting .387/.495/.810 (1.305!!!). Rooker set the single-season Mississippi State record for doubles in a season with 30. He led the SEC in doubles, home runs (23), batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, and RBI (82). He even stole 18 bases. He was named All-SEC first team, All-American, SEC player of the year, and National Player of the Year. Rooker’s 2017 season is one of the best seasons by any college player in recent history, and he was drafted in the first round by the Twins with the 35th overall pick. Had Rooker signed in 2016, he would have received a $1,000 signing bonus. In 2017, he received a $1.935 million dollar signing bonus. Rooker bet on himself and it paid off. Who had the best college career out of these five? Which current Twins prospects that attended college are you most excited for? Leave a comment below and start a discussion Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email.
  19. Byron Buxton gets a lot of the focus for his myriad of injuries throughout his professional career, but he isn’t the only Twins player with an injury history. Here are two players that stayed healthy and productive during the 2021 season. Every season, some players can avoid injury and stay productive. MLB Trade Rumors identified 15 hitters who could quiet some of their injury concerns in 2021. Two of those players were critical components of Minnesota’s lineup last season. Josh Donaldson, 3B Recent Injury Woes: Missed 149 games between 2018-2020 2021 Season: 135 G, .247/.352/.475 (.827), 127 OPS+, 26 HR, 26 2B Donaldson signed with the Twins leading into the 2020 season, and expectations were high for his first campaign. This was especially true since he was coming off a season where he posted a 126 OPS+ while hitting 37 home runs and 33 doubles. Unfortunately, the pandemic shortened the season, and injuries limited him to 28 games. Many fans were frustrated that he wasn’t on the field, and some of those frustrations trickled over into his second season in Minnesota. Last season, Donaldson managed any injury concerns and played over 130 games for only the second time since 2016. Over the previous five years, he has been rotating between seasons marked by injury and healthy seasons. If this pattern holds, his 2022 campaign might be lining up for him to miss more time, especially since he will be in his age-36 season. Perhaps that is one reason the Twins would be willing to trade Donaldson this winter. At this point in his Twins tenure, it’s clear the Twins have failed Josh Donaldson. Minnesota is in the middle of their winning window, and he was signed as a veteran player to help push the club to playoff success. He has provided tremendous value when he has been on the field. Maybe the 2021 season points to him figuring out a long-term solution to some of his injury woes. Miguel Sanó, 1B Recent Injury Woes: Missed 155 games between 2018-2020 2021 Season: 135 G, .223/.312/.466 (.788), 112 OPS+, 30 HR, 24 2B In two of the last three seasons, Sanó has collected 30 or more home runs, so fans may have forgotten how much time he has missed due to injury. Last season, he played a career-high 135 games, which was 29 more than he had played in any other season. From 2018 to 2019, he averaged 88 games per season, which included some minor league demotions to find his swing. When Sanó makes contact, he ranks among baseball’s best at barreling up the ball. Last season, he ranked in the 97th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard-hit %, and barrel %. He also showed a dramatic improvement in his ability to draw walks as he finished the year in the 78th percentile compared to 2020, when he was in the 46th percentile. At this point, Sanó is a streaky big-league hitter that can still provide value to a team throughout a season. With Alex Kirilloff’s emergence, there is a good chance Sanó starts seeing more time as the team’s primary DH. Sanó is also in an important year for his future with the organization. Minnesota has a $14 million team option for 2023 with a $2.75 million buyout. It seems unlikely that the Twins will pick up that option, so Sanó is playing for his next contract this season. If he wants to stay in Minnesota, he will have to continue to prove he can stay healthy and provide value. Do you think both players can stay healthy in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  20. Every season, some players can avoid injury and stay productive. MLB Trade Rumors identified 15 hitters who could quiet some of their injury concerns in 2021. Two of those players were critical components of Minnesota’s lineup last season. Josh Donaldson, 3B Recent Injury Woes: Missed 149 games between 2018-2020 2021 Season: 135 G, .247/.352/.475 (.827), 127 OPS+, 26 HR, 26 2B Donaldson signed with the Twins leading into the 2020 season, and expectations were high for his first campaign. This was especially true since he was coming off a season where he posted a 126 OPS+ while hitting 37 home runs and 33 doubles. Unfortunately, the pandemic shortened the season, and injuries limited him to 28 games. Many fans were frustrated that he wasn’t on the field, and some of those frustrations trickled over into his second season in Minnesota. Last season, Donaldson managed any injury concerns and played over 130 games for only the second time since 2016. Over the previous five years, he has been rotating between seasons marked by injury and healthy seasons. If this pattern holds, his 2022 campaign might be lining up for him to miss more time, especially since he will be in his age-36 season. Perhaps that is one reason the Twins would be willing to trade Donaldson this winter. At this point in his Twins tenure, it’s clear the Twins have failed Josh Donaldson. Minnesota is in the middle of their winning window, and he was signed as a veteran player to help push the club to playoff success. He has provided tremendous value when he has been on the field. Maybe the 2021 season points to him figuring out a long-term solution to some of his injury woes. Miguel Sanó, 1B Recent Injury Woes: Missed 155 games between 2018-2020 2021 Season: 135 G, .223/.312/.466 (.788), 112 OPS+, 30 HR, 24 2B In two of the last three seasons, Sanó has collected 30 or more home runs, so fans may have forgotten how much time he has missed due to injury. Last season, he played a career-high 135 games, which was 29 more than he had played in any other season. From 2018 to 2019, he averaged 88 games per season, which included some minor league demotions to find his swing. When Sanó makes contact, he ranks among baseball’s best at barreling up the ball. Last season, he ranked in the 97th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard-hit %, and barrel %. He also showed a dramatic improvement in his ability to draw walks as he finished the year in the 78th percentile compared to 2020, when he was in the 46th percentile. At this point, Sanó is a streaky big-league hitter that can still provide value to a team throughout a season. With Alex Kirilloff’s emergence, there is a good chance Sanó starts seeing more time as the team’s primary DH. Sanó is also in an important year for his future with the organization. Minnesota has a $14 million team option for 2023 with a $2.75 million buyout. It seems unlikely that the Twins will pick up that option, so Sanó is playing for his next contract this season. If he wants to stay in Minnesota, he will have to continue to prove he can stay healthy and provide value. Do you think both players can stay healthy in 2022? 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. During the Covid-shortened 2020 season, MLB implemented the DH in the National League to see how it would work. It was also done for health reasons and to protect pitchers. Were the changes made in 2020 masked as a "benefit" for the players but lining the owners' pockets. It’s understood that owners want the DH to protect their pitchers, but they do not want to pay for what that would mean. If they want to pay pitchers more and protect them, having another player to pay is the only option. The effect is twofold. First, it's 15 more jobs for which MLB owners wouldn't have to pay premium prices. The National League would then have to pay a decent salary for a decent hitter. Or a position player would have to move into the DH role. So, which is more important to the owners? Are they protecting the pitcher or saving money? The Twins are not strangers to the designated hitter. The American League began playing with a DH nearly 50 years ago. It would not make a difference to the AL teams if Major League Baseball implemented the universal designated hitter. The managers know who they have, what they need, where their strengths and weaknesses are in the lineup. With that stated, bringing on a designated hitter from outside the organization is not in the Twins' best interest (sorry, Nelson Cruz fans). The Twins need a hitter that they can rely on to hit, bring in runners and get on base themselves. After Nelson Cruz was traded, the Twins used several different players as DH, particularly a hobbling Josh Donaldson. When using position players from the roster, while the DH can give a player a break, a team runs the risk of more injuries and fewer players to DH. Players are more likely to get hurt playing their position playing the field, which would remove them from playing DH, putting it on someone else. Having a full-time or tandem DH is what makes sense. It is common knowledge that the front office will find ways to save every penny they can. $30-40 Million left in revenue to spend is a fair chunk of change. However, if the Twins use someone already on the roster, they can use that money to bring in the pitching they desperately need. So what do the Twins do at the designated hitter spot? I am glad you asked. **Takes audible deep breath** Miguel Sano. Hear me out. There is a great divide in the Minnesota fanbase over Sano's ability to hit. He is a very streaky hitter. Last season, he reached 1,000 strikeouts in the fewest games (661) in MLB history. He lacked plate discipline at times. If he sees a ball in his zone, he swings at it. Pitchers are not afraid to pitch to him because of his strikeouts and lack of consistent content. However, they also know that he can hit a ball-into-next week if his timing is right. During the 2019 season, the newly-acquired Nelson Cruz saw Sano struggling and took an interest in helping him improve his plate appearances. Cruz invited Sano to meet with him and hitting coaches Edgar Varela and Rudy Hernandez, who Cruz frequently used to help him improve his hitting and technique. Sano put in the hard work, not shying away from asking questions and even calling Valera or Hernandez to discuss mechanics when they weren't meeting. In 2019 Sano had an outstanding season. His contact was harder, balls went farther and faster off the bat. His stance, timing, and mechanics also improved. His ability to be patient and read pitchers became an asset. Nelson Cruz had not only stepped in as a father figure but also as a friend and a coach. Sano may not have had a 'record-breaking year' in 2021; in fact, he was streaky at best throughout the first half of the season, but because Alex Kirilloff kept getting hurt, Sano stayed in the lineup and worked hard to stay where he was. Last season, Sano had a career-low strikeout percentage (32.3%). He relied on his timing and mechanics shown to him by Cruz and the coaches to help him drive in 75 runs and launch 30 home runs into the stands. Sano made significant improvements to his plate appearances, and he is not the greatest at first base. Taking him off of first base would not be a loss for the Twins. Sano has firm control of his swing, and even in Twins losses, his presence adds excitement to the game and runs to the board. Sano easily is the best choice for a full-time designated hitter. There could be an argument for Josh Donaldson joining in tandem due to his already high-cost contract and consistent hitting. Donaldson may need a break from third base, and a rotating DH position for him wouldn't be out of the question. Donaldson is one of the best hitters on the team for the Twins, he has a batting average of .247 and an equally impressive OPS of .827, but has pre-existing injury conditions and he has a consistently declining batting average. Miguel Sano has less time on Injured Reserve and would be on the roster more consistently than Donaldson. Sano was shown how to get the most out of an at-bat by the best-designated hitter in the league, and he was also not afraid to put in the work to improve. His batting average may be lower than Donaldson’s, but this past season, in 2021, he had more at-bats of any year - showing that he is consistently on the roster more. When Nelson Cruz left on July 22, 2021, Sano quite literally slid into Cruz's pants and poured his heart and work ethic into his plate appearances to show the clubhouse and the fans that in his final season (before the 2023 club option), this is where he deserves to be. Who's on first? So naturally, the next question would be who would play first base? The Twins have moved players up and down from St. Paul to see what fits. There has been success with Alex Kirilloff. First base and the outfield have a few players that could easily take over that position and even leave room to bring up a St. Paul player if needed to another position. Alex Kirilloff has proven to be an asset to the Twins 40-man roster. Kirilloff was drafted 15th overall in the first round of the 2016 MLB draft. He was a hot commodity, and the organization knew it. He has spent his entire career from the minors to the majors with the Twins organization rotating between the corner outfield positions and first base, showing that he has some versatility. Kirilloff is a good outfielder but is best served at first base, and he could potentially be a gold glove contender. Last season, he showed that he deserves to be in the big leagues. In 215 at-bats, Kirilloff hit .251 with eight home runs and a .722 OPS. Barring any complications from his wrist surgery, this writer believes Kirilloff would make an outstanding first baseman. The Twins have an arsenal of players at their disposal for not only the lineup, but it also leaves the ability to move players around and still have depth. The Twins farm system was ranked number 12out of 30 by MLB Pipeline. Alex Kirilloff was ranked number 26 in the top 100 prospects by MLB Pipeline a year ago and was the Twins Daily top prospect. The farm system is doing the work that the Twins need to create a strong team that will hopefully take them to the postseason. What do you think the Twins should do at the Designated Hitter position in 2022? View full article
  22. It’s understood that owners want the DH to protect their pitchers, but they do not want to pay for what that would mean. If they want to pay pitchers more and protect them, having another player to pay is the only option. The effect is twofold. First, it's 15 more jobs for which MLB owners wouldn't have to pay premium prices. The National League would then have to pay a decent salary for a decent hitter. Or a position player would have to move into the DH role. So, which is more important to the owners? Are they protecting the pitcher or saving money? The Twins are not strangers to the designated hitter. The American League began playing with a DH nearly 50 years ago. It would not make a difference to the AL teams if Major League Baseball implemented the universal designated hitter. The managers know who they have, what they need, where their strengths and weaknesses are in the lineup. With that stated, bringing on a designated hitter from outside the organization is not in the Twins' best interest (sorry, Nelson Cruz fans). The Twins need a hitter that they can rely on to hit, bring in runners and get on base themselves. After Nelson Cruz was traded, the Twins used several different players as DH, particularly a hobbling Josh Donaldson. When using position players from the roster, while the DH can give a player a break, a team runs the risk of more injuries and fewer players to DH. Players are more likely to get hurt playing their position playing the field, which would remove them from playing DH, putting it on someone else. Having a full-time or tandem DH is what makes sense. It is common knowledge that the front office will find ways to save every penny they can. $30-40 Million left in revenue to spend is a fair chunk of change. However, if the Twins use someone already on the roster, they can use that money to bring in the pitching they desperately need. So what do the Twins do at the designated hitter spot? I am glad you asked. **Takes audible deep breath** Miguel Sano. Hear me out. There is a great divide in the Minnesota fanbase over Sano's ability to hit. He is a very streaky hitter. Last season, he reached 1,000 strikeouts in the fewest games (661) in MLB history. He lacked plate discipline at times. If he sees a ball in his zone, he swings at it. Pitchers are not afraid to pitch to him because of his strikeouts and lack of consistent content. However, they also know that he can hit a ball-into-next week if his timing is right. During the 2019 season, the newly-acquired Nelson Cruz saw Sano struggling and took an interest in helping him improve his plate appearances. Cruz invited Sano to meet with him and hitting coaches Edgar Varela and Rudy Hernandez, who Cruz frequently used to help him improve his hitting and technique. Sano put in the hard work, not shying away from asking questions and even calling Valera or Hernandez to discuss mechanics when they weren't meeting. In 2019 Sano had an outstanding season. His contact was harder, balls went farther and faster off the bat. His stance, timing, and mechanics also improved. His ability to be patient and read pitchers became an asset. Nelson Cruz had not only stepped in as a father figure but also as a friend and a coach. Sano may not have had a 'record-breaking year' in 2021; in fact, he was streaky at best throughout the first half of the season, but because Alex Kirilloff kept getting hurt, Sano stayed in the lineup and worked hard to stay where he was. Last season, Sano had a career-low strikeout percentage (32.3%). He relied on his timing and mechanics shown to him by Cruz and the coaches to help him drive in 75 runs and launch 30 home runs into the stands. Sano made significant improvements to his plate appearances, and he is not the greatest at first base. Taking him off of first base would not be a loss for the Twins. Sano has firm control of his swing, and even in Twins losses, his presence adds excitement to the game and runs to the board. Sano easily is the best choice for a full-time designated hitter. There could be an argument for Josh Donaldson joining in tandem due to his already high-cost contract and consistent hitting. Donaldson may need a break from third base, and a rotating DH position for him wouldn't be out of the question. Donaldson is one of the best hitters on the team for the Twins, he has a batting average of .247 and an equally impressive OPS of .827, but has pre-existing injury conditions and he has a consistently declining batting average. Miguel Sano has less time on Injured Reserve and would be on the roster more consistently than Donaldson. Sano was shown how to get the most out of an at-bat by the best-designated hitter in the league, and he was also not afraid to put in the work to improve. His batting average may be lower than Donaldson’s, but this past season, in 2021, he had more at-bats of any year - showing that he is consistently on the roster more. When Nelson Cruz left on July 22, 2021, Sano quite literally slid into Cruz's pants and poured his heart and work ethic into his plate appearances to show the clubhouse and the fans that in his final season (before the 2023 club option), this is where he deserves to be. Who's on first? So naturally, the next question would be who would play first base? The Twins have moved players up and down from St. Paul to see what fits. There has been success with Alex Kirilloff. First base and the outfield have a few players that could easily take over that position and even leave room to bring up a St. Paul player if needed to another position. Alex Kirilloff has proven to be an asset to the Twins 40-man roster. Kirilloff was drafted 15th overall in the first round of the 2016 MLB draft. He was a hot commodity, and the organization knew it. He has spent his entire career from the minors to the majors with the Twins organization rotating between the corner outfield positions and first base, showing that he has some versatility. Kirilloff is a good outfielder but is best served at first base, and he could potentially be a gold glove contender. Last season, he showed that he deserves to be in the big leagues. In 215 at-bats, Kirilloff hit .251 with eight home runs and a .722 OPS. Barring any complications from his wrist surgery, this writer believes Kirilloff would make an outstanding first baseman. The Twins have an arsenal of players at their disposal for not only the lineup, but it also leaves the ability to move players around and still have depth. The Twins farm system was ranked number 12out of 30 by MLB Pipeline. Alex Kirilloff was ranked number 26 in the top 100 prospects by MLB Pipeline a year ago and was the Twins Daily top prospect. The farm system is doing the work that the Twins need to create a strong team that will hopefully take them to the postseason. What do you think the Twins should do at the Designated Hitter position in 2022?
  23. A little over two years ago, reports broke that the Twins agreed with Josh Donaldson on a four-year $92 million deal. It’s a surreal experience to look back on that day. Not only was the news groundbreaking—the Twins broke the dam and finally signed a big-name free agent to an expensive contract, but the memory exists in a time and place just weeks before COVID would alter our lives forever. There was hope (at least, as much hope that could exist amongst Minnesota sports fans), as the winds of change seemed to blow in our favor for once. Now? I’m left wondering what ultimately is Donaldson’s legacy on the Twins. Certainly, Josh Donaldson cannot be the one to blame for the putrid 2021 season; that existed outside of his sphere of influence. Unless he secretly siphoned off all the talent from the pitching staff while bullying Max Kepler by placing pictures of his BABIP in his locker before every game, the disastrous year should not be attributed to him. In fact, I would argue that he did exactly what the team asked of him. His somewhat disappointing 124 wRC+ masks batted ball data that suggests he should have hit at an MVP level in 2021. If those balls allude outfielders like they were supposed to, then we’re talking about Donaldson as a tragic hero, an excellent performer stuck on a bad team. Click the link and you'll see enough red to give Senator Joseph McCarthy a heart attack. His xwOBA is right in line with his peak years on the Toronto Blue Jays—some better luck would have altered the season and turned the Twins from bad to... still pretty bad, but with a better third baseman. Ultimately, his batted-ball numbers change little about the team as a whole, but it does improve Donaldson's footing; perhaps the vitriol of fans washes over him if his wRC+ is upped by 30-40 points. But those balls didn’t safely land in the grass. They were caught. And the team stunk. And stats disagree on his defense. And the team stunk. So, now we’re halfway through a contract that was supposed to represent a changing tide for the Twins organization, and all there is to show for it is a playoff series sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros, a series that Donaldson did not participate in. The conversation has moved on from discussing Donaldson as the veteran that will lead the Twins to higher greatness. Now we ask whether or not his contract should be dumped onto some rich team like the Mets so that we can warm the seat for Jose Miranda, Austin Martin, or another prospect who represents the soft rebuild the team is inevitably embracing. Funny how much two years can change things. But none of this is his fault. It’s somewhat odd, really, that the team failed solidly in 2021, yet the big-name free agent signing was not the reason for such disaster. Donaldson did as we expected, or, to play off the words of the great Dennis Green; he was who we thought he was. He hit well, made headlines for comments made outside of the diamond, made headlines for comments made inside of the diamond, was told to meet Lucas Giolito outside, met Lucas Giolito outside, and, ultimately, flashed a level of showmanship possibly unmatched in franchise history. If you’re the type who is unimpressed by xwOBA, BABIP, or any other vaguely medicinal-sounding advanced stat, you at least can’t argue that Donaldson has brought entertainment to the team. I don’t know if Josh Donaldson will be on the Twins for the 2022 season. The front office has played their cards close to their hand as usual; after the lockout ends, I could wake up to the headline that the team signed Trevor Story and be just as surprised had I woke up to see that they dealt Jorge Polanco. The Twins under Derek Falvey and Thad Levine relish refusing to act until they absolutely must—a bowl is most useful when it is empty, after all. If Donaldson remains, he will be left as the eldest leader of a currently youthful squad—just three players currently on the 40-man roster were born during the Reagan administration. The team would have to rebound dramatically to make good on the promises made following the 2019 season. If the Twins decide to trade him, then I can say for sure that it was the team that failed Donaldson, not the other way around. I hope the biggest free-agent signing in franchise history gets the chance to lead a legendary Twins squad properly, but the real world is not as poetic as hopes and dreams; wrongs cannot be righted by the whims of an author and the randomness of life can often spoil even the prettiest of visions. 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
  24. Certainly, Josh Donaldson cannot be the one to blame for the putrid 2021 season; that existed outside of his sphere of influence. Unless he secretly siphoned off all the talent from the pitching staff while bullying Max Kepler by placing pictures of his BABIP in his locker before every game, the disastrous year should not be attributed to him. In fact, I would argue that he did exactly what the team asked of him. His somewhat disappointing 124 wRC+ masks batted ball data that suggests he should have hit at an MVP level in 2021. If those balls allude outfielders like they were supposed to, then we’re talking about Donaldson as a tragic hero, an excellent performer stuck on a bad team. Click the link and you'll see enough red to give Senator Joseph McCarthy a heart attack. His xwOBA is right in line with his peak years on the Toronto Blue Jays—some better luck would have altered the season and turned the Twins from bad to... still pretty bad, but with a better third baseman. Ultimately, his batted-ball numbers change little about the team as a whole, but it does improve Donaldson's footing; perhaps the vitriol of fans washes over him if his wRC+ is upped by 30-40 points. But those balls didn’t safely land in the grass. They were caught. And the team stunk. And stats disagree on his defense. And the team stunk. So, now we’re halfway through a contract that was supposed to represent a changing tide for the Twins organization, and all there is to show for it is a playoff series sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros, a series that Donaldson did not participate in. The conversation has moved on from discussing Donaldson as the veteran that will lead the Twins to higher greatness. Now we ask whether or not his contract should be dumped onto some rich team like the Mets so that we can warm the seat for Jose Miranda, Austin Martin, or another prospect who represents the soft rebuild the team is inevitably embracing. Funny how much two years can change things. But none of this is his fault. It’s somewhat odd, really, that the team failed solidly in 2021, yet the big-name free agent signing was not the reason for such disaster. Donaldson did as we expected, or, to play off the words of the great Dennis Green; he was who we thought he was. He hit well, made headlines for comments made outside of the diamond, made headlines for comments made inside of the diamond, was told to meet Lucas Giolito outside, met Lucas Giolito outside, and, ultimately, flashed a level of showmanship possibly unmatched in franchise history. If you’re the type who is unimpressed by xwOBA, BABIP, or any other vaguely medicinal-sounding advanced stat, you at least can’t argue that Donaldson has brought entertainment to the team. I don’t know if Josh Donaldson will be on the Twins for the 2022 season. The front office has played their cards close to their hand as usual; after the lockout ends, I could wake up to the headline that the team signed Trevor Story and be just as surprised had I woke up to see that they dealt Jorge Polanco. The Twins under Derek Falvey and Thad Levine relish refusing to act until they absolutely must—a bowl is most useful when it is empty, after all. If Donaldson remains, he will be left as the eldest leader of a currently youthful squad—just three players currently on the 40-man roster were born during the Reagan administration. The team would have to rebound dramatically to make good on the promises made following the 2019 season. If the Twins decide to trade him, then I can say for sure that it was the team that failed Donaldson, not the other way around. I hope the biggest free-agent signing in franchise history gets the chance to lead a legendary Twins squad properly, but the real world is not as poetic as hopes and dreams; wrongs cannot be righted by the whims of an author and the randomness of life can often spoil even the prettiest of visions. 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. It seems like a disappointing 2021 for the team has spilled into feelings of disappointment toward players who don’t deserve it. Josh Donaldson is perhaps the best example of this. Even for die-hard Twins fans, it’s easy to miss how impressive Donaldson still was in 2021. 2020 was admittedly a bad start to the four-year, $92m contract the Twins gave Josh Donaldson after whiffing on a big-name starting pitcher the offseason before. The former MVP missed more than half of the 60-game season with injuries including the best of three playoff series that ended in a whimper from the offense. Per game, however, Donaldson was the same star hitter he always has been, and he showed that across a much bigger body of work in 2021. For those unfamiliar with MLBs use of Statcast measurements, these numbers read in percentiles, meaning Donaldson is in the 99th percentile in average exit velocity, 95th percentile in barrel percentage, etc. In most offensive measurements, Donaldson’s raw skills were among the top 5-10% in all of baseball. For a season many considered disappointing, I think such a strong showing deserves some context. As you can see, Donaldson actually bested fan-favorite Nelson Cruz in many raw measurements in 2021 according to Statcast. It’s interesting to look at considering one of these players is discussed as the cornerstone of whatever lineup he’s in while the other is being discussed as a possible salary dump. Why might that be? 2020 Left a Bitter Taste 2020 was a season that likely had the front office wishing for a do-over on the largest free-agent contract the team had ever handed out. There was an understandable amount of frustration as the biggest addition to the team was nowhere to be seen for most of a season where the Twins captured their second consecutive division title only to be swept out of the playoffs once again. To make matters worse, those feelings of frustration had gasoline thrown onto the fire when Donaldson injured his hamstring on opening day 2021 and missed a chunk of time. For many, their minds were made up. Donaldson’s availability down the stretch was an incredible accomplishment, however, and showed that while his injury concerns are very much a reality, he’s still capable of being an everyday player across a full season. To once again make a Cruz vs. Donaldson comparison, DH Nelson Cruz played in 140 games compared to Donaldson’s 135 in 2021 which may surprise even the biggest Twins fans to hear. 2021 Was Unlucky The ongoing joke in 2021 was the continued use of the phrase “bad luck” as so much went wrong that it’s impossible to chalk it all up to misfortune. For Donaldson however, we have Statcast measurements saying his raw offensive ability hasn’t declined at all at age 35. His .247 average was much lower than his .268 expected batting average. His .475 slugging percentage was much lower than his .541 expected slugging. He also hit four fewer home runs than expected given the way he impacts the ball. His speed on the bases may be a partial explanation for these discrepancies but his hampered legs can only explain away a portion of these gaps in expected performance. If you aren’t a believer in expected stats, it’s still difficult to look back and be disappointed in his body of work that included a triple slash of .247/.352/.475, good for 24% above league average. Repeating that line would be just fine for 2022, but he appears to still have the physical capabilities to garner MVP votes if he can remain on the field as he did in 2021. So why point out Donaldson’s impressive performance in 2021? To be honest, he doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves. His impact would have essentially erased a disappointing 2020 in the eyes of fans had he performed exactly the same and the team hadn’t crumbled. Statcast says he could have performed even better. He’s talked about like he’s over the hill and his contract needs to be dumped before it’s too late so the Twins can improve. In reality, however, Donaldson is probably one of the three most important pieces of the Twins offense in 2022. Without Nelson Cruz, Donaldson is an important figure on the team not just on the field, but as a veteran-hitting savant who can have a huge impact on the upcoming prospects. It’s entirely possible that Donaldson’s health in 2022 could go the way of 2020 rather than 2021. That being said, at bat for at bat there still aren’t a ton of players you want in the heart of your lineup over Josh Donaldson, and he’s still a tantalizing talent that should have Twins fans looking forward to the beginning of the 2022 season. — 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
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