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  1. LA’s Superstars In baseball, superstar players can’t impact the game in the same way as some of the other major sports, but it certainly helps to have top tier players performing at their best. The Dodger outfield is anchored by two former MVPs in Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts and Clayton Kershaw has been one of this generation’s best starting pitchers. Betts has been good throughout his career, but he has used this year’s World Series to put himself in the conversation as quite possibly the best player in baseball. Few teams have players in the same category as the names above, including Minnesota. The Twins signed Josh Donaldson, a former MVP winner, to help change that narrative. However, he was hurt for the majority of the 2020 season and the prime of his career might be behind him. Other players like Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton were touted as future superstars and both have suffered through some ups and downs in their career. Buxton might have the best chance to be Minnesota’s superstar player, but he will need to prove it again in 2021. Tampa’s Bullpen Well this is awkward. Two key members of the Rays bullpen, Nick Anderson and John Curtiss, were both drafted by the Minnesota Twins and neither was given much of an opportunity with the big-league club. Curtiss pitched 15 innings for the Twins and posted a 7.20 ERA while Anderson never made it out of Triple-A. Bullpen usage continues to increase as starters are asked to get fewer outs. Tampa Bay is in their current position because of a heavy reliance on their relief arms and other teams can follow this trend in the years ahead. The Twins have some tough choices with their own bullpen during the coming offseason. Taylor Rogers can make as much as $7 million through arbitration, but he is coming off his worst big-league season. Sergio Romo has a team option for $4.75 million, but he turns 38 in March. Other players like Tyler Clippard and Trevor May are free agents in what is expected to be an offseason where all team’s cut payroll. Minnesota might be able to find someone like Matt Wisler or Caleb Thielbar, but that might be even tougher following a year where there was no minor league season. Both Team’s Starting Pitching Depth Even with bullpens getting more usage, starting pitching is still such an important part of any extended playoff run. LA’s one-two punch of Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw allow other pitchers to take on relief roles for the postseason. Add in the likes of Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin, and Dustin May and it’s easy to see why the Dodgers were willing to part with Kenta Maeda. Tampa might not have some of the big names like LA, but many teams would love to have their top-4 pitchers (Tyler Glasnow, Ryan Yarbrough, Blake Snell, Charlie Morton). Minnesota is entering their second straight offseason with multiple openings in their starting rotation. Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, and Kenta Maeda are penciled into the top-3 spots, so how can the Twins find a way to complete their rotation. Trevor Bauer will be the biggest free agent starter this winter, but he is going to have multiple suitors and the Twins are unlikely to spend the money it takes to add him. Does it make sense to bring back someone like Jake Odorizzi or Rich Hill? Would those names put the Twins in the same territory as the Dodgers and the Rays? What do the Twins need to do to get to the same level as the Dodgers and the Rays? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. The Twins traded one of their top pitching prospects to acquire the veteran pitcher. Hard-throwing Brusdar Graterol is headed to the Dodgers, and then he will be dealt to the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade. Maeda is a 31-year-old right-hander from Japan. In his four seasons with the Dodgers, he has gone 47-35 with a 3.87 ERA in 137 games (103 starts). In 2019, he went 10-8 with a 4.04 ERA. In 153 2/3 innings, he walked 51 and struck out 169 batters. The Dodgers paid a $20 million posting fee to Hiroshima in 2015. Maeda signed an 8 year, $25 million deal with the Dodgers, receiving $3 million annually. He makes an extra $150,000 each year for making the Opening Day roster. He can earn up to $6.5 million each year based on number of starts. He can also make another $3.5 million each year based on innings pitched. He also receives $1 million for having been traded. Graterol saw time with the Twins in September 2019 and pitched well. He pitched a scoreless inning in his one playoff appearance. He became very popular prospect when reports surfaced that he was hitting triple-digits upon his return from Tommy John surgery. Last year, after returning from missing three months due to shoulder issues, he hit 104 mph in a game in Pensacola. At a Winter Caravan stop, pitching coach Wes Johnson said that Graterol was preparing for a role in the bullpen. He could get some time to develop and work more innings, eventually becoming a starter. But many believe his future is in the bullpen. The Twins Opening Day starting rotation now looks like this: Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey and Jhoulys Chacin, with Michael Pineda coming back after 39 games and Rich Hill potentially being back in June or July. Of course, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer provide much depth. And, the Twins still have top pitching prospects Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran and more. What are your thoughts? Tom shared his thoughts shortly after the deal was rumored. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1224891335611682817 More could develop as we learn more about this three, or four, team trade. Here is what we know, so far, about the overall four-team trade:
  3. Mookie Betts and David Price have finally been traded. They're headed to the Dodgers, but the Twins are involved in the deal. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Twins have acquired Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers in exchange for Brusdar Graterol. Graterol is expected to then be dealt to the Red Sox in this multi-team deal. The deals are all pending physicals.The Twins traded one of their top pitching prospects to acquire the veteran pitcher. Hard-throwing Brusdar Graterol is headed to the Dodgers, and then he will be dealt to the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade. Click here to view the article
  4. David Price is entering the fifth year of his seven-year, $217 million deal. In each of the next three seasons, he is guaranteed to make $32 million and he will be in his age-36 season at the end of the deal. The left-handed hurler has pitched over 2000 career innings, but he hasn’t had over 200 innings since the 2016 campaign. Since 2016, Price has averaged 119 innings with a 3.75 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Last season, he posted a career high 10.7 SO/9, but it also came an increase in his BB/9 from under 8.0 to 9.1. Throughout his Red Sox tenure, there have been some health issues, but he has been able to post a 118 ERA+ with 609 strikeouts in 588 innings. Price is still a very good pitcher even if he isn’t the pitcher many fans will remember from when he was in contention for multiple Cy Youngs. His fastball is down a couple miles per hour from his career average (91.9 mph compared to 93.9 mph), but he can still top out at over 95 mph. This speed drop has meant he relies more on his change-up which he used 10% more than his career average last season. Price might still have some left in the tank. Since 2017, he is one of only 29 starters that have topped 350 innings with a strikeout-to-walk ratio over 3.00 and an ERA+ better than 110. There’s no guarantee that he will be able to keep up this pace over the next handful of seasons, but he has already shown the ability to adjust his pitching by relying more on his change-up. It’s no secret that Boston is trying to dump salary this off-season in an attempt to get under the luxury tax line. This will mean trading some of their more expensive players like Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, and/or Price. Betts could likely bring back a haul, but the 2018 MVP seems more likely to stick in Boston to lead their current core players. There are a few things Boston could do to make a deal happen. With the hefty amount remaining on Price’s deal, the Red Sox could agree to pay some of the remaining cost. Taking on a player with a higher salary would also be an option, but that wouldn’t help Boston to cut salary. The Red Sox could include another valuable piece to entice a trading team to take on more salary. If you were the Twins would you trade for Price? How much salary do you think the club would be willing to absorb? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. The Minnesota Twins are going to have money to spend and will need to spend to replenish the roster. What feels most Minnesotan is that the Twins will stretch those dollars as far as possible and sign a number of mid level free agents. What if they didn’t do that? What if the Twins were the team to bring in big salary and big names in a big trade. Here is what an offseason might look like if the Twins are able to bring in current Red Sox outfielder and former MVP Mookie Betts.This blueprint looks at capitalizing on one team's need to cut salary to avoid the luxury tax threshold and enter into the free agent market themselves. Before going too much further, lets lay out the big move and then explain why it may make any sense for the Twins to attempt to put together an offseason centered around such a move. 1. Trade Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Jordan Balazovic and Nick Gordon to the Boston Red Sox for OF Mookie Betts and LHP David Price Un-Minnesota right? The Twins get a top-10 MLB player in Betts who can hit, field and has an MVP on his resume. The major downside for anyone trading for Betts this offseason is that they will only get him for one season. Price may not be the dominant David Price we remember, but if he is healthy, he still has the ability to contribute to a major league starting staff. While his ERA was 4.28 in 2019 his FIP was 3.62 and still has a swinging strike rate above 11%. The concern with Price is his contract and a decrease in velocity. The biggest return the Red Sox get is nearly $60 million in contracts off the books in 2020 and and additional $32 million per season owed to Price the next two seasons. Boston also gets two major league ready pieces in Rosario, who steps into Betts' role, and Sano, who fills their need at first base. With a vacancy at second, Gordon becomes a candidate there, and Balazovic gives the Red Sox a talented and controllable young arm that they covet. It would be great if the Twins didn’t have to give up both Sano and Rosario, but it sounds like the Red Sox are going to want a good haul for Betts to move him. Now for the rest of the moves that help fit those big contracts into the Twins payroll. A payroll that will obviously need to increase but will try and do so within reason. 2. Tender all arbitration-eligible players This becomes necessary to fill roster spots in a relatively affordable way with the extra salary being brought on board. 3. Sign RHP Jake Odorizzi for three years, $36 million Odorizzi will never be an ace but has proven that he can still be a very valuable part to a playoff rotation. The Twins staff also clearly knows how to get that out of him and to continue to allow them to work with Odorizzi will hopefully help maintain if not improve on those results. 4. Sign RHP Sergio Romo for one year, $3 million At $3 million Romo comes in relatively affordably when it comes to quality playoff caliber arms. His personality and experience is also always welcome and with the bulk of the Twins payroll going elsewhere, Romo can continue to mentor and lead the bullpen. 5. Sign Kyle Barraclough for one year, $1 million I personally highlighted Barraclough last week but didn’t expect to actually use him anywhere in a blueprint. Here I am trying to find a bargain bin arm that could bounce back and have an impact for the Twins in the bullpen. The hope here is that Barraclough would be able to reduce his hard hit rate and continue to create swing and misses but with much better results than he had in 2019. 6. Trade OF Akil Baddoo and 2B/3B/OF Travis Blankenhorn to the Rockies for RHP Jon Gray This trade has the potential to be similar to what the Twins did with Odorizzi. Gray had a better season in 2019 than Odorizzi did before the Twins acquired him which is the reason for two prospects in this deal vs. the one when Odorizzi was acquired. Gray pitches with good velocity (96.1 mph) and induces ground balls at a high rate. He certainly can be a back end of the rotation starter, but hopefully the Twins could find the front-line starter the Rockies once thought they had in the right-hander. Gray has team control through 2021 and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $5.6 million this coming season. SUMMARY The lineup does look to lose a bit in the way of depth in comparison to the 2019 version of the Twins. There is no doubt that Betts makes the top end of the lineup much better. A healthy Cron hopefully contributes more to this lineup than he did down the stretch this past season. If not, there are the likes of Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach that the Twins could figure out how to get in the lineup in his place. Download attachment: Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.19.42 PM.png The starting rotation may still be lacking the true ace that is being sought. Berrios, Price, Odorizzi, and Gray each represent pitchers who have the potential to carry a team. Brusdar Graterol is also a possibility to figure in here. Graterol and Berrios likely represent the best chance for an emerging and dominant ace. Download attachment: Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.34.09 PM.png The hope here is that the bullpen was much better than what we saw of it in the playoffs, whether it was misuse or just bad execution. The 2020 Twins according to this blueprint will mostly need to see continued growth from many of these arms since it is mostly the same group returning. Download attachment: Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.34.19 PM.png Including the $0.5 million buyout for Martin Perez this puts the Twins payroll at $144.8 million. What would make this approach soar is if the front office got permission from ownership to spend even more to make the most of the one year of Betts. Maybe winning baseball for a second season would at least allow for payroll to be added at the trade deadline mid-summer. This approach would admittedly be a gamble. There is a lot going into 2020 and an added contract in Price’s that has the potential to soak up a large chunk of the payroll for the next three seasons. Betts is the type of player that may just be worth the gamble. Check out these other Offseason Blueprints: Building a Bullpenner What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long. Click here to view the article
  6. This blueprint looks at capitalizing on one team's need to cut salary to avoid the luxury tax threshold and enter into the free agent market themselves. Before going too much further, lets lay out the big move and then explain why it may make any sense for the Twins to attempt to put together an offseason centered around such a move. 1. Trade Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Jordan Balazovic and Nick Gordon to the Boston Red Sox for OF Mookie Betts and LHP David Price Un-Minnesota right? The Twins get a top-10 MLB player in Betts who can hit, field and has an MVP on his resume. The major downside for anyone trading for Betts this offseason is that they will only get him for one season. Price may not be the dominant David Price we remember, but if he is healthy, he still has the ability to contribute to a major league starting staff. While his ERA was 4.28 in 2019 his FIP was 3.62 and still has a swinging strike rate above 11%. The concern with Price is his contract and a decrease in velocity. The biggest return the Red Sox get is nearly $60 million in contracts off the books in 2020 and and additional $32 million per season owed to Price the next two seasons. Boston also gets two major league ready pieces in Rosario, who steps into Betts' role, and Sano, who fills their need at first base. With a vacancy at second, Gordon becomes a candidate there, and Balazovic gives the Red Sox a talented and controllable young arm that they covet. It would be great if the Twins didn’t have to give up both Sano and Rosario, but it sounds like the Red Sox are going to want a good haul for Betts to move him. Now for the rest of the moves that help fit those big contracts into the Twins payroll. A payroll that will obviously need to increase but will try and do so within reason. 2. Tender all arbitration-eligible players This becomes necessary to fill roster spots in a relatively affordable way with the extra salary being brought on board. 3. Sign RHP Jake Odorizzi for three years, $36 million Odorizzi will never be an ace but has proven that he can still be a very valuable part to a playoff rotation. The Twins staff also clearly knows how to get that out of him and to continue to allow them to work with Odorizzi will hopefully help maintain if not improve on those results. 4. Sign RHP Sergio Romo for one year, $3 million At $3 million Romo comes in relatively affordably when it comes to quality playoff caliber arms. His personality and experience is also always welcome and with the bulk of the Twins payroll going elsewhere, Romo can continue to mentor and lead the bullpen. 5. Sign Kyle Barraclough for one year, $1 million I personally highlighted Barraclough last week but didn’t expect to actually use him anywhere in a blueprint. Here I am trying to find a bargain bin arm that could bounce back and have an impact for the Twins in the bullpen. The hope here is that Barraclough would be able to reduce his hard hit rate and continue to create swing and misses but with much better results than he had in 2019. 6. Trade OF Akil Baddoo and 2B/3B/OF Travis Blankenhorn to the Rockies for RHP Jon Gray This trade has the potential to be similar to what the Twins did with Odorizzi. Gray had a better season in 2019 than Odorizzi did before the Twins acquired him which is the reason for two prospects in this deal vs. the one when Odorizzi was acquired. Gray pitches with good velocity (96.1 mph) and induces ground balls at a high rate. He certainly can be a back end of the rotation starter, but hopefully the Twins could find the front-line starter the Rockies once thought they had in the right-hander. Gray has team control through 2021 and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $5.6 million this coming season. SUMMARY The lineup does look to lose a bit in the way of depth in comparison to the 2019 version of the Twins. There is no doubt that Betts makes the top end of the lineup much better. A healthy Cron hopefully contributes more to this lineup than he did down the stretch this past season. If not, there are the likes of Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach that the Twins could figure out how to get in the lineup in his place. The starting rotation may still be lacking the true ace that is being sought. Berrios, Price, Odorizzi, and Gray each represent pitchers who have the potential to carry a team. Brusdar Graterol is also a possibility to figure in here. Graterol and Berrios likely represent the best chance for an emerging and dominant ace. The hope here is that the bullpen was much better than what we saw of it in the playoffs, whether it was misuse or just bad execution. The 2020 Twins according to this blueprint will mostly need to see continued growth from many of these arms since it is mostly the same group returning. Including the $0.5 million buyout for Martin Perez this puts the Twins payroll at $144.8 million. What would make this approach soar is if the front office got permission from ownership to spend even more to make the most of the one year of Betts. Maybe winning baseball for a second season would at least allow for payroll to be added at the trade deadline mid-summer. This approach would admittedly be a gamble. There is a lot going into 2020 and an added contract in Price’s that has the potential to soak up a large chunk of the payroll for the next three seasons. Betts is the type of player that may just be worth the gamble. Check out these other Offseason Blueprints: Building a Bullpenner What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long.
  7. Other AL Previews AL West: Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem Boston Red Sox Boston has a legitimate shot to be the first repeat World Series champion since the Yankees won three-straight from 1998-2000. Mookie Betts is coming off an MVP performance and JD Martinez is one of the best hitters in the game. Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. join Betts as arguably the best outfield in baseball. Just don’t tell the Yankees. Realistically, the line-up doesn’t really have a hole from top to bottom and their bench adds depth as well. On the mound, Chris Sale needs to be back to his healthy self. David Price looked great in the postseason, but will that transition to the regular season? The bullpen might be the one thing preventing a Boston repeat. Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly are gone, and Steven Wright was suspended for 80-games. Matt Barnes will take over closer duties and he has a career 4.14 ERA. A strong line-up will keep the Red Sox in the division, but the pitching staff has some questions. New York Yankees While Boston’s bullpen is cloudy, New York’s bullpen might be one of the best in baseball history. Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, and Chad Green make it seem like the late-innings are all but locked down in the Bronx. In the rotation, Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t exactly been a work-horse, as he has never pitched 200 innings in a season. Luis Severino’s shoulder is a question mark. This means James Paxton is going to need to acclimate to New York in a hurry. New York’s line-up is anchored by power hitters Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Former Twin Aaron Hicks rounds out a terrific trio of outfielders. Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and Miguel Andujar add depth to the line-up. Troy Tulowitzki is trying to fill in for Didi Gregorius. Could the former Rockies star provide some magic before Gregorius returns? New York’s offense and bullpen should separate them from the pack, and they should win the division for the first time since 2012. Tampa Bay Rays Tampa Bay is coming off a 90-win season, and it could be tough to run with the big dogs ahead of them in the AL East. Cy Young winner Blake Snell is joined at the top of the rotation by Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow. All three of these pitchers will be relied on heavily if the club is going to make any kind of run at a playoff spot. The Rays official depth chart only lists three players in the rotation and then a bunch of arms in the bullpen. Tampa created the opener strategy last season and it seems likely for the club to use this strategy again in 2019. Mike Zunino will take over behind the plate after years in Seattle. He joins a young core that includes the likes of Willy Adames, Austin Meadows, Yandy Diaz, and Avisail Garcia. Younger players can be a fickle bunch. Sometimes they can come together, find some magic, and put together some great performances on the field. Other times, they can get into prolonged slumps. Tampa can’t afford a slump in a top-heavy AL East. Toronto Blue Jays Toronto’s biggest excitement this season will come when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. makes his much-anticipated debut. The team will keep him in the minor leagues until they can pick up an extra year of service time because the Blue Jays don’t have much of a shot to compete this year. Bo Bichette, another top prospect, will also make his debut in 2019. For now, the likes of Justin Smoak, Kevin Pillar, and Kendrys Morales will hold down the fort. Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez will lead the rotation. Stroman is looking to bounce back after pitching to a 5.54 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. He also failed to reach 200 innings pitched for the first time since 2015. Sanchez has pitched fewer than 150 innings the last two seasons combined. Toronto hopes the 2016 version (192 IP and a 3.00 ERA) of Sanchez shows up again. Toronto has a great farm system, but the players are just starting to emerge this season. Baltimore Orioles If you think things got bad in Minnesota in recent years, think about the Orioles losing 115 games last season. That’s a whole lot of nothing happening at Camden Yards. Manny Machado was dealt away and found his way to San Diego this off-season. Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo can hit for some power, but Davis is coming off a horrific season at the plate. Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner, and Alex Cobb are at the top of the rotation. Those three arms might be able to keep Baltimore in some close games. However, it seems more likely for this team to be on its way to another 100 losses. What do you think about the AL East? Can the Yankees beat out the Red Sox? Does Tampa have enough for a Wild Card spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  8. Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America released the top three finalists for their major awards earlier this week. For fans, it can be fun to look at the credentials of the top candidates. What should be considered when naming the league’s top player? Should it be the player with the highest WAR? How important is defense in the overall equation? Does the player have to be playing on a contending team? Here’s a look at the finalists and how my ballot would look for the AL and NL MVP.The American League Finalists for MVP Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox Betts was a key cog in Boston’s dominant regular season run in the American League. He led the American League in batting average with an outstanding .346 mark. He wasn’t just about the average though as he led the big leagues in slugging percentage (.640) and runs scored (129). He was a record-setter this year as well. He became the first batting champion to have 30 or more steals and home runs. Betts is also one of the best defenders in the league and this helped him to have the top WAR total according to both versions of WAR (FanGraphs and Baseball Reference) Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians Ramirez joined an elite club during the 2018 campaign. He became just the fifth third baseman to join the 30-30 club. He also compiled a lot of other statistics the voters like to see, with 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs. Only 25 players have been members of the 30-30 club while scoring over 100 runs and driving in over 100 runs. Ramirez and the Indians beat up on the AL Central and he played a large role in the club winning their third straight division title. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels Trout has been the game’s best player for most of the last decade. That being said, he has only been awarded two AL MVP awards during that time (2014, 2016). The Angels have struggled during his career and this has likely cost him the opportunity to win other MVP awards. Even with the Angels posting an under .500 record, Trout notched career highs in OPS (1.088) and on-base percentage (.460). It seems like the award will be handed to Betts and Trout will be the runner-up for the fourth time in the last seven seasons. Cody’s American League MVP Ballot 10. Whit Merrifield, Royals 9. Gerrit Cole, Astros 8. J.D. Martinez, Red Sox 7. Justin Verlander, Astros 6. Matt Chapman, Athletics 5. Francisco Lindor, Indians 4. Alex Bregman, Astros 3. Jose Ramirez, Indians 2. Mike Trout, Angels 1. Mookie Betts, Red Sox The National League Finalist for MVP Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies Arenado has been a rock for the Rockies over the course of his career and he is headed for his highest MVP finish. He’s arguably the best defensive third baseman in the National League. However, defense isn’t the only story with Arenado. He led the league in home runs and he had an OPS over .900. Colorado was a surprise team this season and Arenado is the face of the franchise. It seems likely that he will win an MVP at some point in his career, but this doesn’t seem like the year. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs Baez logged over 20 games at three different defensive positions this season as Joe Maddon took advantage of his versatility. He seemed to fill up almost every part of the stat sheet. His 111 RBIs lead the National League and he finished second in extra-base hits. Overall, he finished with 40 doubles, over 30 home runs, and over 20 steals. He was a fantasy owner’s dream with all of those stats. Chicago ultimate fell short of their goal, but Baez helped them to stay neck and neck with Milwaukee. Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers Much like Betts in the American League, Yelich led the National League in both versions of WAR. Also, he won the batting title (.326) and finished first in OPS (1.000) and total bases (343). During the middle of the season, there was some talk about Jacob deGrom being the front-runner for this award. Yelich put most of those whispers to rest as he dominated in September and pushed the Brewers to the NL Central title. During that final month, he posted a 1.312 OPS, so he can probably start preparing his acceptance speech. Cody’s National League MVP Ballot 10. Trevor Story, Rockies 9. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks 8. Lorenzo Cain, Brewers 7. Max Scherzer, Nationals 6. Freddie Freeman, Braves 5. Anthony Rendon, Nationals 4. Jacob deGrom, Mets 3. Javier Baez, Cubs 2. Nolan Arenado, Rockies 1. Christian Yelich, Brewers Who would be on your ballot? Should deGrom have been a finalist for the MVP? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  9. The American League Finalists for MVP Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox Betts was a key cog in Boston’s dominant regular season run in the American League. He led the American League in batting average with an outstanding .346 mark. He wasn’t just about the average though as he led the big leagues in slugging percentage (.640) and runs scored (129). He was a record-setter this year as well. He became the first batting champion to have 30 or more steals and home runs. Betts is also one of the best defenders in the league and this helped him to have the top WAR total according to both versions of WAR (FanGraphs and Baseball Reference) Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians Ramirez joined an elite club during the 2018 campaign. He became just the fifth third baseman to join the 30-30 club. He also compiled a lot of other statistics the voters like to see, with 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs. Only 25 players have been members of the 30-30 club while scoring over 100 runs and driving in over 100 runs. Ramirez and the Indians beat up on the AL Central and he played a large role in the club winning their third straight division title. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels Trout has been the game’s best player for most of the last decade. That being said, he has only been awarded two AL MVP awards during that time (2014, 2016). The Angels have struggled during his career and this has likely cost him the opportunity to win other MVP awards. Even with the Angels posting an under .500 record, Trout notched career highs in OPS (1.088) and on-base percentage (.460). It seems like the award will be handed to Betts and Trout will be the runner-up for the fourth time in the last seven seasons. Cody’s American League MVP Ballot 10. Whit Merrifield, Royals 9. Gerrit Cole, Astros 8. J.D. Martinez, Red Sox 7. Justin Verlander, Astros 6. Matt Chapman, Athletics 5. Francisco Lindor, Indians 4. Alex Bregman, Astros 3. Jose Ramirez, Indians 2. Mike Trout, Angels 1. Mookie Betts, Red Sox The National League Finalist for MVP Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies Arenado has been a rock for the Rockies over the course of his career and he is headed for his highest MVP finish. He’s arguably the best defensive third baseman in the National League. However, defense isn’t the only story with Arenado. He led the league in home runs and he had an OPS over .900. Colorado was a surprise team this season and Arenado is the face of the franchise. It seems likely that he will win an MVP at some point in his career, but this doesn’t seem like the year. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs Baez logged over 20 games at three different defensive positions this season as Joe Maddon took advantage of his versatility. He seemed to fill up almost every part of the stat sheet. His 111 RBIs lead the National League and he finished second in extra-base hits. Overall, he finished with 40 doubles, over 30 home runs, and over 20 steals. He was a fantasy owner’s dream with all of those stats. Chicago ultimate fell short of their goal, but Baez helped them to stay neck and neck with Milwaukee. Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers Much like Betts in the American League, Yelich led the National League in both versions of WAR. Also, he won the batting title (.326) and finished first in OPS (1.000) and total bases (343). During the middle of the season, there was some talk about Jacob deGrom being the front-runner for this award. Yelich put most of those whispers to rest as he dominated in September and pushed the Brewers to the NL Central title. During that final month, he posted a 1.312 OPS, so he can probably start preparing his acceptance speech. Cody’s National League MVP Ballot 10. Trevor Story, Rockies 9. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks 8. Lorenzo Cain, Brewers 7. Max Scherzer, Nationals 6. Freddie Freeman, Braves 5. Anthony Rendon, Nationals 4. Jacob deGrom, Mets 3. Javier Baez, Cubs 2. Nolan Arenado, Rockies 1. Christian Yelich, Brewers Who would be on your ballot? Should deGrom have been a finalist for the MVP? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  10. As players like Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Jose Berrios, and some of the other developing youngsters push towards extensions, the Twins crossroads is an interesting one. It's at the end of 2018 that star second basemen Brian Dozier sees his four-year, $20 million extension run out. As John Bonnes from Twins Daily reported last week, the Mississippi native believes he's headed for free agency. Minnesota wasn't able to buy into Dozier's free agency years, and retaining him now would require a new deal to be worked out. For a player like Buxton, the ideal scenario for the Twins would be to lock him up for a considerable amount of time. Obviously on Byron's end, he'll be foregoing arbitration induced pay raises, and will want to be compensated fairly. At 24 years old, and arbitration eligible for the first time in 2019, the clock is ticking. When looking for some level of comparison, another young outfielder comes to mind. Enter Mookie Betts. Although Betts doesn't play center field, he's a decent case study when it comes to Buxton. Betts won his second straight Gold Glove for the Red Sox in 2017, and posted his fourth straight season with an OPS north of .800. Across all of baseball, only Betts had more DRS (31) in the outfield than the Twins Buxton (24). The Red Sox right fielder's UZR more than doubled the Twins centerfielder's, and his RngR factor also checked in slightly higher. The breakout was hardly a one-year thing either, as Betts posted dazzling digits across multiple defensive metrics in 2016. Even before reaching tallies of 32 and 31 DRS the last two years respectively, Betts owned marks of 5 and 10 in his first two seasons. On the offensive side of the diamond, there's little argument to be made that Betts hasn't been the far superior player. In his worst season, an .803 OPS still shines amongst an all-star caliber resume, along with a third straight year of MVP votes. For Buxton, the .728 OPS in 2017 showed part of the promise that made him the number one prospect in all of baseball, but it was still an early season swoon that weighed down his overall numbers. For Buxton to reach the overall impact that Betts has for the Red Sox, Minnesota will need to see a full 162 games worth of the .796 OPS tallied from June 1st through the end of the season. As Buxton legitimately broke down his swing and rebuilt it at the big league level under James Rowson a season ago, it's an expectation that doesn't seem too incredibly lofty. What is an All-Star candidate based upon a lackluster OPS and his glove alone, is an MVP threat for multiple years in a row when reaching his peak potential. So knowing they stack up similarly, Betts is a bit further into the process of being paid. While having not been extended by the Red Sox, he's seen raises from $514.7k to $566k, and then further to $950k a season ago. Being arbitration eligible for the first time this season, Betts' case went to a hearing. The Red Sox offered him $7.5 million, while he believed in his being worth more. After having the case heard, the outfielder came out on top and will make $10.5 million in 2018. Over a 10x increase on his 2017 salary, Betts has three more years of arbitration induced salaries before he'll hit free agency. That $10.5 million Betts was awarded comes in as the second highest salary for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility, and it was only beaten by Kris Bryant in this same offseason ($10.85m.) It was in this same offseason that Blue Jays third basemen Josh Donaldson set the record for the largest arbitration contract in history, checking in at $23 million. Toronto had worked out a deal to give Donaldson cost certainty each of the past two years with a deal that paid him a total of $28.65 million. Having run out the year before he hits the open market however, the new number is a hefty one. What the numbers above suggest is that Byron Buxton could have the Twins in a place where they see some really inflated numbers rather quickly. After making $535k in 2017, Buxton's increase is a modest one to $570k. This is the last deal that will be consummated without the intervention of the arbitration system unless a long-term agreement is struck however. If Byron continues to let nothing fall but raindrops, and the bat is in the place it appears to be, the dollar amounts should roll in rather quickly. Minnesota could be looking at numbers like $8m, $10m, $12m, and $15m over the course of the next four seasons. Having yet to earn a seven-figure yearly salary, the Georgia native could be staring at the business end of $45 million in a few short years. While that would still pale in comparison to the value he'd bring in that scenario, a more economically focused route could be beneficial for the Twins. The current front office wasn't in place when Minnesota agreed to keep Brian Dozier around for $20 million over the course of four years. That being said, this astute collection likely sees the value in a similar cost-certainty model for their superstar centerfielder. Dozier was 28 at the time of his first multi-year deal, while Buxton turned 24 last December. There're plenty of factors at play, but the numbers seem to suggest that giving up a sense of certainty for a level of security is a good play for both sides. I'm not entirely sure what the numbers would look like (although Seth Stohs provided a great breakdown back in October), but something like $30-35 million through four years of arbitration could be a nice get for all parties involved. No matter what the dollars say however, it appears to make sense, for both Buxton and the Twins, to pencil each other into plans for the immediate future. Posted originally at Off The Baggy.
  11. Over the weekend, Jim Bowden of The Athletic tweeted that the Minnesota Twins and star centerfielder Byron Buxton have a mutual interest when it comes to figuring out a long-term extension. Quickly, local names like Mike Berardino and Darren Wolfson noted that while true, that's quite a ways from happening. Although things could come together quickly, it's worth wondering what a deal might look like, and whether or not it makes sense for both sides.As players like Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Jose Berrios, and some of the other developing youngsters push towards extensions, the Twins crossroads is an interesting one. It's at the end of 2018 that star second basemen Brian Dozier sees his four-year, $20 million extension run out. As John Bonnes from Twins Daily reported last week, the Mississippi native believes he's headed for free agency. Minnesota wasn't able to buy into Dozier's free agency years, and retaining him now would require a new deal to be worked out. For a player like Buxton, the ideal scenario for the Twins would be to lock him up for a considerable amount of time. Obviously on Byron's end, he'll be foregoing arbitration induced pay raises, and will want to be compensated fairly. At 24 years old, and arbitration eligible for the first time in 2019, the clock is ticking. When looking for some level of comparison, another young outfielder comes to mind. Enter Mookie Betts. Although Betts doesn't play center field, he's a decent case study when it comes to Buxton. Betts won his second straight Gold Glove for the Red Sox in 2017, and posted his fourth straight season with an OPS north of .800. Across all of baseball, only Betts had more DRS (31) in the outfield than the Twins Buxton (24). The Red Sox right fielder's UZR more than doubled the Twins centerfielder's, and his RngR factor also checked in slightly higher. The breakout was hardly a one-year thing either, as Betts posted dazzling digits across multiple defensive metrics in 2016. Even before reaching tallies of 32 and 31 DRS the last two years respectively, Betts owned marks of 5 and 10 in his first two seasons. On the offensive side of the diamond, there's little argument to be made that Betts hasn't been the far superior player. In his worst season, an .803 OPS still shines amongst an all-star caliber resume, along with a third straight year of MVP votes. For Buxton, the .728 OPS in 2017 showed part of the promise that made him the number one prospect in all of baseball, but it was still an early season swoon that weighed down his overall numbers. For Buxton to reach the overall impact that Betts has for the Red Sox, Minnesota will need to see a full 162 games worth of the .796 OPS tallied from June 1st through the end of the season. As Buxton legitimately broke down his swing and rebuilt it at the big league level under James Rowson a season ago, it's an expectation that doesn't seem too incredibly lofty. What is an All-Star candidate based upon a lackluster OPS and his glove alone, is an MVP threat for multiple years in a row when reaching his peak potential. So knowing they stack up similarly, Betts is a bit further into the process of being paid. While having not been extended by the Red Sox, he's seen raises from $514.7k to $566k, and then further to $950k a season ago. Being arbitration eligible for the first time this season, Betts' case went to a hearing. The Red Sox offered him $7.5 million, while he believed in his being worth more. After having the case heard, the outfielder came out on top and will make $10.5 million in 2018. Over a 10x increase on his 2017 salary, Betts has three more years of arbitration induced salaries before he'll hit free agency. That $10.5 million Betts was awarded comes in as the second highest salary for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility, and it was only beaten by Kris Bryant in this same offseason ($10.85m.) It was in this same offseason that Blue Jays third basemen Josh Donaldson set the record for the largest arbitration contract in history, checking in at $23 million. Toronto had worked out a deal to give Donaldson cost certainty each of the past two years with a deal that paid him a total of $28.65 million. Having run out the year before he hits the open market however, the new number is a hefty one. What the numbers above suggest is that Byron Buxton could have the Twins in a place where they see some really inflated numbers rather quickly. After making $535k in 2017, Buxton's increase is a modest one to $570k. This is the last deal that will be consummated without the intervention of the arbitration system unless a long-term agreement is struck however. If Byron continues to let nothing fall but raindrops, and the bat is in the place it appears to be, the dollar amounts should roll in rather quickly. Minnesota could be looking at numbers like $8m, $10m, $12m, and $15m over the course of the next four seasons. Having yet to earn a seven-figure yearly salary, the Georgia native could be staring at the business end of $45 million in a few short years. While that would still pale in comparison to the value he'd bring in that scenario, a more economically focused route could be beneficial for the Twins. The current front office wasn't in place when Minnesota agreed to keep Brian Dozier around for $20 million over the course of four years. That being said, this astute collection likely sees the value in a similar cost-certainty model for their superstar centerfielder. Dozier was 28 at the time of his first multi-year deal, while Buxton turned 24 last December. There're plenty of factors at play, but the numbers seem to suggest that giving up a sense of certainty for a level of security is a good play for both sides. I'm not entirely sure what the numbers would look like (although Seth Stohs provided a great breakdown back in October), but something like $30-35 million through four years of arbitration could be a nice get for all parties involved. No matter what the dollars say however, it appears to make sense, for both Buxton and the Twins, to pencil each other into plans for the immediate future. Posted originally at Off The Baggy. Click here to view the article
  12. American League MVP Race For the second time in his young career, Mike Trout has surpassed 10 WAR according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs has Trout a tick under 10 with a 9.4 WAR. Both of these totals are a full win higher than his next closest competitor, Mookie Betts. Betts versus Trout is going to be the hot-button topic in the MVP race. Trout led all of baseball in runs, walks, OBP, and OPS + while playing terrific defense in center field. The Angels PR Department tweeted out a list of Trout's accomplishments this season and it's pretty remarkable. Betts led all of baseball in at-bats and total bases while playing defense that might have been better than Trout's. The Angels haven't been within five games of first place since the middle of May. Betts and the Red Sox have been near the top of the AL East for most of the season. Since September 7, Boston has lead the East. Over the last month of the season, while being in the middle of the pennant race, Betts has hit .310/.373/.389 with seven extra-base hits. Should the voting members of the BBWAA pick a very good player on a 90-win team? Or should the best player in baseball over the last couple of years get his second MVP award? Betts might have the narrative that voters tend to favor but Trout has been better than Betts so my vote goes to him. Who should win? Trout Who will win? Betts Complete Ballot: 1. Trout, 2. Betts, 3. Josh Donaldson, 4. Jose Altuve, 5. Manny Machado, 6. Robinson Cano, 7. Adrian Beltre, 8. Dozier, 9. Francisco Lindor, 10. Corey Kluber National League MVP Race While the AL race might be close, the National League race could be a unanimous choice. The Chicago Cubs were the best team in baseball for most of the season. They won over 100 games and cruised to a division title in what had been one of the toughest divisions in recent years. Kris Bryant has been the best player in the league and he should easily win his first MVP. Bryant has been impressive during his second full-season. He led the NL in runs while raising all of his offensive numbers. In 2015, he led the league with 199 strikeouts but he cut that number back to 154 this year. He's also been used at multiple defensive positions including third base, first base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions. Corey Seager and Daniel Murphy will have a good battle for the NL's runner-up spot. Both players had very good seasons on teams that easily won their divisions. Seager's impressive rookie campaign could be the sign of future MVP awards. Murphy might be the missing link for a Nationals club that has struggled with finding post-season success. Who should win? Bryant Who will win? Bryant Complete Ballot: 1. Bryant, 2. Seager, 3. Murphy, 4. Anthony Rizzo, 5. Freddie Freeman, 6. Max Scherzer, 7. Nolan Arenado, 8. Brandon Crawford, 9. Justin Turner, 10. Noah Syndergaard How would you ballot look for each league? Leave a COMMENT and start this discussion.
  13. The Twins are closer than they seem. Santana, Vargas, Arcia, Sano and Buxton are going to lead this team somewhere. I see no reason why the Twins can't be aggressive this off-season and make it happen. If the Twins trade for an outfielder and a starting pitcher, the boost we would receive mid-summer with the arrival of Buxton and Sano could give them what they need to be a legitimate playoff contender. I have selected my top five trade candidates for both pitcher and outfielder. Obviously, some are more realistic than others.Pitchers: 1. Cole Hamels Hamels has four years plus an option year left at $22.5 million each. He would be tough to get, but the Phillies are going to need a youth movement soon, so he may be obtainable. 2. Andrew Cashner Cashner will be a free agent in 2017, but could potentially be extended. This year, he made $2.4 million. He is a solid pitcher and wouldn't increase the payroll quite as much as Hamels. He could also be harder to obtain, however. 3. Gio Gonzalez Gonzalez is a great pitcher, but the Nationals have so many great pitchers that they could afford to deal from strength. This trade would probably cause the Twins to give up more than they want to. His contract is quite nice, with two more guaranteed years (at $11 and $12 million), followed by two options. 4. Jon Niese I've heard some talk that the Mets could deal Niese this off-season. He would pair nicely at the front of our rotation with Hughes. He has a similar contract structure to Gonzalez for a couple million less per year. 5. Ian Kennedy Kennedy will be a free agents after one more season, so the Twins would only want him with the idea of extending him, but I think he is good enough to be an effective pitcher. He also wouldn't be as hard as the others to pry from his current team. Outfielders: 1. Mookie Betts Man would I love to have this guy. The Red Sox don't need him due to their abundance of prospects, but it would take a haul to bring him to Minnesota. Once Buxton gets here, the Twins would need to decide which center fielder to play in left--not necessarily a bad choice to have to make. 2. Sterling Marte This is probably the most unrealistic trade I've proposed, but it's OK to dream, right? He's under control for five more years plus two option years. 3. Carl Crawford The Dodgers have too many outfielders. I actually think this trade might be quite possible. His contract has three more years at just over $20 million per year. 4. Scott Van Slyke Like Crawford, only younger and cheaper, Van Slyke won't be a free agent until 2020 and it is seems very redundant for the Dodgers to hold on to him. 5. Ryan Zimmerman Like the Dodgers, the Nationals have plenty of outfielders. This is probably another unrealistic trade, but Zimmerman is under contract until 2019 and the Nationals may not want him to be one of their full-time outfielders. He currently makes $14 million per year. Now, the obvious question is how I would acquire these players. I would be with being aggressive if I'm the GM of the Twins. I would be willing to consider trading Pinto, Escobar, Plouffe, Dozier, May, and any bullpen arm from the major league squad. As far as prospects, I would love to see us trade Eddie Rosario, and would be willing to trade a lower-level high upside arm as part of the right deal--perhaps Felix Jorge or Fernando Romero. For pitchers, I would love to see the Twins acquire Hamels. It would be fair to give up some pretty good prospects to make this to happen. In the outfield, as much as I would love Mookie Betts in a Twins uniform, I think trading for Carl Crawford or Scott Van Slyke would not be too difficult and would put the Twins in a great position offensively. The Dodgers should have interest in Pinto based on the quality of offense their catchers have put out this year. Maybe they would even take Nolasco's contract as part of the deal to help balance Crawford's contract. Click here to view the article
  14. Pitchers: 1. Cole Hamels Hamels has four years plus an option year left at $22.5 million each. He would be tough to get, but the Phillies are going to need a youth movement soon, so he may be obtainable. 2. Andrew Cashner Cashner will be a free agent in 2017, but could potentially be extended. This year, he made $2.4 million. He is a solid pitcher and wouldn't increase the payroll quite as much as Hamels. He could also be harder to obtain, however. 3. Gio Gonzalez Gonzalez is a great pitcher, but the Nationals have so many great pitchers that they could afford to deal from strength. This trade would probably cause the Twins to give up more than they want to. His contract is quite nice, with two more guaranteed years (at $11 and $12 million), followed by two options. 4. Jon Niese I've heard some talk that the Mets could deal Niese this off-season. He would pair nicely at the front of our rotation with Hughes. He has a similar contract structure to Gonzalez for a couple million less per year. 5. Ian Kennedy Kennedy will be a free agents after one more season, so the Twins would only want him with the idea of extending him, but I think he is good enough to be an effective pitcher. He also wouldn't be as hard as the others to pry from his current team. Outfielders: 1. Mookie Betts Man would I love to have this guy. The Red Sox don't need him due to their abundance of prospects, but it would take a haul to bring him to Minnesota. Once Buxton gets here, the Twins would need to decide which center fielder to play in left--not necessarily a bad choice to have to make. 2. Sterling Marte This is probably the most unrealistic trade I've proposed, but it's OK to dream, right? He's under control for five more years plus two option years. 3. Carl Crawford The Dodgers have too many outfielders. I actually think this trade might be quite possible. His contract has three more years at just over $20 million per year. 4. Scott Van Slyke Like Crawford, only younger and cheaper, Van Slyke won't be a free agent until 2020 and it is seems very redundant for the Dodgers to hold on to him. 5. Ryan Zimmerman Like the Dodgers, the Nationals have plenty of outfielders. This is probably another unrealistic trade, but Zimmerman is under contract until 2019 and the Nationals may not want him to be one of their full-time outfielders. He currently makes $14 million per year. Now, the obvious question is how I would acquire these players. I would be with being aggressive if I'm the GM of the Twins. I would be willing to consider trading Pinto, Escobar, Plouffe, Dozier, May, and any bullpen arm from the major league squad. As far as prospects, I would love to see us trade Eddie Rosario, and would be willing to trade a lower-level high upside arm as part of the right deal--perhaps Felix Jorge or Fernando Romero. For pitchers, I would love to see the Twins acquire Hamels. It would be fair to give up some pretty good prospects to make this to happen. In the outfield, as much as I would love Mookie Betts in a Twins uniform, I think trading for Carl Crawford or Scott Van Slyke would not be too difficult and would put the Twins in a great position offensively. The Dodgers should have interest in Pinto based on the quality of offense their catchers have put out this year. Maybe they would even take Nolasco's contract as part of the deal to help balance Crawford's contract.
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