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  1. Last offseason the Twins made a shocking trade with the Yankees, parting with one of their highest paid players and their assumed future shortstop for a couple of pieces back. Now that we have a full season of data, it’s time to revisit. Image courtesy of Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports The Twins previous offseason was a flurry of surprising moves. A team that was typically pretty quiet and tame in terms of their acquisitions made several big trades in an attempt to return to relevance in the standings. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition, but is it possible that parting with their starting third baseman and new shortstop actually better positioned them? The Twins Trade Away Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa Despite the remaining 2 years and $42m remaining on his contract, the Twins traded Donaldson to the Bronx last winter with whispers swirling that he had worn out his welcome. The former MVP played in 135 games in 2021, his most since his fantastic 2019, but still had modest results. Seeking to cleanse the clubhouse and avoid a potential drop off in production, this side of the Twins gamble worked. Donaldson continued causing issues in New York and he had his worst offensive year since 2012. He slashed .222/.308/.374, 3% below league average despite the harsh offensive environment. His defense did rebound and he stayed healthy for 132 games, but it’s safe to say the Twins are happy with this decision. Isiah Kiner-Falefa wasn’t on the Twins long enough to even have jerseys made, having been acquired shortly before in the Mitch Garver deal. The assumed starting shortstop, IKF had a reputation as a gamer even though he lacked any standout skills. He had the kind of season you’d expect from the light-hitting infielder, slashing .261/.314/.327. As usual, his defense was good or bad depending on the metric. This pair being shipped out allowed the Twins to sign Correa, who undeniably provided significantly more value than their initial plan at shortstop. IKF wasn’t even the starting shortstop more often than not come playoff time for the Yankees, a testament to how this trade just did not work out for New York at all. The Twins Receive Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela Gary Sanchez had a strange year. The Yankees just didn’t want him behind the plate anymore regardless of his bat, so naturally he came to Minnesota and his skills behind the plate became his carrying tool. His .205/.282/.377 line was surprisingly bad, as his standout bat completely cratered but his framing and general defense was his boon. In other circumstances it’s possible Sanchez would have either lost significant playing time or not finish the season on the team. Injuries, however, had him starting near everyday. His struggles will likely cost him this winter, as it’s doubtful a team will suddenly see him as a plus-defender and it seems the Twins were left holding the bag on his offensive dropoff. Gio Urshela was the prize of this deal. Similar to Kiner-Falefa, defensive metrics conflict on his value, but he routinely makes some eye-popping plays at the hot corner. His .285/.338/.429 slash line was a trip back to his 2019 and 2020 peak offensive seasons, both of which looked to be a product of the juiced ball and a shortened schedule. Sure enough however, Urshela was one of the Twins few bright spots down the stretch, and surely played himself into being tendered a contract for 2023. “Winning a trade” is all about opinion. Some argue the aggregate value tells the story, others like to be receiving the best player in the deal. In the Twins case, they won on both measures. Donaldson (1.6) and Kiner-Falefa (1.3) combined for 2.9 fWAR in comparison to Sanchez (1.3) and Urshela (2.4) equaling 3.7. If that wasn’t convincing enough, consider that Donaldson has another year remaining for $21m plus another $8M guaranteed in the form of a 2024 buyout. No longer a middle of the order bat and at increased risk for another injury, possible disaster looms for whatever team he’s on in 2023. IKF also has one remaining arbitration year, which is likely to either get non-tendered or traded after failing to nail down the shortstop job with several prospects on the horizon for the Yankees. On the Twins end, they certainly could’ve done better than Gary Sanchez with the $9m he was paid, but that was the cost of doing business and he’s off their books moving forward. Urshela’s arbitration value will likely settle around $9-10m, a reasonable price if he approaches anything near his 2022 output. In both the 2022 season and moving forward, this deal has created headaches on the Yankees side while the Twins undoubtedly became a better team as a result. This is without even mentioning the door to the Correa signing that was opened. Biases aside, it’s hard not to call this trade a win for the Twins. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that even Yankee fans would agree. There’s a chance this deal evens back out based on Donaldson’s or Kiner-Falefa’s performances in 2023, but there’s a better chance it gets even worse. Do you agree that this was a massive win for the Twins? Is it too early to make a determination? Let us know below! View full article
  2. The Twins previous offseason was a flurry of surprising moves. A team that was typically pretty quiet and tame in terms of their acquisitions made several big trades in an attempt to return to relevance in the standings. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition, but is it possible that parting with their starting third baseman and new shortstop actually better positioned them? The Twins Trade Away Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa Despite the remaining 2 years and $42m remaining on his contract, the Twins traded Donaldson to the Bronx last winter with whispers swirling that he had worn out his welcome. The former MVP played in 135 games in 2021, his most since his fantastic 2019, but still had modest results. Seeking to cleanse the clubhouse and avoid a potential drop off in production, this side of the Twins gamble worked. Donaldson continued causing issues in New York and he had his worst offensive year since 2012. He slashed .222/.308/.374, 3% below league average despite the harsh offensive environment. His defense did rebound and he stayed healthy for 132 games, but it’s safe to say the Twins are happy with this decision. Isiah Kiner-Falefa wasn’t on the Twins long enough to even have jerseys made, having been acquired shortly before in the Mitch Garver deal. The assumed starting shortstop, IKF had a reputation as a gamer even though he lacked any standout skills. He had the kind of season you’d expect from the light-hitting infielder, slashing .261/.314/.327. As usual, his defense was good or bad depending on the metric. This pair being shipped out allowed the Twins to sign Correa, who undeniably provided significantly more value than their initial plan at shortstop. IKF wasn’t even the starting shortstop more often than not come playoff time for the Yankees, a testament to how this trade just did not work out for New York at all. The Twins Receive Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela Gary Sanchez had a strange year. The Yankees just didn’t want him behind the plate anymore regardless of his bat, so naturally he came to Minnesota and his skills behind the plate became his carrying tool. His .205/.282/.377 line was surprisingly bad, as his standout bat completely cratered but his framing and general defense was his boon. In other circumstances it’s possible Sanchez would have either lost significant playing time or not finish the season on the team. Injuries, however, had him starting near everyday. His struggles will likely cost him this winter, as it’s doubtful a team will suddenly see him as a plus-defender and it seems the Twins were left holding the bag on his offensive dropoff. Gio Urshela was the prize of this deal. Similar to Kiner-Falefa, defensive metrics conflict on his value, but he routinely makes some eye-popping plays at the hot corner. His .285/.338/.429 slash line was a trip back to his 2019 and 2020 peak offensive seasons, both of which looked to be a product of the juiced ball and a shortened schedule. Sure enough however, Urshela was one of the Twins few bright spots down the stretch, and surely played himself into being tendered a contract for 2023. “Winning a trade” is all about opinion. Some argue the aggregate value tells the story, others like to be receiving the best player in the deal. In the Twins case, they won on both measures. Donaldson (1.6) and Kiner-Falefa (1.3) combined for 2.9 fWAR in comparison to Sanchez (1.3) and Urshela (2.4) equaling 3.7. If that wasn’t convincing enough, consider that Donaldson has another year remaining for $21m plus another $8M guaranteed in the form of a 2024 buyout. No longer a middle of the order bat and at increased risk for another injury, possible disaster looms for whatever team he’s on in 2023. IKF also has one remaining arbitration year, which is likely to either get non-tendered or traded after failing to nail down the shortstop job with several prospects on the horizon for the Yankees. On the Twins end, they certainly could’ve done better than Gary Sanchez with the $9m he was paid, but that was the cost of doing business and he’s off their books moving forward. Urshela’s arbitration value will likely settle around $9-10m, a reasonable price if he approaches anything near his 2022 output. In both the 2022 season and moving forward, this deal has created headaches on the Yankees side while the Twins undoubtedly became a better team as a result. This is without even mentioning the door to the Correa signing that was opened. Biases aside, it’s hard not to call this trade a win for the Twins. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that even Yankee fans would agree. There’s a chance this deal evens back out based on Donaldson’s or Kiner-Falefa’s performances in 2023, but there’s a better chance it gets even worse. Do you agree that this was a massive win for the Twins? Is it too early to make a determination? Let us know below!
  3. Gio Urshela was one of Minnesota's most reliable players in 2022, but Jose Miranda's emergence might make him expendable. Will the Twins trade Urshela? Image courtesy of Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports Minnesota's roster has depth at multiple big-league positions, allowing the front office to exercise creativity this offseason. The current regime hasn't been afraid of making trades to solidify the roster and keep the team's winning window open as long as possible. As the offseason begins, it's essential to identify some of the team's possible trade candidates. What Did He Do in 2022? Gio Urshela's first season in a Twins uniform went about as good as one could expect. He hit .285/.338/.429 (.767) with a 119 wRC+ and a 121 OPS+. He ranked in the 60th percentile or higher in max exit velocity, xBA, xSLG, and K%. Carlos Correa, Luis Arraez, and Byron Buxton were the only Twins players to accumulate more WAR. His defense was below average as he ranked 8th among AL third baseman in SDI while also being in the 11th percentile for Outs Above Average. Overall, Urshela is an above-average big-leaguer, proving that again in 2022. Many will compare Urshela to Josh Donaldson since they played the same position and were included in the same trade. Urshela's OPS+ was 27 points higher than Donaldson's while accumulating 0.7 more WAR. Donaldson continues to be a superior defender to Urshela, but he was a below-average hitter in 2022. They are unique players at different points in their careers, but Urshela had the stronger 2022 season. Why is He a Trade Candidate? Jose Miranda's emergence over the last two seasons points to him becoming the team's long-term third baseman. In his rookie season, Miranda hit .268/.325/.426 (.751) with a 117 wRC+. He finished second in the TD Rookie of the Year voting, which came on the heels of a breakout 2021 season in the minors. Miranda plans to make improvements this winter by training with Carlos Correa. Derek Falvey also spoke highly of Miranda in his year-end press conference, which can signify that the team is ready for him to have a full-time role. Urshela's presence on the roster may be superfluous with Miranda's accolades. What is His Trade Value? Urshela will enter his final arbitration year and projects to get more than $9 million. FanGraphs pegs his value last season at $18.9 million, so his salary is below his production level. There will likely be a variety of teams interested in adding a solid regular to their line-up. However, Urshela is in his final year of team control, which impacts how much teams will be willing to surrender. It doesn't seem likely for Urshela to be worth a king's ransom, but he is worth multiple mid-tier prospects with upside. The Twins aren't forced to trade Urshela this winter because he showed the team the value he can provide in 2022. But injuries can impact the big-league roster, and Urshela might be needed as depth if there are injuries to other parts of the roster. Urshela will be the lone player remaining from the Josh Donaldson trade, so it will be interesting to see if the Twins can continue to get value from what looked like a salary dump trade. Do you think the Twins will try and trade Urshela? What kind of value do you think he has? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  4. Minnesota's roster has depth at multiple big-league positions, allowing the front office to exercise creativity this offseason. The current regime hasn't been afraid of making trades to solidify the roster and keep the team's winning window open as long as possible. As the offseason begins, it's essential to identify some of the team's possible trade candidates. What Did He Do in 2022? Gio Urshela's first season in a Twins uniform went about as good as one could expect. He hit .285/.338/.429 (.767) with a 119 wRC+ and a 121 OPS+. He ranked in the 60th percentile or higher in max exit velocity, xBA, xSLG, and K%. Carlos Correa, Luis Arraez, and Byron Buxton were the only Twins players to accumulate more WAR. His defense was below average as he ranked 8th among AL third baseman in SDI while also being in the 11th percentile for Outs Above Average. Overall, Urshela is an above-average big-leaguer, proving that again in 2022. Many will compare Urshela to Josh Donaldson since they played the same position and were included in the same trade. Urshela's OPS+ was 27 points higher than Donaldson's while accumulating 0.7 more WAR. Donaldson continues to be a superior defender to Urshela, but he was a below-average hitter in 2022. They are unique players at different points in their careers, but Urshela had the stronger 2022 season. Why is He a Trade Candidate? Jose Miranda's emergence over the last two seasons points to him becoming the team's long-term third baseman. In his rookie season, Miranda hit .268/.325/.426 (.751) with a 117 wRC+. He finished second in the TD Rookie of the Year voting, which came on the heels of a breakout 2021 season in the minors. Miranda plans to make improvements this winter by training with Carlos Correa. Derek Falvey also spoke highly of Miranda in his year-end press conference, which can signify that the team is ready for him to have a full-time role. Urshela's presence on the roster may be superfluous with Miranda's accolades. What is His Trade Value? Urshela will enter his final arbitration year and projects to get more than $9 million. FanGraphs pegs his value last season at $18.9 million, so his salary is below his production level. There will likely be a variety of teams interested in adding a solid regular to their line-up. However, Urshela is in his final year of team control, which impacts how much teams will be willing to surrender. It doesn't seem likely for Urshela to be worth a king's ransom, but he is worth multiple mid-tier prospects with upside. The Twins aren't forced to trade Urshela this winter because he showed the team the value he can provide in 2022. But injuries can impact the big-league roster, and Urshela might be needed as depth if there are injuries to other parts of the roster. Urshela will be the lone player remaining from the Josh Donaldson trade, so it will be interesting to see if the Twins can continue to get value from what looked like a salary dump trade. Do you think the Twins will try and trade Urshela? What kind of value do you think he has? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. Minnesota fell out of playoff contention, but there are plenty of former Twins to watch in October. Here are six former Twins that fans can follow during their new team’s playoff run. Image courtesy of David Banks-USA TODAY Sports Some of these players left after poor performances, while others were never even given a chance to suit up in a game. New York has seen multiple former Twins find different levels of success on the position player side, while the other playoff rosters will use former Minnesota pitchers. There’s a good chance at least one former Twins player will represent the AL in the World Series. Yankees: Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Aaron Hicks Hicks is the longest-tenured Yankee of this group, as he has played over 600 games in pinstripes. During the 2022 season, he has hit .224/.334/.324 (.658), which translates to a 90 OPS+ in over 120 games. It’s only the second time he has played over 123 games since being traded to New York. Most Of his defensive innings have come in center field, where his -4.0 SDI is the second lowest in the American League. Age has continued to impact Donaldson, and the Yankees have less time for him to play DH. In his age-36 season, his OPS dropped below .750 for the first time in a decade. His defense continues to be terrific as he leads all AL third basemen in SDI, and only four defenders have accumulated more SDI than him this season. Donaldson has over 167 playoff plate appearances, and the Yankees hope his experience pays off in October. Kiner-Falefa’s Twins tenure lasted hours as the team quickly dealt him to the Yankees after acquiring him from the Rangers. His first season in New York has gone about as expected on both sides of the plate. Offensively, he has hit .263/.315/.331 (.646) with 24 extra-base hits in 137 games. Defensively, he ranks seventh among AL shortstops in SDI, which is two spots behind Minnesota’s Carlos Correa. Astros: Ryan Pressly Pressly continues to be a dominant closer for the Astros, one of two powerhouse teams in the AL. In 47 appearances this season, he has a 2.91 ERA with a 0.86 WHIP and a career-high 31 saves. He has posted an 11.8 K/9 as he has struck out nearly 35% of the batters facing him. The Astros are one of the favorites for the AL pennant, and Pressly will be asked to close out some critical games in the coming weeks. Blue Jays: Jose Berrios Berrios has gone through a terrible first full season in Toronto as he leads in AL in hits allowed and earned runs. He had been so consistent throughout his career that it’s hard to pinpoint where things have gone wrong with the Blue Jays. There is no guarantee that Berrios will be included in Toronto’s rotation for the playoffs. Would the team try to use him as a bullpen option? That seems unlikely since he has never previously been used in that role. Rays: JT Chargois Minnesota selected Chargois in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft, but he only made 25 appearances with the club back in 2016. Since then, he has bounced around to multiple organizations before landing with the Rays over the last two seasons. He’s been limited to 19 appearances this season because of an oblique injury, but he seems to be healthy as the team gets closer to October. In 19 1/3 innings, he has a 2.79 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP and a 14-to-5 strikeout to walk ratio. Perhaps Chargois can be a secret weapon for the Rays. Which former Twin will have the best postseason? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  6. Some of these players left after poor performances, while others were never even given a chance to suit up in a game. New York has seen multiple former Twins find different levels of success on the position player side, while the other playoff rosters will use former Minnesota pitchers. There’s a good chance at least one former Twins player will represent the AL in the World Series. Yankees: Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Aaron Hicks Hicks is the longest-tenured Yankee of this group, as he has played over 600 games in pinstripes. During the 2022 season, he has hit .224/.334/.324 (.658), which translates to a 90 OPS+ in over 120 games. It’s only the second time he has played over 123 games since being traded to New York. Most Of his defensive innings have come in center field, where his -4.0 SDI is the second lowest in the American League. Age has continued to impact Donaldson, and the Yankees have less time for him to play DH. In his age-36 season, his OPS dropped below .750 for the first time in a decade. His defense continues to be terrific as he leads all AL third basemen in SDI, and only four defenders have accumulated more SDI than him this season. Donaldson has over 167 playoff plate appearances, and the Yankees hope his experience pays off in October. Kiner-Falefa’s Twins tenure lasted hours as the team quickly dealt him to the Yankees after acquiring him from the Rangers. His first season in New York has gone about as expected on both sides of the plate. Offensively, he has hit .263/.315/.331 (.646) with 24 extra-base hits in 137 games. Defensively, he ranks seventh among AL shortstops in SDI, which is two spots behind Minnesota’s Carlos Correa. Astros: Ryan Pressly Pressly continues to be a dominant closer for the Astros, one of two powerhouse teams in the AL. In 47 appearances this season, he has a 2.91 ERA with a 0.86 WHIP and a career-high 31 saves. He has posted an 11.8 K/9 as he has struck out nearly 35% of the batters facing him. The Astros are one of the favorites for the AL pennant, and Pressly will be asked to close out some critical games in the coming weeks. Blue Jays: Jose Berrios Berrios has gone through a terrible first full season in Toronto as he leads in AL in hits allowed and earned runs. He had been so consistent throughout his career that it’s hard to pinpoint where things have gone wrong with the Blue Jays. There is no guarantee that Berrios will be included in Toronto’s rotation for the playoffs. Would the team try to use him as a bullpen option? That seems unlikely since he has never previously been used in that role. Rays: JT Chargois Minnesota selected Chargois in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft, but he only made 25 appearances with the club back in 2016. Since then, he has bounced around to multiple organizations before landing with the Rays over the last two seasons. He’s been limited to 19 appearances this season because of an oblique injury, but he seems to be healthy as the team gets closer to October. In 19 1/3 innings, he has a 2.79 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP and a 14-to-5 strikeout to walk ratio. Perhaps Chargois can be a secret weapon for the Rays. Which former Twin will have the best postseason? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  7. In the dire straits of September 2021, the Twins fanbase worried about the future of the franchise. The team had justifiably traded away both Nelson Cruz and José Berrios. Negotiations between Byron Buxton and the organization had fallen apart during the summer. A number of the team's exciting prospects were recovering from injuries and likely unavailable to at least start 2022. Plus, a contentious bargaining situation between the league and players had owners acting with caution. Image courtesy of Aaron Josefczyk-USA TODAY Sports Were the Twins to go the way of many teams and begin a long rebuild to return to contention? "I'm not using that word," Derek Falvey told the beat writers. Instead, 2022 would be a year for a reload. But what does a successful reload look like? The Twins set out to return to playoff contention as they had in 2019 and 2020. Doing so would require more money and trades than the team had done in previous years of Pohlad ownership. Teams often reload for playoff contention for several reasons but usually require a strong central core and only a few critical holes to fill. For the 2016 Red Sox, their last year with Hall of Famer David Ortiz and an ascending Mookie Betts, it meant grabbing David Price on a $217 million deal and Craig Kimbrel in a trade with San Diego. The team went from last to first in the division for the next three years, including a World Series ring in 2018. However, a better comparison for teams with smaller payrolls might be those 2005 White Sox. Their opening day lineup only featured three of the same faces from 2004, but none were rookies. Instead, Ozzie Guillén and Kenny Williams tried to rethink what kind of players to build around their core, grabbing AJ Pierzynski, Jermaine Dye, Tadahito Iguchi, and Scott Podsednik. Most of their core pitching returned, with Yankees pitcher Orlando Hernández filling in as their fifth man. Their salary ballooned from $65 million to $75 million, while the first-place Twins remained essentially static in the $50 million range. Of course, it was all worth it: the White Sox were an era-defining team, winning the division by six games, going on one of the all-time great post-season runs, and ending an 88-year-old championship drought. For the Twins going into 2022, there was enough in the revolver for one last go of a core set of players: Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver, and Miguel Sano, plus some promise with Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Trevor Larnach, and Alex Kirilloff to step up (not to mention the many hopes around the arrival of Royce Lewis). Their bullpen had enough interesting names to build around. So why didn't the Twins work? First, the Twins had too many holes to fill, particularly in the starting pitching realm. Ober and Ryan had less than 100 innings under their belts, and Kenta Maeda was merely a glimmer of promise for a late-season comeback. The Twins needed a Day One starter, but quickly missed names like Carlos Rodon, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard, all of who made splashy but not impossible out-of-reach deals for the organization to match. When the market reopened, the Twins rebounded by making the smart move to trade their first-round draft pick for Sonny Gray. But then they went with not one not two but three different "fix me up" projects: Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer, and Chris Paddack. Beyond Gray, that left five essentially unproven starters on opening day. The bullpen additions were equally shaky with the additions of Joe Smith and Emilio Pagán while dealing Taylor Rogers. Most importantly, the Twins essentially committed almost no new money in this realm beyond their trade capital, an odd sign for a team serious about contending. Of course, the Twins put money down this season with a pair of $100+ million contracts: an extension of Buxton and a second in a blockbuster deal to commit $35.1 million a year to Carlos Correa. Bringing in a playoff specialist like Correa was the essential move they needed. It at least felt part of their decision to erase bad clubhouse vibes by flipping Josh Donaldson for Yankees veterans Gio Urshela and Gary Sánchez. Neither Urshela nor Sánchez were the top Bronx bombers, but there was plenty of sense they were the kind of players who understood big spots and big games. And yet, the Twins probably remained slim in other veteran talent to reinforce their lineup. The previous year had demonstrated that the team did not have their prospects ready to go as eight different men took to center field to fill in injury after injury. Whether the Twins expected this year's injury woes to be worse than last year, their decision to depend entirely on prospects to back up Buxton and Kepler felt short-sided with plenty of low-end veterans available on the market (Kevin Pillar for example took a minor league deal with the Dodgers). A strong reload rarely means depending on new players—those 2005 Sox were all veterans beyond their season call-up of closer Bobby Jenks—but the Twins seemingly put a lot of hope on what feels like too many prospects suddenly becoming core players. Jose Miranda, Griffin Jax, and Jhoan Duran, have made themselves essential to this year's success, but others still have question marks about their long term viability (whether injury or ability). Either way, building through prospects is similar to what this year's Mariners have done where team has done after a long rebuild where they plan on years of contention after making a number of high profile trades and signings of known quantities to reinforce any flops of their prospects (Julio Rodríguez and George Kirby has outshined all potential, while Jarred Kelenic has essentially disappeared). Reloads are not just about graduating prospects; it's about building with those who don't need time to figure out their success. In another world, Donaldson was traded for prospects rather than big leaguers, and you could imagine Buxton, Polanco, and even Arraez packing their bags for other ballparks. Watching multiple seasons of poor performance in the hope of a good team down the road is no one's idea of fun, so the fact that the Twins pushed this year remains a blessing. But in retrospect, their approach in the reload feels odd. The Twins did increase their salary by 20% this season, but in the end, they were perhaps not in the place for the reload that wins championships. What was missing from the Twins reload? Sound off in the comments. View full article
  8. Were the Twins to go the way of many teams and begin a long rebuild to return to contention? "I'm not using that word," Derek Falvey told the beat writers. Instead, 2022 would be a year for a reload. But what does a successful reload look like? The Twins set out to return to playoff contention as they had in 2019 and 2020. Doing so would require more money and trades than the team had done in previous years of Pohlad ownership. Teams often reload for playoff contention for several reasons but usually require a strong central core and only a few critical holes to fill. For the 2016 Red Sox, their last year with Hall of Famer David Ortiz and an ascending Mookie Betts, it meant grabbing David Price on a $217 million deal and Craig Kimbrel in a trade with San Diego. The team went from last to first in the division for the next three years, including a World Series ring in 2018. However, a better comparison for teams with smaller payrolls might be those 2005 White Sox. Their opening day lineup only featured three of the same faces from 2004, but none were rookies. Instead, Ozzie Guillén and Kenny Williams tried to rethink what kind of players to build around their core, grabbing AJ Pierzynski, Jermaine Dye, Tadahito Iguchi, and Scott Podsednik. Most of their core pitching returned, with Yankees pitcher Orlando Hernández filling in as their fifth man. Their salary ballooned from $65 million to $75 million, while the first-place Twins remained essentially static in the $50 million range. Of course, it was all worth it: the White Sox were an era-defining team, winning the division by six games, going on one of the all-time great post-season runs, and ending an 88-year-old championship drought. For the Twins going into 2022, there was enough in the revolver for one last go of a core set of players: Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver, and Miguel Sano, plus some promise with Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Trevor Larnach, and Alex Kirilloff to step up (not to mention the many hopes around the arrival of Royce Lewis). Their bullpen had enough interesting names to build around. So why didn't the Twins work? First, the Twins had too many holes to fill, particularly in the starting pitching realm. Ober and Ryan had less than 100 innings under their belts, and Kenta Maeda was merely a glimmer of promise for a late-season comeback. The Twins needed a Day One starter, but quickly missed names like Carlos Rodon, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard, all of who made splashy but not impossible out-of-reach deals for the organization to match. When the market reopened, the Twins rebounded by making the smart move to trade their first-round draft pick for Sonny Gray. But then they went with not one not two but three different "fix me up" projects: Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer, and Chris Paddack. Beyond Gray, that left five essentially unproven starters on opening day. The bullpen additions were equally shaky with the additions of Joe Smith and Emilio Pagán while dealing Taylor Rogers. Most importantly, the Twins essentially committed almost no new money in this realm beyond their trade capital, an odd sign for a team serious about contending. Of course, the Twins put money down this season with a pair of $100+ million contracts: an extension of Buxton and a second in a blockbuster deal to commit $35.1 million a year to Carlos Correa. Bringing in a playoff specialist like Correa was the essential move they needed. It at least felt part of their decision to erase bad clubhouse vibes by flipping Josh Donaldson for Yankees veterans Gio Urshela and Gary Sánchez. Neither Urshela nor Sánchez were the top Bronx bombers, but there was plenty of sense they were the kind of players who understood big spots and big games. And yet, the Twins probably remained slim in other veteran talent to reinforce their lineup. The previous year had demonstrated that the team did not have their prospects ready to go as eight different men took to center field to fill in injury after injury. Whether the Twins expected this year's injury woes to be worse than last year, their decision to depend entirely on prospects to back up Buxton and Kepler felt short-sided with plenty of low-end veterans available on the market (Kevin Pillar for example took a minor league deal with the Dodgers). A strong reload rarely means depending on new players—those 2005 Sox were all veterans beyond their season call-up of closer Bobby Jenks—but the Twins seemingly put a lot of hope on what feels like too many prospects suddenly becoming core players. Jose Miranda, Griffin Jax, and Jhoan Duran, have made themselves essential to this year's success, but others still have question marks about their long term viability (whether injury or ability). Either way, building through prospects is similar to what this year's Mariners have done where team has done after a long rebuild where they plan on years of contention after making a number of high profile trades and signings of known quantities to reinforce any flops of their prospects (Julio Rodríguez and George Kirby has outshined all potential, while Jarred Kelenic has essentially disappeared). Reloads are not just about graduating prospects; it's about building with those who don't need time to figure out their success. In another world, Donaldson was traded for prospects rather than big leaguers, and you could imagine Buxton, Polanco, and even Arraez packing their bags for other ballparks. Watching multiple seasons of poor performance in the hope of a good team down the road is no one's idea of fun, so the fact that the Twins pushed this year remains a blessing. But in retrospect, their approach in the reload feels odd. The Twins did increase their salary by 20% this season, but in the end, they were perhaps not in the place for the reload that wins championships. What was missing from the Twins reload? Sound off in the comments.
  9. The Twins series vs the Yankees ran the gauntlet of outcomes: Game 1 the Yankees won handily, Game 2 the Twins pummeled the Yankees, and Game 3 was a neck-and-neck match in which the Bronx Bombers prevailed. What should Twins fans take away from this series? Here are a few of my observations from being in the stands for these three games and a reason to walk away with some optimism. 1. The Twins can beat the Yankees. I repeat, the Twins can beat the Yankees- Never mind that pesky postseason losing streak or the Twins’ record vs the Yankees (now 38-111 since 2002). After the Game 2 blowout win, my main takeaway: was that that hard? The Twins not only beat the AL-leading Yankees on Wednesday night (a feat that has been built up in the minds of Twins fans to be an almost-impossible task) they clobbered them. The series finale on Thursday also was primed to be to be the best Twins game seen in recent years: the Twins started off with back-to-back-to-back home runs off Gerrit Cole and the Yankees of all teams. Even though the Yankees ultimately rallied past the Twins on Thursday due to bullpen woes, there is a lot from this series for Twins fans to feel good about: the Twins tagged Yankees stars Nestor Cortes and Cole for season-high ER totals. Chris Archer looked solid for a second-straight start. Jose Miranda had his first 3-hit game of his young career. Byron Buxton is now undoubtably back from his 0-30 slump. The Bomba Squad made its return on Thursday with 5 home runs, all against Cole. In sum, despite walking away with just one win, the Twins came to play this series, especially offensively, where traditionally vs the Yankees the hitting has disappeared. This is especially impressive considering how incredibly depleted the Twins' starting rotation is (surely, pitching Cole Sands, Archer, and Dylan Bundy vs. the likes of Cortes and Cole wasn't in the Twins' master plan). I'm not trying to claim moral victories, but with how big of a Goliath the Yankees are built up to be by the Twins, perhaps we need them. The Yankees are the best team in the American League, and the Twins proved this series they can play right with them. This team can and has beaten the Yankees and could do so in the upcoming postseason if the teams' paths crossed, especially with Joe Ryan back in the starting rotation and the addition of some other arms. 2. Twins fans aren’t quite sure how to feel about Josh Donaldson- Ever since Josh Donaldson was traded to the Yankees, bits and pieces have emerged that seem to suggest Donaldson might have a bit of a negative influence in the clubhouse. A “cancer,” if you will. However, Donaldson was traded to the Yankees, he didn’t leave, and he says he does not regret his time with Minnesota (though he didn’t mind being traded to New York either). This means no hard feelings from Twins fans, right? Mostly, The homecoming of the now-beardless Donaldson left Twins fans unsure of exactly how to react: his at bats were met with some muted boos, but the jeers were quiet and even a bit apathetic. Though Donaldson's legacy with the Twins is up for debate, and he has captured some national attention with his spat with the White Sox's Tim Anderson recently, he has not become a maligned figure here quite yet, 3. Stadium attendance is heating up- Finally, after months of mostly-empty stands, Twins fans returned to the stadium in droves this series. Beautiful weather, school getting out for the summer, and the hated Yankees being in town certainly contributed. The series' best attendance was seen on Tuesday night, Prince Night, which featured a giveaway t-shirt and a special ticket package with a Prince jacket. However, a large portion of the fans in the stands for all three games were donning pinstripes and Aaron Judge jerseys. Where all these Yankees fans come from, I don't know either, but at times when Joey Gallo or Giancarlo Stanton hit a home run, it almost felt like Target Field was transported to the Bronx. Of note, the Twins are running more deals coming up, including a "Vote Early, Vote Often" campaign for All Star voting, which provides fans with cheap ticket incentives for voting. Notably, any fan who votes at least 100 times before 1:00 p.m. CT on Thursday, June 30 will be able to purchase up to eight $1 tickets for a Twins game. So, the Twins emerge from this series with a mixed bag of results. Until we meet again, Yankees, but even if it's in the postseason, I think the Twins will be in good shape. View full article
  10. 1. The Twins can beat the Yankees. I repeat, the Twins can beat the Yankees- Never mind that pesky postseason losing streak or the Twins’ record vs the Yankees (now 38-111 since 2002). After the Game 2 blowout win, my main takeaway: was that that hard? The Twins not only beat the AL-leading Yankees on Wednesday night (a feat that has been built up in the minds of Twins fans to be an almost-impossible task) they clobbered them. The series finale on Thursday also was primed to be to be the best Twins game seen in recent years: the Twins started off with back-to-back-to-back home runs off Gerrit Cole and the Yankees of all teams. Even though the Yankees ultimately rallied past the Twins on Thursday due to bullpen woes, there is a lot from this series for Twins fans to feel good about: the Twins tagged Yankees stars Nestor Cortes and Cole for season-high ER totals. Chris Archer looked solid for a second-straight start. Jose Miranda had his first 3-hit game of his young career. Byron Buxton is now undoubtably back from his 0-30 slump. The Bomba Squad made its return on Thursday with 5 home runs, all against Cole. In sum, despite walking away with just one win, the Twins came to play this series, especially offensively, where traditionally vs the Yankees the hitting has disappeared. This is especially impressive considering how incredibly depleted the Twins' starting rotation is (surely, pitching Cole Sands, Archer, and Dylan Bundy vs. the likes of Cortes and Cole wasn't in the Twins' master plan). I'm not trying to claim moral victories, but with how big of a Goliath the Yankees are built up to be by the Twins, perhaps we need them. The Yankees are the best team in the American League, and the Twins proved this series they can play right with them. This team can and has beaten the Yankees and could do so in the upcoming postseason if the teams' paths crossed, especially with Joe Ryan back in the starting rotation and the addition of some other arms. 2. Twins fans aren’t quite sure how to feel about Josh Donaldson- Ever since Josh Donaldson was traded to the Yankees, bits and pieces have emerged that seem to suggest Donaldson might have a bit of a negative influence in the clubhouse. A “cancer,” if you will. However, Donaldson was traded to the Yankees, he didn’t leave, and he says he does not regret his time with Minnesota (though he didn’t mind being traded to New York either). This means no hard feelings from Twins fans, right? Mostly, The homecoming of the now-beardless Donaldson left Twins fans unsure of exactly how to react: his at bats were met with some muted boos, but the jeers were quiet and even a bit apathetic. Though Donaldson's legacy with the Twins is up for debate, and he has captured some national attention with his spat with the White Sox's Tim Anderson recently, he has not become a maligned figure here quite yet, 3. Stadium attendance is heating up- Finally, after months of mostly-empty stands, Twins fans returned to the stadium in droves this series. Beautiful weather, school getting out for the summer, and the hated Yankees being in town certainly contributed. The series' best attendance was seen on Tuesday night, Prince Night, which featured a giveaway t-shirt and a special ticket package with a Prince jacket. However, a large portion of the fans in the stands for all three games were donning pinstripes and Aaron Judge jerseys. Where all these Yankees fans come from, I don't know either, but at times when Joey Gallo or Giancarlo Stanton hit a home run, it almost felt like Target Field was transported to the Bronx. Of note, the Twins are running more deals coming up, including a "Vote Early, Vote Often" campaign for All Star voting, which provides fans with cheap ticket incentives for voting. Notably, any fan who votes at least 100 times before 1:00 p.m. CT on Thursday, June 30 will be able to purchase up to eight $1 tickets for a Twins game. So, the Twins emerge from this series with a mixed bag of results. Until we meet again, Yankees, but even if it's in the postseason, I think the Twins will be in good shape.
  11. The moniker, “old friend”, has been common amongst Minnesota Twins fans when talking about players who used to play for the hometown squad but have since moved on to play for a different team. Whether or not you continue to root for old friends after they leave the Twins, it’s always a fun exercise to see how they are doing. Here are top performing “old friends” thus far in 2022: 5. Josh Donaldson .764 OPS 5 HR 15 RBI 0.9 fWAR While mired in controversy over the past couple of weeks, it’s still hard to deny that Josh Donaldson is having a strong year in pinstripes after being traded to the Yankees this past offseason. Aided by an average exit velocity that ranks in the 89th percentile, the Bringer of Rain owns a 123 OPS+ while continuing to provide above-average defense at the hot corner. For many, Donaldson isn’t much of an “old friend”, but he cracks the top-five for top performing ex-Twins in 2022. 4. Kyle Gibson 48 IP 3.94 ERA 1.1 fWAR Coming in fourth for top performing ex-Minnesota Twins in 2022 is someone who flashed ace potential at times with the Minnesota Twins but never quite put it all together, Kyle Gibson. After earning his first all-star appearance last season, Gibson is having himself another solid year on the mound with the Phillies in 2022. With a FIP of 3.22, Gibson has actually been even better than his surface stats suggest. 3. Taylor Rogers 21 1/3 IP 1.69 ERA 17 Saves 0.6 fWAR It was a controversial trade this offseason when the Twins traded away Taylor Rogers in exchange for Chris Paddack, and has become even more controversial after the start that Rogers has had in 2022. Across 21 appearances this season, Rogers has allowed an earned run in just two of those appearances. Rogers leads all of baseball with 17 saves this season and has quickly become one of the most dominant relievers in all of baseball. 2. C.J. Cron .942 OPS 13 HR 37 RBI 1.5 fWAR C.J. Cron only spent one season with the Minnesota Twins, but since he departed following the 2019 season, he has been excellent. In 2022, though, he is having the best season of his career with an OPS+ of 155. Cron is tied for third in all of baseball with 13 home runs and is tied for sixth with 37 RBI. 1. Martín Pérez 56 1/3 IP 1.60 ERA 1.7 fWAR Martín Pérez was not good as a member of the Twins, posting a 5.12 ERA in his sole season with the club in 2019. In 2022, though, he has pitched like the best starting pitcher in all of baseball. Pérez’s 1.60 ERA leads Major League Baseball, and his 1.7 fWAR ranks third among starting pitchers. He hasn’t been garnering many strikeouts, but he has yet to allow a home run this season and is allowing a career-low 2.2 walks per nine innings. Who do you think has been the best performing ex-Minnesota Twins player in 2022? Which of these players would you add to the current Minnesota Twins roster if you could? Leave a comment and start the conversation!
  12. While we spend most of our time focusing on the players on the current Minnesota Twins squad, it’s fun to check in on our “old friends” every once in a while. The moniker, “old friend”, has been common amongst Minnesota Twins fans when talking about players who used to play for the hometown squad but have since moved on to play for a different team. Whether or not you continue to root for old friends after they leave the Twins, it’s always a fun exercise to see how they are doing. Here are top performing “old friends” thus far in 2022: 5. Josh Donaldson .764 OPS 5 HR 15 RBI 0.9 fWAR While mired in controversy over the past couple of weeks, it’s still hard to deny that Josh Donaldson is having a strong year in pinstripes after being traded to the Yankees this past offseason. Aided by an average exit velocity that ranks in the 89th percentile, the Bringer of Rain owns a 123 OPS+ while continuing to provide above-average defense at the hot corner. For many, Donaldson isn’t much of an “old friend”, but he cracks the top-five for top performing ex-Twins in 2022. 4. Kyle Gibson 48 IP 3.94 ERA 1.1 fWAR Coming in fourth for top performing ex-Minnesota Twins in 2022 is someone who flashed ace potential at times with the Minnesota Twins but never quite put it all together, Kyle Gibson. After earning his first all-star appearance last season, Gibson is having himself another solid year on the mound with the Phillies in 2022. With a FIP of 3.22, Gibson has actually been even better than his surface stats suggest. 3. Taylor Rogers 21 1/3 IP 1.69 ERA 17 Saves 0.6 fWAR It was a controversial trade this offseason when the Twins traded away Taylor Rogers in exchange for Chris Paddack, and has become even more controversial after the start that Rogers has had in 2022. Across 21 appearances this season, Rogers has allowed an earned run in just two of those appearances. Rogers leads all of baseball with 17 saves this season and has quickly become one of the most dominant relievers in all of baseball. 2. C.J. Cron .942 OPS 13 HR 37 RBI 1.5 fWAR C.J. Cron only spent one season with the Minnesota Twins, but since he departed following the 2019 season, he has been excellent. In 2022, though, he is having the best season of his career with an OPS+ of 155. Cron is tied for third in all of baseball with 13 home runs and is tied for sixth with 37 RBI. 1. Martín Pérez 56 1/3 IP 1.60 ERA 1.7 fWAR Martín Pérez was not good as a member of the Twins, posting a 5.12 ERA in his sole season with the club in 2019. In 2022, though, he has pitched like the best starting pitcher in all of baseball. Pérez’s 1.60 ERA leads Major League Baseball, and his 1.7 fWAR ranks third among starting pitchers. He hasn’t been garnering many strikeouts, but he has yet to allow a home run this season and is allowing a career-low 2.2 walks per nine innings. Who do you think has been the best performing ex-Minnesota Twins player in 2022? Which of these players would you add to the current Minnesota Twins roster if you could? Leave a comment and start the conversation! View full article
  13. Over the weekend, Josh Donaldson was involved in an altercation with Chicago's Tim Anderson. Donaldson allegedly called Anderson "Jackie," a reference to Jackie Robinson, that he thought was an inside joke between the two players. Major League Baseball investigated the incident, which involves multiple layers, and suspended Donaldson for one game. During his Twins tenure, Donaldson made headlines for multiple incidents, including calling out Gerrit Cole for his use of sticky substances and an ejection after hitting a home run. Originally, the Twins signed Donaldson as a veteran presence on a team in the middle of their winning window. Across two seasons, he hit .243/.355/.474 (.829) with a 129 OPS+ in 163 games. During the playoffs following the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Donaldson wasn't available, and the Twins were terrible in 2021. He was entering his age-36 season, and the front office found a way to get out from under his contract. On March 13, the Twins finalized a deal that sent Donaldson to the Yankees along with Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt. In return, Minnesota received Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela. All five players projected to be in each team's plans for the entire 2022 season, but baseball doesn't always work out that way. Yankees Acquisitions: Donaldson (1.6 WAR), Kiner-Falefa (0.3 WAR), Rortvedt (60-day IL) When making a trade, teams usually don't like to surrender the best player involved in the deal. Minnesota clearly did that as Donaldson is having a tremendous season as the Yankees sit five games up in the AL East. Age doesn't seem to be catching up to Donaldson, as he has a 126 OPS+ for the fourth consecutive season. Defensively, he is also having a resurgence as he ranks in the 81st percentile for Outs Above Average (OAA). Even with this kind of production, Donaldson has other baggage that some teams want to avoid. It remains to be seen if he can keep up this production through a 162-game schedule. Kiner-Falefa never appeared in a game for the Twins after being acquired from the Rangers as part of the Mitch Garver trade. So far this season, he has hit .264/.317/.312 (.629) with an 88 OPS+, which is seven points higher than his career mark. His Whiff% is in the 95th percentile, and his OAA (6th percentile) is one of the lowest marks among shortstops. Rortvedt underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery and may not be available until after the All-Star break. Twins Acquisitions: Sánchez (0.4 WAR), Urshela (0.1 WAR) A couple of weeks ago, Ted examined Minnesota's acquisitions from the Donaldson trade. Both players had yet to make a significant mark on the team, but those results may slowly change in the Twins' favor. Sánchez has surprised in multiple ways as he has an OPS+ of over 110 for the first time since he was an All-Star in 2019. He has also improved his framing metrics as he ranks in the 64th percentile, his highest mark since 2018. According to Win Probability Added, Sánchez ranks fourth on the Twins hitters behind Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and Luis Arraez. In 2019 and 2020, Urshela hit .310/.359/.523 (.881) with a 134 OPS+, and that's the player the Twins were hoping to unlock. So far in 2022, he has been closer to the 2021 version of Urshela that posted a 96 OPS+ in 116 games. His K% is in the 91st percentile, and he provides little defensive value with an OAA in the 11th percentile. Over his last 100 plate appearances, his xwOBA has been above the league average, so there may still be hope for him breaking out of his offensive slump. At the end of the day, it's clear the Twins wanted to be "out of the Josh Donaldson business." His on-the-field performance outweighs the value the Twins got in return, but his other antics can rub a clubhouse the wrong way. Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa provide a different kind of leadership for the Twins, and Minnesota is better off with him off the roster. What are your thoughts as you look back on the Donaldson trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  14. Former Twin Josh Donaldson had his name in the news for all the wrong reasons this weekend. Even with his on-field successes, it’s clear that the Twins were correct in moving on from Donaldson. Over the weekend, Josh Donaldson was involved in an altercation with Chicago's Tim Anderson. Donaldson allegedly called Anderson "Jackie," a reference to Jackie Robinson, that he thought was an inside joke between the two players. Major League Baseball investigated the incident, which involves multiple layers, and suspended Donaldson for one game. During his Twins tenure, Donaldson made headlines for multiple incidents, including calling out Gerrit Cole for his use of sticky substances and an ejection after hitting a home run. Originally, the Twins signed Donaldson as a veteran presence on a team in the middle of their winning window. Across two seasons, he hit .243/.355/.474 (.829) with a 129 OPS+ in 163 games. During the playoffs following the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Donaldson wasn't available, and the Twins were terrible in 2021. He was entering his age-36 season, and the front office found a way to get out from under his contract. On March 13, the Twins finalized a deal that sent Donaldson to the Yankees along with Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt. In return, Minnesota received Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela. All five players projected to be in each team's plans for the entire 2022 season, but baseball doesn't always work out that way. Yankees Acquisitions: Donaldson (1.6 WAR), Kiner-Falefa (0.3 WAR), Rortvedt (60-day IL) When making a trade, teams usually don't like to surrender the best player involved in the deal. Minnesota clearly did that as Donaldson is having a tremendous season as the Yankees sit five games up in the AL East. Age doesn't seem to be catching up to Donaldson, as he has a 126 OPS+ for the fourth consecutive season. Defensively, he is also having a resurgence as he ranks in the 81st percentile for Outs Above Average (OAA). Even with this kind of production, Donaldson has other baggage that some teams want to avoid. It remains to be seen if he can keep up this production through a 162-game schedule. Kiner-Falefa never appeared in a game for the Twins after being acquired from the Rangers as part of the Mitch Garver trade. So far this season, he has hit .264/.317/.312 (.629) with an 88 OPS+, which is seven points higher than his career mark. His Whiff% is in the 95th percentile, and his OAA (6th percentile) is one of the lowest marks among shortstops. Rortvedt underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery and may not be available until after the All-Star break. Twins Acquisitions: Sánchez (0.4 WAR), Urshela (0.1 WAR) A couple of weeks ago, Ted examined Minnesota's acquisitions from the Donaldson trade. Both players had yet to make a significant mark on the team, but those results may slowly change in the Twins' favor. Sánchez has surprised in multiple ways as he has an OPS+ of over 110 for the first time since he was an All-Star in 2019. He has also improved his framing metrics as he ranks in the 64th percentile, his highest mark since 2018. According to Win Probability Added, Sánchez ranks fourth on the Twins hitters behind Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and Luis Arraez. In 2019 and 2020, Urshela hit .310/.359/.523 (.881) with a 134 OPS+, and that's the player the Twins were hoping to unlock. So far in 2022, he has been closer to the 2021 version of Urshela that posted a 96 OPS+ in 116 games. His K% is in the 91st percentile, and he provides little defensive value with an OAA in the 11th percentile. Over his last 100 plate appearances, his xwOBA has been above the league average, so there may still be hope for him breaking out of his offensive slump. At the end of the day, it's clear the Twins wanted to be "out of the Josh Donaldson business." His on-the-field performance outweighs the value the Twins got in return, but his other antics can rub a clubhouse the wrong way. Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa provide a different kind of leadership for the Twins, and Minnesota is better off with him off the roster. What are your thoughts as you look back on the Donaldson trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  15. 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?
  16. 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
  17. 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.
  18. 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
  19. 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.
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
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