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  1. Minnesota's interest in Madison Bumgarner is very real, based on what Jon Heyman is hearing at the Winter Meetings. However, he adds that location and league are working against the Twins. (Note: not money.) Of note: Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area intriguingly chimes in: "Some people who know Bumgarner have pointed to Twins as a nice landing spot. He loves to hit but won’t make a big deal out of it if he’s in AL." Could the Twins make it happen with Bumgarner this week? It sounds like the Dodgers have turned their attention to him, with Cole off the board.
  2. No, that’s not coming from the front office. I think that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine could take a quick look on the Twitter machine and realize pitchforks and brimstone flow heavily through Twins Territory. Doom and gloom is the mood with some big arms being off the board, and the fear of being left out in the cold has set in. All is not lost though, there’s still plenty of time and assets still to be sifted through. All we must do is wait. I have a tough time listening to arguments about what Minnesota has traditionally done. This front office has been in place for three years, and they’ve yet to be in a position where opportunity and trajectory point towards a path of sensible spending. They’ve opened a sustainable window of winning that we’ve not really seen the dual-headed monster work within. In short, this is uncharted territory. On top of all of that, this front office is directly responsible for the positioning that the Minnesota Twins are currently in. The farm system is loaded, and the infrastructure designed around development and advancement is derived from their vision. Internal talent is being explored and cultivated, while major league success looks here to stay. Through those happenings, it’s hard not to argue a benefit of doubt should be granted. As I wrote back in early November, the Twins can take a page from the book of Houston and Chicago in creating their juggernaut. Now is a time to supplement, spend, and add, but it isn’t the only time that will ring true in the years ahead. This needs to be a strong and consistent build. A right foot forward is put forth this offseason with that being doubled down upon in the immediate future. The gnashing of teeth is far from unexpected. We live in a world searching for immediate gratification and behind a “what have you done for me lately” ideology. It can be increasingly hard to separate from that, but there’s solace in understanding deadlines allow for processes to play out as well. The Twins didn’t need to make all their moves during the Winter Meetings, and free agents weren’t tied to accepting contracts while executives were out in San Diego. We’re exactly two months from the first spring training workout in Fort Myers, and plenty of work remains. From the outset of the offseason Thad Levine noted the Twins goal was to add “impact pitching.” If they don’t like what is presented to them, further supplementing the offense is another way to increase the water level. What can’t happen is a stagnant display of standing pat, but I’d have to imagine two intelligent guys that have orchestrated an organizational turnaround are aware of that fact. Until the dust settles, the point is this; breathe. Allow Falvey and Levine to cash in on some of their generated benefit. Trust that a similar process instituted to right the organization will be utilized to bolster the roster. When Bumgarner or Ryu sign elsewhere, assume that there’s a plan and other irons in the fire. All the way up until we get our first play ball from Twins Territory south, pump the brakes. If we’re still in a similar situation at that point, then, burn it all down. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. A little after 11:00 central time, news broke that Gerrit Cole had agreed to a nine-year, $324 million contract. Yes, that is not a typo. Nine years. At $36 million per season... For a total of $324 million. Not a bad payday. Now the Twins were never really involved in Cole talks. Sure, they have been in regular contact with Cole's agent, Scott Boras. However, those conversations likely had more to do with Hyun-Jin Ryu or other Boras clients. However, not long before the Cole announcement, we saw this tweet from Jon Heyman: https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1204605545576943617 Hurdle #1: Location... Read that as Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. We are where we are. Not much we can do about that. Hurdle #2: League... Bumgarner wants to hit. That's why he wants to stay in the National League. And frankly, good for him to want to participate in all aspects of the game. Again, the Twins can't really do anything about that one either. However, less than 90 minutes later, the Cole news brought: Hurdle #3: Gerrit Cole signs with the Yankees. Not the Angels. Not the Dodgers. So there is news such as this from Ken Rosenthal. https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/1204628472359833600 The Dodgers will be willing to overpay. The Dodgers are in Los Angeles. So, the Bumgarner rumors were fun while they lasted, right? Oh, and they're in the National League. However, if you're looking for a little consolation, here is a more positive tweet for Twins fans: https://twitter.com/Jeeho_1/status/1204629469673050112 Hyun-Jin Ryu is really good, just as good as Bumgarner, just a couple of years older. Could he be the Twins target if Bumgarner goes elsewhere? Or as we mentioned yesterday, could the Twins shift their attention toward Dallas Keuchel? White Sox Make Another Move The White Sox have been active this offseason, having added catcher Yasmani Grandal and offering a lot of money for Zack Wheeler. Moments after the Cole news broke, news came from Rangers beat writer Evan Grant that right fielder Nomar Mazara had been acquired in a trade with the Rangers. Mazara hit .268 with 19 homers in 2019 for the Rangers. But the reason that he is intriguing is because he is still just 24 years old. Add him to the crop of very young hitters and pitchers that could help the White Sox compete in the AL Central very soon. More News Twins Killer Didi Gregorius signed a one-year deal with the Phillies. He will be reunited with manager Joe Girardi. After missing the first half of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery and struggling some in the second half, Gregorius will hope to have a big season and cash in next offseason. Last week, I wrote about Kevin Gausman potentially being a buy-low option for the Twins after being DFAd by the Reds. On Tuesday he signed a one year, $9 million contract with the San Francisco Giants with another $1 million available in incentives. Next up on my list of potential buy-low options would be Julio Teheran, formerly of the Atlanta Braves. Twins Looking at Trade Targets While Bumgarner, Ryu and Keuchel are all still available, and the Twins are interested in all three, if they are unable to convince any of them to take their money, they are also making calls to teams about young pitchers. We've been hearing Tigers LHP Matt Boyd's name for awhile now, but the Twins also have talked to the Marlins about one of their talented young starters. https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1204617020890742784 Baldelli Speaks to Media Rocco Baldelli met with media at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday night, and you can watch and listen here. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1204568084087853056 Cruz Named First Team Nelson Cruz received another honor on Tuesday. He was named First-Team DH on the inaugural All-MLB Team. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1204515860162973696 Rogers Goes (to the) Wild (game) Taylor Rogers was at the XCel Energy Center for the Wild game tonight. He was there in support of the Rogers Family Foundation for the mental health of St. Paul Firefighters. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1204589987947106304 He (and Devin Smeltzer) joined Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau earlier in the day at the Gillette Children's hospital for a visit with the kids. https://twitter.com/GilletteChildrn/status/1204468008929910784 What will Day 3 at the Winter Meetings bring? The two big pitchers got their paydays. Now that second tier or Bumgarner, Ryu and Keuchel is next. Anthony Rendon is the top free agent overall, but Josh Donaldson is going to get paid too. Will there be any more trades? And will the Twins be involved in any of the transactions? Stop by and add your thoughts on any rumors below.
  4. Day 2 of the Winter Meetings ended with a flurry of activity, ending a busy day. However, the Twins did not consummate any moves on Tuesday. Will Day 3 bring a transaction to the Twins?A little after 11:00 central time, news broke that Gerrit Cole had agreed to a nine-year, $324 million contract. Yes, that is not a typo. Nine years. At $36 million per season... For a total of $324 million. Not a bad payday. Now the Twins were never really involved in Cole talks. Sure, they have been in regular contact with Cole's agent, Scott Boras. However, those conversations likely had more to do with Hyun-Jin Ryu or other Boras clients. However, not long before the Cole announcement, we saw this tweet from Jon Heyman: What will Day 3 at the Winter Meetings bring? The two big pitchers got their paydays. Now that second tier or Bumgarner, Ryu and Keuchel is next. Anthony Rendon is the top free agent overall, but Josh Donaldson is going to get paid too. Will there be any more trades? And will the Twins be involved in any of the transactions? Stop by and add your thoughts on any rumors below. Click here to view the article
  5. There isn’t a soul within the organization or outside of it that will tell you Minnesota doesn’t need more pitching. Despite his efforts down the stretch, rookie Randy Dobnak in Yankee Stadium during the ALDS was hardly an ideal scenario. That said, the situation isn’t at all as dire as one may assume. From June 1st onward the Twins had the sixth best rotation in baseball, as well as the third best in the American League. That was on top of employing the now departed Kyle Gibson, who posted a 5.26 ERA over that stretch. So far this offseason has included the Twins bringing back Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda. The former graciously accepted the $17.8 million qualifying offer, while the latter is being had just south of that same dollar amount over the course of two years. Talking to reporters on Monday, GM Thad Levine said the team needed to be stabilized and “now we have the ability to impact it significantly.” Making sure the foundation is laid is something this front office has carried as a premise throughout their time, but this is the first opportunity to make a substantial impact. When looking at the free agent market, there’s scrutiny at every turn. Do you want to bet on Madison Bumgarner holding up despite the mileage? Is Hyun-Jin Ryu going to be any good if he keeps getting hurt? Is Dallas Keuchel really any better than a mid-rotation arm? All of those questions are entirely fair, and they’re being asked because teams must commit substantial sums to players seeking their next opportunity. Unless you want the certainty of the elite, and that comes with the unlikely proposition of outspending (and being more desired) than the big boys, this is the landscape the Twins must traverse. On the flip side, you’ve got the trade market. You can bet that the Chicago Cubs would love to have Gleyber Torres right about now, but I’d also assume they’re more than happy to have ended their World Series drought. Detroit probably wishes they’d hit on more for Justin Verlander, and the Pirates are no doubt kicking themselves for the gaffe that was the return for Chris Archer. Win some and lose some there too, but the risk is not much different. As Minnesota looks to make moves and additions that significantly impact the major league club, it becomes a chess game of evaluation. Is there enough information on free agents to hand out paydays, and is it detrimental to give up dollars if the deals go sideways? The farm system has both height and depth. Does that make it more enticing to part with a known commodity to acquire something that hasn’t been cast off by a former employer? This organization is often chided about spending, or lack thereof. Now with the first legitimate opportunity to do so in quite some time, it comes down to which risk factors are weighed most heavily by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. The payroll needs to be north of $135 million going into 2020, but there’s more than one avenue to get there. Before the dust settles it will be hard to present an argument for any real hand wringing, but a reflective analysis is certainly going to be on the table. At the end of the day we can pick apart what’s on the open market and push toward the trade route. We can also overvalue certain prospects and shy away from making that big move. What we can’t do is operate on both of those levels to the full extent and fail to make a well-timed acquisition solely because of inherent risk. The front office has worked their way into deserved trust, and now they need to cash the check and stand by their decision. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. 101 wins, an AL Central Division crown, and a trip to the postseason. That’s what the Minnesota Twins accomplished under first-year manager Rocco Baldelli in 2019. Now when looking to sustain that the front office is faced with a you-choose menu involving risk. How they navigate it will lay a foundation or the future.There isn’t a soul within the organization or outside of it that will tell you Minnesota doesn’t need more pitching. Despite his efforts down the stretch, rookie Randy Dobnak in Yankee Stadium during the ALDS was hardly an ideal scenario. That said, the situation isn’t at all as dire as one may assume. From June 1st onward the Twins had the sixth best rotation in baseball, as well as the third best in the American League. That was on top of employing the now departed Kyle Gibson, who posted a 5.26 ERA over that stretch. So far this offseason has included the Twins bringing back Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda. The former graciously accepted the $17.8 million qualifying offer, while the latter is being had just south of that same dollar amount over the course of two years. Talking to reporters on Monday, GM Thad Levine said the team needed to be stabilized and “now we have the ability to impact it significantly.” Making sure the foundation is laid is something this front office has carried as a premise throughout their time, but this is the first opportunity to make a substantial impact. When looking at the free agent market, there’s scrutiny at every turn. Do you want to bet on Madison Bumgarner holding up despite the mileage? Is Hyun-Jin Ryu going to be any good if he keeps getting hurt? Is Dallas Keuchel really any better than a mid-rotation arm? All of those questions are entirely fair, and they’re being asked because teams must commit substantial sums to players seeking their next opportunity. Unless you want the certainty of the elite, and that comes with the unlikely proposition of outspending (and being more desired) than the big boys, this is the landscape the Twins must traverse. On the flip side, you’ve got the trade market. You can bet that the Chicago Cubs would love to have Gleyber Torres right about now, but I’d also assume they’re more than happy to have ended their World Series drought. Detroit probably wishes they’d hit on more for Justin Verlander, and the Pirates are no doubt kicking themselves for the gaffe that was the return for Chris Archer. Win some and lose some there too, but the risk is not much different. As Minnesota looks to make moves and additions that significantly impact the major league club, it becomes a chess game of evaluation. Is there enough information on free agents to hand out paydays, and is it detrimental to give up dollars if the deals go sideways? The farm system has both height and depth. Does that make it more enticing to part with a known commodity to acquire something that hasn’t been cast off by a former employer? This organization is often chided about spending, or lack thereof. Now with the first legitimate opportunity to do so in quite some time, it comes down to which risk factors are weighed most heavily by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. The payroll needs to be north of $135 million going into 2020, but there’s more than one avenue to get there. Before the dust settles it will be hard to present an argument for any real hand wringing, but a reflective analysis is certainly going to be on the table. At the end of the day we can pick apart what’s on the open market and push toward the trade route. We can also overvalue certain prospects and shy away from making that big move. What we can’t do is operate on both of those levels to the full extent and fail to make a well-timed acquisition solely because of inherent risk. The front office has worked their way into deserved trust, and now they need to cash the check and stand by their decision. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  7. Last night the baseball world watched in awe of the contract that Gerrit Cole was handed by the New York Yankees. He signed the for the largest AAV and total contract value ever given to a pitcher. New York spending money isn’t surprising at all, but there’s a tickle down effect and how it impacts a team like the Twins remains to be seen. It’s a great thing that the Minnesota Twins have significant funds and a real opportunity ahead of them. What is less than great is there’s only so many desirable commodities. When Cole came off the board, teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels immediately pivoted to the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Just hours before, those arms looked like targets Minnesota may be able to wrangle in. Now, the competition just became more fierce. This exact scenario is one that we can consider during the regular season as well. Although many teams like to wait until closer to the deadline providing an ability to determine their fate, acquiring organizations obviously benefit by earlier action. We can assume somewhat of a premium is paid for early swaps, but the desired result could outweigh that cost when it results in additional wins. During the offseason games aren’t being immediately impacted, but the game of musical chairs gets more intense with each spot pulled from the circle. Zack Wheeler went from reports suggesting he’d accept something south of $100 million to signing for $18 million north of it. That contract upped Madison Bumgarner’s ask, and both Stephen Strasburg and Cole being gone dwindled the list of worthy assets. Does all of that equate to an opportunity being missed? We’ll never directly know what contract negotiations sound like on an individual basis, but early action could seem to hold some weight. Rather than being worried about setting the market to high, a team could be sitting pretty having nabbed their desired talent prior to feeling pressure of commodities being unavailable. A team like the Twins is now faced with the proposition of outbidding either Los Angeles franchise if Ryu or Bumgarner was their man, and that creates a higher level of stress than was initially desired. Although we’re discussing these principles within the realm of baseball, it’s applicable across so many facets of life. As human beings we’re all out for our best interests and looking to snipe a deal. Is the coupon at Target going to save us the most money, or should we save the additional five miles by going to Walmart and buying it first? The fear of missing out can cause us to make rash decisions but being comfortable in our evaluations may afford the opportunity to overlook the result. I’d imagine Derek Falvey and Thad Levine aren’t going to tip their hand as to which pitching assets they had ranked highest. Maybe everyone was lumped together and they truly do not care who winds up in Twins Territory, a true test of their internal development staff. We can draw some conclusions or generate educated guesses once all the chips are on the table, but the waiting and guessing game is all we have for now. In a vacuum it seems the Twins may be best suited to approach a high value target with a strong offer and a deadline. Maybe it doesn’t work that way and maybe they tried, but maybe being the one without a dance partner at the end of the song isn’t so great either. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  8. After bringing back Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda the Minnesota Twins should be turning their focus solely to the top of their rotation. Madison Bumgarner is the presumed name, but Jon Heyman recently reported that former Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu could be the target. What if Minnesota wanted to go a different route entirely? There’s no denying that Bumgarner and Ryu are the best (see: only) arms left in the second tier of available starters. Bumgarner has been dissected plenty, and Ryu is essentially the flip side of what he brings to the table. Injury concerns are abundant and could be an immediate issue. He won’t command the same length in a contract, but that may not matter if you get burned on the front end. Ryu is a really nice arm, but there’s plenty of risk regarding how much time he’ll miss. For a while I’ve contended the Twins plan this winter should be to acquire a top-tier arm through free agency while also dealing for an option with some nice team control. What if it they decided to deal for the top-tier arm as well, and spend by taking on someone else’s contract? Enter Yu Darvish. Minnesota came up a year short in signing Darvish before he eventually landed a six-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. Thad Levine has in-depth knowledge of the arm having worked in the front office that originally signed him in Texas, and the parallels with Ryu run pretty deep. Chicago’s starter is roughly six months older than Ryu. He could be had on a four-year, $81 million contract today assuming the Cubs take on no salary. Although Ryu may not get four years, he’ll probably wind up somewhere between the $60-75 million range. Darvish was injury and bad a season ago, and then started slow in 2019. Across his final 20 starts last year he allowed just a .629 OPS and had a 162/18 K/BB ratio. When looking at Darvish and Ryu it comes down to what path you prefer (and if Chicago is truly motivated to move him). Ryu costs dollars and brings a strong amount of command while lacking the strikeouts. Darvish would require prospect capital, involves a similar level of injury risk, but brings arguably the best strikeout numbers Minnesota would have ever employed. If you’re hoarding prospects, and there’s reason to suggest that the Twins should be at least until the deadline this season, then spending money on Ryu or Bumgarner should be the obvious decision. If Darvish is seen as the superior option to Ryu, then engaging the Cubs in meaningful discussion is absolutely a conversation worth having. We’re at the point in roster construction where big moves are going to involve a certain level of skepticism. Knowing that there’s nothing certain about any of the options involved, a level of belief will be required with any asset acquired. I’m not sure which path the Twins will choose, and I don’t know what the right one is. I am glad we’re at the crossroads where it becomes a necessity, and these are the real discussions that we’re having. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  9. It was a pretty quiet day, but here are some of the Day 1 Discussions: Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu Shock and Awe were felt by most around baseball when new broke that Stephen Strasburg had an agreement to return to the Washington Nationals for seven years and $245 million. That was believed to be what the Yankees were going to offer Gerrit Cole. Now, we can only imagine what Cole (and Scott Boras) will command for his services . But does the Strasburg contract affect what Bumgarner and Ryu will get? In my opinion, it shouldn't, though their agents certainly will try to tie it together. In reality, Bumgarner and Ryu are still more closely connected with Zack Wheeler's five-year, $118 million contract. Bumgarner's side let it be known that they are now expecting five years and at least $100 million. That's understandable. The Phillies paid for what they hope Wheeler might become, but certainly hasn't been to this point. Bumgarner has every right to point out that he has actually been an ace in the past, and while that was a few years ago, he's earned a contract similar in length and dollars. The Twins are one of about eight to ten teams to express interest in Bumgarner. The White Sox and Reds and Cardinals are among interested teams, and Bumgarner will meet with the Giants this week too. It would seem that the Twins are interested in both, but maybe even slightly more interested in Ryu over Bumgarner, potentially because he might command fewer years due to his age. https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/1204175043221168128 But, What About... While the teams appear to be focusing on Bumgarner and Ryu, Dallas Keuchel is again a free agent. He's about a year younger than Ryu. Would the Twins consider jumping to Dallas Keuchel in an attempt to add a veteran starter of nearly the same ilk? Would Keuchel consider a one-year, $18 million deal (like Hamels did), or could he be available for two-years at $36 million, or even three years and $51 million? After his free agent experience a year ago, could he be interested in signing quickly this offseason? As a side advantage to this, Keuchel would not cost the Twins a draft pick. Just a thought... https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1204401633930559488 The Twins could leave one rotation spot for one of their young starters, or they could fill in while Michael Pineda finishes his suspension. https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1204212197217275905 First Base Internal Options When Derek Falvey met with Twin Cities reporters, he said that Brent Rooker and Luke Raley could be first base options in spring training. And Alex Kirilloff is just a step behind them. https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1204207744279924736 Isn't He Handsome? The recently-engaged Rocco Baldelli ranked #1 in the Most Handsome Manager list, via Craig Calcaterra. So he's got that going for him. A Romo Return? https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1204136529980866560 There are several teams interested in Sergio Romo. He really helped stabilize the Twins bullpen after he was acquired from the Marlins at the July deadline. His slider generally proved really good. He won't cost much, so I don't think that it would be spendy to add him. The only concern is the 87 mph fastball and the home run ball. He's been successful, but he can be nerve-wracking. Seems Romo is the only reliever that the Twins have been linked to in any way. One would think they might have interest in at adding at least one more veteran type. Then again, there have not been a lot of free agent reliever rumors to this point either. We haven't heard rumors regarding the likes of Will Harris or Daniel Hudson or Dellin Betances. The Return of Wilfredo According to reports, the Twins have signed infielder Wilfredo Tovar. He played nine games for the Mets in 2013-14 and returned to the big leagues for 31 games with the Angels in 2019. The 28-year-old played in 125 games for the Rochester Red Wings in 2016. So there are some topics to get the Day 2 conversation started. Will there be more Twins rumors? Will there be any signings by the Twins? Will Tuesday be the day Gerrit Cole picks a team?
  10. Day 1 of the Winter Meetings came and went. There was a major signing. Stephen Strasburg returned to the Nationals. But for the Twins and their fans, Day 1 was incredibly quiet. Maybe Day 2 will bring more rumors for discussion. Here is the place to discuss any Twins rumors throughout the day.It was a pretty quiet day, but here are some of the Day 1 Discussions: Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu Shock and Awe were felt by most around baseball when new broke that Stephen Strasburg had an agreement to return to the Washington Nationals for seven years and $245 million. That was believed to be what the Yankees were going to offer Gerrit Cole. Now, we can only imagine what Cole (and Scott Boras) will command for his services . But does the Strasburg contract affect what Bumgarner and Ryu will get? In my opinion, it shouldn't, though their agents certainly will try to tie it together. In reality, Bumgarner and Ryu are still more closely connected with Zack Wheeler's five-year, $118 million contract. Bumgarner's side let it be known that they are now expecting five years and at least $100 million. That's understandable. The Phillies paid for what they hope Wheeler might become, but certainly hasn't been to this point. Bumgarner has every right to point out that he has actually been an ace in the past, and while that was a few years ago, he's earned a contract similar in length and dollars. The Twins are one of about eight to ten teams to express interest in Bumgarner. The White Sox and Reds and Cardinals are among interested teams, and Bumgarner will meet with the Giants this week too. It would seem that the Twins are interested in both, but maybe even slightly more interested in Ryu over Bumgarner, potentially because he might command fewer years due to his age. There are several teams interested in Sergio Romo. He really helped stabilize the Twins bullpen after he was acquired from the Marlins at the July deadline. His slider generally proved really good. He won't cost much, so I don't think that it would be spendy to add him. The only concern is the 87 mph fastball and the home run ball. He's been successful, but he can be nerve-wracking. Seems Romo is the only reliever that the Twins have been linked to in any way. One would think they might have interest in at adding at least one more veteran type. Then again, there have not been a lot of free agent reliever rumors to this point either. We haven't heard rumors regarding the likes of Will Harris or Daniel Hudson or Dellin Betances. The Return of Wilfredo According to reports, the Twins have signed infielder Wilfredo Tovar. He played nine games for the Mets in 2013-14 and returned to the big leagues for 31 games with the Angels in 2019. The 28-year-old played in 125 games for the Rochester Red Wings in 2016. So there are some topics to get the Day 2 conversation started. Will there be more Twins rumors? Will there be any signings by the Twins? Will Tuesday be the day Gerrit Cole picks a team? Click here to view the article
  11. On Sunday, the annual baseball Winter Meetings will commence in at the Hilton Bayfront in San Diego. The event is another opportunity for the Minnesota Twins front office to continue working on their 2020 roster. Here are areas that the Twins still need to address this offseason.Over the next four days, we will hear about teams talking to teams, and agents talking to GMs. We’ll have to work hard (or at least think hard) about many of the vast rumors that we will hear and read about. Many will fall into the “That’s Silly” category. Others will warrant interest and discussion. But it’s important to remember that the Winter Meetings are just that. They are a series of meetings. Minor league teams will be there, sitting in on meetings. Independent Leagues will have representatives there, going to meetings. There will be a lot of college kids and others, wearing suits, trying to line up jobs in baseball. It isn’t just about making roster transaction. Let’s admit it though. That’s the only part we care about. So, let’s discuss what the Twins need to do yet this offseason, while at the same time reminding us all that it doesn’t have to all be done by Thursday. ~~ Read Nick’s Offseason Update ~~ Here are some things to watch this week: Number One: Add an Impact Starting Pitcher The Twins have Jose Berrios under team control, signed Jake Odorizzi to the qualifying offer and are a passed physical from having Michael Pineda inked up. While not as exciting to bring back players, two of those players could have been lost via free agency and now will return. However, we all know that the Twins need an “Impact” starting pitcher to give themselves a better chance to compete not only in the AL Central but in short series in the playoffs too. I think we can all understand that they aren’t going to get Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg. But they have clearly been involved in conversations for the next level. They were involved in Zack Wheeler discussions. They clearly have strong interest in lefties Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Is either interested in leaving California for Minnesota? If not, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will likely need to shift gears and start contemplating trade options for an impact starter. A call to Colorado’s front office to discuss Jon Gray or German Marquez might make a lot of sense. What other starters might be available in trade? Number Two: A Second High-Quality Starting Pitcher Even if they add an impact arm, the Twins front office will need to ask itself another question. Do they want to bring in one more starting pitcher or do they want to trust their young pitchers and player development to fill one of the five rotation spots? Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, and Lewis Thorpe all showed signs in 2019 that they are either ready to pitch in the big leagues in 2020 or are very close. Brusdar Graterol will likely get another opportunity to start at some point in 2020. But could the front office bring in another veteran pitcher or two to compete for a roster spot. Last week, I mentioned Kevin Gausman as a possibility for a veteran coming off a tough year who could potentially be a #3 type of starter if Wes Johnson & Company are able to help him. Also, Julio Teheran fits into that category. Both of them are still well under 30 years old. Number Three: Who’s on First? Last week, the Twins non-tendered first baseman CJ Cron. That opens up a roster spot, if the Twins front office wants it to. One option, of course, would be for Miguel Sano to stay at third base and Marwin Gonzalez to play first base. Or vice versa. Ehire Adrianza is the utility man, and Willians Astudillo remains in the picture. There are also other internal options for first base. But if the Twins are unable to convince Bumgarner or Ryu to take their money, maybe they chose to offer it to a position player. They could get someone like Mitch Moreland within a budget to do a nice job defensively at first base, saving errors for the other side of the infield. Or, they could make the move of Sano to first base and sign someone like Josh Donaldson for big money. Maybe a trade for an all-star, like Matt Chapman, could also be explored. Number Four: The Bullpen While I don’t think that the Twins bullpen would be considered a strength, it certainly can be solid. The Twins have not been mentioned in rumors around relievers, with the possible exception of bringing back Sergio Romo, so it’s hard to know how active that have been or will be in the bullpen market. In general, the bullpen market has been fairly quiet so far. Taylor Rogers has turned into a great late-inning reliever, but the Twins may be interested in adding another lefty (though Smeltzer and Thorpe could compete for a spot as well). They have added Blaine Hardy on a minor league deal and he is certainly an option. Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May and Zack Littell were all really good in 2019. Cody Stashak showed a lot, and Fernando Romero is out of options. Matt Wisler signed for $700K. I can certainly see the Twins looking to add one more high-quality late-inning reliever, if not two. Number Five: Rule 5 On Thursday, the Rule 5 draft will take place. The Twins 40-man roster is currently at 35. With the additions of Alex Avila and Michael Pineda (whenever they are announced), they will be at 37. They could add a free agent or two and still have a 40-man roster spot for a Rule 5 pick. Without knowing who might be available for the Twins to consider, teams should absolutely always consider adding in the Rule 5 draft. It is a good, cheap way to potentially add talent. With rosters jumping up to 26 in 2020, the Twins - and every other team - may use the Rule 5 draft more liberally as an opportunity to add a piece. While I think it’s something to be considered, I don’t necessarily think it’s likely for the Twins to add a player in the Rule 5 draft. As Twins fans, we will likely be paying attention more out of concern for potentially losing high-talent prospectslike Wander Javier and Luis Rijo or near-ready talents like Griffin Jax or Tom Hackimer. ---------------------------- So there you have five things to watch for during the Winter Meetings in San Diego. As always, the Winter Meetings will be complete on 12th, so not all of these things will need to be answered by then. Be sure to refresh Twins Daily often as we will try to keep close tabs on any Twins news and rumors. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  12. Over the next four days, we will hear about teams talking to teams, and agents talking to GMs. We’ll have to work hard (or at least think hard) about many of the vast rumors that we will hear and read about. Many will fall into the “That’s Silly” category. Others will warrant interest and discussion. But it’s important to remember that the Winter Meetings are just that. They are a series of meetings. Minor league teams will be there, sitting in on meetings. Independent Leagues will have representatives there, going to meetings. There will be a lot of college kids and others, wearing suits, trying to line up jobs in baseball. It isn’t just about making roster transaction. https://twitter.com/DWolfsonKSTP/status/1203804282350395393 Let’s admit it though. That’s the only part we care about. So, let’s discuss what the Twins need to do yet this offseason, while at the same time reminding us all that it doesn’t have to all be done by Thursday. ~~ Read Nick’s Offseason Update ~~ Here are some things to watch this week: Number One: Add an Impact Starting Pitcher The Twins have Jose Berrios under team control, signed Jake Odorizzi to the qualifying offer and are a passed physical from having Michael Pineda inked up. While not as exciting to bring back players, two of those players could have been lost via free agency and now will return. However, we all know that the Twins need an “Impact” starting pitcher to give themselves a better chance to compete not only in the AL Central but in short series in the playoffs too. I think we can all understand that they aren’t going to get Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg. But they have clearly been involved in conversations for the next level. They were involved in Zack Wheeler discussions. They clearly have strong interest in lefties Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Is either interested in leaving California for Minnesota? If not, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will likely need to shift gears and start contemplating trade options for an impact starter. A call to Colorado’s front office to discuss Jon Gray or German Marquez might make a lot of sense. What other starters might be available in trade? Number Two: A Second High-Quality Starting Pitcher Even if they add an impact arm, the Twins front office will need to ask itself another question. Do they want to bring in one more starting pitcher or do they want to trust their young pitchers and player development to fill one of the five rotation spots? Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, and Lewis Thorpe all showed signs in 2019 that they are either ready to pitch in the big leagues in 2020 or are very close. Brusdar Graterol will likely get another opportunity to start at some point in 2020. But could the front office bring in another veteran pitcher or two to compete for a roster spot. Last week, I mentioned Kevin Gausman as a possibility for a veteran coming off a tough year who could potentially be a #3 type of starter if Wes Johnson & Company are able to help him. Also, Julio Teheran fits into that category. Both of them are still well under 30 years old. Number Three: Who’s on First? Last week, the Twins non-tendered first baseman CJ Cron. That opens up a roster spot, if the Twins front office wants it to. One option, of course, would be for Miguel Sano to stay at third base and Marwin Gonzalez to play first base. Or vice versa. Ehire Adrianza is the utility man, and Willians Astudillo remains in the picture. There are also other internal options for first base. But if the Twins are unable to convince Bumgarner or Ryu to take their money, maybe they chose to offer it to a position player. They could get someone like Mitch Moreland within a budget to do a nice job defensively at first base, saving errors for the other side of the infield. Or, they could make the move of Sano to first base and sign someone like Josh Donaldson for big money. Maybe a trade for an all-star, like Matt Chapman, could also be explored. Number Four: The Bullpen While I don’t think that the Twins bullpen would be considered a strength, it certainly can be solid. The Twins have not been mentioned in rumors around relievers, with the possible exception of bringing back Sergio Romo, so it’s hard to know how active that have been or will be in the bullpen market. In general, the bullpen market has been fairly quiet so far. Taylor Rogers has turned into a great late-inning reliever, but the Twins may be interested in adding another lefty (though Smeltzer and Thorpe could compete for a spot as well). They have added Blaine Hardy on a minor league deal and he is certainly an option. Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May and Zack Littell were all really good in 2019. Cody Stashak showed a lot, and Fernando Romero is out of options. Matt Wisler signed for $700K. I can certainly see the Twins looking to add one more high-quality late-inning reliever, if not two. Number Five: Rule 5 On Thursday, the Rule 5 draft will take place. The Twins 40-man roster is currently at 35. With the additions of Alex Avila and Michael Pineda (whenever they are announced), they will be at 37. They could add a free agent or two and still have a 40-man roster spot for a Rule 5 pick. Without knowing who might be available for the Twins to consider, teams should absolutely always consider adding in the Rule 5 draft. It is a good, cheap way to potentially add talent. With rosters jumping up to 26 in 2020, the Twins - and every other team - may use the Rule 5 draft more liberally as an opportunity to add a piece. While I think it’s something to be considered, I don’t necessarily think it’s likely for the Twins to add a player in the Rule 5 draft. As Twins fans, we will likely be paying attention more out of concern for potentially losing high-talent prospects like Wander Javier and Luis Rijo or near-ready talents like Griffin Jax or Tom Hackimer. ---------------------------- So there you have five things to watch for during the Winter Meetings in San Diego. As always, the Winter Meetings will be complete on 12th, so not all of these things will need to be answered by then. Be sure to refresh Twins Daily often as we will try to keep close tabs on any Twins news and rumors. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. Recently the Philadelphia Phillies inked Zack Wheeler to a five-year deal, and in losing out on a highly coveted free agent starting pitcher a good portion of the Twins fanbase lost their collective minds. What if we’re going about this all wrong though, and the expectations need to be shifted?The more I worked through my own disappointment regarding the reality that Wheeler would not be coming to Twins Territory, the more I concluded that my expectations are largely built on straightforward belief. The Twins have a substantial amount of unallocated cash flow to deal with. They also have a very distinct area of need, even before considering corner infield and backup catcher. From there it’s pretty simple to assume that pieces are plugged in following a linear decision-making process and that it resembles the simplicity of a puzzle coming together. One of the greatest impressions this front office has made on me since taking over however, is the depth and talent within an infrastructure that supports all the club does. From fresh and progressive coaches and coordinators in the player development realm, to outside-the-box thinkers on the big-league side, everything about the way Minnesota is building looks different than ever before. Rather than simply operating from the standpoint that Madison Bumgarner is now the best available talent with a logical degree of signability, Minnesota is likely considering previously glossed-over factors. Wes Johnson has brought a wealth of knowledge and information, but which arms will be most open to latching onto it and utilizing suggestions. Does the loss of assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner pose challenges in the relay or dissemination of information? Are there talented players that simply won’t fit within the confines of how the Twins work toward performance growth? I think that may be true now more than ever, and it’s beyond just a changing culture. With so much money, and plenty of holes yet to fill, finding angst in who or what opportunities Minnesota passes on in December or January is a losing proposition. This free agent cycle has certainly started better than those in years past, and that gives us a bit of belief that the offseason will truly conclude before spring training begins. Until that dust settles though, there isn’t much reason to make conclusive statements on the pending number of transactions. Although the Twins are going to be building to repeat as AL Central Division winners and sustain a high level of performance, we should be trying to find the takeaways from each addition that they make. There’s a high level of intrigue regarding who steps in to important roles vacated by Hefner and Derek Shelton. There’s an even higher level of intrigue regarding the free agents or trade acquisitions and what their profiles tell us about how Minnesota assesses them internally. Maybe I’m reaching a bit too far into the realms of uncertainty here, but I think the takeaway from the next few months will be an additional understanding of what this front office is trying to construct. The Twins have overhauled a process and blueprint and have positioned themselves to be a force for the foreseeable future. Finding the right pieces to capitalize on that, both coaching and players, is more about spending on the right assets than the expected ones. Certainly, there’s an intersection of those two narratives combining forces, but part of this whole process will be understanding which situations that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine find worthy of pulling the trigger on. Sign me up for the shopping spree, but we already know that needs to take place. To whom the checks are written and what they tell us going forward is the chapter I’m excited to read. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY - Wheeler’s Gone, But Bumgarner Would Give the Twins Plenty to Work With - Twins Announce Plans to Extend Netting at Target Field - Twins Making Sweeping Changes on the Diamond Click here to view the article
  14. The more I worked through my own disappointment regarding the reality that Wheeler would not be coming to Twins Territory, the more I concluded that my expectations are largely built on straightforward belief. The Twins have a substantial amount of unallocated cash flow to deal with. They also have a very distinct area of need, even before considering corner infield and backup catcher. From there it’s pretty simple to assume that pieces are plugged in following a linear decision-making process and that it resembles the simplicity of a puzzle coming together. One of the greatest impressions this front office has made on me since taking over however, is the depth and talent within an infrastructure that supports all the club does. From fresh and progressive coaches and coordinators in the player development realm, to outside-the-box thinkers on the big-league side, everything about the way Minnesota is building looks different than ever before. Rather than simply operating from the standpoint that Madison Bumgarner is now the best available talent with a logical degree of signability, Minnesota is likely considering previously glossed-over factors. Wes Johnson has brought a wealth of knowledge and information, but which arms will be most open to latching onto it and utilizing suggestions. Does the loss of assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner pose challenges in the relay or dissemination of information? Are there talented players that simply won’t fit within the confines of how the Twins work toward performance growth? I think that may be true now more than ever, and it’s beyond just a changing culture. With so much money, and plenty of holes yet to fill, finding angst in who or what opportunities Minnesota passes on in December or January is a losing proposition. This free agent cycle has certainly started better than those in years past, and that gives us a bit of belief that the offseason will truly conclude before spring training begins. Until that dust settles though, there isn’t much reason to make conclusive statements on the pending number of transactions. Although the Twins are going to be building to repeat as AL Central Division winners and sustain a high level of performance, we should be trying to find the takeaways from each addition that they make. There’s a high level of intrigue regarding who steps in to important roles vacated by Hefner and Derek Shelton. There’s an even higher level of intrigue regarding the free agents or trade acquisitions and what their profiles tell us about how Minnesota assesses them internally. Maybe I’m reaching a bit too far into the realms of uncertainty here, but I think the takeaway from the next few months will be an additional understanding of what this front office is trying to construct. The Twins have overhauled a process and blueprint and have positioned themselves to be a force for the foreseeable future. Finding the right pieces to capitalize on that, both coaching and players, is more about spending on the right assets than the expected ones. Certainly, there’s an intersection of those two narratives combining forces, but part of this whole process will be understanding which situations that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine find worthy of pulling the trigger on. Sign me up for the shopping spree, but we already know that needs to take place. To whom the checks are written and what they tell us going forward is the chapter I’m excited to read. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY - Wheeler’s Gone, But Bumgarner Would Give the Twins Plenty to Work With - Twins Announce Plans to Extend Netting at Target Field - Twins Making Sweeping Changes on the Diamond
  15. The case for Bumgarner: Bumgarner is one of the most prominent names in MLB, and for good reason. He was drafted by the Giants with the 10th overall pick in the 2007 Amateur Draft as an 18-year-old. Bumgarner quickly moved up the system, debuting in 2008 at Class-A and pitching 10 innings in the big leagues by 2009. Bumgarner started in 18 games in 2010 with a 3.00 ERA in 111 innings. That breakout season was a bridge to six straight dominant campaigns as Bumgarner appeared in four All-Star games and finished in the top 10 for the Cy Young each of those years. This stretch included three championships and a World Series MVP Award in 2014. For the first time since 2010, Bumgarner started less than 30 games in 2017 after a dirt bike accident sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder. Bad luck struck again in 2018 when a line drive drilled his throwing hand. Bumgarner nearly matched his combined total of 38 starts between those two years with 34 in 2019. In his illustrious 11-year career, Bumgarner has never posted an ERA above the 3.90 mark he had in 2019. Consistency is perhaps his greatest asset, and Bumgarner is still just 30-years-old. There seems to be an assumption that Bumgarner has less left to give. His average pitch velocity actually increased in 2019: With Bumgarner also comes postseason experience and October mystic. Bumgarner is 8-3 with a 2.11 ERA in 102 1/3 playoff innings. It is unwise to hang your hat on this, but there is absolutely a bulldog mentality and calm demeanor that gives Bumgarner an edge when the stakes are highest. The case for Zack Wheeler: One of the most enticing names of the offseason, Wheeler enters free agency after two phenomenal seasons with the Mets. Wheeler was selected by the Giants with the 6th overall pick in the 2009 Amateur Draft. Wheeler was traded to New York for Carlos Beltran at the 2011 deadline. Wheeler was called up in May of 2013 and looked great in his first two seasons, posting a 3.50 ERA across 285 1/3 innings. In the spring of 2015, Wheeler had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and was sidelined for the next two years. Wheeler returned in 2017 and was clearly rusty as he allowed 50 runs in just 86 1/3 innings. Full recovery showed in 2018 and Wheeler heaved his way to a sterling 3.25 FIP and 12-7 record, right back on track. Wheeler followed up his bounceback season with a 3.48 FIP and 195 strikeouts in 195 1/3 innings in 2019. Unlike Bumgarner, Wheeler is an overpowering pitcher with a fastball that averaged 96.7 MPH last year. He is throwing as hard as ever and has a nice complement of pitches. Here is how Wheeler mixed up his offerings compared to 2018 and the seasons prior to Tommy John surgery: For the Twins, Wheeler may have an edge over Bumgarner as he is dominant against right-handed batters. Righties hit just .245/.274/.360 off him in 2019. With the American League Central loaded with right-handed sluggers such as Franmil Reyes, Eloy Jimenez, and Jorge Soler, Wheeler could give an added advantage to Minnesota. Who should get the final rose? Both of these guys are proven, but Bumgarner offers stability and consistency that Wheeler does not. On the contrary, Wheeler holds upside that could turn him into a superstar, while Bumgarner has possibly reached his 95th percentile of production. With either, the Twins are getting a serious upgrade to the staff and each guy brings different assets and limitations to the table. Let’s take a look at how closely they compared in 2019: Who should the Twins get? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook. More from Twins Daily Exploring Five Twins Extension Candidates Important Dates for the 2020 Offseason Eyeing This Year's Most Intriguing Free Agent
  16. In his Payroll Analysis feature for the Offseason Handbook, John Bonnes surmises that the Twins could plausibly push payroll to around $140 million this winter, giving them up to $70 million in spending flexibility. That total would push them past their 2018 and 2017 payrolls, but only modestly so. It's a reasonable target for a team that's in championship contention and experiencing a wave of renewed fan investment. In three shorts years since taking over as general manager under Derek Falvey, Thad Levine has already made some of the boldest free agent splashes in Twins history. The contracts given to Jason Castro, Addison Reed, Lance Lynn, Nelson Cruz and Marwin Gonzalez may not be lofty signings relative to the rest of the league, but judged against the standard set by Terry Ryan, they were tremendously aggressive signings. With the exception of Castro, however, none of these pacts were for more than two years. The Twins reportedly backed out of the Yu Darvish derby two winters ago because of his contract length demands. Minnesota epitomizes baseball's general aversion to bulky free agent deals, and to committing enormous guaranteed sums to players in their 30s. You know what? It's undeniably smart, especially for a team with finite payroll constraints. Ongoing flexibility is a worthy aspiration and directive for this front office. Let's explore some ways the Twins could maximize their present cash surplus while staying true to their strategically prudent ways. Frontload a Free Agent Contract Are the Twins going to sign Gerrit Cole to a deal pays him $40 million as a 34-year-old in 2025? Probably not. In fact, they're likely aiming to avoid any huge financial obligations down the line. But let me throw a theoretical scenario at you. Say Minnesota is targeting Madison Bumgarner. (You can insert the name of another high-end free agent starter as you please.) He has a five-year, $100 million offer in hand from another team, with salaries evenly dispersed across the length of the contract, maybe even backloaded. Pretty standard framework. Okay, Twins might not want to go there. But what if they proposed this contract: five years and $96 million, with $30 million salaries in each of the first two seasons, followed by an opt-out clause, and then $12 million salaries in each of the final three seasons. This gives Bumgarner the ability to make an extra $20+ million over the next two years, then hit free agency again at age 32 for another big payday. Meanwhile, if things fall apart on him, he still has three years of solid paychecks guaranteed. Basically it gives him the ability to bet on himself while maintaining security. From Minnesota's perspective, the extra money up-front doesn't matter much, and they ensure they won't be saddled with a major payroll drain just as guys like Jose Berrios, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Taylor Rogers are getting expensive or reaching free agency. You can tinker around with the specific terms and numbers, but in general I think the heavily front-loaded opt-out contract is a model that could help the Twins compete for prime talent in free agency while remaining nimble. Trade for a Hefty Salary Teams that are willing to take on a burdensome contract often give up less in prospect capital to acquire a player. As it happens, there are several teams looking to shed payroll this winter, even – if rumblings are to be believed – heavy hitters like the Red Sox and Cubs. With considerable short-term flexibility, might the Twins be able to land a player like David Price ($32M/yr owed through 2023) or Kris Bryant (due around $40 million his final two years of arbitration, pending his service time grievance) for a relatively light return? Frontload Internal Contract Extensions This might not be as exciting as flashy outside pickups, but team-friendly extensions for core players – like the ones inked with Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler in the spring – are critical to the franchise's long-term health, enabling the front office to making impactful additions year after year. In the cases of both Polanco and Kepler, the Twins gave large immediate raises in exchange for reasonable rates and team options during the latter portions (which also happen to encompass the players' primes). It'd be great to see the front office take a similar approach this offseason, maybe even bringing it a step further. Earlier this week, Cody Christie looked at five extension candidates, and of course Berrios was at the top of the list. The 25-year-old is projected to make somewhere around $5 million in his first turn at arbitration this offseason, but what if the Twins bumped that up to – say – $9 million, with an ensuant raise the following year? What kind of discount might that score for his first few years of free agency? The bottom line is that Minnesota has a ton of spending flexibility right now, but it's a fleeting reality if the Twins hope to keep their core intact. They have at least seven key players in the arbitration process now, which puts those fixtures on a rapidly rising pay scale. Moves like the ones above will serve the team's short-term and long-term goals, aggressively pursuing a winning window while maintaining the freedom to keep the band together.
  17. The Twins find themselves with a lot of freed up money to burn this offseason. What we've learned about this front office is that they don't mind spending, but strongly prefer to avoid long-term commitments and backloaded contracts. Which... can make it kinda hard to spend on premium talent. Thinking beyond your typical high-profile free agent contract, however, there are a number of interesting possibilities.In his Payroll Analysis feature for the Offseason Handbook, John Bonnes surmises that the Twins could plausibly push payroll to around $140 million this winter, giving them up to $70 million in spending flexibility. That total would push them past their 2018 and 2017 payrolls, but only modestly so. It's a reasonable target for a team that's in championship contention and experiencing a wave of renewed fan investment. In three shorts years since taking over as general manager under Derek Falvey, Thad Levine has already made some of the boldest free agent splashes in Twins history. The contracts given to Jason Castro, Addison Reed, Lance Lynn, Nelson Cruz and Marwin Gonzalez may not be lofty signings relative to the rest of the league, but judged against the standard set by Terry Ryan, they were tremendously aggressive signings. With the exception of Castro, however, none of these pacts were for more than two years. The Twins reportedly backed out of the Yu Darvish derby two winters ago because of his contract length demands. Minnesota epitomizes baseball's general aversion to bulky free agent deals, and to committing enormous guaranteed sums to players in their 30s. You know what? It's undeniably smart, especially for a team with finite payroll constraints. Ongoing flexibility is a worthy aspiration and directive for this front office. Let's explore some ways the Twins could maximize their present cash surplus while staying true to their strategically prudent ways. Frontload a Free Agent Contract Are the Twins going to sign Gerrit Cole to a deal pays him $40 million as a 34-year-old in 2025? Probably not. In fact, they're likely aiming to avoid any huge financial obligations down the line. But let me throw a theoretical scenario at you. Say Minnesota is targeting Madison Bumgarner. (You can insert the name of another high-end free agent starter as you please.) He has a five-year, $100 million offer in hand from another team, with salaries evenly dispersed across the length of the contract, maybe even backloaded. Pretty standard framework. Okay, Twins might not want to go there. But what if they proposed this contract: five years and $96 million, with $30 million salaries in each of the first two seasons, followed by an opt-out clause, and then $12 million salaries in each of the final three seasons. This gives Bumgarner the ability to make an extra $20+ million over the next two years, then hit free agency again at age 32 for another big payday. Meanwhile, if things fall apart on him, he still has three years of solid paychecks guaranteed. Basically it gives him the ability to bet on himself while maintaining security. From Minnesota's perspective, the extra money up-front doesn't matter much, and they ensure they won't be saddled with a major payroll drain just as guys like Jose Berrios, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Taylor Rogers are getting expensive or reaching free agency. You can tinker around with the specific terms and numbers, but in general I think the heavily front-loaded opt-out contract is a model that could help the Twins compete for prime talent in free agency while remaining nimble. Trade for a Hefty Salary Teams that are willing to take on a burdensome contract often give up less in prospect capital to acquire a player. As it happens, there are several teams looking to shed payroll this winter, even – if rumblings are to be believed – heavy hitters like the Red Sox and Cubs. With considerable short-term flexibility, might the Twins be able to land a player like David Price ($32M/yr owed through 2023) or Kris Bryant (due around $40 million his final two years of arbitration, pending his service time grievance) for a relatively light return? Frontload Internal Contract Extensions This might not be as exciting as flashy outside pickups, but team-friendly extensions for core players – like the ones inked with Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler in the spring – are critical to the franchise's long-term health, enabling the front office to making impactful additions year after year. In the cases of both Polanco and Kepler, the Twins gave large immediate raises in exchange for reasonable rates and team options during the latter portions (which also happen to encompass the players' primes). It'd be great to see the front office take a similar approach this offseason, maybe even bringing it a step further. Earlier this week, Cody Christie looked at five extension candidates, and of course Berrios was at the top of the list. The 25-year-old is projected to make somewhere around $5 million in his first turn at arbitration this offseason, but what if the Twins bumped that up to – say – $9 million, with an ensuant raise the following year? What kind of discount might that score for his first few years of free agency? The bottom line is that Minnesota has a ton of spending flexibility right now, but it's a fleeting reality if the Twins hope to keep their core intact. They have at least seven key players in the arbitration process now, which puts those fixtures on a rapidly rising pay scale. Moves like the ones above will serve the team's short-term and long-term goals, aggressively pursuing a winning window while maintaining the freedom to keep the band together. Click here to view the article
  18. Coming into last season Minnesota took a step backward in the payroll department. After being just shy of $130 million in 2017, they began 2018 with a $114 million tab suggesting that the next step was largely reliant on seeing what they then had. We are now in a position, for the first time in nearly a decade, that the Minnesota Twins know exactly what they have. This organization has a forward-thinking front office that has hired an infrastructure designed to push development. They have a manager capable of getting execution at the highest level. They have a prospect stream filled with both quality and quantity. Maybe most important, they are division winners with a clear path to opportunity both immediately and into the future. It is in that perfect storm that you can adequately gripe about payroll needing to be where revenues suggest it should be. Now let’s apply this to actual commodities and what the dollars represent. Despite making a silly suggestion that Zack Greinke didn’t win the Astros a World Series, the reality is that the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals played on the biggest stage because they both employed three pitchers that could trump virtually any competition. The Twins hit a boatload of bombas in 2019, and the lineup will continue to play, but the rotation must be filled with arms capable of competing against the upper echelon. For the first time in franchise history the Twins have handed out a qualifying offer (there was an argument to be made that a second could have been made) insuring Jake Odorizzi will agree to nothing worse than a one-year, $17.8 million deal. That’d be a strong start to free agency for Minnesota, but if he rejects the offer in the next nine days, working out a long-term deal with the help of draft pick compensation warding off other suitors would be a fine result as well. Different publications have tied Minnesota to a handful of options, but there have been suggestions of arms starting with Bumgarner and Wheeler, and trickling down from there. Although Falvey needs to be a player on the Cole and Strasburg market, they both could very well have more exciting destinations in play. Regardless of how the four rotation spots are accounted for, a final tally of something near $70 million should be enough to create a strong group. If Minnesota can’t allocate all their funds to the pitching market, then supplementing with an offensive addition is hardly an egregious ask. Holding back some of the discretionary dollars a year ago made some sense but making sure every effort possible is made for 2020 and beyond now should be in all systems go mode. There are more than a few ways for the Twins to tack on significant money while avoiding risk and poor contracts, and this is their opportunity to do it. $140 million would be a bit north of $10 million into the uncharted waters territory. While $135 million is a nice bump from 2019, the $140MM mark would likely land them just outside of the top 10. At this stage of the cycle Minnesota could comfortably be closer to $150MM than $130MM and things would be just fine. No matter how they get there though, the training wheels need to come off this time around. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook. More from Twins Daily 2020 Offseason Handbook Available Now No Qualifying Offer? No Option? These 4 Players Could Interest the Twins 8 Players the Twins Need to Add to the 40-Man Roster
  19. Going into the offseason the Minnesota Twins are positioned knowing exactly what they need to add. With four openings in the starting rotation, pitching is going to be at the forefront. When the snow and ice thaw before next spring, how Rocco Baldelli’s club enters the 2020 season will largely depend on the receipt they carry to Fort Myers.Coming into last season Minnesota took a step backward in the payroll department. After being just shy of $130 million in 2017, they began 2018 with a $114 million tab suggesting that the next step was largely reliant on seeing what they then had. We are now in a position, for the first time in nearly a decade, that the Minnesota Twins know exactly what they have. This organization has a forward-thinking front office that has hired an infrastructure designed to push development. They have a manager capable of getting execution at the highest level. They have a prospect stream filled with both quality and quantity. Maybe most important, they are division winners with a clear path to opportunity both immediately and into the future. It is in that perfect storm that you can adequately gripe about payroll needing to be where revenues suggest it should be. Now let’s apply this to actual commodities and what the dollars represent. Despite making a silly suggestion that Zack Greinke didn’t win the Astros a World Series, the reality is that the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals played on the biggest stage because they both employed three pitchers that could trump virtually any competition. The Twins hit a boatload of bombas in 2019, and the lineup will continue to play, but the rotation must be filled with arms capable of competing against the upper echelon. For the first time in franchise history the Twins have handed out a qualifying offer (there was an argument to be made that a second could have been made) insuring Jake Odorizzi will agree to nothing worse than a one-year, $17.8 million deal. That’d be a strong start to free agency for Minnesota, but if he rejects the offer in the next nine days, working out a long-term deal with the help of draft pick compensation warding off other suitors would be a fine result as well. Different publications have tied Minnesota to a handful of options, but there have been suggestions of arms starting with Bumgarner and Wheeler, and trickling down from there. Although Falvey needs to be a player on the Cole and Strasburg market, they both could very well have more exciting destinations in play. Regardless of how the four rotation spots are accounted for, a final tally of something near $70 million should be enough to create a strong group. If Minnesota can’t allocate all their funds to the pitching market, then supplementing with an offensive addition is hardly an egregious ask. Holding back some of the discretionary dollars a year ago made some sense but making sure every effort possible is made for 2020 and beyond now should be in all systems go mode. There are more than a few ways for the Twins to tack on significant money while avoiding risk and poor contracts, and this is their opportunity to do it. $140 million would be a bit north of $10 million into the uncharted waters territory. While $135 million is a nice bump from 2019, the $140MM mark would likely land them just outside of the top 10. At this stage of the cycle Minnesota could comfortably be closer to $150MM than $130MM and things would be just fine. No matter how they get there though, the training wheels need to come off this time around. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook. More from Twins Daily 2020 Offseason Handbook Available Now No Qualifying Offer? No Option? These 4 Players Could Interest the Twins 8 Players the Twins Need to Add to the 40-Man Roster Click here to view the article
  20. To set up some initial parameters here, we need to understand the financial situation. The Twins are coming off a $120MM payroll after a $130MM payroll in 2018. A 2020 payroll should check in at no less than $135MM, and more realistically hover around $140MM. From a commitment standpoint there’s only a first base and backup catcher role open for position players, and then there’s something like one or two bullpen opportunities. As was the title of his article, John pointed out that Minnesota has around $70 million to hand out in the form of starting pitching contracts. So, how does that break down? Looking at what is available on the market, and a baseline understanding of what acquisition cost will be, there’s certainly not an abundance of players that will command more than $25 million annually. Although there is never a shortage of Martin Perez-types that can be had for less than $10 million, Minnesota must be aiming higher. With Jose Berrios as a given, and one spot tabbed for an internal candidate (think Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak, or Lewis Thorpe), the rotation gets remade with projectable talent. To break down options I categorized the three opportunities into different salary buckets. This is what I’ve come up with. SP1 ($25 million and up AAV)- Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner I believe this group to be completely represented by the names above. Strasburg is not a lock to opt out of his current deal, but with just $100 million left over the next four years he should cash in for a final big payday. Cole is the premiere target on the market, and while even a blank check may be thwarted by a more enticing market, there’s no excuse for Minnesota not to make their best effort. Bumgarner was not an appealing trade option at the deadline given the estimated return for a rental. He’s still not the pitcher he once was, but he’s only 30-years-old and proved his durability again this season. Competition for three arms that every team needs will be substantial, but the Twins are as well positioned as anyone to make it happen. SP2 ($15-25 million AAV)- Zack Wheeler, Dallas Keuchel, Hyun-Jin Ryu The youngster of this group is the former Mets pitcher Wheeler. He’ll pitch next season at the age of 30 and was one of the most intriguing names at the deadline. He wasn’t moved but posted strong numbers across the board and looks to be knocking on the door of another level. If the Twins are convinced Wes Johnson can provide the breakthrough, they should be all in. Keuchel has given Atlanta about what was expected, but most importantly has calmed health concerns. He’s not a velocity guy but saw and uptick in strikeouts. The new ball has burned him more than ever, but this is the type of two or three starter that a really good rotation employs. Eldest of the bunch is Ryu, who was fully healthy for the first time since 2013. Getting below 1.0 HR/9 in the toughest season to do so implies he really has no flaws, but it also comes down to belief in him going forward despite a track record of unavailability due to injuries. SP3 ($10-20 million AAV)- Alex Wood, Julio Teheran, Jose Quintana Only Wood is truly a free agent among this trio. Both Teheran and Quintana have team options that the Braves and Cubs respectively could pick up. For Wood, 2019 was a throwaway season due to back issues, so he comes with caution tape unless the medicals all check out. Teheran is a bigger name than he is talent, but there’s workable ability in his repertoire. Quintana would be returning to a familiar division, and while the Cubs could move on, his 3.80 FIP suggests the 4.58 ERA wasn’t truly indicative of the stuff. The Twins have two parting options that would both fit in this group as well. Michael Pineda pitched himself into a decent payday even with his suspension, and because of the games missed, he’ll likely offer an immediate discount. Jake Odorizzi could be handed a QO which would put him at the top of this range, but he should have no problem finding a longer-term pact that falls somewhere in the middle. I don’t believe the Twins will sign an arm from all three of these buckets given the likelihood for a trade being swung. If they did only hand out paychecks though, a strong trio can be formed from the group above. To say Cole is immediately out because he’d have to chose Minnesota seems dismissive. He’s a long shot, but money talks. If Gerrit turns you down, I’m more into Strasburg than Bumgarner, but I’d make sure one of them is cashing a check from 1 Twins Way. Wheeler is the most exciting name from the second group, and I believe he’s got another level yet to unlock. I’d round out the options by making sure that Jake Odorizzi never gives up the lease on whatever rental property he calls home in Minneapolis. Who would be the three arms you’re targeting to accomplish an acquisition from each pool above?
  21. The first question I’d like to ask is should the Twins add a starting pitcher to the rotation? As of Thursday, there were 58 American League pitchers with 70 innings. In terms of FIP, Twins starters ranked 13th (Berrios), 17th (Odorizzi), 21st (Gibson), 24th (Perez) and 27th (Pineda). In other words, the entire rotation was in the top half of that sample. To put that into perspective, the Astros have three guys inside the top 27 (Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Brad Peacock), Cleveland has two (Shane Bieber and Trevor Bauer) and the Yankees only have one (James Paxton). Sounds really good right? I agree, however, this only tells us what has happened so far. FIP is a good predictor of future success (well, at least better than ERA), but the unknown element is whether or not the other contending teams in the AL will make significant additions to their rotations over the coming week. While the Twins rotation flexes in terms of depth, the other top teams in the AL have much more formidable pieces at the top. Can that still work? Yes, I think it can. We only need to look back to last year’s Milwaukee Brewers for proof. That team had a similar solid but unspectacular rotation that relied more on its depth. Jhoulys Chacin was the ace of that staff, though Wade Miley was very good when healthy. Neither of those guys can hold a candle to Berrios. That Milwaukee team managed to beat the Cubs in a Game 163 to take the NL Central with 96 wins. The pitching matchup was Chacin vs. Jose Quintana. The Brewers then swept the Rockies, giving up just two total runs in those three games. They even pushed the Dodgers all the way to a Game 7 in the NLCS behind a rotation of Miley, Chacin and Gio Gonzalez. The big difference is Milwaukee had an excellent bullpen, though it wasn't comprised of costly big-name arms. The Twins will need to upgrade their pitching staff, nobody is going to argue with that, but I’m not so convinced they really need to add a starter. Let me know what you think. The second thing I’d love to year your opinion on is if the Twins do acquire a starting pitcher, who gets booted to the bullpen? I think this is a tricky question. Might it actually come down to matchups? Berrios is clearly the No. 1 guy on the staff, but things get very fuzzy after that. Odorizzi went to the All-Star Game, but he has a 7.99 ERA over his past seven starts. On the other end of the spectrum, Pineda has a 2.93 ERA in his last seven outings. Gibson has been steady, but never spectacular. Perez has by far the worst WHIP on the staff, but he's also the only lefty starter. Deadline Discussion The big news of the day was that Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirmed the Mets are considering offers on Noah Syndergaard. Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote that "The hardest sell for the Mets baseball operations department leading up to the trade deadline is not persuading suitors to make substantial offers for Edwin Diaz and Noah Syndergaard. It will be convincing ownership to accept such a deal if it reaches a level perceived acceptable." La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune confirmed the Twins not only have interest in Snydergaard, but according to his sources, the Mets are asking for both Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff. Rosenthal also made reference to "the growing possibility" that Trevor Bauer and Matthew Boyd would not be traded in a recent piece for The Athletic. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported that "according to a source with knowledge of the team's plans" the Giants are poised to be buyers and "it's all but certain" Madison Bumgarner will not be traded. Cody wrote about how it's important to avoid impulse trades, such as the one Pittsburgh made to acquire Chris Archer last year. Cody also tabbed Zack Greinke as the starting pitching target of his ideal deadline. Andrew took a look at what it would take to acquire Marcus Stroman and made the case that the Twins should make a deal for Mike Minor. Cooper offered up a couple of under the radar options for the rotation: Sonny Gray and Robbie Ray. Should the Twins be aggressive on the starting pitching market? Would you trade Lewis and Kirilloff for Syndergaard? Who transitions to the bullpen if there is an addition? And if you hear any more rumors today, please feel free to pass them along.
  22. As I mentioned, we are one week from the July 31st trade deadline. In years past, there were two trade deadlines. July 31st was the non-waiver trade deadline, meaning anyone can be traded up until that point. Then there was a second trade deadline at the end of August in which players had to be put on trade waivers to be traded. It’s a little more complex than that, but no need to dive into something that is no longer a thing this year. The decision to have just one trade line was made this past offseason. A big reason for it was because of how slow the offseason free agency was. When the best free agents were still available in March and a couple were still available in June, they thought something needed to happen. The idea was first proposed by the MLB Players Association to “"to protect the competitive integrity of the 162-game regular season, create more certainty for players and force teams to decide earlier whether they are buyers or sellers." Many thought it would create more activity at the deadline. So far it hasn’t, unless trades of Homer Bailey or Andrew Cashner or Martin Maldonado excite you. Why? At the end of the day, a deadline is a deadline. Right now, the “sellers” are asking for the world in terms of prospect return. No rational GM is going to do that. Right now, most of the National League teams are still in playoff contention, at least to some degree. There are at least seven of the American League teams vying for five playoff spots as well. A few may choose to “Sell” by the time the deadline rolls around, but until then, they might as well keep playing. Consider that the Giants have won 16 of their last 19 games and are now nearing a Wild Card spot. Does that mean that Madison Bumgarner and their slew of relief pitchers are still unavailable? Probably, at least for now. Because of those names (and others) likely not being available right now, Jon Heyman thinks it could cause the Toronto Blue Jays to try to deal Marcus Stroman more quickly. https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1153859671607975936 Earlier this week, Andrew Thares asked what it might take for the Twins to acquire Stroman. Ultimately a deadline is a deadline. The fact that there is just one only means that there are more buyers (usually) at the July deadline than there might be if there was still an August deadline. GMs don’t want to overpay, and that’s what the sellers are trying to get in return right now. And the only thing that will force those sellers hands is the deadline. So I expect there may be a few traded trickling in over the next few days, I think that most trades will happen in the final 24-48 hours leading up to the July 31st deadline… same as it always has been. Deadline Discussions MLB Trade Rumors created a poll asking readers to give their thoughts on the Pirates potentially trading left-handed reliever Felipe Vasquez, quietly one of the best relievers in baseball. What makes him intriguing (and very, very costly) is that he signed a four year, $20 million contract a couple of years ago. Looking into his contract, he is owned $5.25 million in 2020 and $7.25 million in 2021.Even better, he has two options in the deal in which he could get $10 million in 2022 ($1 million buyout) and 2023 ($500K buyout) if things are going well. Thieres wrote about Vasquez in our Potential Bullpen Target series. Old Friend Rhett Bollinger reported last Friday that the Angels had DFAd RHP Matt Harvey. On Tuesday, The Dark Knight officially became a free agent. Could he be a match for the Twins, maybe not as a starter, but as a long relief option? Jim Duquette in The Athletic wrote about six players he believes should not be traded right now, and that list includes four pitchers that have been linked to the Twins (to some degree) over the last month. Ken Rosenthal (The Athletic) asked if the Twins should have jumped on relievers sooner? And from our Forums, USA Chief writes an embattled plea to the Twins front office to make a move to help this Twins bullpen, and soon! Also in our Forums, there are threads dedicated to Noah Syndergaard and Matthew Boyd. On his most recent episode of The Scoops podcast, Darren Wolfson chatted with Trevor Hildenberger. As it relates to the trade deadline, he also spoke with Twins CBO Derek Falvey. Listen here. Over the next week, we will provide a daily Trade Deadline thread in which we will discuss a topic briefly and provide some of the day’s rumors. Use this thread to discuss Twins rumors. Obviously if and when the Twins make a move, we will have an article ready to discuss that, but this should be a fun gathering ground for Twins rumors. If you see a Twins rumor, post it in the comments. Otherwise, let’s discuss. This is a big week for the 2019 Twins.
  23. Over the next couple of weeks, Twins fans are going to be checking their phones and waiting for a notification. Did the club acquire a front-line starting pitcher? Could a bullpen arm or two be on the way to the Twin Cities? Even with one of baseball’s best records, Minnesota’s roster has some holes. When you look at your phone on July 31, what would be the perfect trade deadline scenario?Deadline Blueprint With one of the baseball’s best offenses, it makes sense for the Twins to focus on adding pitching before the deadline. Minnesota’s most glaring need is the bullpen. Taylor Rogers might be the AL’s most valuable reliever, but he won’t be able to pitch every postseason inning. Ryne Harper, Tyler Duffey and Zach Littell have been more than serviceable, but they might be better suited for pitching the middle innings. Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi have been leading the pitching staff, while the rest of the rotation has fit into their roles nicely. Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez have had some up and down moments throughout the year. Michael Pineda has provided an upgrade over recent fifth starters. Would you trust one of these pitchers to face the Yankees or Astros line-up in the ALDS? Ideally, the Twins would add two relief arms and a starter before the calendar turns to August. Bullpen In a perfect world, the Twins would be able to add both a right- and left-handed reliever to assist Rogers in his late inning role. There are some internal options for the Twins including two left-handed pitchers that are already on the 40-man roster. Both players would be unknowns in a relief role, so it makes sense to find someone with some experience if the price in prospects isn’t too steep. When it comes to left-handed relievers, Will Smith is the name on everyone’s list. He is currently being used as the Giants closer, but his cost might be slightly lower since he is a free agent after the season. John projected a package of Kohl Stewart and Edwar Colina for Smith. If that’s the deal on the table, I pull the trigger. For Ron Gardenhire and the Tigers, there have been few bright spots this year. However, Shane Greene has been one of the team’s best players. In 2018, he struggled in his first chance being the full-time closer. He posted a 5.12 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP with a 65 to 19 strikeout to walk ratio. For how bad he was last season, he has done a complete 180 this year. He has a microscopic 1.06 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP with 35 strikeouts and 10 walks. He’s also under team control through 2020. Starting Pitching There’s been lots of talk about Madison Bumgarner since he is a pending free agent and the Giants are likely to be sellers. One must wonder what version of Madison Bumgarner a club would receive in a trade. He’s been a World Series hero but that was half a decade ago. This season he has posted a 3.86 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP to go along with 121 strikeouts in 116 2/3 innings. Another thing to consider is Bumgarner has a lot of miles on his arm with 1755 big league innings over the last 11 seasons. Toronto’s Marcus Stroman is another potential trade target and he is younger than Bumgarner. So far this season, he has a 3.25 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. He has 88 strikeouts in 110 2/3 innings, so Bumgarner has him beat in that category. Stroman has another year of team control as the 2020 season will be his final year of arbitration eligibility. Both above-mentioned pitchers could help the club, but I’d rather the team target Arizona’s Zack Greinke, even if he has a no-trade clause that includes the Twins. There are a few reasons I’d rather the team go after a 35-year old pitcher with a big contract. First, it would likely take fewer high-ranking prospects to acquire Greinke because of his large contract. Greinke has been very good this year with a 2.95 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. Minnesota has the financial flexibility in the years ahead to absorb the Greinke contract. Plus, three of the Twins current starters will be free agents following the World Series. Greinke could fit in at the top of the rotation with Berrios for the next handful of seasons. If he isn’t still an ace in 2021, the Twins could still fit him in some part of their rotation. Greinke, Smith, and Greene put the Twins in better position to win October games. Who would be part of your perfect trade deadline for the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Other Stories of Interest Internal Relief Help Could Provide Second Half Upgrade Arraez is What Minnesota Has Craved Twins Trade Rumors Roundup: Teams Pondering Selling Click here to view the article
  24. Deadline Blueprint With one of the baseball’s best offenses, it makes sense for the Twins to focus on adding pitching before the deadline. Minnesota’s most glaring need is the bullpen. Taylor Rogers might be the AL’s most valuable reliever, but he won’t be able to pitch every postseason inning. Ryne Harper, Tyler Duffey and Zach Littell have been more than serviceable, but they might be better suited for pitching the middle innings. Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi have been leading the pitching staff, while the rest of the rotation has fit into their roles nicely. Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez have had some up and down moments throughout the year. Michael Pineda has provided an upgrade over recent fifth starters. Would you trust one of these pitchers to face the Yankees or Astros line-up in the ALDS? Ideally, the Twins would add two relief arms and a starter before the calendar turns to August. Bullpen In a perfect world, the Twins would be able to add both a right- and left-handed reliever to assist Rogers in his late inning role. There are some internal options for the Twins including two left-handed pitchers that are already on the 40-man roster. Both players would be unknowns in a relief role, so it makes sense to find someone with some experience if the price in prospects isn’t too steep. When it comes to left-handed relievers, Will Smith is the name on everyone’s list. He is currently being used as the Giants closer, but his cost might be slightly lower since he is a free agent after the season. John projected a package of Kohl Stewart and Edwar Colina for Smith. If that’s the deal on the table, I pull the trigger. For Ron Gardenhire and the Tigers, there have been few bright spots this year. However, Shane Greene has been one of the team’s best players. In 2018, he struggled in his first chance being the full-time closer. He posted a 5.12 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP with a 65 to 19 strikeout to walk ratio. For how bad he was last season, he has done a complete 180 this year. He has a microscopic 1.06 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP with 35 strikeouts and 10 walks. He’s also under team control through 2020. Starting Pitching There’s been lots of talk about Madison Bumgarner since he is a pending free agent and the Giants are likely to be sellers. One must wonder what version of Madison Bumgarner a club would receive in a trade. He’s been a World Series hero but that was half a decade ago. This season he has posted a 3.86 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP to go along with 121 strikeouts in 116 2/3 innings. Another thing to consider is Bumgarner has a lot of miles on his arm with 1755 big league innings over the last 11 seasons. Toronto’s Marcus Stroman is another potential trade target and he is younger than Bumgarner. So far this season, he has a 3.25 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. He has 88 strikeouts in 110 2/3 innings, so Bumgarner has him beat in that category. Stroman has another year of team control as the 2020 season will be his final year of arbitration eligibility. Both above-mentioned pitchers could help the club, but I’d rather the team target Arizona’s Zack Greinke, even if he has a no-trade clause that includes the Twins. There are a few reasons I’d rather the team go after a 35-year old pitcher with a big contract. First, it would likely take fewer high-ranking prospects to acquire Greinke because of his large contract. Greinke has been very good this year with a 2.95 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. Minnesota has the financial flexibility in the years ahead to absorb the Greinke contract. Plus, three of the Twins current starters will be free agents following the World Series. Greinke could fit in at the top of the rotation with Berrios for the next handful of seasons. If he isn’t still an ace in 2021, the Twins could still fit him in some part of their rotation. Greinke, Smith, and Greene put the Twins in better position to win October games. Who would be part of your perfect trade deadline for the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Other Stories of Interest Internal Relief Help Could Provide Second Half Upgrade Arraez is What Minnesota Has Craved Twins Trade Rumors Roundup: Teams Pondering Selling
  25. The Minnesota Twins are one of the most well positioned franchises in baseball to acquire serious assets this month. Needing help on the mound, the optimal plan would be in acquiring two relievers and a starter. Without knowing how it will shake out, we do know that Derek Falvey's club has been connected to the San Francisco Giants and Madison Bumgarner. Should a deal be struck, what may that look like? Given the Giants current standing, and free agency looming for the pair, both Bumgarner and Will Smith have been the focus of numerous trade discussions. Any selling organization would almost certainly prefer packages for players that part out one asset at a time. While Minnesota could use both Smith and Bumgarner we can separate the two of them for the sake of this exercise. In his latest piece for The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal noted that Giants GM Farhan Zaidi prefers to get prospects closer to the majors. Not wanting lottery tickets and looking for an expedited rebuild, that's certainly an understandable plan. Prior to making any move, Minnesota must be convinced of what they'd be acquiring. Bumgarner's name is one inviting all of the stories. He's a former World Series hero and has been included in the ace discussion over the course of his career. Right now he's a pitcher with a 3.86 ERA backed by FIP and xFIP numbers that suggest the mark is true. His velocity is in a similar place to what it's always been and despite major injuries in recent years, consistency has been relatively reliable. There's no reason to think that any big league organization is trading for a player solely based on name recognition or pedigree. Falvey won't be lulled into the belief that this is the same guy who picked up a World Series MVP nod in 2014. If the scouting process reveals the soon-to-be 30-year-old has enough ability to bolster the rotation then a merit based acquisition would make plenty of sense. Now we get to the cost of a deal. This is a rental Minnesota would be taking on in hopes of a deeper Postseason performance yet this season. He's not going to slot in ahead of staff ace Jose Berrios and any belief that Bumgarner would cost the Twins one of their top three prospects seems absurd. Excluding Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, and Brusdar Graterol from this deal gives us a clearer layout of what assets to look for. Factoring in the Giants desire for players at the upper levels of the organization we can target players currently sitting at Double or Triple-A in the Minnesota system. Having such a deep and strong farm system the Twins can part out pieces and still be well set up for the future. Minnesota Twins acquire SP Madison Bumgarner. San Francisco Giants acquire OF Brent Rooker, INF Nick Gordon, and RHP Sean Poppen. With this return the Giants are getting a bit of everything. Rooker has a legit bat and would be in the big leagues for a significant amount of organizations right now. He plays on the corners, and there's questions about whether a move to first could happen with his current footwork. Swing and miss tendencies have slowed over the season with Triple-A Rochester and the power should play fine in any park. The Giants would be smart to ask for Trevor Larnach here, but he's further off and Minnesota should want to protect the upside there if they can. Former first round pick Nick Gordon has regained some of his promise. No longer a top 100 name, he is posting a .788 OPS during his second trip through the International League. Gordon isn't likely ever going to hit for power, but he's got a .291 average across 55 games at Rochester this season and is doing that with a serviceable .335 OBP. Speed is one of his best assets, and while he's not brother Dee, Nick can turn it on around the bases. You'd like to see a more even K/BB ratio, and he's more 2B than SS at this point, but there's a 23-year-old regular here. Poppen fits the mold of a solid trade candidate. He's 25 and at Triple-A for Minnesota, but there's more than a few arms slotted ahead of him for long term consideration. He had a mediocre start to the year at Double-A but has turned it on big time with Rochester. Posting a 10.1 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 49 innings at Triple-A this season, his 2.39 ERA is a career best. Sitting mid-90's with his fastball, this is a guy that can bolster the back end of a rotation and gets another boost pitching on the junior circuit. Obviously the names and talent included in this deal shifts if Will Smith is indeed paired with Bumgarner, but this seems like a decent framework to begin the process with. Over the coming weeks we'll find out what comes to fruition, but the certainty of a move for Minnesota seems imminent. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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